Tell BLM to keep its vegetation destruction out of proposed wilderness!

Beef Basin
Beef Basin proposed wilderness. Copyright Ray

In another apparent attempt to solidify its reputation as the Bureau of Landscape Manipulation, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently added one more vegetation “improvement” project to its ever-increasing list of ill-advised landscape gardening proposals.  This time around, the proposed project strikes at two of the core areas within the Greater Canyonlands region – Beef Basin and the Dark Canyon Plateau.  Tell the BLM to keep this destructive project out of proposed wilderness areas.

The Beef Basin/Dark Canyon manipulation proposal covers 9,200 acres of public land, with over half of the project falling within areas proposed for wilderness in America’s Redrock Wilderness Act (ARRWA).  The Monticello BLM is proposing to “restore” the sagebrush ecosystem over the next 5 years through a mix of prescribed fire, cutting and removing pinyon pine and juniper, mechanically ripping up sagebrush and following it all with a long-term “maintenance” plan that includes the use of herbicides in conjunction with all of the above.

The areas affected by this proposed project contain some of the most remote and stunning landscapes in the Greater Canyonlands.  Sagebrush and pinyon-juniper dominate the vast views along these magnificent plateaus, which end abruptly into some of the wildest canyon country around.  The area is known for its abundance of prehistoric artifacts, from free-standing stone fortresses to structures tucked discreetly into sandstone alcoves, with smaller artifacts scattered throughout the area.   The project area also contains species considered “sensitive” by the BLM, including a variety of raptor species – eagles, falcons, hawks, owls, and several bat species.  The area also provides habitat for big game such as mule deer and elk.

Once again, the BLM’s environmental analysis provides no evidence supporting its belief that this project – which is merely one more in a long line of similar proposals – will have any long-term success.  In fact, some of the manipulations are proposed for areas the BLM manipulated decades ago (and, for that reason, are excluded from ARRWA).  We’ve simply had enough of the BLM proposing these destructive vegetation manipulations without providing any scientific evidence that these actions ever have a beneficial result to the affected ecosystem.  We want evidence that past projects of this nature actually work before we allow the BLM to continue down the path of extensive soil disturbance and destruction of native vegetation.  Please tell the BLM to keep this project out of proposed wilderness in the Beef Basin and Dark Canyon Plateau areas.