From Island Packet:

— The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is pulling back most oil and gas leases up for sale in culturally rich areas of southeastern Utah.

The agency is deferring leasing decisions on 36 of 53 parcels on the auction block around Alkali Ridge and Montezuma Canyon after conservation groups raised concerns the sale could harm archaeological resources.

The auction is set for Tuesday in Salt Lake City.

Josh Ewing of Friends of Cedar Mesa hails the BLM’s action, saying “special care needs to be taken” to protect archaeological resources in areas with many cultural sites.

But Kathleen Sgamma of the Western Energy Alliance criticizes the action, telling The Salt Lake Tribune ( ) the amount of lease acreage being offered by the BLM is down 77 percent since 2008.

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