• January 3rd, 2018

    Federal Public Lands Targeted for Oil and Gas Development near Bears Ears, Hovenweep and Canyons of the Ancients National Monuments, and Culturally Significant Areas in Southeast Utah

    For Immediate Release
    January 3, 2018

    Contact:
    Stephen Bloch, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, 801.428.3981
    Landon Newell, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, 801.428.3991

    Salt Lake City (Jan. 3): Yesterday, a coalition of conservation groups led by the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) formally protested the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) decision to auction off more than 51,400 acres of remarkable Federal public lands in southeast Utah for oil and gas leasing and development.  Included in BLM’s lease sale, scheduled for March 20, 2018, are public lands near Bears Ears, Hovenweep and Canyons of the Ancients National Monuments, as well as in the culturally rich Alkali Ridge Area of Critical Environmental Concern and along the Green and San Juan rivers.

    “BLM’s short-sighted decision threatens Utah’s red rock wilderness as well as significant cultural and archaeological resources,” said Landon Newell, staff attorney with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.  “BLM’s ‘lease everything, lease everywhere’ approach to oil and gas development needlessly threatens iconic red rock landscapes and irreplaceable cultural history in the ill-conceived push for ‘energy dominance.”

    “We won’t sit idly by while President Trump and Interior Secretary Zinke auction off America’s cultural and public lands heritage to the oil and gas industry,” said Stephen Bloch, legal director with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.  “This lease sale flies in the face of historic preservation and environmental laws that Congress put in place to make sure that BLM thinks before it acts; not ‘lease first, and think later.’”

    In addition to offering leases near Bears Ears, Hovenweep and Canyons of the Ancients National Monuments, BLM plans to auction off culturally and ecologically significant public lands throughout southeastern Utah including:

    • Several tracts in a culturally rich part of southeastern Utah known as Alkali Ridge. In 2015 BLM briefly considered leasing in this area before acknowledging that it did not have enough basic information about the cultural resources in the area and backed away from that proposal.  BLM still lacks this information but nevertheless is now willing to put these cultural sites at risk;
    • Several tracts along segments of the Green River and San Juan River popular with families, recreational business, and tourists for river running, as well as home to several endangered fish species; and
    • Several tracts near Moab, Utah, including in the Goldbar Canyon and Labyrinth Canyon proposed wilderness areas.

    “It is shameful that the Trump administration is attempting to sell off our cherished wild places for the benefit of the oil and gas industry,” said Lena Moffitt, Senior Director of the Sierra Club’s Our Wild America Campaign. “We will continue to pursue all legal options to protect America’s public lands from the greed and recklessness of this administration.”

    “Through lease sales like this one, Interior Secretary Zinke is handing the reins of our public lands to his pals in the oil and gas industry, despite their proximity to iconic national parks, monuments, and archeologically-rich canyons,” said Marc Thomas, with the Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club.  “This unfortunate giveaway is taking place even though the industry has already stockpiled more than 1.7 million acres of leased, but unused, BLM-managed lands in Utah.  This is not the sort of stewardship Americans, including those of us living in southeast Utah, want for our special places.”

    The following groups protested the Canyon Country District’s environmental assessment for the March 2018 lease sale: Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Center for Biological Diversity, Conservation Colorado (protested two lease parcels near Colorado border), Green River Action Network, Living Rivers, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, and The Wilderness Society (protest available here).  BLM’s environmental assessment is available here.

    The following groups protested the Canyon Country District’s Determination of NEPA Adequacy for the March 2018 lease sale: Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Center for Biological Diversity, Green River Action Network, Living Rivers, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Sierra Club (protest available here).  BLM’s Determination of NEPA Adequacy is available here.

    At the end of BLM’s 2016 fiscal year, there were approximately 2.9 million acres of federal public land in Utah leased for oil and gas development (here—follow hyperlink for Table 2 Acreage in Effect). At the same time, oil and gas companies had less than 1.2 million acres of those leased lands in production—less than forty percent of the total land under lease (here – follow hyperlink for Table 6 Acreage of Producing Leases).  This disparity makes clear that there is no need to sacrifice any of these remarkable areas for oil and gas leasing and development.

    Click here for photos of areas to be auctioned off by BLM in southeastern Utah for fossil fuel development.

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  • January 2nd, 2018

    The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA), Utah’s largest conservation organization, has an immediate opening in its Salt Lake City office for a staff attorney.

