Uncategorized Archives - Page 5 of 12

  • June 13th, 2017

    Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s interim report on the fate of Bears Ears National Monument was released yesterday—and it isn’t good.

    As expected, Zinke recommends that President Trump dramatically shrink the boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument—though he doesn’t say specifically by how much, or where. Instead, he punted the details of how he’ll recommend Trump chop up the monument to his final report, due in August.

    The fact is, the president doesn’t have the authority to reduce the monument. Any attempt by Trump to reduce Bears Ears would immediately wind up in court.

    But there’s still time to defend Bears Ears. And now that Zinke has made his intentions clear, your voice is more important than ever.

    Click here to submit your comments now.

    Bears Ears cultural site. Copyright Tim Peterson

    Despite virtually ignoring previous public comments which favored keeping Bears Ears intact by a 9-1 margin, Secretary Zinke has extended the comment period for Bears Ears. Even if you’ve commented before, now is your chance to tell Zinke what you think of his plan to drastically reduce Bears Ears National Monument.

    Remind Secretary Zinke that:

    •  The President doesn’t have the authority to modify the monument’s boundaries. Only Congress can do that.

    •  Bears Ears National Monument was a significant achievement for the historic coalition of Tribes that came together to advocate for its protection.

    •  It is the first national monument to include traditional knowledge as an object worthy of protection in the monument proclamation. And every inch of Bears Ears is necessary to preserve the more than 100,000 archaeological sites therein.

    •  It is a remarkable wilderness landscape. Beyond the monument’s namesake twin buttes are world-renowned wilderness treasures like White Canyon, Indian Creek, and Comb Ridge. Myriad plant and animal species thrive in its varied habitats. And you’d be hard pressed to find the solitude provided by these areas elsewhere in the lower 48.

    Secretary Zinke tried to mask the brutality of his recommendation by calling on Congress to make parts of Bears Ears a National Conservation Area and to give Tribes co-management of whatever crumbs remain of the monument after Trump dices it up. But that’s not just kicking the can down the road—that’s kicking it into the abyss. Congress has had 111 years to protect Bears Ears, and it has completely failed to do so.

    Please, take a moment today to let Secretary Zinke know what you think about his plans for Bears Ears.

    Thank you for taking action.

  • June 12th, 2017

    For Immediate Release: June 12, 2017
    Contact: Mathew Gross, (435) 259-4316

    Today Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke issued an interim report that signaled his desire to greatly reduce the Bears Ears National Monument. A final report is expected in August.

    The following statement is from Mathew Gross, Media Director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance:

    “Though Secretary Zinke’s interim report does not change anything about Bears Ears on the ground today, it makes it clear the Secretary is trying to line up the political cover to eviscerate the monument. That doesn’t change the fact that any attempt by the Trump administration to weaken or shrink the monument is illegal. The landscapes and cultural resources protected in Bears Ears belong to the American people and must be protected for the sake of future generations, not pawned off as a trophy for the Utah delegation.”

    In his report, Zinke reopened the public comment period on Bears Ears, which to date has shown an overwhelming support for the monument—more than a million comments have been submitted in favor of protecting existing national monuments like Bears Ears. Zinke also suggested that Bears Ears National Monument is too large, despite its boundaries having already been considerably diminished from the original proposal put forward by a coalition of five Tribes.

    In addition, Zinke’s report punts many issues to Congress, suggesting that after Bears Ears is shrunk, Congress should reinstate some of the areas in other designations, and work with tribes on co-management. This is a red herring, as the Utah delegation already showed an unwillingness to protect Bears Ears adequately in its abysmal Public Lands Initiative last year—and the administration is doing the same by showing its intent to shrink the boundaries. Since the failure of the PLI, Sen. Orrin Hatch, Rep. Rob Bishop and Rep. Jason Chaffetz have done nothing but lobby the Trump administration to undo the monument. They have no serious intention of protecting the Bears Ears and have already failed to do so.

    Today’s report may be a reprieve from immediate damage to Bears Ears, but the end game is an unprecedented attack on America’s public lands.

    The Bears Ears Buttes. Photo (c) Tim Peterson.

  • 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.