More than 30 national companies cosigned an open letter to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar in defense of a proposed wilderness area surrounding Desolation Canyon, Utah. The letter was penned by Black Diamond Equipment founder and CEO Peter Metcalf and strongly supported by the Outdoor Industry Association.

The conflict regards a Gasco Natural Gas Development Project that is being considered for approval by the Bureau of Land Management. If approved as currently proposed, this project will be devastating to one of the nation’s wilderness crown jewels and river-trip destinations: Desolation Canyon. The current version of the Gasco project being considered by the BLM would authorize more than 125 new well pads in the Desolation Canyon proposed wilderness.

“Gasco development in the proposed wilderness is economically the wrong thing to do,” explains Metcalf. “Utah’s outdoor recreation industry adds $4 billion to Utah’s economy, as well as supports 65,000 jobs and generates about $300 million in annual state sales tax revenue. The widespread support of many top outdoor industry brands shows cohesion within an industry that contributes over $730 billion in a sustainable economic growth to the US economy.”

An alternative in the draft environmental impact statement for the Gasco project evaluated a development plan that would preserve the critical Desolation Canyon recreational experience while still allowing the company to access the majority of the public’s natural gas reserves in the area. This alternative (known as “Alternative E”) “should be the starting point for any proposed development on public lands in the area,” says Metcalf. “This is the alternative supported by the Environmental Protection Agency and tens of thousands of Americans who recognize that there can be a balance between energy development, protecting our wild places, and a vibrant and vigorous recreation industry.”

To view the official letter to Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, please click here.

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