Public Lands Initiative Archives - Page 3 of 4


  • March 16th, 2016

    On Tuesday, March 15, a group of students from campuses along the Wasatch Front gathered at the Utah State Capitol in united opposition to Rep. Bishop’s Public Lands Initiative (PLI), and to show support for a Bears Ears National Monument as proposed by a historic coalition of Native American Tribes. After speaking to the media, they delivered a letter to Governor Gary Herbert outlining their concerns.

    “We are the generation that will inherit the problems that come from the short-sighted, profit-driven decision making by our elected officials,” said Karsyn Ansari, a recent graduate from the University of Utah Environmental Studies program. “We are here today to fight for our right and the right of future generations to experience redrock wilderness.”

    Student letter PLI press conference

    Students address the media from the steps of the Utah Capitol. Copyright Dave Pacheco/SUWA

    Jared Meek of Brigham Young University said “Many students have been paying attention to the PLI process and to put it lightly we are not pleased with the current proposal.”

    The students expressed deep concern about the ability of their generation (and future generations) to enjoy Utah’s fabled redrock country as it is, and to meet it on its own terms, not on terms set forth by fossil fuel developers favored by Mr. Bishop’s proposal.

    Students vow to continue their campaign against the Public Lands Initiative, and to stay involved in the public process, since Utah political leaders did not give them a voice when the legislation was being drafted. They explained how Mr. Bishop’s process was heavily weighted in favor of rural county commissioners to the exclusion of Utah’s majority population of urban dwellers, themselves included.

    Watch the Fox13 and KSL TV stories and read news coverage in the Logan Herald Journal and Deseret News.

    Add your voice! There’s still time to comment on the draft Public Lands Initiative. If you haven’t yet done so, please click here to submit your comments.

     

  • March 4th, 2016

    On March 2nd, over 600 Utahns poured into a “Citizens’ Hearing” in Salt Lake City on Utah Representative Rob Bishop’s Public Lands Initiative (PLI), packing a huge auditorium, lining the walls, and standing shoulder to shoulder a dozen deep in the back of the room. More people spilled out into the auditorium’s entryway.

    The hearing was organized by the Utah Wilderness Coalition because Utah Reps. Bishop and Chaffetz have failed to provide residents living along Utah’s Wasatch Front a meaningful opportunity to help shape the PLI.

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    The Orson Spencer Hall auditorium was packed to overflowing with over 600 wilderness supporters. (Ray Bloxham/SUWA)

    With palpable passion and often a strong sense of frustration, speaker after speaker decried the PLI as a disaster for Utah’s public lands and called on President Obama to proclaim a Bears Ears National Monument as proposed by a historic coalition of Native American tribes.

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    Empty chairs were set on the stage for the absent members of the Utah congressional delegation. (Kyle Strayer)

    Some gestured or spoke to the four empty chairs on the stage that were labeled with the names of Utah’s congressional delegation, insisting that their voices be heard. (The Utah delegation was invited but did not attend the hearing. The governor’s policy director, who did attend part of the hearing, received an appreciative round of applause when his presence was announced.)

    Again and again, the spirited crowd – which spanned millennials to elders – burst into applause and waved “Protect Wild Utah” signs in support of protecting Utah’s wild lands from fossil fuel development, bogus roads, and other public land giveaways in the PLI.

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    Packed house at the Citizens’ Hearing on Rep. Bishop’s Public Lands Initiative. (Kathlene Audette-Luebke)

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    Standing room only — thanks for hanging in there, folks! (Kathlene Audette-Luebke)

    SUWA deeply thanks everyone who showed up and with their presence and/or their voice stood against the PLI and for the Bears Ears national monument. You are amazing and inspiring! Working together, we have a great chance of defeating the PLI and winning protection for Bears Ears.

    We apologize to those who couldn’t get a seat, but we hope it’s some consolation to know that the overflow crowd clearly demonstrated just how much Utahns care about our wild places (and next time we’ll get a bigger room!).

    Some highlights of the evening include:

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    Scott Groene outlines the major flaws of the PLI. (Kathlene Audette-Luebke)

    Scott Groene, Executive Director for SUWA, described the PLI as “the worst wilderness bill since the Wilderness Act created the opportunity to protect wild lands in 1964.” He went on to say “The PLI provides less protection for Utah’s wildlands than we have now, fails to protect the Bears Ears, sets off a ticking carbon time bomb, and facilitates the state of Utah’s efforts seize public lands that belong to all of us.”

