Bears Ears Archives - Page 2 of 12


  • January 12th, 2018

    In response to the announcement today by the Bureau of Land Management that it will begin to prepare Monument Management plans for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, which were illegally modified by President Trump on December 4, 2017, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance executive director Scott Groene issued the following statement:

    “It is absurd for Secretary Zinke to double down on President Trump’s illegal proclamations by instructing the Bureau of Land Management to rush forward writing management plans for monuments that will inevitably be overturned by the courts.  Trump’s proclamations aren’t worth the paper they are printed on, and this effort is a waste of time and tax-payer money.  BLM should remain focused on the task at hand: protecting the remarkable cultural and natural resources in Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante.”

  • January 4th, 2018

    As you know, one month ago President Trump issued an unlawful order to repeal the Bears Ears National Monument and replace it with two smaller monuments—leaving nearly 80% of the original monument unprotected.

    That same day, Representative John Curtis (UT-03) introduced H.R. 4532, the “Shash Jaa National Monument and Indian Creek National Monument Act” in the U.S. House of Representatives. This terrible bill would ratify Trump’s illegal repeal of the Bears Ears—and make his unlawful order permanent.

    Please contact your members of Congress and tell them to oppose this bill!

    White Canyon, one of the areas left unprotected by Trump’s repeal of Bears Ears National Monument. Copyright Jeff Clay

    Rep. Curtis’s bill seeks to create a management scheme for the monument that would be dictated by parochial local interests—effectively taking all power away from the Bears Ears Commission of Tribes.

    Help us stop this bill by taking action now!

    This horrendous legislation is being given a hearing on Tuesday, January 9th, and may move quickly through committee and onto the House floor. If it passes both chambers and becomes law, it will be even worse for Bears Ears than Trump’s executive order last month.

    Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen. Contact your representative and senators today!

  • 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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  • 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 7th, 2017

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    December 7, 2017

    Contact: Jen Ujifusa, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, (202) 266-0473

    This week, following the outrageous and illegal repeal of Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments by President Trump, Utah’s representatives in Congress doubled down on the effort to unprotect these iconic landscapes by introducing two bills that would essentially ratify Trump’s actions.

    On Wednesday, Rep. Chris Stewart introduced H.R. 4558, a bill that creates three new national monuments—Escalante Canyons, Kaiparowits, and Grand Staircase, respectively. These monuments match the 48 percent reduction of the original Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument perpetrated this week by Trump’s Executive Order, but the language nullifies Trump’s proclamation in favor of that of the bill. The bill also creates the so-called “Escalante Canyons National Park and Preserve,” but puts management planning for that park and the three national monuments in the hands of local officials in Kane and Garfield County despite the fact that these are federal lands belonging to all Americans.

    All of the new designations prioritize recreation, hunting and grazing over conservation, and the bill reopens the lands not included in the Trump monuments to mineral leasing. The bill also includes a public lands giveaway, handing the Hole in the Rock Road to the State of Utah, and will likely reopen destructive off-road vehicle routes that have been closed for decades to protect sensitive resources.

    “This bill is a brazen handout to the extremist voices who wish to eliminate federal control of public lands that belong to all,” said Scott Groene, Executive Director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. “Though it purports to protect these landscapes, by handing control almost exclusively to development interests in Kane and Garfield County, it is clear the remnants of Grand Staircase-Escalante would become playgrounds for destructive recreation, poor lands management and dirty energy. The bill, with its throw away National Park designation, is a bait and switch. No one should bite.”

    The other bill, H.R. 4532, introduced Tuesday by new delegation member Rep. John Curtis, alongside Reps. Bishop, Stewart and Love from the Utah delegation, ratifies the new boundaries that Trump’s proclamation put forth for Bears Ears National Monument, replacing the Bears Ears with two significantly diminished landscapes: the 142,337-acre Shash Jáa National Monument, and the 86, 447-acre Indian Creek National Monument. These new boundaries are an 83 percent reduction in the original Bears Ears National Monument.

    Like the Escalante bill, Rep. Curtis’ bill creates a new management council comprised of the same local elected officials that sought the undoing of the monument, as well as members of Tribes who are picked not by Tribal governments, but by the Utah delegation. Furthermore, the bill excludes three of the five tribes who advocated for protection of Bears Ears from the council. This framework ensures that the protective status of the original Bears Ears National Monument will not be honored in these newer, decimated parcels.

    “The fact that these bills even exist is evidence that the Utah delegation knows Trump’s actions were illegal, and they are scrambling to set up a Plan B,” Groene said. “But the two million acres of lands that Trump stripped from the original Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments still belong to all Americans, and we will work with our allies in Congress, who are more motivated than ever, to ensure that neither of these efforts to hand over these national treasures ever see the light of day.”

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    White Canyon in Bears Ears National Monument. Copyright Jeff Clay

     

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