Blog Archives - Page 3 of 125


  • December 28th, 2016

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    December 28, 2016

    Moab, UT — In response to President Barack Obama designating the Bears Ears National Monument, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) Executive Director Scott Groene issued the following statement:

    “We applaud the President’s decision and congratulate the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition for this historic protection of their ancestral homeland.  The Monument will long benefit Utahns and Americans.  It is the product of years of public discussion where all agreed this landscape is worthy of permanent protection.

    “We urge the Utah congressional delegation to show leadership in coming down on the right side of history, by respecting the Tribes and supporting the Monument.  Twenty years of history has shown that the fury and fight against the Grand Staircase National Monument accomplished nothing other than perpetuating animosity among Utahns.  We should not repeat that mistake.

    “Instead we should work together for legislation trading school trust lands within the monument for other lands that will benefit our schoolchildren. And with the universal agreement that the region’s extraordinary cultural resources deserve protection, we ask the delegation to ensure adequate funding for monument management.

    “This is an important measure for land conservation and for making amends for our Nation and State’s horrific historic treatment of Native Americans.  We celebrate this step forward.”

    Contact: Mathew Gross, 802-578-3394, mathew@suwa.org

  • December 16th, 2016

    Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM), one of Utah’s most untamed landscapes and the “crown jewel” of the BLM’s National Landscape Conservation System, today faces a new threat from the very agency tasked with protecting it from human-caused harm.

    In the BLM’s latest push to drastically manipulate the West’s high desert ecosystems using large-scale vegetation “improvement” projects, the agency is proposing to permanently alter Grand Staircase’s wild landscape through aggressive removal of existing plant communities.

    Tell the BLM to drop its destructive proposal and honor its obligation to protect the monument.

    The Skutumpah Terrace habitat manipulation proposal covers 19,000 acres of public land within the monument, including over 14,000 acres of land proposed for wilderness designation in America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act.  In a scientifically questionable wildlife management scheme, the BLM’s GSENM field office is proposing to convert existing vegetation into a more open sagebrush habitat through a variety of ground-disturbing methods. This may include removing pinyon pine and juniper with chainsaws and using large machinery to masticate and shred existing trees, mechanically ripping up dense stands of sagebrush, and using herbicide to maintain these more invasive treatments.

    The areas affected by this proposed project contain some of the most unique and stunning scenery in the state. Dense sagebrush and pinyon-juniper vegetation frame expansive views of the adjacent White Cliffs, a dazzling escarpment that forms a rugged backdrop for this exceptionally wild landscape.

    Click here to tell the BLM to preserve our nation’s natural wonders, not destroy them.

    WhiteCliffs_RayBloxham(72dpi)

    White Cliffs, copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA

    This proposed project is egregious not only because it occurs within some of the most breathtaking country in Utah, but because it falls entirely within the boundaries of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, designated for the express purpose of ensuring that its remote, undeveloped, and rugged nature remains for generations.

    Although the BLM has not yet conducted its full environmental analysis for the proposed project, we are concerned that the agency will not take into account the fact that these massive landscape gardening projects have very little scientific support. The agency must demonstrate, conclusively, that projects of this nature can actually be successful before continuing down the path of extensive soil disturbance and destruction of native vegetation and wilderness-quality lands.

    Please tell the BLM to stop this proposed project and adhere to its duty to protect public lands in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

    Thank you.

  • December 15th, 2016

    Blueprint for protecting Utah’s redrock lands provides more certainty for future energy development

    For Immediate Release

    THE WILDERNESS SOCIETY * NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL * SOUTHERN UTAH WILDERNESS ALLIANCE

    Contact:
    Stephen Bloch, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, 801.428.3981

    Salt Lake City (December 15, 2016):  The Bureau of Land Management today issued its long-awaited Moab Master Leasing Plan.  The plan will steer energy and mineral development away from sensitive public lands near Canyonlands and Arches National Parks, popular recreation destinations, and many outstanding proposed wilderness areas that are too wild to drill.

