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Oil and gas development threatens Slickrock Trail

Could American energy policy threaten iconic Moab, Utah mountain bike destination?

Moab Slickrock

If you’ve ever dreamed of riding the iconic lines of Moab, Utah’s Slickrock Trail, take note. The trail, in Utah’s Sand Flats is in the early stages of being considered for oil and gas exploration.

Several parcels of land are up for auction by the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM). If sold, the land could be used for oil and gas drilling.

One in particular will be of interest to mountain bikers. The proposed parcel of land covers nearly 2/3 of Utah’s famous Slickrock Trail. The trail has been an iconic destination for mountain bikers since it was created in the 1980s. The parcel also covers an access road that leads to other storied local Moab trails, such as the Porcupine Rim trail.

It is one of several parcels of land that the BLM announced will up for auction. Following the announcement there is a 30-day protest period, reports the Salt Lake Tribune, which begins Thursday, 28 January, 2020. The Tribune also noted that the proposed areas have “very low potential for producing energy.”

Moab Utah Slickrock Trail
Racing Utah’s Slickrock Trail during the 2019 Moab Rocks stage race. Photo: John Gibson
Public opposition getting organized

Public opposition to the auction has already started in the days since BLM’s announcement. Ashley Korenblat is trying to direct and organize that opposition.

“If we speak up we have a really good chance of winning this one because it’s ridiculous,” Korenblat, a bike industry veteran and managing director of Moab-based nonprofit Public Land Solutions told BRAIN on Thursday. Part of Korenblat’s confidence is rooted in the argument that the land in question generates more revenue through recreation than it could as a source of oil.

“We have a good chance of winning, but not if we do nothing: funny how that works,” Korenblat added.

To make it easier for riders, members of the bike industries and businesses to get involved, Korenblat has crafted a letter to U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt. It is now posted on the PLS website. Korenblat is asking industry veterans and companies to contact her if they would like add their signature.

Slickrock Trail isn’t the only attraction being threatened by one of the proposed parcels of land. Another parcel is approximately one mile from Arches National Monument.