Utah Wilderness News, July 22, 2010

The future of Cedar Mesa wilderness proposal unclear

San Juan County residents who don’t want outgoing Sen. Bob Bennett’s
land bill to die have formed a grass-roots organization, Friends of
Cedar Mesa, to keep citizens in the loop while wilderness-designation
discussions hang in limbo.

Accommodating the seemingly perpetual arguments about wildlife and
resource protection versus all-terrain vehicles and resource mining was
at the heart of the county’s work on the land bill, which would
encompass much of the county’s total acreage, just 8 percent of which is
privately held.

Mark Meloy, a retired river ranger for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, said he and others remain wary of any kind of hurried
congressional action. But if a palatable consensus on wilderness cannot
be reached, he added, “we’re going to have to take a hard look at
supporting some type of monument designation.”

Read more at The Salt Lake Tribune.  

Matheson, Philpot on Utah Wilderness

The process that brought together
local elected officials, environmentalists and other stakeholders to
produce the Washington County Lands Bill became a model for several
other counties in Utah. They were all hoping to resolve questions of
wilderness designation and other important issues that would let them
plan confidently for the future. Congressman Jim Matheson championed
the process along with Senator Bob Bennett. But Bennett’s defeat may
have dealt the process a setback. Matheson says he’s confident it will
still move ahead.

Matheson’s Republican opponent in this fall’s election is former state
representative Morgan Philpot. Philpot says he’s ready to support the
county-by-county planning process for public lands as long as he’s
confident local leaders don’t feel like they’re being pushed into making
a deal. 

Hear more at Read (and hear) more at KUER. 

Judge grills feds on pulling Utah drilling leases

A federal judge on Wednesday questioned Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s
justification for canceling 77 drilling leases sold by the Bush
administration around national parks in Utah.

Salazar has said he voided the leases because they were at the doorstep
to Utah’s redrock parks — Arches and Canyonlands national parks and
Dinosaur National Monument. He also faulted the Bureau of Land
Management for failing to consult the National Park Service before
leasing the lands, and he questioned whether an environmental analysis
justifying the sale was adequate.

But the energy producers say none of their parcels were closer than 15
miles to a national park. They also say some of the parcels had long
been available for leasing and were next to operating oil or gas wells.

Uintah County Commissioner Michael McKee criticized Salazar’s decision outside the federal courthouse in Salt Lake City.

these leases were canceled, it sent a message to oil and gas companies.
They left our state. So this goes way beyond the 77 leases,” McKee

Read more at The Associated Press