April 2019 Redrock Report

Take Action to Stop the BLM From Destroying Pinyon-Juniper Forests in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

GSENM chaining project map (4/2019)Every year, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) spends tens of millions of taxpayer dollars destroying hundreds of thousands of acres of native pinyon pine and juniper forests and sagebrush stands throughout the West. The BLM asserts that such vegetation treatment projects improve forage or habitat for wildlife, or reduce stream erosion and runoff.

Yet scientific evidence often counters the claims made by proponents of vegetation treatments on public lands. In fact, a new report by the Wild Utah Project analyzing the existing scientific literature on mechanical vegetation removal projects on western public lands shows that landscape-level vegetation projects (as favored by the BLM) often have deleterious effects on wildlife, and have a positive effect on reducing erosion and stream run-off less than 7% of the time.

Still, the BLM continues to move forward with three massive vegetation treatment proposals in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. All told, the BLM is looking at “landscape-level project[s]” on nearly 135,000 acres of lands within the original 1.9 million-acre national monument.

Take Action: Tell the BLM to stop all mechanical vegetation removal projects in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument!


Update on Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments: Some Good News as Our Litigation Grinds Along

Moon House Ruin (Jeff Foott)Our challenge to President Trump’s unlawful attack on Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears national monuments continues to grind along in federal district court in Washington, DC. Recently, the court allowed the State of Utah, a handful of Utah counties, and the American and Utah Farm Bureau Federations to participate in these cases as full parties to defend Trump’s decision.

Those “intervenors” as they’re called have filed additional briefs in support of the Justice Department’s motions to dismiss our cases and we have responded and opposed those new filings (largely consisting of rehashed arguments). We still expect that the court will hold a hearing on the motions to dismiss by late spring or early summer and issue a decision shortly thereafter, though there is no schedule set for that to happen.

Finally, and in a remarkable turn of events, San Juan County recently withdrew from the Bears Ears litigation after it had intervened in the case on behalf of the Trump administration. Following the election of two new Navajo commissioners, the San Juan County commission voted 2-1 in March to withdraw the county from the case. By the same margin the commission has passed resolutions supporting Bears Ears National Monument and calling for it to be expanded to 1.9 million acres (the size originally proposed by the Inter-Tribal Coalition).

Photo © Jeff Foott


BLM Pulls Oil & Gas Leases Near Bears Ears, Hovenweep, and Canyons of the Ancients (for Now)

Tin Cup Mesa (Ray Bloxham)Following public outcry and a formal protest from SUWA, the Utah Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has deferred all of its proposed oil and gas leases in San Juan County from its March 2019 lease sale “due to additional environmental analysis required.” The proposed leases were on the doorstep of Bears Ears, Hovenweep, and Canyons of the Ancients national monuments.

It’s the nature of environmental defense that this victory is short-lived—although deferred, the parcels will likely be back up for sale at the September 2019 lease sale.

But SUWA will be there to fight those leases, too, and this decision by the BLM puts us in a strong position in our challenges to other BLM lease sales (from March and December 2018), because those lease sales relied on the same environmental analysis. If it is insufficient now, then it was insufficient then.

Photo © Ray Bloxham/SUWA


Redrock Activists Make Spring Pilgrimage to Nation’s Capital

Wilderness Week Group 2019Earlier this month, approximately 50 citizen activists descended on Washington, DC to advocate for America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act during the Utah Wilderness Coalition’s annual Wilderness Week event. This year activists from 27 states, including Utah, visited Capitol Hill and conducted more than 300 meetings and literature drops over the course of just 3 days. They also walked a collective 200 miles and consumed over 30 gallons of coffee!

Activists shared their love for the canyon country and explained to congressional offices why their support for America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act is crucial. Those stories struck a chord in many offices and we are optimistic about the number of cosponsors we will garner this session.

For those unable to attend Wilderness Week, there is still an important part to play: no matter where you live, please contact your members of Congress and ask them to cosponsor America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act when it’s reintroduced in the House and Senate this spring (bill numbers TBD)!


Take Action to Stop the BLM From Destroying Pinyon-Juniper Forests in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

GSENM chaining project map (4/2019)Every year, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) spends tens of millions of taxpayer dollars destroying hundreds of thousands of acres of native pinyon pine and juniper forests and sagebrush stands throughout the West. The BLM asserts that such vegetation treatment projects improve forage or habitat for wildlife, or reduce stream erosion and runoff.

