Blog Archives - Page 2 of 108


  • March 19th, 2015

    This past Tuesday, the off-road vehicle and anti-wilderness crowd turned out in force at a public hearing that the Grand County Council held regarding its recommendations for the Bishop Public Lands Initiative.

    The aim of the boisterous crowd was to intimidate the council into backing down on their recommendations to protect public lands in Grand County.

    Don’t let them succeed. The Grand County Council is accepting public comments on its proposal through next Wednesday, March 25th at council@grandcountyutah.net.

    These comments will be a matter of public record, so even if you’ve written the council before on this matter, we need you to act again.

    Please write a personal email to the council, thanking its members for:

    • The work they’ve done so far to achieve balance.
    • Protecting wilderness in the Book Cliffs and the eastern portion of the county (from Westwater to Beaver Creek), as well as in Mill Creek, Negro Bill, and Behind the Rocks.
    • Stopping the Book Cliffs Highway.
    • Saying “no” to an Antiquities Act exemption in Grand County.
    • Protecting the watershed and Colorado River Corridor with a National Conservation Area.

    But also politely urge them to take the next steps by:

    • Recommending true wilderness in Labyrinth Canyon;
    • Closing 71 miles of Class D routes in the Big Triangle-Beaver Creek proposed wilderness.

    Please email the council today at council@grandcountyutah.net.

    It’s also of critical importance that the public hears from you. Please send a version of your comments as Letters to the Editor at both the Moab Times-Independent and the Moab Sun News:

    editor@moabtimes.com
    editor@moabsunnews.com

    Don’t let a small vocal minority intimidate the council into backing down on protecting our public lands. Please, take action today.

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  • March 11th, 2015

    This Monday, March 16th, the Grand County Council in Moab, Utah is going to be putting the finishing touches on its recommendations to Representative Rob Bishop as part of the “Public Lands Initiative” bill.

    What they decide is going to have a direct impact on what Moab is like in the years to come.

    The Grand County Council needs to hear directly from people like you who love and visit Moab. Tell them that Moab — and Labyrinth Canyon in particular — needs true wilderness protection and that quiet places need to be protected now and for future generations.

    Labyrinth_rivermap

     

    Here’s what the Grand County Council should do on Monday:

    • Designate Labyrinth Canyon as true wilderness. At last week’s Council meeting, the Council recommended no wilderness for Labyrinth — despite it being one of the crown jewels of wilderness in the American West. The Council should designate as wilderness all areas it is proposing as “No Surface Occupancy.”
    • Keep the river corridor in Labyrinth quiet by closing three ATV and jeep trails that run down to the river: Hey Joe, Hell Roaring, and “Dead Cow/The Tubes” in addition to Ten Mile Wash. River rafters in Labyrinth shouldn’t have to listen to the whine of motorcycles along the banks of the Green River!
    • Close infrequently used routes in all proposed wilderness in Grand County, especially in the Westwater-Beaver Creek wilderness. The Council has already recommended protecting these areas as wilderness, but they need to close routes within the boundaries. There should be places where locals and visitors can find quiet and get away from roads and the sounds of ATVs!
    • Designate wilderness in the La Sal Mountains. Every other county in the PLI process has recommended new Forest Service Wilderness, but the Grand County Council has recommended zero. The Council should recommended protecting the mountains that form our watershed.
    • Protect the Arches view shed by expanding the proposed National Conservation Area (NCA) 4 miles east of Arches National Park.
    • Designate the Fisher Towers and Mary Jane areas with the proposed NCA to be managed as roadless areas, following the Daggett County model and as already approved by our Congressional delegation.

    Please, take just a moment to email the entire Council at council@grandcountyutah.net.

    The ORV lobby is already bombarding the Council with emails from around the region. The Council needs to hear from visitors like you that they need to create some balance by closing routes and protecting the quiet areas of Moab!

    When it comes to your experience in Grand County and the Moab area, this may be the most important email you ever write. Please, take just a minute to email the council today.

    Thank you for taking action.

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  • March 3rd, 2015

    Great thanks to the nearly three hundred people who rallied at the Utah State Capitol yesterday evening! From chants in opposition to the state’s attempt to take public lands out of American hands and put them “on the chopping block”, to a rousing rendition of “This Land is Your Land” with rally applicable lyrics penned by The Slickrock Stranger, the Great Public Lands Gamble Rally was a great success! Conservation groups, sportsmen, educators, elected officials and outdoor business representatives all spoke out against the state of Utah’s ongoing efforts to seize ownership of America’s public lands and turn them into industrial uses for short-term gain.

    Add your voice to theirs by signing our petition to Governor Herbert.

    Land grab rally

    Emcee Dan McCool, Political Science Professor at the University of Utah urged the crowd to pass along a message to Governor Herbert “Governor, we call on you to distance yourself from the few legislators who cooked up this mess. Collaboration is the best way to solve our problems.” Peter Metcalf, CEO of outdoor recreation company Black Diamond Equipment reminded the crowd that “Non-consumptive industries like ours would be adversely impacted and marginalized in favor of heavy development, should the state assume management.” And Heather Bennett, founder of For Kids and Lands said “Our schools are not the place to roll the economic dice.”

