Redrock Report: June 2010

June 2010

Here’s what is happening this month with the redrock:
1.  Final hearing held on proposed Alton coal mine.
2.  Tell the Obama administration to protect Utah’s wild lands!
3.  Activists share ideas at the SUWA grassroots retreat.
4.  New redrock bill cosponsors include Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA)

Threatened Places: Update on the Proposed Coal Mine near Bryce Canyon 

Friday, the Utah Board of Oil, Gas, and Mining held its final hearing on the
proposed Alton
coal mine near Bryce Canyon National Park.  SUWA, the Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club, the Natural
Resources Defense Council, and the National Parks Conservation Association have
been litigating to stop the mine in hearings before the Board since last
December.  We feel confident that our lawyers and our experts in hydrology
put forward a very strong case.  The Board is expected to rule on our case by the
end of July.  No matter what happens, an appeal to the Utah Supreme Court
is likely.

The mining
operations would have disastrous effects in southwestern Utah.  The mine and associated truck traffic
would degrade the air quality and pristine night skies around Bryce.  They
would launch a stream of coal trucks—one every five minutes
along State
Highway 89 through the historic town of Panguitch.  Some area residents
wisely fear for their health and livelihoods.  “Ninety-five percent of my
customers are tourists and I don’t want the truck traffic to drive them away or
the mine to pollute the clean air and water we enjoy here,” says Bobbi Bryant,
a small-business owner.

existing proposal is to mine privately-owned coal on private land.  That
may be just the beginning: the Bureau of Land Management is analyzing another
proposal by Alton Coal to lease a much larger area of surrounding public land
for development, compounding the environmental and human impacts and further
contributing to climate change.

There is
one more official opportunity for you to express your opinion about the
proposed mine.  The Utah Division of Air Quality is evaluating the coal
company’s air pollution permit now and we’ll let you know when the public
comment period opens.  We’ll also keep you
updated on the litigation, the proposal to expand mining onto BLM land, and
how you can make your voice heard.  Stay tuned.

This Summer, Your Chance to Speak on Behalf of Utah Wilderness

In conjuction with President Obama’s “America’s Great Outdoors” initiative, this summer administration officials are holding listening sessions throughout the country to hear what you have to say about land conservation in the United States.  This is a great opportunity for folks around the country to help elevate the issue of protecting Utah’s redrock wilderness in the eyes of the Obama administration. 

On June 2, Utah wilderness activists attended one of the first listening sessions in Bozeman, MT.  You can read activist reports on the session by activists Carolyn Hopper and Ron Craighead on SUWA’s blog.  The next sessions are scheduled for Annapolis, MD (click here for more information), Charleston, SC, and Seattle, WA, and more are expected to be put on the calendar for the coming months. 

If you are interested in attending a listening session on behalf of Utah wilderness if one is scheduled in your area, please fill out this form or email  Let’s show the Obama administration that people across the country want Utah’s wild lands protected!

If you can’t wait for a listening session to be scheduled in your area, you can get involved in the America’s Great Outdoors initiative by visiting this website, sharing your ideas about land conservation, and “promoting” the other ideas that have been submitted.

And rememberthe summer is also an excellent time to speak with your members of Congress about Utah wilderness.  If you are interested in dropping off information at your Senator’s or Representative’s district office, or would like to organize or attend an in-district meeting with one of your members of Congress, please fill out this form or email

Activists Strategize at the SUWA Grassroots Leader Retreat

Wild Utah grassroots leaders gathered at
the Canyonlands Field Institute this May to
strategize about the Utah wilderness campaign.

In May, redrock activists from across the country assembled at the Canyonlands Field Institute outside of Moab, UT for the annual SUWA Grassroots Leader Retreat.  Hailing from places as far as Massachusetts, Michigan, and Washington, and as close as Moab and Bluff, the group of activists spent the weekend hearing updates from SUWA staff about current Utah wilderness issues and strategizing about how they could help advance protection for the redrock once they returned home.  The location was inspiringthe group was surrounded by redrock, with views of Fisher Towers and Castleton Tower, and quick access to the Mary Jane Canyon hiking trail.  The setting was a constant reminder of what is at stake, and all of the activists left with game plans that are now underway.  Click here for more on the retreat.

*New Cosponsor Spotlight* 

Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA)

We are getting closer and closer to breaking the House cosponsor record for America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act!  Those recently signing onto to the bill are Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA), Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY), Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY) and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL).  If you live in one of their districts, please thank your representative!

For a full list of cosponsors, click here.  If your members of Congress are not on the list of cosponsors, please ask them to sign onto the bill by clicking here!



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