Cedar Mesa Great House Service Project

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Cedar Mesa Great House Service Project

Service project to protect Cedar Mesa Great House

Part of Utah Archaeology Month – Friday, May 5th, 2017 

Join Friends of Cedar Mesa and the BLM to help protect an ancient Puebloan great house on Cedar Mesa that is being damaged by cattle and off-road vehicles. We will be doing the final of three buck & rail fence installations on Friday, May 5th in honor of Utah Archaeology Month. This is a physically demanding project involving walking on uneven surfaces and carrying heavy items.

We will meet in Bluff at 9 am on Friday. Event details will be emailed the week of the event.

To sign up, register below. This event is expected to fill up quickly!

Now hiring Volunteer & Monitoring Coordinator

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Now hiring Volunteer & Monitoring Coordinator

Position Details

Friends of Cedar Mesa is seeking a full-time Volunteer & Monitoring Coordinator to organize and expand volunteer projects and cultural site monitoring on public lands in San Juan County, including the new Bears Ears National Monument. S/he will spend about 30% of their time organizing volunteer & service projects, another 30% developing and expanding cultural site monitoring programs, 20% on communications and 20% of their time on administrative tasks.

FCM works closely with land management agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Forest Service, Park Service and Utah State Institutional Trust Lands Administration. In particular, FCM  has entered into a partnership through an Assistance Agreement with the BLM’s Monticello Field Office. A portion of the Coordinators work will help carry out the goals of the Assistance Agreement to increase education and stewardship in the Cedar Mesa region and will help Friends of Cedar Mesa match BLM funds with volunteer hours.



The Coordinator will be based out of Bluff or a nearby community and will report to the Assistant Director.  Primary responsibilities include:

  • Grow the number of volunteer service projects on BLM-managed and other public lands in San Juan County, including single and multi-day events during all four seasons.
  • Coordinate closely with land management agency representatives on specific on-the-ground service project needs with a specific focus on Cedar Mesa, the Comb Ridge and other areas of the Bears Ears National Monument.
  • Recruit new and maintain existing relationships with FCM volunteers.
  • Build/continue partnerships with the BLM, Forest Service (USFS), National Park Service (NPS) and Utah State Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) to advance volunteer & monitoring opportunities in San Juan County.
  • Develop and expand cultural site monitoring programs and trainings with the USFS, NPS and SITLA in San Juan County.
  • Coordinate with and assist Utah Statewide Site Steward Coordinator in developing training materials and programs for use in San Juan County.
  • Coordinate periodically with the Visit with Respect Program Manager and assist her/him with volunteer management.
  • Work with staff to develop and publish FCM electronic communications via social media, the FCM website, email and other media.
  • Manage and maintain volunteer database.


Additional Responsibilities

  • Work with staff to organize annual Celebrate Cedar Mesa event every spring.
  • Assist other staff members in organizing program events.
  • Oversee data management of volunteers and monitors.
  • Help with administrative tasks as needed.


Required Qualifications

The Coordinator will be thoroughly committed to FCM’s mission and her/his professional development. All candidates should have proven conservation, stewardship, and organizing experience. Concrete demonstrable experience and other qualifications include:

Bachelor’s degree in natural resource management or applicable field and experience working with diverse groups in an outdoor setting.

Strong verbal communication experience, especially in public speaking, with the ability to engage a wide range of stakeholders and cultures; strong awareness and cultural sensitivity regarding Native American connections to cultural resources.

Refined written communication skills including ability to sensitively communicate organizational mission, needs, and updates.

An action-oriented work ethic; the ability to work both independently and collaboratively with diverse groups of people is essential.

Must have ability to wear “multiple hats” working in a small non-profit and pitch in where needed.

Must have valid U.S. drivers’ license.

Must live or being willing to relocate to within 45 minutes of Bluff, UT, a tiny town in the middle of nowhere with limited amenities and the best backyard in the world.


Preferred qualifications

2 or more years of experience in a volunteer coordination or conservation field; knowledge of Four Corners archaeology, track record of effectively developing volunteer programming and organizing volunteer events; knowledge in program budget management; experience working with or for government land management agencies is a plus.

