Grand Staircase-Escalante

  • September 14th, 2022

    What’s “GSENM RMP”, anyway? It’s shorthand for the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Resource Management Plan. Originally proclaimed by President Clinton in 1996, the almost two million acre monument was slashed in half under former President Trump in 2017. It’s been close to a year since President Biden restored the monument to its original boundaries, and it’s time for his administration to re-write the Trump-era plan and re-emphasize scientific discovery and conservation as the primary purpose of the monument. That also means that it’s time for you to get involved!

    Our guest is SUWA Wildlands Attorney Kya Marienfeld, who is heading up SUWA’s official comments about Grand Stairacse-Escalante to the BLM. In non-legal terms, she explains the process for monument planning and helps us understand how to effectively engage in making the final plan a guiding document we can all be proud of.

    Take action after this episode!

    Have a Say in the Future of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument!

    Leave your public comment to the Bureau of Land Management by 9/27.


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    Theme music is by Haley Noel Austin, with interlude music by Larry Pattis.
    Dave Pacheco is the host of Wild Utah.
    Post studio production and editing is by Laura Borichevsky.

  • September 12th, 2022

    With Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument now restored to its original boundaries, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is beginning the process of developing a new management plan for this world-renowned landscape.

    This is a once-in-a generation opportunity to ensure that the monument is managed for its unique and extraordinary values, as the plans won’t be revised again for decades. That’s why it’s so important that people like you, who know and love Utah’s wild lands, take time to participate in the planning process.

    The BLM is currently accepting comments as part of the scoping process. This is your chance to tell the BLM what issues are important for them to consider as they develop a draft management plan.

    Click here to tell the BLM to prioritize wilderness and other conservation values in the new management plan for Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

    Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Photo copyright Jack Dykinga

    Grand Staircase-Escalante has rightfully claimed its place as one of the crown jewels of our nation’s public lands. It was the first monument managed by the BLM to specifically prioritize conservation of cultural, ecological, and scientific values, and it is now world-renowned for its remarkable paleontological discoveries, stunning scenery, and outstanding intact and diverse natural ecosystems.

    With this new management plan, the BLM has the opportunity to strengthen the protections at Grand Staircase-Escalante for generations to come. The BLM should:

    • Protect lands that qualify as wilderness by designating them as new wilderness study areas.
    • Prohibit mechanical treatments of sagebrush, pinyon pine, juniper, and other vegetation, and only use native species for restoration and post-fire seeding.
    • Return to using “management zones” for future recreation planning as it did in the original management plan for the monument, and focus any growth and expansion of recreation in frontcountry areas while protecting and minimizing development of less-used backcountry areas.
    • Close motorized routes that are harming monument objects, without adding new routes and while maintaining route closures and restrictions from the monument’s original management plan.
    • Ensure that Tribal Nations are proactively involved in the planning processes and resource management decisions while protecting cultural resources and traditional uses.
    • Protect visual resources, night skies, and natural and quiet soundscapes.

    (Click here for an expanded list of talking points)

    Personalized comments carry the greatest weight, so we encourage you to take a moment to tell the BLM what is important to you.

    Take action today to help protect Grand Staircase for generations to come.

    Comments are due September 27th. Thank you for everything you do to help protect the redrock!

  • August 24th, 2022


    Contact: Scott Groene, Executive Director, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, 801-712-5034, 

    Moab, UT (August 24, 2022) – Today, the State of Utah, along with Garfield and Kane Counties, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court challenging President Biden’s lawful use of the Antiquities Act to restore the boundaries of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments last October.

    In response to the lawsuit, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) executive director Scott Groene issued the following statement:

    “Once again, Utah’s political leaders are running roughshod over those who live closest to Utah’s national monuments — especially the Tribes that have lived here since time immemorial. This lawsuit further ignores the local elected officials in Grand and San Juan Counties, where Bears Ears is located, and community leaders in the towns closest to the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, who have registered their support for President Biden’s lawful restoration of the original monument boundaries.

    “From Governor Cox on down, the continued anti-environment agenda of Utah politicians makes the Utah political delegation the most hostile to America’s public lands, of any state.  At a time when climate change is creating drought and extreme weather events in Utah, Utah’s politicians are exacerbating the harm by trying to upend the very public land protections that play a critical role in mitigating the effects of climate change.  Utah residents deserve better.”

