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Dirtbag Monkey Wrenches Utah Land Auction - You Can Help Too
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Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Dirtbag Monkey Wrenches Utah Land Auction - You Can Help Too on 01/05/2009 23:07:18 MST Print View

From Patagonia's Cleanest Line blog:

Idealists are frequently told that "hope" is not a strategy. Perhaps not, but it breeds inspiration, and inspiration is nothing if not the mother of the marvelous. And hope and inspiration together . . . Why, don't they create the foundation upon which all great strategies are formed?

On December 19th, Tim DeChristopher confessed in hushed tones to his roommate that, in fact, he didn't have a plan. What he had was a strong desire to protect a landscape he loves, and a hope that he could still do something about it. So Mr. DeChristopher did something truly unprecedented--something inspiring--and in so doing, accomplished something truly marvelous. In short, his simple, solitary action short-circuited the inexorable machinations of the U.S. gover'naut and their attempts to push through an eleventh-hour sale of some prime Utah wilderness. He did this in the span of a couple of hours, armed with little more than a paddle and a purpose.

The government action in question was the much-contested auction of nearly 200,000 acres of wild Utah situated near some of its most vast and ancient treasures: Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Desolation Canyon to name a few. Realizing that letter writing and picketing, no matter how tireless, were not going to halt the sale of this acreage to oil and mining interests, Tim DeChristopher placed his picket sign down in front of the BLM building where he was protesting and chose a new course of action. A columnist for a local paper here in Reno offers this description of the events:

So there was De Christopher, at the BLM office in Salt Lake City on the morning of Dec. 19, along with about 200 other unhappy folks. He thought about the times he had written letters to congressmen, had protested outside of government offices, and had signed petitions. “What the environmental movement has been doing in the last 20 years hasn’t worked,” he told the Salt Lake City Tribune later. “There comes a time to take a stand.” And then, following a positively inspired hunch, he took one.

He left the protest in front of the BLM office, headed upstairs, and registered to be a part of the auction action. Then, he began to bid. Over the next couple of hours, De Christopher showed that an auction paddle can be a far more effective “monkey-wrenching” tool than a tree spike or sugar in a gas tank. He bid on every parcel, driving up the prices on many, and won 10 for himself, at a total tab of $1.8 million. Finally, the real oil people and BLM staffers began to catch on that they were being hornswaggled by some goofus in a big red parka who sure didn’t look like a Conoco executive. That’s when a couple of cops came over and asked Mr. Big Bidder to come with them into the next room for a bit of a credit check, whereupon De Christopher ’fessed up that he didn’t have any money whatever and no intention of paying for the land that he had just “purchased.” And that’s when the feds realized they had just taken a cream pie to the kisser

From hope, came inspiration, and from inspiration, action. Now the stage is set for a new strategy. That strategy is taking shape at, where money is being raised to secure Tim's winning bids. While some have raised objections that American citizens should not have to pay for lands they own and which never should have been offered for sale, it's worth noting that money paid by American people to the U.S. government is money paid to America. Which is to say us. All things considered, $1.8 million is a sweetheart deal for nearly $150,000 acres of the country's prettiest real-estate. At a time like this who deserves a deal like that; oil companies, or the American people?

Another point: by bidding on these parcels, Mr. DeChristopher has opened up a new possibility for protecting treasured landscapes. It will take $45,000 for Mr. DeChristopher to secure his winning bids, which will ensure they remain untouched throughout the hurried and confusing process of the pending administration change. That same sum spent on advertising and legal fees would not have gone nearly as far in securing these parcels until such time as a newly seated administration will be able to devote the proper amount of time and attention to considering their sale. From here, it looks like Tim followed the formula of many a climber, surfer, skiier, biker, etc: consider the predicament, see the impossibility of standard approaches, silence the naysayers, and pursue the cleanest line.

So here's to the heart of wild Utah. And here's to Tim DeChristopher,
who in the true spirit of "inspiration" has breathed life back into a
body of tired crusaders.

Check the Salt Lake Tribune's website for complete coverage of this unique auction, and check out and to lend your support to Tim's efforts on behalf of Utah's wilderness.

[Photo: Tim DeCristopher speaks with members of the news media after he was escorted out of the Bureau of Land Management offices in Salt Lake City on Friday, Dec. 19, 2008 following DeChristoper's bid on several oil and gas leases during a BLM auction. (Steve Griffin/The Salt Lake Tribune)]

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Re: Dirtbag Monkey Wrenches Utah Land Auction - You Can Help Too on 01/06/2009 06:22:15 MST Print View

Excellent! Hope the rest of the $45k comes in to secure the deposit by the 9th. Looks like he's halfway there already. How long will he then have to get the rest of the $1.8million together?

I was on a similar roller coaster ride a couple of years ago when I started a collection for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance following TV celebrity Richard Hammonds 280mph crash in a jet powered car. I had no permission to fundraise in his name, and things were a bit scary for a few days until his wife endorsed the action. The collection raised £240,000 and enabled The Yorkshire Air Ambulance Service to buy a second helicopter.

I hope you all back this guy and buy some of Utah! Maybe if you turned it into a wildlife reserve or something, that would prevent the development of the other parcels bought up by the Oil and Gas companies?

How about if the organisers pledged to sell off the land in 10 yard square parcels for a nominal fee to those who donate? That would create a real headache for any authority which tried to compulsarily buy the land back... :-)

Edited by tallbloke on 01/06/2009 06:25:40 MST.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Dirtbag on 01/06/2009 06:33:38 MST Print View

Geez, it's not like he bought the land, or can do what he wants with it; the BLM still controls all surface use. He leased the minerals, the sale of which, assuming there are any, also pay us. If he fails to attempt to develop it, he may be required to pay minimum royalties. And if it's like most Federal leases, it's only for 5 years.

Edited by skinewmexico on 01/06/2009 06:39:23 MST.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Dirtbag Monkey Wrenches Utah Land Auction - You Can Help Too on 01/06/2009 10:16:55 MST Print View

It's the fact that he took ground-floor, grass-roots action. If nothing else this will tie some things up in court and allow an organization like the Sierra Club or similar to raise funds, awareness, etc and hopefully buy time for the environmental cause.

Peter Sustr
(czechxpress) - F - M

Locale: Boulder
Help Monkey Wrench Land Auction-Utah on 01/06/2009 13:33:02 MST Print View

Hey Guys,

I just made my donation and I hope others will follow suit. I feel that he did what all of us wish we could do and had the B*LLS to do it.

Please support his legal defense fund and lets see if we can all show the 'machine' that we can stand together.