Dangers of Multiple-Use Legislation
Despite what is promised, land managers cannot protect cultural resources in areas used heavily by industry or where public access is
focused. Multiple resource use areas are detrimental to cultural resources with artifacts collected, looter's holes common, and hiker, cyclist,
and ATV tracks causing erosion and destroying walls and artifact distributions.
Check out this article. The BLM is changing the way they are managing areas in southern Utah, leaving them susceptible to the kinds of
impacts we see in southeastern New Mexico:
One side of the problem is that use as natural unspoiled remote wilderness areas is not respected as a land use equal to that of ATV users or
resource production. Large unspoiled expanses of land are more and more difficult to come by as development encroaches and as land uses
that are at odds with one another conflict. It is becoming more difficult to find a place where there are no roads, where there are no vehicle or
pumpjack noises, or where you cannot see a house, a powerline, or road. These remote and quite areas are important to a significant
segment of the public who enjoy the outdoors and need to find these places of seclusion for their mental health.
Archaeological Resources on State Trust Land are Endangered; they are being Destroyed.
***Did you know that in the state of New Mexico cultural resources are not protected from development on State Trust Lands?
Archaeological clearance surveys are not required prior to oil field development. Many sites have already been impacted, some destroyed.
Many others have been looted.
And archaeologists are not allowed to volunteer to carry out surveys and document cultural resources on State Trust Lands. In order to have
this privilege they must go through a lengthy, time consuming, and grueling process to apply for a permit and then pay the state to go onto the
land. Even when these volunteers are doing the work for research purposes, for free, not taking any money from any source, they are required
to pay these fees--that is, if they can get permission, which is most difficult even for nondisturbing work.
Federal agencies require cultural inventory work before development or other land uses. Why doesn't state trust lands? The way the laws are
written, these are not our resources, not the public's resources, but they are the State's and we have no rights with respect to them or their
presevation. They are not being protected or managed in the public trust with the public's best interest in mind.
OIL AND GAS: House members call for hiatus on leasing sensitive land
Eric Bontrager, E&E reporter
A day after the Obama administration nullified one set of oil and gas leases left over from the Bush administration, 75 Democratic House
members are asking for a freeze on all lease sales on federal lands under consideration for a wilderness label.
In a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the representatives said the administration
should defer any future lease sales involving tracts of land under consideration for wilderness designation or other protection by
"Doing so will allow your agencies time to further review the suitability of such tracts for leasing and development, while allowing
oil and gas activities to continue on the tens of millions of acres of federal lands currently under lease," the lawmakers wrote.
The members noted Salazar's decision Wednesday to scrap the leasing of 77 oil and gas parcels that the Bureau of Land Management
auctioned off in December, just a month before President George W. Bush left office.
Salazar said he was canceling the Utah leases while the department re-examines the studies that permitted the contested parcels to be
leased, claiming the Bush administration rushed the sale without properly considering how development there could harm the environment
(E&ENews PM, Feb. 4).
Many of those parcels were near protected lands like Arches National Park and Nine Mile Canyon, and lawmakers said the administration
should apply the same discretion to all potential new leases.
Salazar indicated Wednesday that the agency's decision to revoke the leases would be one in a series of actions he would take to safeguard
public lands from oil and gas development.
The administration opted to defer the sale of several oil and gas leases on federal land during a lease sale in Wyoming this week, and
BLM also said it would remove 30 of 120 parcels originally included in a Colorado lease sale planned for Feb. 12 (Land Letter, Feb. 5).
Of their request to extend that freeze to other land that could become protected, the lawmakers wrote, "By putting a temporary hold on the
leasing of these precious acres, your agencies would have time to review the merits of offering such areas for sale and provide Congress
with an opportunity to safeguard that land forever."
It is unclear what pieces of legislation would be affected should the administration accede to the lawmakers' request, but the two
co-authors of the letter, New York Democratic Reps. Maurice Hinchey and Carolyn Maloney, each have plans to introduce public lands
measures in the coming months.
Both lawmakers introduced wilderness bills in the last Congress. Maloney's legislation would have established 24.3 million acres of new
wilderness lands in the Northern Rockies and declare 1,886 miles of river segments as wild and scenic, the largest single such
designations in the lower 48 states in U.S. history.
Hinchey's Red Rock Wilderness Act would have set aside 9.4 million acres of public land in Utah as wilderness. It would have prohibited
motorized activities such as off-road vehicle use, oil and gas drilling, and mining in areas including the Grand Staircase-Escalante
National Monument, Capitol Reef National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, and other federal lands
in Utah where energy or other development pressures exists.
Spokesmen for both lawmakers said the bills will be reintroduced in the 111th Congress.
Hinchey's proposal drew sharp criticism early last year from Americans for American Energy, a Colorado-based industry group that sent an
e-mail to Utah residents equating the New York lawmaker with Osama bin Laden, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Iranian President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for introducing legislation that would "hamstring our ability to produce American energy right here in Utah."
Earlier this week, Salazar's actions prompted rebukes from Republicans and industry proponents who said the Obama administration was
going back on its pledge to move toward energy independence.
"At a time when Congress is debating how best to stimulate our nation's economy, it's certainly not helpful to have the federal
government telling companies that are willing to invest millions of their own dollars to create new jobs and new sources of American-made
energy, to take their money elsewhere," said House Natural Resources Committee ranking member Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) following Salazar's
But Paul Spitler, associate director of the Wilderness Society's national wilderness campaigns, said it would be wise for the
administration to defer leasing for the foreseeable future.