    In a letter read to the audience by Katie Savage, Terry Tempest Williams said, “Today we find ourselves in a ‘perfect storm’ of ecological and social consciousness where the protection of wilderness is the protection of the climate. . . Congressman Bishop cannot hear the will of the people . . . Our voices must be amplified again, so that other voices around the country can join us in the reject of this violent initiative on the integrity of America’s Redrock Wilderness.”

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    Former San Juan County Commissioner Mark Maryboy calls the PLI a “disaster.” (Kathlene Audette-Luebke)

    Mark Maryboy, speaking for Utah Diné Bikéyah, described how the Utah delegation refused to seriously engage with Native Americans seeking protection for the Bears Ears. “We must not allow the PLI to pass,” said Maryboy. “We must stand together to defeat it.”

    Former Utah Congresswoman Karen Shepherd rallied the crowd to stop the PLI, declaring “The real story is you. Look at you! You are everywhere! You can change the world.”

    Describing Utah’s wildlands as “absolutely integral to the state’s economic future,” Black Diamond CEO Peter Metcalf said ““We must send a clear, powerful message that the people of Utah see the PLI for what it is: a Pearl Harbor attack on the economic vibrancy of Utah.”

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    Former Utah BLM Director Juan Palma says the Hispanic community was not consulted on the PLI. (Kathlene Audette-Luebke)

    Juan Palma, former Utah state director of the Bureau of Land Management, and now chief conservation officer for HECHO, “Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors,” described the deep roots Hispanics have with public lands, noting “No one came to talk to us” about the PLI.

    Lauren Wood, a third generation guide for Holiday River Expeditions and an activist for climate justice, social equality and human rights, decried the PLI as a fossil fuel development bill that “puts the earth’s livable climate on the chopping block.” “The only winners in the PLI,” she said, “are the oil companies who are hell bent on taking our public lands from the public.”

    Laying out a list of grievances, Sierra Club spokesperson Amy Mills pointed out that “Utah Rep Rob Bishop asserts that the PLI is a balanced solution that was locally driven, but the truth is, it is neither.”

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    Sierra Club spokeswoman Amy Mills pulls apart Rep. Bishop’s assertion that the PLI is a “balanced solution.” (Ray Bloxham/SUWA)

    Di Allison with Great Old Broads for Wilderness announced “we have a gift for Rep Bishop,” and unwrapping a small gift box, revealed a green hearing aide. Holding up photos of her grandchildren, she said “Utah’s public wild lands are their American heritage. The myopic perspective of the PLI does not serve them. We can do better than this by protecting the Bears Ears as a national monument.”

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    Marcel Gaztambide. (Kathlene Audette-Luebke)

    Marcel Gaztambide, speaking for Uplift, a climate action group for the Colorado Plateau, said “The youth of the Colorado Plateau will not accept the loss of wilderness at this scale. We refuse a rollback on wilderness protection, we refuse lax air quality standards, we refuse the creation of vast fossil fuel zones, we refuse the creation of unnecessary and unwanted roadways, and we refuse the endangerment of the region’s biodiversity.”

    Eyrie Horton, a student at Utah’s Westminster College, stated “The PLI is basically stealing our land. It fosters an economy based on pulling fossil fuels out of the ground. I can tell you that that is not going to fly with my generation.”

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    Jared Meek. ( Kathlene Audette-Luebke)

    Jared Meek, speaking for the EcoResponse Club at Brigham Young University, said “many students had been paying attention to the PLI process and to put it lightly we are not pleased with the current proposal. . . . At BYU, we believe that the Earth has been entrusted to humankind to care for, and that we have a sacred stewardship to conserve and preserve our beautiful home for future generations. After all it is we, the younger generation of this state, that will have to live with the choices of those currently in political office.”

    Darren Bingham, speaking for several organizations at Utah State University, said “Our hearts lie in wilderness. If the PLI goes through, our children (which I don’t expect to have), will be the losers because our wild places will be largely gone. We need to stop giving away public lands to development interests and give them back to the people who were here thousands of years ago.”

