Uncategorized Archives - Page 6 of 12


  • 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

  • January 13th, 2017

    SUWA, The Wilderness Society, Earthjustice, and a coalition of eight other conservation groups, along with the Bureau of Land Management and off-highway vehicle groups have taken an important step to settle longstanding litigation filed in 2008 by the conservation groups which challenged six land use plans and off-highway vehicle travel plans completed at the end of the George W. Bush administration.

    Read More »
  • July 15th, 2016

    After years of missed deadlines, Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT) finally introduced his long-delayed Public Lands Initiative (PLI) yesterday.  As anticipated, the PLI fails to protect Utah’s remarkable public lands and divests the American people of their public lands heritage. There is no chance this terrible bill could be passed in the few days left in this Congress, and it serves only as an effort to forestall President Obama from designating a Bears Ears National Monument.

    Utah’s congressional delegation will no doubt repeat ad nauseam their talking point about 4.6 million acres of federal land “designated for conservation” in the PLI.  Don’t believe it. The big acreages proffered by Rep. Bishop are disingenuous, as a hard look at the bill reveals that the PLI is a cobbled together mess that maximizes resource extraction and includes land “protections” riddled with loopholes.

    A pro-development bill disguised as conservation

    Among the laundry list of unacceptable provisions of the bill, the PLI:

    •  Fails to protect 62% of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act as designated wilderness and opens up currently protected lands, such as Wilderness Study Areas, to energy development and off-road vehicle use.

    Winter Ridge WSA

    Under the PLI, Winter Ridge would be released from Wilderness Study Area designation and opened up for fossil fuel development. Copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA.

    •  Substitutes bastardized National Conservation Areas (NCAs) that enshrine the Bush-era management plans that designated thousands of miles of off-road vehicle routes; allows designation and development of new motorized trails; green-lights vegetation manipulation projects (such as pinyon-juniper clearcuts); mandates livestock grazing; declares that no more wilderness can be protected in these areas; and limits federal land managers’ ability to protect natural and cultural resources.

    •  Fails to protect over half a million acres of the Bears Ears region as proposed by the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition; diminishes the Coalition’s voice in management of the reduced Bears Ears NCA by creating a 10-member advisory committee with only one tribal representative; promotes motorized recreation in this archaeologically rich region; allows grazing in currently closed areas like Grand Gulch, Fish, Owl, and Arch Canyons; and prohibits the agency from protecting hundreds of thousands of acres of wilderness.

    White Canyon. Copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA.

    White Canyon and most of its side tributaries in the Bears Ears region would remain unprotected in the PLI, leaving the area vulnerable to mineral extraction. Copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA.

    •  Seizes authority from public land managers and instead gives the State of Utah control over the permitting and regulation of all forms of energy development on millions of acres of federal lands and, in doing so, likely eviscerates meaningful energy leasing reform such as the nearly completed Moab Master Leasing Plan.

    •  Codifies the abysmal Bush-era motorized travel plans in protected areas and prohibits future closures of any motorized route for natural or cultural resources concerns.

    •  Grants thousands of miles of claimed R.S. 2477 routes to the State of Utah while allowing for continued litigation over R.S. 2477 routes within areas designated as wilderness, NCAs, and Recreation Areas.

    •  Unleashes a carbon bomb by transferring large blocks of federal land to the State of Utah for tar sand, oil shale, potash, coal, oil, and gas development. These blocks are located in the remote Book Cliffs, in high-value scenic and recreation lands near the Green River west of Moab, on Hatch Point bordering Canyonlands National Park, near the world-renowned San Rafael Swell, and in the Uintah Basin.

    Bitter Creek (Ray Bloxham)

    Significant portions of the Bitter Creek proposed wilderness would be given to the State of Utah for fossil fuel development. Copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA.

    •  Permanently establishes livestock grazing as a priority across southern and eastern Utah and would result in both increased and new grazing in areas currently closed by federal land agencies due to natural and cultural resource damage.

    •  Furthers the State of Utah’s land grab efforts by transferring federal land to the state, without compensation, for facility development and increased motorized and non-motorized recreation.

    •  Rewards dangerous anti-government activity by granting a right-of-way for motorized access in Recapture Canyon, the site of San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman’s illegal 2014 ATV protest ride.

    •  Undermines the Antiquities Act by including a companion bill that would remove the president’s authority under the Antiquities Act to protect deserving landscapes in southern and eastern Utah.

    Taken as a whole, the PLI is an assault on the wilderness of southern and eastern Utah.

    Where do we go from here?

    It’s time to move forward for the sake of Utah’s land, wildlife, and cultural resources.  It’s time to call the PLI what it really is: one more failed attempt by Utah’s congressional delegation to develop a meaningful conservation bill for the national treasures of southern and eastern Utah.  And, most importantly, it’s time for President Obama to use his authority under the Antiquities Act to designate the Bears Ears National Monument!