The Bureau of Land Management is getting an earful over its tentative approval of a lease to Alton Coal Development LLC, a group of Florida investors that want to expand an existing coal mining operation into public lands close to Bryce Canyon National Park.
The existing mine, on private land, is about 10 miles from Bryce Canyon National Park, is already disrupting the peace at park, says the National Park Service. The expansion would bring the noise, dust and light created by the mining activity even closer, degrading the park and hurting tourism.
Joining the NPS in its objection to the expansion is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife agency, which says the expansion would harm, or even wipe out, the southern populations of the greater sage grouse, a bird that has already found itself in the midst of a long battle between conservationists, ranchers, and energy developers in other parts of the West.