SUWA Action Alerts Archives


  • White Canyon (Scott Braden)
    May 16th, 2016

    Four months ago, the Utah congressional delegation released a draft of their Public Lands Initiative (PLI), a proposal for 18 million acres of eastern Utah’s public lands.

    This draft is the worst wilderness bill ever proposed by the Utah congressional delegation. It has been universally condemned by conservationists and Native American Tribes.

    The Utah politicians have since refused to discuss their proposal with us. There is no small irony in this given that the delegation insists it is “seeking” public comment on this proposal.

    As Representatives Bishop and Chaffetz blew by introduction deadlines, the PLI began to slouch from sight. One might have assumed the representatives were passively acknowledging that they had loaded this legislation with so many bad provisions it would never fly. The PLI seemed dead.

    Utah politicians then shifted their focus from the PLI to attacking a coalition of Tribes for proposing the Bears Ears National Monument (which we endorse). Their new focus has become stopping this visionary proposal.

    Now, Utah’s politicians threaten to pull the PLI from the grave in an effort to enlist it in their anti-Bears Ears efforts. Clearly, they are hoping to distract the White House from taking action on a new national monument.

    But this zombie bill will fail for the same reasons as the original proposal and it should not serve as an excuse not to protect Bears Ears now.

    White Canyon (Scott Braden)

    Most of White Canyon, a central part of the Bears Ears National Monument Proposal, is left out of the PLI altogether. © Scott Braden/SUWA

     

    We know that the PLI will not protect a significant number of the 5 million acres of wilderness-quality public lands in eastern Utah. In fact, it is likely to reduce already meager wilderness protections for public lands. We also know that the PLI will condemn hundreds of thousands of acres of public lands to energy zones and will further the State of Utah’s land grab by giving the State and its counties thousands of miles two-tracks, dirt trails, and cow paths as “highways” across public lands.

    And now we know that the PLI will be used as an excuse to justify Utah politicians’ refusal to work with the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition to protect Bears Ears.

    Any one of these elements makes the PLI nothing more than a Plundered Lands Initiative, fully deserving of reburial. Utah’s public lands simply deserve better. President Obama needs to act now to protect the Bears Ears—as requested by the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition—from looting and other ongoing threats to the region.

    Please send a message to President Obama today asking him to designate a Bears Ears National Monument.

    Thank you.

  • Public Lands for Sale Sign
  • Bears Ears Buttes (Tim Peterson)
    April 28th, 2016

    On April 24, the Editorial Board of Utah’s largest newspaper, the Salt Lake Tribune, argued strongly for President Obama to designate a Bears Ears National Monument:

    Just about everyone who spoke at Wednesday’s meeting of the Utah Commission for the Stewardship of Public Lands was arguing for President Obama to order the creation of a 1.9 million acre Bears Ears National Monument in southeast Utah.

    So that is exactly what Obama should do.

    Add your voice to the Salt Lake Tribune’s and ask President Obama to Protect Bears Ears now!

    Bears Ears Buttes (Tim Peterson)

    Bears Ears Buttes, copyright Tim Peterson

    The editorial was likely prompted not just by the wide grassroots support for protecting Bears Ears — throughout Utah, among Native Americans, and across the nation — but equally by “the attitude of commission members who [were] so dismissive, uninformed and short-sighted that they were actually, if inadvertently, making the case for Obama to unsheath the federal Antiquities Act [.]”

    As the Tribune editorial points out, Utah politicians don’t seem to understand that:

    . . . decisions made about this and other national monuments, parks and wilderness areas aren’t about Utah. They aren’t about the few who rule over the many in the Legislature or on the San Juan County Commission. They aren’t even really about the United States of America.

    They are about natural and cultural heritage and treasures that belong to all humanity. That the United States, by accidents of history and geography, happens to own that land and owns the duty to care for it in ways that make it available, first to the descendants of those who lived there millennia ago, then to the rest of us.

    Please ask President Obama to Protect Bears Ears now.

    As the Salt Lake Tribune editorial concludes, “Obama [should] end the delay, the bickering and the suspense and create the Bears Ears National Monument.”

    The time to protect Bears Ears is now.

  • IMG_3274_B
    February 24th, 2016

    The “Utah Test and Training Range Encroachment Prevention and Temporary Closure Act” (H.R. 4579), introduced by Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT), aims to give away federal public lands under the guise of national security.

    A companion to Senator Hatch’s S. 2383, the legislation would withdraw roughly 625,000 acres of BLM lands to expand the Utah Test and Training Range—already the largest military training ground in the United States—purportedly to accommodate a new fleet of F-35 jets. But it goes well beyond that mission by granting 6,000 miles of RS 2477 rights-of-way to Box Elder, Juab, and Tooele counties.

    Write to your members of Congress and tell them to oppose this latest land grab attempt!

    These so-called routes, many of which are simply faded two-tracks, cow paths or streambeds in the desert, run directly across federal public lands and fragment critical habitats, proposed wilderness, wilderness study areas, and even parts of the designated Cedar Mountain Wilderness! Caught up in the state’s land grab fever, these counties have sued the federal government to wrest control of these bogus routes, but are unlikely to win the majority in court. Forfeiting them now in this bill would set a dangerous precedent, not just in Utah, but throughout the West.

    Tell your members of Congress that national defense is perfectly compatible with protecting our national heritage!

    CedarMtns2_RayBloxham

    Many of the so-called routes granted to counties in this bill are simply faded two-tracks, cow paths or streambeds that run directly across federal public lands and fragment critical habitats, proposed wilderness, wilderness study areas, and even parts of the designated Cedar Mountain Wilderness (above). Photo copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA.

    In addition, the legislation disregards bedrock environmental laws including the National Environmental Policy Act, undermines the protection of proposed wilderness areas such as the Newfoundland Mountains, Deep Creek Mountains and Dugway Mountains, and facilitates a land exchange that would trade away wilderness-quality lands.

    Rep. Stewart’s proposed expansion is merely part of the broader effort by the State of Utah to seize our nation’s public lands. We need you to contact your member of Congress and expose this bill for what it is—a land grab shamelessly hiding under the guise of national security.

    Click here to take action now!

    Thank you.

     

  • Bridger Jack Mesa RS 2477 Claim (Ray Bloxham)
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