November 2010

  • November 30th, 2010

    Development threatens water supply in the Southwest

    Kuhn admits he was surprised by the model that delivered the 5 percent estimate, which he believes could change with additional study. “The number is only as good as the model, but whether it’s 4 percent or 6 percent, that’s a lot of water.”

    Driving frequently for the last 30 years between Glenwood Springs and Flagstaff, Ariz., where his parents live, Kuhn believes that livestock grazing no longer disturbs the soil significantly. Instead, he blames recreation, development and roads for breaking the microbial layers on desert soils, allowing dust to be picked up by winds.  Read more – New West

    Oil shale development could have "significant" impacts on water quality and quantity

    "The Government Accountability Office says in a report released Monday that oil shale development could have 'significant' impacts on water quality and quantity, but more research is needed to determine the effects. The GAO says up to 12 barrels of water, or about 500 gallons, may be needed to produce a barrel of oil. It urges the Interior Department to coordinate more research."  Read more – The Salt Lake Tribune

    Uncertainties remain about oil shale impacts

    "A new government report says oil shale development of deposits in Utah, Colorado and Wyoming remains a big question mark, hindered by the vast amount of uncertainties regarding its impact to the amount of water — and the quality of water — in the arid region.

    Released Monday by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the report said it is estimated there are as many as 3 trillion barrels of oil in the Green River Formation, and developing ways to extract it have spanned a century.

    Despite this, however, land managers have only just begun to explore probable impacts to groundwater and surface water, an effort described by the GAO as "nascent" and falling well short of what is needed to monitor impacts."  Read more – Deseret News

  • November 29th, 2010

    Another western newspaper calls for an end to “No More Wilderness”

    “Ideally, Secretary Salazar would rescind the Utah agreement, which has all the high-handedness of the Ulysses Grant-administration giveaways of the American West. But if he can’t see his way to doing that, he must clarify Interior Department policy to say, loud and clear, that whatever deal was cut with Utah is not — repeat not — department policy.

    For, as policy, it would strip Interior’s Bureau of Land Management of its authority to protect wilderness-study areas until Congress can act on wilderness designation. Since that latter action isn’t likely during the upcoming Congress, wilderness-study-area protection may be all that stands in the way of the seismo-trucks and test-drill rigs. ”  Editorial – Santa Fe New Mexican

    Terry Tempest Williams Remembers Stewart Udall

    “Consider his legacy: Udall was a driving force in both the writing and passage of the 1964 Wilderness Act, which included 9.2 million acres of public lands. Today, more than 100 million acres of wilderness have been protected. Under his leadership, sixty additions were made to the National Park Service, including the creation of Canyonlands, North Cascades, and Redwood National Parks, eight national seashores, nine recreation areas, twenty national historic sites, and fifty-six wildlife refuges preserving critical wetland habitats for migratory waterfowl.”  Read more – The Progressive

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  • November 29th, 2010
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    Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
    photo by Ray Bloxham

    The Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (GCNRA) encompasses a significant portion of Utah’s redrock country in southern Utah. Authorized in 1972 and managed by the National Park Service (NPS), it covers 1.25 million acres of remote and wild canyon country. This magnificent landscape is surrounded by equally impressive lands in Canyonlands and Capitol Reef National Parks, the Vermilion Cliffs and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, BLM-managed wilderness-quality lands, and the Navajo Nation. NPS is currently drafting an off-road vehicle (ORV) plan for the GCNRA. You can help preserve some of southern Utah’s most beautiful wildlands from the long-term scars and impacts of ORV use by submitting comments on the plan by November 30.

    The GCNRA was designated to “. . . preserve the scenic, scientific, and historic features contributing to the pubic enjoyment of the area . . .” in addition to providing for the recreational use and enjoyment of Lake Powell and the adjacent lands. Although the primary feature of the GCNRA is Lake Powell, the remaining 87% is undeveloped lands, containing pre-historic cultural sites, wildlife habitat, and outstanding opportunities for a pure wilderness experience. NPS has recommended nearly one-half of the GCNRA for wilderness designation. These lands must be protected from ORV impacts.

    Currently, NPS allows street legal ATVs  to drive on all dirt routes in the GCNRA (more than 300 miles), even though Canyonlands and Capitol Reef National Parks prohibit the use of ATVs within the parks. The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument restricts them to a few routes. In addition, some of the routes NPS proposes for ATV and other motor vehicle use in the GCNRA lead to trails closed to public and/or ATV use in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, in Canyonlands National Park, and to lands proposed for wilderness.

    Please urge the Superintendent of the GCNRA to comply with the Executive Order No. 11644 governing ORV use in the GCNRA, which requires NPS to protect the natural resources and public lands from ORV impacts, to promote public safety of all users of those lands, and to minimize impacts to natural resources and the conflicts among various users of those lands and to allow ATV and other ORV use on routes and in “open areas” only after NPS has determined that such use will not affect the natural, aesthetic or scenic values of the areas in which the routes or “open” areas are located. Finally, please urge the Superintendent to protect the lands recommended for wilderness designation and the irreplaceable cultural resources of the GCNRA from the impacts of off-road vehicle use.

    Thank you for all you do!

  • November 22nd, 2010

    Former BLM Director calls for end to "No More Wilderness" settlement

    "The Salt Lake Tribune’s recent editorial 'More wilderness' hit the nail right on the head. The time has certainly arrived for Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to openly repudiate one of the last administration’s most odious policies — the so-called 'no more wilderness' agreement between then Interior Secretary Gale Norton and then Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt."  Opinion – The Salt Lake Tribune

    Utah lawmakers seek to add "petroleum literacy" to the classroom

    "A committee in the Utah state legislature is pushing the Mineral and Petroleum Literacy Act, which seeks to 'educate' children about mining and petroleum drilling. The funds for the program would come out of surplus mining profits.

