Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance

Public hearings on the Alton coal strip mine start this week

10:11 am

Do you have concerns about the proposed expansion of a strip coal mine to public lands on the doorstep of Bryce Canyon National Park?

The BLM is hosting four meetings in southern Utah, starting tonight, where you can share your opinion about this terrible proposal with BLM staff and managers.  Please attend one of these meetings if you can!

Alton, UT
November 29th, 2011
Alton Town Hall, 11 S 100 W
6:00pm-8:00pm

Kanab, UT
November 30th, 2011
Kanab City Library, 374 North Main St.
6:00pm-8:00pm

Panguitch, UT
December 1st, 2011
Panguitch City Hall/Library, 25 South 200 East
6:00pm-8:00pm

Cedar City, UT
December 6th, 2011
[Includes a hearing on the Draft EIS, Maximum Economic Recovery (MER), and Fair Market Value (FMV)]

Festival Hall Convention Center, 96 North Main
6:00pm-8:00pm


Tell your friends about the meetings by inviting them through Facebook.

If you can’t make it to one of the meetings, please take action on our website by clicking here.

Steve Bloch

It’s a coal filled holiday season at the Utah BLM – Redrock Report November 2011

1:58 pm

November 2011

Here’s what is happening this month with the redrock:

1.  Obama administration continues to be a disappointment.
2.  Help stop the Alton Coal Mine expansion!
3.  Get your holiday gift at the SUWA online store.
4.  December’s Utah Wilderness Dialogue is with David Strayer.
5.  The redrock bill now has 113 House cosponsors.



Will the disappointment ever end?

A message from SUWA
Executive Director
Scott Groene
Scott Groene

The Obama administration recently announced a meager list of areas that deserve federal protection. Given the fanfare of the list release, you might ask: does Obama plan to use his ample authority under the Antiquities Act to save these places as national monuments or grant some other form of administrative protection?

The answer is . . . drum roll please . . . no. What they’ve done is produce a list. That’s it. And it’s a pathetic list at that, one that omits upwards of 90% of Utah’s redrock wilderness and is based on 30 year-old and grossly deficient BLM inventories. The list includes just a few hundred thousand acres of already protected land in Utah, in contrast to the more than 9 million acres of magnificent BLM lands that deserve wilderness designation.

And what will they do with the list? Nothing. Not a single additional acre of redrock will be protected.

On the other hand, here’s what this administration IS doing: 1) defending in court the disastrous Bush administration decisions that left open much of this wilderness to ORV use and energy development (see feature story in our autumn/winter 2011 newsletter), 2) pushing forward with approval of a massive drilling project in proposed wilderness along the Green River in Upper Desolation Canyon (even though Desolation canyon is on their list), and 3) wasting valuable time and resources on silly gestures like this list.

Utah’s congressional delegation relishes attacking this administration as an electoral strategy, even for meaningless snake oil like this. Appeasement doesn’t work. So why won’t the Obama administration do something, anything, to protect these lands?

It’s of course our job, with your help, to see that it does.

To date, this administration has been a horrible disappointment for failing to step up to its obligation to responsibly manage our public lands. With this latest meaningless gesture, the only recognizable virtue is consistency.

If you haven’t already, please tell the Obama administration to protect the heart of the redrock wilderness — the Greater Canyonlands region — and ask your friends to do so as well.  And click here to get more involved in the movement to protect the remaining redrock wild lands in Utah.


Tell the BLM to say NO to the Alton Coal Mine!

Alton Coal Mine
The existing Coal Hollow mine site.
Copyright
Ray Bloxham/SUWA.

The BLM could leave coal in our stockings this holiday season, specifically in the form of a coal strip mine outside of Bryce Canyon National Park.

The Obama administration recently released a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) analyzing a proposal to sell a federal coal lease on the western
doorstep of Bryce Canyon National Park, potentially threatening the remarkable clean air, water, and dark night skies at the park, as well as the livelihood of nearby gateway communities.

Let the BLM know that they shouldn’t approve this coal strip mine!

Five public meetings will be held where you can share your concerns with BLM staff and managers. The meetings are scheduled from 6pm to 8pm MT on the following dates at these locations:

Alton, UT
November 29th, 2011
Alton Town Hall, 11 S 100 W
6:00pm-8:00pm

Kanab, UT
November 30th, 2011
Kanab City Library, 374 North Main St.
6:00pm-8:00pm
Panguitch, UT
December 1st, 2011
Panguitch City Hall/Library, 25 South 200 East
6:00pm-8:00pm
Cedar City, UT
December 6th, 2011
[Includes a hearing on the Draft EIS, Maximum Economic Recovery (MER), and Fair Market Value (FMV)]

Festival Hall Convention Center, 96 North Main
6:00pm-8:00pm
Salt Lake City, UT
December 7th, 2011
Salt Lake City Library, 210 E 400 S
6:00pm-8:00pm

Tell your friends about the meetings by inviting them through Facebook.
If you can’t make it to one of the meetings, please take action on our website by clicking here


The SUWA store is open for the holidays

SUWA Short Sleeve Retro T-Shirt in White/Blue  (Fitted)

Need a gift for the holidays?  Be sure to check out SUWA’s online store to purchase hats, t-shirts, and posters.  Or consider giving the gift of a SUWA membership to a budding redrock supporter you know.