Preference is given to candidates with experience using social media platforms including Facebook, Mailchimp, WordPress, Twitter, and others. A high level of competency in Microsoft Office products with knowledge of the Adobe Cloud Suite a plus, an aptitude for learning computer database systems.

Competent hiking skills and the ability to be outdoors in all seasons; skills or willingness to learn 4-wheel driving.



$30-33K/year plus basic health care insurance.


To Apply

Please send a resume, cover letter and writing sample to Amanda.

Position open until filled.


About FCM

Friends of Cedar Mesa (FCM) is a conservation organization in Bluff, Utah. FCM envisions a future where the public lands in San Juan County – with all their natural, cultural and recreational values – are protected and respected. To achieve this goal, we work to educate visitors about respectful recreation, monitor cultural sites, effect change through research and service projects, improve land management policies, and engage citizens in advocacy.



2018 Calendar Photo Contest

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2018 Calendar Photo Contest

Now accepting submissions for 2018 Greater Cedar Mesa Calendar Contest

It’s that time of year again to go through your favorite prints of the greater Cedar Mesa area and pick out a few to share with FCM and other archaeology enthusiasts. FCM is now accepting photo submissions for our 2018 Greater Cedar Mesa Calendar. The calendar is a fun way for supporters to help FCM fundraise for our education, stewardship and advocacy work, and it is a way to show off the artistic talents of our Friends.

Submit your favorite photo or two of the greater Cedar Mesa area by May 15th for a chance to be featured in the forthcoming calendar. Winners will receive 10 free calendars. For now, you can send lower resolution files but we’ll need the full resolution version of the photo for printing (we’re talking a 9×12 inch image @ 360 dpi with multiple megapixels here). Preference will be given to photos showing diverse season (e.g. winter and fall). Keep in mind your photos should be landscape, not portrait, in dimensions. We also encourage you to submit photos that do not give too many revealing details about sensitive site locations. FCM does not publish site names or locations in the calendar.


Photos will be selected by FCM staff and Board Member/professional photographer Bruce Hucko. A few notes from our judge:
  • Check the sharpness and clarity of your image.  Fuzzy image will be cut.
  • Careful on your use of the Saturation Slider in PhotoShop or Lightroom.
  • FCM reserves the right to color correct or resize the image to fit calendar needs.
  • If we feel we need to CROP your image FCM will contact you for artistic approval.

We are now accepting submissions via email through May 15th, 2017.

Is your photo cover worthy? Submit away!

Visit with Respect Ambassador Training

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Visit with Respect Ambassador Training

VWR Ambassador Program launches with April 23 training

Rock art panels. Pot sherds on the ground below your feet. Ruins tucked beneath the cliff wall – and “Mary was here” scratched into the cliff?

Many people don’t know how to visit cultural and scientific sites like cliff dwellings, rock art panels, dinosaur fossils and historic structures respectfully. Friends of Cedar Mesa, in partnership with the BLM, is offering a positive response to the daily damage caused by uneducated visitors with the Visit with Respect Ambassador program. Join us as a volunteer ambassador to help spread the message of Visit with Respect and thereby reduce careless wear and tear on the sensitive archaeological sites in this area! As a volunteer, you will spend a few days a year (or more!) providing a friendly presence at the most frequently visited trails on Cedar Mesa and Comb Ridge and share pointers with others on how to carefully explore this archaeologically rich area.

In exchange for your time hiking, what will you receive as a volunteer? Besides access to volunteer trainings and fashionable Visit with Respect attire, you earn the knowledge that your time and skills are helping to protect Bears Ears National Monument. We offer multiple volunteer trainings annually to educate you about the area, introduce you to other dedicated and passionate volunteers and staff, and give you practice on how to best interact with visitors in a wide variety of situations.

We look forward to working with you! Please contact Erica Tucker, Visit With Respect Program Manager, for more information or to sign up. The first training will be held Sunday, April 23rd from 1:00 – 4:30 PM in Bluff, UT. If this time and date do not work for you, look for our fall training date or get in touch with Erica.

Most popular Celebrate Cedar Mesa weekend!

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Most popular Celebrate Cedar Mesa weekend!

