July 2023 Redrock Report

Jul 21st, 2023 Written by suwa

House Republicans Saddle Appropriations Bill with Anti-Environmental Provisions, Including an Attack on Grand Staircase-Escalante

Sunset Arch, Grand Staircase-Escalante (Tom Till)This week, the House Appropriations Committee passed the FY 2024 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Bill, which now heads to the full House of Representatives. The Bill—filled with anti-environmental policy measures—contains two provisions that would dramatically and negatively impact Utah’s public lands.

Section 471 would prohibit the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from spending funds to complete a new monument management plan for the restored Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, a process the agency has already dedicated significant time and resources to complete. Even if the BLM were able to complete the new plan, this legislation would require that the agency actually manage the monument pursuant to the Trump-era plan.

Section 478 would prohibit the BLM from using any funds to implement the Public Lands Rule (or any substantially similar rule), essentially rendering it meaningless and damaging the BLM’s future rulemaking efforts.

“If signed into law, the current House Appropriations bill would be deeply harmful to Utah’s public lands,” said SUWA DC Director Travis Hammill. “Legislators should focus on funding our federal land management agencies, not enacting wildly unpopular policy mandates via purse strings.” Read our full press release online.

We’re keeping a close eye on this bill and will let you know of opportunities to speak out in defense of Utah’s national monuments and public lands!

Photo © Tom Till

America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act Gains 12 New Cosponsors!

Upper Red Canyon - San JuanWe’re pleased to report that America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act (H.R. 3031 / S. 1310) recently picked up 12 new cosponsors in the House of Representatives, bringing the House total to 58 (Senate cosponsorship stands at 22). The latest endorsements came from Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA), Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA), Rep. Donald Beyer (D-VA), Rep. André Carson (D-IN), Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL), Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL), Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL), Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), and Rep. Greg Landsman (D-OH).

America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act is the flagship legislation that would designate more than 8 million acres of wild public land in Utah as federally protected wilderness. As the climate crisis disrupts both natural ecosystems and human communities, safeguarding such large tracts of public land from fossil fuel development and other human impacts can help preserve important wildlife habitat, increase carbon storage, and boost climate resiliency. Passage of the Red Rock bill would also help protect the region’s abundant cultural resources and conserve some of our nation’s most spectacular wild landscapes for future generations to enjoy.
Your advocacy is what drives congressional support for America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act. Please contact your members of Congress today and urge them to become cosponsors (or thank them if they already have)!

Photo © Ray Bloxham/SUWA

Americans Demonstrate Overwhelming Support for BLM Public Lands Rule

Red Rock PlateauSUWA would like to thank everyone who submitted comments on the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) proposed Public Lands Rule. During the public comment period—which included three in-person public meetings, two virtual public meetings, and countless briefings with stakeholders around the West—the BLM received more than 150,000 comments, most in support of the proposed rule. Several western newspapers also editorialized in favor of the rule, including the Salt Lake Tribune, Albuquerque Journal, and Grand Junction Sentinel.

We expect the BLM will take several months to review public comments and refine the rule before releasing a final version. Lawsuits will surely follow. SUWA will be there to defend the rule and its goal of fulfilling Congress’s vision of managing BLM lands for all uses, including conservation.

>> Click here for an analysis of Public Lands Rule comment submissions by the Center for Western Priorities

Photo © Ray Bloxham/SUWA

Celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Latino Conservation Week with SUWA & Community Partners!

Latino Conservation Week 2023 LogoLatino Conservation Week is well underway and SUWA and community partners have several events on the calendar for this year’s 10th anniversary celebration.

Launched in 2014 by the Hispanic Access Foundation, Latino Conservation Week provides Latino families and youth with unique outdoor recreation programs that connect them with nature. This year’s observance officially runs from July 15-23, but SUWA is extending the festivities with a Stansbury Island hike and clean-up on Friday, July 28th. Click here to learn more and register!

If you live outside of Utah, don’t fear—here are some other ways to learn, participate, and celebrate:

Stewardship Program Expands Reach to New Areas

2023 Stewardship Project in GSENMIt’s been a productive season so far for SUWA’s Stewardship Program as we partner with more Bureau of Land Management (BLM) field offices across the state. 

This spring we worked with the BLM’s Hanksville field office for the first time in seven years, remediating off-road vehicle impacts near the Dirty Devil Wilderness Study Area (WSA) and river put-in. There is much more work to be done and we hope to schedule more projects in this area over the coming years.  

Down in the southern reaches of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, we completed our first project with the BLM’s Kanab field office, raking tracks and rolling boulders to bolster WSA boundaries meant to preclude off-road vehicle travel. We also clarified foot access while eliminating sandstone graffiti in designated wilderness. We have a second project lined up with the Kanab office in October and look forward to keeping the momentum going.

Over in Utah’s West Desert, our volunteers continued work on boundaries in the Notch Peak WSA, building an additional 220 feet of mixed buck-and-rail and post-and-rail fence to better define the non-motorized area.

Most of this year’s projects are full, but we encourage you to add your name to the waitlist. Spaces often open up and we would be grateful for your participation!

>> View our 2023 project calendar

Photo © SUWA

SUWA 40th Anniversary LogoGet 40% Off SUWA Merchandise for Our 40th Anniversary!

Join us in honoring four decades of unwavering wilderness advocacy with an exclusive offer! For a limited time, enjoy 40% off all gear in our online store.

Every purchase you make helps SUWA in its ongoing mission to preserve and defend the beauty of Utah’s spectacular wild lands. Offer good while supplies last!

If you’ll be in Utah this September, don’t forget to purchase tickets to our 40th Anniversary Celebration at the Natural History Museum of Utah on September 9th! Ticket sales end on Friday, August 25th. Invite friends, family, and colleauges who love the redrock to celebrate with us.

>> Get 40% off SUWA merchandise now