More than 20,000 Americans call for a stop to railway through Ashley National Forest

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Josh Chetwynd

If built, the Uinta Basin Railway would allow oil-hauling trains to pass through a roadless area, destroying habitat

Environment America

DENVER – Environment America and Environmental Action delivered more than 20,000 petitions to the U.S. Department of Agriculture requesting that the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of the Interior stop plans to build an oil-hauling railway through the Uinta Basin in Utah’s Ashley National Forest. In November, the Forest Service green lit this dangerous plan (called the Uinta Basin Railway), which would allow oil-hauling trains to run through designated protected lands, threatening the mountain lions, bears, moose and other wildlife that live in the forest.

The initial development would include building five bridges and blasting three tunnels up to 2,100 feet wide. The trains would then travel through Colorado to Gulf Coast refineries. This would threaten the Colorado River, which 40 million people rely on for water.

“The Uinta Basin Railway would haul crude oil right through a roadless area which is protected by the Roadless Area Conservation Rule,” said Virginia Carter, public lands associate with Environment America. “It is absurd to develop a dangerous railway and haul oil through an area that is deemed too special to even build a road through.” 

The Ashley National Forest is home to more than 1 million acres of pristine wildlife and countless unique creatures. The area on Forest Service land is designated as a “crucial” habitat for bighorn, deer, and elk, all of which will be affected if the plans continue. 

“During a time when the West is seeing increased fires and droughts, this train line will only exacerbate these catastrophes by contributing to the growing climate crisis. This train would be like adding gas to the fire,” said Carter. “If the plan comes to fruition it will mean devastation for Ashley Forest, the wildlife that lives there, and our climate. Fortunately, it is not too late to stop development. The National Forest Service or the White House has the power to stop this before it is too late.”

 

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Environment America is a national network of 30 state environmental groups. Our staff work together for clean air, clean water, clean energy, wildlife and open spaces, and a livable climate. Our members across the United States put grassroots support behind our research and advocacy.

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