Here in the Telluride area, many local outdoor enthusiasts are just returning from enjoying the natural splendor of the area in and around Canyonlands and Arches National Monument. Some of those, profoundly affected by the rugged beauty of these unspoiled lands are unaware of the critical role played by Tim Dechristopher in their protection.
In an underhanded final effort of the George W. Bush administration to reward the oil, gas and mineral extraction industries, the BLM hastily organized an auction of development rights on the magnificent parcels surrounding Canyonlands. In their haste, the auction was made illegal through a failure to perform Environmental Impact Statements on these environmentally sensitive areas. Using the number “70” bidding paddle, Tim outbid the oil and gas interests to rescue vast expanses, containing delicate desert ecosystems. His disruptive efforts bought the needed time and brought focus to this dubious proceeding. The auction was declared unlawful and the results were nullified. After performing the required Environmental Impact Statements many of the parcels were declared too environmentally sensitive and deferred for federal protection. In spite of this, Tim Dechristopher (Bidder 70) was convicted, essentially for stopping a crime, and sentenced to two years in federal prison.
On April 21, Tim will be released. The next day, on April 22 (Earth Day), he will give his first speech in two years at a location in Salt Lake City. Through the efforts of the Wilkinson Library, this speech will be live-streamed, along with a screening of the locally produced documentary, Bidder 70. Preceding the screening will be a panel discussion on civil disobedience. The event will be at the Palm Theater, with the panel discussion beginning at 5 p.m. and the screening/speech beginning at 6 p.m.
Please take time this Earth Day (and every day) to reflect on the importance of protecting the fragile ecosystem that we call earth. Together, let’s celebrate the release of a true environmental champion.
I hope to see you there.
– Dan Chancellor