SUWA Statement on the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Draft Resource Management Plan (RMP) – 8.10.23
August 10, 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Kya Marienfeld, Wildlands Attorney, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA); (573) 228-1061 (email@example.com)
Grant Stevens, Communications Director, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA); (319) 427-0260 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Salt Lake City, UT – Today, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced the release of the draft Resource Management Plan (RMP) for the restored Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Below is a statement from SUWA Wildlands Attorney Kya Marienfeld and additional information.
“The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is one of the most treasured and remarkable public landscapes in America. The monument’s significant fossil records, unique flora and fauna, and stunning cliffs, mesas, and untrammeled expanses demand the highest level of protection and care,” said Kya Marienfeld, SUWA Wildlands Attorney. “We’re pleased to see the Bureau of Land Management release a draft monument management plan that—based on our initial reviews—takes this charge seriously and considers management options that will preserve the monument for current and future generations.”
About the Monument
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was designated as a national monument in 1996 to protect the incredible scientific, ecological, and paleontological resources within its 1.9 million acres. This crown jewel of our nation’s public lands was the first monument managed by the BLM to specifically prioritize conservation and is now world-renowned for its remarkable paleontological discoveries, stunning scenery, and outstanding intact and diverse natural ecosystems.
Heightened protections for its geology, paleontology, wildlife, plant communities, and ancestral sites have succeeded in preserving these unique values for generations to come, and local communities on the monument’s doorstep have benefited as well. More than 25 years later, the numerous benefits of protecting Grand Staircase-Escalante are clear: the monument preserves a remarkable ecosystem at the landscape-level and sets the stage for future discovery about human, paleontological, and geologic history on the Colorado Plateau.
On December 4, 2017, President Trump ignored millions of public comments and repealed portions of the monument, slashing it by 47 percent. Thankfully, on October 8, 2021, President Biden signed a proclamation restoring Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to its full, original boundaries. Last year, the BLM began the process of developing a new management plan. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to ensure that the monument is managed for its unique and extraordinary values, as the plans won’t be revised again for decades. During the “scoping” phase, SUWA asked our members and supporters to submit comments to the BLM.
In July, the House Appropriations Committee passed the FY 2024 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Bill, which will likely head to the full House of Representatives in September. The bill—filled with anti-environmental policy measures—contains two provisions that would dramatically and negatively impact Utah’s public lands, including Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Section 471 would, via withholding congressional funding, prohibit the BLM from managing Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument pursuant to Proclamation 10286, which reestablished the original 1996 monument boundaries. Additional information can be found in SUWA’s July 20, 2023 Statement.
From the BLM
The Draft Grand Staircase-Escalante Resource Management Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement has been uploaded into ePlanning as of August 7, 2023, public comment period will start on Friday August 11, 2023 and go through November 9, 2023.
The BLM is seeking public review and comments from interested and affected parties concerning the draft Environmental Impact Statement. Multiple opportunities are available for interested stakeholders or members of the public to learn about the planning process, submit comments, and ask questions. The public can review a hard copy of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement at the Paria River District Office (address below).
A virtual public scoping meeting is scheduled as follows:
- Oct. 25, 2023, from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. MT. The meeting will be held via Zoom. Click here to register.
Additionally, the BLM invites members of the public to attend in-person public engagement meetings on the following dates:
- Sept. 20, 2023, from 6-8 pm, Escalante Interagency Visitor Center, 755 W Main St, Escalante, UT
- Oct. 4, 2023, from 6-8 pm, Kanab Center, Ballroom A, 20 N 100 E, Kanab, UT
- Oct. 17, 2023, from 6-8 pm, Salt Lake Marriott Downtown at City Creek, 75 S West Temple St., Salt Lake City, UT
- Oct. 18, 2023, from 6-8 pm, Panguitch Elementary School Gymnasium, 110 S 100 W, Panguitch, UT
Questions related to the virtual public engagement meetings can be directed to the Project Manager, Scott Whitesides, at 801-539-4054 or email@example.com.
- BLM E-planning page on the Grand Staircase-Escalante RMP
- Wild Utah Podcast, Episode 37: All You Need to Know About Grand Staircase-Escalante RMP
- SUWA’s September 2022 Advocacy Action
- SUWA webpage on Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument