Ralston To Obama: Protect Greater Canyonlands

Aron Ralston, the inspiration for Danny Boyle’s film 127 Hours, published an op-ed in Saturday’s Denver Post calling on President Obama to use his executive powers to protect the Greater Canyonlands region of Utah. In an open letter to President Obama, he writes:

Unfortunately, your administration has perpetuated the Bush-era management plans for about 11 million acres of southern Utah that put at risk some of the most spectacular areas in that state. Those plans, rushed through by the Bureau of Land Management in 2008, protected only 15 percent of our lands with wilderness characteristics and opened up 80 percent to oil and gas drilling, while designating an astonishing 20,000 miles of off-road-vehicle routes.

After waiting years for revision of those deeply-flawed plans, this spring the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance petitioned the BLM to take a smaller step: close about 1,000 miles of off-road vehicle routes near Canyonlands National Park. Joined by several national environmental groups this summer, SUWA asked the BLM to conduct a public comment period on that petition. The Bureau has stiff-armed the request.

Mr. President, I still believe that you care about our public lands. Though Blue John Canyon and the Greater Canyonlands region stand yet unprotected, there is something you can do. It is what Theodore Roosevelt did to first protect the Grand Canyon, how Franklin Roosevelt preserved the Tetons, and what George W. Bush did on an unprecedented scale in 2006 in the Pacific Ocean. You can use your authority under the Antiquities Act of 1906: Issue an executive order to designate the million-acre area outside Canyonlands National Park as a Greater Canyonlands National Monument.

Read more of Aron’s piece here — then, take a moment to contact President Obama and ask him to protect Greater Canyonlands