May 2010

  • May 28th, 2010
    Nokai Dome
    Nokai Dome in the San Juan-Canyonlands
    region.  Photo copyright Harvey Halpern.

    Over the past two months, we’ve participated in a series of meetings with San Juan County commissioners and representatives of Senator Bob Bennett to discuss the merits of wilderness designations within the San Juan-Canyonlands landscape.

    Throughout Senator Bennett’s process, questions have arisen about the Senator’s intent.  Senate and county representatives frequently weren’t taking notes on conservationists’ presentations and county commissioners sometimes weren’t even in attendance as the process moved along.  This raises questions about whether these meetings were perfunctory “window dressing” or a real effort to identify the specific issues related to federal lands in San Juan County.

    Now the future of these discussions, and any potential wilderness legislation, is unclear.  For example, field trips are essential when the intent is for groups with longstanding disagreements to attempt to identify common ground, but it is not clear that field trips will take place.

    Whatever happens next, Utahns throughout our state — not just San Juan County residents — deserve an opportunity to learn more about the lands under consideration and make their voices heard.  At the very least, Senator Bennett should convene a hearing in Salt Lake City to discuss how 1.5 million acres of wilderness in San Juan County, inventoried by citizens and included in America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, should be managed for the benefit of all Americans.

    Click here to read SUWA staffer Brooke Williams’ latest dispatch from San Juan County.

  • May 26th, 2010

    Robert Redford: Protecting America's wild lands

    "I have lived most of my life in the West,
    and I have seen too many special places lost. Each time it happens, our
    children's wilderness inheritance shrinks even further.

    It doesn't have to be this way. We can protect our last remnants of
    unspoiled nature. We can live up to the example set by generations
    before us who agreed to safeguard spectacular landscapes.

    We could be the generation that decides to protect… But with the "No New Wilderness" policy still
    in effect, loud generators or noisy natural gas compressor stations
    could move in and shatter that stillness…

    Join me in asking Interior Secretary Salazar
    to issue a Secretarial Order to preserve wilderness quality lands while
    they are being considered for permanent preservation."

    Read more at The Denver Post

  • May 25th, 2010

    After 5 years work, Beaver-Piute legislation tabled indefinitely 

    Beaver County is putting its proposed land bill on hold after
    two open house meetings in Milford and Beaver on Monday and Tuesday were
    attended by residents who strongly oppose the

    Read more at The Spectrum Daily News

    Environmental groups attack approval for strip mine near Bryce Canyon

    Sierra Club and three other environmental groups are challenging a permit for
    the coal mine, saying the operation would pollute waterways and kick up dust 10
    miles from Bryce
    Canyon National Park
    , which is known for its
    views, pristine air and sparkling night skies.

    superintendent also has objected.

    Opponents contend Utah set a low threshold for sediment that would run off
    the strip mine into mountain lakes, streams and the wild and scenic Virgin River.

    Read more at The Deseret News

    It's cultural, not rational – Letter on conservation in San Juan County

    It seems San Juan County Commission's fear of new parks, wilderness and
    monuments may be more a fear of the "elites" who enjoy and promote such
    landscapes rather than a sense of what is really good for their local

    Read more at The High Country News

  • May 21st, 2010

    New BLM director will hopefully reform and improve Utah land management

    "But Salazar's reforms of the
    Bureau of Land Management's environmental review practices, and his
    decision to replace Selma Sierra with Juan Palma as Utah BLM director,
    point the national and local offices toward better stewardship. Sierra
    dutifully carried out the Bush policies and her regional management
    plans elevated the interests of energy developers and off-road-vehicle
    users. Utahns concerned with preserving Utah's fragile lands will not
    miss her."

    Read more at the Salt Lake Tribune 

    Bennett seeks to block onshore drilling reform

    Senator Bennett, in conjunction with Senator Hatch, introduced legislation Wednesday which attempts to block the positive reforms of Secretary Salazar on Utah's BLM lands.

    Bennett believes that the new regulation would add more red tape in energy production. 

