A new organization comprised of National Park Rangers introduced itself to the country, Monday. Park Rangers for Our Lands (PROL), the brainchild of leader Ranger Ellis Richard, will work to create public awareness of the threats America’s current drilling policies pose to National Parks.
Richards created the organization after hearing numerous stories from rangers serving in western parks of how oil and gas drilling is encroaching on these protected lands. PROL’s primary goal is to inform people about the threat National Parks are under from the impacts of oil and gas drilling, and urge the federal government to adopt a more balanced approach to drilling.
“National Parks like Dinosaur National Monument, Mesa Verde National Park and Chaco Canyon are crucial to the west,” said Ellis. “They help define the region’s identity, they drive state and local economies, and they’re a part of the history that we want to see passed down to our children and grandchildren. Park Rangers for Our Lands will work to create public awareness of the threats our nation’s current drilling policies pose to National Parks. We will use that awareness to drive change in how we decide where to drill, in this country.”
National Parks generate $30.1 billion in economic activity each year. Western states have seen public outcry rise in recent years in response to Bureau of Land Management (BLM) decisions to lease land near and adjacent to parks for oil and gas drilling. In 2013, Colorado BLM proposed oil and gas leasing on thousands of acres next to Dinosaur National Monument, including land next to its visitor center. The state office also proposed oil and gas leasing near Mesa Verde National Park, which is already experiencing diminished air quality as a result of existing drilling.
“Our parks are under siege. Oil and gas drilling is encroaching our public lands from all sides,” continued Ellis. “We need balance. We know some of these solutions will be hard to find, but that doesn’t mean we can just give up. We need the BLM to work with its neighbors at the National Park Service and come up with common sense ways to protect the parks, the air quality in the region, and keep the West a beautiful place to visit.”
Visit the group’s website at www.parkrangers.org to learn more.