• January 7th, 2010
    visit the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance website

    January 2010

    Here's what is happening this month with the redrock:
    BLM oil & gas policy changes stem from SUWA's legal victories.
    2.  Wild lands in the Zion-Mojave region are still threatened by off-road vehicles.
    3.  Subscribe to Redrock Headlines!
    4.  New redrock bill cosponsors include Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME).
    5.  Find out if SUWA's slideshow and other redrock presentations are happening at a location near you.

    BLM Announces Policy Reform Long Sought by SUWA

    Wednesday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Assistant Secretary Wilma Lewis and
    BLM Director Bob Abbey announced reforms to the agency's oil and gas
    program — based in large part on the result of SUWA's advocacy on these

    The reforms

    — Curtailing
    the over-use of statutory “categorical exclusions” that exempted proposed drilling permits from analysis required under the
    National Environmental Policy Act.  BLM
    will now have to ensure that potential impacts to important resources such as
    wilderness and cultural sites are fully analyzed before issuing new approvals.  This reform stems from a lawsuit SUWA and
    others brought against BLM challenging the agency’s use of this short-cut around
    environmental laws.

    — Changing
    the way oil and gas leases are offered. 
    BLM has pledged to conduct an on-the-ground review of most individual land
    parcels being considered for leasing, increase public input in the leasing
    process and to offer special consideration to areas with wilderness, cultural,
    water and wildlife resources.  These
    policies stemmed from SUWA’s legal victory in January 2009 that halted the sale of 77
    controversial leases offered at Utah BLM’s December 2008 lease sale and brought the Obama administration’s attention to deficiencies in BLM’s leasing

    This long
    overdue announcement is a good first step to turning around the Bush
    administration’s irresponsible rush to lease special places in Utah.  We are still waiting to see how these new
    policies will be implemented in Utah
    to better protect the redrock.

    Click here to see the
    conservation community’s press release

    Threatened Places: Zion-Mojave Wild Lands

     Square Top
    Square Top Mountain
    Butcher Knife
    Butcher Knife Canyon

    (Photos copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA)

    the Washington County Growth and Conservation Act of 2009 protected much of
    Utah’s Zion-Mojave wilderness and SUWA supported the bill’s final passage, this
    legislation was not perfect.  Some
    deserving lands were left unprotected, including Dry Creek, Square Top, Butcher
    Knife Canyon, and the Beaver Dam Mountains. 

    our Utah Wilderness Coalition partners and congressional champions, we fought hard
    to improve the Washington County bill.  Because it was a fight to the end, there was
    never any stated agreement between wilderness advocates and the bill’s proponents.   As a
    result the proposed wilderness lands omitted from the Washington County
    legislation remain in Congressman Hinchey’s America’s Red Rock
    Wilderness Act (ARRWA).  And we need your
    help to keep these lands wild.

    Bureau of Land Management will soon create an off-road vehicle (ORV) travel
    plan for the area.   Please urge the St.
    George BLM office to protect proposed wilderness areas omitted from the Washington County bill,
    such as Dry Creek and the Beaver Dam Mountains.  Comments can be
    sent to:

    of Land Management — St. George Field Office
    Tyree, Manager
    345 East Riverside Drive
    St. George, UT 84790

    Phone (435) 688-3200
    Fax (435) 688-3252



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    *New Cosponsor Spotlight* 

    Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME)

    Towards the end of 2009, the number of cosponsors of America's Red Rock Wilderness Act continued to grow.  Those recently signing onto to the bill are Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD), Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT), and Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME).  If you live in any of the above districts, please thank your representative!

    For a full list of cosponsors, click here.  If your members of Congress are not on the list of cosponsors, please ask them to sign onto the bill by clicking here


    SUWA's Slideshow is Back on the Road in 2010!

    SUWA's multi-media slideshow presentation, Wild Utah: America's Redrock Wilderness, will be traveling across the country in January and February!

    SUWA's Midwest Field Organizer, Clayton Daughenbaugh, will be presenting in Iowa and Illinois in January and Missouri in February.  For more information or to schedule a slideshow in the Midwest, email Clayton at clayton@suwa.org

    SUWA's National Grassroots Organizer, Jackie Feinberg, will be traveling to Pennsylvania in January and Virginia and Pennsylvania in February.  For more information or to schedule a slideshow along the East Coast, email at jackie@suwa.org.   

    In addition to SUWA's organizers, dedicated Utah wilderness activists will be giving talks about the redrock around the country this year, including Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Washington this January and February.  Please see our slideshow schedule for more details.

    Posted by
  • January 7th, 2010

    Salt Lake Tribune praises oil and gas leasing reform, calls for higher standard of land management
    “Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has promised to bring a “balanced approach” to permitting more drilling for oil and natural gas in America’s Western states. That will be a welcome change, and not only for people concerned about protecting fragile arid lands, wildlife, water and air quality, but for energy development companies.” Read More – Salt Lake Tribune

    New York Times coverage of Salazar’s proposed reforms
    “The interior secretary, Ken Salazar, said Wednesday that his department would conduct more rigorous reviews of oil and gas
    leasing on public lands, declaring that the agency would no longer be a “candy store” for the petroleum industry, as he said it had been during the Bush administration.
    Read More – New York Times

    Posted by
  • January 5th, 2010

    Salt Lake Tribune lauds agreement to protect Nine Mile Canyon
    “It is our responsibility to protect the delicate and beautiful things of the Earth, including, along with nature’s wonders, the treasures we’ve inherited from the people who lived thousands of years ago in the land we now call Utah. We would be cheating our children and grandchildren if we were to allow those things to be ruined in our rush to take fossil fuels from the ground.” (Jan 5 Editorial, Salt Lake Tribune)

    Federal agencies may have to consider climate before they act
    “The Obama administration may issue an order that would expand the National Environmental Policy Act’s scope to prevent global warming. The move could open up new avenues to challenge projects.” (Jan 1, Los Angeles Times)

    Posted by