Press Releases Archives


  • April 26th, 2017

    Action comes just as Trump orders a review of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

    For immediate release
    April 26, 2017

    Contact: Jen Ujifusa, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, 202.266.0473

    Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL)

    Today Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) reintroduced S. 948, America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, a bill that would protect as wilderness 9.2 million acres of Utah’s spectacular federal public lands. He was joined by 17 cosponsors from 13 states, underscoring the importance of these remaining wild landscapes to the American people.

    America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act would permanently protect special places managed by the Bureau of Land Management in Utah like Labyrinth Canyon, the Dirty Devil, the San Rafael Swell, and the West Desert, ensuring some of the last, best remaining wildlands in the lower 48 states remain wild for future generations of Americans who own these lands.

    The other cosponsors are: Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sen. Michael Bennett (D-CO),  Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA), Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)‎.

    The bill is the companion to H.R. 2044, sponsored by Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), which currently has 30 cosponsors in the House.

    The bill introduction could not be better timed, and the lands involved could not be under greater threat. Today, President Trump also issued an Executive Order that would undermine a generation of National Monuments going back to 1996, including Utah’s own Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, as well as dozens of other monuments designated in the Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama administrations.

    The executive order calls for an agency review of every monument since 1996 that exceeds 100,000 acres, or any monument the agency deems as having “inadequate public outreach,” thereby putting in jeopardy some of America’s most beloved lands and waters. It is the first time any president has launched such an extreme attack on national monuments.

    “Senator Durbin understands what this administration does not: that these lands are one of our country’s most precious and vulnerable treasures, and the most reasonable course of action is to ensure their permanent protection,” said Scott Groene, Executive Director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. “Utah’s wilderness promotes resiliency against climate change for humans and wildlife alike, provides a place for families to find rest and solitude, and represents the highest values of the American people. We are grateful to Senator Durbin and the senators who joined him for recognizing the true value of these lands and for standing up for them.”

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  • April 25th, 2017

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    April 25, 2017

    Scott Groene, Executive Director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, released the following statement regarding the Executive Order that President Trump is expected to sign tomorrow directing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to conduct a “review” of all national monuments over 100,000 acres that were created in the last 21 years:

    “This executive order by President Trump is the opening salvo in an unprecedented attack on America’s federal public lands, and Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments are directly and deliberately in the crosshairs.

    “At Bears Ears, the President has asked Secretary Zinke to manufacture the political cover for his administration to break the government’s promise to Native American Tribes to protect and preserve their ancestral homeland. At Grand Staircase, the President is seeking to reward his Big Coal backers at the expense of one of the nation’s wildest and most dramatic redrock landscapes.

    “This order should alarm every American who cares about our country’s cultural and natural heritage.”

    Bears Ears National Monument. Copyright Tim Peterson

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  • April 12th, 2017

    For Immediate Release
    April 12, 2017

    SALT LAKE CITY – Mountain West Hard Cider today announced the launch of its new Desolation Prickly Pear Hard Cider in honor of Southern Utah’s iconic Desolation Canyon, available beginning this Saturday, April 15.

    In an effort to help protect and defend the Utah’s red rock wilderness, Mountain West will donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale of each bottle of Desolation Cider to The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA).  Desolation Canyon is well known for its whitewater rapids, spanning 83 remote miles of Utah’s Green River, and its spectacular public wild lands.

    “Given the near constant controversy over public lands in Utah, the importance of protecting and preserving those resources is more crucial than ever,” said Jennifer Carleton, co-owner of Mountain West Hard Cider. “SUWA’s conservation efforts impact not only those who call Utah home, but also the over 4 million visitors to Utah’s great wilderness areas. We wanted to do our part to support the very canyons that inspire our ciders.”

    “We are thrilled to be involved with Desolation and Mountain West Hard Cider”, said Karin Duncker, associate director of SUWA. “Desolation Canyon encompasses some of the most beautiful and pristine wild public lands in southern Utah. The support of Jennifer, Jeff, and the great Mountain West Hard Cider team helps us bring our message to an even broader audience. Plus, I’ve tasted it, and Desolation is terrific!”

    The addition of prickly pear fruit to the cider during fermentation imparts subtle flavors of melon and a delicate citrus finish, along with giving the 6.9 percent ABV cider its slight rosy color. Prickly pear juice, also known as the ‘cactus apple’ was chosen for Desolation Hard Cider because the prickly pear plant is common to deserts throughout the southwest.

    Desolation joins Ruby, 7-Mile and Cottonwood, rounding out the four ciders that will be available from Mountain West Hard Cider year-round. You can find Desolation Hard Cider at Mountain West Hard Cider’s tasting room and production facility located at 425 N 400 W, in Salt Lake City, and at select bars and restaurants throughout the state.

