Sierra Club’s Michael Brune, Panelists Discuss Greater Canyonlands NM in Moab

Panelists discuss Greater Canyonlands at Star Hall in Moab on Tuesday, June 11, 2013.

More than 80 Moab locals turned out to Moab’s historic Star Hall on Tuesday night to take part in a panel discussion about the proposed Greater Canyonlands National Monument and other issues affecting public lands in the region.

The evening started off with a presentation by TrekWest adventurer and Wildlands Network co-founder John Davis, who is in the midst of a 10-month, human-powered journey along a visioned Western Wildway running from Mexico to Alaska.

Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune followed Davis with a presentation that placed the effort to protect Greater Canyonlands into context with the Club’s efforts to mitigate climate change and change the nation’s reliance on fossil fuels. As the Salt Lake Tribune reports:

Brune is on a two-week road trip around the Southwest with his wife and three young children, visiting key spots like the newly designated Rio Grande del Norte and Chimney Rock national monuments and areas around Grand Canyon National Park that conservationists hope to see protected.
Besides urging federal authorities to flex the muscle of the Antiquities Act and establish more protected national monuments, Sierra Club leaders say they will work harder to “keep dirty fuels in the ground.”
“Our federal agencies have a dual responsibly to protect habitat and not add to the climate crisis,” campaign director Dan Chu said. “We are connecting dots between impacts of energy development in special places and climate activism.”
This aspect of the campaign is a direct challenge to Utah Gov. Gary Herbert’s energy plan, which seeks to develop all the state’s resources from solar and wind to tar sands and coal. The governor and his advisers have long argued the state can strike a balance that allows drilling and mining without impairing the natural treasures that support Utah’s robust tourism and outdoor recreation industries — a $12 billion enterprise that employs 122,000.
Following Brune’s presentation, a panel of activists and experts — including Dan Chu, National Director of the Sierra Club’s Our Wild America Campaign; Rose Chilcoat, Asisstant Director of Great Old Broads for Wilderness; Jay Banta of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers; Nathan Waggoner, Outfitter and Business owner from Escalante, UT; and Laura Kamala of the Grand Canyon Trust — answered questions from the audience about the proposed Greater Canyonlands National Monument, tar sands mining, and hunting and vehicle access to public lands, among other topics. The panel was hosted by SUWA’s Media Director, Mathew Gross.