SUWA Action Alerts Archives - Page 30 of 31

  • July 22nd, 2010

    You and I know that Utah is home to some of the most beautiful wilderness landscapes in the nation.  Please help ensure that these wild lands are given the protection they deserve.

    When Ken Salazar took over the reins as Secretary of Interior he proclaimed that there’s a “new sheriff in town.”  Frankly, that is exactly what we need in the West and especially in Utah, where destructive and unbalanced policies put in place by the former administration have needlessly placed awe-inspiring wilderness treasures at risk — places like the Glen Canyon/San Juan River area, Cedar Mesa and Comb Ridge, where threats from excessive off-road vehicle use, mining and drilling loom large on the horizon.

    In 2003, the State of Utah and the Department of Interior secretly negotiated a deal in which the Interior Department abandoned its duty to identify and protect lands worthy of wilderness designation.  Relying on that back-room deal, in the last days of the Bush administration the BLM issued land use plans for 11 million acres in eastern Utah which included only limited protection for wilderness-quality lands.  Secretary Salazar has the authority to rescind the “no more wilderness” deal and give wilderness-quality lands the protection they deserve.  He should use it before we lose these treasured landscapes.

    The place is here. The time is now.

    Please send a message to Secretary Salazar asking him to defend Utah’s magnificent natural treasures from off-road vehicle abuse, vandalism to archaeological sites, and the drilling of new oil and gas wells until Congress can protect these landscapes permanently under the Wilderness Act.

  • July 16th, 2010

    In April, President Obama established the “America’s Great Outdoors” initiative in order to start a national dialogue about conservation.  This is your opportunity to tell the Department of the Interior and the rest of the Obama administration that Utah’s wilderness-quality lands deserve much needed protections.

    Make your voice heard!  The administration has created a website for the America’s Great Outdoors initiative so citizens across the country can share their thoughts and ideas about conservation.  It is important that wilderness advocates like yourself demonstrate widespread support for protecting our wild public lands.

    Please visit the site and “promote” the ideas “Protect Wilderness-Quality Public Lands” and “Overturn the ‘No More Wilderness’ Policy”. Feel free to browse and vote on the other ideas, comment, or create an idea of your own.  You will have to register on the site before you are able to promote, demote, or comment on any ideas.

    In addition, the administration has been holding public “listening sessions” in order to hear from you in person about what conservation issues matter to you.  If you are interested in attending a listening session in your area to speak on behalf of Utah wilderness, please fill out this form.  Upcoming sessions will be held in New Mexico and Pennsylvania, with more expected to be scheduled throughout the summer.

    And don’t forget – the summer congressional recess is a great opportunity for you to talk to your members of Congress about protecting Utah’s redrock country.  Please fill out this form if you are interested in participating in Wild Utah Summer of Local Action.

    Thank you for all of your efforts!

  • July 14th, 2010
    The Watchman (large)
    The Watchman in Washington County, copyright David Pett

    Three distinct life zones come together in Utah’s southwestern corner — the Colorado Plateau, the Mojave Desert, and the Great Basin — resulting in lands that are among the most diverse and sensitive in all of Utah.  Just over a year ago, Congress passed legislation to protect 180,000 acres of these public lands in Washington County; some lands were designated wilderness and others were included in National Conservation Areas.

    The Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009 was a huge step toward preserving spectacular Mojave Desert ecosystem in Utah — with its striking Joshua trees and threatened desert tortoise — as well as the redrock canyons and plateaus on the western edge of the Colorado Plateau, and the higher elevation peaks of the Great Basin region.

    But the legislation was just the first step.  Now the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is developing plans to manage these places — some of the very first BLM-managed wilderness areas and National Conservation Areas (NCAs) in Utah — and you can help ensure that the agency does the job right.

    During this planning process, BLM will:

    1. Amend the 1999 St. George Resource Management Plan (RMP) to address off-road vehicle designations, designate Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACECs), evaluate wilderness character of lands not designated as wilderness in the Omnibus legislation, and address other public land management issues such as “recreation zones” and Special Recreation Management Areas (SRMAs),
    2. Prepare an off-road vehicle Transportation and Travel Management Plan, and
    3. Prepare Resource Management Plans for Beaver Dam Wash NCA and Red Cliffs NCA.

