Moab Master Leasing Plan Is a Big Step in the Right Direction
Good news! The BLM recently released a long awaited plan that will guide energy and mineral development away from sensitive lands near Arches and Canyonlands national parks and many outstanding proposed wilderness areas that are too wild to drill. The BLM’s Moab Master Leasing Plan (MLP) will help the agency better manage oil and gas development and potash mining to avoid conflicts with other resources on more than 785,000 acres of public land in eastern Utah.
The Moab MLP is a significant improvement over the status quo and adds much needed protection to wild places that are currently under threat from oil and gas leasing and development, including Fisher Towers, Porcupine Rim, Six-Shooter Peaks, and Goldbar Canyon. It also strengthens protections for the classic vistas, dark night skies, and clean water of Arches and Canyonlands national parks.
Photo: Fisher Towers, © Tom Till
Recent Events May Prove Pivotal for Bears Ears
Last month may have been pivotal in the effort to create a Bears Ears National Monument. On July 16th, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell hosted a public listening session in Bluff, Utah. More than 1500 people attended, with supporters of the monument designation outnumbering opponents by a 2 to 1 margin. The previous day, Secretary Jewell met with tribal leaders at the Bears Ears Summer Gathering site to hear their concerns and hopes for the protection of Bears Ears.
Opposition from the Utah delegation continues—Senator Mike Lee held a one-sided field hearing a few weeks later in Blanding to oppose the monument—but it’s clear from Secretary Jewell’s visit that support for monument designation remains widespread.
Photo: Overflow tent at the Bears Ears public meeting in Bluff, Utah, © Terri Martin/SUWA
How the Public Lands Initiative Fails on the Wilderness Equation Alone
Rep. Rob Bishop’s Public Lands Initiative (PLI), introduced on July 14th, is the kind of pro-extraction, anti-federal legislation that could only come from a congressman with a lifetime score of 3% from the League of Conservation Voters.
Among myriad provisions that exacerbate climate change, promote the State of Utah’s land grab, and trivialize the Inter-Tribal Coalition’s Bears Ears proposal, one deficiency stands out above all else: the bill completely fails to adequately protect the nearly 4.4 million acres of remarkable wilderness-quality lands throughout southern and eastern Utah that are affected by this legislation. In doing so, the PLI removes existing wilderness management on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands and fails to protect 62% of inventoried lands that qualify for and deserve wilderness protection.
Photo: Bitter Creek proposed wilderness, © Ray Bloxham/SUWA
America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act Is Bipartisan Once Again!
America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act (ARRWA) has gained seven new cosponsors in the House of Representatives. We are especially delighted to welcome Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) as the first Republican member of Congress to cosponsor ARRWA since the 112th Congress (2011-2013). ARRWA is once again a bipartisan bill!
We would also like to recognize the newest Democratic cosponsors. They are: Reps. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ); Ron Kind (D-WI); Ann Kuster (D-NH); Mark Takai (D-HI); Robin Kelly (D-IL); and, Eric Swalwell (D-CA).
If any of these is your representative, please take a moment to thank her or him for working to protect Utah’s redrock country.
Photo: Rep. Frank LoBiondo
Join a Service Trip in the Henry Mountains
Want to get your hands dirty while helping protect Utah’s wild places and enjoying fabulous views? Join SUWA on Saturday, Aug. 27th for our inaugural Field Service Volunteer Trip! We’ll be traveling into the Mount Pennell Wilderness Study Area in the Henry Mountains for a day of work in collaboration with the Hanksville BLM office.
Photo: Henry Mountains proposed wilderness, © Ray Bloxham/SUWA
Submit Your Story or Artwork to RedRockStories.Org
The recently launched Red Rock Stories multimedia website features stories, photographs, art, video and audio that explore and celebrate Utah’s wild places. The site was conceived as a hub where creative voices of stewardship and caretaking can help inspire the preservation of these treasured landscapes.
The site is interactive and alive. You are invited not only to revel in the stories and art already posted, but also to become part of the community by submitting your own creative work. Red Rock Stories is also looking for people who would like to help grow the site by volunteering their skills as editors or becoming involved in other ways.