SUWA Action Alerts


  • October 15th, 2021

    Want a say in how the Forest Service manages public lands and mountain ecosystems outside of Moab?

    The Manti-La Sal National Forest, which includes distinct forest units in the La Sal Mountains outside of Moab as well as the Abajo Mountains and a portion of Bears Ears National Monument in San Juan County, is revising its management plan for the first time in 35 years. Your input is vital to making sure this new plan includes smart, conservation-based management of these ecologically and culturally significant national forest lands.

    The Forest Service is accepting public comments through October 25, 2021. Click here to learn more and take action now.

    Abajo Mountains and the Manti-La Sal National Forest. Copyright Tim Peterson

    The Manti-La Sal is an incredibly diverse and spectacular region that includes aspen groves, mountain lakes, stands of giant ponderosa pine, and rocky crags perched high above Utah’s canyon country. It’s one of the few places where you can stand in a snowy forest of pine and spruce while looking out for hundreds of miles across valleys, canyons, and redrock desert fins.

    More importantly, the forest is a critical watershed of the Colorado Plateau, sustaining life in the surrounding redrock canyon county, including Bears Ears National Monument. As climate change and drought become our new reality in the West, protecting watersheds fed by mountain snowpack is more important than ever. The water, wilderness, native plants, and wildlife habitat of the Manti-La Sal need your help to survive and thrive!

    SUWA has been working with partners for many years on a comprehensive “Conservation Alternative” that we believe should be fully analyzed and considered in the Forest Service’s development of the new plan.

    Please tell the Manti-La Sal National Forest Supervisor to fully analyze the Conservation Alternative.

    Bears Ears National Monument / Manti-La Sal National Forest. Copyright Tim Peterson

    This comment period, known as “scoping,” is the first of many steps in a long process, but it is the time when the Forest Service is most open to new information, input, and ideas for management of a healthy forest over the next several decades. This is our chance to help shape the vision of how the Manti-La Sal National Forest should be managed for preservation of its incredible values for generations to come.

    Please speak up for the Manti-La Sal today and make your voice heard!

    You can also submit comments directly via this Forest Service comment portal or by emailing the Manti-La Sal Forest Supervisor at mlnfplanrevision@usda.gov

    Thank you!

  • October 15th, 2021

    Abajo Mountains and the Manti-La Sal National Forest. Copyright Tim Peterson

    The Manti-La Sal National Forest, which encompasses the La Sal and Abajo mountains of southeast Utah’s canyon country and a majority of the Wasatch Plateau in central Utah, is currently undergoing the long-awaited revisions and updates to its forest plan. This is your chance to shape the future of this ecologically and culturally significant landscape.

    What is Forest Planning?

    Because most of SUWA’s advocacy focuses on Bureau of Land Management lands, our members may not be as familiar with national forest lands or planning processes.

    Forest planning, like the BLM’s own management planning, is a critical step in present and future land management because it sets the overall management direction and guiding principles for the entire forest. Every future decision made on the forest is founded on the “Desired Conditions, Objectives, Standards, and Guidelines” set out in the forest plan. These components of a forest plan are used to identify the broad vision for land use on a forest-wide scale. Although the forest plan does not direct site-specific projects or actions, such as how to manage a particular trail or whether a motorized route should be closed to protect sensitive wildlife habitat, the forest plan does identify certain areas that are suitable or unsuitable for particular uses and activities.

    Additionally, while undertaking a forest plan revision, the Forest Service identifies and evaluates potential suitable wilderness areas and Wild and Scenic River segments.

    The last time the Manti-La Sal plan was updated—in 1986—the Soviet Union still existed. Moab’s uranium boom had just collapsed, leaving the town in a deep recession yet to be alleviated by a tourism-driven renaissance.

    You get the picture. At over 35 years old, the Forest Plan sorely needs an update, and you now have the opportunity to weigh in on how you think its ponderosa forest, aspen groves, mountain lakes, and rocky plateaus deserve to be managed for the next several decades.


    Submit Your Comments Now


    The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, along with many of our partners, has been working for years on a “Conservation Alternative,” that we hope will be included and fully analyzed in the Forest Service’s environmental impact statement during the plan revision process. This alternative takes into account climate change, holistic ecosystem management, and protection for intact backcountry and qualifying wilderness across the Manti-La Sal. To learn more about our vision and see how it compares with the Forest Service’s own potential proposals, click here.

    Please urge the Forest Service to analyze this alternative in its full and complete form in the draft environmental impact statement. Public comments are due by October 25, 2021.

    Bears Ears National Monument / Manti-La Sal National Forest. Copyright Tim Peterson

    Key Points to Raise in Your Comments

    Below are some of our priorities for inclusion in the new forest plan. Please help us reinforce these points in your comments—the more you personalize and speak to your own love for the Manti-La Sal and your specific concerns for its future, the better and more well-received your comments will be!

