SUWA Action Alerts Archives


  • Hatch Point (Clint McKnight)
    June 25th, 2015

    Bad news. The counties’ proposals for Representative Rob Bishop’s Public Lands Initiative are in and they spell disaster for the future of Utah’s wild lands.

    Please act now and tell Representatives Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz that the county plans are wholly inadequate. In order to be successful, any public lands legislation they draft must go far beyond what the counties have proposed.

    More than two years ago, Rep. Bishop announced his desire to resolve longstanding disputes over public lands. He said that things would be different this time. In many ways they have been; we have seen some amazing goodwill and effort by the delegation. SUWA and its conservation partners jumped in with both feet and have spent hundreds of hours in the field and poring over maps.

    However, not everyone got the message. Many of the counties involved in Rep. Bishop’s initiative have stymied real progress by taking a “business as usual” approach. They propose fragmented wilderness designation while rolling back existing wilderness study areas. Even their “conservation area” designations are often rendered meaningless because they are opened to oil and gas development and riddled with roads. Tellingly, some counties are proposing even less land protection now than they did two decades ago.

    Some of the most spectacular wilderness landscapes in Utah are essentially forsaken (click here to view map). These forgotten areas include: Bitter Creek in the upper Book Cliffs; Desolation Canyon; Labyrinth Canyon; Lockhart Basin/Hatch Point east of Canyonlands National Park; White Canyon; Tables of the Sun (Nokai Dome/Red Rock Plateau); the Price River; and lands surrounding Dinosaur National Monument.

    Hatch Point (Clint McKnight)

    Hatch Point, copyright Clint McKnight.

    While county commissions, like all stakeholders, should have the opportunity to provide input in this process, they should not be the defining voice in determining the future of Utah’s public lands.

    Click here to tell Representatives Bishop and Chaffetz that all Americans should have a voice in this process.

    If the county proposals are advanced by the Utah delegation, it will mean a jigsaw puzzle of wilderness in Utah with more than half of the pieces missing. Vast reaches of undisturbed beauty that now define the redrock canyon country could be devastated by vehicle trails, energy development, and destructive “vegetation treatments.”

    Utah’s wild lands deserve better.

    Labyrinth Canyon (James Kay)

    Labyrinth Canyon, copyright James Kay.

    To succeed, the Public Lands Initiative needs to provide meaningful protection for the now-forsaken areas and incorporate the concerns of citizens across Utah and America.

    Please help save Wild Utah. Act now to tell Representatives Bishop and Chaffetz to do justice to Utah’s spectacular wild lands.

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  • CedarMesaRuin(crop)_RichardBullough
    May 28th, 2015

    The BLM’s Monticello Field Office is proposing to allow the Hole-in-the-Rock Foundation to guide hiking and handcart treks (reminiscent of early Mormon pioneer journeys) on three routes/trails in the Cedar Mesa area. The BLM’s current alternatives would allow for a maximum of 250 participants per day, pulling handcarts and supported by motor vehicles. Approximately 90% of this activity would occur over a 13-week “high use” period from June 1st to August 31st. Based on recent BLM data, approving any of the proposed alternatives will result in an increase of 90% to 576% above current commercial and organized group use levels.

    Please tell the BLM to protect Cedar Mesa by not approving “guided hiking and handcart treks” for groups of 250 people per day.

    CedarMesaRuin(crop)_RichardBullough

    Cedar Mesa Ruin. Copyright Richard Bullough.

    Although the BLM has considered a number of alternative proposals, all of them would allow total groups sizes of 250 people. For comparison, the Monticello Resource Management Plan currently only allows for a maximum of 12 people per group in all canyons within the Cedar Mesa Special Recreation Management Area (SRMA).

    As for handcart use, the Hole-in-the-Rock Foundation itself states that “handcarts were not part of the Hole-in-the-Rock journey.” Therefore, putting the issue of permitted group size aside, the purpose of providing a historical experience can be met without the use of handcarts and the associated additional impacts to natural and cultural resources.

    Cedar Mesa is known for its world-class cultural resources and wilderness-quality lands. The abundance and density of archaeological sites – from intact cliff dwellings to pristine rock art – combined with unparalleled solitude offer visitors a truly unique backcountry experience. This proposal has the potential to vastly change the current character of the Cedar Mesa area by adversely impacting both cultural resources and visitor expectations and experiences.

