Utah Wilderness News, June 15, 2011

Public Lands belong to all Americans

“Salazar is right to encourage broad participation. But we don’t believe he intends to leave decisions up to local leaders. Nor should he. All those folks who are interested in wilderness planning should have a say, including those who want to enjoy public lands in relative solitude. If legislation is written that excludes their voices, it will fall flat.

Federal lands within Utah’s borders are still federal lands. They do not belong to Utahns, though we benefit from them in many ways. The future of potential wild lands must be determined by a public vetting by all the people who, after all, still own them.”  Editorial – The Salt Lake Tribune

Utah still suing over Wild Lands policy

“The SUWA and Sierra Club have won court approval to intervene in the litigation on the side of the DOI.

Bloch said it’s well and good that Salazar was reaching out to members of Congress, environmental groups and other stakeholders on possible consensus areas that could be ripe for wilderness protections, but he warned that such a process could be long and challenging.

‘In the meantime, the Bureau of Land Management needs all the tools at its disposal to protect lands from off-road vehicle use, energy development and from other surface-disturbing activities, and that’s what the Wild Lands policy does,’ Bloch said.”  Read more – Law 360

Politically motivated actions on wildflower endangered species status shot down by judge

“In 2006, FWS responded to a petition to consider the flower as a candidate for protection and was given the go-ahead for a yearlong study to make a final recommendation. According to environmentalists, FWS was bombarded that year by the federal Bureau of Land Management with pressure to squash the plant’s chances of being listed. Records obtained by Earth Justice, the counsel for plaintiffs the Utah Native Plant Center, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and other parties suing the Interior department in the case, discovered that some BLM field offices in Vernal had a Penstemon ‘Strikeforce’ team, determined to present all evidence necessary to make sure the wildflower would not get in the way of energy development in the Basin.

In one March 1, 2006, e-mail, one of the BLM’s own scientists expressed concern to his superiors that there was no way the evidence would show oil and gas development wouldn’t threaten the plant species, stating that he was ‘at a loss in how to address the fact that the entire area may be blanketed by oil and gas proposals.’

‘In our opinion, that was a really politically motivated action,’ says Meg Parish, an attorney for the plaintiffs. ‘It had a lot more to do with wanting to keep as much area open to oil and gas development than what was really best for Graham’s Penstemon.’”  Read more – Salt Lake City Weekly