January 2023 Redrock Report

Jan 31st, 2023 Written by suwa

Nine Mile Canyon’s Famous Rock Art Gallery Threatened by Fossil Fuel Highway

Nine Mile CanyonThe Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is considering a new proposal by Duchesne County to blast, bulldoze, and pave a 5.2-mile highway through Gate Canyon in eastern Utah. If approved, tanker trucks will have a more direct route from the oil fields of the Uinta Basin to rail facilities farther south by passing through Nine Mile Canyon.

Slicing through the northern end of Utah’s rugged Book Cliffs, Nine Mile Canyon has been dubbed “the world’s longest art gallery” due to its remarkable abundance of petroglyphs and pictographs left by the Archaic, Fremont, and Ute cultures. The proposed transportation corridor would industrialize the area by bringing increased truck traffic (an estimated 500 haul trucks per day!) to the canyon and past a number of cultural sites that are significant to several Native American tribes. Impacts from these tanker trucks—including pollution, noise, and vibrations—will harm the cultural, archaeological, and recreational values that make Nine Mile Canyon so unique.
The BLM is accepting preliminary “scoping” comments on the proposed project through February 8th. If you have visited the canyon and would like to weigh in, click here to access the agency’s comment portal (follow the green “Participate Now” buttons).

Stay tuned for more news on this topic along with other opportunities to take action.

Photo © Dan Miller

SUWA Challenges Lithium Development Project Near Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse Point

Dead Horse Point State Park (Adobe Stock)The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently approved a project allowing A1 Lithium Inc., an Australia-based company, to explore and mine for lithium at two well sites near the entrance of Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park, just west of Moab, Utah.

The approved project will take place along State Route 313, which has been designated as the Dead Horse Mesa Scenic Byway—a route traveled by over one million visitors each year. According to the BLM’s own analysis, development activity related to the project will intersect with the popular Rodeo Bike Trail and will be visible from locations within Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park. Noise from the mining operation could also potentially be heard from the popular Horsethief Campground.

While lithium is a mineral that plays a critical role in our country’s much-needed transition away from fossil fuels, its mining and extraction must not come at the cost of Utah’s world-class scenic landscapes. That is why SUWA recently filed a petition to have the BLM State Director review the approved project. Specifically, we argued that the approval is unlawful because the BLM failed to consider alternatives that would minimize visual and recreational impacts, and to take into account the effects lithium mining will have on the Colorado Plateau’s rapidly dwindling water resources. Stay tuned for updates.

Photo: Dead Horse Point State Park (Adobe Stock)

BLM Preparing to Sell Oil and Gas Leases along the Banks of Utah’s White River

White River (Ray Bloxham)The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is preparing to sell several oil and gas leases along the scenic White River in northeastern Utah, as well as on BLM-identified lands with wilderness characteristics in the wild Book Cliffs. These wild and undeveloped lands provide outstanding opportunities for hiking, camping, rafting, hunting, and other quiet recreation.

The White River is a “floater’s and paddler’s paradise” that meanders through the high desert of the Colorado Plateau before reaching its confluence with the Green River. It is one of the few remaining undeveloped stretches of public land in the Uinta Basin, a region that suffers from some of the worst air quality in the nation due to the more than 10,000 existing oil and gas wells drilled to date.

The BLM closed the scoping phase of its public process on January 19th (many thanks to those of who submitted comments!), but the White River’s fate is far from sealed. We’ll keep you posted on the next opportunity to make your voice heard.

>> Read our recent press release to learn more

Photo © Ray Bloxham/SUWA

Registration for 2023 Stewardship Season Opens this Week!

Canyon Rims Stewardship Project March 2022 (Laura BorichevskAttention past and future redrock stewards: Our 2023 Stewardship Season Project Calendar goes live on February 1st! Keep an eye out for our season kick-off email on Wednesday, which will include more details. In the meantime, you can preview our projects here. Then, beginning at 8:00 am Wednesday you may submit an application for the project(s) of your choice. Full project descriptions will be posted the morning of open registration.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us. We hope you’ll join us in protecting wild Utah on the ground in 2023!

Photo © Laura Borichevsky/SUWA

Protect Wild Utah Beanie Now Available For Purchase in our Online Store

SUWA 2022 BeanieBy popular demand, SUWA’s new winter beanie, formerly available only with a gift membership purchase, has been added to our online store. This classic knit beanie comes in black with a chestnut faux leather “Protect Wild Utah” patch on the cuff.

Order yours today and wear it while the snow still flies, or pack it in your camping gear for those chilly nights in the desert.

>> Click here to purchase now

Photo © Laura Borichevsky/SUWA