Emery County Archives


  • February 26th, 2019

    We’re delighted to tell you that the Emery County Public Land Management Act just passed the U.S. House of Representatives and now heads to the president’s desk for his signature. (Yes, he’s expected to sign.)

    Take a moment to appreciate just how historic this victory is.

    For more than twenty years, the Utah delegation has put forward lousy bills that would have sold the San Rafael Swell short. SUWA opposed all those bills. And now, after a year-long fight, what began again as terrible legislation will instead extend much-needed protection to some of Utah’s most beloved redrock landscapes—places like Muddy Creek and parts of Desolation and Labyrinth Canyons.

    Muddy Creek wilderness in the San Rafael Swell. Copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA

    This happened because of people like you. Your emails, phone calls, and contributions made the difference—showing our congressional allies and opponents alike that the American people care about protecting Utah wilderness.

    Thanks to you and our Utah Wilderness Coalition allies—the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council—we’ve made this legislation deserving of the places protected.

    The result? 663,000 acres of wilderness will now be protected in Emery County! (Click here to view our story map showing what the bill protects.)

    We’re grateful to our congressional champions, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Representative Alan Lowenthal (D-CA 47), who each challenged an earlier, flawed version of the bill—flaws that have now been largely addressed.

    These lands belong to all Americans, and wilderness bills like this one can only succeed if Utah politicians recognize the national significance of their protection.

    To be sure, there are still lands in Emery County and elsewhere deserving of protection, and we will continue to work every day to protect all of Utah’s magnificent redrock wilderness.

    But today, it’s time to celebrate.

    Thank you for being a critical part of the movement to protect Utah wilderness.

    If you live in Utah, please call Representative John Curtis’ office at 202-225-7751, and Sen. Mitt Romney at (202) 224-5251 and thank them for seeing this legislation through.

    If you live in California, please call Representative Lowenthal’s’ office at 202-225-7924 and thank him for his hard work to enact this legislation.

  • February 26th, 2019

    Utah’s Iconic San Rafael Swell Nears Wilderness Protection as Part of Public Lands Package Passed by U.S. House of Representatives 

    Contact: Scott Groene, Executive Director, 801-712-5034, scott@suwa.org

    Jen Ujifusa, Legislative Director, 801-791-2598, jen@suwa.org

    Moab, UT (February 26, 2019) – In response to today’s passage of the Emery County Public Land Management Act by the U.S. House of Representatives as part of S. 47, the Natural Resources Management Act, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) executive director Scott Groene issued the following statement:

    “Now that both the Senate and House have passed this legislation, only the President’s signature is needed to protect 663,000 acres of Utah’s iconic San Rafael Swell and Desolation and Labyrinth Canyons as designated wilderness. After a year-long fight, what began as terrible legislation will now extend much-needed protection to some of Utah’s most beloved redrock landscapes.

    “With our Utah Wilderness Coalition allies- the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council- and thousands of Americans across the nation, we’ve made this legislation deserving of the places protected.

    “There are still lands in Emery County and elsewhere deserving of protection, and we look forward to working with the Utah congressional delegation and other members of congress to that end.

    “We’re grateful to Senator Dick Durbin and Rep. Alan Lowenthal, who each challenged an earlier, flawed version of the bill—flaws which have now been largely addressed. These lands belong to all Americans, and wilderness bills like this one can only succeed if Utah politicians recognize the national significance of their protection.

    “We appreciate the efforts of Sen. Hatch, Rep. John Curtis, and their staffs for seeing the bill through.

    “At a time when our nation’s public lands are under assault by the Trump administration, this legislation is good for Redrock wilderness. Passing this legislation involved compromises, and worthy landscapes were left out. Nonetheless, this bill is good for Utah and good for the United States.”

    Additional Resources

    More information, including maps and photographs of the protected region, is available here.

  • February 12th, 2019

    Are you sitting down?

    We can hardly believe we get to say this, but against great odds, Labyrinth Canyon, Muddy Creek, Desolation Canyon and other Utah wild lands may soon get permanent protection as wilderness!

    The Emery County Public Land Management Act just passed the Senate as part of a public lands package, which now moves to the U.S. House of Representatives.

    Muddy Creek proposed wilderness. Copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA

    You’ll recall that throughout last year, we were fighting the so-called “Not-so-Swell” Emery County bill. The legislation, sponsored by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Representative John Curtis (R-UT), simply did not go far enough in its protections for Utah’s fragile places and needed to be improved if it were to pass. With your help, we told them so. Repeatedly. AND IT WORKED.

    Late in the last Congress, with just about a week remaining in the session, we had a breakthrough. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), the champion of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act who was threatening to hold up the legislation, successfully negotiated significant wilderness additions to the Emery County bill, including additions for the Muddy Creek and Labyrinth Canyon regions. With these gains the bill protects about 663,000 acres of wilderness in Utah! The bill also designates about 60 miles of the Green River as Wild and Scenic, and facilitates a trade of state lands that are constantly under threat of development out of wilderness and recreation areas.

    As with any legislative compromise, we didn’t get everything we wanted. But SUWA held firm to our principles, and with our partners in the Utah Wilderness Coalition, we won the improvements needed to earn our support.

