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

  • 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)

  • July 15th, 2010

    Tilting at windmills: The Congressional Western Caucus
    If a bullet is fired from an echo chamber, does it make a war? The Congressional Western Caucus must think so, as it was up in arms Wednesday fighting the so-called “War on Western Jobs” by hosting a fake Congressional hearing on Capitol Hill with the help of several Utah representatives.

    Never mind that no such war exists. Never mind that seven of the 25 counties with the fastest job growth in America are within these “besieged” Western states—three of them in Utah.

    Sen. Orrin Hatch, Sen. Bob Bennett and Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah still deployed to denounce important reforms on extractive industries, the Clean Water Act and other standard policies as a War of Eastern Aggression, rather than common sense measures. Headlining the witness list was Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, who earlier in the week showed us his dove side by shying away from the war rhetoric. Still, the Beehive State, it seemed, was on the front lines, having been “attacked” by Interior Sec. Ken Salazar’s decision to refund 77 oil leases on sensitive lands that had been hastily sold and undervalued in a lease sale based on flawed management plans in December 2008.

    In a video-delivered message, Uintah County Commissioner Mike McKee said that action cost his county 3,000 jobs—an impressive figure that according to the Utah Department of Workforce Services would have employed his 1,112 jobless constituents three times over­ were it real. But unfortunately, jobs do not an issued lease make. At the end of December 2009, over 4,000 permits issued in Utah since 2001 had not yet been drilled, and thus were not producing anything—including jobs.

    Regrettably, oil companies’ penchant for buying up leases to improve paper reserves (over 3 million acres of BLM lands in Utah are under lease but not in production) went unmentioned.

    Nor was the bargain rate at which these leases were sold raised as a fiscal concern. Some leases sold for as little as 1.2 percent of their established value in the December 2008 sale. One parcel in Desolation Canyon sold for the frontier sum of $11 an acre, while just 10 months earlier another parcel in Desolation Canyon fetched $950 an acre. Gov. Herbert, who complained that federal land can’t be taxed–“If I had the choice, just give me back the land and make it private,” he told the Caucus—seemed unconcerned about lost public revenue in this case.

    Herbert actually defended the sale, saying the Resource Management Plans came about as the “result of a thoughtful, methodical process.”  That’s simply not the case. If the plans issued in the waning hours of the Bush administration were methodical, the method was drill and drive on everything at the expense of Utah’s breathtaking wilderness lands. That’s a policy that’s too expensive to keep, and one Sec. Salazar must fix immediately by protecting remaining wilderness quality lands as Wilderness Study Areas.

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