SUWA Action Alerts - Page 31 of 33


  • November 29th, 2010
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    Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
    photo by Ray Bloxham

    The Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (GCNRA) encompasses a significant portion of Utah’s redrock country in southern Utah. Authorized in 1972 and managed by the National Park Service (NPS), it covers 1.25 million acres of remote and wild canyon country. This magnificent landscape is surrounded by equally impressive lands in Canyonlands and Capitol Reef National Parks, the Vermilion Cliffs and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, BLM-managed wilderness-quality lands, and the Navajo Nation. NPS is currently drafting an off-road vehicle (ORV) plan for the GCNRA. You can help preserve some of southern Utah’s most beautiful wildlands from the long-term scars and impacts of ORV use by submitting comments on the plan by November 30.

    The GCNRA was designated to “. . . preserve the scenic, scientific, and historic features contributing to the pubic enjoyment of the area . . .” in addition to providing for the recreational use and enjoyment of Lake Powell and the adjacent lands. Although the primary feature of the GCNRA is Lake Powell, the remaining 87% is undeveloped lands, containing pre-historic cultural sites, wildlife habitat, and outstanding opportunities for a pure wilderness experience. NPS has recommended nearly one-half of the GCNRA for wilderness designation. These lands must be protected from ORV impacts.

    Currently, NPS allows street legal ATVs  to drive on all dirt routes in the GCNRA (more than 300 miles), even though Canyonlands and Capitol Reef National Parks prohibit the use of ATVs within the parks. The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument restricts them to a few routes. In addition, some of the routes NPS proposes for ATV and other motor vehicle use in the GCNRA lead to trails closed to public and/or ATV use in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, in Canyonlands National Park, and to lands proposed for wilderness.

    Please urge the Superintendent of the GCNRA to comply with the Executive Order No. 11644 governing ORV use in the GCNRA, which requires NPS to protect the natural resources and public lands from ORV impacts, to promote public safety of all users of those lands, and to minimize impacts to natural resources and the conflicts among various users of those lands and to allow ATV and other ORV use on routes and in “open areas” only after NPS has determined that such use will not affect the natural, aesthetic or scenic values of the areas in which the routes or “open” areas are located. Finally, please urge the Superintendent to protect the lands recommended for wilderness designation and the irreplaceable cultural resources of the GCNRA from the impacts of off-road vehicle use.

    Thank you for all you do!

  • November 2nd, 2010

    Please tell the Utah BLM State Director that Arch Canyon is a gem that must be preserved — not managed as a playground for ATVs and dirt bikes.

    Arch Canyon screensaver image
    Arch Canyon, photo by Liz Thomas

    The Bureau of Land Management recently denied SUWA’s request to protect Arch Canyon from the damage caused by of off-road vehicles (ORVs).  Instead, the BLM is managing this rare and valuable desert oasis as a racetrack and obstacle course for ATVs and dirt bikes.  In denying SUWA’s request, BLM stated that ORV use does not cause damage to the “cultural, fisheries or riparian resources in the canyon,” even though the eight-mile ORV route crosses the stream 60 times in a one-way trip up to the U.S. Forest Service boundary, where the vehicles must turn around and then drive back down the canyon, crossing the stream another 60 times!

    Many of you know and love Arch Canyon, located on the northern edge of Cedar Mesa, in far southeastern Utah. The headwaters of Arch begin in the steep terrain of the Abajo Mountains in the Manti-La Sal National Forest and run down to the high desert, cutting through layers of sandstone and eventually feeding a lush riparian area with fertile bottomlands that attracted Ancestral Puebloan populations over a thousand years ago.

    Spectacularly scenic and remote, Arch Canyon’s perennial water flow supports a number of native plant, animal, and fish species, including the flannelmouth sucker, a fish that is listed as a “sensitive species” by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.  In addition, the canyon’s prehistoric inhabitants left behind wondrous artifacts including exceptional sandstone cliff dwellings, rock art, stone tools, pottery sherds and other remnants of their life in the canyon.