Yet scientific evidence often counters the claims made by proponents of vegetation treatments on public lands. In fact, a new report by the Wild Utah Project analyzing the existing scientific literature on mechanical vegetation removal projects on western public lands shows that landscape-level vegetation projects (as favored by the BLM) often have deleterious effects on wildlife, and have a positive effect on reducing erosion and stream run-off less than 7% of the time.

Still, the BLM continues to move forward with three massive vegetation treatment proposals in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. All told, the BLM is looking at “landscape-level project[s]” on nearly 135,000 acres of lands within the original 1.9 million-acre national monument.

Take Action: Tell the BLM to stop all mechanical vegetation removal projects in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument!


Update on Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments: Some Good News as Our Litigation Grinds Along

Moon House Ruin (Jeff Foott)Our challenge to President Trump’s unlawful attack on Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears national monuments continues to grind along in federal district court in Washington, DC. Recently, the court allowed the State of Utah, a handful of Utah counties, and the American and Utah Farm Bureau Federations to participate in these cases as full parties to defend Trump’s decision.

Those “intervenors” as they’re called have filed additional briefs in support of the Justice Department’s motions to dismiss our cases and we have responded and opposed those new filings (largely consisting of rehashed arguments). We still expect that the court will hold a hearing on the motions to dismiss by late spring or early summer and issue a decision shortly thereafter, though there is no schedule set for that to happen.

Finally, and in a remarkable turn of events, San Juan County recently withdrew from the Bears Ears litigation after it had intervened in the case on behalf of the Trump administration. Following the election of two new Navajo commissioners, the San Juan County commission voted 2-1 in March to withdraw the county from the case. By the same margin the commission has passed resolutions supporting Bears Ears National Monument and calling for it to be expanded to 1.9 million acres (the size originally proposed by the Inter-Tribal Coalition).

Photo © Jeff Foott


BLM Pulls Oil & Gas Leases Near Bears Ears, Hovenweep, and Canyons of the Ancients (for Now)

Tin Cup Mesa (Ray Bloxham)Following public outcry and a formal protest from SUWA, the Utah Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has deferred all of its proposed oil and gas leases in San Juan County from its March 2019 lease sale “due to additional environmental analysis required.” The proposed leases were on the doorstep of Bears Ears, Hovenweep, and Canyons of the Ancients national monuments.

It’s the nature of environmental defense that this victory is short-lived—although deferred, the parcels will likely be back up for sale at the September 2019 lease sale.

But SUWA will be there to fight those leases, too, and this decision by the BLM puts us in a strong position in our challenges to other BLM lease sales (from March and December 2018), because those lease sales relied on the same environmental analysis. If it is insufficient now, then it was insufficient then.

Photo © Ray Bloxham/SUWA


Redrock Activists Make Spring Pilgrimage to Nation’s Capital

Wilderness Week Group 2019Earlier this month, approximately 50 citizen activists descended on Washington, DC to advocate for America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act during the Utah Wilderness Coalition’s annual Wilderness Week event. This year activists from 27 states, including Utah, visited Capitol Hill and conducted more than 300 meetings and literature drops over the course of just 3 days. They also walked a collective 200 miles and consumed over 30 gallons of coffee!

Activists shared their love for the canyon country and explained to congressional offices why their support for America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act is crucial. Those stories struck a chord in many offices and we are optimistic about the number of cosponsors we will garner this session.

For those unable to attend Wilderness Week, there is still an important part to play: no matter where you live, please contact your members of Congress and ask them to cosponsor America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act when it’s reintroduced in the House and Senate this spring (bill numbers TBD)!

Photo © Adrienne Carter/SUWA


Step Up Your Involvement and Become a Wilderness Steward!

Service Project Volunteers in GSENMMake your love of the outdoors a force for positive change by joining us in Salt Lake City on August 17-18 for a training in Wilderness Stewardship.

Volunteers will train in the tools, technology and techniques of wilderness monitoring, learn about common protective land designations, review the latest update to America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, and receive seasonal monitoring hike assignments to ensure effective management of Utah’s public lands.

Applicants should inquire with volunteer@suwa.org or visit our website to Apply Now.

Learn more about SUWA’s Service Program by tuning into our most recent podcast,“SUWA Gets Dirty.” Or if you live in the Salt Lake City area, join us for a presentation this Friday evening at the Patagonia Outlet in Sugar House.

Photo © Jeremy Lynch/SUWA

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