Jen Ujifusa, Author at Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance - Page 3 of 4


  • December 17th, 2015

    Last week, Utah Senators Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee introduced a bill that would create a massive “withdrawal” zone across Bureau of Land Management lands, effectively expanding the operational footprint of the Utah Test and Training Range (UTTR). The training range in Utah’s West Desert is used by the Army, Air Force and Marines for operational exercises, and is off limits to the general public; the new withdrawal zone would be periodically closed to the public.

    Utah. USA. Hiker at sunset near the crest of the Deep Creek Mountains above Granite Creek drainage. Great Salt Lake Desert in distance. Proposed Deep Creek Mountains BLM Wilderness. Great Basin.

    Utah. USA. Hiker at sunset near the crest of the Deep Creek Mountains above Granite Creek drainage. Great Salt Lake Desert in distance. Proposed Deep Creek Mountains BLM Wilderness. Great Basin. Photo (c) Scott Smith.

    We’ve seen this bill before when Sen. Hatch attempted to attach it to national defense legislation in 2014, but it’s only gotten worse over time. S. 2383 would abandon bedrock environmental laws like the National Environmental Policy Act, imperil future wilderness designations for places like the Newfoundland Mountains, Deep Creek Mountains and Dugway Mountains, and facilitate a land exchange to accelerate development in areas proposed for wilderness.

    The bill also would transfer road rights-of-way to Box Elder, Juab and Toole counties. We don’t yet know which roads—we’re working on tracking down the maps–but we do know these counties have sued to get the so-called RS-2477 rights-of-way to thousands of miles of bogus two-tracks and cow paths across federal lands, including through designated and proposed wilderness. An earlier draft of the legislation referred specifically to those types of routes as the kind that would be summarily gifted to counties.

    Speaking of gifts, the legislation includes a nice piece of window dressing: an advisory “Community Resource Group” that specifically calls for six special slots for county commissioners, seats for off-roaders, recreationists and livestock grazers, but no such reserved voice for conservation. The handpicked advisory group then faces the exhausting task of meeting “not less than once per year.”

    Doughy Mountains Wilderness Inventory Area .

    Dugway Mountains Wilderness Inventory Area .

    Protecting national security in no way needs to come at the expense of protecting America’s precious public lands heritage. In 2006 we worked successfully with Rep. Rob Bishop on designating the Cedar Mountains Wilderness adjacent to the training range. When the bill passed, it was praised by the Utah delegation as a win-win for the UTTR and for wilderness, and Pentagon officials see wilderness as a complementary and desirable “buffer zone” near military facilities. Instead of using this opportunity to protect wilderness and accommodate the needs of our armed forces, the Utah senators are using national security as an excuse for yet another public lands giveaway.

  • June 11th, 2015
    The SUWA ad appearing in the print editions of The Hill and Roll Call in Washington, D.C., on June 11, 2015. Click to see full size version (opens in PDF)

    The SUWA ad appearing in the print editions of The Hill and Roll Call in Washington, D.C., on June 11, 2015. Click to see the full size version (opens in PDF).

    Today, SUWA is running ads in the print and online versions of The Hill and Roll Call — two newspapers that are must-reads for the staff and elected officials on Capitol Hill in DC — to bring attention to how some members of the Utah delegation are using the proposed expansion of the Utah Test and Training Range (UTTR) as an excuse to harm wilderness and conservation values in Utah’s West Desert.

    The Utah Test and Training Range is the largest training ground in the United States, covering almost 1.7 million acres in Utah’s West Desert. The Air Force, Army and Marine Corps all conduct training here.

    Recently, in order to accommodate a new fleet of F-35 aircraft, members of the Utah delegation have proposed an expansion of this training range, which would overlap with about 700,000 additional acres of lands managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management.

    But the delegation is also seeking to use the legislation as an excuse to give road rights-of-way across federal lands to several Utah counties, and to trade away public lands to mining interests. Neither of these add-on proposals have anything to do with national security, and would irreparably harm these unique public lands.

    Tell your representatives in Congress to oppose an expansion of the UTTR that contains these harmful public lands provisions!

    Many of the areas included in the proposed expansion are popular with hunters, hikers, campers and historic preservationists for their natural beauty, abundant wildlife and cultural and recreational value. As currently written, the expansion would not protect the wilderness values of places BLM agrees are wilderness caliber landscapes — including the Newfoundland Mountains, Dugway Mountains, and the Fish Springs Range — and could permanently compromise their future eligibility for protection.

    Grassy Mountains in the West Desert. Photo (c) Ray Bloxham/SUWA.

    Grassy Mountains in the West Desert. Photo (c) Ray Bloxham/SUWA.

