News


  • July 20th, 2021

    We examine how America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act defines the turf of Utah’s wilderness debate – literally on the ground, as well as politically – and how the bill sets the standard against which other legislative and administrative actions are measured.

    Wild Utah is made possible by the contributing members of SUWA. Wild Utah’s theme music, “What’s Worth?” is composed by Moab singer-songwriter Haley Noel Austin. Our interlude music, “Chuck’s Guitar,” is by Larry Pattis. Post studio production and editing is by Jerry Schmidt.

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  • June 29th, 2021

    The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is developing a travel management plan for the remote Book Cliffs area in Uintah and northern Grand Counties—a plan that will determine where off-road vehicle (ORV) use is allowed in this stunning area for decades to come.

    Tell the BLM to keep motorized trails out of sensitive areas in the Book Cliffs region.

    Wilderness-quality lands in the White River area, © Ray Bloxham/SUWA

    The Book Cliffs travel management area encompasses more than 602,000 acres of BLM-managed public lands in east-central Utah, including the Winter Ridge Wilderness Study Area and wilderness-quality lands around the White River, Bitter Creek, and Hideout Canyon. The region offers fantastic opportunities for camping, hiking, photography, wildlife watching, and backcountry hunting. Large herds of Rocky Mountain elk and mule deer thrive in this wild landscape that is also home to pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, mountain lion, and black bear. Reflecting thousands of years of human history, the Book Cliffs region also contains irreplaceable cultural and historic resources.

    Federal law requires the BLM to minimize impacts to natural and cultural resources when designating motorized vehicle routes. The agency’s current Book Cliffs travel plan—one of several pushed through at the end of the George W. Bush administration—blanketed the area with ORV routes, prioritizing motorized vehicle use at the expense of preserving important wildlife habitat and cultural sites.

    SUWA and our partners challenged these Bush-era plans in court as unlawful and won. That decision and a subsequent settlement agreement sent the BLM back to the drawing board to prepare 13 new travel plans, including in the Book Cliffs. Despite this, the BLM is now considering designating over seven hundred miles of new routes in the Book Cliffs Travel Management Area, on top of those designated in 2008. Inundating the Book Cliffs with motorized vehicle routes would further fragment vital wildlife habitat and damage irreplaceable cultural resources.

    Tell the BLM to fulfill its legal obligation and keep motorized trails out of wildlife habitat, cultural sites, and wilderness-quality lands in the Book Cliffs region.

    Bitter Creek proposed wilderness, © Ray Bloxham/SUWA

    The BLM is currently in the initial “scoping” phase of its travel planning process, which identifies issues the agency must consider. It is vital that the agency hears from the public that blanketing the Book Cliffs area with new motorized routes is unacceptable. Instead, the BLM must prioritize reducing the total miles of trail open to ORVs to protect these public lands for decades to come.

    The most helpful comments will mention specific trails (by name or number) or areas; how you enjoy hiking, camping, wildlife watching and other non-motorized pursuits in the area; and that motorized use has already, or will in the future (if new trails are designated), conflict with your enjoyment of these public lands.

    The BLM is accepting comments through July 8, 2021. Click here to make your voice heard.

    If you prefer to email the agency directly, the address for scoping comments is BLM_UT_Vernal_Comments@blm.gov

    Thank you for taking action!

  • June 15th, 2021

    We take a step back to look at the macro view of why southern Utah captures the hearts of so many. We’re joined by Michael Haswood, Bears Ears Artist in Residence at Utah Diné Bikéyah, to ask: What is beauty? How is beauty embodied in your art? Is beauty important in the movement to protect wilderness?

    Wild Utah is made possible by the contributing members of SUWA. Wild Utah’s theme music, “What’s Worth?” is composed by Moab singer-songwriter Haley Noel Austin. Our interlude music, “Chuck’s Guitar,” is by Larry Pattis. Post studio production and editing is by Jerry Schmidt.

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  • June 14th, 2021

    The Biden administration is poised to authorize oil and gas drilling on the doorstep of Dinosaur National Monument. If approved by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the proposal will industrialize a remote and scenic area by greenlighting the construction of new access roads, well pads, and the drilling of two wells—all about ¼ of a mile from the monument.

    This ill-conceived project—proposed by Hoodoo Mining & Production Co. LLC—runs counter to every stated goal and objective of the Biden administration. It threatens some of our nation’s wildest, most scenic public lands, including a national monument, and will harm lands with wilderness characteristics as well as priority habitat for greater sage-grouse. On top of all this, it will exacerbate the climate crisis.

    The BLM is accepting comments through June 23rd. Please tell agency not to approve this terrible drilling proposal.

    Split Mountain Benches
    Wilderness-quality lands at risk near Dinosaur National Monument. © Scott Braden/SUWA

    Making matters worse, BLM is bending over backwards to facilitate the project. The drilling and related development will take place on public lands that are currently subject to a “no surface occupancy” stipulation, which prohibits all surface disturbing activities. When Hoodoo Mining acquired the lease it did so with full knowledge of this restriction. Now, at the company’s request, the BLM is proposing to waive that important stipulation rather than requiring the company to develop in a less sensitive area.

    Tell the BLM not to grant Hoodoo Mining’s request to waive the “no surface occupancy” stipulation.

    Dinosaur National Monument is world-renowned for its remarkable density and diversity of prehistoric sites and paleontological resources. In addition, according to the National Park Service, the monument “is one of the darkest places remaining in the United States. Because there is little light pollution here, you can see the stars of the Milky Way galaxy with startling clarity.”

    With your help, SUWA will fight every step of this project to ensure that the monument remains that way.

    Please click here to submit your comments now.