    Read more at the Salt Lake Tribune

  • May 21st, 2010

    May 2010

    Here’s what is happening this month with the redrock:
    1.  Find out what is happening with the San Juan County wilderness process.
    2.  TAKE ACTION – Ask the White House to address climate change in public lands decisions.
    3.  Send us photos or videos of your family exploring Utah’s wild lands!
    4.  New redrock bill cosponsors include Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL).

    San Juan County Wilderness Process Continues Despite Bennett Convention Loss 

    We want to update you
    about the future of the San Juan-Canyonlands wilderness.

    White Canyon
    The White Canyon proposed wilderness is found in San Juan County. Photo copyright Chris Case

    Sen. Bob Bennett is
    considering creating legislation to determine management for public lands in
    the southeast corner of Utah in the San Juan-Canyonlands region.  SUWA, with our partners in the Utah
    Wilderness Coalition — including the Sierra Club and Great Old Broads — and other
    conservation organizations including the Grand Canyon Trust have been active
    voices in the process.  Meetings have
    been held every other week since mid-April, at which SUWA has presented the
    UWC’s wilderness proposal. 

    At the beginning of this week’s meeting, Sen.
    Bennett’s staff assured us that, despite the Senator’s loss at the recent Utah
    Republican convention, Bennett remains committed to trying to move a San Juan
    County public lands bill this year.  If
    time ends up being a limiting factor, the Senator would work to “hand it off
    effectively” so the process could continue under the guidance and support of
    another member of the Utah delegation.

    For more detailed accounts of the San Juan County meetings, you can view the following posts:
    Dispatch from San Juan County – No. 1
    Dispatch from San Juan County – No. 2
    Dispatch from San Juan County – No. 3
    Dispatch from San Juan County – No. 4

    If you have
    not already done so, please contact your
    members of Congress today
    and ask that they monitor the process
    to help Sen. Bennett produce a bill for San Juan
    County that offers meaningful protections for Utah’s redrock
    wilderness.  If you live in
    Utah, please send a personalized message to Senator Bennett

    Tell the White
    House to address
    climate change in public lands decision

    Early in
    the Obama administration, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar made clear that his
    department would be looking through the lens of climate change when making
    decisions affecting our public lands.  He
    even issued a Secretarial
    saying “the realities of climate change require us to change how we
    manage the land, water, fish and wildlife, and cultural heritage and tribal
    lands and resources we oversee.”  We
    hoped that this signaled a break from the Bush administration, which ignored climate change issues in decisions like the
    six controversial resource management plans for the Colorado Plateau.  Unfortunately, the BLM has still not fixed
    those plans or made any commitment to do so in the future.  Clearly, the Interior Department needs some

    The White
    House Council on Environmental Quality recently proposed  draft guidance on the incorporation of climate
    change in environmental analyses, but it also neglects to require an analysis of the impacts of
    climate change on public lands and natural resources.    

    climate change was supposed to be a priority for the Obama administration.  So far, we haven’t seen much follow through even
    as scientists warn that time is of the essence if we want to bolster the
    ability of native plants and animals to withstand a hotter, drier climate.  Please click here to tell CEQ chair Nancy
    Sutley about the importance of including climate change in all of the
    administration’s decisions
    – including those affecting Utah’s redrock wilderness.

    Photos and Videos of Families in Wilderness

    Do you have great photos and/or videos of you, your family or friends
    exploring Utah’s wild lands?  We’re looking for photos and videos of
    people enjoying Utah’s wild country for use in an upcoming promotional
    campaign.  Please send photos either as files or links (to Flickr,
    Picassa, or other web albums) and links to videos (on YouTube or other
    video hosting sites; please do not email actual video files) to

    *New Cosponsor Spotlight* 

    Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL)

    The number of House cosponsors for America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act continues to grow!  Those recently signing onto to the bill are Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY) and Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL).  If you live in one of their districts, please thank your representative!

    For a full list of cosponsors, click here.  If your members of Congress are not on the list of cosponsors, please ask them to sign onto the bill by clicking here!



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