SUWA Action Alerts


  • February 23rd, 2021

    The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is currently developing a travel management plan for Utah’s spectacular San Rafael Swell and your input is urgently needed, especially if you’ve visited the area and don’t want to see it become a motorized vehicle sacrifice zone.

    Home to irreplaceable cultural and historical resources, important wildlife habitat, and unmatched recreational opportunities, the San Rafael Swell encompasses popular destinations such as the San Rafael Reef, Mexican Mountain, Buckhorn Draw, Tomsich Butte, and Muddy Creek as well as newly-designated wilderness areas and the San Rafael Swell Recreation Area.

    The Swell’s sinuous slot canyons, soaring redrock cliffs, and prominent buttes provide endless opportunities for hikers, canyoneers, river runners, climbers, bikers, photographers, campers, and other visitors. The BLM’s travel plan will have a long-lasting impact on the future of this area by determining where motorized vehicles will be able to travel.

    Tell the BLM to fulfill its legal obligation and keep motorized trails out of wildlife habitat, cultural sites, and other sensitive or inappropriate areas in the San Rafael Swell.

    San Rafael Swell. Copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA

    Federal law requires the BLM to minimize impacts to natural and cultural resources when designating motorized vehicle routes. Despite this, the agency is considering designating over a thousand miles of new routes in the heart of the San Rafael Swell. These new routes include wash bottoms, cow paths, and simple lines on a map. Inundating the Swell with new motorized vehicle routes would forever change this iconic area from one with diverse recreational opportunities to essentially a motorized playground.

    The BLM is currently in the “scoping” phase of its travel planning process, which identifies issues the agency must consider in that process. It is vital that the agency hears from members of the public that blanketing this area with new motorized vehicle routes is unacceptable.

    The BLM should ensure access to trailheads, scenic overlooks, and recreational opportunities, but it must also protect the very reason people want to drive to such remote places: to enjoy the unspoiled beauty of the San Rafael Swell.

    Click here to submit your comments to the BLM today.

    The most helpful comments talk about specific areas or trails (by name or number); how you enjoy hiking, camping, and other non-motorized pursuits in the area; and how motorized use in these places has negatively impacted your experience or could do so in the future if more vehicle trails are designated.

    The BLM is accepting comments through March 3, 2021. Be sure to make your voice heard!

  • February 19th, 2021

    In just a few weeks, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) will reintroduce America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act in the 117th Congress! This legislation is the grand vision for protecting Utah’s deserving wilderness and could play a key role in the Biden administration’s goal of protecting 30 percent of American lands and waters by 2030.

    Click here to ask your members of Congress to become original cosponsors today!

    Dirty Devil proposed wilderness, copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA.

    The bill would protect as wilderness 8.4 million acres of the magnificent redrock landscapes we all love—places with evocative names like Labyrinth Canyon, the Dirty Devil, and the Book Cliffs. It would also advance efforts to combat climate change by keeping fossil fuels in the ground, achieving 5.7 percent of the carbon mitigation needed to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees by 2030.

    Contact your representatives today and tell them you support America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act!

    The federal public lands the Red Rock bill would protect belong to all Americans and are a treasured common ground for discovery, restoration, and solitude. At a time when all of humanity is being tested by a global pandemic and more frequent natural disasters linked to climate disruption, it’s clear that protecting the wild places we have left is imperative, for nature’s sake and for our own.

    In Utah, we are lucky to have some of the wildest unprotected landscapes in the lower 48 states, and a true opportunity to restore balance.

    Please ask your representatives to become original cosponsors of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act today!

  • October 28th, 2020

    One month before the largest wilderness bill of the last ten years was passed (the Emery County Public Land Management Act, signed into law as part of the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act on March 12, 2019), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rushed to issue a lease to drill in the heart of the Labyrinth Canyon Wilderness, which was formally designated as wilderness by the Dingell Act.

    The BLM had full knowledge that lands encompassing the leased area would soon be designated as wilderness—but went ahead and issued the lease anyway. SUWA protested that decision but the BLM’s state director rejected our challenge.

    Now, the agency has prepared a draft environmental assessment (EA) to approve a helium drilling project on this lease inside the wilderness. The public comment period is open through November 9, 2020.