    Rep. Jack Draxler (R) sponsored the act, which the Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Interim Committee recommended Wednesday.

    Draxler told Brandon Loomis of the Salt Lake Tribune that most Utah kids don't know that oil, gas and coal contribute to their education, and to the state's economy. 'Most of them,' he said, 'don't know their iPods, their toothbrushes, their homes and their roads are all products of this kind of natural resource development.'"  Read more – Talking Points Memo

    Interior Secretary: Protecting public lands can help grow and diversify Western rural economies

    "In remote Kane County, Utah, where the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is located, nearly three-fourths of the net growth in personal income in the last 30 years has been from retirement funds, money from past investments, and other “non-labor‟ sources.

    Another study of the economic impact of National Landscape Conservation System lands on county economies found that real personal income grew at a rapid pace in the majority of counties adjacent to these units."  Read more – The Colorado Independent

    Also: BLM's conservation areas provide multiple uses and should be supported.  Editorial – Las Vegas Sun

  • November 19th, 2010

    November 2010

    Here’s what is happening this month with the redrock:
    1.  Our new media campaign is up and running!
    2.  Western newspapers editorialize against the “No More Wilderness” policy.
    3.  Go into the field with Brooke and Terry Tempest Williams.
    4.  Help protect Arch Canyon!

    SUWA is On the Air in Utah

    [object Object]Last week’s launch of our sustained, multi-year media campaign here in Utah is off to a strong start.

    Relying heavily on broadcast and cable television spots, online ads throughout Utah, and outdoor advertising in the Salt Lake City metro area, the campaign is designed to capitalize upon a growing shift in public opinion about wilderness, and to further educate Utah residents about wilderness as a valuable part of our state’s heritage.

    The ads, which can be seen on the morning, midday, evening and late night newscasts on every channel in Utah (as well as multiple cable channels and online), are already having an impact. In less than two weeks, over 1500 people have signed up on Facebook in support of Utah wilderness, and contributions in support of the media campaign have come in from across the country from people like you.

    To learn more about the media campaign and to see the first three television ads airing now throughout Utah, visit

    Western Newspapers call for an end to “No More Wilderness”

    Upper Red Canyon

    Upper Red Canyon remains threatened
    by the “No More Wilderness” policy.
    Photo copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA.

    In the past month, two major Intermountain West newspapers editorialized in favor of rescinding the egregious “No More Wilderness” policy, which threatens millions of acres of wilderness-quality public land in Utah and other western states.  Almost two years into the Obama administration, this Bush-era policy remains in place.

    On October 29, the Denver Post called on Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to “pull the Interior Department back from the extreme position it holds on the designation and protection of wild public lands.” Further, “Interior Secretary Ken Salazar should order his agency to reverse course. These wild and beautiful places ought to be safeguarded while federal lawmakers mull whether they ought to be given more permanent protection.”

    Then, on November 10, the Salt Lake Tribune editorialized that “Salazar can and should overrule the 2003 deal and return to the accepted interpretation of FLPMA. Once our outdoor treasures are irreparably damaged, they cannot be repaired. We must protect them for our children and grandchildren.”

    These two papers are just the latest in a series of conservation groups, businesses, members of Congress and other elected officials, law professors, newspapers, bloggers, and activists such as yourself who have urged the Obama administration to abandon the “No More Wilderness” policy and protect the wild places in the West.

    Please add your name to those who have asked Secretary Salazar and President Obama to stand up for America’s wild heritage.

    Into the Field with SUWA Staff (and Terry Tempest Williams too!)

    What is a day like in the life of a SUWA field staffer?  Recently, we have started arming our field staff with FlipCams to show our members and activists what they do on a regular basis.  During the past month, two of our field staff, Brooke Williams and Ray Bloxham, have been spending a good amount of time field checking our proposed wilderness units in the Book Cliffs in central-eastern Utah.  The latest video showcases a trip into the Book Cliffs with Brooke and SUWA board member and renowned writer Terry Tempest Williams.  Also, be sure to check out the video of Ray and Brooke’s previous trip out there.

    Help Protect Arch Canyon from Off-Road Vehicles!

    Please tell the Utah BLM State Director that Arch Canyon is a gem that must be preserved — not managed as a playground for ATVs and dirt bikes.

    Arch Canyon screensaver image
    Arch Canyon.  Photo copyright Liz

    The Bureau of Land Management recently denied SUWA’s request to protect Arch Canyon from the damage caused by of off-road vehicles (ORVs).  Instead, the BLM is managing this rare and valuable desert oasis as a racetrack and obstacle course for ATVs and dirt bikes.  In denying SUWA’s request, BLM stated that ORV use does not cause damage to the “cultural, fisheries or riparian resources in the canyon,” even though the eight-mile ORV route crosses the stream 60 times in a one-way trip up to the U.S. Forest Service boundary, where the vehicles must turn around and then drive back down the canyon, crossing the stream another 60 times!

    Unfortunately, BLM’s recent decision is just business as usual, putting motorized use above the preservation of valuable natural and cultural resources.

    While we are reviewing legal options, please contact Juan Palma, Utah BLM Director, and ask him to protect Arch Canyon’s rare desert stream, resident fish species, and irreplaceable cultural resources by closing Arch Canyon to ORV use.

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