March 2024 Redrock Report

Mar 21st, 2024 Written by suwa

Good News! Preliminary Injunction for Labyrinth Canyon Plan Denied

Labyrinth Canyon in Grand County (Ray Bloxham)Yesterday, a federal court rejected an effort by motorized groups to block implementation of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) motorized vehicle travel management plan for the greater Labyrinth Canyon area, a plan SUWA has supported since it was released in September 2023. These groups were seeking an emergency injunction in a federal lawsuit; that case will now proceed on its merits with briefing and argument later in 2024.

“We’re pleased the Court has rejected this effort by motorized groups to prevent BLM from implementing the Labyrinth Rims/Gemini Bridges travel management plan,” said SUWA Legal Director Steve Bloch. “BLM’s plan takes a balanced approach to managing recreation in this popular area; one that protects the stunning Labyrinth Canyon river corridor and side canyons while leaving thousands of miles of dirt roads and trails open to motorized use. SUWA is confident that the plan will withstand additional scrutiny and we will continue to work to defend BLM’s decision.”

>> Read more in our press release, or in this story from the Salt Lake Tribune.

Photo © Ray Bloxham/SUWA

Take Action to Support Responsible Solar Development in Utah!

Price River Proposed WildernessThe Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is seeking public input on the proposed Western Utility-Scale Solar Energy Development Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement. This plan, commonly called the Western Solar Plan, is intended to update and expand utility-scale solar energy development on BLM-managed lands in eleven western states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

SUWA knows that public lands have an important role to play in the urgent and necessary transition to renewable energy. We also know that pitting the protection of public lands against support for renewable energy development in Utah is a false choice. Adoption of the Western Solar Plan doesn’t need to come at the expense of Utah’s wildest lands. Your involvement in this process will help ensure that these wild and intact landscapes remain protected.

Please submit comments on the Western Solar Plan and urge the BLM to select a modified version of Alternative 5 that excludes all lands proposed for wilderness designation in America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act while still leaving over 1.5 million acres available for responsible solar energy development in Utah. The agency is accepting comments through Thursday, April 18th.

>> Click here to submit your comments now

Photo © Ray Bloxham/SUWA

Draft Plan Released for Bears Ears National Monument, Public Meetings Announced

Bears Ears Buttes (Jeff Foott)Earlier this month, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service released the much-anticipated draft Bears Ears National Monument Management Plan and initiated a 90-day public comment period. A series of public open house meetings have since been scheduled, including an in-person meeting in Salt Lake City on April 18th, meetings in Blanding and Monument Valley,  and two virtual public meetings. Outside of Utah, the agencies will host meetings in Twin Arrows, AZ and Albuquerque, NM.

A remarkable 1.3-million-acre scenic and cultural landscape, Bears Ears was established in 2016 and restored to its original boundaries in 2021. This new plan is an opportunity to ensure that the monument is managed for its unique and extraordinary values, and in collaboration with the Five Tribes of the Bears Ears Commission.

SUWA staff are currently reviewing the draft plan, which presents five possible management alternatives. We’ll soon share more details, including tips for submitting your comments, and information about educational events. In the meantime, please visit our Bears Ears web page to learn more.

Photo © Jeff Foott

State Agency Aims to Locate Giant Tower Inside Bears Ears

Natural Bridges National Monument (NPS/L. Gommermann)In February, the San Juan County Planning Commission approved a permit for a 460-foot telecommunication tower within Bears Ears National Monument. The proposal calls for building the tower on state land managed by the Utah Trust Lands Administration (TLA, formerly known as the State and Institutional Trust Lands Administration or SITLA) off of Utah Highway 95 near its junction with Utah Highway 275, which leads to the entrance to Natural Bridges National Monument.

The tower, with its red blinking lights at the top and mid-point, would be visible throughout much of Bears Ears and Natural Bridges National Monuments.

Because the proposal conflicts wildly with current zoning—roughly 13 times the current limit—it now heads to the full San Juan County Commission for a variance determination. If the commission approves the variance, the project will also require approvals from the TLA and the Federal Communications Commission.

Bears Ears and Natural Bridges National Monuments encompass some of the most stunning and culturally important landscapes in the country. SUWA intends to fight this project and will keep you informed if it moves forward. Read more in this piece from the Salt Lake Tribune.

Photo: Natural Bridges National Monument (NPS/L. Gommermann)

Watch Our Inspiring Video of Wilderness Week 2024

Wilderness Week 2024 Video ScreenshotDid you catch our recap of Wilderness Week 2024? Read about it here or watch a short video that captures the hard work, dedication, and joyful spirit of our redrock activists. They truly inspire us!


Merch Madness Is Here!

Desert Sunshine BundleWelcome to Merch Madness! No brackets or competitive spirit required—just a sense of adventure and a love of great deals. We’ve got three prizewinning merch bundles now available in our online store while supplies last (or until the end of April). Choose from our Desert Sunshine, Desert Weekender, or Desert Excursion bundles, all at a $50 discount over individual item purchases. Buy one for yourself or get a head start on Mother’s and Father’s Day gifts this year!

>> Check out our Merch Madness bundles now