Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance

Action Alert, May 28, 2010

1:38 pm
Nokai Dome
Nokai Dome in the San Juan-Canyonlands
region.  Photo copyright Harvey Halpern.

Over the past two months, we’ve participated in a series of meetings with San Juan County commissioners and representatives of Senator Bob Bennett to discuss the merits of wilderness designations within the San Juan-Canyonlands landscape.

Throughout Senator Bennett’s process, questions have arisen about the Senator’s intent.  Senate and county representatives frequently weren’t taking notes on conservationists’ presentations and county commissioners sometimes weren’t even in attendance as the process moved along.  This raises questions about whether these meetings were perfunctory “window dressing” or a real effort to identify the specific issues related to federal lands in San Juan County.

Now the future of these discussions, and any potential wilderness legislation, is unclear.  For example, field trips are essential when the intent is for groups with longstanding disagreements to attempt to identify common ground, but it is not clear that field trips will take place.

Whatever happens next, Utahns throughout our state — not just San Juan County residents — deserve an opportunity to learn more about the lands under consideration and make their voices heard.  At the very least, Senator Bennett should convene a hearing in Salt Lake City to discuss how 1.5 million acres of wilderness in San Juan County, inventoried by citizens and included in America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, should be managed for the benefit of all Americans.

Click here to read SUWA staffer Brooke Williams’ latest dispatch from San Juan County.

Liz Thomas

Utah Wilderness News, May 26, 2010

2:27 pm

Robert Redford: Protecting America's wild lands

"I have lived most of my life in the West,
and I have seen too many special places lost. Each time it happens, our
children's wilderness inheritance shrinks even further.

It doesn't have to be this way. We can protect our last remnants of
unspoiled nature. We can live up to the example set by generations
before us who agreed to safeguard spectacular landscapes.

We could be the generation that decides to protect… But with the "No New Wilderness" policy still
in effect, loud generators or noisy natural gas compressor stations
could move in and shatter that stillness…

Join me in asking Interior Secretary Salazar
to issue a Secretarial Order to preserve wilderness quality lands while
they are being considered for permanent preservation."

Read more at The Denver Post


Utah Wilderness News, May 25, 2010

4:44 pm

After 5 years work, Beaver-Piute legislation tabled indefinitely 

Beaver County is putting its proposed land bill on hold after
two open house meetings in Milford and Beaver on Monday and Tuesday were
attended by residents who strongly oppose the

Read more at The Spectrum Daily News

Environmental groups attack approval for strip mine near Bryce Canyon

Sierra Club and three other environmental groups are challenging a permit for
the coal mine, saying the operation would pollute waterways and kick up dust 10
miles from Bryce Canyon National Park, which is known for its
views, pristine air and sparkling night skies.

Bryce Canyon's
superintendent also has objected.

Opponents contend Utah set a low threshold for sediment that would run off
the strip mine into mountain lakes, streams and the wild and scenic Virgin River.

Read more at The Deseret News

It's cultural, not rational – Letter on conservation in San Juan County

It seems San Juan County Commission's fear of new parks, wilderness and
monuments may be more a fear of the "elites" who enjoy and promote such
landscapes rather than a sense of what is really good for their local

Read more at The High Country News


Utah Wilderness News, May 21, 2010

4:19 pm

New BLM director will hopefully reform and improve Utah land management

"But Salazar's reforms of the
Bureau of Land Management's environmental review practices, and his
decision to replace Selma Sierra with Juan Palma as Utah BLM director,
point the national and local offices toward better stewardship. Sierra
dutifully carried out the Bush policies and her regional management
plans elevated the interests of energy developers and off-road-vehicle
users. Utahns concerned with preserving Utah's fragile lands will not
miss her."

Read more at the Salt Lake Tribune 

Bennett seeks to block onshore drilling reform

Senator Bennett, in conjunction with Senator Hatch, introduced legislation Wednesday which attempts to block the positive reforms of Secretary Salazar on Utah's BLM lands.

