June 2021 Redrock Report

Jun 4th, 2021 Written by suwa

Help Us Celebrate the Reintroduction of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act in the 117th Congress!

Hatch Point (Chris Noble)America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act was recently reintroduced in the U.S. Senate and will soon be reintroduced in the House! We are celebrating this big moment for places like the Kaiparowits Plateau, Escalante Canyons, and Dirty Devil with a short and sweet webinar on Wednesday, June 9th from 6:00pm–6:30pm MT. SUWA’s Organizing and Legislative teams will briefly discuss the origins of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act and what we can do to garner widespread support in Congress. Please RSVP HERE or join us on Facebook Live!

And if you haven’t yet asked your members of Congress to cosponsor America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, now is a great time to do it! Simply click here to send a message to your representatives today.

Photo © Chris Noble

BLM Moves to Authorize Oil & Gas Drilling on Doorstep of Dinosaur National Monument

Split Mountain BenchesLast month, the Biden administration released a proposal to authorize oil and gas drilling within half a mile of Dinosaur National Monument. The proposal, referred to as the Federal Pipeline Unit Wells project, involves the construction and installation of new well pads, roads, pipelines and the drilling of two wells; it’s a plan that will industrialize the western edge of the monument.

“This proposal runs counter to every stated goal and objective of the Biden administration,” said SUWA Staff Attorney Landon Newell. “It threatens some of our wildest, most scenic public lands―including a national monument, priority habitat for greater sage-grouse―and will exacerbate the climate crisis.” Making matters worse, the BLM is bending over backwards to facilitate the project by proposing to waive a “no surface occupancy” stipulation which prohibits all surface disturbing activities.

Notably, the proposed action is identical to one previously approved by the BLM’s Vernal  field office only to be remanded―under the Trump administration―by the agency’s Utah state director for further environmental review. Rather than conduct the required thorough analysis, the Vernal office has merely tried to paper over its previous illegal decision and is poised to once again authorize the industrialization of this wild area.

Stayed tuned for an action alert on this issue in the coming days.

>> Click here to read our full press release

Photo © Ray Bloxham/SUWA

Wild Utah Podcast Looks at Crucial Role of Wilderness Study Areas

WSA Podcast GraphicSUWA and coalition partners across the country are calling on the Department of Interior to assert its long-held and ongoing authority to inventory and manage Wilderness Study Areas as a practical and secure means of achieving national conservation and restoration goals. In our latest podcast we discuss the role BLM wilderness study areas, in Utah and across the western U.S., can play in helping to connect wildlife corridors, protect biodiversity, and mitigate the climate crisis.

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.

Photo © Steve Mulligan

Final Travel Plan Released for Canyon Rims Area

Lockhart Basin (Ray Bloxham)On May 21, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released the final travel management plan for the Canyon Rims area in northern San Juan County. Encompassing roughly 91,000 acres of BLM-managed land, Canyon Rims provides some of the most stunning vistas in southern Utah, with expansive views of Canyonlands National Park, Lockhart Basin, and the Colorado River. In addition to the scenic Needles, Canyonlands, and Anticline Overlooks, the area features important wildlife habitat and cultural resources.

The new travel plan is a step in the right direction—the BLM closed about 46 miles of unnecessary motorized routes—but the agency nevertheless left open dozens of miles of routes that should have been closed because they are reclaimed, reclaiming, or redundant. In total, the plan designates 226.5 miles of motorized vehicle routes.

SUWA is working hard to minimize damage to natural and cultural resources from off-road vehicles and will continue to need your help to hold the BLM accountable.

Photo © Ray Bloxham/SUWA

SUWA Joins Lawsuit to Save Red Cliffs National Conservation Area

Red Cliffs Highway GraphicThe ecologically-rich Red Cliffs National Conservation Area (NCA) was specifically set aside by Congress in 2009 for conservation purposes, including the protection of the desert tortoise whose suitable home across the Southwest is disappearing at a rapid rate. But in January of this year, the Trump administration issued a decision to permit the construction of a four-lane highway through Red Cliffs NCA.

In response, SUWA joined a coalition of environmental partners this past week in filing a lawsuit alleging that the Trump administration’s decision violates the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act, the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the National Historic Preservation Act. If federal public lands with this kind of clear, sturdy intent for preservation of natural resource values and imperiled wildlife habitat can be paved over for more development on a whim, what areas will be left?