• September 20th, 2022

    The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is accepting comments on a draft travel management plan for the iconic Labyrinth Canyon and Gemini Bridges area outside of Moab. The plan will determine where off-road vehicle (ORV) use is allowed in this remarkable landscape for decades to come, so public input is extremely important.

    Home to irreplaceable cultural and historic resources, critical wildlife habitat, and unmatched quiet recreational opportunities, the Labyrinth Canyon and Gemini Bridges region is a magnificent area of Utah’s backcountry. The BLM’s travel plan will have a long-lasting impact on the future of this region by determining where ORVs will be able to travel and what areas will be managed for the protection of wildlife, solitude, cultural values, and non-motorized recreation.

    Click here to tell the BLM to keep motorized trails out of Labyrinth Canyon!

    Kayaker on the Green River in Labyrinth Canyon. © James Kay

    Labyrinth Canyon is a gem of the American West, where the placid Green River flows for more than 40 miles past towering canyon walls. This stretch of river provides an unparalleled multi-day wilderness experience for boaters of all ages and experience levels. It is also a designated Wild and Scenic River, noted for its outstanding recreational, scenic, ecological, and cultural values.

    Thanks to the previous efforts of SUWA supporters like you, the west side of Labyrinth Canyon is already protected as congressionally-designated wilderness. But the eastern side of the river is not yet similarly protected—meaning that the solitude and serenity of Labyrinth Canyon can be shattered in an instant by ORVs tearing up and down the river bank.

    Tell the BLM to keep motorized trails out of Labyrinth Canyon’s river corridor, wildlife habitat, cultural sites, and other sensitive or inappropriate areas.

    Currently, the Labyrinth Canyon and Gemini Bridges area is blanketed with over 1,200 miles of ORV routes. More than 94% of the land within the Labyrinth Canyon and Gemini Bridges area is within a half mile of a designated ORV route and less than 0.5% of the land is more than a mile from a designated route. This route density means there are few places to escape the whine of motorized vehicles—even when floating in Labyrinth Canyon.

    The BLM has released four alternatives for the future of Labyrinth Canyon and Gemini Bridges. It is vital that the BLM hear overwhelming public support for Alternative B. Alternative B would finally protect the entire Labyrinth Canyon river corridor while reducing route density in spectacular areas like Gold Bar Rim, Deadman Point, Day Canyon, and Ten Mile Point.

    Alternative B is the only option that protects Labyrinth Canyon and balances motorized recreation with the protection of natural and cultural resources and non-motorized recreation.

    Tell the BLM to keep motorized trails out of the Labyrinth Canyon river corridor and other sensitive or inappropriate areas in the Labyrinth Canyon and Gemini Bridges region.

    The most helpful comments discuss specific trails (identified by name or number); how you enjoy hiking, camping and other non-motorized pursuits in the area; and how motorized use in these places has conflicted with your particular use or enjoyment.

    The BLM is accepting comments through October 7, 2022. Be sure to make your voice heard.

    Do you know Labyrinth Canyon especially well?
    Comments that draw from first-hand knowledge and experiences on the river are the most effective. If you have a personal affinity for Labyrinth Canyon and know the area well, you may want to submit your comments directly through the BLM comment portal. Send an email to issues-action@suwa.org and we’ll be happy to help guide you through the process.

  • September 14th, 2022

    What’s “GSENM RMP”, anyway? It’s shorthand for the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Resource Management Plan. Originally proclaimed by President Clinton in 1996, the almost two million acre monument was slashed in half under former President Trump in 2017. It’s been close to a year since President Biden restored the monument to its original boundaries, and it’s time for his administration to re-write the Trump-era plan and re-emphasize scientific discovery and conservation as the primary purpose of the monument. That also means that it’s time for you to get involved!

    Our guest is SUWA Wildlands Attorney Kya Marienfeld, who is heading up SUWA’s official comments about Grand Stairacse-Escalante to the BLM. In non-legal terms, she explains the process for monument planning and helps us understand how to effectively engage in making the final plan a guiding document we can all be proud of.

    Take action after this episode!

    Have a Say in the Future of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument!

    Leave your public comment to the Bureau of Land Management by 9/27.

     

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    Theme music is by Haley Noel Austin, with interlude music by Larry Pattis.
    Dave Pacheco is the host of Wild Utah.
    Post studio production and editing is by Laura Borichevsky.

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  • September 12th, 2022

    With Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument now restored to its original boundaries, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is beginning the process of developing a new management plan for this world-renowned landscape.

    This is a once-in-a generation opportunity to ensure that the monument is managed for its unique and extraordinary values, as the plans won’t be revised again for decades. That’s why it’s so important that people like you, who know and love Utah’s wild lands, take time to participate in the planning process.

    The BLM is currently accepting comments as part of the scoping process. This is your chance to tell the BLM what issues are important for them to consider as they develop a draft management plan.

    Click here to tell the BLM to prioritize wilderness and other conservation values in the new management plan for Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

    Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Photo copyright Jack Dykinga

    Grand Staircase-Escalante has rightfully claimed its place as one of the crown jewels of our nation’s public lands. It was the first monument managed by the BLM to specifically prioritize conservation of cultural, ecological, and scientific values, and it is now world-renowned for its remarkable paleontological discoveries, stunning scenery, and outstanding intact and diverse natural ecosystems.

    With this new management plan, the BLM has the opportunity to strengthen the protections at Grand Staircase-Escalante for generations to come. The BLM should:

    • Protect lands that qualify as wilderness by designating them as new wilderness study areas.
    • Prohibit mechanical treatments of sagebrush, pinyon pine, juniper, and other vegetation, and only use native species for restoration and post-fire seeding.
    • Return to using “management zones” for future recreation planning as it did in the original management plan for the monument, and focus any growth and expansion of recreation in frontcountry areas while protecting and minimizing development of less-used backcountry areas.
    • Close motorized routes that are harming monument objects, without adding new routes and while maintaining route closures and restrictions from the monument’s original management plan.
    • Ensure that Tribal Nations are proactively involved in the planning processes and resource management decisions while protecting cultural resources and traditional uses.
    • Protect visual resources, night skies, and natural and quiet soundscapes.

    (Click here for an expanded list of talking points)

    Personalized comments carry the greatest weight, so we encourage you to take a moment to tell the BLM what is important to you.

    Take action today to help protect Grand Staircase for generations to come.

    Comments are due September 27th. Thank you for everything you do to help protect the redrock!

  • August 24th, 2022

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Contact: Scott Groene, Executive Director, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, 801-712-5034, scott@suwa.org 

    Moab, UT (August 24, 2022) – Today, the State of Utah, along with Garfield and Kane Counties, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court challenging President Biden’s lawful use of the Antiquities Act to restore the boundaries of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments last October.

    In response to the lawsuit, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) executive director Scott Groene issued the following statement:

    “Once again, Utah’s political leaders are running roughshod over those who live closest to Utah’s national monuments — especially the Tribes that have lived here since time immemorial. This lawsuit further ignores the local elected officials in Grand and San Juan Counties, where Bears Ears is located, and community leaders in the towns closest to the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, who have registered their support for President Biden’s lawful restoration of the original monument boundaries.

    “From Governor Cox on down, the continued anti-environment agenda of Utah politicians makes the Utah political delegation the most hostile to America’s public lands, of any state.  At a time when climate change is creating drought and extreme weather events in Utah, Utah’s politicians are exacerbating the harm by trying to upend the very public land protections that play a critical role in mitigating the effects of climate change.  Utah residents deserve better.”

    Additional Resources

    Link to Garfield County et al. lawsuit.



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