ARRWA Archives - Page 2 of 13


  • October 5th, 2017

    Do you want to hear the sound of helicopters in Utah’s backcountry? Moab-based Pinnacle Helicopters wants to fly wealthy tourists into wilderness quality areas, using a loophole that would allow them to land on state lands inside a Wilderness Study Area near Canyonlands National Park. The National Park Service has raised concerns. SUWA is fighting the proposal.

    The Great Gallery in Horseshoe Canyon in Canyonlands National Park, adjacent to one of the proposed helicopter landing sites. NPS photo by Neal Herbert.

    The Moab Times-Independent reports on the latest issue hovering above Moab — and Utah’s wild lands:

    A local helicopter company’s plans to charter flights to state lands within a federal Wilderness Study Area (WSA) near Canyonlands National Park has met some pushback from conservation groups and others who cite potential impacts regarding noise and solitude.

    Moab-based Pinnacle Helicopters is currently seeking a right-of-entry permit with Utah’s School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) for transportation and charter flights on four state-owned land parcels.

    These state parcels — arranged in a “checkerboard” pattern across the map — are within or adjacent to a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) WSA. One parcel sits directly adjacent to Horseshoe Canyon, home to the “Great Gallery” rock art site in Canyonlands National Park.

    Kya Marienfeld, wildlands attorney at the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA), said this right-of-entry application reveals how differently state and federal lands are managed.

    “This [WSA] designation was put in place to ensure that a pristine wilderness-quality area remains unimpaired until Congress decides to officially designate the area as wilderness,” Marienfeld said. “Aircraft lands are not permitted in these Wilderness Study Areas, but because SITLA parcels are managed differently, they essentially allow an island within wilderness-quality lands where any activity the state chooses can be allowed, no matter how incompatible with the surrounding uses on public lands.”

    According to Marienfeld, SUWA has expressed concerns that these helicopter flights would have a “terrible effect” on the wilderness characteristics of the area, which include solitude and remoteness.

    “It’s noise and the effects on solitude. Helicopters are loud, and this area being so remote … it’s pretty untrammeled because it’s a little ways out,” she said.

    Click here to read the full article.

    More on Pinnacle’s plans:

    • Each of the three proposed landing sites are within a Wilderness Study Area (WSA), which is undeveloped public land with outstanding naturalness, opportunities for solitude and primitive recreation, and a landscape largely unaffected by human activity.  This designation was put in place to ensure that a pristine wilderness-quality area remains unimpaired until Congress decides to officially designate the area as wilderness.
    • Aircraft landings are not permitted in these WSAs, which are managed as wilderness by the BLM, but because SITLA parcels are managed differently, they essentially allow an island within wilderness-quality lands where any activity the state chooses can be allowed, no matter how incompatible with the surrounding uses on public lands. In essence, the state can do anything it wants with them, all with an eye on turning a profit.
    • This is exactly why the helicopter operator is seeking to take advantage of these SITLA sections and land on state-managed lands, even though tourists would be flying in with the purpose of experiencing the supreme public lands that surround each SITLA landing site.
    • One of the proposed landing sites is immediately adjacent to the Horseshoe Canyon Unit of Canyonlands National Park, which contains some of the most pristine and fragile rock art panels in the world, including the famous “Great Gallery.” This entire NPS unit is managed as an archaeological district and access is carefully maintained to preserve the exceptional rock art.
    • The only people this new undertaking will benefit is a few extremely wealthy tourists, at the expense of locals who know the Robber’s Roost and Horseshoe Canyon area as a place that is well-worth the trek precisely because of its superb remoteness. Flying rich tourists in for day-trips not only cheapens the wilderness experience, but also ruins the solitude that makes this location special.

    Stay tuned for ways you can get involved…..

