Secretary Zinke’s Monument Recommendations Due Next Week
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s final report on his “review” of national monuments is due next Thursday, August 24th. To date, he’s already “pardoned” five monuments, including Upper Missouri Breaks in his home state of Montana. Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, however, remain squarely in his review’s crosshairs. All the details remain to be seen, but Zinke’s report will likely be the most significant executive attack on our nation’s conservation legacy ever—which is ironic given how often Zinke likes to invoke Teddy Roosevelt as a hero. How does Zinke measure up to TR? Outside magazine poses that very question.
Stay tuned for breaking news on Zinke’s report next week and learn what you can do to stand with our national monuments!
Photos © Tim Peterson (left) and James Kay (right)
Utah Counties’ Closed-Door Meetings with Zinke and Others Spark Lawsuit
SUWA filed a lawsuit this week in Utah’s Third District Court alleging that Kane and Garfield Counties violated Utah’s Open and Public Meetings Act when county commissioners met with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and others in a closed-door meeting to discuss the fate of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
“The Utah Open and Public Meetings Act requires county commissioners to deliberate and take actions openly and transparently. Kane and Garfield county commissions’ secret meetings with Secretary Zinke and other government officials about Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument are unlawful and cannot continue. SUWA members in these counties have an intense interest in protecting Utah’s national monuments and would have attended these meetings and vocally advocated for their protection had they known about them,” said Laura Peterson, staff attorney for SUWA.
Photo © Jeff Foott
Bill Seeking Highway in National Conservation Area Lumbers through Committee
In 2009 the Utah delegation and the conservation community came to an agreement on a wilderness bill for Washington County, Utah. The legislation wasn’t everything we at SUWA wanted, but it significantly increased the protected lands in the county with a combination of wilderness areas and National Conservation Areas (NCAs), and thanks to our champs in Congress, passed without language that would have set bad precedents. In an event that seems nearly unfathomable today, the Utah delegation supported it unanimously.
But apparently no deal with the Utah delegation is ever really done. Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) began a quest last Congress to pass legislation to build a highway through the Red Cliffs NCA—a reserve specifically set aside to protect the sensitive and dwindling habitat of the desert tortoise—exactly what our wizened chelonian friends do not need. The bill died last year but has reincarnated as H.R. 2423, the Washington County, Utah, Public Lands Management Implementation Act, and it passed through the House Committee on Natural Resources in July. That doesn’t mean it will go anywhere, but we’re ready to fight if it does. Ask your member of the House to oppose it today! To find out who your member is, click here.
Photo © Bob Wick
Meet Olivia Juarez, SUWA’s Latinx Community Organizer
SUWA extends a warm welcome to Olivia Juarez, our new Latinx Community Organizer. Olivia hails from Salt Lake City and Tooele, Utah. She is a recent graduate from the University of Utah’s Department of Humanities Peace & Conflict Studies program. In her words “I’m getting started in my new position by helping to re-frame the way SUWA communicates about wilderness protection, as well as engages in its advocacy, so that it’s more relevant to our local and national Chicanx and Latinx communities. That has a lot to do with outreach, both interpersonal engagement as well as increasing media and visibility opportunities.”
Olivia’s recent SUWA Blog post captures the national nature of her project and discusses the importance of engaging all audiences for wildlands protection in Utah. Please join us in welcoming her to the SUWA family! For more information and to get involved, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SUWA Field Volunteers Are Making a Difference
Our Field Volunteers are keeping a busy schedule in 2017. Through spring and summer our work has focused on habitat protections in the canyons, mountains and riparian corridors of southern Utah. Since May, 53 volunteers have contributed 425 volunteer hours to the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service in support of our public lands. SUWA supporters from Utah and across the country have joined our field staff on projects throughout the state.
Our recent trip to Elk Ridge in Bears Ears National Monument was a first visit for many of our volunteers and our forest restoration efforts were an ideal way to experience that magnificent landscape, rich in natural and cultural resources worthy of our protection. Our two upcoming events in Bears Ears National Monument are full, but volunteers are welcome to join a waiting list and look forward to Spring 2018 when we will return to the monument for a new round of projects.
With an additional six events planned for the fall, we invite you to join us in the field over the coming months to make your voice heard through the work of your hands. Contact our Volunteer Coordinator at email@example.com to learn more and to register. Visit our Volunteer Service Project page for a complete list of upcoming trips, and look for our enhanced program website going live this fall.
Photo © Jeremy Lynch