June 2016 Redrock Report

Jun 17th, 2016 Written by suwa

EPA to Revise Regional Haze Rule — Your Comments Needed!

Big Flats oil and gas develoment (Mason Cummings, TWS)The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently proposed revisions to its Regional Haze Rule. The Rule is designed to address air pollution that threatens public health and vistas in certain protected lands. In Utah, all five national parks are protected by this rule, and surrounding public lands benefit as well.

Currently, the Regional Haze Rule has loopholes that have allowed some states to avoid taking the necessary steps to clear the air. The proposed changes to the rule would remove these loopholes. Unfortunately, the EPA is also proposing to allow states too much time to implement these changes. Since Utah (and others) are already behind schedule in fixing haze problems, this allowance is unhelpful.

Take action: Ask the EPA to strengthen the Regional Haze Rule and reject any changes that would allow delayed compliance.

Photo by Mason Cummings, The Wilderness Society

Bears Ears Movement Continues to Grow Despite “Badger Looting”

Cedar Mesa Kiva (Richard Bullough)The effort to protect the ancestral Native American lands surrounding Bears Ears in southeastern Utah continues to build steam and has quickly become a national (and international) story. Just this month the Washington Post published a long front-page feature about Bears Ears and the possibility of President Obama proclaiming a national monument to protect the area’s cultural sites from looting and other threats. As Utah Diné Bikéyah board member Jonah Yellowman puts it in the story, “You can tell that this [movement] is different. This one, there’s hope.”

Unfortunately, opponents of the monument continue to be up to no good and have been posting misleading and threatening flyers in San Juan County, as the Guardian reports. Opponents’ arguments against protection seem to increasingly rely upon a complete suspension of disbelief, with Utah state Rep. Mike Noel now blaming the looting and grave robbing on . . . wait for it . . . badgers. Yep, you heard it here first.

Photo: Cultural site in the proposed Bears Ears National Monument, © Richard Bullough

National Defense Authorization Act Passes Senate

Cricket Mountains (Jeff Garton)On Tuesday, June 14th, the Senate passed its version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by an 85-13 vote. The bill would allocate $602 billion in funding for the Department of Defense and the national security programs of the Department of Energy. Unfortunately, it would also initiate a land exchange that would trade Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) lands for high-value federal parcels as part of an effort to expand the operational footprint of the Utah Test and Training Range. That includes 14,500 acres of proposed wilderness in the Drum and Cricket Mountain Ranges — lands proposed for wilderness designation under America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act.

While the NDAA has passed through both the House and Senate, the two chambers still must reconcile their respective NDAA bills in a conference committee before a final bill can go to President Obama for his signature or veto. The President has already issued veto threats against both the House and Senate versions, meaning significant changes must be made to the final bill in order to obtain his signature. Therein lies our opportunity to remove this harmful provision from the NDAA and keep the wildlands of the Drums and Crickets off the chopping block.

Photo: Cricket Mountains, © Jeff Garton

Join SUWA in the Field on a Service Project in 2016!

Field Volunteers, San Rafael Swell

SUWA’s new volunteer coordinator, Jeremy Lynch, will be managing a new program aimed at offering hands-on opportunities for SUWA members to engage in the stewardship of our public lands through a series of organized volunteer work trips with the Bureau of Land Management. We’re looking for serious desert rats who are interested in getting their hands dirty in an effort to help protect some of Utah’s most spectacular landscapes.

If interested, please send an email to with your name and contact information and we’ll make sure you are informed of any upcoming volunteer service projects.

Photo: Service project volunteers in the San Rafael Swell

Transmission Line Threatens Wilderness, Wildlife Habitat

SUWA, in collaboration with The Wilderness Society, Conservation Colorado, and Audubon Rockies, has filed an official protest of the Gateway South Transmission project. The project authorizes the construction of a 500-kilovolt transmission line over 400 miles of federal, state, and private lands from Wyoming, through Colorado, to central Utah. The transmission right-of-way is 250-feet wide and features towers from 140 to 190 feet in height.

Among myriad other environmental concerns stemming from the project, the transmission line will result in the fragmentation of wildlife habitat and the loss of wilderness-quality lands. In Utah, the project would disqualify nearly 7,500 acres of proposed wilderness (including lands identified as wilderness-caliber by the Bureau of Land Management) from future wilderness designation.

We’ll keep you updated when we receive a decision on our protest from the Director of the BLM.

Job Posting: SUWA Seeks Development Director

SUWA is seeking a full-time Development Director to work out of our main office in Salt Lake City. If you are an outgoing person with fundraising experience and a passion for Utah wilderness, this may be the job for you!  Click here for more details.