R.S. 2477 Returns with a Vengeance – Redrock Report February 2012

Here’s what is happening this month with the redrock:
1.  We’re now staring down the barrel of a massive lawsuit…
2.  Join the campaign to protect Greater Canyonlands!
3.  SUWA asks agency to protect the Colorado and Green Rivers.
4.  Attend redrock events in Colorado and New York this March.

Utah to file lawsuits for over 18,000 R.S. 2477 claims and seize federal public lands to boot

“The right of way for the construction of highways across public lands, not reserved for public uses, is hereby granted.”

Little did Congress know when it enacted this innocuous-sounding law in 1866 that it would wreak havoc on the nation’s public lands 145 years later, threatening the future of the very same scenic lands that Congress later sought to protect in national parks, national monuments, wilderness and wilderness study areas, national forests, national wildlife refuges and other fragile public lands.  They strike at the heart of places that have been protected for years, like Capitol Reef National Park, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, dozens of wilderness study areas, and they spread like a web of red tendrils across the entire redrock wilderness.

There are even R.S. 2477 claims in the Cedar Mountains Wilderness, designated under President Bush in 2006, and in the wilderness areas designated in the Washington County lands bill, enacted in 2009.  Clearly, Utah politicians who crowed about the passage of these bills only to slice them apart later with dozens of “highways” cannot be trusted to negotiate true wilderness bills in the future.  We can see that now, and so can everyone else.

Today, R.S. 2477 has become the most serious threat to the future of Utah’s remaining wild lands, designated wilderness, national parks and national monuments we’ve seen in decades.

Find out what you can do to help fight a few very loud Utah politicians trying to seize control over someone else’s land – ours – by clicking here.

Tell President Obama: Protect Greater Canyonlands!

Steven Sadleir was the
lucky winner of February’s
prize — a Petzl headlamp.
Will it be you next month?

President Obama has the power to protect the 1.4 million acres of public BLM land surrounding Canyonlands National Park with the stroke of a pen – if we can convince him to do so.

Join the effort to protect the spectacular Greater Canyonlands region by visiting greatercanyonlands.org and participating in our Facebook photo campaign, collecting postcards to the President, and joining our Colorado banner brigade.

By taking part in the “President Obama: Protect Greater Canyonlands” photo campaign (if you’re not on Facebook you can still participate by sending a photo to jackie@suwa.org), you will also be eligible to win a monthly prize and the grand prize of a custom Ultralight backpack this fall.  Steven Sadleir (see photo at left) was the lucky winner of a Petzl headlamp in February — will it be you next month?  Thanks to Ultralight and Petzl for their generous prize donations.

SUWA and the Sierra Club have also recently teamed up to create a Protect Greater Canyonlands Facebook page and a Flickr group for you all to post your photos.  Please share far and wide!

SUWA petitions state agency to protect Colorado, Green Rivers

In early February, SUWA petitioned a little-known state agency to protect the mighty Colorado and Green Rivers from activities like oil and gas leasing.  The Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands oversees the management of so-called “sovereign” or “state lands,” which include the lands underlying navigable waters within Utah like the Great Salt Lake and larger rivers, like the Colorado and Green.

SUWA has petitioned DFFSL to prepare a comprehensive management plan for the Colorado and Green Rivers to guide how that agency manages these remarkable resources. In the meantime, we’ve asked them not to offer or sell any new oil and gas or other leases.  In other words, “think first, lease later.”  DFFSL has done the same thing on the Great Salt Lake – deferring new mineral leasing while it prepares a new comprehensive plan.  It only makes sense to do the same thing here.

To learn more, visit our blog by clicking here.

Beyond 127 Hours and other upcoming redrock events

Join Aron Ralston, inspiration for the Oscar-nominated film 127 Hours, in Boulder, CO on March 8 for a free presentation to protect Greater Canyonlands.  See the event flyer by clicking here, and invite friends on Facebook too.

Also, see our Wild Utah: America’s Redrock Wilderness slideshow in New York this March.  For the full schedule of national grassroots events, click here.

To schedule an event in your area for 2012, contact Terri in the Southwest (terri@suwa.org), Brooke in the Northwest (brooke@suwa.org), Clayton in the Midwest (clayton@suwa.org), and Jackie in the East (jackie@suwa.org).

This past month, three new Representatives have cosponsored America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act (H.R. 1916/S. 979) — Congressmen Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Hansen Clarke (D-MI) and Ed Markey (D-MA).  All three cosponsorships were the product of great work by local redrock activists.  Please say thank you if one is your member of Congress! If your members of Congress are not on the list of cosponsors, please ask them to cosponsor America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act today!

Sign the petition to save Greater Canyonlands