ARRWA Archives - Page 6 of 12

  • October 22nd, 2014
    Portions of Red Canyon will soon become part of the Lower Flaming Gorge Wilderness under the Daggett County conservation agreement, and this stretch of the Green River will receive a new Wild and Scenic River designation.

    Portions of Red Canyon (above) will soon become part of the Lower Flaming Gorge Wilderness under the Daggett County conservation agreement, and this stretch of the Green River will receive a new Wild and Scenic River designation.

    SUWA is pleased to announce that we, along with our conservation partners, have reached an agreement with Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) on land conservation in Daggett County. In short, it should result in the protection of many worthy, remarkable lands in northeastern Utah.

    None of this would have been possible without thirty years of tireless effort by activists, supporters, and staff to protect the redrock. It is because for many years our supporters across the country—in places like Illinois, Pennsylvania, California, and New Jersey—have brought cosponsors to America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act that we are here. It is because activists in Utah and nationwide are pushing for Greater Canyonlands National Monument that we are here. It is because people fought in the ‘80s and ‘90s to stop bad wilderness bills that we are here. This is an outgrowth of the work of thousands of unsung heroes. Many thanks to all of you who have helped to bring this day about.

    Also, we owe our conservation partners a debt of gratitude for their help in reaching this agreement. We were joined in this effort by the Grand Canyon Trust, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, and The Wilderness Society.

    A little background. Last year, Rep. Bishop announced that he would pursue a sort of grand bargain to address public land issues in eastern Utah; he asked rural counties to come forward with proposals for public lands within their boundaries. One of the first to volunteer was Daggett County.

    Daggett County, nestled in the northeast corner of the state, shares a border with Wyoming and Colorado. It is Utah’s least populous county and contains remarkable wildlands. These run the gamut from the redrock-topped Diamond Breaks; to the beautiful Red Canyon, formed by the Green River; to the snowy peaks of the Uinta Mountains, Utah’s highest range.

    Daggett County’s initial proposal for the area was low on wilderness. However, SUWA staff worked for months to change that. In particular, our eyes and ears on the ground, Ray Bloxham, distinguished himself once again as the most knowledgeable field expert on BLM issues. His expertise did much to persuade the county to accept wilderness.

    Our agreement highlights 33,254 acres of BLM as wilderness. This includes our Lower Flaming Gorge, Dead Horse Pass, and Diamond Breaks units. North of the Green River, our Goslin Mountain, Home Mountain, and O-Wi-Yu-Kuts areas will be protected as part of a 31,000-acre conservation area with wilderness-like protections. Utah’s largest existing wilderness area, the High Uintas, will be expanded by nearly 50,000 acres in the county. The cherry on top is the protection of fourteen miles of the Green River as part of the Wild and Scenic River System.

    Naturally, this deal involves more than wilderness. Part of this agreement will include a federal/state land exchange that will remove the threat of development in conservation areas while allowing development in more appropriate areas (in actuality, the centerpiece is the state acquisition of an existing natural gas storage facility on federal land that is already in operation). The agreement also resolves R.S. 2477 claims in the county: the state and county will get recognition for many of their claims but they must abandon all claims that conflict with wilderness and conservation lands. The county will receive federal acreage adjacent to the town of Dutch John for a shooting range and landfill.

    Although the acreage figures are small here when compared to many other counties in the state, the impact is huge. This agreement will protect the lion’s share of lands proposed for wilderness in America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act in this region and, hopefully, it lays the groundwork for substantial protection moving forward. Rep. Bishop will now move his Public Lands Initiative to the next county, using this agreement as a model.

    >> Read our press release

    >> View a map of lands in the Daggett County conservation agreement

    >> Read details of the conservation agreement

  • November 8th, 2013

    SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH—The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) and IACX Energy, Dallas, TX, announced today that they have reached an agreement regarding IACX’s planned helium development in Emery County, Utah. The agreement was reached in advance of any appeals or litigation and resolves concerns raised by SUWA regarding the impacts of development of the potential helium resource on the Lost Spring Wash proposed wilderness area.

