Blog Archives - Page 3 of 103


  • August 13th, 2014

    From TreeHugger:

    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. In this short video (the second in a series of five short films on the importance of Greater Canyonlands to young people) Kelsey and her fellow Rowland Hall High School students reflect on what Greater Canyonlands means to them and what they hope for its future. “Anyone who sees how beautiful this land is will know it needs to be preserved,” reflects one student. “It offers so much awe and inspiration to every visitor.”

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  • August 5th, 2014

    The Interior Board of Land Appeals has dismissed an appeal brought by the Western Energy Alliance and a small oil and gas company which challenged BLM’s decision not to offer certain wilderness character and culturally significant parcels in the San Rafael Swell for lease at the November 2013 oil and gas lease sale.

    San Rafael Swell Rally

    A woman protests proposed oil and gas leases during a rally in front of the BLM’s state offices September 16, 2013.

    “We’re pleased that industry’s appeal has been rejected,” said Stephen Bloch, legal director for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. “BLM made the right decision not to offer these wild and culturally rich public lands in the Utah’s remarkable San Rafael Swell for oil and gas leasing and development.”

    Last year the BLM proposed to sell 57 oil and gas leases primarily located in Utah’s stunning San Rafael Swell. The leases would have green lighted development on more than 80,000 acres of proposed wilderness, the vast majority of which the BLM itself acknowledges are wilderness caliber landscapes. The leases would have also authorized surface activities in a culturally rich landscape and over the objections of The Hopi Tribe. Hundreds of people wrote and emailed the BLM asking them to “think first, and lease later.” More than 150 people rallied at BLM’s state headquarters in Salt Lake City and delivered this message personally. BLM ultimately withdrew these parcels from sale.

    Shortly thereafter an oil and gas trade group, the Western Energy Alliance, filed an appeal with the Interior Department seeking to overturn the BLM’s decision not to offer these leases. They were joined by a small oil and gas company who had hoped to buy some of these leases. The gist of their appeal was that because BLM initially made the wrong decision to offer these leases, it was required to do so no matter what kind of information the agency learned about the threats that development would pose to fragile cultural sites, threatened species, etc. In other words, industry pushed for the “good old days” of “lease first and think later.” The Interior appeals board flatly rejected these arguments and dismissed the appeal.

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  • August 4th, 2014


    From TreeHugger:

    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. The first in this series features students from Brigham Young University (BYU) – an institution owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – as they explore the stunning cliffs and canyons of Greater Canyonlands and view encroaching oil and gas development that threatens to degrade the region’s exquisite natural beauty.

     

    “Greater Canyonlands is a place of immense spiritual and cultural value,” says BYU student Sarah Karlinsey, “and we feel the weight of our responsibility as stewards to ensure that these beauties are preserved for our future families. It is our hope that President Obama will protect this cherished place by proclaiming it a national monument to be protected for all time.”

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  • 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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