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    ABOUT MOUNTAIN WEST HARD CIDER
    Mountain West Hard Cider Company, proud member of Utah’s Own, sources only the finest local ingredients from the Mountain West region to craft every day, seasonal, and artisan hard apple ciders. Mountain West is owned and operated by Jennifer and Jeff Carleton.  They share a passion for the community, locally-owned business, and obviously: good times with good friends. Relying on award-winning years of experience from their cider maker, Joel Goodwillie, the three of them are ready to show people that The West isn’t just for beer anymore. Mountain West Hard Cider is proud to call Utah home.

    ABOUT SOUTHERN UTAH WILDERNESS ALLIANCE
    The mission of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance is the preservation of the outstanding wilderness at the heart of the Colorado Plateau, and the management of these lands in their natural state for the benefit of all Americans.  For more information, visit www.suwa.org.

  • January 13th, 2017

    SUWA, The Wilderness Society, Earthjustice, and a coalition of eight other conservation groups, along with the Bureau of Land Management and off-highway vehicle groups have taken an important step to settle longstanding litigation filed in 2008 by the conservation groups which challenged six land use plans and off-highway vehicle travel plans completed at the end of the George W. Bush administration.

    Read More »
  • January 12th, 2017

    Utah’s most popular National Park threatened by sight and sound of development

    For Immediate Release: January 12, 2017

    Contact:
    Landon Newell, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, 801.428.3991
    Cory MacNulty, National Parks Conservation Association, 801.521.0785

    SALT LAKE CITY – National Park advocates, local residents and conservationists are stunned over a just announced proposal by the St. George field office of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to offer two oil and gas leases less than two miles from Zion National Park in southwestern Utah.  If developed, the two parcels could easily be seen from Utah’s most popular national park.  The parcels are also next to the rural residential gateway community of Virgin and dissected by the North Creek drainage – a perennial stream which flows into the Virgin River, a designated National Wild and Scenic River.

    DryCreek4

    Proposed lease area in Dry Creek proposed wilderness. Photo copyright Luke Henry/SUWA

    “This is a completely inappropriate location for oil and gas leasing and development,” said Steve Masefield, former Chairman of the Virgin Planning and Zoning Commission and a town resident.  “Drilling on these leases would not only degrade the scenic vistas enjoyed by visitors driving to Zion.  Nearby rural neighborhoods would be devastated by industrial smells, noise, lighting and traffic.  Our water – and the water used by communities downstream – could be polluted.”

    “As a life-time resident and a retired owner of several hospitality and tourist-related businesses in Springdale, Utah, I know how crucial the greater Zion National Park area is to our visitors and local residents alike,” said Louise Excell.  “I cannot imagine how visitors will feel as they discover pump jacks and flares from oil and gas drilling are visible from both inside and outside the park.  Not only will the sight be jarring for visitors and residents, but other important natural resources and quality of life will be affected, including diminished air quality, loss of natural soundscapes, and night skies.”

    There are currently no producing wells in this region, and BLM is under no requirement to offer these parcels for lease.  Moreover, the oil and gas industry has roughly 2 million acres of BLM-managed lands in Utah already under lease that they have not developed.  Despite the extensive leased lands, in 2016 the drilling of new oil and gas wells in Utah reached a 30-year low.  There is clearly no need to offer these two leases for sale and put Zion National Park and the surrounding region at risk from mineral development.

    “With over 4 million annual visitors to Zion National Park, BLM should be working collaboratively with the National Park Service to protect – not threaten – the world class resources those visitors come to enjoy and be inspired by,” said Cory MacNulty, with the National Parks Conservation Association.  “The doorstep to one of America’s ‘Best Ideas’ is not the place for oil and gas leasing and development.”

    “BLM’s proposal to sell these two leases is déjà vu all over again.  Just like its proposal in 2008 to sell leases adjacent to Arches and Canyonlands National Park and Dinosaur National Monument, this is an entirely ill-conceived plan that should be rejected,” said Landon Newell, staff attorney for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.  “This lease first, think later approach to oil and gas leasing has been rejected time and time again.  It’s hard to understand what would compel BLM to propose offering these parcels but whatever their motivation, BLM should rethink its proposal which threatens Utah’s most popular National Park.”

    The two oil and gas lease parcels near Zion National Park, as well as a third parcel located adjacent to the Black Ridge Wilderness Area, are proposed for sale at BLM’s June 2017 competitive oil and gas lease sale (environmental assessment available here).  BLM is accepting comments on its controversial proposal through February 10, 2017 (more information available here).

    The proposed lease parcels overlap lands identified by BLM as possessing wilderness characteristics (i.e., outstanding opportunities for solitude and recreation) and which are proposed for Wilderness designation in America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, H.R. 2430, S. 1375 (114th Congress).

    Photographs taken from the lease parcels are available here.

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    About Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance
    The mission of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance is the preservation of the outstanding wilderness at the heart of the Colorado Plateau, and the management of these lands in their natural state for the benefit of all Americans.  For more information, visit www.suwa.org.

    About National Parks Conservation Association
    Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than one million supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.

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