    Speaking on behalf of Faith and the Land, Dede Carpenter explained that many people of faith “are aligned” with the Tribes’ call for a Bears Ears monument, as the PLI “would leave us nothing but remnants of the beauty that connects us spiritually to something higher than our individual selves.”

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    Ann Whittaker. (Kyle Strayer)

    Ann Whittaker, who described herself as “the granddaughter of a World War Two veteran who found salvation and atonement in the public lands” asked “where is the reverence, where is the respect for heritage and posterity in legislation that is written to bring money to a few?”

    Cinimin Kofford, a student from Provo attending Utah Valley University said that “As a student, we have the unique responsibility to protect and preserve our public lands, rather than see them traded away for fossil fuel development. And as an outdoor recreation professional, I want access to public lands for my generation, and for many to come.” Both of these concerns have been “overlooked in the PLI.”

  • February 16th, 2016
    PLI Social Media Meme

    It’s all hands on deck!  If citizens don’t speak up, Utah wild lands could be lost forever.

    Utah Rep. Rob Bishop has unveiled his “Public Lands Initiative” and it is an utter disaster for Utah’s wild lands. The bill rolls back wilderness protection, creates vast fossil fuel development zones, sanctions a sprawling spiderweb of disputed roads, and gives away public lands for development.

    And no wonder – the public has been left out of the Public Lands Initiative. Despite requests, Rep. Bishop never held hearings along the Wasatch Front where most Utahns live. He only sought input from rural areas representing 5 percent of the state’s population (and 1/20th of 1 percent of the nation’s population).

    You deserve a voice! That’s why the Utah Wilderness Coalition is holding a “Citizens’ Hearing” in Salt Lake City.

    Citizens’ Hearing on Rep. Bishop’s Public Lands Initiative
    Wednesday, March 2

    6:30 – 9:30 PM
    Orson Spencer Hall Auditorium (Google Map)
    University of Utah campus, Salt Lake City
    (10 minutes north of South Campus Trax station)

    This is your chance to stand up for vigorous protection of Utah wildlands. 

    Show your support by simply showing up! Better yet, come and speak! Share your view on the Public Lands Initiative and the future of Utah’s wild places. All comments will be recorded and submitted to the U.S. Congress as well as the Utah delegation.

    Feel free to make a sign and bring it – we will also be handing out yellow “Protect Wild Utah” signs and buttons.

    This is a pivotal moment. We need to pack the room with wilderness advocates! Bring family and friends. Invite everyone you know who loves Utah’s redrock!

    RSVP appreciated (but not required). You can also invite your friends to this event on Facebook.

    Hope to see you there!

    P.S. Rep. Bishop is still accepting written comments on the Public Lands Initiative — if you haven’t yet submitted yours, please click here to comment before March 2nd.

  • February 8th, 2016

    Rep. Bishop’s long-awaited draft Public Lands Initiative (PLI), released on January 20th, is essentially a fossil fuel development bill that gives away public resources and fails to advance the conservation of public lands in eastern Utah.  To educate the public on just how bad this bill really is, SUWA has launched a television, web, and outdoor advertising campaign in Utah (view television spots below).

    Bishop’s bill rolls back existing protections for wilderness-quality lands and carves out major loopholes in the meager wilderness it does propose. It also fails to protect the extraordinary cultural and natural resources of the proposed Bears Ears National Monument and gives away federal lands owned and cherished by all Americans. Finally, it promotes a fossil fuel bonanza that will industrialize Utah’s scenic landscapes and exacerbate climate change.

    Tell Rep. Bishop we need a bill that fully protects Utah’s wild lands — and the best interests of all Americans.

    The draft PLI has been roundly criticized by conservation groups, climate activists, the Outdoor Alliance, and the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, among others, for failing the American people on multiple levels. We need visionary legislation that future generations will thank us for, not a shortsighted bill that forfeits our common heritage for the benefit of only a few.

    Rep. Bishop needs to hear from you that the PLI is unacceptable as currently written.  Click here to send a message to Rep. Bishop.

  • February 4th, 2016

    Rep. Bishop’s long-awaited draft Public Lands Initiative (PLI), released on January 20th, is essentially a fossil fuel development bill that gives away public resources and fails to advance the conservation of public lands in eastern Utah.

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