    Please send your comments to the BLM by May 29, 2015 and tell the agency it must:

    • Consider alternatives that drastically reduce the currently proposed group size of 250 users per day.
    • Consider an alternative that does not allow the use of handcarts by event participants.
    • Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement to fully analyze the unprecedented increase in permitted use and the unknown adverse impacts to natural and cultural resources.

    Click here to send your comments now!

    With your help, we can ensure that the BLM takes seriously its obligation to protect cultural resources and the wilderness experience that currently exists on Cedar Mesa. Thank you for your support in protecting this invaluable archaeological and wilderness treasure.

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  • PublicLandsforSale2_320x431_acf_cropped
  • Desolation Canyon
    April 2nd, 2015

    Desolation Canyon and Lands Surrounding Dinosaur National Monument Could Lose Big in Rep. Bishop’s Public Lands Initiative

    While we await the release of Representative Rob Bishop’s proposal for the public lands of eastern Utah, we wanted to fill you in on recent developments in three Utah counties: Carbon, Daggett, and Uintah. Generally, we remain optimistic that this process could result in the best opportunity for land protection in Utah in decades. However, these three counties have put together proposals that are troubling. Utah’s wild landscapes could be the biggest losers, particularly the Desolation Canyon wilderness complex and the wild lands surrounding Dinosaur National Monument. Representatives Bishop and Chaffetz—who are both driving this process—need to hear from you if these places are to be saved.

    First, Uintah County: ground zero for much of Utah’s energy production. Not surprisingly, the county has developed a proposal that is long on energy development and short on conservation. This means that the head of Desolation Canyon and the proposed wilderness surrounding Dinosaur National Monument (a place BLM is managing for conservation now) could be made available for oil and gas development. Such a result would sacrifice some of the few remaining wild lands in this heavily impacted county.

    Desolation Canyon

    Uintah County’s proposal would sacrifice the head of Desolation Canyon (above) to an Energy Zone. Copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA.

    Unfortunately, Carbon County has developed what may be an even worse plan. Just recently the county commission approved a development proposal for the county that would remove wilderness protections (i.e., wilderness study areas) for vast swaths of the Desolation Canyon complex. According to their vision, no float trip of Desolation Canyon would be complete without a symphony of oil and gas development played by scores of wells located on the immediate rim of the canyon. Ironically, the county actually proposed more land for protection in the 1990s than it does now. The county’s development proposal would result in a loss of more than half of the wilderness-quality land in its share of Desolation Canyon.

    Finally, Daggett County. You will remember that last October the conservation community announced a landmark agreement with Daggett County, Rep. Rob Bishop, and the State of Utah. This compromise would set aside over 100,000 acres of wilderness and national conservation areas in this county. Rep. Bishop committed that this widely touted agreement would be included in his pending legislation for his public lands initiative in eastern Utah. Unfortunately, Daggett County has now developed cold feet and has reneged on its promises. Apparently, talk is cheap. We remain hopeful that Rep. Bishop and the state will honor the agreement but the potential for backtracking is deeply troubling.

    In summary, Utah’s counties are seeking to suffocate Desolation Canyon—one of the nation’s largest remaining roadless areas—with oil and gas development and slice and dice currently-protected public lands around Dinosaur National Monument. Do not let the counties destroy these treasures—please take action today.

    >> If you live in Rep Bishop’s or Rep. Chaffetz’ district, click here to send comments electronically.

    >> If you live outside of those districts (in Utah or another state), click here to send your comments.

    Thank you!

     

    0 Comments
  • March 26th, 2015

    The 114th Congress is in full swing and our congressional champions – Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) – will soon introduce America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act (ARRWA). They are gathering original cosponsors and need your help to demonstrate the widespread national support for protecting one of our last great wild landscapes.

    Help us get more ARRWA cosponsors!

    Utah’s public lands are increasingly under threat from oil and gas drilling, rampant off-road vehicle use and radical proposals to let states take over federal lands. It is more important than ever that Congress knows how crucial Utah’s stunning lands are to the American people.

    Trin Alcove, Labyrinth Canyon. Copyright Tom Till.

    Trin Alcove, Labyrinth Canyon. Copyright Tom Till.

    Last Congress, we had 99 cosponsors in the House and a record-breaking 24 cosponsors in the Senate. Let’s surpass both of those numbers this year. Contact your congressional representatives to show that support for protecting Utah wilderness is stronger than ever.

    Click here to ask your members of Congress to cosponsor America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act.

    Thank you!

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