• August 24th, 2022

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Contact: Scott Groene, Executive Director, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, 801-712-5034, scott@suwa.org 

    Moab, UT (August 24, 2022) – Today, the State of Utah, along with Garfield and Kane Counties, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court challenging President Biden’s lawful use of the Antiquities Act to restore the boundaries of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments last October.

    In response to the lawsuit, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) executive director Scott Groene issued the following statement:

    “Once again, Utah’s political leaders are running roughshod over those who live closest to Utah’s national monuments — especially the Tribes that have lived here since time immemorial. This lawsuit further ignores the local elected officials in Grand and San Juan Counties, where Bears Ears is located, and community leaders in the towns closest to the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, who have registered their support for President Biden’s lawful restoration of the original monument boundaries.

    “From Governor Cox on down, the continued anti-environment agenda of Utah politicians makes the Utah political delegation the most hostile to America’s public lands, of any state.  At a time when climate change is creating drought and extreme weather events in Utah, Utah’s politicians are exacerbating the harm by trying to upend the very public land protections that play a critical role in mitigating the effects of climate change.  Utah residents deserve better.”

    Additional Resources

    Link to Garfield County et al. lawsuit.



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  • August 24th, 2022

    Terri Martin, Organizer for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, has lived a life in service to Utah’s wild desert landscapes. In this bonus episode of the Bristlecone Firesides podcast, Terri tells us about the spiritual and ecological value of Utah’s wilderness and what she has learned over the decades of working with SUWA and other organizations that defend sacred landscapes.

     

    Take action after this episode!

    Subscribe to the Bristlecone Firesides podcast!

     

    Resources:

    Act now with SUWA

    Catch up on Season One

    Utah Diné Bikéyah

     

    Thank you to our show supporters!

    Wild Utah and Bristlecone Firesides are made possible by the contributing members of SUWA. Thank you for your support!

    Become a SUWA member today and support the Bristlecone Firesides Podcast

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  • August 19th, 2022

    Last Earth Day, President Biden issued an executive order calling on the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to conserve mature and old-growth forests as a climate solution. This was a great step toward meaningful protections and policy, but now it’s up to us to ensure that this turns into real and lasting changes in how federal agencies manage —and  protect—older forests and ecosystems.

    In response to the executive order, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Interior have opened an official public comment period to solicit feedback on how “to define, identify, and complete an inventory of old-growth and mature forests on federal lands.” The deadline for public comments is Tuesday, August 30th.

    It is critical that we demonstrate widespread, overwhelming public support from every corner of the country for urgent action to permanently protect mature and old growth forests across all federal lands and, for wild lands here in Utah, to emphasize the importance of protecting old-growth dryland forests of piñon pine and juniper.

    Click here to submit your comments via the U.S. Forest Service web portal.

    A piñon-juniper forest on Utah’s Tavaputs Plateau. Copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA

    In your comments, please urge the Biden administration to conduct a comprehensive inventory of mature and old-growth piñon pine and juniper forests on the Colorado Plateau during this first stage of implementing the president’s executive order. It is important that ALL old-growth and mature forests, in dryland ecosystems as well as the better-known alpine and Pacific Northwest environments, are conserved for the benefit of wildlife, air and water quality, climate adaptation, and so much more.

    Here are some key points to convey:

    • Covering 15% of the land area in five states (Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah), piñon pine and juniper forests are subject to temperature extremes and limited moisture availability. These forests are often the sole woodland provider of wildlife habitat, vegetative cover, watershed protection, and traditional food and medicine gathering in dryland and arid BLM-managed lands across the West.
    • Single-leaf piñon pine trees can reach ages of up to 600 years and juniper can reach ages of up to 1,600 years. These historic forests and associated undisturbed biological soil crusts store a disproportionate amount of carbon in dryland ecosystems, and are more resistant to disruptions caused by climate change.
    • Old-growth piñon-juniper forests are home to more than 70 bird species and are often the only suitable habitat for many of these species, whose populations are currently declining rapidly under intense pressure from climate change, development, and drought.
    • Although they cover hundreds of millions of acres and provide irreplaceable habitat and ecosystem benefits, piñon-juniper forests are among the least studied and most ignored North American forest types. The BLM should ensure that its inventory and criteria for mature and old-growth forests include piñon pine and juniper forests, which are the largest forest type by acreage managed by the agency.

