Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance

Utah Wilderness News, June 29, 2011

7:52 am

Lawmakers are engaging in “over-the-top alarmism” on national monuments

“But history often shows that today’s land grab evolves into tomorrow’s economic success story. In Utah, where the antimonument fervor is particularly strong, the monuments that later became national parks now support more than 7,000 jobs and annually attract more than 6.6 million visitors who spend $407 million a year.

Also in Utah, the communities surrounding the Grand Staircase-Escalante have seen a 38 percent increase in jobs and a 40 percent increase in real personal income since its designation.”  Opinion – Center for American Progress

ATVers can blame themselves for lost access

“In the last twenty years ATVs have become popular. These four wheelers with heavy-duty tires are designed for rough terrain, and therefore easily driven over bumpy dirt roads and off them, the latter often resulting in impromptu-made trails and thus ruts and erosion. For instance, there have been problems in Wyoming’s Big Horn Mountains with the trashing of their high elevation wetlands home to migratory waterfowl. And desert terrain in the Southwest near large cities such as Las Vegas and Phoenix is popular with the ATV crowd, with the aforementioned negative results.”  Commentary – The American Spectator

Our national parks need more resources to survive

“Tom Kiernan, president of the NPCA, pointed out parks are receiving two-thirds of what they need. Funding parks amounts to ‘one-thirteenth of 1% of the national budget. Cutting funds or not providing funds is not going to impact the deficit.’ Kiernan said parks are an economic investment, with a $4 million return annually. The parks system generates $13.3 billion in economic activity, according to NPCA.”  Read more – Los Angeles Times


Utah Wilderness News, June 24, 2011

10:59 am

Antiquities Act designation brought positive economic outcomes to southern Utah

“We need to tell Congress that the Grand Staircase-Escalante and wilderness areas have been beneficial to the public and that is supported by most Utahns. These landscapes make Utah a wonderful place to live and work. They deserve protection.”  Letter-to-the-Editor – The Salt Lake Tribune

Utah benefits the most economically from federal lands

“No state benefits more than Utah in the number of rural residents who have jobs because of tourism and recreational activities on lands managed by the U.S. Department of the Interior, the federal agency said on Wednesday.”  Read more – The Salt Lake Tribune


Administrative Judge Reverses Uranium Mine Decision

9:00 am

The Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA) recently issued a decision reversing a portion of the BLM’s decision approving the Daneros uranium mine located in southeastern Utah. The Monticello BLM field office and the Utah state director approved the uranium mine, situated between Natural Bridges National Monument and Fry Canyon in San Juan County – in the midst of large expanses of wild lands of spectacular beauty, even by Colorado Plateau standards.

The raw uranium ore will be transported by truck from the mine to the White Mesa Mill in Blanding, 65 miles from the mine, for processing. SUWA’s appeal argued, among other issues, that the BLM must consider the environmental effects of milling and processing the ore before issuing the permit. The BLM refused to do so, but the IBLA agreed with SUWA. SUWA has requested that the operation be halted while the BLM is re-examining these impacts to air quality from the milling operation, which the agency should have done before approving the mine.

Liz Thomas

Help us block gas drilling in Redrock country

8:48 am

From our friends at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC):

Stop natural gas drilling in Utah’s Desolation Canyon Stop natural gas drilling in Utah's Desolation Canyon Take Action

We need your help to save Utah’s spectacular Desolation Canyon from plans for a massive natural gas project.

Please take action today to protect this crown jewel of Utah’s world-renowned Redrock country.

A Colorado-based natural gas company named Gasco wants to drill 1,500 new gas wells in the area, including 222 wells in the Desolation Canyon proposed wilderness.

Unless we stop it, the development would destroy thousands of acres of unspoiled wilderness.

Situated along the Green River, this remote canyon boasts some of the most stunning vistas in the American west. Its world-class recreational opportunities make it one of the most popular destinations in the state.

In recent years, the eastern part of Utah has experienced unusually high wintertime ozone pollution. According to Gasco’s own figures, the project would make that pollution even worse.

Officials at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gave the project its worst rating and are urging the Obama Administration to adopt a less damaging alternative.

But the EPA is now facing tremendous pressure to reverse their position.

Send a message to the EPA, urging them to stand strong in their concerns about the project and its impacts on Desolation Canyon.

Thanks again for helping to protect our last western wildlands.

Frances Beinecke
Natural Resources Defense Council


Utah Wilderness News, June 15, 2011

1:31 pm

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