September 2023 Redrock Report

Sep 22nd, 2023 Written by suwa

BLM Holds Public Meetings on Grand Staircase-Escalante Plan

Calf Creek Falls, GSENM (Jeff Foott)In August, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced the release of the draft Resource Management Plan (RMP) for the restored Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. As part of the public engagement process, the agency is taking public comments and hosting both virtual and in-person meetings about the plan. Below are the details on upcoming in-person meetings planned for Utah (open house format) as well as a virtual meeting open to interested members of the public nationwide. More information can be found on the BLM’s ePlanning page here.

  • Wednesday, Oct. 4th, from 6-8 pm, Kanab Center, Ballroom A, 20 N 100 E, Kanab, UT
  • Tuesday, Oct. 17th, from 6-8 pm, Salt Lake Marriott Downtown at City Creek, 75 S West Temple St., Salt Lake City, UT
  • Wednesday, Oct. 18th, from 6-8 pm, Panguitch Elementary School Gymnasium, 110 S 100 W, Panguitch, UT
  • Wednesday, Oct. 25th, from 2-4 pm (MT). This meeting will be held via Zoom. Click here to register.

The development of a new management plan is a critical opportunity to ensure the monument is managed for years to come to protect its unique and extraordinary values. You can learn more about the monument on our website or by listening to Episode 37 of our Wild Utah podcast.

The BLM is accepting public comments online through November 9th. Keep an eye out for our upcoming action alert with detailed comment suggestions.

Photo © Jeff Foott

Tell the BLM It’s Time to Start Proactively Managing Outdoor Recreation

Family Backpacking (Lin Alder)In an effort to address the explosive growth in human-powered recreation on public lands, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently released its “Blueprint for 21st Century Outdoor Recreation.” While not a formal management plan, the Blueprint is a strategic document intended to guide the agency’s recreation management across the 245 million acres of public land it manages. It’s crucial for Utah’s wild lands—and for those of us who love them—that they get it right.

Unfortunately, the Blueprint is not the “major shift” that the agency claims will enable it to move from reactive recreation management to a proactive approach that better protects natural and cultural resources. Instead, it offers little change from previous strategic plans that have led to the current, untenable situation. While we support the Blueprint’s focus on growing and diversifying funding, improving equitable access, and ensuring that underserved communities and Tribal voices are represented, we have grave concerns that this well-intended document will do little to halt the degradation of wild lands, wildlife, and cultural landscapes.

The BLM is accepting public comments on the Blueprint through Saturday, September 30th. Please tell the agency that its recreation management strategy must proactively protect intact wild lands, wildlife, and other natural and cultural resources.

>> Click here to submit comments now

Photo © Lin Alder

Take Action to Help Restore and Strengthen One of Our Bedrock Environmental Laws

Monument Rally 2017The Biden administration is taking an important step to restore thoughtful, transparent, and efficient decision-making under the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) and your input can help get it over the finish line. 

NEPA, signed into law in 1970, embodies our nation’s environmental conscience and is considered one of our bedrock environmental laws. NEPA instituted a national policy of “look before you leap” by requiring that agencies carefully analyze and disclose the potential environmental impacts of a proposed action. Critically for SUWA’s work, NEPA also guarantees that the public has an opportunity to participate in decision-making processes.

Unfortunately, the Trump administration significantly weakened NEPA by prioritizing pipelines, fossil fuel production, and road building over environmental and public health interests. The Biden administration is now working to undo the damage.

Updated NEPA regulations mean stronger public health and environmental protections and guaranteed public participation in federal agency decision-making. The Council on Environmental Quality is accepting comments through Friday, September 29th, 2023. Please take the time to voice your support for the administration’s Phase II revisions. 

>> Learn more and submit comments

Photo © Diane Kelly/SUWA

Good News: Enefit American Oil Abandons Lease to Mine Oil Shale in Utah’s Uinta Basin

Oil Shale Project on Roan Plateau (EcoFlight)Estonian state-owned oil shale company Enefit American Oil is abandoning its lease to mine oil shale on federal public land in northeastern Utah’s Uinta Basin. The decision marks the end of the George W. Bush-era federal oil shale leasing program and came just weeks before a settlement agreement cut the oil shale giant’s planned strip mine and processing facility off from its water supply.

Enefit’s original plans called for building the nation’s first commercial-scale oil shale mine and processing plant on private and nearby federal land, strip mining hundreds of millions of tons of oil shale rock and churning out more than 18 million barrels of synthetic crude oil every year for more than 30 years, all with well-to-wheel carbon emissions up to 75 percent higher than conventional oil. In the process, Enefit would consume more than 100 billion gallons of water over the next three decades from the upper Colorado River Basin—about as much as is consumed by all existing municipal and industrial users in the Uinta Basin combined. Additionally, massive amounts of pollutants would flow into nearby rivers and degrade the basin’s already unhealthy air.

“For decades, mining oil shale in Utah has been the quintessential bad idea that just wouldn’t go away: an activity that never penciled out and which in every iteration would have hugely damaging environmental consequences for public lands,” said SUWA Legal Director Steve Bloch. “We’re glad to be finally closing the book on this doomsday proposal.”

>> Read our full press release

Photo © EcoFlight

New 40th Anniversary Swag Available Online

SUWA Fanny PacksOur brand new line of 40th anniversary swag proved quite popular at our recent anniversary celebration and is now available for purchase in our online store! The new items, including party shirts, fanny packs, hats, stickers, and t-shirts, feature special logos and make excellent gifts for family and friends. Every purchase directly supports our mission to protect wild Utah.

>> Shop now