Indian Creek threatened – Redrock Report September/October 2012

September/October 2012

Here’s what is happening this month with the redrock:
Urge the BLM to deny an ATV route in Indian Creek!
2. We will miss retiring redrock champ Rep. Maurice Hinchey.
3. Utah appeals Salt Creek right-of-way claim.
4. Great times at the 2012 SUWA Roundup!
5. Celebrate Cedar Mesa on November 10.


New ATV route threatens Indian Creek

The Indian Creek area, located on the east side of Canyonlands National Park, south of Moab, Utah, is famous for its dramatic and sheer Wingate Sandstone cliffs, and is an internationally-known and treasured rock climbing destination. 

Indian Creek proposed right-of-way
Location of Indian Creek proposed ATV right-of-way.
Copyright Liz Thomas/SUWA.

Last December we notified you of San Juan County’s request for a right-of-way to construct a new ATV trail in this scenic area.  You told the BLM your concerns and the agency decided to “revise” its Environmental Assessment (EA).  Unfortunately, the BLM’s revised EA is no better than its initial document. The revised EA merely adds an alternative “alignment” for the proposed right-of-way, but fails to actually analyze the impacts of the right-of-way and ATV route to the area’s natural resources and to quiet recreational users.  The new alignment for the right-of-way and ATV route is similar to the initial alignment.  Both alignments for the proposed ATV route cross undeveloped, scenic lands that are in the Upper Indian Creek proposed wilderness area.  ATV use
on a route constructed in this right-of-way would be a significant conflict with other recreational uses of the area.

There are hundreds of miles of existing off-road vehicle routes that currently provide vehicle access and recreational opportunities in the Indian Creek area; there is simply no compelling need for the construction of a new ATV route.

TAKE ACTION: Please tell BLM, by October 5, 2012, not to grant a right-of-way for an unnecessary ATV route in the Indian Creek area. 

Read more about this issue on our blog by clicking here.

Visit to help protect Indian Creek and the rest of the Greater Canyonlands region.


Rep. Maurice Hinchey: A tireless environmental champion

Back in January, Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), the lead House sponsor of American’s Red Rock Wilderness Act for almost twenty years, announced that he would be retiring at the end of this term.  Earlier in September, SUWA and our partners in the conservation community took the opportunity to celebrate Rep. Hinchey’s tireless advocacy for Utah wilderness and other environmental causes.  In this video, Rep. Hinchey’s House colleagues, staff, and others look back on all that he has accomplished in his career for the environment:

Hinchey video

You can thank Congressman Hinchey for his decades of work on behalf of Utah’s redrock wilderness by writing a note on his Facebook page, tweeting thanks to @mauricehinchey or writing a letter to his DC office at:

Representative Maurice Hinchey
2431 Rayburn House Office Building
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515


Salt Creek case goes back to court

The federal Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on September 19 in a case involving an alleged highway right-of-way located in Salt Creek, an ecologically critical streambed in Canyonlands National
Park.  The National Park Service had closed the stream to jeep use in 2005 due to the water pollution, crushed vegetation, degraded wildlife habitat and other impacts caused by vehicle use.  San Juan County and the State of Utah sued the Park Service, arguing that the park could not close the streambed to jeeps because it  was a county and state highway.  The trial court ruled that the few travelers who had ventured up the stream before Canyonlands became a national park in 1964 did not transform the creek into a “highway” under federal law.

The appeal is significant because the appeals court may rule on key issues that will govern how and whether states and counties can establish highway rights-of-way across all types of federal public lands under a now repealed law commonly known as “R.S. 2477.”  Congress enacted the law in 1866 as a way to facilitate the orderly settlement and development of the West and to give lasting recognition to existing highways; it repealed the law in 1976, subject to valid existing rights.  Now the State of Utah is attempting to stretch the law beyond Congress’s original intent in an effort to undermine federal ownership, management and conservation of national parks and other sensitive federal lands.

Read more by clicking here.


A glorious sunny weekend in the San Rafael Swell

It was a glorious sunny weekend in the San Rafael Swell as about 85 wilderness supporters gathered from Sept. 21-23 for this year’s SUWA Roundup.

Every year we meet interesting, passionate, committed wilderness supporters at the SUWA Roundup and this year was no exception.  We thank them for making the long journey to Hidden Splendor, for participating in our grassroots strategy discussion on Sunday, and for speaking out year after year for the protection of Utah’s magnificent wild places.  We look forward to meeting even more of our amazing members and activists at next year’s Roundup!

Read more and view photos from the weekend by clicking here.


Celebrate Cedar Mesa!

Join Friends of Cedar Mesa in celebration of Cedar Mesa, a half million acres of scenic grace and prehistoric wonder in the heart of southeast Utah.

While renowned throughout the world for its singular beauty and wealth of Ancestral Pueblo cliff dwellings and rock art, Cedar Mesa also holds a special place in the cultural heritage of present-day Ute, Paiute, Navajo, Pueblo and Anglo communities, the latter including the Mormon settlers of southeastern Utah. Visitors from the region and all parts of the globe are increasingly making Cedar Mesa part of their personal histories as well, thanks to an American system of public lands
that manages such venerated places for all to enjoy.

This year’s symposium presents the intriguing findings of new archaeological and historical research, and explores the landscape from a range of diverse perspectives.

The Celebrate Cedar Mesa symposium, sponsored by Friends of Cedar Mesa, takes place all day Saturday, November 10, at the Blanding Arts and Events Center on the Utah State University branch campus in Blanding, Utah. 

For more information and updates, please visit


change.orgSign the petition to protect Greater Canyonlands