Lawsuit Spurs Trump Administration to Suspend 130 Oil & Gas Leases in Utah
The Trump administration has pulled 130 oil and gas leases in Utah because the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) failed to fully analyze greenhouse gas emissions and the potential harm to climate from fossil fuel extraction. It’s the fourth time this year that the agency has suspended leases for drilling and fracking in Utah―after the leases were sold―because they violated federal law.
Most of the leases are in areas designated by the BLM as having “wilderness characteristics,” which means they’re natural, undisturbed, and provide outstanding opportunities for solitude and quiet recreation. This includes the Bitter Creek, Desolation Canyon, Dragon Canyon and White River areas in the Book Cliffs region of the Uinta Basin, and the Eagle Canyon area in the San Rafael Swell (pictured).
The BLM’s latest decision to put a temporary hold on leasing activity comes in response to a September lawsuit filed by SUWA, Center for Biological Diversity, and Living Rivers. Because of challenges brought by conservation groups, the BLM this year has been forced to pull back leases covering more than 300,000 acres of public land in Utah.
Photo © Ray Bloxham/SUWA
Listen to Our November Podcast: Controlling Motorized Mayhem
As you no doubt have heard, the National Park Service recently abandoned a proposal to allow certain off-road vehicles (ORVs) in Utah’s national parks and monuments. The proposal provoked enough public outrage to force the Trump administration to reverse course and keep the longtime closure of park roads to ORVs. And that reversal came in part because SUWA members like you spoke out against sacrificing our national parks to this incompatible use.
But the controversy over the Park Service proposal raises a larger, under-the-radar ORV issue with the potential for long-term damage to America’s redrock wilderness. In our latest podcast episode we discuss how the BLM’s travel management planning has been at the heart of SUWA’s work for more than two decades, and how it’s coming to a head over the next few years. Our guests are SUWA Wildlands Program Director Neal Clark and Staff Attorney Laura Peterson.
Photo © Suvorovalex/Adobe Stock
November Is National Native American Heritage Month
November is Native American Heritage Month, “a time to celebrate rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories and to acknowledge the important contributions of Native people,” according to the National Congress of American Indians. Here in Utah, our redrock landscapes celebrate this heritage year-round with their abundance of ancestral dwellings, sacred sites, and rock art, not to mention the ongoing relationships between wild lands and contemporary indigenous peoples of the Colorado Plateau and Great Basin.
SUWA recently hosted Angelo Baca, a Navajo and Hopi filmmaker, for two Salt Lake City showings of his short documentary Shásh Jaa’: Bears Ears. The film follows the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition as they work to protect this exceptional area of Utah wilderness—prior to President Trump’s evisceration of Bears Ears National Monument by 85% in 2017. Baca talked to our audiences about the personal significance this wilderness has for him, his family, and his community. Indigenous communities, Baca told us, will continue to call this land home and fight for its protection, just as they have over centuries of hostile government leadership. Now, more than ever, our communities must work together to protect these ancestral landscapes.
Speaking of which, we’re pleased to report that last month the All Pueblo Council of Governors, which represents the collective voice of the 20-member Pueblos in New Mexico and Texas, visited Bears Ears National Monument and passed a series of resolutions affirming their commitment to both protecting the culturally rich landscape between Bears Ears and Canyons of the Ancients National Monuments and expanding the boundaries of Bears Ears to the original 1.9 million-acre Tribal proposal.
Photo © Tim Peterson
SUWA Wraps Up Another Successful Season of Stewardship
A service trip to Utah’s West Desert last weekend rounded out another successful season for SUWA’s Stewardship Program. We really dug in this year, conducting 23 service projects and volunteer trainings over 9 months. Building upon the work of previous seasons, we’ve instilled our program’s legacy of commitment, hard work, and willingness to travel far and wide to protect Utah’s wild places.
This year we emphasized inclusivity as we continue to restructure who we reach and who reaches us. As a start, our Stewardship Scholars contributed essential perspectives and experience to our growing stewardship community (read a few of their personal reflections here). Students from across the state and country gave their time, thought, energy, and semester breaks to protect wild Utah. And our members and supporters continue to firm the foundation of all that we do. We are grateful for your constant service.
Have a glance through our 2019 Stewardship photo album here. Then head over to our Stewardship Program web page and apply now to be the first to receive updates on 2020 Stewardship Season projects and trainings. As always, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. Hope to see you on the ground in 2020!
Photo © Jeremy Lynch/SUWA
The Deal Is Back: Get a Free SUWA Beanie with Year-End Gift Membership Purchases!
’Tis the season for SUWA gift memberships. Purchase a $25 gift membership during the month of November or December and your gift recipient will receive a free SUWA beanie in their welcome packet, along with a newsletter and yellow “Protect Wild Utah” sticker! You can even buy a gift membership for yourself (we won’t tell anyone). Order by Dec. 7th to guarantee delivery in time for Christmas.