"MOAB, Utah — A different kind of spire is jutting into the iconic red rock vistas of Moab.
It is the scaffolding of drilling rigs, and it heralds a new chapter in Moab's long history of energy extraction. Moab may have been comfortable with the uranium industry that put it on the map in another century. But having an oil patch in the midst of this area's popular national parks and renowned recreational backcountry is jarring to some residents.
Oil and gas wells have been drilled piecemeal around here for decades. But today's wells represent a kind of backcountry industrialization that this area hasn't dealt with before.
The area where the drilling is taking place attracts an estimated 500,000 backcountry recreationists a year. Those visitors are now a bedrock of Moab's economy. Seventy percent of jobs in Grand County derive from tourism, and recreation accounts for three times more of the public lands revenue that brings in about $200 million to Moab each year. Extractive industries account for the rest."