Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance

You can help protect America’s redrock wilderness – Redrock Report March 2011

12:38 pm

Here’s what is happening this month with the redrock:
1.
Show your support for protecting the Greater Canyonlands region.
2.
Ask your members of Congress to protect America’s redrock wilderness!
3.  Participate in grassroots events across the country this April.


Ask the Obama administration to protect Greater Canyonlands


Indian Creek
Indian Creek, photo by Tom Till.

The Greater Canyonlands area — encompassing 1.4 million acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land surrounding Canyonlands National Park — is a landscape of plateaus, stunning geologic formations, 10,000 year-old archaeological sites, and unmatched natural beauty. To protect these scenic landscapes, SUWA has made a formal request to the Secretary of the Interior to bar off-road vehicle (ORV) use in sensitive habitat, streams, wetlands, riparian areas, archaeological sites and other vulnerable areas.

The petition targets damage caused by ORV use as a first step in protecting this iconic landscape. ORV use in the area has too frequently proven unmanageable, with increasing soil erosion, noise, crushed vegetation, degraded streams, and fragmented wildlife habitat. Those who do not use ORVs, and who comprise the vast majority of visitors to Greater Canyonlands, are finding it increasingly difficult to experience the natural quiet, solitude and beauty of the area.

Protecting Greater Canyonlands would also facilitate a complementary and consistent management approach to lands managed by the BLM, National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service. Giving heightened protection to the most valuable and vulnerable places will give these ecosystems their best chance at long term health, especially in an era of rapidly changing climatic and environmental conditions.

HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN DO:


1. Use our online Action Center to tell Interior Secretary Ken Salazar that you support protecting the Greater Canyonlands region.

2. Sign our online petition asking the Obama administration to protect the Greater Canyonlands region.

3. Tweet that your want Greater Canyonlands protected.


Help us kick off the redrock bill with a bang in the 112th Congress

View the Wilderness Week experience!
WW YouTube

The start of a new Congress (the 112th) means that once again, Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) will re-introduce America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act.  Earlier this month, 20 redrock activists from Utah and across the country traveled to DC for Utah Wilderness Week 2011 to lobby members of Congress to become original cosponsors of the bill, which is set to be reintroduced next month.  Why are cosponsors important?  Maintaining a high number of congressional cosponsors will be essential to fending off anti-wilderness attacks in Congress this year.

HERE’S HOW YOU CAN HELP:


1) Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and speak with your Senators’ or Reprensentative’s DC offices, asking that they cosponsor America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act.

2) Go to our Action Center and send emails to your members of Congress, asking that they cosponsor America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act.

3) Sign the petition asking Congress to protect America’s Redrock Wilderness.

Get involved with Utah wilderness at a venue near you!

This April, see our “Wild Utah: America’s Redrock Wilderness” multimedia presentation in Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Maine, Vermont, and New Jersey.

If you live in the New York City or Boston areas, SUWA’s Executive Director Scott Groene and Associate Director Scott Braden will be holding coffee hours the first week in April to discuss Utah wilderness with SUWA members.  

Also, if you are in Grand Junction, Aspen, or Carbondale, CO, join SUWA’s Western Regional Organizer Terri Martin in April to hear an inside update about new opportunities to protect Utah’s wildlands, and then brainstorm about how Coloradans can be a voice for their future.

View the full spring slideshow and grassroots event schedule on our website.