    All told, the bill protects a huge amount of habitat, helps buffer against climate change, and preserves some of Utah’s wildest places. We were able to negotiate this legislation with delegation members who have been traditionally opposed to wilderness, and with Donald Trump in the White House. That’s huge.

    Now that the bill has overwhelmingly passed the Senate in a package of lands bills, we need your help to get it through the House. Please contact your representative today and ask them to support the Emery County Public Land Management Act!

    This victory was a colossal team effort. We couldn’t have done it without support from SUWA members like you, the deep knowledge of our field staff, our stalwart congressional champions, and a whole lot of grit and resolve.

    It’s time to celebrate, and then help get this bill over the finish line!

    Contact your House representative today!

    Thank you for all you do!

    Click here to view our story map on the bill.

    Click here for a fact sheet and additional photographs.

  • February 12th, 2019

    Utah’s Iconic San Rafael Swell Nears Wilderness Protection as Part of Public Lands Package Passed by U.S. Senate

    Contact: Scott Groene, Executive Director, 801-712-5034, scott@suwa.org

    Jen Ujifusa, Legislative Director, 801-791-2598, jen@suwa.org

    Neal Clark, Wildlands Program Director, 435-260-1199, neal@suwa.org

    Moab, UT (February 12, 2019) – In response to the U.S. Senate’s passage today of the Emery County Public Land Management Act as part of S. 47, the Natural Resources Management Act, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) executive director Scott Groene issued the following statement:

    “We are excited by the passage of this legislation, which protects 663,000 acres of Utah’s iconic San Rafael Swell and Desolation and Labyrinth Canyons in Emery County as designated wilderness.  It’s a tremendous step forward for the redrock and a validation of SUWA’s more than 35 years of advocacy.

    “While this agreement came with some difficult choices, it brings long-term protection to this spectacular landscape.

    “This bill was possible only because of Senator Dick Durbin, who has championed America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act for 20 years and was instrumental in brokering the agreement with Senator Hatch. In the House of Representatives, Rep. Alan Lowenthal challenged an earlier, flawed version—flaws which have now been largely addressed. These lands belong to all Americans and wilderness bills like this one can only succeed if Utah politicians recognize the national significance of their protection.

    “We thank our steadfast allies in the Utah Wilderness Coalition- the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council- who each held strong with us for legislation that truly protects these lands.

    “We appreciate the efforts of Sen. Hatch, Rep. John Curtis, and their staffs for seeing the bill through and keeping the lines of communication open. Likewise, we offer thanks and respect to the Emery County officials who brought sufficient flexibility to the table to create a bill that is a win for all Americans.

    “At a time when our nation is deeply divided, this legislation brought together differing views for a result that is good for Redrock wilderness. Passing this legislation involved compromises, and landscapes deserving protection were left out. Nonetheless, this bill is good for Utah, and good for the United States.”

    The Senate lands package now moves to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration.

    Additional Resources

    More information, including maps and photographs of the protected region, is available here. A story map of the bill and region is available here.

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  • December 6th, 2018

    Today at the Utah State Capitol, a group of 40 young womxn* and allies — including students, educators, and community leaders from throughout Utah — braved the cold to make an urgent call for the protection of Utah’s irreplaceable wild lands in the San Rafael Swell and beyond.

    After several eloquent speeches, they walked to Governor Herbert’s office and delivered a statement signed by 79 young leaders explaining how the Emery County Public Land Management Act would exacerbate climate change and fails to sufficiently protect intact iconic landscapes such as Muddy Creek and Labyrinth Canyon. They also delivered nearly 4,000 postcards asking the governor to protect wild public lands throughout Utah.

    Read the complete statement delivered to Gov. Herbert here: https://bit.ly/2REPJsR

    Josee Stetich

    “Wilderness has irreplaceable and unquantifiable value to human life,” said Josee Stetich, event organizer and senior at Westminster College studying environmental science. “Harming these lands in the name of development at the expense of cultural resources and solitude is irresponsible to past, current, and future generations.”

    “In 2018, Utah experienced its driest year on record. Foreseeing this drought in March, Governor Herbert asked faith leaders to pray for snow. We need far more than prayers, however. We need action. We need to keep fossil fuels in the ground,” said Brooke Larsen, organizer of youth-led climate justice movement Uplift.

    Brooke Larsen

    Mishka Banuri

    Said Ella Baker-Smith, an actress and senior at Rowland Hall-St. Marks School “I have touched the glorious red rock down south and have marveled at how it seems to surround you like a warm fire. I have attempted to adopt that fire and use it to passionately advocate for you in thie very moment.”

    “The importance of public land has been impressed on me, and the benefits of wilderness became tangible, as soon as the land became an outdoor classroom for me and my students,” said Holly Lammert, a science teacher at Realms of Inquiry School.

    “Clearly our politicians aren’t willing to do the right thing, so this is a message to the politicians who aren’t interested in protecting land for future generations and to the people in power who value profits over people: the young people will not let this happen,” said West High School senior, and founder of Utah Youth Environmental Solutions, Mishka Banuri.

    *Womxn is a term used to include people of all gender orientations who identify as “women” or “femmes.”