Blog Archives - Page 3 of 102


  • July 30th, 2014
    Canyonlands Overlook, GrantCollier

    Copyright Grant Collier

    Big news coming out of Washington today!  This week, 14 senators, led by Senator Dick Durbin, sent a letter to President Obama encouraging him to use the Antiquities Act to designate Greater Canyonlands a National Monument. These senators recognize that Greater Canyonlands is a national treasure that remains unprotected.

    “Although Canyonlands National Park is the heart of the area, we support the opportunity to protect Greater Canyonlands, a 1.8 million acre area of land that encompasses the Park,” the senators wrote. “Greater Canyonlands is one of our nation’s most stunning, wild, and unique landscapes.  It should be protected permanently for the benefit and education of future generations.”

    This hasn’t happened before in this administration.  Fourteen senators, representing 13 states and more than 100 million Americans, asked President Obama to create a new national monument.  Those senators are Sen. Durbin (IL), Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT), Sen. Brian Schatz (HI), Sen. Debbie Stabenow (MI), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT), Sen. Sherrod Brown (OH), Sen. Patty Murray (WA), Sen. Barbara Boxer (CA), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), Sen. Ed Markey (MA), Sen. Tom Harkin (IA), Sen. Tammy Baldwin (WI) and Sen. Robert Menendez (NJ).

    If you live in one of these states, please thank your senator!

    The senators wrote, “The promise of Greater Canyonlands remains unfulfilled.  As Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell has noted, ‘there are some places that are too special to develop.’   Greater Canyonlands is certainly one of those.  We urge you to consider using your authority under the Antiquities Act to write the final chapter for this national treasure and declare Greater Canyonlands a national monument.”

    We’re so grateful to these senators.  Add your voice here by asking President Obama to protect Greater Canyonlands!

    Read the senators’ letter:
    Greater Canyonlands ltr to President (thumbnail)

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  • July 29th, 2014

    Contend that state law bars Attorney General from bringing Tooele County RS 2477 lawsuit

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Contact:
    Stephen Bloch, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, 801.859.1552 (cell) or 801.428.3981 (office)
    Brent V. Manning & Jess M. Krannich, Manning Curtis Bradshaw & Bednar LLC, 801.363.5678

    (July 29, 2014) Salt Lake City, UT: Today a Tooele County resident and taxpayer, along with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, filed a lawsuit in Third District Court (state court) alleging that the State Attorney General acted illegally when he brought a federal lawsuit claiming more than 2,400 miles of alleged RS 2477 “roads” in Tooele County. The lawsuit asks the court to bar the State from pursuing or funding its federal lawsuit seeking title over RS 2477 “roads” in Tooele County and to declare that the Attorney General acted illegally when he brought the case in the first place.

    CedarMtns2_RayBloxham

    Cedar Mountain Wilderness. Copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA.

    “The State’s lawsuit threatens some of Tooele County’s wildest places, including the Cedar Mountain Wilderness and North Stansbury and Indian Peaks proposed wilderness areas,” said Michael Abdo, a Tooele County resident. “These are places I go with friends, family, and Boy Scouts to appreciate their natural beauty and quiet. The State’s attempt to establish ‘roads’ in these areas is misguided, and a waste of taxpayer dollars.”

    In the past decade the State legislature has spent millions of dollars in an ill-advised effort to claim that alleged “roads,” including faded two-tracks and stream bottoms, are actually State highways that can be improved and paved to a minimum width of 66 feet. Some are virtually impossible to locate. Often the routes lead to no landmark or destination, and are not part of any reasonably described transportation network.   The legislature funds its RS 2477 litigation campaign from millions allocated to the Public Lands Policy Coordination Office, the Constitutional Defense Council, and the Attorney General’s Office.

    DugwayMtnsWIA_RayBloxham

    Dugway Mountains proposed wilderness. Copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA.

    “The State’s RS 2477 litigation is part of its larger effort to take control of public lands and block congressional wilderness designation,” said Stephen Bloch, legal director for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. “If successful, this lawsuit will bring an end to the state’s expensive and senseless campaign.”

    State law bars the State from bringing a lawsuit claiming title to real property unless its right or title accrued within seven years of the filing of the case. Here, the State’s alleged title to RS 2477 rights-of-way accrued no later than 1976, when Congress repealed that statute. Thus, the State’s power to bring a lawsuit seeking title over RS 2477 “roads” in Tooele County lapsed more than 25 years before the State filed its case.

    The State’s and Toole County’s lawsuit is brought directly contrary to Utah law and the constitutional requirement that the State Attorney General act in accordance with Utah law. According to the plain language of the applicable Utah statute: “The state may not bring an action against any person for or with respect to any real property, its issues or profits, based upon the state’s right or title to the real property, unless: (1) the right or title to the property accrued within seven years before any action or other proceeding is commenced […]”Utah Code Ann. § 78B-2-201 (emphasis added). Nonetheless, the State is disregarding its own laws to pursue an anti-wilderness agenda.

    CedarMtns_RayBloxham

    Cedar Mountain Wilderness. Copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA.

    It is popular in this state to criticize the courts if they do not follow the plain language of the law as enacted by the Utah legislature. Here, the language chosen by the legislature is clear: “the state may not bring an action … unless the right … to the property accrued within seven years…” Notwithstanding this clear prohibition, the Attorney General and Toole County are spending millions of dollars in direct violation of Utah law to pursue what Public Land Policy Coordination Office Director Kathleen Clarke recently described as “the largest litigation ever taken on by the State of Utah.” With this lawsuit, Mr. Abdo and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance seek to stop the wasteful and illegal expenditure of taxpayer money, the apparent object of which is to disqualify lands for Wilderness designation.

    The State’s RS 2477 lawsuit in Tooele County is one of more than twenty-five (25) lawsuits filed by the State of Utah and its counties claiming more than 14,000 rights of way totaling nearly 35,000 miles of dirt trails and routes on public lands. Taken together, this massive litigation threatens several national parks and monuments as well as iconic Utah wilderness landscapes.

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    Click to view  map of RS 2477 claims
    TooeleCo_EntireCounty

     

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  • July 25th, 2014

    SUWA is working with the Obama administration to bring balance back to public land management through tools like master leasing plans (MLPs), which take a closer look at which lands should be off-limits to new oil and gas leasing and development (and which should remain open to such activities).

    Currently, the BLM is preparing a Moab MLP that covers nearly 850,000 acres. Learn more about master leasing plans in this video from the Equal Ground Coalition:

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  • July 23rd, 2014

    Suzanne Stensaas, a professor of neurobiology and anatomy, did a great interview on Salt Lake City’s FOX13 about the letter from health professionals urging President Obama to create a Greater Canyonlands National Monument.

    Also be sure to check out the Salt Lake Tribune’s coverage of the letter.

    Are you a health care professional? Add your name to the letter to Obama.

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  • 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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