    Please ask the Biden administration to properly inventory and protect old growth and mature piñon-juniper forests in Utah.

    As you know, threats to piñon-juniper forests on western public lands are many, including landscape-level mechanical deforestation projects (mainly for the benefit of cattle grazing) that tend to indiscriminately remove trees, including those that have existed on the landscape since long before Europeans landed on this continent. Making sure these ancient piñon-juniper forests and their characteristics are included in any nationwide definition of mature and old-growth forests (which will then be used to protect these areas) is extremely important, and would be a huge win for protecting the redrock wilderness.

    During this comment period, the BLM and Forest Service are focused on collecting input and information to help map and define old-growth and mature forests that they manage across America’s public lands. There are limited chances for the public to weigh in, so we need to take advantage of every opportunity. Policy decisions and recommendations for how to protect these forests and mitigate climate change, logging, development, and other impacts will happen in the next stage, and we’ll be sure to alert you to these engagement opportunities as they arise.

    Click here to submit your comments by the August 30th deadline.

    Thank you!

  • August 17th, 2022

    Where does wilderness show up in literature and spirituality? We’re proud to share 20 minutes of the Bristlecone Firesides podcast to provide some answers to this question.

    Great nature writers such as John Muir, Henry David Thoreau, and Aldo Leopold have written extensively that wilderness contains the salvation of mankind. Wilderness is also a recurring spiritual theme in sacred texts throughout the world. What is this Wilderness and why is it crucial to our spiritual growth? What can we learn about ourselves from understanding this Wildness? Join co-hosts Madison Daniels and Abigail Pinegar to dig in with this engaging conversation that gets to the heart of what draws some individuals to wilderness conservation.

     

    Take action after this episode!

    Subscribe to the Bristlecone Firesides podcast!

     

    Resources:

    Act now with SUWA

    Catch up on Season One

    30×30 Campaign

    The Wilderness Act

    How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell

    From Wild Man to Wise Man by Richard Rohr

     

    Thank you to our show supporters!

    Wild Utah and Bristlecone Firesides are made possible by the contributing members of SUWA. Thank you for your support!

    Become a SUWA member today and support the Bristlecone Firesides Podcast

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  • August 15th, 2022

    The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has officially kicked off its management planning process for the restored Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and has announced a series of public meetings—two virtual and three in person—where the agency will share information, answer questions, and accept public comment.

    While the restoration of Grand Staircase-Escalante last October was truly a cause for celebration, the devil is always in the details when it comes to honoring the letter and spirit of a monument’s proclamation. That’s why it’s so important that people like you, who know and love this wild landscape, take time to participate in the planning process.

    The BLM’s virtual public meetings are scheduled as follows:

    If you live in Utah or happen to be visiting, please consider attending one of the following in-person meetings:

    • Aug. 24, from 6–8 pm at the Escalante Showhouse, 50 W Main St, Escalante, Utah
    • Aug. 31, from 6–8 pm at the Kanab Center, Ballroom C, 20 N 100 E, Kanab, Utah
    • Sept. 7, from 6–8 pm at the Panguitch Elementary School Gymnasium, 110 S 100 W, Panguitch, Utah

    Grand Staircase- Escalante National Monument. Copyright Jeff Foott

    We are currently in the “scoping” phase of the planning process, which means the BLM is actively seeking input on the range of issues it should consider as it develops a draft plan. The upcoming meetings are a great opportunity to learn how the process works, ask questions, and get a sense of how the agency intends to manage recreation, cultural and paleontological resources, native wildlife, natural dark skies, and other “objects and values” which the monument was established to protect.

    Though the agency will accept public input at these meetings, the comment period extends through September 27th. We’ll be in touch again soon with more information and suggested points to raise in your comments. We’ll also keep you posted on the planning process for Bears Ears National Monument, which is expected to launch soon.