    Interested applicants should send the following materials via e-mail to hiring@suwa.org by January 31, 2018: cover letter, resume, 5-10 page writing sample of original work, and 3 references.

    The staff attorney is a litigation position that will focus on national monument defense, energy development, Quiet Title Act/R.S. 2477, off-road vehicles, and vegetation management.  The staff attorney works closely with other program staff and is supervised by the legal director.  Job duties will include litigating a diverse existing docket of cases, developing cases and campaigns, media outreach, and engagement with SUWA members and the public.

    Qualifications include:

    • 5-10 years experience.
    • Admission to practice law in Utah, or admission to another state bar and the ability to transfer into the Utah bar or sit for the July 2018 Utah bar exam.
    • A demonstrated commitment to wilderness preservation.
    • Excellent time management, analytical and writing skills.
    • A strong work ethic, and the willingness to work long hours and weekends when necessary.
    • The ability to supervise and work collaboratively with other attorneys.

    SUWA offers a competitive salary—based on experience—and excellent benefits (health, dental, retirement plan, sabbatical).

    SUWA’s mission is the preservation of the outstanding wilderness at the heart of the Colorado Plateau, and the management of these lands in their natural state for the benefit of all Americans.  SUWA promotes local and national recognition of the region’s unique character through research and public education; supports both administrative and legislative initiatives to permanently protect the Colorado Plateau wild places within the National Park and National Wilderness Preservation Systems, or by other protective designations where appropriate; builds support for such initiatives on both the local and national level; and provides leadership within the conservation movement through hard-hitting advocacy for wilderness preservation.

    SUWA is committed to workplace diversity and inclusion. SUWA is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate in hiring or employment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, age, disability, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state, or local law.

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  • December 21st, 2017

    Today, the Winter Solstice takes place in the northern hemisphere, which means we will pass through the longest night of the year. What most of us forget is that this darkness is not universal. In the southern hemisphere, December 21st is the longest DAY of the year. Shift the perspective from which you gaze and you move from huddling in dark to standing in blazing light.

    For anyone who loves southern Utah’s redrock, there is good reason to experience recent weeks as a descent into darkness.

    On December 4th, President Trump flew into Salt Lake City, and with the Utah delegation crowing with glee at his side, issued an illegal order gutting Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. Within hours, lawsuits were filed by Native American Tribes, SUWA, and many others, creating the possibility that these monuments could be restored through the courts. Then, Utah Representatives Chris Stewart and John Curtis introduced bills that that would make permanent Trump’s drastic reductions and worse. If these bills are passed by the U.S. Congress, the lawsuits are moot.

    Without question, the future of the redrock is in extreme jeopardy.

    But in this time of darkness, it is important to remember that light persists. It is also important to realize that YOU are the ones creating it—and it is powerful.

    Take a moment and shift your gaze to these events.

    Saturday, December 2nd, on the cusp of Trump’s visit to Utah

    Copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA

    An enormous crowd of over 6,000 people gather at the Utah State Capitol, spilling down from its expansive stone steps to sprawl across the vast sweep of lawn that extends southward. They stand shoulder to shoulder, Native and non-Native, young and old, holding signs and banners that proclaim their message: “We stand with Bears Ears and Grand Staircase! We will fight for and defend these monuments until full protection is restored.”  A host of speakers—tribal leaders, elected officials, a scientist, the 11-year-old founder of Kids Speak for Parks, SUWA’s Latinx community organizer—speak their hearts to the crowd. Virgil Johnson, Chairman of the Confederated Tribes of the Goshute, pretty much sums it up when he closes his speech with “We will not be moved.”

    ​​Monday, December 4th, when Trump arrives in Utah

    Copyright Terri Martin/SUWA

    Temperatures have plummeted and snow has fallen the night before. Nevertheless, thousands of people crowd the sidewalk on this Monday morning for a street protest just south of the State Capitol where Trump is speaking. They show up in down coats and snow boots, roll up in wheelchairs, braced against the bitter cold by shared passion and commitment. A group of young Native American women walk the edge of the crowd, unifying voices into chants that reverberate to the Capitol: “Defend the Sacred.  Protect our Monuments.” When it is announced that Trump has acted, people drop to one knee and thump their hands against their chests, creating the sound of a single beating heart.

