Uncategorized Archives


  • May 22nd, 2017

    SUWA’s field volunteers set things in motion on Sunday, May 21st, with the season’s first work trip. In collaboration with the Moab BLM, our crew set out for a side drainage into Ten Mile Canyon for the purpose of establishing habitat protections in sensitive bighorn sheep breeding grounds.

    Moab BLM staff supervised a buck and rail fencing project to better establish habitat boundaries and provide direction for recreation enthusiasts in the backcountry. Our work aimed to address a pinch point in the slickrock that has served as an illegal entry point for motorized use within a lush, riparian canyon feeding into Ten Mile Canyon proper.

    Through a morning of cool breeze and cloud cover, our crew built and installed two points of buck and rail fencing, established barriers in additional areas with downed juniper wood, and cleared hardened tracks in the sand adjacent to fields of living soil crust. In the afternoon, the crew hiked the unnamed canyon – past pothole pools full of swimming tadpoles, edged with wildflowers and groves of young cottonwood trees – to the lower wash opening onto Ten Mile Canyon. With rakes in hand, our volunteers worked to rehabilitate existing surface disturbance and damage. By evening, as the crew gathered for dinner, a series of light rain storms moved slowly across the canyons, providing relief from the heat and dramatic views in the fading daylight.

    Thank you to our volunteers for your support and hard work this past weekend! The protections we put in place today strike a balance for tomorrow’s wild lands and wildlife.

    Our next trip is Saturday, June 10th at Roberts Bottom on the banks of the Dolores River. We are recruiting! Contact volunteer@suwa.org to register. For more details visit https://suwa.org/events/become-suwa-field-volunteer-2017/.

  • May 4th, 2017

    On April 28th, the Interior Board of Land Appeals issued an order  dismissing an appeal filed by Washington County, the City of St. George, and the Washington County Water Conservancy District that challenged the recently finalized Resource Management Plans for the Red Cliffs and Beaver Dam Wash National Conservation Areas.

    The appellants primarily challenged the BLM’s decision to designate portions of the conservation areas as “exclusion areas”—a designation that would prohibit new rights-of-way such as roads, power lines, or pipelines. The challenge was specifically focused on the Northern Corridor, a proposed east-west travel corridor that would bisect critical desert tortoise habitat in the Red Cliffs conservation area (background information about the transportation corridor can be found here). The appellants also challenged the ability of the BLM to regulate where new water infrastructure could be located throughout both conservation areas.

    While the Board’s action terminates an appeal that, if successful, would undermine the purpose of the national conservation area designations, it nevertheless leaves St. George and Washington County taxpayers on the hook for an estimated $9,500 to $14,000 in legal fees.

    Although SUWA successfully intervened in the case on behalf of the BLM, the Board dismissed the appeal on the grounds that it concerned issues outside the Board’s “authority to adjudicate.” The Board took this action on its own accord, prior to any briefing on the case by SUWA, the BLM, or other interveners in the case.

    Red Cliffs National Conservation Area. Photo: Laura Peterson/SUWA

    The two conservation areas—both located in Utah’s southwestern corner—were created to “conserve, protect, and enhance . . . the ecological, scenic, wildlife, recreational, cultural, historical, natural, educational, and scientific resources” of the designated lands. Additionally, the Red Cliffs conservation area was established to protect threatened and endangered species like the desert tortoise. The BLM was required to develop management plans to accomplish these purposes, which were released on December 21, 2016.

    The Board’s decision will prevent the sought-after projects from moving forward for now, but SUWA will continue to follow any developments and will keep you updated if and when they occur.

  • May 1st, 2017

    Great news! Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) last week reintroduced America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act (S. 948) in the Senate. The bill would permanently protect 9.2 million acres of Utah’s amazing wilderness—places like Labyrinth Canyon, the Dirty Devil, the San Rafael Swell, and the West Desert, ensuring that they remain wild for future generations of Americans.

    If you’re from Illinois, click here to thank Sen. Durbin today!

    He was joined by 18 original cosponsors from 13 states, underscoring the importance of these remaining wild landscapes to the American people. The other champions are: Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sen. Michael Bennett (D-CO),  Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA), Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)‎.

    If any of these senators represent you, please click here to thank them today!

    President Trump has declared an all-out assault on Utah’s public lands, last week signing an order that could lead to the repeal of both Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Bears Ears National Monument. We need our congressional champions to stand up for Utah now more than ever.

    If your senator isn’t on the list yet, please click here to ask them to cosponsor America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act. And remember, you have two senators so you may need to thank one and ask the other!

    To double the impact, call your senators as well through the capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

    There has never been a more urgent time for the redrock wilderness. We need your help to save it.

  • April 25th, 2017

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    April 25, 2017

    Scott Groene, Executive Director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, released the following statement regarding the Executive Order that President Trump is expected to sign tomorrow directing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to conduct a “review” of all national monuments over 100,000 acres that were created in the last 21 years:

    “This executive order by President Trump is the opening salvo in an unprecedented attack on America’s federal public lands, and Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments are directly and deliberately in the crosshairs.

    “At Bears Ears, the President has asked Secretary Zinke to manufacture the political cover for his administration to break the government’s promise to Native American Tribes to protect and preserve their ancestral homeland. At Grand Staircase, the President is seeking to reward his Big Coal backers at the expense of one of the nation’s wildest and most dramatic redrock landscapes.

    “This order should alarm every American who cares about our country’s cultural and natural heritage.”

    Bears Ears National Monument. Copyright Tim Peterson

    # # #

  • March 28th, 2017

    Yesterday, SUWA filed a Motion to Intervene with the Interior Board of Land Appeals, asking to join the BLM in defending the recently approved Resource Management Plans for the Beaver Dam Wash and Red Cliffs National Conservation Areas (NCAs).

    Red Cliffs National Conservation Area. Photo by Ray Bloxham/SUWA

    These two NCAs—both located in Utah’s southwestern corner where the Colorado Plateau, Great Basin, and Mojave Desert ecosystems meet—were created to “conserve, protect, and enhance . . . the ecological, scenic, wildlife, recreational, cultural, historical, natural, educational, and scientific resources” of the designated lands. Additionally, the Red Cliffs NCA was established to protect threatened and endangered species like the desert tortoise. The BLM was required to develop management plans to accomplish these purposes, which were released on December 21, 2016.

    Missing the point of the NCAs entirely, Washington County, the City of St. George, and the Washington County Water Conservancy District filed an appeal in hopes of increasing the amount of certain types of development that can occur within the conservation areas. Perhaps the most troubling of these potential developments, and probably the one project that would be the most harmful to desert tortoises, is a highway or transportation corridor running east to west through desert tortoise habitat in the Red Cliffs NCA.

    If SUWA is allowed to intervene, we will fight to uphold the intended purpose of the NCA designations and protect the wildlife and wilderness-quality lands within these two remarkable landscapes.

    Red Cliffs National Conservation Area. Photo by Creed Murdock

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