    It is essential that BLM craft strong plans worthy of the lands and resources the agency is charged with protecting, as they will set an important precedent for future plans as more of Utah’s public lands are officially preserved as wilderness or NCAs.

    It is important that BLM receive your input emphasizing appropriate off-road vehicle routes, the need to protect wildlife and habitat, and suitable management decisions to protect the lands with wilderness character that were not included in the recent legislation.  But time is short!  Please submit your written comments to the agency by July 19, 2010.  Click here for more information and suggestions about what you can write to BLM.

  • July 8th, 2010

    Recently, we undertook a statewide review of Utah’s wild lands and the threats they face. We completed detailed inventories, studied the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) own documentation of the threats, and consulted with experts. The result is our new report Utah’s Ten Most Threatened Wilderness Treasures. The report highlights places that will be lost if we do not act now to protect them. Places such as the Glen Canyon-San Juan River region and Upper Desolation Canyon. Please help to save these places by making a contribution today!

    Millions of acres of Utah’s iconic redrock wilderness are at risk, with certain types of landscapes bearing the brunt of the threat. Nine of the ten most threatened places highlighted in our report include streams and water-dependent wildlife habitat.

    Although these ecological treasure troves make up just 1% of Utah’s landmass, they support about 80% of all wildlife. Yet these special places are under increasing threat, most commonly from uncontrolled off-road vehicle (ORV) use,
    roads, and oil and gas development. Sadly, looting and vandalism of archaeological sites, often associated with roads and increased ORV access in these remote places, is all too common.

    Will preserving these special places “lock up” Utah’s public lands? Not even close. If all the remaining wild country covered by the BLM’s land use plans were protected, 85% of the ORV routes would remain open, and 80% of the proposed oil and gas wells could still be drilled. The first step to solving this problem is for Interior Secretary Salazar
    to rescind the Bush administration’s notorious “no more wilderness” policy and use its authority to protect these places now. The BLM must also fix the terrible land use plans it released in late 2008 to ensure lasting protection for future places. Your generous contribution to SUWA will help make this vision of a sustainable future for Utah’s wild lands possible.

  • June 4th, 2010

    It’s an exciting time for Utah wilderness advocates. Wilderness legislation for San Juan County – the heart of some of the most spectacular redrock wilderness – is still in the works. This, despite U.S. Senator Bob Bennett’s (R-UT) loss at the recent Utah Republican convention.

    White Canyon Narrows
    White Canyon Narrows photo copyright James Kay.

    And so we face both opportunity and peril.  The opportunity exists for good legislation that reverses the terrible Bush administration decisions to fragment this landscape with off-road vehicle (ORV) routes. The peril is of course that the legislation developed could instead ratify the Bush plans. It’s our job to see that it doesn’t.

    Examples of lands threatened by the Bush ORV travel plans include Mancos Mesa and the greater White Canyon area, both in the Utah Wilderness Coalition’s proposed Glen Canyon Wilderness, one of the biggest tracts of wild land remaining in southeastern Utah.

    Mancos Mesa is dissected by the 600-foot sheer Wingate Sandstone walls of Moqui Canyon — a deep canyon, magnificent and remote, that offers a cool stream with cottonwoods and willows.  Unfortunately, the Bush plans designated the Moqui Canyon creek bed as well as several dead-end jeep tracks on the mesa top, as official ORV routes.

    The White Canyon proposed wilderness, north of Natural Bridges National Monument, includes 1,000-foot redrock cliffs and well over 100 miles of winding canyons carved into the Cedar Mesa Sandstone, with alcoves, hanging gardens, arches and grottoes. Yet here, too, the Bush plans designated several unnecessary ORV routes, cutting this remarkable wilderness into pieces.

    We face some uncertainty as Senator Bennett has yet to announce the next steps in this process. But we’re excited to work with his office and other interested parties to seize this opportunity. We’ll keep you informed and let you know how you can help as this effort unfolds over the coming months. Sign up here to receive regular updates and learn how you can get involved in protecting Utah’s San Juan-Canyonlands wilderness.