Jen Ujifusa, Author at Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance


  • May 12th, 2017

    President Trump has declared war on Utah’s national monuments. Now is the time to act.

    President Trump’s April 26th Executive Order requires a “review” of national monuments dating back to 1996. This bureaucratic speak hides the administration’s real intention: dismantling the protections put in place for our nation’s most treasured public lands. Included in the review are dozens of monuments across the country, but the bookends of the timeline are Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments, making it clear that they are the prime targets.

    The Department of Interior is now accepting comments to gauge public support for these monuments.

    Help us save Utah’s monuments! Please click here to submit your comments and we’ll deliver them to the Department of Interior. We are collecting comments ourselves so we can ensure an accurate accounting of supportive comments to add to national totals.

    Utah has been under siege from politicians hostile to protecting its wilderness for decades, but this action marks the most sweeping threat to the preservation of Utah’s protected wildlands. What’s worse, the Bears Ears comment period is a mere 15 days, meaning we need everyone to act quickly.

    Click here to submit your comments now.

    It’s important that comments be in your own words—the Department of Interior will count them individually that way. But to help you gather your thoughts, let us remind you of what’s at stake.

    Bears Ears:
    •    Bears Ears National Monument was a significant achievement. President Obama protected the 1.3 million-acre monument in December at the urging of a historic coalition of five Tribes that had come together to advocate for its protection.

    •    It is the first national monument to include traditional knowledge as an object worthy of protection in the monument proclamation. And every inch of Bears Ears is necessary to preserve the more than 100,000 archaeological sites therein.

    •    Bears Ears must never be shrunk nor repealed. If anything, the monument is not big enough. The Tribes had requested almost 600,000 more acres for protection. The whole tribal proposal should have been made a monument.

    •    It is a remarkable wilderness landscape. Beyond the monument’s namesake twin buttes are world-renowned wilderness treasures like White Canyon, Indian Creek, and Comb Ridge. Myriad plant and animal species thrive in its varied habitats. And you’d be hard pressed to find the solitude provided by these areas elsewhere else in the lower 48.

    Grand Staircase-Escalante:
    •    Grand Staircase-Escalante was designated in 1996. Since then, it has come to be known as the “Science Monument”—yielding several new species of dinosaur and other paleontological finds and providing habitat for 650 bee species, many that are endemic to the area.

    •    Grand Staircase-Escalante has incredible camping, hiking and other recreational opportunities. Places like Calf Creek, Peekaboo and Spooky Canyon, Coyote Gulch, and the Hole in the Rock Road are known the world over. If you have your own favorites, be sure to mention them!

    •    Polling shows more than half of Utahns want Grand Staircase-Escalante left alone. That’s added to the more than 80 percent of Westerners that the Colorado College Conservation in the West poll showed want existing national monuments left intact.

    •    Reviewing any monument is a political act, but especially when it involves one that is more than two decades old and flourishing. No president has ever taken this needless step, and neither should President Trump.

    Please consider all of these points as you make your comments, and make sure to add your own! Tell the Department of Interior what makes these monuments so special.

    We know this will take more time than usual, but it’s extremely important. Tell Secretary Zinke and President Trump that Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante are here to stay!

    Thank you for all you do. We can’t do this without you.

  • May 1st, 2017

    Great news! Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) last week reintroduced America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act (S. 948) in the Senate. The bill would permanently protect 9.2 million acres of Utah’s amazing wilderness—places like Labyrinth Canyon, the Dirty Devil, the San Rafael Swell, and the West Desert, ensuring that they remain wild for future generations of Americans.

    If you’re from Illinois, click here to thank Sen. Durbin today!

    He was joined by 18 original cosponsors from 13 states, underscoring the importance of these remaining wild landscapes to the American people. The other champions are: Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sen. Michael Bennett (D-CO),  Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA), Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)‎.

    If any of these senators represent you, please click here to thank them today!

    President Trump has declared an all-out assault on Utah’s public lands, last week signing an order that could lead to the repeal of both Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Bears Ears National Monument. We need our congressional champions to stand up for Utah now more than ever.

    If your senator isn’t on the list yet, please click here to ask them to cosponsor America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act. And remember, you have two senators so you may need to thank one and ask the other!

    To double the impact, call your senators as well through the capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

    There has never been a more urgent time for the redrock wilderness. We need your help to save it.

  • April 7th, 2017

    Great news! America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, the bill to protect 9.2 million acres of Utah’s stunning BLM wilderness lands, has been reintroduced in the House by Rep. Alan Lowenthal (CA-47). The bill number is H.R. 2044. We expect the Senate companion bill will be introduced within a month.

    Please click here to ask your member of Congress to cosponsor it!

    Lowenthal was joined by 30 cosponsors from 17 states, underscoring how important it is to protect these lands on behalf of all Americans. The complete list is:

    Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Brendan F. Boyle (PA-13), Matt Cartwright (PA-17), John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13), Diana DeGette (CO-01), Suzan DelBene (WA-01), Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18), Dwight Evans (PA-02), Bill Foster (IL-11), Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05), Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03), Jared Huffman (CA-02), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Brenda L. Lawrence (MI-14), Daniel Lipinski (IL-03), Jerry McNerney (CA-09), Gwen Moore (WI-4), Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Tim Ryan (OH-13), Jan Schakowsky (IL-9), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Eric Swalwell (CA-15), Niki Tsongas (MA-03), Tim Walz (MN-01), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Peter Welch (VT-AL), and John Yarmuth (KY-03).

    If your representative is on this list, click here to thank them. You can also thank them on social media—just make sure to let them know you’re a constituent and where you’re from!

