Greater Canyonlands

  • October 23rd, 2015
    Inter-Tribal Coalition Bears Ears Press Conference in DC
    Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition Co-Chair
    Eric Descheenie at the National Press Club.

    Last week, the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition traveled to Washington, D.C., to deliver their proposal to President Obama to protect 1.9 million acres of public land in southern Utah as a collaboratively managed national monument. A copy of the proposal was also delivered to Representatives Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz of Utah.

    “We are not stakeholders here,” said Eric Descheenie, Coalition Co-Chair and Advisor to the President of the Navajo Nation, at a press conference held at the National Press Club. “We are relatives to these lands, and we have something to say.”

    Click here to watch a five-minute video highlight of the Inter-Tribal Coalition’s press conference in D.C.

    The Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition is a partnership of five Tribes: Ute Mountain Ute, Uintah Ouray Ute, Hopi, Zuni, and Navajo. With a new resolution of support from the National Congress of American Indians, nearly 300 Tribes stand behind the effort to Protect Bears Ears.

    SUWA fully supports the proposal to create a Bears Ears National Monument. We’re excited to see Tribes lead this effort to protect lands that SUWA has worked for decades to defend. (One of our very first campaigns, more than 30 years ago, was to prevent the BLM from chaining just below the Bears Ears themselves.)

    Click here to sign the Inter-Tribal Coalition’s petition to protect Bears Ears.

    At the press conference, tribal leaders emphasized that their proposal is about healing and bringing people together.

    “This is a humanistic endeavor for healing not just for Native people, but all people,” said Eric Descheenie.

    Please, take a moment to stand with the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition by signing their petition and liking the Coalition on Facebook and Twitter.

    Thank you for all that you do.

    Mathew Gross
    Matt Gross photo
    Media Director
    Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance

  • October 5th, 2015

    Anyone who has visited the Island in the Sky region of Canyonlands National Park or Dead Horse Point State Park near Moab over the past few years has no doubt noticed the gradual spread of industrial development at the entrance to the parks in an area known as Big Flat. What began as a modest expansion of decades-old drill pads has now taken off at a breakneck pace. The highly visible network of pump jacks, roads, and pipelines stands out as you drive along state highway 313 – a route designated by Utah as a “scenic” byway.

    Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there.

    Fidelity Exploration and Production Company, a Denver based oil and gas operator, is proposing to expand this industrial web south into Hatch Point near the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. Proposed for wilderness designation and identified by the BLM itself as possessing wilderness character, Hatch Point features iconic redrock formations, including towering Wingate cliffs, buttes, and rock pillars, and some of the nation’s most brilliant night skies.

    Tell the BLM this area is too special to be sacrificed to oil and gas development.


    Trough Springs Canyon, Hatch Point. Copyright Neal Clark/SUWA.

    The proposed expansion would include drilling up to 21 oil and gas wells, “upgrading” more than 19 miles of existing two-track routes into 14-foot-wide “resource roads,” and constructing several new roads. On top of all this, Fidelity is proposing to flare natural gas from each well rather than collect and transport the gas to produce energy. The flared gas will be visible from within Canyonlands National Park and will further degrade air quality in the region.

    Click here to tell the BLM not to allow the gradual industrialization of Moab’s spectacular backcountry.

    The BLM has improperly – and unlawfully – allowed Fidelity to develop the Big Flat region in a piecemeal fashion, one phase of development at a time, and is poised to do the same with Hatch Point. It’s time for the BLM to consider the entire scope of Fidelity’s activities in a single environmental impact statement before allowing the company to completely surround the eastern edge of Canyonlands National Park with its industrial web of development.

    Please tell the BLM to stop its improper piecemeal approach to energy development in the Canyonlands area!

  • September 16th, 2015

    In August, the BLM’s Canyon Country District Office released the long-awaited Moab Master Leasing Plan for public review and comment.  When finalized, this plan will govern the scope, pace and nature of oil, gas and potash development on more than 750,000 acres of public lands in the stunning Moab area.

    Tell the BLM to protect Moab’s redrock country from oil, gas, and potash development.

    While the draft “Moab MLP” is a good first step to protect places like Fisher Towers, Porcupine Rim, and Goldbar Canyon from being overrun by the sight and sound of pump jacks and drill rigs, more work remains to be done.

    Labyrinth Canyon (RayBloxham)

    Labyrinth Canyon, copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA.

    Under the BLM’s current “preferred alternative,” Labyrinth Canyon and its many stunning side canyons would be targeted for leasing and drilling.  The agency would also give potash development and its staggering water use the green light – with over 42,000 acres of public lands prioritized as “potash processing facility areas,” including sites near Labyrinth Canyon and at the entrance to the Needles and Anticline Overlook roads.

    If you want to see these magnificent landscapes protected, not exploited, let the BLM know!

    The BLM needs to hear from you that you value the greater Moab area’s dark night skies, clean air, and wild open spaces.

    Click here to send your comments to the BLM.

    Thank you.

  • March 11th, 2015

    This Monday, March 16th, the Grand County Council in Moab, Utah is going to be putting the finishing touches on its recommendations to Representative Rob Bishop as part of the “Public Lands Initiative” bill.

    What they decide is going to have a direct impact on what Moab is like in the years to come.

    The Grand County Council needs to hear directly from people like you who love and visit Moab. Tell them that Moab — and Labyrinth Canyon in particular — needs true wilderness protection and that quiet places need to be protected now and for future generations.



    Here’s what the Grand County Council should do on Monday:

    • Designate Labyrinth Canyon as true wilderness. At last week’s Council meeting, the Council recommended no wilderness for Labyrinth — despite it being one of the crown jewels of wilderness in the American West. The Council should designate as wilderness all areas it is proposing as “No Surface Occupancy.”
    • Keep the river corridor in Labyrinth quiet by closing three ATV and jeep trails that run down to the river: Hey Joe, Hell Roaring, and “Dead Cow/The Tubes” in addition to Ten Mile Wash. River rafters in Labyrinth shouldn’t have to listen to the whine of motorcycles along the banks of the Green River!
    • Close infrequently used routes in all proposed wilderness in Grand County, especially in the Westwater-Beaver Creek wilderness. The Council has already recommended protecting these areas as wilderness, but they need to close routes within the boundaries. There should be places where locals and visitors can find quiet and get away from roads and the sounds of ATVs!
    • Designate wilderness in the La Sal Mountains. Every other county in the PLI process has recommended new Forest Service Wilderness, but the Grand County Council has recommended zero. The Council should recommended protecting the mountains that form our watershed.
    • Protect the Arches view shed by expanding the proposed National Conservation Area (NCA) 4 miles east of Arches National Park.
    • Designate the Fisher Towers and Mary Jane areas with the proposed NCA to be managed as roadless areas, following the Daggett County model and as already approved by our Congressional delegation.

    Please, take just a moment to email the entire Council at

    The ORV lobby is already bombarding the Council with emails from around the region. The Council needs to hear from visitors like you that they need to create some balance by closing routes and protecting the quiet areas of Moab!

    When it comes to your experience in Grand County and the Moab area, this may be the most important email you ever write. Please, take just a minute to email the council today.

    Thank you for taking action.