    Additional Resources

    Link to Garfield County et al. lawsuit.

  • August 15th, 2022

    The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has officially kicked off its management planning process for the restored Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and has announced a series of public meetings—two virtual and three in person—where the agency will share information, answer questions, and accept public comment.

    While the restoration of Grand Staircase-Escalante last October was truly a cause for celebration, the devil is always in the details when it comes to honoring the letter and spirit of a monument’s proclamation. That’s why it’s so important that people like you, who know and love this wild landscape, take time to participate in the planning process.

    The BLM’s virtual public meetings are scheduled as follows:

    If you live in Utah or happen to be visiting, please consider attending one of the following in-person meetings:

    • Aug. 24, from 6–8 pm at the Escalante Showhouse, 50 W Main St, Escalante, Utah
    • Aug. 31, from 6–8 pm at the Kanab Center, Ballroom C, 20 N 100 E, Kanab, Utah
    • Sept. 7, from 6–8 pm at the Panguitch Elementary School Gymnasium, 110 S 100 W, Panguitch, Utah

    Grand Staircase- Escalante National Monument. Copyright Jeff Foott

    We are currently in the “scoping” phase of the planning process, which means the BLM is actively seeking input on the range of issues it should consider as it develops a draft plan. The upcoming meetings are a great opportunity to learn how the process works, ask questions, and get a sense of how the agency intends to manage recreation, cultural and paleontological resources, native wildlife, natural dark skies, and other “objects and values” which the monument was established to protect.

    Though the agency will accept public input at these meetings, the comment period extends through September 27th. We’ll be in touch again soon with more information and suggested points to raise in your comments. We’ll also keep you posted on the planning process for Bears Ears National Monument, which is expected to launch soon.

  • November 29th, 2021

    It’s been a month and a half since President Biden’s Rose Garden ceremony where he fully restored Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments and righted one of the most grievous wrongs from the last administration. Surrounded by Native American Tribal leaders, the first Native American Secretary of the Interior, congressional and conservation stalwarts, and members of his executive team, Biden declared that protecting these monuments and their cultural sites and objects “may be the easiest thing I’ve ever done so far as President.” We couldn’t agree more!

    But Utah Governor Spencer Cox and Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes felt differently. Where we see strong leadership and the vision to protect Bears Ears – a landscape Native American Tribes have called home since time immemorial – Cox and Reyes complain of an affront to rural Utahns. And where we see desperately needed action to conserve Grand Staircase-Escalante and mitigate the impacts of the climate crisis, Cox and Reyes wring their hands that this will mean less coal, oil, and gas is mined and burned at the expense of future generations.

    And now Cox and Reyes are willing to put someone else’s money (Utah taxpayers’) where their mouths are.

    A few weeks ago, the state of Utah announced that it was soliciting bids from law firms and lawyers to pursue a lawsuit against President Biden’s restoration of Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments. And while the announcement doesn’t exactly come out and say this, it’s clear the contract would last for years and may easily exceed $10 million dollars in fees and expenses. And why not? When it’s someone else’s money, the sky’s the limit, right?

    Not so fast . . . Please help us convince Governor Cox and Attorney General Reyes this is a terrible idea that will only backfire. If you live in Utah, send them a message now via our online alert system. And if you live in or near Salt Lake City, join us for a protest at 6pm this Thursday (12/2) at the Utah State Capitol.

    Rather than waste millions of taxpayer dollars on this fool’s errand (a very similar lawsuit challenging President Clinton’s establishment of Grand Staircase-Escalante was defeated by SUWA and others in 2004), Utah politicians should embrace the protection of these remarkable landscapes and recognize what huge assets they are to the state of Utah and our nation as a whole. Rather than pay private lawyers to travel first class and wine and dine at the taxpayers’ expense, those dollars should go to support stewardship, visitor education, and helping local communities benefit from the monuments.

    The choice is clear: Governor Cox and Attorney General Reyes should beat their swords into ploughshares and stand with the majority of Utahns and Americans who support protecting Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments.