America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act Reintroduced in the 118th Congress
Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance * Natural Resources Defense Council * Sierra Club
For Immediate Release: April 26, 2023
Travis Hammill, DC Director, SUWA, (202) 266-0472, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kabir Green, Director of Federal Affairs, NRDC, (646) 823-4518, email@example.com
Athan Manuel, Director of Lands Protection Program, Sierra Club, (202) 547-1141, firstname.lastname@example.org
On Wednesday, April 26th, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) reintroduced America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act (ARRWA) in the Senate of the 118th Congress along with 20 original cosponsors.
America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act is the seminal legislation that would protect more than 8 million acres of wild public land in Utah. It has long been understood that these spectacular landscapes are worthy of permanent protection, but they also play a significant role in addressing climate change by drawing carbon out of the atmosphere and sequestering it in plants and soils. Furthermore, these wild desert lands form a vital link in the interconnected chain of largely undisturbed ecosystems running from the Grand Canyon to Glacier National Park, providing important migration corridors and climate refugia for wildlife. (See report: Contribution of the America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act to Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Efforts.)
“These landscapes across Utah are deserving of permanent protection,” said Travis Hammill, DC Director for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, “not just for the natural beauty of the areas but also because of the myriad Native American cultural and ancestral sites found there. These lands also make important contributions to mitigating climate change and preserving important wildlife habitat. We are grateful to Sen. Durbin for his commitment to protecting America’s public lands.”
“The lands proposed for wilderness designation here are a vital piece of the Biden Administration’s goal to protect 30% of America’s lands and waters by 2030,” says Natural Resources Defense Council’s Director of Federal Affairs, Kabir Green. “The wildlife corridors that exist through Utah’s public lands connect the Arctic and Central American habitats that migratory species rely on. Preservation of the lands included in this legislation will contribute to the goals of protecting diverse habitats, improving access for all people, and identifying and managing these areas in collaboration with Indigenous communities.”
“The landscapes of Utah’s canyon country are special – for the Indigenous peoples whose connections to it span generations, for wildlife who call it home, and for those seeking connections with nature,” says Sierra Club’s Lands Protection Program Director Athan Manuel. “Right now, oil and gas development and the increasing threat of climate change are putting these landscapes at risk. America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act would permanently safeguard these lands, protecting historical and cultural legacies, critical habitat, and outdoor opportunities for generations to come.”
America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act has been introduced in the House of Representatives since 1989, first by Utah Rep. Wayne Owens, and subsequently by Rep. Maurice Hinchey of New York, Rep. Rush Holt of New Jersey, and Rep. Alan Lowenthal of California. In 1997, Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois agreed to introduce the Senate version of the bill and has done so every Congress since. In 2021, the Navajo Nation Council endorsed America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, followed by the Hope Tribal Council in 2023.
All lands proposed for wilderness designation in America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act are owned by the American public and administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The bill is supported by SUWA, Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Wasatch Mountain Club, and more than 200 other national and regional conservation organizations belonging to the Utah Wilderness Coalition.
More information about America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act can be found here.
More information on the role of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act in protecting biodiversity and mitigating the climate crisis can be found here.