Redrock Report: Good News for the New Year!

visit the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance website

January 2010

Here's what is happening this month with the redrock:
1. 
BLM oil & gas policy changes stem from SUWA's legal victories.
2.  Wild lands in the Zion-Mojave region are still threatened by off-road vehicles.
3.  Subscribe to Redrock Headlines!
4.  New redrock bill cosponsors include Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME).
5.  Find out if SUWA's slideshow and other redrock presentations are happening at a location near you.


BLM Announces Policy Reform Long Sought by SUWA

On
Wednesday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Assistant Secretary Wilma Lewis and
BLM Director Bob Abbey announced reforms to the agency's oil and gas
program — based in large part on the result of SUWA's advocacy on these
issues.

The reforms
include:

— Curtailing
the over-use of statutory “categorical exclusions” that exempted proposed drilling permits from analysis required under the
National Environmental Policy Act.  BLM
will now have to ensure that potential impacts to important resources such as
wilderness and cultural sites are fully analyzed before issuing new approvals.  This reform stems from a lawsuit SUWA and
others brought against BLM challenging the agency’s use of this short-cut around
environmental laws.

— Changing
the way oil and gas leases are offered. 
BLM has pledged to conduct an on-the-ground review of most individual land
parcels being considered for leasing, increase public input in the leasing
process and to offer special consideration to areas with wilderness, cultural,
water and wildlife resources.  These
policies stemmed from SUWA’s legal victory in January 2009 that halted the sale of 77
controversial leases offered at Utah BLM’s December 2008 lease sale and brought the Obama administration’s attention to deficiencies in BLM’s leasing
program.

This long
overdue announcement is a good first step to turning around the Bush
administration’s irresponsible rush to lease special places in Utah.  We are still waiting to see how these new
policies will be implemented in Utah
to better protect the redrock.

Click here to see the
conservation community’s press release
.

Threatened Places: Zion-Mojave Wild Lands

 Square Top
Square Top Mountain
 
Butcher Knife
Butcher Knife Canyon

(Photos copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA)

Although
the Washington County Growth and Conservation Act of 2009 protected much of
Utah’s Zion-Mojave wilderness and SUWA supported the bill’s final passage, this
legislation was not perfect.  Some
deserving lands were left unprotected, including Dry Creek, Square Top, Butcher
Knife Canyon, and the Beaver Dam Mountains. 

With
our Utah Wilderness Coalition partners and congressional champions, we fought hard
to improve the Washington County bill.  Because it was a fight to the end, there was
never any stated agreement between wilderness advocates and the bill’s proponents.   As a
result the proposed wilderness lands omitted from the Washington County
legislation remain in Congressman Hinchey’s America’s Red Rock
Wilderness Act (ARRWA).  And we need your
help to keep these lands wild.

The
Bureau of Land Management will soon create an off-road vehicle (ORV) travel
plan for the area.   Please urge the St.
George BLM office to protect proposed wilderness areas omitted from the Washington County bill,
such as Dry Creek and the Beaver Dam Mountains.  Comments can be
sent to:

Bureau
of Land Management — St. George Field Office
Jimmy
Tyree, Manager
345 East Riverside Drive
St. George, UT 84790

Phone (435) 688-3200
Fax (435) 688-3252
Jimmy_Tyree@blm.gov
  

 

 

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*New Cosponsor Spotlight* 


Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME)

Towards the end of 2009, the number of cosponsors of America's Red Rock Wilderness Act continued to grow.  Those recently signing onto to the bill are Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD), Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT), and Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME).  If you live in any of the above districts, please thank your representative!

For a full list of cosponsors, click here.  If your members of Congress are not on the list of cosponsors, please ask them to sign onto the bill by clicking here

  


SUWA's Slideshow is Back on the Road in 2010!

SUWA's multi-media slideshow presentation, Wild Utah: America's Redrock Wilderness, will be traveling across the country in January and February!

SUWA's Midwest Field Organizer, Clayton Daughenbaugh, will be presenting in Iowa and Illinois in January and Missouri in February.  For more information or to schedule a slideshow in the Midwest, email Clayton at clayton@suwa.org

SUWA's National Grassroots Organizer, Jackie Feinberg, will be traveling to Pennsylvania in January and Virginia and Pennsylvania in February.  For more information or to schedule a slideshow along the East Coast, email at jackie@suwa.org.   

In addition to SUWA's organizers, dedicated Utah wilderness activists will be giving talks about the redrock around the country this year, including Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Washington this January and February.  Please see our slideshow schedule for more details.

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