SUWA Action Alerts


  • 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 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.

  • June 8th, 2021

    Today, America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act was reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA). That means both the House and Senate versions are officially on the books for the 117th Congress and we are ready to roll!

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

    The House bill was reintroduced with 57 original cosponsors already signed on, while the companion bill in the Senate is currently endorsed by 13 senators (click here to see the full cosponsor list). That’s a great start, but we need your help to boost these numbers much higher in the coming weeks by asking your representative and senators to endorse the bill if they haven’t already.

    Lockhart Basin proposed wilderness, copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA

    America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act is the seminal legislation that would protect 8.4 million acres of wild public lands in Utah. We all know these spectacular landscapes are worthy of permanent protection, but now we also know they play a significant role in addressing climate change by drawing carbon out of the atmosphere, sequestering it in plants and soils, and providing climate refugia for wildlife. These wild desert lands are also a vital link in the interconnected chain of largely undisturbed ecosystems running from the Grand Canyon to Glacier National Park, providing important migration corridors for wildlife.

    Many of you have helped build support for America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act over the years by signing postcards, making phone calls, sending emails, and even traveling to Washington, DC to meet with your elected officials in person. With the Biden administration’s current focus on climate and conserving 30% of land and water in the U.S. by 2030, now is the time to ramp up your advocacy efforts as we work to move this legislation forward!

    Click here to contact your representatives now.

    If you’d like to learn more about the bill—or simply celebrate its reintroduction with us—please join our short and sweet webinar this Wednesday, June 9th, from 6:00pm–6:30pm MT. SUWA’s Organizing and Legislative teams will briefly discuss the origins of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act and what we can do to garner widespread support in Congress. Please RSVP HERE or join us on Facebook Live.

    Thanks for all you do!

  • May 11th, 2021

    Yesterday, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) reintroduced America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act (S. 1535), the seminal legislation that would protect 8.4 million acres of wild public lands in Utah. This bill is more important than ever as we face the Climate Crisis and the Nature Crisis, as its passage would keep fossil fuels in the ground, preserve habitat connectivity and resiliency, and allow Utah’s desert lands to continue to sequester carbon—all while protecting the scenic and cultural resources contained on these lands for generations to come.

    Please ask your senators to join as a cosponsor of the Redrock Bill today!

    Signed on to the legislation as original cosponsors at introduction were Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ).

    If you are represented by any of these senators, please thank them for cosponsoring today!

    Circle Cliffs. Copyright James Kay

    “With the America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, we can protect America’s remaining wild places and reaffirm our nation’s commitment to the preservation of our national heritage,” said Senator Durbin. “Our public lands are under increasing pressure, both from development encroachment and from attacks by those who would prefer to see them sold off to the highest bidder. Congress needs to act to ensure that these lands remain in their natural condition for current and future generations of Americans to enjoy.”

    America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act was developed through citizen inventories that identified wilderness-quality Bureau of Land Management lands in Utah using the same criteria set forth by the agency. Utah lags all other Western states in wilderness designation, despite having some of the wildest roadless landscapes in the lower 48 states.

    Please ask your senators to cosponsor the legislation by clicking here. And if either (or both) of your senators already cosponsored, please thank them by clicking here.

  • April 22nd, 2021

    The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is developing a travel management plan for the iconic Labyrinth Canyon and Gemini Bridges area outside of Moab—a plan that will determine where off-road vehicle (ORV) use is allowed in this world-renowned area for decades to come.

    Please tell the BLM to keep motorized trails out of sensitive areas in the Labyrinth Canyon and Gemini Bridges region.

    Labyrinth Canyon. Copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA

    Home to irreplaceable cultural and historic resources, important wildlife habitat, and unmatched quiet recreational opportunities, the Labyrinth Canyon and Gemini Bridges region is a magnificent area of Utah’s backcountry. It encompasses the internationally-recognized Labyrinth Canyon section of the Green River, as well as its many side canyons including Mineral, Hell Roaring, Spring, and Ten Mile Canyons.

    The area’s unobstructed views, soaring redrock cliffs, and Green River corridor provide endless world-class opportunities for hikers, river runners, canyoneers, climbers, bikers, photographers, and campers. Unfortunately, this area has also experienced a dramatic increase in motorized recreation over the past decade, with ORV noise and dust disproportionately impacting the majority of public land users.

    Federal law requires the BLM to minimize impacts to natural and cultural resources when designating motorized vehicle routes. The agency’s current travel plan—pushed through in the waning days of the George W. Bush administration—blanketed the area with ORV routes, prioritizing motorized recreation at the expense of all other public land uses. The high density of ORV routes in the Labyrinth Canyon and Gemini Bridges area means there are few areas to escape the whine of all-terrain vehicles (including the now ubiquitous “utility” models known as UTVs) and dirt bikes.

    Currently, 94% of the lands within the Labyrinth Canyon and Gemini Bridges area are within a half mile of a designated ORV route. And less than 1.5% of the lands in this area are two miles or more from an ORV route. As a result, motorized vehicle use is damaging important soil and riparian resources, priceless cultural resources, significant wildlife habitat, and quiet recreational opportunities.

    This travel plan will have a long-lasting impact on the future of this region by determining where ORVs will be able to travel, and in turn what areas will be managed for the protection of other resources and values such as wildlife, solitude, and non-motorized recreation.

    The BLM is currently in the initial “scoping” phase of its travel planning process, which identifies issues that must be considered. It is vital that the agency hears from the public that the current route network is unacceptable, and that significant route reductions are needed in order to protect public land resources and balance motorized and non-motorized recreation for decades to come.

    The BLM should ensure access to trailheads, scenic overlooks, and recreational opportunities, but it must also protect the reason people want to drive here: to enjoy the unspoiled beauty of the Labyrinth Canyon and Gemini Bridges region.

    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 Labyrinth Canyon and Gemini Bridges region.

    The most helpful comments mention specific trails (by name or number) or areas; how you enjoy hiking, camping, and other non-motorized pursuits in the area; and that motorized use in these places has conflicted with your particular use or enjoyment.

    The BLM is accepting comments through April 26, 2021. Be sure to make your voice heard.

    Thank you for taking action!