    Copyright Terri Martin/SUWA


    Tuesday, December 12th, two days before a hearing in Washington, DC on Representative Stewart’s Grand Staircase Giveaway bill

    Copyright Terri Martin/SUWA

    The weather has gotten even worse. It is bone chilling cold and one of those don’t-leave-the-house days in Salt Lake City when the smoggy inversion is so thick you can’t see the mountains that grace our skyline. SUWA is joining Sierra Club, National Parks Conservation Association, and Grand Staircase-Escalante Partners to hold a press conference debunking and denouncing Rep. Stewart’s bill ratifying Trump’s repeal of Grand Staircase. We have asked citizens (who can spare time during a work day) to come stand behind the speakers with signs and banners in a show of support.

    Again, a large crowd shows up. Standing together over 200 strong, they create a powerful sweeping panorama of bright orange “Save Grand Staircase” signs, punctuated with messages like “The President Stole Your Lands” and “Stop Stewart’s Theft.”  As the speakers proclaim their shared commitment to stop Stewart’s bill, the crowd cheers and waves signs. Two days later, at the hearing in Washington, DC, 700 letters (half from Utahns, and many of those from folks in southern Utah) are submitted into the record. These letters were generated in a matter of days when word went out locally that they were needed.

    These events are only the most dramatic examples of the blazing light created recently by activists standing up for Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante and America’s public lands in general. There are many more points of light across the country.

    And here is why we believe the light of citizen activism will ultimately prevail over the dark acts threatening Utah’s redrock: that light is generated by love. And as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.”

    Our national monuments are way more than the smallest piece of ground necessary to preserve a scientific or historic object, the stingy perspective of Trump and the Utah delegation.

    Our national monuments hold our values and tell our stories.

    They are places that preserve what our democracy can really look likefor our entire community of diverse people, plants, and animals.

    They honor our ancestors, protect our sacred sites and offer the chance to heal our history.

    They are gifts to our children that create hope for the future.

    Our national monuments were created out of vision, humility, and love. 

    When people show up to stand for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, it is an act of love—a loving devotion to these landscapes and what they stand for.

    This is the light in the political darkness, and it is brilliant. It is also way more powerful than the dark acts of Trump and the Utah delegation.

    So thank you to everyone everywhere who has showed up or spoken out in whatever way you have—coming to a rally or a protest, making a phone call, writing a letter to the editor, sending an email to your elected official.  You are the light in the darkness, and it is because of the power of your love that we will prevail.

    Copyright Jeff Foott

    Copyright Johathan Lykins

    Copyright Johathan Lykins

     

  • December 14th, 2017

    The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA), Utah’s largest conservation organization, has an immediate opening in its Salt Lake City office for a legal fellow with 1-3 years of experience. This is a one-year litigation position that will focus on Quiet Title Act/R.S. 2477 litigation, energy development, state and federal open records laws, and BLM land use planning, among other public lands issues. The legal fellow works closely with other program staff in SUWA’s Salt Lake office and is supervised by the legal director. The position will at times require significant travel within Utah.

    Qualifications include:
    • Admission to practice law in Utah, or admission to another state bar and the ability to transfer into the Utah bar or sit for the July 2018 Utah bar exam.
    • A demonstrated commitment to wilderness preservation.
    • Excellent time management, analytical, and writing skills.
    • A strong work ethic, and the willingness to work long hours and weekends when necessary.

    Salary will depend on experience. SUWA offers a competitive non-profit salary and benefits, including health and dental insurance and retirement.

    Interested applicants should send the following materials via email to hiring@suwa.org: cover letter, resume, transcript, 3-5 page writing sample (original work), and three references. Please direct any questions to this email address as well. The deadline to submit an application is January 15, 2018.

    SUWA’s mission is the preservation of the outstanding wilderness at the heart of the Colorado Plateau, and the management of these lands in their natural state for the benefit of all Americans. SUWA promotes local and national recognition of the region’s unique character through research and public education; supports both administrative and legislative initiatives to permanently protect Colorado Plateau wild places within the National Wilderness Preservation System, or by other protective designations where appropriate; builds support for such initiatives on both the local and national level; and provides leadership within the conservation movement through hard-hitting advocacy for wilderness preservation.

    SUWA is committed to workplace diversity and inclusion. SUWA is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate in hiring or employment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, age, disability, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state, or local law.

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