Tell the BLM to protect Recapture Canyon – Redrock Report January 2011

January 2011

Here’s what is happening this month with the redrock:
1.  Tell the BLM to not legitimize an illegal ORV trail in Recapture Canyon.
2.  Protecting wild lands is widely praised.
3.  Members of Congress defend the “Wild Lands” policy.
4.  Court decision issued for Monument R.S.2477 dispute.
5.  See a “Wild Utah” presentation in the Midwest this February.
6.  Get a tax break for donating from your IRA.

Tell the BLM to protect Recapture Canyon

Recapture Canyon’s cool, flowing stream provides year-round water, lush vegetation, and a haven for wildlife.  This idyllic setting was likely the reason that nearly 2,000 years ago, Ancestral Puebloans begin inhabiting Recapture Canyon.  These agrarian communities thrived in Recapture for more than 1,000 years.  Remarkable remnants of their culture have been preserved through the years along the stream banks and benches in this quiet canyon in southeastern Utah.  The silence was broken in 2005, when a 20-mile illegal off-road vehicle (ORV) trail was constructed in Recapture, damaging several of these ancient sites, and increasing the potential for future damages.

An ancient structural site in Recapture Canyon.  Photo © Liz Thomas/SUWA.

Last week, a Federal Magistrate levied fines, totaling $35,000 on two Blanding men who were charged with damaging federal property when they illegally constructed the ORV trail.  After conducting the investigation, filing charges and ultimately prevailing in the criminal case, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will surely keep the illegal trail closed to ORV use, right?   Well . . . not if San Juan County, UT gets its way.

Please tell the BLM to do the right thing and maintain the existing closure order to protect the irreplaceable cultural artifacts in Recapture Canyon by either sending an email to Utah BLM Director Juan Palma using our action center, or by writing to him at:

Juan Palma, State Director
BLM, Utah State Office
P.O. Box 45155
Salt Lake City, UT 84145

Diverse constituencies praise Secretary Salazar’s “Wild Lands” policy…

At the end of 2010, Interior Secretary restored the BLM’s authority to protect wilderness-quality lands, and many people have had a lot to say about it.  Although anti-wilderness groups and some western lawmakers have criticized and spread misconceptions about the new “Wild Lands” policy, diverse constituencies have praised Secretary Salazar and defended the policy as simply restoring an authority that existed prior to 2003.  Major newspapers, including The Salt Lake Tribune, the New York Times, and the Denver Post, editorialized in support of Salazar’s move.  Peter Metcalf (CEO of Black Diamond Equipment, Ltd.) and SUWA’s own Heidi McIntosh were among many who stood up for protecting wild lands in Utah and throughout the West.  Posts on a Republican blog, on the New West website, and by SUWA board member Tom Kenworthy also supported the new policy.  Utah wilderness activists throughout the country wrote letters-to-the-editor in support of the policy, including residents of Vernal, UT.

For a full round up of all the news on this issue and other redrock related stories, check out the Utah Wilderness News posts on our blog.

…including members of Congress!

Last week, 47 members of Congress, led by House Natural Resources Ranking Member Ed Markey (D-MA), sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar commending him for restoring the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) authority to protect wilderness-quality landscapes throughout the West. In the letter, these Representatives also spoke out against criticism of Salazar’s “Wild Lands” policy, saying “Such criticism is based on a misunderstanding of the Order and a misunderstanding of wilderness.”

To see if your Representative joined Rep. Markey in defense of wilderness, click here to view a list of signers.

If you live in Rep. Markey’s district (Massachusetts District 7), please thank him for his leadership.

Now the BLM must step up to the plate & protect Grand Staircase

On January 11, 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit issued an opinion in a case brought by SUWA and The Wilderness Society that challenged Kane County’s attempt to undermine federal land management of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.  In a fairly technical ruling, the court held that conservationists were simply not the right parties to bring the suit because the interests they sought to protect, in the court’s view, belonged to the federal Bureau of Land Management, which manages the Monument.

According to Heidi McIntosh, co-counsel on the case, “the court’s ruling does not in any way validate the County’s decision to take the law into its own hands by removing BLM’s ORV closure signs on federal lands, nor did it rule that any of the county’s R.S. 2477 road claims were valid.  In fact, the routes at the core of the issue are primitive and remote, with little if any use.  They do not go to schools, grocery stores or other public destinations, as some have argued. And in the end, not much has changed for the county as a result of this ruling.”

Read the full press release on our blog.

See our “Wild Utah” presentation this February!

This February, see our “Wild Utah: America’s Redrock Wilderness” multimedia presentation in Illinois, Michigan, and Minnesota.  See the full winter/spring schedule on our website.

To host a slideshow or to recommend a hosting organization or venue, please contact:

In the East: Jackie Feinberg,

In the Midwest: Clayton Daughenbaugh,

In the West: Terri Martin,

A tax break for protecting wild Utah

Redrock supporters over 70.5 years old have an opportunity to make charitable gifts to SUWA from an Individual Retirement Account, and it won’t count as taxable income.  This opportunity expires January 31, 2011, so contact your IRA custodian before then.  Please consider this unique opportunity to support the fight to protect our wild heritage.  Thank you for your ongoing support!

Questions? Please contact Scott Braden, Associate Director, at (801) 428-3970 or email at