Groups Soliciting Funds to Buy BLM Leases

Groups Soliciting Funds to Buy BLM Leases

by Ben Winslow

Supporters of a man who disrupted an auction of land for oil and gas development near some of Utah’s most famous national parks are trying to raise money to buy the land themselves.

 

[Tim DeCristopher speaks with members of the news media after he was escorted out of the Bureau of Land Management offices in Salt Lake City on Friday, Dec. 19, 2008 following DeChristoper's bid on several oil and gas leases during a BLM auction. DeCristopher tainted an auction of oil and gas drilling leases by bidding up parcels of land by hundreds of thousands of dollars without any intention of paying for them, a federal official said. (AP Photo/The Salt Lake Tribune, Steve Griffin)]Tim DeCristopher speaks with members of the news media after he was escorted out of the Bureau of Land Management offices in Salt Lake City on Friday, Dec. 19, 2008 following DeChristoper’s bid on several oil and gas leases during a BLM auction. DeCristopher tainted an auction of oil and gas drilling leases by bidding up parcels of land by hundreds of thousands of dollars without any intention of paying for them, a federal official said. (AP Photo/The Salt Lake Tribune, Steve Griffin)

The Moab-based Center for Water Advocacy has set up a legal defense fund for Tim DeChristopher on its Web site, wateradvocacy.org. DeChristopher won bids totaling about $1.7 million in his efforts to disrupt the controversial Dec. 19 auction. 

“Tim is asking that if you care about Utah’s canyon country, you help us raise the funds to actually complete the purchase of these leases! Let’s keep the land out of production and keep it wild!” the group said.

Paying for the leases could keep DeChristopher out of legal trouble. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for Utah told the Deseret News earlier this week that it is still screening the case against DeChristopher to determine whether it will seek a federal grand jury indictment. The charge being considered is likely one of making a false statement.

DeChristopher, 27, has admitted to bidding to run up the value of some parcels. He won 13 parcels of land but said he had no intention of paying for them. When other bidders became suspicious, he was taken into custody by federal authorities.

A total of 116 of the 131 parcels of land were auctioned off, but the Bureau of Land Management said it is still unsure if it will have to re-do the auction.

The auction itself generated protests and controversy because many of the parcels are near national parks or wilderness areas. More than 100 parcels were dropped from the auction list by the BLM under pressure from environmentalists, outdoor-retail industry groups and even the National Park Service because they were too near tourist hotspots Arches and Canyonlands national parks.

A federal lawsuit over the auction remains pending.

Meanwhile, DeChristopher is being hailed on the Internet as an environmentalist folk hero on blogs and Web sites.

“The federal officials who took me into custody said that I cost the oil companies in the room hundreds of thousands of dollars and prevented 22,500 acres of land from being sold for fossil fuel development,” DeChristopher wrote in a Dec. 20 commentary on the blog oneutah.org. “I had a very open conversation with the federal agents about my motives and values. They were friendly, respectful, and somewhat sympathetic.”

DeChristopher acknowledges he faces the possibility of prison time, but believes what he did was right.

“If I am not willing to take a stand for my generation, then who will?” he wrote. “This year I have come to terms with the idea that I might be my own best hope to defend my future. Hopefully all of us will realize that we are the ones we have been waiting for.”

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1 Comment »

  1. 11th Hour for Cloud’s Herd,
    URGENT MESSAGE ABOUT THE PYRORS
    Please act now to stop this unnecessary and cruel round up— the BLM still plans to move forward on September 1st

    The Bureau of Land Management is rounding up and eliminating 12 herds (650 horses) off 1.4 million acres in Nevada right now– next they plan to destroy Cloud’s herd with a massive removal of 70 horses that would include OLDER HORSES and YOUNG FOALS.
    Many of the horses you have come to love in the Cloud shows and will meet in the new Cloud show on October 25th will lose their families and their freedom next week. By zeroing out whole herds and reducing others to below genetic viability, the BLM is circumventing the will of Congress. The House just passed the Restoring of American Mustangs (ROAM) act and the Senate will review this bill (now S.1579) when they return from recess in September. Is BLM just trying to do as much irrevocable damage to America’s wild horses as they can before Congress can act?
    This round up will start on September 1st unless we can stop it. Removing 70 horses will destroy this unique little Spanish herd, leaving them well below the bare minimum for genetic viability. The range is in great condition and the horses are healthy. This removal should be stopped. Please do all you can to help! Listen to Ginger Kathrens on Endangered Stream Live– a special edition show “Angels for Cloud”

    National Call in Day for Cloud is Friday, August 28th — SPREAD THE WORD! Have your kids call in and write too– These horses need to be preserved for future generations and we must act NOW

    1. Call/write/fax President Obama as often as you can—this herd is a national treasure and should not be wiped out by a government agency. Please flood the phone lines with calls! Phone: 202-456-1111 or 202-456-9000 Fax: 202-456-2461
    E-mail Obama

    2. Ask Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar to stop this round up
    Call: 202-208-3100
    Write: feedback@ios.doi.gov

    3. BLM Director Bob Abbey, tell him to halt this round up– he must reconsider his agency’s actions
    Call: 202-208-3801
    Fax: 202-208-5242
    Robert_Abbey@blm.gov

    4. Call and write your own Senators and Congress people- tell them that Montana is allowing the destruction of Cloud’s unique and historical wild horse herd. Politely express your outrage and ask them to help stop this round up. Find your state offices here

    Listen to Ginger Kathrens NOW on “WFL Endangered Stream Live”

    REMEMBER: National Cloud Call-In Day is FRIDAY, AUGUST 28th!

    Thank you to everyone for signing the petition- we only need about 400 more signatures!


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