Blog Archives


  • MuddyCreek_RB
    January 13th, 2017

    SUWA, The Wilderness Society, Earthjustice, and a coalition of eight other conservation groups, along with the Bureau of Land Management and off-highway vehicle groups have taken an important step to settle longstanding litigation filed in 2008 by the conservation groups which challenged six land use plans and off-highway vehicle travel plans completed at the end of the George W. Bush administration.

    Read More »
  • DryCreek4
    January 12th, 2017

    Utah’s most popular National Park threatened by sight and sound of development

    For Immediate Release: January 12, 2017

    Contact:
    Landon Newell, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, 801.428.3991
    Cory MacNulty, National Parks Conservation Association, 801.521.0785

    SALT LAKE CITY – National Park advocates, local residents and conservationists are stunned over a just announced proposal by the St. George field office of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to offer two oil and gas leases less than two miles fromZion National Park in southwestern Utah.  If developed, the two parcels could easily be seen from Utah’s most popular national park.  The parcels are also next to the rural residential gateway community of Virgin and dissected by the North Creek drainage – a perennial stream which flows into the Virgin River, a designated National Wild and Scenic River.

    DryCreek4

    Proposed lease area in Dry Creek proposed wilderness. Photo copyright Luke Henry/SUWA

    “This is a completely inappropriate location for oil and gas leasing and development,” said Steve Masefield, former Chairman of the Virgin Planning and Zoning Commission and a town resident.  “Drilling on these leases would not only degrade the scenic vistas enjoyed by visitors driving to Zion.  Nearby rural neighborhoods would be devastated by industrial smells, noise, lighting and traffic.  Our water – and the water used by communities downstream – could be polluted.”

    “As a life-time resident and a retired owner of several hospitality and tourist-related businesses in Springdale, Utah, I know how crucial the greater Zion National Park area is to our visitors and local residents alike,” said Louise Excell.  “I cannot imagine how visitors will feel as they discover pump jacks and flares from oil and gas drilling are visible from both inside and outside the park.  Not only will the sight be jarring for visitors and residents, but other important natural resources and quality of life will be affected, including diminished air quality, loss of natural soundscapes, and night skies.”

    There are currently no producing wells in this region, and BLM is under no requirement to offer these parcels for lease.  Moreover, the oil and gas industry has roughly 2 million acres of BLM-managed lands in Utah already under lease that they have not developed.  Despite the extensive leased lands, in 2016 the drilling of new oil and gas wells in Utah reached a 30-year low.  There is clearly no need to offer these two leases for sale and put Zion National Park and the surrounding region at risk from mineral development.

    “With over 4 million annual visitors to Zion National Park, BLM should be working collaboratively with the National Park Service to protect – not threaten – the world class resources those visitors come to enjoy and be inspired by,” said Cory MacNulty, with the National Parks Conservation Association.  “The doorstep to one of America’s ‘Best Ideas’ is not the place for oil and gas leasing and development.”

    “BLM’s proposal to sell these two leases is déjà vu all over again.  Just like its proposal in 2008 to sell leases adjacent to Arches and Canyonlands National Park and Dinosaur National Monument, this is an entirely ill-conceived plan that should be rejected,” said Landon Newell, staff attorney for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.  “This lease first, think later approach to oil and gas leasing has been rejected time and time again.  It’s hard to understand what would compel BLM to propose offering these parcels but whatever their motivation, BLM should rethink its proposal which threatens Utah’s most popular National Park.”

    The two oil and gas lease parcels near Zion National Park, as well as a third parcel located adjacent to the Black Ridge Wilderness Area, are proposed for sale at BLM’s June 2017 competitive oil and gas lease sale (environmental assessment available here).  BLM is accepting comments on its controversial proposal through February 10, 2017 (more information available here).

    The proposed lease parcels overlap lands identified by BLM as possessing wilderness characteristics (i.e., outstanding opportunities for solitude and recreation) and which are proposed for Wilderness designation in America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, H.R. 2430, S. 1375 (114th Congress).

    Photographs taken from the lease parcels are available here.

    ###

    About Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance
    The mission of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance is the preservation of the outstanding wilderness at the heart of the Colorado Plateau, and the management of these lands in their natural state for the benefit of all Americans.  For more information, visit www.suwa.org.

    About National Parks Conservation Association
    Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than one million supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.

  • BearsEarsProtected
    December 28th, 2016

    BearEarsProtected(2)
    Breaking news! Today, President Barack Obama took action to honor and protect the heritage of Native Americans by designating Bears Ears National Monument using his authority under the Antiquities Act.