"The previous administration had a 'drill anywhere' policy that put a lot of special landscapes at risk," Spitler said. "We think a better
policy is to consider the cultural and ecological significance of these landscapes before we decide to drill there."
The effects of industry on our cultural resources and on the remote wilderness landscape are tangible. Cumulative effects lay waste to
areas that a few years ago were notable for their remote and unaltered beauty. Today these areas look like they have been afflicted by a
small pox epidemic. The incongruous nature of these scars is made obvious from an aerial perspective where regularly placed well
locations and roads take on the appearance of a circuit board.
The problem is, these areas are never really reclaimed. Laws require that they be rehabilitated but there are loopholes in the law
and in enforcement. With attitudes focused toward enabling drilling some of the many possible solutions are not considered or
For example, well locations are supposed to be reclaimed, but what happens instead is one company sells out to another, and then
another. After so many shell companies have taken control of the property the final one, responsible for reclamation, goes bankrupt,
and so the property remains an ugly scar, often with hazardous materials unattended.
Instead, what is needed is a policy that requires money for reclamation up front, and from each subsequent user. These funds need
to be sufficiently sizeable to ensure that reclamation can occur at levels that do not leave the area looking like a lunar landscape
impacted by so many astroids. The lack of appreciation by industry and many agency bureaucrats for the natural beauty and cultural
importance of southeastern New Mexico means that they will not address these issues until the public makes them. Mandates from
Washington city-dwellers who cannot appreciate the open western expanses are making the calls and applying the pressure.
My concern for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska is that, like West Texas and southeastern New Mexico, many view the
tundra as a wasteland with no other use than energy extraction. While oil production is critical to our national security, it must be
done in a way that is respectful of our cultural heritage and natural wildernesses and that places reclamation costs and
responsibilities fully on the companies that are profiting, with long-term considerations kept in mind and inalienable responsibilities
for clean-up. Just like superfund sites, a company should not be able to erase their responsibility by selling or transferring title to the
land, mineral rights, or operation. A chain of responsibility must be maintained and a pay-as-you-go fund must be established that is
sufficiently funded to erase the images to our public lands and non-renewable cultural resources. When they say they can extract the
oil without irreparable damage to the wilderness landscape use southeastern New Mexico as an example of why this is not a factual
IMPACTS AND CUMULATIVE EFFECTS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT ON PUBLIC LANDS
THE MATERIAL ON THIS PAGE IS COPYRIGHTED AND SHOULD BE APPROPRIATELY CITED (C) 2007-2008, Deni Seymour
The "tiny footprints on the land" that Sarah Palin referred to
when she said "it is safe to drill" do not take into account the
cumulative effects of thousands of these footprints.
From an even higher perspective the footprints can be
seen to form a distinct pattern that will scar this
landscape for centuries, not to mention the irreparable
damage to natural and cultural resources.
A road, pipelines, and a fence impact an important multiple component site. This image on the right shows a ring midden that
is situated in the middle of this photograph. Road cuts with dark soil and fire-crack rock show that other features of this type
were destroyed from oil-field-related road construction without prior survey or mitigation of adverse effects. This large site has
been severely impacted and
A horse-loving, ranching friend recently asked me about my position on the recent legislation that turns many public lands into
wilderness areas that keep oil and gas exploration and drilling, and grazing out. Here is part of my response:
Imagine this: you ride your horse into fairly remote areas, breathing in the essence of the desert, enjoying the quietness made more
obvious by the insect buzz or the bird chirping. You take in the dramatic sunlight and shadows against the rocks or that highlight the
grass tips when they are going to seed stop you in your tracks. The bobcat or rattlesnake surprise you sufficiently that you stop to take a
photo.The rock art is still clear and bright against the dark weathered surface of the boulders. This is what cowboys of the past saw
when they rode into these areas, this is what the Yavapai or Apache sensed when they quietly moved across the terrain.
Now imagine my world... in the oil patch of SE NM:
You ride your horse (or walk or drive) into remote areas where the Apache found shelter from the Comanche and the Spanish and later
American intruders. The vastness of the terrain is breathtaking, one could get lost in its flatness, punctuated with washes and playas that
are not visible until you are upon them, and an occasional ridgeline. Turing the corner around one of these ridgelines, this remote and
seemingly pristine beauty is jarringly interrupted by the rotten egg smell of hydrogen sulfide, a dangerous and deadly gas if in the right
concentrations, just annoying otherwise. You keep trying to take a deep breath to rid your system of this obnoxious thick air. The air is
also filled with the mechanical sound of oil-field dinosaurs, pump-jacks that work 24-hours a day, bringing oil to the surface, and sending
the loud and metallic rhythmic sound across the landscape. There is no background sound of buzzing flies or the wind sifting through
the brush. The sunlight highlights the scaring road cuts that cris-cross the landscape. The drill pads of old and abandoned oil wells dot
the landscape, never to be full reclaimed, as shell companies go bankrupt leaving no one responsible. The multiple-mile-long tracks
from decades-old seismic exploration are still visible on the terrain, causing erosion channels to form, exposing geology and
archaeology no one knew was beneath the surface. Gazing into the distance your awareness is jarred even further as a 20-something
driver barrels at you in a multiple-ton semi, fully loaded with oil, unable to stop if he had to, and you find yourself waiting in the middle
of a dirt road, fumbling for the correct reaction, and by the time you regain your senses sufficiently to react, he is past you, kicking
gravel in your direction, leaving a clog of dust and desiel in the air, and a lone coyote runs across the road... reminding you that you
have not seen or heard another form of wildlife for some time.
Flow lines crossing Azotea Mesa,