    “These national treasures are our birthright as Americans, and are a bedrock part of who we are as a people,” Lowenthal said. “My bill will safeguard these wild and precious lands, as well as the waters, flora, and fauna within them. This is in keeping with the powerful American ethos of conservation as embodied by John Muir, Theodore Roosevelt, Olaus and Mardy Murie, Aldo Leopold and so many other champions of our great wild places.”

    We are glad to have a champion like Lowenthal join their ranks. Please help us build cosponsors by acting now.

    Thank you!

  • March 1st, 2017

    This morning, the Senate wrapped up debate and confirmed Rep. Ryan Zinke of Montana to be Secretary of Interior on a 68-31 vote. The newly-minted Secretary had barely settled into his first lunch hour on the job when a rally formed outside the Department of Interior, with dozens of people gathered to show support for Bears Ears National Monument.

    Join them by calling Sec. Zinke now to say you support Bears Ears! Click here to be patched through or call 202-208-7351.

    Bears Ears supporters rally outside the Department of Interior shortly after Secretary Zinke’s confirmation.

    Why all the focus on Utah’s latest great monument? It’s because the Utah delegation and state legislature have been clamoring for Sec. Zinke to recommend that President Trump repeal or shrink the monument, against the wishes of the historic tribal coalition that advocated for it, the hundreds of thousands of Utahns that celebrated it, and the best interests of the American people.

    It’s imperative that Zinke, as the top steward of our nation’s public lands, resist the extreme views of Utah politicians, who are even advocating for the repeal of the 20-year-old Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument!

    Call Rep. Zinke now and tell him to leave Utah’s monuments alone! Be sure to mention where you’re from!

    There is still time to persuade Sec. Zinke to go the right way on this. He’s from Montana, he reportedly has a good relationship with tribes, and he has repeatedly expressed his admiration for Teddy Roosevelt—the president who first used and advocated for the Antiquities Act. He has also said he opposes the transfer of federal lands.

    But as a congressman, Zinke voted against policies that would cut carbon pollution, and for those that would block the creation of new national monuments and eliminate protections for wildlife.

    We’re not sure which version of Zinke we’ll see on this issue, but we’re betting if he hears from you, he’ll find it difficult to attack Bears Ears.

    Click here to be patched through to Secretary Zinke right now. (Have your cell phone handy.)

    If you’d prefer to send Secretary Zinke an email, click here. However you contact him, please let him know that both Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments are here to stay.

    Thank you!

     

  • September 22nd, 2016

    Today, the House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee “marked up” Rep. Rob Bishop’s terrible Public Lands Initiative (PLI)—the bill that seeks to roll back federal land protections, unleash a fossil fuel bonanza, and give away lands belonging to all Americans to the State of Utah.  As if that isn’t reckless enough, the bill fails to protect even half of the region’s deserving wilderness and it utterly fails to respect the efforts of five united Native American tribes to secure meaningful protection for the Bears Ears region—a landscape rich in cultural and natural wonders.

    A “mark up” is a congressional procedure in which members are supposed to take the information they learn from witnesses at a hearing and apply that information by attempting to improve the bill through amendments. Several wilderness champions in the House did just that, offering amendments that would spruce up the PLI and at least bring it into accordance with the Wilderness Act, the Federal Lands Policy and Management Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and several other federal laws that are undermined by Bishop’s bill. Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Raul Ruiz (D-CA) and Jared Polis (D-CO) all offered up commonsense amendments to repair just some of the bill’s significant environmental flaws, and argued admirably against the bill’s harmful provisions. It was apparent that they listened to the testimonies and worked to fix the bill accordingly.

    If any of them are your Representatives, please call their offices and thank them for fighting the PLI today! The Capitol Switchboard is 202-224-3121. You can also watch the debate here.

    USEME_PLIvsBEmemeWhiteCanyonStructure
    Rep. Bishop, for his part, ignored last week’s testimony by the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management opposing the bill, ignored the testimony of Regina Lopez-Whiteskunk, a member of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition (also opposing the bill), and continued to ignore the voices of other tribes, conservationists, and the more that 300 million Americans that own the public lands in question.

    In fact, the only amendment Rep. Bishop offered to his bill was one for technical changes—fixing typos, grammatical errors and the like. It was the only amendment of the day that passed, and in Rep. Bishop’s hopelessly stacked committee, the bill eventually passed too, on a party line vote.

    But don’t worry. From here on out, the Public Lands Initiative has no chance.

    As pointed out by Reps. Grijalva, Tsongas, and Lowenthal, the bill simply will not advance in the Senate. It contains too many poison pills, too many egregious violations of bedrock environmental law, too little wilderness, and too little compromise for that body to approve. But let’s say, just for argument, that it did pass the Senate. What president is going to sign into law a bill that was opposed by multiple agencies within his or her own administration? Do you think President Obama, who has protected more public lands in his time in the Oval Office than any of his predecessors, would sign into law the PLI, which imperils millions of acres of deserving wilderness?

    The simple answer is no. He wouldn’t do that. So the PLI is doomed, dead, failed. And it’s too bad, because we spent precious years working on it in earnest before it became obvious the bill would go nowhere good.

    Now the focus must turn to what still is achievable: protecting the 1.9 million-acre Bears Ears National Monument that has been requested by the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition. Throughout the PLI discussions, it has often been said by the Utah delegation that everyone agrees the Bears Ears region deserves protection. And we certainly do. Now that it’s clear the PLI cannot do the job, President Obama should step in. Click here to send a message asking him to Protect Bears Ears now!

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