    This is a historic moment. The new national monument—the result of a proposal from an unprecedented coalition of Tribal Nations—will safeguard more than 100,000 cultural sites and protect an incredible natural landscape for generations to come.

    Bears Ears also marks the first time that a president has responded to a formal request from sovereign Native American Tribes to use the Antiquities Act to protect public lands and cultural resources.

    Unfortunately, Utah politicians like Representative Rob Bishop have pledged to do all they can to try and undo the President’s action and rescind the national monument.

    As a result—even as we celebrate—it is crucial that people like you who love Utah wilderness take action to defend Bears Ears National Monument.

    Click here to tell your senators to protect Bears Ears National Monument and thank President Obama for his proclamation.

    If you live in Utah, please take a moment right now to tell your Utah representatives that you support Utah’s newest national monument.

    Your action today will help ensure that Bears Ears National Monument remains protected forever.

    Thank you for taking action. And thank you to President Obama for his bold and historic step to elevate the voices of Native Americans in the management of our public lands.

  • BearsEarsNavajoMtn_(c)_Tim_Peterson
    December 28th, 2016

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    December 28, 2016

    Moab, UT — In response to President Barack Obama designating the Bears Ears National Monument, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) Executive Director Scott Groene issued the following statement:

    “We applaud the President’s decision and congratulate the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition for this historic protection of their ancestral homeland.  The Monument will long benefit Utahns and Americans.  It is the product of years of public discussion where all agreed this landscape is worthy of permanent protection.

    “We urge the Utah congressional delegation to show leadership in coming down on the right side of history, by respecting the Tribes and supporting the Monument.  Twenty years of history has shown that the fury and fight against the Grand Staircase National Monument accomplished nothing other than perpetuating animosity among Utahns.  We should not repeat that mistake.

    “Instead we should work together for legislation trading school trust lands within the monument for other lands that will benefit our schoolchildren. And with the universal agreement that the region’s extraordinary cultural resources deserve protection, we ask the delegation to ensure adequate funding for monument management.

    “This is an important measure for land conservation and for making amends for our Nation and State’s horrific historic treatment of Native Americans.  We celebrate this step forward.”

    Contact: Mathew Gross, 802-578-3394, mathew@suwa.org

  • WhiteCliffs_RayBloxham(72dpi)
    December 16th, 2016

    Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM), one of Utah’s most untamed landscapes and the “crown jewel” of the BLM’s National Landscape Conservation System, today faces a new threat from the very agency tasked with protecting it from human-caused harm.

    In the BLM’s latest push to drastically manipulate the West’s high desert ecosystems using large-scale vegetation “improvement” projects, the agency is proposing to permanently alter Grand Staircase’s wild landscape through aggressive removal of existing plant communities.

    Tell the BLM to drop its destructive proposal and honor its obligation to protect the monument.

    The Skutumpah Terrace habitat manipulation proposal covers 19,000 acres of public land within the monument, including over 14,000 acres of land proposed for wilderness designation in America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act.  In a scientifically questionable wildlife management scheme, the BLM’s GSENM field office is proposing to convert existing vegetation into a more open sagebrush habitat through a variety of ground-disturbing methods. This may include removing pinyon pine and juniper with chainsaws and using large machinery to masticate and shred existing trees, mechanically ripping up dense stands of sagebrush, and using herbicide to maintain these more invasive treatments.

    The areas affected by this proposed project contain some of the most unique and stunning scenery in the state. Dense sagebrush and pinyon-juniper vegetation frame expansive views of the adjacent White Cliffs, a dazzling escarpment that forms a rugged backdrop for this exceptionally wild landscape.

    Click here to tell the BLM to preserve our nation’s natural wonders, not destroy them.

    WhiteCliffs_RayBloxham(72dpi)

    White Cliffs, copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA

    This proposed project is egregious not only because it occurs within some of the most breathtaking country in Utah, but because it falls entirely within the boundaries of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, designated for the express purpose of ensuring that its remote, undeveloped, and rugged nature remains for generations.

    Although the BLM has not yet conducted its full environmental analysis for the proposed project, we are concerned that the agency will not take into account the fact that these massive landscape gardening projects have very little scientific support. The agency must demonstrate, conclusively, that projects of this nature can actually be successful before continuing down the path of extensive soil disturbance and destruction of native vegetation and wilderness-quality lands.

    Please tell the BLM to stop this proposed project and adhere to its duty to protect public lands in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

    Thank you.

Page 1 of 12412345...102030...Last »