    Click here to tell the BLM not to allow drilling in the heart of Labyrinth Canyon Wilderness!

    Aerial view of Labyrinth Canyon with lease area highlighted. Photo © Pete McBride/EcoFlight

    If allowed to proceed, the project will involve months of extensive construction in this remarkably quiet and remote place, including, at a minimum, road improvements (upgrading and graveling of existing two-tracks), well pad construction (5-7 acres of disturbance), pipelines, infrastructure on the well pad, and construction of a 10-acre processing facility on nearby Utah school trust lands. The project developer plans to drill at least two wells for helium, which requires a federal oil and gas lease to develop and which will have many of the same on-the-ground impacts as conventional oil and gas drilling.

    The Labyrinth Canyon section of the Green River, which was designated under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act as a “Scenic” segment, is one of the most iconic, remote, and world-renowned river segments in the United States.

    Please contact the BLM today and tell them:

    • Labyrinth Canyon Wilderness is too special to drill (this includes the wilderness area itself as well as the adjacent Labyrinth Canyon Scenic segment of the Green River).
    • The area is very remote, quiet, and scenic, and industrialization of the area will significantly degrade—or destroy—these values.
    • Both the lease and this last-minute rush to approve development before a potential change in presidential administration highlights everything that is wrong with the Trump administration’s “energy dominance” agenda.

    Click here to submit your comments today.

    P.S. This Salt Lake Tribune article has more detail on how this lease was slipped in during the 11th hour before Labyrinth Canyon was designated as wilderness.

  • September 23rd, 2020

    In June, we wrote to you about plans from Energy Fuels Resources—the company that successfully lobbied the Trump administration to reduce Bears Ears National Monument in 2017—to ship radioactive waste from Estonia to the White Mesa Uranium Mill, on the doorstep of the monument.

    Now, Energy Fuels Resources wants to import radioactive waste from Japan, and the State of Utah has agreed that the company doesn’t need any special licenses or permission, or to hear from the public, to accept the waste.

    Please take a moment to urge Utah regulators to protect Bears Ears!

    White Mesa Uranium Mill, © EcoFlight

    The White Mesa Uranium Mill sits next to the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe’s White Mesa community. Understandably, many residents are concerned about the mill’s impact on their air quality and drinking water.

    Energy Fuels intends to extract a small amount of uranium from the waste, then dump the toxic leftovers just east of Bears Ears National Monument’s original boundary, where it will remain forever.

    Radioactive waste from overseas should never end up next to Indigenous communities in America. Please urge Utah regulators to:

    • Require that Energy Fuels Resources (USA) Inc. obtain a specific import license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for the Japanese waste.
    • Deny future requests to send toxic and radioactive waste to the White Mesa Mill.
    • Protect groundwater and air quality in the Bears Ears region for the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe’s White Mesa community and for future generations.

    Click here to submit your comments today.

    Thank you for taking action.

  • September 10th, 2020

    After a long August recess, Congress is back in session for September. This is one of the best chances to get your members of Congress to cosponsor America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act. Will you ask them today?

    America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act is the seminal legislation that would protect the amazing redrock country we all love. It would safeguard places like Desolation Canyon, the Dirty Devil region, and the east side of Labyrinth Canyon, as well as lands wrongly cleaved from Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments by President Trump.

    Please ask your members of Congress to cosponsor today!

    Protecting these lands as wilderness will help us in the fight against climate change, build connected habitat corridors for wildlife, and preserve places for Americans to enjoy quiet and solitude for generations to come. Utah has less protected wilderness than any other western state. As we work toward the goal of protecting 30 percent of America’s lands and waters by 2030, Utah must be a large part of the discussion.

    Ask your members of Congress to cosponsor America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act today!

    And if any of them have already cosponsored (check here), please thank them.

    Members of Congress will soon depart again to embark on the campaign trail in October, so September is the key time to get their endorsement. If you want to go the extra mile, after asking them to cosponsor via our action page, call the congressional switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask them by phone. They might ask for the bill number, which in the House is H.R. 5775, and in the Senate is S. 3056.

    Thank you!