Scott Groene, Author at Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance

  • October 26th, 2017

    A new Utah poll demonstrates, again, that while bold conservation is often controversial at inception, it becomes appreciated with time. But Utah’s politicians still haven’t learned. When significant landscapes are protected by executive orders, they pull the Chicken Little routine and shake their fists at the sky. History proves them wrong every time.

    And it’s happening all over again.

    A new Dan Jones poll shows Utahns 2-1 oppose Utah politicians’ efforts to break apart the Grand Staircase- Escalante National Monument. Twenty years ago, President Clinton was hung in effigy in Escalante for establishing the monument. Today, local businesses there and in Boulder are pleading with the Trump administration to leave it intact.

    Buttes along the Burr Trail, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Copyright Jeff Foott

    As we’d expect, the poll shows less support for the nascent Bears Ears National Monument. This is probably due to the steady outpouring of flagrantly false claims made by Senator Hatch, Representative Bishop and others that the monument will somehow devastate local economies and harm school kids. Still, only half of Utahns have bought into the lies so far as to favor reducing the monument.

    Given time, the majority of Utahns will solidly celebrate Bears Ears as they do the Grand Staircase.

    And of course, these lands belong to all Americans, not just those of us living here in Utah.

    Bears Ears Buttes in Bears Ears National Monument. Copyright Jeff Foott

    These protections are good for America. There is no serious argument that we’d be better off today if the Grand Staircase-Escalante had been sacrificed to a coal mine—especially as the view from the Kaiparowits Plateau (where the coal diggers wanted to dig) already includes the 800-foot-tall smokestacks at the Navajo Generating Station, set to close in two years because burning coal is no longer economic.

    President Obama designated Bears Ears National Monument for the Tribes who have lived and used these lands since time immemorial, and it will be a great injustice if it is undone. Utah politicians will go down as standing far on the wrong side of history.

    Every time Americans have chosen to protect western landscapes, the decision has been recognized as wise, with the perspective of time, by citizens living both far from and near the affected lands. This week’s poll confirms that, again. Will Utah’s politicians ever learn?

  • April 26th, 2017

    They’re coming for your national monuments.

    This morning, President Trump signed an executive order directing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to “review” Bears Ears National Monument within 45 days, and to make a recommendation on all other monuments going back to the designation of Grand Staircase-Escalante in 1996.

    That this review is a sham is beyond doubt. During the signing ceremony, Trump repeatedly mentioned Bears Ears, saying it “never should have been done.” And the White House advisory on the executive order specifically calls out Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante as “two examples of modern abuses of the Antiquities Act.”

    In short, Utah’s redrock wilderness is ground zero in Trump’s war on the American West.

    Can you send a tweet right now to Secretary Ryan Zinke and tell him to leave Grand Staircase and Bears Ears alone?

    Heres a sample tweet:

    .@SecretaryZinke please #StandwithBearsEars and leave #grandstaircase intact. #Keepitpublic #monumentsforall

    Or call the Secretary’s office directly at 202-208-7351 or be patched through on your cell phone by clicking here.

    Sunset Arch in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Copyright James W. Kay.

    Every call and tweet makes a difference. We need to show Sec. Zinke that the American public is opposed to his attempts to undo decades of conservation victories.

    It’s clear that at Bears Ears the president wants Secretary Zinke to manufacture the political cover for his administration to break the government’s promise to Native American Tribes to protect and preserve their ancestral homeland.

    And it’s equally clear that at Grand Staircase the president is seeking to reward his Big Coal backers at the expense of one of the nation’s wildest and most dramatic redrock landscapes.

    SUWA is going to do everything in our power to stop President Trump from giving away our national monuments to developers and drillers. Now is the time for all of us to speak up in defense of the redrock.

    Thank you for taking action.

  • November 10th, 2016

    To say the Nov. 8 election was unalloyed bad news for the Redrock is flogging the obvious.

    What is at stake? Just about everything you and SUWA care about here. The state will redouble its efforts to wrest millions of acres of public land from the American people and it will press its nightmarish RS 2477 road claims even harder—but now with a compliant White House. Any trend by the BLM toward reasoned judgements in its stewardship will be throttled in infancy. The wretched Bundy clan and other militia types will be emboldened in their defiance of the law—in everything from criminal trespass to armed confrontation with public employees. We’ll face both administrative and legislative efforts to roll back America’s legal protections for our air, water, land and our public land managers.