    By late 2006, when SUWA filed its petition to protect Arch Canyon, it had become clear that jeeps, ATVs, and dirt bikes were causing significant adverse effects to various resources in Arch Canyon.  SUWA documented that ORV use was damaging the valuable stream and associated riparian system and contributing to the damage and looting of numerous archaeological sites in the Canyon.

    Unfortunately, BLM’s recent decision is just business as usual, putting motorized use above the preservation of valuable natural and cultural resources.

    While we are reviewing legal options, please contact Juan Palma, Utah BLM Director, and ask him to protect Arch Canyon’s rare desert stream, resident fish species, and irreplaceable cultural resources by closing Arch Canyon to ORV use.

  • September 17th, 2010

    Great news!  We’ve learned recently that Senator Bob Bennett (R-UT) is not likely to try pushing a harmful bill for the San Juan-Canyonlands landscape.  Thank you, all of you, who contacted your members of Congress on this important issue!

    White Canyon
    White Canyon proposed wilderness.  Photo copyright Chris
    Case (www.chriscasephoto.com).

    Throughout the year we kept you updated on the “process” in San Juan County, Utah intended to result in public lands legislation.  When Sen. Bennett first initiated this county process, we greeted it as an opportunity to protect the spectacular 1.5 million acres of wilderness quality lands in the San Juan-Canyonlands region – including places like White Canyon, Arch Canyon, Cedar Mesa and the wildlands surrounding Canyonlands National Park (including Indian Creek and Lockhart Basin).  But as time wore on, particularly after Bennett’s untimely political demise at the Republican State Convention, it became apparent that the process was only window dressing for a bad proposal that would enshrine the Bush off-road vehicle plans for the area.

    Earlier this summer we asked you to alert your members of Congress that an inadequate bill for these magnificent lands could be in the works, and any bill that ratified the Bush legacy for the San Juan-Canyonlands wilderness would be unacceptable.  After spending the August Congressional recess investigating
    whether and how a bill could move, we believe it is unlikely that a San Juan-Canyonlands bill will be introduced this year.

    And thanks go to you, the redrock activists from California to Maine, who contacted your members of Congress, and helped educate them on the importance of protecting all of the wild lands in the San Juan-Canyonlands region.

    Even though a San Juan-Canyonlands bill is not likely this year, immediate protection can still be gained for the deserving wilderness lands there, and throughout Utah.  All it would take is the Obama administration rescinding the “No More Wilderness” policy and fixing the Bush Plans that now dictate management of public lands in Utah.

    Please tell President Obama to protect wild Utah now!

    Thank you!

  • July 27th, 2010

    On Tuesday, August 3, from 10:00 AM to 1:15 PM at the Radisson Hotel, 215 West South Temple in Salt Lake City senior leadership from the Obama administration will be present to hear your thoughts about “America’s Great Outdoors.”  This our chance to tell them to take action NOW to protect wild Utah.

    When Ken Salazar took over the reins as Secretary of Interior he proclaimed that there’s a “new sheriff in town.”  That’s what we need in Utah, where destructive and unbalanced policies put in place by the former administration have 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. We need him to take action NOW!

    Join us on August 3rd to show Secretary Salazar that Utahns want Utah wilderness protected. Wear a “Secretary Salazar: Protect Wild Utah” button or sticker (we’ll have them on hand for you) and tell the Obama administration to use its power to protect wild Utah before we lose these treasured landscapes!

    For planning purposes the Obama administration is asking people to pre-register by sending an email to americasgreatoutdoorsslc@blm.gov or a fax to (801)-539-4074 with your name, the name of any organization
    you are affiliated with, telephone number, and email address. (Although if you don’t do this you can still show up.)

    What:  America’s Great Outdoors Listening Session – your chance to tell the Obama administration to protect wild Utah

    When:   Tuesday, August 3rd 10:00 am

    Where: Radisson Hotel, 215 West South Temple in Salt Lake City

  • 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.