This week, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation sent letters to the Bureau of Land Management raising concerns about plans to open Nine Mile Canyon for new energy development. The canyon, situated in eastern Utah's Tavaputs Plateau, is home to ancient rock art, which has already endured damage due to increased truck traffic from the current energy boom. The BLM's plans will allow more than 800 new gas wells in the area.
The Advisory Council claims that the BLM has not adequately assessed the damage that drilling could have on the cultural sites in the canyon, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
The council's intervention comes as welcome news to archaeologists, conservationists and area tribes who have criticized the hasty giveaway of these public lands to the Bill Barrett Corp.
The Advisory Council is supposed to have authority over the BLM when it comes to interpreting the National Historic Preservation Act. For now, driling is delayed. But it is possible that modest modifications to the BLM's drilling plan could be enough to satisfy the council.