Blog Archives - Page 3 of 122

  • USEME_PLIvsBEmemeWhiteCanyonStructure
    September 22nd, 2016

    Today, the House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee “marked up” Rep. Rob Bishop’s terrible Public Lands Initiative (PLI)—the bill that seeks to roll back federal land protections, unleash a fossil fuel bonanza, and give away lands belonging to all Americans to the State of Utah.  As if that isn’t reckless enough, the bill fails to protect even half of the region’s deserving wilderness and it utterly fails to respect the efforts of five united Native American tribes to secure meaningful protection for the Bears Ears region—a landscape rich in cultural and natural wonders.

    A “mark up” is a congressional procedure in which members are supposed to take the information they learn from witnesses at a hearing and apply that information by attempting to improve the bill through amendments. Several wilderness champions in the House did just that, offering amendments that would spruce up the PLI and at least bring it into accordance with the Wilderness Act, the Federal Lands Policy and Management Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and several other federal laws that are undermined by Bishop’s bill. Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Raul Ruiz (D-CA) and Jared Polis (D-CO) all offered up commonsense amendments to repair just some of the bill’s significant environmental flaws, and argued admirably against the bill’s harmful provisions. It was apparent that they listened to the testimonies and worked to fix the bill accordingly.

    If any of them are your Representatives, please call their offices and thank them for fighting the PLI today! The Capitol Switchboard is 202-224-3121. You can also watch the debate here.

    Rep. Bishop, for his part, ignored last week’s testimony by the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management opposing the bill, ignored the testimony of Regina Lopez-Whiteskunk, a member of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition (also opposing the bill), and continued to ignore the voices of other tribes, conservationists, and the more that 300 million Americans that own the public lands in question.

    In fact, the only amendment Rep. Bishop offered to his bill was one for technical changes—fixing typos, grammatical errors and the like. It was the only amendment of the day that passed, and in Rep. Bishop’s hopelessly stacked committee, the bill eventually passed too, on a party line vote.

    But don’t worry. From here on out, the Public Lands Initiative has no chance.

    As pointed out by Reps. Grijalva, Tsongas, and Lowenthal, the bill simply will not advance in the Senate. It contains too many poison pills, too many egregious violations of bedrock environmental law, too little wilderness, and too little compromise for that body to approve. But let’s say, just for argument, that it did pass the Senate. What president is going to sign into law a bill that was opposed by multiple agencies within his or her own administration? Do you think President Obama, who has protected more public lands in his time in the Oval Office than any of his predecessors, would sign into law the PLI, which imperils millions of acres of deserving wilderness?

    The simple answer is no. He wouldn’t do that. So the PLI is doomed, dead, failed. And it’s too bad, because we spent precious years working on it in earnest before it became obvious the bill would go nowhere good.

    Now the focus must turn to what still is achievable: protecting the 1.9 million-acre Bears Ears National Monument that has been requested by the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition. Throughout the PLI discussions, it has often been said by the Utah delegation that everyone agrees the Bears Ears region deserves protection. And we certainly do. Now that it’s clear the PLI cannot do the job, President Obama should step in. Click here to send a message asking him to Protect Bears Ears now!

  • PLI_HatchCanyon_NotProtected_2
    September 15th, 2016

    Rep. Rob Bishop just held a hearing on his Public Lands Initiative (PLI), bringing his disastrous vision for the management of Utah’s spectacular public lands to the chambers of Congress.

    Testifying against the bill were representatives of the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service, and the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, an alliance of five Tribes that have come together to propose national monument designation for the 1.9 million-acre Bears Ears region of southeasern Utah.

    Let your representative know it’s time to defeat the PLI!

    That its sponsors repeatedly tout the “conservation” in this bill is Orwellian. In reality, the PLI is the worst “wilderness” bill we’ve seen in Congress since the visionary Wilderness Act of 1964 was passed into law. Among its indecencies:

    • It rolls back existing protections on more than 100,000 acres of Utah’s deserving BLM wilderness.
    • Its “National Conservation Areas” are riddled with loopholes that are in direct opposition to conservation—allowing things like mining, deforestation projects and rampant road development.
    • It hands over to the State of Utah massive tracts of land that belong to the American people.
    • It gives unelected local groups unprecedented authority over the management of federal lands.
    • Its proposal for the 1.9 million-acre Bears Ears region is woefully inadequate.

    Contact your member of Congress today and tell them the PLI cannot pass!

    Fortunately, the bill was met with vigorous opposition by Reps. Niki Tsongas (MA), Raul Grijalva (AZ), Alan Lowenthal (CA), and Jared Polis (CO). If they are your representatives, please call their offices and thank them. The Capitol switchboard number is (202) 224-3121.

    We have worked for 30 years to cultivate congressional champions who can save Utah’s wilderness from proposals like the PLI—champions who understand that these majestic redrock plateaus and canyons deserve real protection for generations to come. But we’ve only been successful because you respond to our alerts, call your members of Congress, and enlist their help.

    Please do that again today. The legislative markup, the next step in the advancement of a bill through Congress, may still be coming this month.

    Please tell your representative that Utah’s wilderness deserves better than the PLI!

    Thank you!

  • WinterRidgeWSA_Released_in_PLI_RB_1
  • Crew
    September 7th, 2016

    On the weekend of August 27th, SUWA’s Field Service Volunteers ventured into the Henry Mountains to participate in a first phase reclamation work event at Horn Spring, located in the Mt. Pennell Wilderness Study Area in the heart of the mountain range. Hailing from Ogden, Escalante and Moab, the crew of eight convened Saturday morning for a full day of work under cool, cloudy skies with magnificent views of the Dirty Devil region, Waterpocket Fold, Capitol Reef National Park, and the Abajo and La Sal Mountain ranges.

    Volunteer efforts focused on cleaning up several runs of juniper and t-post fence line surrounding Horn Spring. These structures – long since stripped of their wire and, thus, usefulness – were dismantled in an effort to increase the wilderness character of the site.

    GregandJohnParticipants discussed the long-term vision for Horn Spring, including the establishment of a more efficient and contained enclosure, native plant revegetation, and additional land-based erosion prevention techniques. With this in mind, volunteers removed the non-functioning fence from the landscape and stored the materials for future re-use.

    At work, the crew took time to observe the resiliency of the natural landscape. In the aftermath of a decade-old fire that has left behind the shadowy standing remains of a pinyon forest, and despite years of unchecked grazing and non-compliance in off-road vehicle use, old roadbeds have begun a hearty revegetation. In the shade of browsed sagebrush grow lupine (Lupinus sparsiflorus), Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja angustifolia), wild rose (Rosa woodsii), young spruce, and a range of native bunch grasses including Indian rice grass (Achnatherum hymenoides). All of these are signs of an ecology highly capable of healing itself given the right and proper management practices. Carefully considered, these aspects – plant palette, wildlife patterns and human usage – will inform future work in the area as well as recommendations for local land managers.


    The clean-up efforts in the Henry Mountains are a collaboration between SUWA’s Field Service Volunteers and the BLM’s Henry Mountains Field Station (Hanksville).

    We are grateful to the volunteers who participated in our first event in the Henry Mountains. Thank you to Greg, Rita, Gabe, Melissa, Stephanie, Kelton, John M. and John G. for your work and commitment. We look forward to meeting more of our members and wilderness protectors in the coming months and years.

    If you would like to join to SUWA in the field, October’s scheduled trips include a workday in the San Rafael Swell on Saturday, October 15th and a day at Corona Arch (outside of Moab) on Saturday, October 29th. Contact Jeremy at for more information and to Register.



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