News Archives - Page 5 of 51


  • March 11th, 2019

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    BLM Withdraws Permit for Helicopter Shuttles Near Bighorn Habitat Outside of Moab Following SUWA Appeal

    Contact: Kya Marienfeld, Wildlands Attorney, 435-259-5440, kya@suwa.org

    Moab, UT (March 11, 2019) – The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Moab field office has withdrawn a multi-year special recreation permit authorizing a private helicopter company to shuttle customers in and out of Mineral Bottom, south of Labyrinth Canyon and north of Canyonlands National Park in the Green River corridor.

    The permit withdrawal comes as the result of an appeal to the Interior Board of Land Appeals filed by the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA), challenging BLM’s previous decision to authorize these landings.

    In response to the permit withdrawal, SUWA Wildlands Attorney Kya Marienfeld issued the following statement:

    “The BLM’s withdrawal of this helicopter landing permit is a big victory for wildlife and solitude in the Green River corridor. The best available science shows that bighorn sheep are particularly sensitive to helicopter traffic compared to other aircraft, and even the occasional close overflight could have driven the native population of bighorn from its habitat in the side canyons of the Green River.

    “The BLM’s original decision to grant this commercial permit would have increased helicopter traffic that could have severely disrupted the sheep’s breeding and lambing cycle, perhaps causing them to abandon the area altogether.

    “While the BLM should never have granted the permit in the first place, we are glad to see the BLM correct their error and withdraw the permit.”

    The permit, originally issued in August, 2018, would have allowed Pinnacle Helicopters, LLC to shuttle passengers during the boating season to a backcountry airstrip in Mineral Bottom that currently has no commercial helicopter traffic. The repeated helicopter shuttles would have brought increased noise and disruption to the adjacent Hell Roaring, Spring, and Tenmile Canyons —  all of which are critical lambing and rutting habitat for a rare native population of desert bighorn sheep.

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  • 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 15th, 2019

    In this episode of Wild Utah, we bring you exciting news from Washington, D.C. about an issue we detailed in our first episode — wilderness legislation for Emery County, Utah. What happened in Congress on February 12, 2019 was a long time in the making, and is great news for redrock country.

    Wild Utah is made possible by the contributing members of SUWA. Our theme music, “What’s Worth?” is written and performed in Moab by Haley Noel Austin. Wild Utah is recorded at the studio of KRCL 90.9 FM, Listeners Community Radio of Utah in Salt Lake City. Our producer is Jerry Schmidt. We thank you all for generously donating your time, equipment and talent to Wild Utah.

  • 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.