The U.S. Department of the Interior regularly leases public lands in order to extract natural resources, but that leasing process has not always been fair to the citizens of this country who are collectively the technical owners of these public lands. A new process has emerged called “Master Leasing Plans” (MLP) and it is quickly gaining in popularity. MLP’s are intended to engage all the people who may be impacted by these leases and they allow for a variety of issues to be considered, including: hunting and angling, farming and ranching, cultural resource protection, conservation, recreation, property ownership, local government, and oil and gas development.
The newest example of how successful this process can be is playing out in Moab, Utah where officials are working to accommodate mineral development while protecting the renowned red-rock landscape. “Moab has some of the most iconic scenery on the Colorado Plateau, but it is also rich with energy resources, so we need to take a landscape-level approach to minimize potential resource conflicts,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in a news release. “As the first master leasing plan in Utah, this collaborative planning process should serve as a model for how communities can work together to balance development with protecting world-class environmental, cultural and recreational resources.”
Currently, Latino voices are largely missing from these planning conversations. We should be engaged, given the value of these western lands and waters to our communities and our way of life. HECHO encourages Utah residents to attend one of the upcoming public meetings – together, we can elevate the Latino voice!