Blog Archives


  • July 22nd, 2014
    Mother & Daugher (Lin Alder)

    Copyright Lin Alder.

    More than 200 health and well-being professionals from Utah released a letter today asking President Obama to protect Greater Canyonlands – the magnificent wild region surrounding Canyonlands National Park in Utah – as a national monument because of the health benefits to all Americans.

    The letter states “Protecting this world-class landscape would not only preserve an area of unparalleled scenic beauty and rich cultural heritage, it would also foster a healthy America. That is a goal anyone can support.”

    The list of signers included doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, physical and occupational therapists, medical aides and technicians, public health specialists, health educators, dieticians and other healers and well-being practitioners.

    The letter stressed that protecting Greater Canyonlands would provide physical, psychological and public health benefits.

    “We need big beautiful landscapes like Greater Canyonlands to inspire people and their families to get outside and be active,” said Mark Oliver, M.D., father of two children and an avid outdoorsman. “Americans’ increasingly sedentary lifestyles exacerbate conditions such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes which plague huge numbers of our population.”

    “Large wild places like Greater Canyonlands can be critically important to the emotional healing and rejuvenation of people who have suffered trauma, struggle with anxiety or depression, or simply face emotional challenges,” said Travis Mickelson, M.D., and specialist in Pediatric Behavioral Health Psychiatry. “Studies also show that time in natural settings enhances people’s problem-solving skills, concentration and creativity.”

    “The public health benefits of protecting Greater Canyonlands extend far beyond its borders,” said Suzanne Stensaas, a retired University of Utah professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy. “Greater Canyonlands is a clean air sanctuary from health-threatening air pollution for many of us living along the Wasatch Front and it helps to provide clean water for the millions of people who live downstream.”

    Read the letter here and add your name to the list of signers if you work in the health or well-being field.  Also check out the personal statements below for stories about how protecting large wild landscapes like Greater Canyonlands is vital to health and healing:

     

     

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  • July 8th, 2014
    Anti-federal protesters join San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman on an illegal ride through Recapture Canyon on May 10, 2014.

    Anti-federal protesters join San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman on an illegal ride through Recapture Canyon on May 10, 2014.

    The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and our partners at The Wilderness Society, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Grand Canyon Trust and Great Old Broads for Wilderness delivered a letter to Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Director Neil Kornze requesting that his agency continue to protect the irreplaceable prehistoric cultural resources in Recapture Canyon. We urged the director not to abdicate his agency’s responsibility to comply with the BLM’s federal travel planning regulations by giving a right-of-way to San Juan County for the illegally constructed ORV trail through the canyon. We also called upon the director to ensure that, once the agency completes its investigation, it will take all appropriate steps to fully prosecute the individuals who violated the agency’s ORV closure in the canyon on May 10th during Commissioner Lyman’s illegal ORV event.

    We recognize the challenges facing the BLM in managing our public lands and preserving our cultural heritage, especially in response to recent acts of opposition to the agency’s authority.  However, failing to enforce federal laws that were enacted to protect priceless archaeological treasures merely opens the door for further vandalism and other illegal acts.

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  • July 1st, 2014

     

    How Dust on Colorado’s Snow Could Ruin Your Salad

    Dust on Colorado Snow, San Juan Mtns“If your lettuce doesn’t get grown in California, you notice that in Washington, D.C.” So says Jayne Belnap, an ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in a must-read piece from Climate Progress on how increasing dust from industrial development on the Colorado Plateau (including Greater Canyonlands) is threatening the Southwest’s most critical watershed. “Dust has to become part of [our] land management goals,” Belknap says. One way to manage growing dust in an era of changing climate is to protect large landscapes like Greater Canyonlands. After you read the article, encourage President Obama to take action.


    BLM’s Moab Master Leasing Plan Begins to Take Shape

    Labyrinth CanyonThis spring the BLM released three preliminary alternatives of the Moab Master Leasing Plan (MLP) for public review and comment. This plan will determine what lands are available for oil, gas and potash leases and permits in large areas of public land close to Canyonlands and Arches National Parks.  It also covers many outstanding proposed wilderness areas including Labyrinth Canyon, Fisher Towers and Harts Point/Shay Mountain.

    We support Alternative C, which would give the most protection to lands proposed for wilderness in America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act.  The BLM plans to release a draft of the plan and an environmental impact statement this fall; a final MLP should follow by fall 2015.

    >> Learn more about the Moab MLP on the BLM’s website.


    Senator Tammy BaldwinSen. Baldwin’s Red Rock Cosponsorship Ties Senate Record

    Just before Memorial Day, Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin became the 23rd member of the Senate—and the seventh member of the crucial Energy and Natural Resources Committee—to cosponsor the bill in this congress. Her addition ties the all-time record for Senate cosponsors and fills the void of Wisconsin Senate support created when Sen. Russ Feingold was defeated.  Thank you, Sen. Baldwin!


    Needed: Health “Testimonials for Greater Canyonlands

    SUWA is working with a team of health and well being professionals in Utah on a letter to President Obama asking him to protect Greater Canyonlands because of the physical, emotional and public health benefits to all Americans.  We are looking for short one-page or less statements or “testimonials” by people (especially Utah residents)  who have benefited in terms of physical or mental health/well-being by spending time in wild nature.  This might be an individual (or family) who:

    • Hikes in the great outdoors as a way to stay physically healthy (thus reducing the risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes or other conditions)
    • Found emotional healing by spending time in wild nature.  This might be someone who has suffered trauma or experienced emotional challenges and finds solace or rejuvenation in nature.
    • Has experienced the health benefits of living near or experiencing the clean air and water protected by large natural areas.

