July 2020 Redrock Report

Jul 2nd, 2020 Written by suwa

Tell the BLM to Drop its Massive Lease Sale Near Utah’s National Parks

September 2020 Lease Sale Graphic (v3)The rumors are true. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wants to open up more than 114,000 acres of wild lands in Utah—including more than 86,000 acres in southeastern Utah—to oil and gas drilling as part of its upcoming September lease sale.

If this massive lease sale goes through, oil and gas wells could appear at the doorstep of Canyonlands, Arches, and Capitol Reef National Parks—as well as near Bears Ears National Monument, Labyrinth Canyon, Dead Horse Point State Park, the Green River, and on lands proposed for wilderness designation in America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act.

Thanks to SUWA supporters like you, thousands of messages have already been sent to Utah Governor Gary Herbert. The BLM needs to get that message as well. The agency is accepting comments on the lease sale through Thursday, July 9th.

>> Please take a moment to submit your comments today.

Keep Radioactive Waste Away from Bears Ears

White Mesa Uranium Mill (Ecoflight)At the doorstep of Bears Ears National Monument, the White Mesa Uranium Mill in southern Utah wants to acquire tons of new radioactive waste shipped all the way from Estonia.

The mill’s owner, Energy Fuels Resources, lobbied the Trump administration to reduce Bears Ears National Monument in 2017. If the license application is approved by the Utah Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control, the White Mesa Uranium Mill would begin accepting 660 tons of radioactive waste to process in the first year alone.

The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe has voiced concerns about Energy Fuels Resources’ proposal and the threat of contamination to the Tribe’s drinking water. Scott Clow, the Environmental Programs Director for the Tribe, lamented to the Salt Lake Tribune how the White Mesa Uranium Mill is becoming “the world’s radioactive waste dump.” He added, “The Tribe does not want these materials to continue to be delivered to their neighborhood, their traditional lands, and stored there forever.”

The public comment period on Energy Fuels Resources’ proposal is open through Friday, July 10th.

>> Click here to submit your comments to Utah regulators today

Photo © EcoFlight

Senator Durbin Pushes Back on Interior’s Move to Evade Clearcutting Oversight

Chaining AerialLast week Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) sent a letter to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt objecting to the agency’s ongoing attempts to chip away at legally required reviews of so-called vegetation treatments on America’s public lands. These treatments, which can involve chewing up vast swaths of piñon pine and juniper forest with bulldozers, giant wood-chippers known as “bull hog masticators,” and by other means, are justified by the agency for reasons ranging from wildfire prevention to stream restoration. But they have little scientific backing, and can cause massive disturbance to the sensitive soil crusts of the Colorado Plateau, the wildlife that rely on these forests, and cultural resources in the path of the machines.

The Trump administration has proposed two new “categorical exclusions” for these projects that would exempt them from the usual analysis required by the National Environmental Policy Act—a key review process that SUWA used to stop such projects in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. If those exclusions move forward, it will mean the public is shut out of the decision making process, and thousands of acres of public land could be stripped of vegetation with no environmental analysis or public input.

Sen. Durbin’s letter is a key piece of congressional oversight over the Interior Department’s quest to undo environmental protections. To read it, click here.

And if you are a resident of Illinois, please thank Sen. Durbin by clicking here!

Photo © SUWA/Twig Media

Pride Outside: A New Podcast Just in Time for Your Holiday Weekend

Pride Outside Podcast GraphicAs you kick off your July 4th holiday weekend, don’t forget to download our latest Wild Utah podcast, “Pride Outside.” In this episode, scripted and recorded during Pride Month, we explore how Mother Nature can cultivate confidence, healing, and embodiment for LGBTQ+ people. SUWA Community Organizer Olivia Juarez and guests Eva Lopez and Salvador Oregon-Torres delve into the subject of queerness in the wild.

Since its debut in 2018, SUWA’s Wild Utah podcast has covered a number of issues facing redrock country. Please join our growing world of listeners by subscribing to Wild Utah through Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher, or on our website.

America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act Keeps on Rockin’

Cosponsor Graphic (6.17.2020)Summer is here and so are new congressional supporters of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act! We are now up to 83 cosponsors in the House of Representatives with the addition of Reps. Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Mike Thompson (D-CA), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rick Larsen (D-WA), and Angie Craig (D-MN). We are also thankful to Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Tina Smith (D-MN), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) for bringing our grand total of Senate cosponsors up to 20. Click here to see the complete list of cosponsors.

If you are a constituent of any of these legislators, please be sure to thank them for their support of wild Utah even during these challenging times.

And if your members of Congress are not already cosponsors, please click here to ask them to endorse America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act today!

Summer Coloring Contest!

Bighorn Coloring DesignDownload our Desert Bighorn Sheep coloring sheet and color it in to participate in our first summer art contest! To enter, post a photo of your kiddo’s creation (or your own if you are under 18) on social media and use #ProtectWildUtah in the caption so we can see your entry. Winners can choose a SUWA hat or Nalgne water bottle for their prize. Click here for contest rules and to download the artwork. Happy coloring!


¡Descargue nuestro carnero del desierto para colorear y pintelo participar en nuestro primer concurso artístico verano! Para entrar, publicar un foto de la creación de su niño y usar el #ProtectWildUtah hashtag en la leyenda así que podemos ver su obra. Ganadores pueden escoger una botella Nalgene o una gorra para su premio. Haga clic aquí para ver las reglas del concurso y descargar la obra de arte. ¡Feliz coloreando!

Art by Alex Cochran