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Tavaputs agreement to be signed

After more than a year of hard work, a landmark agreement protecting cultural resources while permitting orderly and environmentally responsible natural gas development on the West Tavaputs Plateau near Nine Mile Canyon will be finalized with a signing ceremony at the State Capitol, Gold Room on Jan. 5, 2010 at 1 p.m.

Primary signatories for this historic programmatic agreement (PA) include the Bureau of Land Management, the Utah State Historic Preservation Office, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, Carbon and Duchesne Counties, and West Tavaputs gas development project proponent Bill Barrett Corporation.

Concurring signatories include the Utah State Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office, the Nine Mile Canyon Coalition, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Utah Rock Art and Research Association, the Colorado Plateau Archaeological Alliance, the Utah Professional Archaeologists Council, and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

"This agreement represents the kind of solution that can emerge when we successfully bring together groups with varied perspectives to find common ground," said Selma Sierra, BLM Utah state director. "Collaboration like this helps us effectively meet the challenge of managing public lands for multiple uses."

The BLM Utah made crafting a successful agreement possible by inviting all parties to participate in the development process. These parties collaborated to create an agreement that promotes environmental responsible and balanced energy development while protecting the area's abundant cultural resources. The resulting agreement addresses other project development issues, including dust raised by increased vehicle traffic and possible visual and auditory impacts associated with energy development.

Moreover, the agreement will benefit the public by providing for the enhancement and interpretation of key archaeological sites in Nine Mile Canyon.

"The rock art and archaeological sites on the West Tavaputs Plateau are everyone's heritage. They are priceless," said Wilson Martin, state historic preservation officer.

According to Lori Hunsaker, deputy state historic preservation officer, "When cultural resource issues arise in the future, we can sit down together with the expectation that we can find a way to protect the cultural resources-and at the same time develop the energy resources."

For more information on this historic agreement or the recent listing of Nine Mile Canyon on the National Register, please contact Megan Crandall at (801)539-4061.

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