ARRWA Archives

  • The Richfield resource management and travel plan designated over 4,200 miles of dirt roads and trails for ORV use, threatening the solitude and wild character of places like the Henry Mountains proposed wilderness, above. Copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA.
    November 20th, 2015

    We have two good pieces of news to share as this week comes to a close.

    First, BLM’s Utah state office decided to postpone the November 2015 oil and gas lease sale and the offering of 36 parcels (totaling more than 36,000 acres) in the Vernal, Price and Fillmore field offices, as well as the Fishlake National Forest. Local activists had planned to protest the sale – arguing that the federal government should stop all oil, gas and coal leasing on public lands – and that caught the BLM off guard. The agency has said that it plans to hold this sale sometime in the near future.

    Lost in the shuffle was the fact that the BLM deferred 14 parcels in the Mussentuchit Badlands just north of Capitol Reef National Park, as well as a handful of other parcels in the San Rafael Swell, Nine Mile Canyon, and on the banks of the Green River. These parcels will NOT be part of the “make-up” auction.

    Given the longstanding surplus of federal lands already under lease, there is no pressing need for this lease sale or really any sales for the foreseeable future. Check out SUWA’s oil and gas fact sheet for more information.

    Second, a federal judge denied the BLM’s request to delay long overdue cultural resource surveys in the Henry Mountains and other parts of the Richfield field office. The agency had complained that complying with the judge’s order would be expensive, time consuming, and ultimately not really that important because many of the cultural sites are, in BLM’s estimation, low value. The BLM has told us it plans to file a similar “stay” motion with the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. We’ll keep you posted.

    The Richfield resource management and travel plan designated over 4,200 miles of dirt roads and trails for ORV use, threatening the solitude and wild character of places like the Henry Mountains proposed wilderness, above. Copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA.

    Henry Mountains proposed wilderness. Copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA.

  • Inter-Tribal Bears Ears Coalition Leaders in DC
    October 23rd, 2015
    Inter-Tribal Coalition Bears Ears Press Conference in DC
    Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition Co-Chair
    Eric Descheenie at the National Press Club.

    Last week, the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition traveled to Washington, D.C., to deliver their proposal to President Obama to protect 1.9 million acres of public land in southern Utah as a collaboratively managed national monument. A copy of the proposal was also delivered to Representatives Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz of Utah.

    “We are not stakeholders here,” said Eric Descheenie, Coalition Co-Chair and Advisor to the President of the Navajo Nation, at a press conference held at the National Press Club. “We are relatives to these lands, and we have something to say.”

    Click here to watch a five-minute video highlight of the Inter-Tribal Coalition’s press conference in D.C.

    The Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition is a partnership of five Tribes: Ute Mountain Ute, Uintah Ouray Ute, Hopi, Zuni, and Navajo. With a new resolution of support from the National Congress of American Indians, nearly 300 Tribes stand behind the effort to Protect Bears Ears.

    SUWA fully supports the proposal to create a Bears Ears National Monument. We’re excited to see Tribes lead this effort to protect lands that SUWA has worked for decades to defend. (One of our very first campaigns, more than 30 years ago, was to prevent the BLM from chaining just below the Bears Ears themselves.)

    Click here to sign the Inter-Tribal Coalition’s petition to protect Bears Ears.

    At the press conference, tribal leaders emphasized that their proposal is about healing and bringing people together.

    “This is a humanistic endeavor for healing not just for Native people, but all people,” said Eric Descheenie.

    Please, take a moment to stand with the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition by signing their petition and liking the Coalition on Facebook and Twitter.

    Thank you for all that you do.

    Mathew Gross
    Matt Gross photo
    Media Director
    Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance

  • White Canyon. Copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA.
    August 26th, 2015

    Recently, newspaper stories and rumors have swirled around both a potential national monument in San Juan County, Utah, and Rep. Rob Bishop’s Public Lands Initiative. Let me try and cut through the clutter to give you an idea where things currently stand.

    First, the monument. A historic coalition of Native-American Tribes and Pueblos have come together to call for a Bears Ears National Monument or National Conservation Area in Utah. This proposal, which we fully support, encompasses 1.9 million acres of dense cultural artifacts, stunning redrock canyons and plateaus, and high-elevation forests. The tribal coalition recently met at Bears Ears with officials from the departments of Interior and Agriculture to discuss their proposal.

    Second, the Public Lands Initiative. As you are likely aware, more than two years ago Rep. Rob Bishop announced his Public Lands Initiative as an effort to resolve public lands issues in Eastern Utah. We were impressed by Rep. Bishop’s willingness to undertake this difficult task and, in turn, we brought good faith and substantial resources to the table. We jumped into time-consuming discussions and dialogue with the Utah congressional delegation and the local counties.

