If you are a fan of off-roading, chances are that you have a desire to tackle the legendary trails that surround Moab, Utah. The quintessential gateway to Arches, Southwest, and Canyonlands National Park has long been home to events like the Easter Jeep Safari, but all of this adventuring could soon be a thing of the past.
According to a report The New Yorker, a massive portion of the Utah wilderness may soon fall under the purview of a fellow named Craig Larson and Prairie Hills Oil & Gas. The North Dakota fuel company has nominated 110,000 acres of federal land outside the 5,000-person town of Moab to be developed for gas and oil production. While it may seem ridiculous that someone could just purchase a chunk of a national park for their own business ventures, the action is actually allowed under the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920. Following their review process, the Bureau of Land Management is slated to auction off the parcel to the highest bidder in a September auction.
While there is no guarantee that Prairie Hills Oil & Gas will ultimately be the ones to take ownership over the land, their actions have made it clear that there is capital interest in the property. Should a gas and oil development happen, it could dramatically change both the natural and business landscape of the area.
Much of the economy is Moab is currently based around the flocks of people that come to visit this pristine example of the American west. There’s all things hiking, camping, mountain biking, and of course off-roading related. Moab has been home to the Easter Jeep Safari since 1967, when it was dreamed up by the local chamber of commerce Every year some of the most dedicated off-road enthusiasts flock to the small town to partake in the celebration of all things Jeep related. Even FCA themselves take huge pride in the event, building some of the coolest concept vehicles each year (except 2020) to tackle the rocky terrain.
America’s off-roading mecca is in danger, as is the park in which it resides. This is a part of the United States that is rich in archaeological material, and is of great importance to our Native population. While we’ll have to wait and see the results of the auction in September, things could soon be very different for the Jeep faithful and the people of Moab.