The Tavaputs Plateau and the Book Cliffs in Utah mark a gateway into one of the most remote areas of the Lower 48 states. Through it runs the Green River and east of the Green is Nine Mile Canyon. Promoted as "the world's longest art gallery", it contains one of the nation's greatest collections of prehistoric Indian rock art. In May 2012, small artifacts were unearthed from a recently discovered Fremont Indian pit house in Nine Mile Canyon. The pit house is one of at least a dozen cultural sites that have been found in the past year.
In 2008, a controversial oil and gas lease sale attempted to auction off, with little review, this and other highly sensitive areas in Utah's Red Rock country. The flawed leases were subsequently pulled from the chopping block and a recent settlement no longer allows the BLM to use a shortcut to approve oil and gas development when such activities may have adverse effects on critical areas of historical, cultural or ecological significance.
In 2010, an historic agreement was reached between the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and Bill Barrett Corporation, proponents of the West Tavaputs Natural Gas Full Field Development Plan. This agreement substantially reduces the project's environmental impacts and contains a commitment not to construct wells on existing leases in the Jack and Desolation Canyon Wilderness Study Areas and to minimize the amount of surface disturbance in areas with wilderness characteristics.
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