• June 15th, 2021

    We take a step back to look at the macro view of why southern Utah captures the hearts of so many. We’re joined by Michael Haswood, Bears Ears Artist in Residence at Utah Diné Bikéyah, to ask: What is beauty? How is beauty embodied in your art? Is beauty important in the movement to protect wilderness?

    Wild Utah is made possible by the contributing members of SUWA. Wild Utah’s theme music, “What’s Worth?” is composed by Moab singer-songwriter Haley Noel Austin. Our interlude music, “Chuck’s Guitar,” is by Larry Pattis. Post studio production and editing is by Jerry Schmidt.

    Listen on your favorite app!

    wildutah.info/Stitcher
    wildutah.info/Apple
    wildutah.info/Spotify

  • June 14th, 2021

    The Biden administration is poised to authorize oil and gas drilling on the doorstep of Dinosaur National Monument. If approved by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the proposal will industrialize a remote and scenic area by greenlighting the construction of new access roads, well pads, and the drilling of two wells—all about ¼ of a mile from the monument.

    This ill-conceived project—proposed by Hoodoo Mining & Production Co. LLC—runs counter to every stated goal and objective of the Biden administration. It threatens some of our nation’s wildest, most scenic public lands, including a national monument, and will harm lands with wilderness characteristics as well as priority habitat for greater sage-grouse. On top of all this, it will exacerbate the climate crisis.

    The BLM is accepting comments through June 23rd. Please tell agency not to approve this terrible drilling proposal.

    Split Mountain Benches
    Wilderness-quality lands at risk near Dinosaur National Monument. © Scott Braden/SUWA

    Making matters worse, BLM is bending over backwards to facilitate the project. The drilling and related development will take place on public lands that are currently subject to a “no surface occupancy” stipulation, which prohibits all surface disturbing activities. When Hoodoo Mining acquired the lease it did so with full knowledge of this restriction. Now, at the company’s request, the BLM is proposing to waive that important stipulation rather than requiring the company to develop in a less sensitive area.

    Tell the BLM not to grant Hoodoo Mining’s request to waive the “no surface occupancy” stipulation.

    Dinosaur National Monument is world-renowned for its remarkable density and diversity of prehistoric sites and paleontological resources. In addition, according to the National Park Service, the monument “is one of the darkest places remaining in the United States. Because there is little light pollution here, you can see the stars of the Milky Way galaxy with startling clarity.”

    With your help, SUWA will fight every step of this project to ensure that the monument remains that way.

    Please click here to submit your comments now.

  • June 9th, 2021

    There is some entertainment value to Senator Romney and Representative Curtis introducing an Illinois wilderness bill to contrast the more serious proposal from Senator Durbin to protect federally-owned wild lands located within the state of Utah.  However, their bill covers the entire Shawnee National Forest regardless of what is still wild and what is not, so it doesn’t truly pass the laugh test.

    So let’s talk about actions that are actually important and impactful.

    The world is facing a climate crisis.  The Colorado River is at all-time lows and shrinking, threatening water used for drinking and growing food for millions.  Forest fires burn across the headlines.  Bigger fiercer hurricanes are wreaking unprecedented damage. Storm patterns are harming agriculture in the American heartland.  Refugees are beginning to flee from one nation to another due to climate impacts.  Creation itself is in decline with the numbers of lifeforms and their wild homes crashing to unprecedented lows.  This is just the beginning tip of the melting iceberg.

    Instead of frivolous legislation, it would be helpful to see a serious proposal from the Utah delegation.  Fortunately, we have “America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act” to fill the void.

    Scientists – and the Paris Climate Agreement — tell us we need to remain below a 1.5 degree Celsius temperature increase if we are to avoid widespread and irreversible disaster.  To accomplish that we need to stop emitting greenhouse gasses and sustain Mother Nature’s capacity to draw carbon out of the atmosphere via sequestration. America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act makes a sizable contribution on both fronts.

    A new peer-reviewed research study shows that Senator Durbin’s bill would allow us to keep in the ground the equivalent of nearly 6% of the carbon budget necessary to avoid warming the earth more than 1.5 degrees.  The same study shows that conserving the trees, desert shrublands and soils on these lands would retain their innate ability to pull carbon out of the atmosphere, allowing the amount of carbon sequestered by these lands to increase 10% over the course of this century.

    And there are more benefits.  America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act would conserve substantial areas of “climate refugia” – wildland habitat that is crucial for animals and plants to adapt to and survive changing climate conditions.  In addition, Utah’s wildlands sit in a uniquely productive place for sustaining multi-state wildlife corridors – five to be exact – that provide lifelines for deer, elk, bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, black bear and mountain lion in a changing climate.

    Finally, Senator Durbin’s bill would help sustain flows in the shrinking Colorado River.  This is because the bill would help prevent surface-disturbing activities which increase the amount of windblown dust that lands on Colorado snowpack.  Studies show that “red dust on snow” causes the snow to melt faster and sooner, reducing flows by more than 5% in recent years.

    These are positive impacts for people across the west, the entire nation, and the world.

    What happens to the wild places on the United States public lands within the boundaries of Utah is of concern to all Americans.  We elect United States Senators to represent their home state, serve the entire country and do what they can to help the world.  We are grateful  that Sen. Durbin is stepping into his responsibility, acting for our families and for our future.

    Take Action! Ask Your Members of Congress to Cosponsor America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act.

  • June 8th, 2021

    Today, America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act was reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA). That means both the House and Senate versions are officially on the books for the 117th Congress and we are ready to roll!

    Please ask your members of Congress to cosponsor America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act today!

    The House bill was reintroduced with 57 original cosponsors already signed on, while the companion bill in the Senate is currently endorsed by 13 senators (click here to see the full cosponsor list). That’s a great start, but we need your help to boost these numbers much higher in the coming weeks by asking your representative and senators to endorse the bill if they haven’t already.

    Lockhart Basin proposed wilderness, copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA

    America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act is the seminal legislation that would protect 8.4 million acres of wild public lands in Utah. We all know these spectacular landscapes are worthy of permanent protection, but now we also know they play a significant role in addressing climate change by drawing carbon out of the atmosphere, sequestering it in plants and soils, and providing climate refugia for wildlife. These wild desert lands are also a vital link in the interconnected chain of largely undisturbed ecosystems running from the Grand Canyon to Glacier National Park, providing important migration corridors for wildlife.

    Many of you have helped build support for America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act over the years by signing postcards, making phone calls, sending emails, and even traveling to Washington, DC to meet with your elected officials in person. With the Biden administration’s current focus on climate and conserving 30% of land and water in the U.S. by 2030, now is the time to ramp up your advocacy efforts as we work to move this legislation forward!

    Click here to contact your representatives now.

    If you’d like to learn more about the bill—or simply celebrate its reintroduction with us—please join our short and sweet webinar this 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.

    Thanks for all you do!