    Wilderness
    The Conservation Alternative includes a wilderness proposal that would ensure a broad range of ecosystems, habitats, and opportunities for solitude are protected for future generations to enjoy. Many of these proposed protected areas are adjacent to existing identified BLM lands with wilderness character and include some of the most remote and pristine backcountry on the Colorado Plateau.

    >> Ask the Forest Service to adopt the Conservation Alternative’s wilderness proposal.

    Vegetation Removal and Old Growth
    National forest lands have often been dramatically changed due to centuries of large-scale logging. The history of logging on the Manti-La Sal has already meant the loss of centuries-old ponderosa pines. In addition, historic and recent projects to increase livestock forage and transform woody and shrubland habitat into grazing pastures has meant the loss of tens of thousands of acres of native vegetation across the forest.

    >> Tell the Forest Service you’d like to see native vegetation, including piñon pine and juniper forests, managed and protected as important habitat for wildlife, including migratory birds like the imperiled pinyon jay. Ask the forest to protect old-old growth trees–those over 150 years old—and encourage younger forests to develop into old-growth stands in the future.

    Recreation
    The Forest Plan will classify lands within the Forest into one of six different “Recreation Opportunity Spectrum” (ROS) classes: urban, rural, roaded natural, semi-primitive motorized,semi-primitive non-motorized, and primitive.

    >> Encourage the Forest Service to set appropriate and resource-protective ROS classes in the Forest Plan that protect currently un-roaded and primitive areas for non-motorized users, wildlife, and future wilderness. The Forest Service should not keep the door open to future motorized use by designating a “motorized” ROS class in areas where this kind of recreation is not currently occurring and is counter to protecting other recreational uses and resources. Support the Forest Service in their currently proposed ROS classes across the forest, or recommend that they be more tailored to non-motorized recreation, as is the case in the Conservation Alternative.

    Bears Ears National Monument / Manti-La Sal National Forest. Copyright Bruce Hucko

    Cultural Landscape Protections and Tribal Connections
    The Manti-La Sal National Forest is ancestral land for many indigenous nations. A portion of the recently-restored Bears Ears National Monument lies within the forest. Tribes have thousands of years of connection to the entire planning area and experience managing the natural resources it contains.

    >> Encourage the Forest Service to place a high priority on protection and preservation of cultural sites, including defining cultural resources as Native nations do, rather than only as they are defined by Western archaeologists. Ask that the Forest Service include partnerships with Native nations in its planning process and final plan decisions.


    Submit Your Comments Today


    This opportunity to engage in scoping on the Manti-La Sal Forest Plan is one step in a long process. The deadline to comment is October 25, 2021. When the scoping period has closed, the Forest Service will prepare a draft environmental impact statement that will compare alternatives—including, we hope, the Conservation Alternative. This current comment period is the best opportunity to shape the foundation of the new forest plan and encourage the Forest Service to consider all important values and perspectives in the planning process.

    If preferred, you can  submit comments directly via this Forest Service comment portal or by emailing the Manti-La Sal Forest Supervisor at mlnfplanrevision@usda.gov

    Thank you for taking action to protect Wild Utah!

    Silvery lupine in bloom above Hammond Canyon. Manti-Lasal National Forest. Copyright Scott Smith

  • October 8th, 2021

    Did you hear the big news? President Biden just restored Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments to their original boundaries, protecting more than 2 million acres of Utah’s redrock wilderness!

    At the signing ceremony at the White House, President Biden and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland reiterated the importance of protecting American wilderness in the face of climate change. And at a SUWA watch party in Salt Lake City, SUWA board member Mark Maryboy recalled the history of advocating for and establishing Bears Ears National Monument. “I feel very fortunate that we stand shoulder to shoulder in protecting the land,” he said to the activists who gathered in support of monuments restoration.

    Protecting large landscapes like Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears is essential to mitigating the impacts of climate change and protecting wildlife. And President Biden’s restoration of Bears Ears National Monument gives Tribes a critical and long-overdue voice in the management of public lands.

    You made this incredible win for the redrock possible.To demonstrate our collective support for this action by President Biden and Interior Secretary Haaland, we’re sending them a massive thank-you card and are giving you the opportunity to sign it!

    Click here to add your name to the thank-you card!

    Many Americans know about the lawsuits that the Tribes, SUWA, our conservation partners, and other organizations immediately filed to overturn President Trump’s unlawful executive order shrinking the monuments in 2017, but redrock advocates like you know the day-to-day work that went into safeguarding the lands cut out of these monuments and keeping them eligible for today’s restoration.

