SUWA Action Alerts


  • September 20th, 2022

    The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is accepting comments on a draft travel management plan for the iconic Labyrinth Canyon and Gemini Bridges area outside of Moab. The plan will determine where off-road vehicle (ORV) use is allowed in this remarkable landscape for decades to come, so public input is extremely important.

    Home to irreplaceable cultural and historic resources, critical wildlife habitat, and unmatched quiet recreational opportunities, the Labyrinth Canyon and Gemini Bridges region is a magnificent area of Utah’s backcountry. The BLM’s travel plan will have a long-lasting impact on the future of this region by determining where ORVs will be able to travel and what areas will be managed for the protection of wildlife, solitude, cultural values, and non-motorized recreation.

    Click here to tell the BLM to keep motorized trails out of Labyrinth Canyon!

    Kayaker on the Green River in Labyrinth Canyon. © James Kay

    Labyrinth Canyon is a gem of the American West, where the placid Green River flows for more than 40 miles past towering canyon walls. This stretch of river provides an unparalleled multi-day wilderness experience for boaters of all ages and experience levels. It is also a designated Wild and Scenic River, noted for its outstanding recreational, scenic, ecological, and cultural values.

    Thanks to the previous efforts of SUWA supporters like you, the west side of Labyrinth Canyon is already protected as congressionally-designated wilderness. But the eastern side of the river is not yet similarly protected—meaning that the solitude and serenity of Labyrinth Canyon can be shattered in an instant by ORVs tearing up and down the river bank.

    Tell the BLM to keep motorized trails out of Labyrinth Canyon’s river corridor, wildlife habitat, cultural sites, and other sensitive or inappropriate areas.

    Currently, the Labyrinth Canyon and Gemini Bridges area is blanketed with over 1,200 miles of ORV routes. More than 94% of the land within the Labyrinth Canyon and Gemini Bridges area is within a half mile of a designated ORV route and less than 0.5% of the land is more than a mile from a designated route. This route density means there are few places to escape the whine of motorized vehicles—even when floating in Labyrinth Canyon.

    The BLM has released four alternatives for the future of Labyrinth Canyon and Gemini Bridges. It is vital that the BLM hear overwhelming public support for Alternative B. Alternative B would finally protect the entire Labyrinth Canyon river corridor while reducing route density in spectacular areas like Gold Bar Rim, Deadman Point, Day Canyon, and Ten Mile Point.

    Alternative B is the only option that protects Labyrinth Canyon and balances motorized recreation with the protection of natural and cultural resources and non-motorized recreation.

    Tell the BLM to keep motorized trails out of the Labyrinth Canyon river corridor and other sensitive or inappropriate areas in the Labyrinth Canyon and Gemini Bridges region.

    The most helpful comments discuss specific trails (identified 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 conflicted with your particular use or enjoyment.

    The BLM is accepting comments through October 7, 2022. Be sure to make your voice heard.

    Do you know Labyrinth Canyon especially well?
    Comments that draw from first-hand knowledge and experiences on the river are the most effective. If you have a personal affinity for Labyrinth Canyon and know the area well, you may want to submit your comments directly through the BLM comment portal. Send an email to issues-action@suwa.org and we’ll be happy to help guide you through the process.

  • September 12th, 2022

    With Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument now restored to its original boundaries, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is beginning the process of developing a new management plan for this world-renowned landscape.

    This is a once-in-a generation opportunity to ensure that the monument is managed for its unique and extraordinary values, as the plans won’t be revised again for decades. That’s why it’s so important that people like you, who know and love Utah’s wild lands, take time to participate in the planning process.

    The BLM is currently accepting comments as part of the scoping process. This is your chance to tell the BLM what issues are important for them to consider as they develop a draft management plan.

    Click here to tell the BLM to prioritize wilderness and other conservation values in the new management plan for Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

    Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Photo copyright Jack Dykinga

    Grand Staircase-Escalante has rightfully claimed its place as one of the crown jewels of our nation’s public lands. It was the first monument managed by the BLM to specifically prioritize conservation of cultural, ecological, and scientific values, and it is now world-renowned for its remarkable paleontological discoveries, stunning scenery, and outstanding intact and diverse natural ecosystems.

    With this new management plan, the BLM has the opportunity to strengthen the protections at Grand Staircase-Escalante for generations to come. The BLM should:

    • Protect lands that qualify as wilderness by designating them as new wilderness study areas.
    • Prohibit mechanical treatments of sagebrush, pinyon pine, juniper, and other vegetation, and only use native species for restoration and post-fire seeding.
    • Return to using “management zones” for future recreation planning as it did in the original management plan for the monument, and focus any growth and expansion of recreation in frontcountry areas while protecting and minimizing development of less-used backcountry areas.
    • Close motorized routes that are harming monument objects, without adding new routes and while maintaining route closures and restrictions from the monument’s original management plan.
    • Ensure that Tribal Nations are proactively involved in the planning processes and resource management decisions while protecting cultural resources and traditional uses.
    • Protect visual resources, night skies, and natural and quiet soundscapes.

    (Click here for an expanded list of talking points)

    Personalized comments carry the greatest weight, so we encourage you to take a moment to tell the BLM what is important to you.

    Take action today to help protect Grand Staircase for generations to come.

    Comments are due September 27th. Thank you for everything you do to help protect the redrock!