    “This agreement gives SUWA certainty about the impacts that helium development may have to the Lost Spring Wash proposed wilderness area,” said Stephen Bloch, Legal Director for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. “We appreciate that IACX was willing to sit down with us and negotiate an agreement that protects an important public landscape.”

    “We are pleased to have reached an agreement with SUWA that allows IACX to proceed with this strategically important helium project. IACX appreciates that while the U.S. urgently needs more helium, developers must earn the social license to operate on federal lands. It made good business sense to listen to the many stakeholders who care about the management of these lands and find a middle ground that allows for the timely development of helium,” said Scott Sears, the company president. IACX uses proprietary processes to capture and purify helium at lower pressures and ambient temperatures. The company recently commenced operations on another helium project at Harley Dome, Utah.

    The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is analyzing IACX’s proposal to drill a helium test well on a location previously disturbed by natural gas development. If successful, IACX hopes to drill two additional test wells in the vicinity. IACX’s activities are located in the Woodside Dome field and in an area that was classified as United States Helium Reserve #1 by President Calvin Coolidge in 1924.

    Helium is an indispensable commodity for many high tech uses including MRI machines, semiconductor manufacturing, the NASA program and fiber optics.

  • July 30th, 2013

    Here’s what is happening this month with the redrock:
    1. The Utah state legislature’s anti-federal government campaign hits a brick wall called the U.S. Constitution.
    2. Take action for wild Utah this summer!
    3. SUWA’s annual Backyard Bash celebrates our community of citizen activists.
    4. The BLM has a lot of bad ideas for Utah public lands.
    5. Our challenge to a Bush-era land use plan is finally heard in court.

    Read More »
  • July 1st, 2013

    The BLM’s Monticello Field Office recently capitulated to pressure from San Juan County and ceded control and management of public lands for four rights-of-way for new off-road vehicle (ORV) trails on Cedar Mesa.

    Please tell the Utah BLM State Director to instead defend the public’s interest in retaining management and control of our public lands.

    Lower Grand Gulch, copyright Robert Fillmore.

    Lower Grand Gulch, copyright Robert Fillmore.

    Recall that in 2008 the BLM designated routes across public lands in southern Utah, effectively ending the out-dated and ridiculous policy of unrestricted cross-country travel.  Although the BLM’s travel plan for public lands in San Juan County isn’t perfect (SUWA has a pending legal challenge to the travel plan in federal court), it is a big improvement over the unmitigated chaos of cross-country travel.

    However, even though the BLM designated more than 3,000 miles of routes and trails in San Juan County, it was nevertheless too few for the fanatical road cultists there.  And, inexplicably, the BLM rolled over, giving the county rights-of-way to build new ORV trails on Cedar Mesa.  The new trails will connect ORV routes on the east side of Cedar Mesa with routes on the west side of Cedar Mesa, thereby allowing ORV riders to “travel back and forth” between the two areas more conveniently!


    Two of the new rights-of-way bisect lands in America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, places even the BLM agrees are of wilderness caliber.  The BLM’s decision to allow new ORV routes in these areas effectively negates the wilderness and roadless character of large tracts of land.  It would have been bad enough for the BLM to merely designate and add these new ORV trails on Cedar Mesa to the agency’s travel plan.  But it defies logic why the BLM would hand over management and control of public lands to the county by granting rights-of-way for these ORV trails.  What’s more, these rights-of-way can be renewed after 20 years, ad infinitum, effectively giving the county ownership of these routes in perpetuity.

    It boils down to this: The BLM is legally responsible for protecting archaeology and natural resources on our public lands; beyond argument, ORV use results in increased vandalism and looting of archaeological sites, degrades water quality and stream functioning, increases soil erosion and fragments wildlife.  With this in mind, it makes little sense to allow San Juan County to chainsaw old-growth juniper trees to bulldoze new routes across roadless wildlands in areas with some of the richest archaeology on the planet.  Yet that’s exactly what the BLM has done.

    There’s more

    San Juan County has additional ORV rights-of-way requests in the queue – one in Indian Creek and the other in Recapture Canyon.  Please ask the Utah State BLM Director to stand up to the pressure from San Juan County and deny the county’s request for ORV rights-of-way in Indian Creek and Recapture Canyon.

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