May 2024 Redrock Report

May 23rd, 2024 Written by suwa

Take Action: Protect Bears Ears National Monument Plan!

Bears Ears Buttes (Tim Peterson)

As you may remember from previous issues of the Redrock Report, the draft Bears Ears National Monument Management Plan, which contains several possible management alternatives, has been released for public comment. The release of the Bears Ears plan is a major milestone toward ensuring that this spectacular landscape is managed to conserve its extraordinary values in collaboration with the Five Tribal Nations that comprise the Bears Ears Commission.

In addition to guiding how the Monument is managed, the Plan will also address how the agencies will incorporate Traditional Indigenous Knowledge into decision-making in order to protect best and restore the Monument’s irreplaceable natural and cultural resources and values. Alternative E is the preferred alternative of both the Commission and the agencies. Please take action and call for an improved Alternative E to ensure that the Monument is managed in collaboration with the five Tribes to conserve its irreplaceable natural, cultural, historic, and archeological resources and values.

It’s important that the agencies hear from the public – and personalized comments carry the greatest weight, so please take a moment to tell the BLM what is important about Bears Ears to you.

 >> Comments are due by Tuesday, June 11.

Photo © Tim Peterson

Public Lands Rule Finalized – and under attack 

CombRidgeRainbow_JackArnold.jpgSUWA was excited when the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced the release of the final Public Lands Rule, which establishes a “… framework to ensure healthy landscapes, abundant wildlife habitat, clean water, and balanced decision-making on our nation’s public lands.” You can read our full statement online, as well as pieces from the Salt Lake Tribune and Utah News Dispatch.

Unfortunately, in addition to attacking the rule during an April 22 House Natural Resources Field Hearing (additional information in the Red Cliffs update below), Rep. John Curtis (R-UT) has continued his efforts to see the now-final Rule repealed. Curtis sponsored the WEST Act, which directs that the Rule be undone and which passed the U.S. House of Representatives on April 30. SUWA and our conservation partners are working to ensure that the Act doesn’t gain traction in the Senate.

“SUWA supports the long overdue Public Lands Rule, appreciates the Biden administration’s commitment to conservation, and looks forward to seeing the Rule’s positive impact on Utah’s redrock country. The WEST Act is nothing more than election-year grandstanding and has no chance of becoming law,” said Travis Hammill, SUWA’s DC Director. “Representative Curtis’s decision to sponsor the WEST Act is at odds with the majority of Utahns who support conservation and know climate change is a serious problem.” Read our full statement.

Photo © Jack Arnold

Red Cliffs National Conservation Area back in the spotlight

Red Cliffs HearingThe proposed Northern Corridor Highway, a controversial four-lane highway that would cut through the heart of the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area (NCA) in nearby St. George, has been in the news once again. On April 22, a House Natural Resources Subcommittee hosted a one-sided Field Hearing. As we stated, the “…partisan hearing was out of touch with local and national support for protecting public lands – especially the Red Cliffs NCA. Despite a hearing title that included the phrase “Empowering Local Voices,” no members of the public were allowed to speak. Local community members sporting “No Highway thru Red Cliffs” stickers made up a majority of the audience and the message was clear.”

On May 9, the draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) to reconsider a right-of-way for the proposed Highway was released. Federal agencies are reconsidering the right-of-way due to SUWA and conservation groups’ litigation. We believe the proposed Northern Corridor Highway route violates five bedrock environmental laws and threatens critical habitat for the imperiled Mojave desert tortoise, recreational opportunities, and scenic vistas.

The draft SEIS does not pick an preferred alternative, but does ask for public comment; an open house has been scheduled for Tuesday, June 4 in St. George; if you’re in Southwest Utah, we’ll be sharing more information by email soon. And be on the lookout for an advocacy action in June!

>> Read more about the April 22 Field Hearing in the St. George News or the Salt Lake Tribune.

Photo © Conserve Southwest Utah

Henry Mountains/Dirty Devil Travel Management Plan update

DirtyDevil_BertsMesa_RB (16).jpgOn May 10, the Bureau of Land Management released preliminary alternatives for the Henry Mountains/Dirty Devil Travel Management Plan, which will determine where motorized vehicles will be allowed on some of Utah’s wildest public lands. Preliminary alternatives are an initial look at the different route networks the BLM will eventually analyze as part of a draft environmental assessment (as part of the National Environmental Policy Act or “NEPA” process).

“Spanning from Capitol Reef National Park to Canyonlands National Park and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, the remote and stunning landscapes encompassed within this planning area are at the heart of Utah’s redrock country,” said Laura Peterson, SUWA Staff Attorney“BLM’s previous travel management plan for this spectacular area was heavily skewed in favor of motorized use at the expense of natural and cultural resources as well as other users seeking a quieter experience. This new travel plan is an opportunity for BLM to bring a more balanced approach to where vehicle use should and should not occur.”

The area included within the plan encompasses roughly 1,150,000 acres of BLM-managed lands made up of several distinct and renowned landscapes, including the Dirty Devil Canyon complex (which the Navajo Nation has identified as a Traditional Cultural Property; the complex also includes Butch Cassidy’s infamous hideout, Robber’s Roost), the Henry Mountains (the last mountain range to be mapped in the lower 48 states), and the stunning badlands surrounding Factory Butte (named by early settlers who thought its outline resembled a huge factory building). We’ll have an advocacy action soon – be on the lookout!

>> Click here to read “Looking for balance in Utah’s redrock country: the motorized vehicle dilemma.”

Photo © Ray Bloxham/SUWA

A free online estate planning tool from SUWA

Night Sky.jpegSUWA is working with FreeWill, an online estate planning tool that makes it easy for you to create a will or trust, care for your loved ones, and ensure a legacy that can help protect wild Utah forever.

In recent years, gifts from the estates of supporters have made possible our Stewardship Program and new positions on our legal, wildlands, and grassroots organizing teams. These gifts enable staff to proactively identify potential threats and conduct work in the field that preserves and restores the wilderness character of our public lands. Freewill is a free, simple, and effective way for anyone who loves Southern Utah to ensure that the neverending work to protect these unique landscapes continues long after we’re gone.

Have you already written your will and included a gift to SUWA? Please fill out this form to let us know! If you’re looking for information about stocks, IRA and QCDs, DAFs, or other ways to give, you can find it here. We also have information about Monthly GivingBusiness Members, and Honorary & Gift Memberships. If you have other questions, please send an email to Development Associate Heather Rose Martinez,

>> Click here to learn more about planned giving opportunities with SUWA. 

Photo © SUWA