SUWA Action Alerts Archives


  • June 21st, 2018

    This morning, HR 5727, the Emery County Public Lands Management Act—or the Not So Swell bill—was heard before the Federal Lands Subcommittee in the U.S. House of Representatives. The hearing, like the bill, was not good.

    Though the Utah Wilderness Coalition (which is comprised of SUWA, NRDC, and The Sierra Club), The Wilderness Society, and the National Parks Conservation Association all submitted testimony highlighting serious concerns with the bill, there was no opportunity provided for a witness to testify against this terrible proposed legislation.

    At the hearing, Rep. John Curtis of Utah continued to falsely laud the bill as win for all stakeholders. If by “all stakeholders” Curtis meant Emery County Commissioners, then he would be right. There is a long way to go before this bill could be considered a win for anyone who cherishes the deserving wilderness landscapes of the Swell and the priceless cultural resources it contains, and some very serious issues still must be fixed.

    For example, more than 900,000 acres of proposed wilderness is being left unprotected within Emery County, and other lands worthy of protection are being left out simply because they are not within arbitrary county lines. The current legislation would riddle proposed conservation areas with destructive motor vehicle routes, and contains insufficient protections for unique Utah landscapes like Labyrinth Canyon, Muddy Creek and the San Rafael Badlands. 

    Representative Alan Lowenthal, lead sponsor of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act in the House, highlighted these deficiencies at today’s hearing. Rep. Lowenthal hit hard on the unprecedented proposal to “cherry stem” routes in a proposed National Conservation Area—saying that this significant loophole renders it a National Conservation Area “in name only” and undermines a legal settlement that found the current travel plan was crafted illegally and requires that it be redone.

    San Rafael Swell in Emery County, Utah. Photo (c) Bill Church

    Rep. Curtis repeatedly said no group is going to get everything they want. But that’s a standard not applied to Emery County, which seems to harbor the expectation that its woefully inadequate proposal for lands that belong to all Americans will be rubber stamped by Congress. The legislation hasn’t changed at all since introduction, and Emery County hasn’t given anything up in an attempt to make this bill a true winner. Rep. Curtis himself said that Utahns are tired of “winner take all” proposals, but that’s precisely what this bill is.

    In exchange for protecting less BLM wilderness than is already a designated Wilderness Study Area or Natural Area, and actually releasing nearly 15,000 acres of wilderness study areas to facilitate a coal mine, the county gets a whole grab bag of goodies. Among the things it would get from this bill:

    • Enshrinement of a travel plan that has already been deemed illegal. In fact, the county is trying to open more roads than are currently open across public lands.
    • 12.5% of any revenue generated from a land exchange that would be triggered by the bill.
    • Over 2,700 acres of federal public land for infrastructure such as a sheriff’s substation, airport, and information center.
    • Increased tourism that will result from the creation of new designations, including an expansion of Goblin Valley State Park and the establishment of Jurassic National Monument.

    All that for a bill that actually rolls back protections! 

    Rep. Curtis is right on one thing: Utahns—and Americans—are tired of winner-take-all proposals. He stated that he is looking forward to continuing to look with all stakeholders, including groups like SUWA, in order to move the bill, and we hope he’s serious.

    Our job is to fight for meaningful protections for Utah’s wildlands, and we will continue to press Rep. Curtis and Sen. Hatch to fix the glaring flaws that make this bill a conservation loss. But if we can’t persuade them, we’ll fight back. 

    Either way, we’ll continue to need your help. 

    If you haven’t already done so, please contact your members of Congress and ask them to oppose the Emery County bill! 

    Thank you for taking action to protect the San Rafael Swell and Labyrinth Canyon.

  • April 6th, 2018

    As you know, on December 4th, 2017, the Trump administration illegally repealed Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, replacing them with two and three drastically smaller national monuments, respectively. This left over 2 million acres of cultural and natural wonders without protection.

    Despite legal challenges filed by SUWA and partner organizations over this unlawful abuse of presidential authority, the BLM is moving forward with planning processes for these new monuments. This rushed effort largely cuts out public input so it’s important that you speak up as the Bureau of Land Management begins to move forward with its new management plans.  

    Submit your comments to the BLM by April 11th for Bears Ears and April 13th for Grand Staircase-Escalante. Please note: you must comment separately on each monument plan.

    >> Click here to submit comments on Bears Ears (by April 11)

    >> Click here to submit comments on Grand Staircase-Escalante (by April 13)

    We encourage you to write personalized comments as the agency is likely to disregard boilerplate messages. For talking points, please see the links above.

