Guest column: Standing at the gates
Much has been written and said recently regarding gating roads adjacent to Bill Barrett Corporation's West Tavaputs Project area. What has been lacking in this dialog is Bill Barrett Corporation's perspective and reasons for requesting the gates as part of our development.
Our development has already brought change to the Plateau, most noticeably in the hard-surfacing of Nine Mile Canyon road this summer.
Additionally, the roads to the top of the Plateau and those on top are being upgraded to support the year-round ingress and egress of the many people, services and equipment necessary to develop the natural gas resources. In sum, for the forseeable future, the West Tavaputs Plateau will be a much more accessible and populous area than it has been in the past. As a result, the barriers of remoteness and inaccessibility that preserved the remarkable gems of Horse Bench, Cedar Bench and other areas along Desolation Canyon will be removed. Many more, orders of magnitude more, people will be knocking on the door of these special places, posing real threats to solitude, wildlife, archeology and the overall natural character of these areas.
Bill Barrett Corporation's sense of corporate stewardship remains unchanged since arriving in your community nearly nine years ago- minimize our impacts; leave things the way we found them. Minimizing our footprint means we must strive to preserve the very values that have been so eloquently described in earlier editions of the Sun Advocate.
In that light, Bill Barrett Corporation was obligated to request gates to protect the areas behind them. We also believe that the Bureau of Land Management, the State of Utah, and Carbon County Commissioners were wise to support and authorize gates. With this measure, we are hopeful that the next generation will be able to enjoy what we and Carbon County residents have had the privilege to experience.
We also hope that Carbon County residents will also find the loss of vehicular access to these areas acceptable in light of the project benefits. The project will bring $6 billion in investment and associated jobs over a project life that spans several decades. Hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties will accrue to Utah and Carbon County, reducing the taxes that households would otherwise pay for government services, with significant benefit accrued both to the Carbon County School District and Recreation/Transportation Special Service District in particular. The project will also generate millions of dollars for wildlife habitat improvements and archeological projects.
We have been welcomed warmly by Carbon County, and feel that we all understand what long-term investment in your area means in terms of mutual benefits we will all share for some time to come.
Bill Barrett Corporation thanks and respects you, our hosts in eastern Utah.
I and our staff welcome your input at all times.