Blog Archives - Page 3 of 104

  • September 12th, 2014
    Gooseneck Overlook, Canyonlands National Park.  Copyright Ray Mathis.

    Gooseneck Overlook, Canyonlands National Park. Copyright Ray Mathis.

    Get ready for some celebrating—Canyonlands National Park is turning 50 today! That’s 50 years of gorgeous sunsets, tranquil hikes, and family exploration in one of the wildest, most beautiful parts of the United States—all thanks to a handful of Americans who had the foresight to recognize Canyonlands as one of Earth’s treasures, and sought to protect it from degradation.

    Thank goodness for them.

    But the work begun 50 years ago is not yet done. While we love Canyonlands, the boundaries of the park do not reflect the totality of the place, and much of what deserved protection was abandoned on the cutting room floor. Already, Big Flat, just north of Canyonlands, is under siege as more and more drill rigs mar its wild vistas. What’s next? Lockhart Basin? Labyrinth Canyon? The Dirty Devil corridor?

    We can’t let that happen. Ask President Obama to protect Greater Canyonlands now!

    Together, we can finish the job begun by our predecessors by protecting the rest of Canyonlands—Greater Canyonlands—from the development of dirty fuels and rampaging off-road vehicle abuse. President Obama, like many great conservationists before him, should use the Antiquities Act to designate Greater Canyonlands a national monument, thereby safeguarding the plethora of special places, priceless cultural artifacts and wild rivers that still exist there, unprotected.

    Be a part of the next chapter for Greater Canyonlands by writing to the president today!

    Together, we can ensure that the next celebration is even bigger, and even better.

  • September 9th, 2014

    Rejects Once and For All State of Utah and County Claim that Streambed in Salt Creek Canyon Is State “Highway”

    Stephen Bloch, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, 801.428.3981 (office)
    Heidi McIntosh, Earthjustice, 303.996.9621 (office)

    (September 8, 2014) Salt Lake City, UT: This morning the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit denied petitions filed by San Juan County and the State of Utah which had sought rehearing or rehearing en banc of the Court’s April 2014 decision that Salt Creek Canyon in Canyonlands National Park is not a state highway.

    In a brief written order, the court explained that no active member of the court asked that the whole court be “polled” to vote on whether to rehear the case.  In other words, the county and state’s arguments were rejected out of hand.

    “This order is a great way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Canyonlands National Park.  And it should  be the end of the line for the State of Utah and San Juan County’s claim that the stream bottom of Salt Creek Canyon is a state highway,” said Stephen Bloch, Legal Director for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

    “With the Tenth Circuit’s ruling, Salt Creek will remain a place of quiet beauty, with healthy wildlife habitat and clean water, unpolluted by the hundreds of jeeps that used to churn through the stream every year,”  said Heidi McIntosh, managing attorney at Earthjustice’s Rocky Mountain office who represented conservation groups that participated in the case.

    This order and the circuit court’s April decision will have important implications beyond the facts of this case.  The State of Utah and its counties are pursuing more than 20 similar cases asserting that approximately 36,000 miles of dirt trails and cowpaths are state highways.

    The next case to come before the circuit court is an appeal of U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoups’ 2013 ruling in favor of Kane County and the State of Utah that recognized highway rights of way to twelve routes in Kane County.  Several of those routes are primitive jeep routes and one is inside a wilderness study area.  Some of the issues in the Salt Creek decision, especially the circuit court’s ruling that use of a route by ranchers does not meet the law’s requirement that the route be used by the broader public, are also at issue in the appeal of Judge Waddoups’ ruling.


    Salt Creek Canyon is one of the crown jewels of Canyonlands National Park.  It contains the only perennial stream in the Park (besides the Green and Colorado rivers) and is home to the Salt Creek National Register Archaeological District, the area with the highest recorded density of archaeological sites in the park.  Jeep use had polluted the water with engine fluids and degraded wildlife habitat for bears, fish and a host of other species.  All these impacts were well documented and resulted in the National Park Service’s decision to close the canyon to such use in 2004.

    The State of Utah and San Juan County relied on an 1866 law to argue that occasional jeep use and cattle trailing in Salt Creek Canyon created a public highway.  The Circuit Court’s April 2014 unanimous decision rejected these claims and affirmed the district court’s findings that this was not so.

    Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Sierra Club, Grand Canyon Trust, National Parks Conservation Association, and The Wilderness Society were amici (friends of the court) in the case before the Tenth Circuit.  They were represented by attorneys from Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Earthjustice, and the law firm of Jenner & Block.


    >> Read the Tenth Circuit ruling

    >> Read the 9/9/14 Salt Lake Tribune article, “Ruling sticks: Salt Creek not a county highway”

    >> Read about the original Tenth Circuit ruling on April 25, 2014

  • August 26th, 2014

    Colorado College students call for Greater Canyonlands National Monument from Sierra Club National on Vimeo.

    From TreeHugger:

    The following short video (the 4th in a series of five short films created by young people on the importance of protecting Greater Canyonlands), features students from Colorado College on an “annual pilgrimage” to Greater Canyonlands as they grapple with the questions “How can we protect this awe-inspiring place for the future? How can we advocate for such natural beauty? How can we become stewards?”

    In an effort to give back to the land, they spend four days building a new trail to minimize human-caused erosion in a popular climbing area.

    But after viewing oil and gas drilling that is encroaching on the area, and learning about the threat of tar sands development from local residents, they conclude that larger actions are needed to protect the area for the future.

    “What the group found was that regardless how it happens, local Utahns, conservationists, and members of the outdoor recreation industry all basically want the same future for Greater Canyonlands,” concludes one student, “one that acknowledges and protects the inherent value of this amazing natural space.”

  • August 20th, 2014

    From TreeHugger:

    In the following short video, (the third in a series of five short films created by young people on the importance of protecting Greater Canyonlands), Taylor Graham describes how he grew up exploring the deep wild canyons of southern Utah, venturing into their depths by foot and boat – an experience which left him invigorated with a “powerful love of life.”

    In a very personal plea, he asks President Obama to protect Greater Canyonlands as a national monument so that his own children can someday find the same inspiration from “this amazing piece of our natural heritage.”   Greater Canyonlands “is currently unprotected and vulnerable to degradation from dirty energy development and poorly regulated off-road vehicle use,” says Graham. “As a member of the next generation who will inherit these beautiful lands, I have seen firsthand what the mistreatment of our natural lands looks like.”

  • August 15th, 2014

    As the 50th Anniversary of Canyonlands National Park approaches next month, Utahns and others across the country are pushing for President Obama to declare the 1.8 million acres of public lands surrounding the park as a Greater Canyonlands National Monument.

    To illustrate the importance of protecting Greater Canyonlands for future generations, groups of young people and college students have created a series of short films shot in the area.  Two have been released so far, with more to be posted in the weeks ahead.

    The first in this series features students from Brigham Young University (BYU):

    BYU GC Video (screenshot)

    When Utah high school student Kelsey Oliver learned about the campaign to convince President Obama to protect Greater Canyonlands she leapt into action, organizing a student excursion to the area:

    Rowland Hall GC Video (screenshot)

    After you’ve watched the videos, please take a moment to tell President Obama your reasons for protecting Greater Canyonlands.


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