    Thanks to everyone who weathered the early springtime blizzard and found a place to park at a crowded Capitol. We couldn’t have done it without you.

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  • February 25th, 2015

    Here are some “good news” stories that you may have missed over the past few weeks. Any one of these things, standing alone, would be reason to cheer. Taken together, you might agree that fortune is smiling on us.

    • Appeals Board upholds BLM decision not to lease San Rafael Swell for oil and gas. Last week, an Interior Department appeals board upheld Utah BLM State Director Juan Palma’s decision not to offer certain parcels at the November 2013 oil and gas lease sale. Oil and gas companies had hoped to bid on and develop thousands of acres in the San Rafael Swell, but Director Palma made the right decision to withdraw those lands from sale. Thank you to everyone who helped us protect these wild lands in the San Rafael Swell, including the more than 200 wilderness supporters who gathered outside the BLM headquarters in September 2013 chanting “No wells in the Swell.”
    tm IMG_5770

    More than 200 wilderness supporters gathered outside the BLM headquarters in September 2013 to protest oil and gas leases offered in the San Rafael Swell. State BLM Director Juan Palma wisely withdrew the leases, and that decision has just been upheld by an Interior Deptartment appeals board.

    • Federal court rejects industry challenge of Salazar decision to withdraw 77 leases from Dec 2008 lease sale. On February 12th a federal district court judge dismissed a lawsuit brought in 2009 by some of the high bidders who challenged Secretary Salazar’s decision to withdraw 77 leases from the infamous December 2008 oil and gas lease sale.  This should be the end of the line for the industry-led litigation challenging this lease sale.
    • Wild and culturally significant lands taken off the chopping block. Last week, Utah BLM State Director Juan Palma announced his decision not to offer over twenty oil and gas leases in proposed wilderness and other culturally significant lands. Director Palma also deferred leasing about a dozen parcels in the so-called “state roadless area” (located in the Book Cliffs and a popular area for backcountry hunting) at the request of the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration. Predictably, oil and gas trade groups complained about this decision but the fact of the matter is that nearly 4 million acres of BLM-managed lands in Utah are under lease while just around 1 million acres are in development. There simply is no shortage of leased lands!
    • Only 11 oil and gas rigs operating in Utah. The number of operating oil and gas rigs in Utah has dropped by more than half from this time last year (26 rigs in Feb 2014, 11 rigs in Feb 2015). The rigs that remain in operation are largely concentrated in well developed areas in the Uintah Basin (Utah’s “oil patch”) which means fewer threats to proposed wilderness . . . for now (we’ll take it!).

     

     

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  • February 17th, 2015

    Please tell the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that the current San Rafael Desert Motorized Travel Planning process should not result in expanded off-road vehicle use in the San Rafael Desert. Click here to send your comments by February 21, 2015.

    SanRafaelDesert(2)_RayBloxham

    San Rafael Desert. Copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA.

    Utah’s San Rafael Desert, included within the San Rafael River, Sweetwater Reef, Flat Tops and Labyrinth Canyon proposed wilderness units, is a remote, undeveloped, and sublime landscape. Located east of the San Rafael Reef and expanding to Labyrinth Canyon, the San Rafael Desert is rich in archaeological sites and provides habitat for species such as pronghorn antelope, kit fox, and the burrowing owl.

    The BLM’s Price Field Office is in the early stages of motorized travel planning for the San Rafael Desert. Generally, SUWA is supportive of the BLM taking a hard look at motorized travel designations on public lands, but nearly half of the current travel planning area was already analyzed by the agency as part of its 2003 San Rafael Route Designation Plan. That plan, although not perfect, involved a lengthy public process and survived both administrative appeal and litigation. SUWA supported the plan and even intervened on behalf of the BLM in those legal proceedings.

    While it’s unclear why the BLM is using limited agency resources on motorized travel planning in areas that only recently underwent the same analysis, what is clear is that the motorized community sees this as an opportunity to create new off-road vehicle trails and to re-open areas and trails that were specifically restricted from motorized use. These include the Junes Bottom area and route proliferation along the rims of Labyrinth Canyon, through many unique dune environments, and within culturally-rich canyons such as Cottonwood Wash.

    Labyrinth Canyon

    Labyrinth Canyon. Copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA.

    We know that any rollback of the current travel plan for the San Rafael Desert will result in increased adverse impacts to wildlife habitat, cultural resources, and wilderness-quality lands. This approach directly contradicts the BLM’s obligation to minimize impacts of its designated travel system on natural and cultural resources.

    Please tell the BLM, by February 21, 2015, that the current San Rafael Desert Travel Planning process should not result in increased off-road vehicle routes in the San Rafael Desert and that the BLM should minimize the impacts of its designated travel system on natural and cultural resources.

    Thank you for your support in protecting this wilderness-quality landscape.

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