    Any hope we had of quickly driving a stake through the sclerotic heart of Rep. Rob Bishop’s Public Lands Initiative (PLI) is dashed. The fates of both the PLI and the Bears Ears monument are now unclear. The Utah congressional delegation will likely try to move the PLI legislation, or a new variant, in the new Congress; the Obama administration will assess the election before making its next move on designating the Bears Ears.

    That dismal list is enough to make the point that needs to be made here. This is not a drill. The threats I delineate here are not hyperbolic. Neither, though, are we powerless. It is true that Bishop’s infernal House Natural Resources Committee will continue to spew ridiculous anti-public lands legislation. It is also true that our House sponsor of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, Alan Lowenthal, won his re-election. He is a stalwart. Another is Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois. He was not up for re-election this time around and he remains our Senate champion. If the Utah delegation intends to take either of them on in an effort to dismantle redrock wilderness, it will be in for a fight.

    In significant ways, there is little new in any of this. From the beginning of SUWA and the campaign for redrock wilderness, the challenge has been difficult. Faced with intransigent Utah politicians, we have rarely NOT been on the defense. That is the nature of what we do. We have ensured that millions of acres of Utah are still wild. We have done it by holding the line, by fighting acre by acre to keep it wild.

    When the 1994 election flipped control of the Senate and House to the Republican party, the Utah delegation sought to enact statewide anti-wilderness legislation. We stopped them in both chambers. And we faced the same unified Republican control after the 2004 election during George W. Bush’s tenure. We fought back and beat the “drill baby bill” tidal wave through fights in both the courts and the Congress. We have faced overwhelming odds before, and with your help, prevailed. We will again.

    The experience of defending the canyon country over three decades has taught us that that even the friendliest administrations are never as good as we hoped they’d be. And the most hostile were never quite as ugly as we feared.

    Donald Trump’s misogynistic and racist campaign dragged our nation further down the road to Stephen Colbert’s “truthiness.” We now live in a country of fact-free “truth,” where any information inconsistent with blind ideology is rejected.

    If there is an antidote to this mess, it is wilderness. The rain and snow fall, the sun rises, and muddy rivers flow with a murmur, not a twitter. We need the natural world more than ever. And it needs us to protect it.

    The things that matter are not fleeting and are not lost in a single night’s election. We can still protect the places and values that matter. Together, we will.

    Get ready for the fight. The Redrock needs us all.


  • February 16th, 2016
    PLI Social Media Meme

    It’s all hands on deck!  If citizens don’t speak up, Utah wild lands could be lost forever.

    Utah Rep. Rob Bishop has unveiled his “Public Lands Initiative” and it is an utter disaster for Utah’s wild lands. The bill rolls back wilderness protection, creates vast fossil fuel development zones, sanctions a sprawling spiderweb of disputed roads, and gives away public lands for development.

    And no wonder – the public has been left out of the Public Lands Initiative. Despite requests, Rep. Bishop never held hearings along the Wasatch Front where most Utahns live. He only sought input from rural areas representing 5 percent of the state’s population (and 1/20th of 1 percent of the nation’s population).

    You deserve a voice! That’s why the Utah Wilderness Coalition is holding a “Citizens’ Hearing” in Salt Lake City.

    Citizens’ Hearing on Rep. Bishop’s Public Lands Initiative
    Wednesday, March 2

    6:30 – 9:30 PM
    Orson Spencer Hall Auditorium (Google Map)
    University of Utah campus, Salt Lake City
    (10 minutes north of South Campus Trax station)

    This is your chance to stand up for vigorous protection of Utah wildlands. 

    Show your support by simply showing up! Better yet, come and speak! Share your view on the Public Lands Initiative and the future of Utah’s wild places. All comments will be recorded and submitted to the U.S. Congress as well as the Utah delegation.

    Feel free to make a sign and bring it – we will also be handing out yellow “Protect Wild Utah” signs and buttons.

    This is a pivotal moment. We need to pack the room with wilderness advocates! Bring family and friends. Invite everyone you know who loves Utah’s redrock!

    RSVP appreciated (but not required). You can also invite your friends to this event on Facebook.

    Hope to see you there!

    P.S. Rep. Bishop is still accepting written comments on the Public Lands Initiative — if you haven’t yet submitted yours, please click here to comment before March 2nd.

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