    Monument supporters rallying at the Utah State Capitol in 2017. Copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA

    The truth is that these landscapes should have never been left unprotected in the first place. For decades Utah leaders have been all too keen to kick around our precious desert wild lands just to score a few political points. But SUWA has been here fighting back all along, and every year our movement grows stronger thanks to supporters like you.

    Thank you for all you do to keep Utah wild!

    P.S. If you’re a SUWA member, please stay tuned for an email invitation to our special members-only virtual celebration of this monumental win for the redrock!

  • September 29th, 2021

    Fossil fuel extraction on public lands accounts for nearly a quarter of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. These climate-altering emissions are wreaking havoc on our natural world, resulting in massive wildfires, extreme drought, and catastrophic flooding events. The Colorado Plateau and Utah’s redrock wilderness are expected to suffer some of the worst impacts over the coming decades.

    Despite this scientific reality, the Biden administration is considering selling a new slate of oil and gas leases across the West, including in Utah.

    Tell Biden’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to protect our climate by keeping fossil fuel development off our public lands.

    In Utah, the BLM is proposing to sell six parcels covering more than 6,600 acres of public lands for oil and gas development. Development on these parcels would threaten wildlife, water resources, and recreation while exacerbating the climate crisis. Four of the parcels are located adjacent to the Green River in the Uinta Basin, while another is located adjacent to the San Rafael Reef Wilderness, just north of the entrance to Goblin Valley State Park.

    San Rafael Reef. © Tom Till

    The BLM is not required to sell these—or any parcels—for development. In January, President Biden issued an executive order pausing all new oil and gas leasing on public lands to allow the Interior Department to review its broken leasing program. And while a federal court in Louisiana set aside that order and instructed the Interior Department to restart a leasing process, the court explained that the outcome of that process remained entirely subject to the BLM’s broad discretion as the land management agency—that is, the BLM retains broad legal discretion not to lease these lands in order to protect public health and the environment, including our climate.

    Tell the BLM to exercise its discretion and defer its sale of these Utah lease parcels.

    The Interior Department has recognized that the current oil and gas program is broken because, among other things, it “fail[s] to adequately incorporate consideration of climate impacts into leasing decisions” and “inadequately account[s] for environmental harms to lands, waters, and other resources.” The BLM should not offer any new parcels until these shortcomings are resolved and the agency can tell the American people that development of these parcels will not further exacerbate the climate crisis (spoiler alert: it can’t do that, and thus shouldn’t offer these parcels for sale!).

    The BLM is accepting comments on its leasing proposal through October 1st. Please submit your comments today.

    Thank you for taking action!

  • August 17th, 2021

    Last week, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a devastating new scientific report detailing the dire consequences of the ongoing—and worsening—climate crisis. The United Nations Secretary General called the findings “a code red for humanity.” (Read the key takeaways from the report here.)

    The IPCC’s report is an urgent call to action and its conclusions are unequivocal: we have already pushed the climate crisis too far and now the only question that remains is how quickly we can act to keep things from getting worse.

    Immediately after taking office, President Biden took decisive action to reverse the prior administration’s reckless course on climate, quickly rejoining the Paris Agreement and subsequently committing to achieve a 50-52 percent reduction from 2005 levels of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. This is an encouraging start, but much remains to be done.

    In order to reach its emissions goal, the Biden administration must immediately halt all new oil, gas, and coal leasing on federal public lands. SUWA has called on President Biden to take this crucial step to avert the worst impacts of the climate crisis. According to the United States Geological Survey, producing and burning fossil fuels generates nearly one quarter of the nation’s total carbon dioxide emissions, as well as substantial amounts of methane―an even more potent greenhouse gas.

    Oil and gas development in southern Utah. Copyright Liz Thomas/SUWA

    Fortunately, the Biden administration is listening. The Interior Department has launched a sweeping—and long overdue—review of the federal oil and gas leasing program and will soon release its recommendations for fixing the broken leasing system.

    But Washington, DC isn’t a one-horse town; Congress also has to do its part. And that’s where you can help.

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

    Passage of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act will grant permanent protection to Utah’s wildest public lands while shielding them from climate destabilizing fossil fuel leasing and development. According to a report released this year, these lands, if kept intact and protected from the threats of such development, can help mitigate the worst effects of climate change. In fact, it’s estimated that passage of the Red Rock bill would permanently keep in the ground greenhouse gas emissions equal to 5.7 percent of the carbon budget necessary to limit warming to 1.5 degrees. These same lands are estimated to currently sequester and store 247 million metric tons of organic carbon.

    Please contact your members of Congress today and ask them to take a decisive step toward protecting the climate by cosponsoring America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act.

    Thank you!