    Your actions play a critical role in protecting both Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments as our legal team works to restore the monuments to their original state.

    Thank you for taking action.

  • March 9th, 2018

    What happens when the government is controlled by friends of the oil/gas/mining industry and decides that public lands should be destroyed for short-term rewards? People get angry, and that anger turns to ACTION. Earlier this week, Congress heard from 30 impassioned activists in Washington, D.C. during the Utah Wilderness Coalition’s annual Wilderness Week, co-hosted by SUWA, Sierra Club, and NRDC.

    Wilderness Week activists in front of the U.S. Capitol this past week.

    After an extensive training session covering the ins and outs of lobbying, Utah wilderness issues, and the legislative process, activists took to Capitol Hill to put their newfound skills to good use. Teams scheduled over 200 meetings with members of Congress. In office after office, their stories of the redrock reinvigorated old legislative champs, educated new ones, and challenged the assertions of opponents.

    Now we’re asking you to amplify their voices and help keep up the momentum.

    Click here to ask your members of Congress to cosponsor America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act and oppose the Curtis and Stewart national monument giveaway bills!

    A love for the redrock drove these activists to share their personal stories and connections to the landscape during their meetings on the Hill. Whether they grew up near Utah’s magnificent public lands, hiked through slot canyons on family vacations, or have a deep cultural connection to the landscape, their stories struck a chord in many offices.

    For those of you reading this who were not able to attend Wilderness Week, there is still a part for you to play. No matter where you live, contact your members of Congress and tell them to cosponsor America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act!

    If they are already cosponsors, click here to thank them!

    Or if you prefer to contact your members via your smartphone, text “ARRWA” to 52886 to take action now!

    To find out if your members of Congress have already endorsed America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, click here for the current list of cosponsors

    Thank you!

  • January 30th, 2018

    The Bureau of Land Management in Utah is ramping up a failed policy called chaining—in which bulldozers drag anchor chains to uproot and destroy native pinyon and juniper forests and sagebrush.

    Why do they do this? To create more forage for cattle on public lands.

    And now, under the Trump administration, the BLM wants to chain in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

    The practice of chaining is so unbelievable that most people can’t imagine how destructive it is. That’s why SUWA has launched a new statewide television campaign in Utah—to focus attention on the BLM’s destructive practice and stop the agency from wrecking Grand Staircase-Escalante.

    Click below to watch SUWA’s new television ad and take action:

    Chaining Ad (Still Shot)

    Chaining is a scientifically-unsound practice that wastes millions of taxpayer dollars to effectively destroy thousands of acres of Utah’s public land.

    While the BLM is constantly churning out new reasons as to why chaining and other vegetation removal projects need to happen, the real drivers appear to be the same as they were in the 1960s: improving grazing forage for cattle and bringing money to the BLM field offices.

    And now, the BLM is proposing chaining as one of the primary methods to remove vegetation on over 13,000 acres in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

    But chaining is completely incompatible with protecting the fragile ecological, paleontological, and archaeological resources in Grand Staircase. To say that chaining in Grand Staircase is wildly inappropriate would be an understatement. This is a bad proposal based on bad science that will only produce a bad outcome.

    Click here to learn more—and tell the BLM to stop chaining our public lands.

    Thank you for taking action.

  • January 4th, 2018

    As you know, one month ago President Trump issued an unlawful order to repeal the Bears Ears National Monument and replace it with two smaller monuments—leaving nearly 80% of the original monument unprotected.

    That same day, Representative John Curtis (UT-03) introduced H.R. 4532, the “Shash Jaa National Monument and Indian Creek National Monument Act” in the U.S. House of Representatives. This terrible bill would ratify Trump’s illegal repeal of the Bears Ears—and make his unlawful order permanent.

    Please contact your members of Congress and tell them to oppose this bill!

    White Canyon, one of the areas left unprotected by Trump’s repeal of Bears Ears National Monument. Copyright Jeff Clay

    Rep. Curtis’s bill seeks to create a management scheme for the monument that would be dictated by parochial local interests—effectively taking all power away from the Bears Ears Commission of Tribes.

    Help us stop this bill by taking action now!

    This horrendous legislation is being given a hearing on Tuesday, January 9th, and may move quickly through committee and onto the House floor. If it passes both chambers and becomes law, it will be even worse for Bears Ears than Trump’s executive order last month.

    Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen. Contact your representative and senators today!

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