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

In the East: Jackie Feinberg, jackie@suwa.org

In the Midwest: Clayton Daughenbaugh, clayton@suwa.org

In the West: Terri Martin, terri@suwa.org

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Utah Wilderness News, March 25, 2011

12:50 pm

Salazar deserves thanks

“Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar has had the thankless responsibility for cleaning up the stygian mess he inherited from his predecessors. Among his many tasks in restoring balance to BLM public lands management is the restoration of a national policy, Secretarial Order 3310, to allow the identification and protection of lands with wilderness characteristics.”  Letter-to-the-editor – Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

“Beyond the misleading rhetoric are some hard facts: The BLM wild lands policy assures that the agency will follow federal law. It requires public involvement while creating opportunities to conserve prime fish and wildlife habitat. It offers a common-sense resolution to the uncertainties currently surrounding management of valuable public lands. The policy’s future remains uncertain, however. Hunters and anglers need support from the Colorado U.S. Senate delegation to uphold and defend this important conservation tool.”  Opinion – The Denver Post

“He recently announced a policy that allows counties like ours across the West to weigh in with federal land managers to let them know when we think the public lands we use and love are deserving of additional protections. The Bureau of Land Management’s “Wild Lands” policy ensures that the wilderness qualities of critical landscapes throughout the West will again be considered in public lands management decisions.”  Opinion – ABQ Journal

Off-road vehicles are a problem that is just getting worse

“In Utah right now the Greater Canyonlands area, consisting of a million acres surrounding the Canyonlands National Monument, are under assault by off road vehicles.  There is an attempt underway to get Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to administratively ban ORV traffic from over a thousand miles of trails that have been scraped into existence by irresponsible riders.  Another 15,000 miles would be left open in other areas nearby.  That should be enough.”  Read more – Only in New Mexico

“The request by the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance that the Department of Interior restrict 1,000 miles of all-terrain-vehicle trails in the ‘Greater Canyonlands’ redrock wilderness in southeast Utah only scrapes the surface of the problem.”  Letter-to-the-Editor – The Salt Lake Tribune

We must preserve an old, valid conservation tool

“There’s no compelling reason to change land-protection laws that have served this country well. Congress creates wilderness areas; presidents create national monuments. House Republicans have gone so far as to try to prevent the Bureau of Land Management from even studying whether any of its lands are wilderness quality. That’s wrong, too, but if GOP lawmakers aren’t interested in using their authority expand wilderness, that’s their prerogative. However, lawmakers have no business trying to kill the authority of the president to designate monuments.”  Editorial – The Oregonian

Why the ‘middle of nowhere’ matters

“In the same way that solitude isn’t the ‘absence of sound, but the absence of distraction’ (Terry Tempest Williams), ‘nowhere’ has nothing to do with nothingness or emptiness but is everywhere still devoid of development and filled with clarity that dissolves whatever the crust or shell that keeps us isolated or buffered from the rest of life.”  Read more – Adventure Journal

Focus on renewables remains bleak

“Forty-seven percent of Utah’s energy production is from coal, 40 percent from natural gas, 12 percent from oil and the remaining 1 percent from renewables. Utah has enormous potential for clean, renewable energy and the jobs and research dollars it can bring. The state should focus on that, rather than clinging to ever-dirty fossil fuels and even dirtier air.”  Editorial – The Salt Lake Tribune

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Utah Wilderness News, March 18, 2011

1:09 pm

Conservationists petition for protection of the Greater Canyonlands Region

“Many of the proposed closures are meant to preserve desert waterways where both wildlife and Ancestral Puebloan archaeological sites concentrate, and to restore a more primitive experience for float trips in Labyrinth Canyon.

‘Not only is this a fabulously beautiful place,” said SUWA attorney Heidi McIntosh, “but it’s a place with a rich human history.’”  Read more – The Salt Lake Tribune

“SUWA identifies ‘Greater Canyonlands’ as the area including Canyonlands National Park, Natural Bridges National Monument and the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Notable landmarks in the area it wants restricted include Butch Cassidy’s Robbers Roost and Labyrinth Canyon, McIntosh said.

‘Protecting the Greater Canyonlands would knit these ‘crown jewels’ together in a complementary system of land management, which protects the most threatened resources, permits native plants and wildlife to migrate freely in response to climate and environmental changes, ameliorates conflicts among ORV users and others, and facilitates a more comprehensive management approach based on watersheds and water conservation,’ the petition says.”  Read more – Deseret News

Wild Lands policy is part of “multiple choice” decision making

“What the BLM’s new wild-lands policy is not is a federal land grab, a charge frequently leveled by Utah’s politicians. How can you ‘grab’ something that is already yours — in this case, property belonging to the citizens of the United States?