    Please contact Terri at terri@suwa.org immediately for more information or if you are willing to write a testimonial.

    Also, if you are a Utah-based health or well-being professional (doctor, nurse, health aide or technician, mental health worker, “alternative” well-being practitioner, body worker or healer of any kind) and want to add your name to the letter, please contact Terri at terri@suwa.org


    Crazy Continues in Carbon County

    Even though a Federal Judge struck down a similar state law last year, the Carbon County Commission passed a resolution on June 5th proclaiming “that any attempted law enforcement by an official of a federal land agency is not recognized by the county, and shall be deemed an imminent threat to the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Carbon County.” Castle Country Radio reports that “the resolution advises that any federal official who intends to exercise law enforcement powers shall first declare to the Sheriff his [sic] intent to enter Carbon County and the intended action on a case by case basis.”  Further proof that crazy (and unconstitutional) ideas are alive and well among many elected officials in Utah.


    SUWA Website Gets a New Look

    We’re pleased to announce that SUWA’s website is now tablet and mobile friendly!  Plus, with lots of beautiful new pictures! Check it out on your phone, laptop or tablet at SUWA.org.

    New SUWA Website
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  • May 29th, 2014

    On May 10, San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman led dozens of anti-federal government protesters driving off-road vehicles (ORVs) past the BLM’s signs prohibiting ORV use into Recapture Canyon. Although there are approximately 4,000 miles of designated routes open to ORV use on public lands in San Juan County (2,820 miles managed by the Monticello BLM and another 1,000 miles managed by the Moab BLM), Commissioner Lyman said he was leading the illegal ORV ride to protest the “jurisdictional creep” of the federal government and the notion that the BLM “arbitrarily shut down a road in San Juan County.”

    Far from an arbitrary action, BLM’s 2007 closure of the Recapture trail to motorized vehicles was based on evidence that the illegally constructed ORV trail and subsequent ORV use was causing adverse effects to the prehistoric cultural resources in and near the trail. Please tell the BLM it should maintain the existing closure to protect these resources rather than giving a right-of-way for the illegal trail to San Juan County.

    The illegal event in Recapture Canyon is but another result of the misguided “take back federal lands” rhetoric spewed by a small cadre of western elected officials. Commissioner Lyman’s “childish snit fit,” which showed complete disregard for irreplaceable prehistoric cultural resources, is a perfect example of why state and local officials should not be entrusted with our public lands legacy.

    Commission Lyman’s statements to the media that “[i]t feels great” after riding into the closed area illustrate a complete disrespect for both federal law and the Native Americans who continue to honor the cultural values of the canyon today. The commissioner’s actions in defiance of the BLM’s ORV Closure Order and in violation of laws enacted to protect our cultural heritage must not go unpunished.

    Most importantly, the BLM must continue to protect the archaeological resources of Recapture Canyon and not cave to political pressure to give San Juan County a right-of-way for the illegally constructed route. Click here to send a letter to BLM Director Neil Kornze asking him to deny the county’s right-of-way request for the illegal ORV trails in Recapture Canyon.

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  • May 20th, 2014

    The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is moving ahead with the so-called Moab Master Leasing Plan (Moab MLP). This plan will determine what areas are available for oil, gas and potash leases and permits on large swaths of public land close to Canyonlands and Arches National Parks. It also affects many outstanding proposed wilderness areas including Labyrinth Canyon, Fisher Towers and Harts Point/Shay Mountain.

    The BLM has released three preliminary alternatives of the Moab MLP: Alternatives B1, B2 and C. There are maps and comparisons of these alternatives on the BLM’s website.

    The agency is accepting public comment through May 28 on the alternatives. There is no better time for public comment to influence the direction of this critically important plan!

    We strongly encourage you to support Alternative C, which would protect the most proposed wilderness from leasing and development.

    Here are some points to make in your comments:

    • BLM should identify Alternative C as the agency preferred alternative. This alternative will give the most protection to lands proposed for wilderness in America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act. BLM’s Alternative C would either close these lands to new oil and gas leasing or permit leasing only with stringent “no surface occupancy” restrictions. Alternative C would also close the Moab MLP planning area to new potash leasing and applications.
    • BLM should modify Alternative C to close all of Harts Point and Shay Mountain proposed wilderness areas from new oil and gas leasing.
    • BLM should modify Alternative C to ensure that dark night skies and air quality at Arches National Park are fully protected. Public lands north of the park should only be available for leasing with stringent “no surface occupancy” restrictions or with strict stipulations that protect those resources.
    • Remind BLM that in its forthcoming environmental study it should fully analyze and consider the impacts from oil, gas and potash leasing, permitting, and development on Arches and Canyonlands National Parks – including night skies, air quality, and water quality.

    Click here to see a map of the lands that will be affected by the Moab MLP. And click here to review several BLM-prepared reports and studies about oil, gas and potash potential in the Moab MLP planning area.

    The Moab MLP provides a critical opportunity to correct the BLM’s 2008 Bush-era resource management plans which left hundreds of thousands of acres of wilderness-caliber lands open for oil, gas and potash leasing and development in the Moab area.

    Comments should be mailed by May 28 to:

    Bureau of Land Management, Canyon Country District Office
    Attn: Brent Northrup, Project Manager
    82 East Dogwood
    Moab, UT 84532

    Comments can also be emailed to blm_ut_mb_mlpcomments@blm.gov

    Thank you!

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