Bennett believes that the new regulation would add more red tape in energy production. 

Read more at the Salt Lake Tribune


Redrock Report: May 2010

1:08 pm

May 2010

Here’s what is happening this month with the redrock:
1.  Find out what is happening with the San Juan County wilderness process.
2.  TAKE ACTION – Ask the White House to address climate change in public lands decisions.
3.  Send us photos or videos of your family exploring Utah’s wild lands!
4.  New redrock bill cosponsors include Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL).

San Juan County Wilderness Process Continues Despite Bennett Convention Loss 

We want to update you
about the future of the San Juan-Canyonlands wilderness.

White Canyon
The White Canyon proposed wilderness is found in San Juan County. Photo copyright Chris Case

Sen. Bob Bennett is
considering creating legislation to determine management for public lands in
the southeast corner of Utah in the San Juan-Canyonlands region.  SUWA, with our partners in the Utah
Wilderness Coalition — including the Sierra Club and Great Old Broads — and other
conservation organizations including the Grand Canyon Trust have been active
voices in the process.  Meetings have
been held every other week since mid-April, at which SUWA has presented the
UWC’s wilderness proposal. 

At the beginning of this week’s meeting, Sen.
Bennett’s staff assured us that, despite the Senator’s loss at the recent Utah
Republican convention, Bennett remains committed to trying to move a San Juan
County public lands bill this year.  If
time ends up being a limiting factor, the Senator would work to “hand it off
effectively” so the process could continue under the guidance and support of
another member of the Utah delegation.

For more detailed accounts of the San Juan County meetings, you can view the following posts:
Dispatch from San Juan County – No. 1
Dispatch from San Juan County – No. 2
Dispatch from San Juan County – No. 3
Dispatch from San Juan County – No. 4

If you have
not already done so, please contact your
members of Congress today
and ask that they monitor the process
to help Sen. Bennett produce a bill for San Juan
County that offers meaningful protections for Utah’s redrock
wilderness.  If you live in
Utah, please send a personalized message to Senator Bennett

Tell the White
House to address
climate change in public lands decision

Early in
the Obama administration, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar made clear that his
department would be looking through the lens of climate change when making
decisions affecting our public lands.  He
even issued a Secretarial
saying “the realities of climate change require us to change how we
manage the land, water, fish and wildlife, and cultural heritage and tribal
lands and resources we oversee.”  We
hoped that this signaled a break from the Bush administration, which ignored climate change issues in decisions like the
six controversial resource management plans for the Colorado Plateau.  Unfortunately, the BLM has still not fixed
those plans or made any commitment to do so in the future.  Clearly, the Interior Department needs some

The White
House Council on Environmental Quality recently proposed  draft guidance on the incorporation of climate
change in environmental analyses, but it also neglects to require an analysis of the impacts of
climate change on public lands and natural resources.    

climate change was supposed to be a priority for the Obama administration.  So far, we haven’t seen much follow through even
as scientists warn that time is of the essence if we want to bolster the
ability of native plants and animals to withstand a hotter, drier climate.  Please click here to tell CEQ chair Nancy
Sutley about the importance of including climate change in all of the
administration’s decisions
– including those affecting Utah’s redrock wilderness.

Photos and Videos of Families in Wilderness

Do you have great photos and/or videos of you, your family or friends
exploring Utah’s wild lands?  We’re looking for photos and videos of
people enjoying Utah’s wild country for use in an upcoming promotional
campaign.  Please send photos either as files or links (to Flickr,
Picassa, or other web albums) and links to videos (on YouTube or other
video hosting sites; please do not email actual video files) to

*New Cosponsor Spotlight* 

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL)

The number of House cosponsors for America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act continues to grow!  Those recently signing onto to the bill are Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY) and Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL).  If you live in one of their districts, please thank your representative!

For a full list of cosponsors, click here.  If your members of Congress are not on the list of cosponsors, please ask them to sign onto the bill by clicking here!



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