In the end, doesn’t it make long-term economic and conservation sense to plan long-term uses for federal land ,just as those of us who own homes do with our property?”  Opinion – The Salt Lake Tribune

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Ask Secretary Salazar to Protect Greater Canyonlands

1:11 pm

The Greater Canyonlands area is a landscape of plateaus, stunning geologic formations, 10,000 year-old archeological sites, and unmatched natural beauty — including iconic Utah landmarks such as Labyrinth Canyon, Indian Creek, White Canyon, Fiddler Butte, Robbers Roost, Lockhart Basin and the Dirty Devil River.  Today, we are releasing our Petition to Protect the Greater Canyonlands, which includes 1.4 million acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands surrounding Canyonlands National Park.

To protect these scenic landscapes, the petition — a formal request to the Secretary of the Interior under the Administrative Procedure Act and the U.S. Constitution — requests that Secretary Salazar bar off-road vehicle (ORV) use on 1,050 miles of route in sensitive habitat, streams, wetlands, riparian areas, archaeological sites and other vulnerable areas until it can conduct further studies on the impacts of the activity and determine whether it is, in fact, a sustainable use.   Please join us by sending an email to Secretary Salazar in support of this petition. The petition would leave open 1,400 miles of ORV route within the petition area, and about 13,000 miles of route in the four BLM field offices surrounding Greater Canyonlands.

The petition targets damage caused by ORV use as a first step in protecting this iconic landscape.  ORV use in the area has too frequently proven unmanageable, with increasing soil erosion, noise, crushed vegetation, degraded streams, and fragmented wildlife habitat.  Those who do not use ORVs, and who comprise the vast majority of visitors to Greater Canyonlands, are finding it increasingly difficult to experience the natural quiet, solitude and beauty of the area.

Protecting Greater Canyonlands would also facilitate a complementary and consistent management approach for lands managed by the BLM, National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service. Giving heightened protection to the most valuable and vulnerable places will give these ecosystems their best chance at long-term health, especially in an era of rapidly changing climatic and environmental conditions.  Please take a moment to let Secretary Salazar know you support protection for the treasured landscape of Greater Canyonlands.

Heidi McIntosh

Utah Wilderness News, March 14, 2011

1:18 pm

Redrock advocate travels to D.C. in support of Utah wilderness

“Gelatt was in D.C. to advocate for America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act on behalf of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. SUWA has worked for two decades to secure permanent protection of a vast area of red rock canyon country in southern Utah, a landscape that includes massive cliffs and domes, deep broad canyons, as well as narrow slot canyons.” Read more – Grand Junction Free Press

Over-the-top rhetoric from Gov. Herbert and House members
“Five hours into the testimony, the committee finally gave BLM Director Bob Abbey a chance to respond. His clarity and calm were a stunning contrast to the anger and untruths spewed by the most radical members of the committee. He made clear that Salazar had simply reinstated a policy in place for 25 years before the backroom deal between then Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt and Interior Secretary Gale Norton.”Letter-to-the-editor – The Salt Lake Tribune

Bryce-area coal mine receives notices of violations

In March 2010, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and some other environmental groups filed a complaint stating the Division of Oil, Gas and Mining Board had some members who should recuse themselves from the permit process because they have a financial interest in the mine-reclamation plan.

Steve Bloch, an attorney and the conservation director for SUWA, said the complaint is scheduled to be heard by the Utah Supreme Court.

Mine critic Bobbi Bryant, who runs a store in Panguitch, said last week that since mid-February, trucks have intermittently been hauling their loads past her store on Highway 89 on their way to the coal-fired power plant operated by Intermountain Power Service Corp. just outside Delta, nearly 200 miles away in Millard County. Read more – The Salt Lake Tribune

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