Utah Wilderness News, July 14, 2010

Guv cheers, jeers federal lands agency

The often-contentious — yet vital — relationship between Utah’s
Republican dominated government and Democratic federal land managers was
on full display Tuesday.

His sit-down with Salazar was a follow-up to a visit Salazar made to
Utah in April. They discussed developing renewable energy on Utah’s vast
public lands and “the importance of harnessing conventional energy
resources in the right ways and in the right places,” according to a
summary of the meeting provided by the Interior Department.

Read more at The Salt Lake Tribune.

Counties say unpublished reports will strengthen their case against Salazar

Three Utah counties fighting the U.S. Department of the Interior over
the withdrawal of 77 lease parcels from a 2008 lease sale say they have
new evidence that secretary Ken Salazar had no right to do so.

In 2008, the SUWA coalition argued the BLM didn’t properly follow
environmental laws when compiling long-term resource management plans
for the Moab, Vernal and Price regions that set up the sale of 77
environmentally sensitive parcels on 103,000 acres of public land. 

Read more at The Salt Lake Tribune.

Counties hammer out conservation plans

It may have happened 14 years ago, but the fury over President Bill
Clinton's surprise creation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument
remains with state and local officials who still mourn the "loss" of
nearly 1.9 million acres.

For that reason, many area county officials have looked at cobbling
together their own land conservation plans that set aside wilderness,
reasoning that if they do it first, the federal government will have no
reason to swoop in with an arbitrary designation.

When a U.S. Department of Interior memo was "leaked" earlier this year
about the possible creation of more than a dozen new national monuments —
including two in Utah — the howls of outrage began again.

"Land conservation is not a one-size-fits-all proposal. We decided to
let this sit for a bit and come back later to get a working group
together."Similarly, in Emery County, there are efforts to run
legislation to designate some wilderness. Ray Petersen, the county's
public land administrator, said officials are still in the process of
identifying those potential wilderness areas and are working with the
staffs of all Utah's congressional delegation to keep them informed."

Read more at The Deseret News

Salazar defends pulling oil-lease parcels in Utah

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Tuesday defended his decision to scrap
much of the Bush administration's final oil-lease sale in Utah even
though his inspector general found no evidence of department pressure to
rush the auction.

Salazar has criticized the auction as a rush job that threatened Utah's
most magnificent landscapes, including parcels around artifact-rich Nine
Mile Canyon and along the high cliffs of whitewater sections of the
Green River.

"There was plenty wrong with the land-use plans that supported the lease
sale, and with the lease sale itself, as the court's order
demonstrates," said Heidi McIntosh, associate director for the Southern
Utah Wilderness Alliance. "Those plans were thousands of pages long, and
all came out within weeks. So there was pressure from somewhere."

Read more at The Associated Press