Celebrate Cedar Mesa event draws record crowd

What a celebratory event! Friends of Cedar Mesa wants to thank the 400 guests who joined us in Bluff March 3-5th, 2017 for a weekend of learning, exploration, and conversation about Cedar Mesa and the future of Bears Ears. A special thanks goes to our sponsor, Opsrey Packs of Cortez, CO.

This was our biggest Celebrate Cedar Mesa event – so big in fact that it sold out two weeks in advance. We saw many new and familiar faces and learned that a quarter of our attendees traveled over 300 miles to take part in the weekend and celebrate the landscape.
The event kicked off Friday with four service projects, 40 volunteers, and 200 service hours on public lands in San Juan County.

Still smiling after helping with visitor improvements at Sand Island campground.

Friday evening, over one hundred folks gathered under the cold, dark skies of Calf Canyon to listen to and discuss Native and local perspectives on the Bears Ears landscape. Many thanks to Torrey House Press, Utah Humanities Council and our speakers for a stellar event.

Sam Mix of Osprey Packs was awarded “Backyard Champion of the Year” for their efforts to protect Bears Ears. Photo (c) Tim Peterson

FCM Board Members | Photo (c) Tim Peterson

Hopi Vice Chairmen Alfred Lomahquah spoke enthusiastically about the process to protecting Bears Ears, and its future | Photo (c) Tim Peterson

John Ruple discusses the legality of altering the Bears Ears National Monument | Photo (c) Tim Peterson

Archaeologist Don Simonis was awarded “Career of Service” for his time with the BLM. Photo (c) Tim Peterson

Saturday was a packed line-up of archaeology, policy, paleontology and general updates. The day closed with a keynote by author Craig Childs, who kept the audience captive with his tales of exploring Bears Ears and his call to protect it from “being devoured.”

Hikers respectfully explore areas of the new Bears Ears National Monument.

For the second year in a row, FCM organized workshops and free hikes for Friends. A range of local experts and Board Members helped take folks out on the landscape or hosted fantastic workshops about photography and pottery.

Thanks… and see you all next year!

Another year, a lot to celebrate, and even more to advocacy and on-the-ground work to accomplish in 2017. We hope to see you at Celebrate Cedar Mesa next year on March 2-4, 2018.

Earth Day Service Projects on Muley Point

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Earth Day Service Projects on Muley Point

Volunteer for Earth Day on Muley Point with the NPS

Saturday, April 22, 2017 – Muley Point, Utah – EVENT FULL

9 am – 2 pm

For the second year in a row, Friends of Cedar Mesa and the National Park Service of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area are partnering for an Earth Day of service on Muley Point. We would love to have you volunteer on the three projects planned:

  1. Trash clean-up around this popular scenic overlook
  2. Naturalization of a sensitive archaeological site that is being impacted by visitors
  3. Documentation of existing campsites (bring your smart phone if you have one!)

Sign up below, as space is limited. We will be emailing project details closer to the date, including information about the GPS requirements for campsite documentation. Folks are invited to participate in the campsite documentation even if they don’t have a smartphone or GPS device.

We will be meeting at 9 am in Bluff at the Community Center but for those already camping on the mesa, you can meet us at Muley Point at 10 am.

Celebrate Cedar Mesa: March 3-5, 2017

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Celebrate Cedar Mesa: March 3-5, 2017

Bears Ears: What lies ahead?

Celebrate Cedar Mesa is our annual gathering for people who care about the greater Cedar Mesa area and all of the fantastic public lands in San Juan County. This year’s event will be a true celebration with the recent designation of the Bears Ears National Monument! Join us for a weekend of fun, including a keynote by author Craig Childs.

This year’s weekend is presented by Osprey Packs.



Friday, March 3, 2017

10:00AM – 4:00PM: Service Projects – FULL

Registration for service projects is now full.

7:00PM – 9:00PM: Fireside Readings Co-hosted by Torrey House Press – Calf Canyon


Saturday, March 4, 2017

8:30AM – 5PM: Main Friends Gathering with keynote by Craig Childs, presentations, slideshows, research updates and more – FULL

  • View the finalized event program here. 
  • Registration for Saturday events is now full. We apologize for any inconvenience and hope to see you next year!
  • Sorry but furry friends (except service animals) are not allowed in the Community Center.

Friends Gathering Details

Location: Bluff Community Center

The Saturday program is the “main event” of our Celebrate Cedar Mesa weekend. You’ll hear a keynote presentation by author Craig Childs, updates on policy and research, see slideshows, and join in engaging conversation about key issues facing the area.

Registration includes:

  • A scrumptious lunch
  • Taco bar dinner
  • Admittance to “After Party,” with live music by Wake Up Laughing.

All registrants will be entered to win some fabulous door prizes provided by Osprey Packs, Patagonia, & The North Face.

6:00PM – 7:30PM: Potluck taco bar dinner at the Community Center

Out of town guests are encouraged to bring a dessert to share!

8:00PM – 10:00PM: After Party, with live music by Wake Up Laughing at Rusticks Gallery

After Party & Band Details

Location: Rusticks Gallery

Wake Up Laughing is a dynamic three-piece band out of SW Colorado. They bring an eclectic mix of originals with mindful lyrics and old-school covers with their own funky twists and turns. Their live shows are high energy with lots of smiling and laughter. Bring your dancing shoes and have a good time! Free entrance for all Gathering Registrants only.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

9:00AM Free Organized/Guided Hikes  – FULL

Organized Hiking Registration and Details

Location: Meet at Bluff Community Center to carpool

Click here to learn about hikes and register.

9:00AM Workshops

Workshop Registration and Details

Location: Meet inside Bluff Community Center 

FCM is hosting several engaging workshops with specialists. Registration costs range from $0 – $30. Group limits mean workshops will fill up quickly so register today!

Workshops include:

  • Photography
  • Ancestral Puebloan Replica Pottery painting & firing
  • Pottery Identification
  • Pottery Tally in-field workshop




Lodging & Camping –

If you are looking for a place to stay, has great ideas of local hotels. FCM has a reserved Group Campsite B at Sand Island Campground and there are a couple of spots left. Please email Amanda if you would like to reserve a spot there.

Top Memorable Moments of 2016

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Top Memorable Moments of 2016


Cedar Mesa protected in Bears Ears National Monument

History Made … Sigh of Relief!

What a campaign it has been. After years of collaborative work between Native American Tribes, archaeologists, conservation organizations and enthusiastic supporters, the Bears Ears cultural landscape was finally protected. The 1.35 million-acre National Monument was created just a few days before the end of 2016 on December 28.



Reward Fund to deter looting, vandalism

We’d been working for two years with law enforcement from various land management agencies to create a Reward Fund for looting and vandalism incidents when we heard of two more devastating incidents in early 2016: a rogue ATV rider who rode rampant over a Pueblo II site and an attempt to remove Basketmaker rock art with a rock saw. By May, we were ready to launch our $2500 Reward Fund in tandem with our Cultural Resource Defense Campaign. We are grateful for the support of the BLM, NPS and SITLA in making this reward fund a possible tool for deterring illegal activity. Supporters put up $8,000 for our Defense Campaign, but we have much more work to do. You can make a contribution to the reward fund and our monitoring programs today.


Interior Secretary Sally Jewell visits Bluff, listens to community about protecting Bears Ears

By our estimate, 1,400 people gathered in Bluff on a sweltering Saturday in July to share their perspectives on protecting Bears Ears with Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. The Secretary was joined by Robert Bonnie, Undersecretary of the US Department of Agriculture, BLM Director Neil Kornze, Park Service Director John Jarvis, and Acting Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Larry Roberts. Bluff provided a warm welcome to our visitors for the 4-hour listening session where almost everyone who spoke agreed: this area deserves protection.


New staff member Marcia Simonis to kickstarts Statewide Site Steward Program

This July, former Board Member and educator Marcia Simonis joined our staff as the Statewide Site Steward Program Coordinator for all of Utah. Marcia’s position is a partnership with the Utah BLM to develop and expand site steward monitoring programs for diverse audiences across the state. For the latest on Marcia’s work and the program, read her December report.


At a public meeting in Bluff, the vast majority of attendees opposed the sale, by show of hands.