  • May 1st, 2017

    Great news! Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) last week reintroduced America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act (S. 948) in the Senate. The bill would permanently protect 9.2 million acres of Utah’s amazing wilderness—places like Labyrinth Canyon, the Dirty Devil, the San Rafael Swell, and the West Desert, ensuring that they remain wild for future generations of Americans.

    If you’re from Illinois, click here to thank Sen. Durbin today!

    He was joined by 18 original cosponsors from 13 states, underscoring the importance of these remaining wild landscapes to the American people. The other champions are: Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sen. Michael Bennett (D-CO),  Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA), Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)‎.

    If any of these senators represent you, please click here to thank them today!

    President Trump has declared an all-out assault on Utah’s public lands, last week signing an order that could lead to the repeal of both Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Bears Ears National Monument. We need our congressional champions to stand up for Utah now more than ever.

    If your senator isn’t on the list yet, please click here to ask them to cosponsor America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act. And remember, you have two senators so you may need to thank one and ask the other!

    To double the impact, call your senators as well through the capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

    There has never been a more urgent time for the redrock wilderness. We need your help to save it.

  • April 26th, 2017

    Action comes just as Trump orders a review of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

    For immediate release
    April 26, 2017

    Contact: Jen Ujifusa, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, 202.266.0473

    Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL)

    Today Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) reintroduced S. 948, America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, a bill that would protect as wilderness 9.2 million acres of Utah’s spectacular federal public lands. He was joined by 17 cosponsors from 13 states, underscoring the importance of these remaining wild landscapes to the American people.

    America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act would permanently protect special places managed by the Bureau of Land Management in Utah like Labyrinth Canyon, the Dirty Devil, the San Rafael Swell, and the West Desert, ensuring some of the last, best remaining wildlands in the lower 48 states remain wild for future generations of Americans who own these lands.

    The other cosponsors are: Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sen. Michael Bennett (D-CO),  Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA), Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)‎.

    The bill is the companion to H.R. 2044, sponsored by Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), which currently has 30 cosponsors in the House.

    The bill introduction could not be better timed, and the lands involved could not be under greater threat. Today, President Trump also issued an Executive Order that would undermine a generation of National Monuments going back to 1996, including Utah’s own Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, as well as dozens of other monuments designated in the Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama administrations.

    The executive order calls for an agency review of every monument since 1996 that exceeds 100,000 acres, or any monument the agency deems as having “inadequate public outreach,” thereby putting in jeopardy some of America’s most beloved lands and waters. It is the first time any president has launched such an extreme attack on national monuments.

    “Senator Durbin understands what this administration does not: that these lands are one of our country’s most precious and vulnerable treasures, and the most reasonable course of action is to ensure their permanent protection,” said Scott Groene, Executive Director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. “Utah’s wilderness promotes resiliency against climate change for humans and wildlife alike, provides a place for families to find rest and solitude, and represents the highest values of the American people. We are grateful to Senator Durbin and the senators who joined him for recognizing the true value of these lands and for standing up for them.”

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  • April 7th, 2017

    Great news! America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, the bill to protect 9.2 million acres of Utah’s stunning BLM wilderness lands, has been reintroduced in the House by Rep. Alan Lowenthal (CA-47). The bill number is H.R. 2044. We expect the Senate companion bill will be introduced within a month.

    Please click here to ask your member of Congress to cosponsor it!

    Lowenthal was joined by 30 cosponsors from 17 states, underscoring how important it is to protect these lands on behalf of all Americans. The complete list is:

    Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Brendan F. Boyle (PA-13), Matt Cartwright (PA-17), John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13), Diana DeGette (CO-01), Suzan DelBene (WA-01), Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18), Dwight Evans (PA-02), Bill Foster (IL-11), Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05), Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03), Jared Huffman (CA-02), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Brenda L. Lawrence (MI-14), Daniel Lipinski (IL-03), Jerry McNerney (CA-09), Gwen Moore (WI-4), Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Tim Ryan (OH-13), Jan Schakowsky (IL-9), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Eric Swalwell (CA-15), Niki Tsongas (MA-03), Tim Walz (MN-01), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Peter Welch (VT-AL), and John Yarmuth (KY-03).