  • August 19th, 2022

    Last Earth Day, President Biden issued an executive order calling on the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to conserve mature and old-growth forests as a climate solution. This was a great step toward meaningful protections and policy, but now it’s up to us to ensure that this turns into real and lasting changes in how federal agencies manage —and  protect—older forests and ecosystems.

    In response to the executive order, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Interior have opened an official public comment period to solicit feedback on how “to define, identify, and complete an inventory of old-growth and mature forests on federal lands.” The deadline for public comments is Tuesday, August 30th.

    It is critical that we demonstrate widespread, overwhelming public support from every corner of the country for urgent action to permanently protect mature and old growth forests across all federal lands and, for wild lands here in Utah, to emphasize the importance of protecting old-growth dryland forests of piñon pine and juniper.

    Click here to submit your comments via the U.S. Forest Service web portal.

    A piñon-juniper forest on Utah’s Tavaputs Plateau. Copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA

    In your comments, please urge the Biden administration to conduct a comprehensive inventory of mature and old-growth piñon pine and juniper forests on the Colorado Plateau during this first stage of implementing the president’s executive order. It is important that ALL old-growth and mature forests, in dryland ecosystems as well as the better-known alpine and Pacific Northwest environments, are conserved for the benefit of wildlife, air and water quality, climate adaptation, and so much more.

    Here are some key points to convey:

    • Covering 15% of the land area in five states (Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah), piñon pine and juniper forests are subject to temperature extremes and limited moisture availability. These forests are often the sole woodland provider of wildlife habitat, vegetative cover, watershed protection, and traditional food and medicine gathering in dryland and arid BLM-managed lands across the West.
    • Single-leaf piñon pine trees can reach ages of up to 600 years and juniper can reach ages of up to 1,600 years. These historic forests and associated undisturbed biological soil crusts store a disproportionate amount of carbon in dryland ecosystems, and are more resistant to disruptions caused by climate change.
    • Old-growth piñon-juniper forests are home to more than 70 bird species and are often the only suitable habitat for many of these species, whose populations are currently declining rapidly under intense pressure from climate change, development, and drought.
    • Although they cover hundreds of millions of acres and provide irreplaceable habitat and ecosystem benefits, piñon-juniper forests are among the least studied and most ignored North American forest types. The BLM should ensure that its inventory and criteria for mature and old-growth forests include piñon pine and juniper forests, which are the largest forest type by acreage managed by the agency.

    Please ask the Biden administration to properly inventory and protect old growth and mature piñon-juniper forests in Utah.

    As you know, threats to piñon-juniper forests on western public lands are many, including landscape-level mechanical deforestation projects (mainly for the benefit of cattle grazing) that tend to indiscriminately remove trees, including those that have existed on the landscape since long before Europeans landed on this continent. Making sure these ancient piñon-juniper forests and their characteristics are included in any nationwide definition of mature and old-growth forests (which will then be used to protect these areas) is extremely important, and would be a huge win for protecting the redrock wilderness.

    During this comment period, the BLM and Forest Service are focused on collecting input and information to help map and define old-growth and mature forests that they manage across America’s public lands. There are limited chances for the public to weigh in, so we need to take advantage of every opportunity. Policy decisions and recommendations for how to protect these forests and mitigate climate change, logging, development, and other impacts will happen in the next stage, and we’ll be sure to alert you to these engagement opportunities as they arise.

    Click here to submit your comments by the August 30th deadline.

    Thank you!

  • March 18th, 2022

    The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is developing a motorized travel management plan for the greater Paunsaugunt area near Kanab, located just west of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and south of Bryce Canyon National Park. The plan will determine where off-road vehicle (ORV) use is allowed in this incredible place for decades to come.

    Check out our latest story map below to learn more, then take action by submitting comments to the BLM by the March 25th deadline.

    Click image to view story map.

  • March 16th, 2022

    The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is developing a motorized travel management plan for the greater Paunsaugunt area outside of Kanab—a plan that will determine where off-road vehicle (ORV) use is allowed in this incredible place for decades to come.

    Just west of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and south of Bryce Canyon National Park, the Paunsaugunt travel management area encompasses roughly 200,000 acres of BLM-managed lands. The diverse character of the area, from lava flows and sand dunes to ponderosa pine forests and thousand-foot-high cliffs, provides spectacular opportunities for quiet recreation. The region also encompasses significant cultural sites and important wildlife habitat.

    The BLM is currently in the “scoping” phase of its travel planning process, which identifies issues the agency must consider. It is vital that the BLM hears from the public that the current route network is not acceptable, and that the number and mileage of motorized routes must be reduced to minimize damage and protect public land resources.

    Click here to submit your comments to the BLM today.

    Upper Kanab Creek proposed wilderness. © Ray Bloxham/SUWA

    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 2008 during 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 users. It also designated routes that travel directly through cultural sites, fragment wildlife habitat, and damage wilderness-caliber public lands.

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

    Tell the BLM to fulfill its legal obligation and keep motorized trails out of wildlife habitat, cultural sites, and proposed wilderness in the Paunsaugunt region.

    The most helpful comments will mention specific areas or trails (by name or number); explain how you enjoy hiking, camping, and other non-motorized pursuits in these areas; and discuss (if appropriate) how motorized use has disrupted your enjoyment of those activities.

    The BLM is accepting comments through March 25, 2022. Be sure to make your voice heard!

    Thank you for taking action!