Sale privatizes treasured part of Comb Ridge

On October 19, there was a ripple of broken hearts through Bluff and the greater community with connections to Comb Ridge when a 391-acre parcel of it was sold at auction. The private buyer, Lyman Family Farms, outbid conservation buyers at a SITLA auction. This land should never have been on the chopping block, and this sad tale shows what happens when lands that should be public are sold to the highest bidder.



The scenic Chimney Rocks area, where one well is planned, contains fragile hoodoos, similar to those found in Goblin Valley.


Bluff reacts to news of proposed oil wells near town

The news of 3 new oil wells on the Bluff Bench inside the original area proposed for protect by the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition galvanized the Bluff community in support of the National Monument. Together with the Bluff community and Bluff elected officials, we wrote letters, scheduled meetings and traveled to DC to learn more about the proposed BLM well applications and SITLA well and express our concerns that this proposed drilling is a direct threat to Bluff’s water and tourism-based economy. The fight is far from over, as much of the Bluff Bench was excluded from the new National Monument.



PLI legislation fails to win support of conservation community

We had always favored a legislative solution for protecting Cedar Mesa.  However, after working on the Public Lands Initiative process for three years, the PLI was introduced into the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and with far too many “poison pills” and last minute changes that forced us to oppose the legislation. With Congress wrapping up the 2016 session without protecting Cedar Mesa, we turned our hopes and efforts to President Obama and a National Monument.




Rock Art exhibit opens at Kane Gulch Ranger Station

If you haven’t yet checked out the new world-class rock art exhibit at Kane Gulch, make this a priority for 2017. The new exhibit at the Ranger Station on Cedar Mesa spans thousands of years of rock stories and goes into a level of fascinating detail that will please any archaeology nerd (like us!) This exhibit was made possible by our generous donors and a grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.


Bluff local and rock-art expert Joe Pachak helping to document pictographs in Grand Gulch.


Grand Gulch rock art recording project

In early September, a group of rock art buffs hiked into Grand Gulch with rock art expert Sally Cole to record two rock art panels with significant Basketmaker rock art. The cool part? We’re going to do more backcountry recording projects in the future!



BLM Launches Respect & Protect Program with support of FCM

Many cultural resource protection voices showed their support across Utah when the BLM launched the Respect & Protect campaign. The messaging and tools in this campaign will be used throughout the state to promote awareness and conservation of Utah’s archaeological and paleontological heritage. We’re excited to tier our Visit with Respect initiative campaign to the Respect & Protect campaign on current and future projects.


Best attended Celebrate Cedar Mesa

At our biggest Celebrate event yet, most attendees agree the highlight was the Native American Perspectives on Bears Ears Panel. We hope to see you at the 2017 Celebrate Cedar Mesa March 3-5 for a keynote by Craig Child, presentations, hikes, live music by Wake Up Laughing and more.

Volunteers at Muley Point removed 2000 lbs of trash from fire rings.


817 Service Hours on the landscape

Our service projects took us all over San Juan County this year: Elk Ridge, Cedar Mesa, Muley Point and the lands around Bluff. Many thanks to our many volunteers who put in some time and got their hands dirty.
It’s been quite the year for Friends of Cedar Mesa and our strong network of supporters. Read about our accomplishments in our 2016 Year End Wrap-Up, and see what we’re looking forward to in 2017!

2016 Volunteer & Donor Appreciation BBQ

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2016 Volunteer & Donor Appreciation BBQ

Volunteer & Donor Appreciation BBQ

November 12, 2016 at 5:00 pm – Bluff, UT


Please RSVP on the form below for the event.

Bluff Rallies For Bears Ears, Against Oilfield

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Bluff Rallies For Bears Ears, Against Oilfield

Biggest Threat in Bluff’s History

Map showing the Bluff area, proposed oil wells, and lands SITLA hopes to acquire for industrialization.

Map showing the Bluff area, proposed oil wells, and lands SITLA hopes to acquire for industrialization.

Friends of Cedar Mesa has learned that Bluff and the surrounding cultural landscape now face the largest threat in the area’s history. A new oil well is permitted to be drilled just two miles north of Bluff on Utah State Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) property. Two more oil wells are being planned on BLM land near Bluff. All three wells are proposed by EOG Resources, based out of Houston Texas. All the wells are inside the area proposed for National Monument protection by the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition.

These first wells to be drilled near Bluff in many years are the opening salvo in a plan by SITLA to industrialize a large 15,000 acre oil field on the Bluff Bench.

Many archaeological sites, like this one, are within the area SITLA wants excluded from the Monument for industrialization.

Many archaeological sites, like this one, are within the area that SITLA wants excluded from the Monument for industrialization.

If SITLA has its way, the areas surrounding Bluff to the North and East would be left out of a Bears Ears National Monument and the Federal government would give Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands to SITLA for the oil field in exchange for other lands within the Monument. In essence, SITLA is hoping to leverage a National Monument to industrialize the Bluff area, which would threaten Bluff’s water supply, visitor-based economy, and potential to continue as the Gateway to Bears Ears. Also at risk are sensitive archaeological sites, recreation assets, world-class scenery and dark skies.

It’s important to note that a Monument designation would not stop the planned wells, which would be considered “valid existing rights” because they are occurring on existing leases (mostly from the Bush Administration era).  However, new leasing for oil and gas would not be allowed in the Monument.

Bluff Community Rallies in Support of Bears Ears Monument

The scenic Chimney Rocks area, where one well is planned, contains fragile hoodoos, similar to those found in Goblin Valley.

The scenic Chimney Rocks area, where one well is planned, contains fragile hoodoos, similar to those found in Goblin Valley.

The Bluff community has been quietly supportive of National Monument protection and was the site of the peaceful public meeting in July with Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. However, this new threat has united the community to be vocal. The elected Bluff Service Area Board of Trustees voted to send a letter to Sally Jewell supporting protections for the Bluff area in a National Monument and opposing land trades to SITLA that would facilitate industrialization. Out of concerns for Bluff’s tourism economy, the Business Owners of Bluff, which represents commercial enterprises in town, also sent a letter to the Secretary supporting Monument boundaries that protect Bluff and opposing SITLA’s plans. The Bluff Water Works, which supplies culinary water to the town, sent a letter to SITLA opposing the industrialization plans that could easily contaminate Bluff’s water supply.

FCM Executive Director Josh Ewing and Bluff business leader Steve Simpson traveled to Washington D.C. last week to deliver these letters and a report with 7 reasons to protect the Gateway to Bears Ears to officials in the Obama Administration.

The big question is whether or not the Obama Administration will listen to local input in support of protecting Bluff in the Monument or if Utah’s anti-federal government political establishment will get its way, destroy the Gateway to Bears Ears, and leave fragile archaeology at risk.

What you can do

Bluff Locals: We encourage Bluff residents to write to Secretary Sally Jewell a personal, heartfelt, hand-signed letter explaining why it’s so important that she and President Obama listen to local input and include the Bluff area in the Bears Ears National Monument. Because time is so short for this critical decision to be made, we’ll need to hand deliver these letters. So, if you’re willing, please write your letter and drop it off at the FCM office (300 East Main Street in Bluff) by Friday, November 11th. Make sure to include your Bluff address on the letter.

Everyone else:

  • Make sure you’ve signed the petition in support of the Bears Ears National Monument.
  • Consider commenting to the BLM about the planned oil wells near Bluff. Comments are due November 11th. You can read some detail about the project and make comments here.

Sending comments to the BLM

The two planned wells on BLM land on the Bluff Bench are in the scoping phase of developing an Environmental Assessment (EA). The company EOG Resources has requested two Applications for a Permit to Drill (APD) on land that was leased years ago. It is important to comment during the scoping phase because you can help identify issues to be addressed in the draft EA. When you comment, here are some helpful things to keep in mind:

  • It’s not helpful to just tell the BLM not to drill here. Although we would have fought these leases had our organization existed back in 2006 when they were issued, they are legitimate leases.
  • Do raise concerns you have about well locations and impacts to be considered. It’s highly likely these wells could have impacts on cultural resources (creating and expanding roads), Bluff’s water supply (both would drill through the town’s aquifer), unique geological hoodoos, scenic values (both wells are in beautiful places used locally for recreation), and night sky impacts.
  • Given these issues, the BLM should take utmost care to pick well locations very carefully and require the operator to adhere to strict stipulations to protect cultural resources, air and water quality, and night skies.