    If your representative is on this list, click here to thank them. You can also thank them on social media—just make sure to let them know you’re a constituent and where you’re from!

    “These national treasures are our birthright as Americans, and are a bedrock part of who we are as a people,” Lowenthal said. “My bill will safeguard these wild and precious lands, as well as the waters, flora, and fauna within them. This is in keeping with the powerful American ethos of conservation as embodied by John Muir, Theodore Roosevelt, Olaus and Mardy Murie, Aldo Leopold and so many other champions of our great wild places.”

    We are glad to have a champion like Lowenthal join their ranks. Please help us build cosponsors by acting now.

    Thank you!

  • March 28th, 2016
    Wilderness Week 2016

    Alissa Buckingham of NJ and Mike Abdo of Utah prepare “Hill Drop” packets that include fact sheets on the PLI and UTTR proposals. Photo by Kirsten Allen.

    Earlier this month, 24 activists with the Utah Wilderness Coalition (UWC) convened in Washington, DC to meet with congressional offices and discuss Rep. Rob Bishop’s draft Public Lands Initiative (PLI), the Utah Test and Training Range (UTTR) Expansion Bill, America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act (ARRWA), and the importance of protecting Utah’s extraordinary wilderness-quality lands.  Activists from Utah and around the country stormed the Hill in teams of twos and threes, meeting with 120 offices in the Senate and House of Representatives.

    Wilderness Week 2016

    Activists prepare for their meetings on Capitol Hill. Photo by Travis Hammill.

    Wilderness Week activists first learn the nuts and bolts of lobbying, how to talk with Congress and Hill staff, the inter-connectivity of all of the legislation that affects Utah’s wilderness-quality lands, “who’s who” on Capitol Hill, and the past actions of members of Congress.  The day-long training was hosted by the Utah Wilderness Coalition, comprised of representatives of SUWA, Sierra Club, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.  It can be an exhaustive cram session, but it was clear to us from the performance of our activists in their meetings that they were star pupils and had paid attention in class!

    Wilderness Week 2016

    Wilderness Week activists watched and listened as the fate of public lands near the UTTR was discussed by the Subcommittee on Public Lands. Photo by Maureen Sheldon.

    Congress was extremely busy during this year’s Wilderness Week, and the timing for the meetings was excellent. Appropriations season was in full swing and Utah Representative Chris Stewart’s UTTR Expansion Bill had a markup, which meant many of the activists were able to attend, wearing their yellow “Protect Wild Utah” pins, which Rep. Rob Bishop, who chairs the House Committee on Natural Resources, certainly noticed from his front and center seat on the dais. Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), the sponsor of the Red Rock Bill in the House, as well as Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-MA) and Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) asked some very pointed questions which showed the activists that there are many members of Congress who care about Utah’s wild lands.  Several of our activists were able to catch up with Lowenthal after the hearing to thank him and pose for a photo op.

    Lowenthal and activists (Wilderness Week 2016)

    Left to right: SUWA Legislative Advocate Jordan Giaconia, activist Alissa Buckingham of NJ, activist Jim Hines of CA, Congressman Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), activist Brad Stonebraker of NY, activist Shannon Gordon of Utah. Photo by Maureen Sheldon.

    The Utah Wilderness Coalition is so grateful to all 24 Wilderness Week participants for joining us in DC for this important week of lobbying. It’s because of these people, and supporters like you, that we are able to continue working to #ProtectWildUtah!

    Are you interested in joining SUWA and the UWC for future lobbying events? Would you like to hold an in-district meeting with your representatives? If so, email your regional organizer for more information on how you can get involved.

    Dave Pacheco – Utah

    Terri Martin – Utah and Western US

    Clayton Daughenbaugh – Midwest

    Travis Hammill – Eastern US