    The BLM’s Moab Master Leasing Plan was developed in close coordination with local stakeholders and will guide how the agency manages oil and gas development and potash mining on more than 785,000 acres of public land in southeastern Utah. The agency also released preliminary alternatives for the San Rafael Master Leasing Plan, which is evaluating how to achieve better balance in an area adjacent to Canyonlands with valuable cultural resources.

    “The Moab Master Leasing Plan gives BLM the right tools to guide future oil, gas and potash development in the heart of Utah’s red rock country,” said Stephen Bloch, Legal Director for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. “The MLP gives industry certainty where leasing and ultimately development can take place and also makes plain the terms and conditions for those activities.  Likewise, the public as well as local communities and businesses now know that many of southeastern Utah’s stunningly beautiful canyons and mesas won’t be marred by the sight and sound of drill rigs and pump jacks. We appreciate BLM’s hard work to engage all stakeholders is this historic effort.”

    Increased energy development in eastern Utah has fueled air pollution that threatens human health and the area’s internationally acclaimed dark night skies.  It also affects recreation opportunities that contribute tens of millions of dollars to the state’s economy each year.  The dramatic effects of climate change are becoming increasingly evident in southeast Utah’s already arid Colorado Plateau region. With more than 90% of BLM lands and minerals available nationally for leasing it has been incumbent on BLM to find better ways to safeguard wild places and other values of public lands—master leasing plans can help fit that need.

    “Some of our most treasured places remain at risk from drilling and speculative leasing.” said Nada Culver, senior director for agency policy at The Wilderness Society. “Master leasing plans, like the Moab MLP, are a rational way to manage oil and gas on our public lands – with a vision of where energy development can be managed and where other values, like wilderness and recreation, need to be protected. By finalizing the Moab MLP and moving forward with the San Rafael Desert MLP, as well as others in Colorado and Wyoming, BLM is modernizing the way we do business on our public lands by taking a thoughtful and smart approach from the beginning.”

    “Our public lands are home to our country’s last wild places, provide important wildlife habitat and drive local economies. The oil and gas industry does not belong there. This plan takes important steps to better protect vulnerable wilderness areas from wanton industrial exploration,” said Sharon Buccino, Director of the Land and Wildlife program at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

    The Moab MLP takes the following specific steps:

    • Protects wild places that are under threat from oil and gas leasing and development, including Fisher Towers, Porcupine Rim, Six-Shooter Peaks and Goldbar Canyon.  These landscapes would either be closed to future leasing or subject to “no surface occupancy” stipulations that prohibit physical development on the lease.
    • Provide strong protections for Arches and Canyonlands National Parks’ classic southern Utah vistas, dark night skies and clean water.
    • Makes most future leases in the MLP area subject to common sense ‘controlled surface use’ stipulations. These are essential to give both industry and the public certainty about the ground rules for future development.

    The plan does not:

    • Prohibit all oil and gas leasing and development in the planning area. Instead, it makes sure leasing and development are more thoughtful and deliberate manner that reflect the outstanding public lands in southern Utah.
    • Prohibit all potash leasing and development in the planning area.  Rather, the Plan establishes three ‘potash leasing areas’ where these activities are concentrated.

    Next up – San Rafael Desert Master Leasing Plan

    Today BLM also moved forward with its next Master Leasing Plan effort, in Utah’s San Rafael Desert, and released a series of preliminary alternative courses of action for public review and comment.  BLM previously shared these preliminary alternatives with local stakeholders, including Emery County and the National Park Service.  The San Rafael Desert Master Leasing Plan covers a landscape that is rich with cultural resources and abuts the Horseshoe Canyon extension of Canyonlands National Park.  It is located immediately west of the Moab Master Leasing Plan. BLM also continues its work on other MLPs in Western Colorado and Southwestern Wyoming.

    Additional resources:

    • Photos of public lands protected by the Moab Master Leasing Plan.
    • Photos of public lands within the San Rafael Desert Master Leasing Plan.
  • December 9th, 2016

    Yesterday afternoon, December 8, BLM announced its decision to defer from leasing two highly contested oil and gas lease parcels in Nine Mile Canyon, citing unresolved issues regarding impacts to rock art and other cultural resources.

    Read More »
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