    However, the dialogue and effort has not been uniform. San Juan County, for example, has opted for a process that excludes participation from anyone outside the county. Despite the fact that the Public Lands Initiative has been around for more than two years, only this month did the county commissioners finally put forward their proposal. As you might guess, for a county that has chosen to avoid “external” dialogue, the proposal is terrible.

    White Canyon. Copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA.

    San Juan County leaves out deserving landscapes for protection (Hatch Point and White Canyon, above, to name a few of many), it asks for more land dedicated to energy development than it does for conservation, and it asks that the President’s authority to set aside national monuments be removed. In an act of pure chutzpah, it demands that Recapture Canyon be turned over to the county. Remember, current commissioner Phil Lyman was convicted of trespass and conspiracy for leading an illegal off-road vehicle ride down Recapture Canyon (which is closed to vehicle use in that part of the canyon).

    San Juan County ignored the requests of the tribal coalition that it propose meaningful protection for the Bears Ears proposal. Ironically, it even ignored the majority of its own county respondents who asked for protections in this area (opens in PDF). And no surprise, it ignored our proposal (see comparison below).


    This is where the national monument and PLI paths collide. In a move that would fail to surprise even the casual Utah political observer, the Utah governor and congressional delegation have recently opposed the designation of the Bears Ears National Monument. This opposition, though, is based on the potential for the Public Lands Initiative to resolve issues in San Juan County. Utah Governor Gary Herbert said that the Public Lands Initiative provides for “negotiation, compromise, and debate.” Unfortunately, those three factors have been completely absent from the discussion in San Juan County.

    It is worth reiterating that San Juan County completely excluded participation from anyone outside its boundaries. Allowing only 0.005 percent of the nation’s population to determine the future of our public lands (and, in reality, ignoring most of its citizens’ input at the same time) will not lead to a good outcome.

    We remain willing to engage in “negotiation, compromise, and debate.” It is the only way in which public lands issues will be fully resolved in San Juan County. We are anxiously awaiting details from Utah’s congressional delegation and governor as to how that will happen in San Juan County. Absent that, it is our fear that the Public Lands Initiative may become little more than an excuse to forestall a new national monument in Utah.

  • copyright James Kay
    May 19th, 2015

    Great news! Today Sen. Richard Durbin and Rep. Alan Lowenthal joined forces to introduce America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act (S. 1375/H.R. 2430) in Congress, the visionary legislation that would protect 9.2 million acres of Utah’s world-renowned public lands as wilderness.

    If they are your representatives, please thank them!

    A few weeks ago we asked you to contact your members of Congress to ask them to become original cosponsors of the Redrock bill, and you really came through! Joining Sen. Durbin and Rep. Lowenthal are 14 senators and 77 members of the House of Representatives. These members know that places like Desolation Canyon, Labyrinth Canyon, Greater Cedar Mesa, and the San Rafael Swell are the birthright and heritage of all Americans and deserve permanent protection.

    The full list of cosponsors is here. If your representatives are on it, please thank them!

    copyright James Kay

    Behind the Rocks proposed wilderness, copyright James Kay

    Cosponsoring the legislation is a great start, but we’re going to need more help from members of Congress this year to try to advance protections and defend against attacks on Utah’s wild lands. Our friends in Congress need to hear from you in order to stand strong against the many extreme environmental initiatives we face.

    Contact your members today and let them know how much you appreciate them standing up for Utah’s wilderness!

    If your representative or senators are missing from the cosponsor list, ask them to cosponsor America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act today!

    Together we can save the Redrock. Thanks for all you do.

  • San Rafael Swell (Wedge), LeslieScopesAnderson(72dpi)
    May 7th, 2015

    Great news! Sen. Richard Durbin and Rep. Alan Lowenthal will soon reintroduce America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act in Congress, setting forth the vision for protecting 9.2 million acres of deserving public lands in Southern Utah—places like White Canyon, Desolation Canyon and the San Rafael Swell. You can help them make a splash by contacting your members of Congress and asking for their support!

    Ask your representatives to join Sen. Durbin and Rep. Lowenthal as a cosponsor!

    San Rafael Swell (Wedge), LeslieScopesAnderson(72dpi)

    San Rafael Swell, Leslie Scopes Anderson

    The Redrock bill is more important than ever. As we work with the delegation on a comprehensive lands bill in Eastern Utah, strong support for America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act underscores the importance of these lands for all Americans and sets the parameters for necessary protections in the state. We can save the redrock with help from you and our allies in Congress.

    Please contact your members of Congress today to ask them to cosponsor America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act!

    Contacting your members really works. Last Congress we had a record-setting 23 Senate cosponsors, and this year we hope to garner even more support. We have about a week to gather as many original cosponsors as we can—are you ready to help?

    Click here to send your message now.

    If you can, go the extra mile by making a phone call to your representative and senators to amplify your message. Dial the United States Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and the switchboard operator will connect you with the office you request.

    Thank you!

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