• May 8th, 2020

    Michael Johnson, Senior Policy Advisor for Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), discusses the resolution Sen. Udall is sponsoring in the U.S. Senate to protect 30% of U.S. lands and waters by the year 2030, known as the “30 by 30” campaign. This urgent push represents America’s contribution to avert catastrophic collapse of the planet’s natural systems. Our conversation lays out some of the underlying science and need for such broad action, as well as current congressional efforts to lead the way. We’ll also turn to SUWA Organizer Terri Martin to explain the role that America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act plays in the broader national and international “30 by 30” campaign.

    Wild Utah is produced by Jerry Schmidt and is made possible by the contributing members of SUWA. Our theme music, “What’s Worth?” was written and performed in Moab by Haley Noel Austin. 

    Listen on your favorite app!

    wildutah.info/Stitcher
    wildutah.info/Apple
    wildutah.info/Spotify

    Posted by
  • April 16th, 2020
    2020EarthDayClimateStrike

    Art by Ogden Climate Strike Organizer, Raquel Juarez

    Spatial distancing doesn’t mean that we can’t engage in collective action! On the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we hope you will join us online for three days of workshops, storytelling, performances, and action.

    The Utah-focused digital events will be bookended by special keynotes featuring SUWA board members and veteran wild land protectors Terry Tempest Williams and Mark Maryboy.

    RSVP to their keynotes HERE.


    These are only three of nine local at-home actions, keynotes, and webinars being held in coordination with the national Earth Day Live themes: Strike, Divest, Vote. You can see the full three-day schedule on UtahEarthDay.org. Please join us for the keynotes this coming Earth Week!

    See you on the digital picket line,
    GRoots2019
    SUWA Grassroots Organizers

    Posted by
  • April 9th, 2020

    Photo: Peter Gatch

    Thank you, as always, for supporting the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. You may be aware that Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act on March 27, 2020. Included in this legislation were several provisions that may change your charitable donations this year. Please consider the following:

    You can now deduct your gift to SUWA, even if you take the standard deduction. The CARES Act allows for up to $300 per taxpayer ($600 for a married couple) in an above-the-line deduction for charitable gifts made in 2020 and claimed on taxes in 2021. This means that you can lower your income tax bill by giving to SUWA today, even if you take the standard deduction on your taxes. Please talk with your accountant to learn more.

    If you itemize deductions, there are new charitable deduction limits. The CARES Act increases the existing cap on charitable cash contributions for those who itemize, raising it from 60% of adjusted gross income to 100% in 2020. Please talk with your accountant to learn more.

    Were you planning to take a required minimum distribution (RMD) from your retirement account in 2020? The CARES Act waives all RMDs for individuals over the age of 70 ½ who own specified retirement accounts in 2020. However, for account owners who began taking their RMDs prior to 2020, you can still choose to send a qualified charitable distribution to SUWA and potentially decrease your tax burden. For more information, please talk with your retirement account administrator or accountant.

    SUWA lacks the expertise to offer tax advice, so please consult a tax professional to determine what options work best for your unique situation.

    Lastly, there are two particularly helpful ways to support SUWA during this time:

    Signing up for monthly giving ensures that the fight to protect wild Utah continues through these challenging times. Monthly giving of any amount is easy and secure; includes all the benefits of membership; and provides SUWA with reliable, year-round funding. To sign up, or for more details, please visit our Monthly Giving page.

    Please consider including SUWA in your estate plans in order to leave a lasting legacy for America’s redrock wilderness. Such plans may also provide tax savings for you or your loved ones. For more information on planned giving, please visit our Planned Giving page, or talk with your financial advisor or attorney. If you have already included SUWA in your estate plans, please let us know by contacting Michelle Martineau, our administrative director, at michelle@suwa.org or by phone at (801) 486-3763.

    If you have any questions, please contact us at membership@suwa.org or (801) 486-3161. Thank you for being part of the movement to protect wild Utah!

    Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance Tax ID: 94-2936961

    Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance Mailing Address: 425 East 100 South, Salt Lake City, UT 84111

    Posted by
  • April 6th, 2020

    Comments due by April 13th, 2020!

    The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) spends tens of millions of taxpayer dollars destroying hundreds of thousands of acres of native pinyon pine and juniper forests throughout the West each year. In recent years, public input has stopped many of these controversial projects or helped the BLM make better, more scientifically-sound vegetation management decisions that leave pristine, sensitive wilderness-quality lands and habitat intact.

    Now, despite the critical role of public input and oversight on these controversial vegetation removal projects, the BLM is proposing a new categorical exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) that would allow up to 10,000 acre projects to mechanically remove pinyon pine and juniper trees on public lands with no environmental analysis, public accountability, or public input. 

    We must use this opportunity to remind the BLM why public input is crucial to a rational and science-based decision-making process, provide evidence that the environmental effects of vegetation removal projects vary significantly from project to project, oftentimes causing significant long-term harm to native ecosystems, and make the public voice heard.

    Comments on the proposed categorical exclusion are due April 13th, 2020. Click here to submit comments through our online action center.

    When writing your comments, please consider the following points:

    • 10,000 acre projects are an extremely unreasonable size to categorically exclude from NEPA and public review. This area is larger than many cities. Congress in the past has called for agencies to establish categorical exclusions for some projects up to 4,500 acres in size. BLM’s proposed categorical exclusion is more than double that, with very few limitations on where, when, and how treatments can be conducted.
    • The best available science shows that these projects do have significant environmental effects, making any blanket determination that future projects need not go through the NEPA process because there are no significant environmental effects wildly inappropriate.
    • BLM has misrepresented available scientific research on the effects of these projects in its categorical exclusion proposal, erroneously concluding they have a net positive effect on the ecosystem. This completely excludes science showing that mechanical pinyon pine and juniper removal is overall very harmful for woodland-dependent species, including migratory birds whose populations are already in drastic decline.
    • BLM should not be able to categorically exclude any projects in National Monuments, Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, Wilderness Study Areas, or other special-status public lands. There are many proposed vegetation removal projects in recent years that were removed from these sensitive areas because of public input and engagement. It is improper for BLM to be able to plan, approve, and execute projects using heavy machinery to clearcut native forests in these special management lands with no public oversight and without robust, site-specific environmental analysis.
    • These projects help accelerate climate change by causing large-scale surface disturbance that increases desertification, contributes to atmospheric dust levels, and removes valuable forest carbon sinks. BLM must continue to do project-specific, public, NEPA analysis for pinyon pine and juniper removal projects because of their potential contributions to climate change.
    • BLM has not demonstrated that it has adequately monitored past vegetation removal projects to ensure that the treatments do not cause significant, long-term damage to overall ecosystem health by disturbing and destroying biological soil crust or spreading invasive species like cheatgrass. BLM must provide long-term monitoring data from past projects to demonstrate their success before categorically excluding future projects from NEPA. BLM must make this data publicly available.
    • BLM has not provided any criteria or guidelines in the proposed CX to determine what qualifies as sage-grouse or mule deer habitat, and because there will be no public process, the BLM will not need to justify these determinations. Therefore, the BLM could ostensibly use the proposed CX to remove 10,000 acres of forest wherever it wants with no public accountability. Distressingly, the public may not even know these large-scale projects were happening until after they were completed and the deforestation was irreversible.

    Please consider all of these points as you make your comments, and make sure to add your own! Tell the Bureau of Land Management why large-scale mechanical removal of pinyon pine and juniper forests across the west continues to be a very significant action deserving of careful environmental review and public input.

    >> Click here to submit comments through our online action center (personalize if possible)
    >> Click here to submit comments via the BLM’s web portal (use points above to craft a message in your own words)

    Aftermath of a BLM “mastication” project on Utah public lands. Copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA

    Posted by