    It doesn’t have to be this way. In 2006, similar legislation in the West Desert led to a win-win solution for the Cedar Mountains Wilderness, which was designated as part of a larger military bill known as the Utah Test and Training Range Protection Act. Wilderness areas make ideal buffer zones for military facilities and have been intentionally designated in legislation seeking to protect military resources. That’s why the Cedar Mountains designation enjoyed the broad, bipartisan support of members of Congress. They knew it was possible to accommodate the needs of the military without compromising the beautiful public lands that make up the fabric of American life that our armed forces fight to defend.

    Tell your members of Congress National Security and Natural Resources can and should coexist!

  • May 19th, 2015

    Great news! Today Sen. Richard Durbin and Rep. Alan Lowenthal joined forces to introduce America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act (S. 1375/H.R. 2430) in Congress, the visionary legislation that would protect 9.2 million acres of Utah’s world-renowned public lands as wilderness.

    If they are your representatives, please thank them!

    A few weeks ago we asked you to contact your members of Congress to ask them to become original cosponsors of the Redrock bill, and you really came through! Joining Sen. Durbin and Rep. Lowenthal are 14 senators and 77 members of the House of Representatives. These members know that places like Desolation Canyon, Labyrinth Canyon, Greater Cedar Mesa, and the San Rafael Swell are the birthright and heritage of all Americans and deserve permanent protection.

    The full list of cosponsors is here. If your representatives are on it, please thank them!

    copyright James Kay

    Behind the Rocks proposed wilderness, copyright James Kay

    Cosponsoring the legislation is a great start, but we’re going to need more help from members of Congress this year to try to advance protections and defend against attacks on Utah’s wild lands. Our friends in Congress need to hear from you in order to stand strong against the many extreme environmental initiatives we face.

    Contact your members today and let them know how much you appreciate them standing up for Utah’s wilderness!

    If your representative or senators are missing from the cosponsor list, ask them to cosponsor America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act today!

    Together we can save the Redrock. Thanks for all you do.

  • May 7th, 2015

    Great news! Sen. Richard Durbin and Rep. Alan Lowenthal will soon reintroduce America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act in Congress, setting forth the vision for protecting 9.2 million acres of deserving public lands in Southern Utah—places like White Canyon, Desolation Canyon and the San Rafael Swell. You can help them make a splash by contacting your members of Congress and asking for their support!

    Ask your representatives to join Sen. Durbin and Rep. Lowenthal as a cosponsor!

    San Rafael Swell (Wedge), LeslieScopesAnderson(72dpi)

    San Rafael Swell, Leslie Scopes Anderson

    The Redrock bill is more important than ever. As we work with the delegation on a comprehensive lands bill in Eastern Utah, strong support for America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act underscores the importance of these lands for all Americans and sets the parameters for necessary protections in the state. We can save the redrock with help from you and our allies in Congress.

    Please contact your members of Congress today to ask them to cosponsor America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act!

    Contacting your members really works. Last Congress we had a record-setting 23 Senate cosponsors, and this year we hope to garner even more support. We have about a week to gather as many original cosponsors as we can—are you ready to help?

    Click here to send your message now.

    If you can, go the extra mile by making a phone call to your representative and senators to amplify your message. Dial the United States Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and the switchboard operator will connect you with the office you request.

    Thank you!

  • July 30th, 2014
    Canyonlands Overlook, GrantCollier

    Copyright Grant Collier

    Big news coming out of Washington today!  This week, 14 senators, led by Senator Dick Durbin, sent a letter to President Obama encouraging him to use the Antiquities Act to designate Greater Canyonlands a National Monument. These senators recognize that Greater Canyonlands is a national treasure that remains unprotected.

    “Although Canyonlands National Park is the heart of the area, we support the opportunity to protect Greater Canyonlands, a 1.8 million acre area of land that encompasses the Park,” the senators wrote. “Greater Canyonlands is one of our nation’s most stunning, wild, and unique landscapes.  It should be protected permanently for the benefit and education of future generations.”

    This hasn’t happened before in this administration.  Fourteen senators, representing 13 states and more than 100 million Americans, asked President Obama to create a new national monument.  Those senators are Sen. Durbin (IL), Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT), Sen. Brian Schatz (HI), Sen. Debbie Stabenow (MI), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT), Sen. Sherrod Brown (OH), Sen. Patty Murray (WA), Sen. Barbara Boxer (CA), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), Sen. Ed Markey (MA), Sen. Tom Harkin (IA), Sen. Tammy Baldwin (WI) and Sen. Robert Menendez (NJ).

    If you live in one of these states, please thank your senator!

    The senators wrote, “The promise of Greater Canyonlands remains unfulfilled.  As Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell has noted, ‘there are some places that are too special to develop.’   Greater Canyonlands is certainly one of those.  We urge you to consider using your authority under the Antiquities Act to write the final chapter for this national treasure and declare Greater Canyonlands a national monument.”

    We’re so grateful to these senators.  Add your voice here by asking President Obama to protect Greater Canyonlands!

    Read the senators’ letter:
    Greater Canyonlands ltr to President (thumbnail)

Page 3 of 41234