Click here to visit our online store.




Utah Wilderness Dialogues: David Strayer


Please join us at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 7, at Jane’s Home, 1229 East South Temple, Salt Lake City, for this free presentation.

David Strayer
David Strayer

David Strayer received the University of Utah Distinguished Scholarly and Creative Research Award in 2010, and has been conducting research in the cognitive and neural sciences at the University of Utah since 1991. Each spring, he teaches an interdisciplinary course entitled “Cognition in the Wild” that explores the restorative effects that interacting in nature have on our cognitive function. In 2010, he led an expedition of neuroscientists down the San Juan river in southern Utah as part of a research agenda to better understand how our brain is subtly changed by being in nature. He spends his spare time exploring the red rocks of the desert southwest near Bluff.  Appetizers for the event have been generously donated by Squatters Pub Brewery.

Please RSVP at http://suwa.org/strayer



New cosponsor spotlight


America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act (H.R. 1916/S. 979) has now reached 113 cosponsors in the House and 12 in the Senate in the 112th Congress. Newly signed on Representatives include Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), Jim Himes (D-CT), Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), John Lewis (D-GA), and Rush Holt (D-NJ).  Please thank your members of Congress if they have cosponsored the bill!

If your members of Congress are not on the list of cosponsors, please ask them to cosponsor America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act today!

change.orgSign the petition to save Greater Canyonlands

admin

This public land doesn’t fit very well, can I return it?

10:21 am

Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz wants to sell a few million acres of public land, saying that these lands “should be returned to private ownership.”  Recently, Pat Bagley of the Salt Lake Tribune did a “historical title search” to see if he could determine exactly to whom Chaffetz was referring when he intoned those previous private owners.

I think it is safe to assume that Chaffetz is not referring to any claim to private ownership from Native Americans, who predated the arrival of European settlers and their land title records.  And as long as those land recorder offices have been around the public lands here have been just that, public lands belonging to all Americans.

Chaffetz was less than amused with Bagley’s efforts.  In a letter to the editor last week he dredged up the worn and tenuous claim, based on an ambiguous phrase in the Utah Enabling Act, that the United States was supposed to sell off all of Utah’s public lands.[1]

However, in his rush to place a microscope on the Utah Enabling Act, the congressional act that paved the way for statehood, Chaffetz missed a little arm’s length perspective.  Section 3 of the Utah Enabling Act included a requirement that Utah and its people forever “disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands.”  Utah’s constitution gladly obliged (see Art. III, Section 2).

In other words, we promised we would never try to make a claim that this land only belonged to Utahns or private individuals.  Apparently talk is cheap.

Of course, this claim of “returning” public lands to private ownership or “taking it back” has always been something of a talisman for the anti-wilderness crowd.  But do not be fooled.  To paraphrase historian R. McGreggor Cawley’s comments regarding the Sagebrush Rebellion (or Ripoff), this isn’t so much about transferring land, it’s about combating environmental values in public policy.

So nothing like a little historical misinterpretation to demonstrate that you do not agree with the Wilderness Act, limits on grazing, wildlife protections, or other important environmental laws that apply to federal lands.


[1] Section 9, the ambiguous decree at issue here, makes more sense in light of the Utah Enabling Act and principles of legal interpretation regarding federal grants, to be read as an instruction that Utah should receive five percent of all proceeds from any federal lands that might be sold, rather than a command that those lands must be sold.

David Garbett

Tell the BLM to “just say no” to a proposed coal strip mine near Bryce Canyon National Park

8:00 am
Alton Coal Mine
The existing Coal Hollow mine site. Copyright Ray
Bloxham/SUWA.

Tell the BLM to “just say no” to a proposed coal strip mine outside Bryce Canyon National Park.

The Obama administration recently released a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) analyzing a proposal to sell a federal coal lease on the western doorstep of Bryce Canyon National Park, potentially threatening the remarkable clean air, water, and dark night skies at the park, as well as the livelihood of nearby gateway communities.

The BLM is analyzing this potential coal lease at the behest of a small, privately held, out-of-state company, Alton Coal Development.  The lease would expand the current Coal Hollow mine from private land onto adjacent public land.

Mine expansion would have an enormous impact on the local environment — polluting the air; flooding Bryce Canyon’s world-famous dark night skies with light; impacting the habitat and health of wildlife, like the area’s mule deer herd and imperiled sage grouse; lowering water quality; and marring one of the most majestic landscapes in the world.

Let the BLM know that they shouldn’t approve this coal strip mine!

Expanded mining operations and the huge trucks used to transport coal would create noise, vibrations and safety issues.  For example, the expanded Coal Hollow strip mine would allow up to 300 coal trucks to barrel through the historic town of Panguitch each day, threatening shops, restaurants, motels and small businesses that depend on tourists, and putting residents at risk for respiratory health problems related to toxic coal dust.

You have until January 6, 2012 to let the BLM know what you think about this proposal. Click here to take action.

Also, the BLM will be holding five public meetings in the coming weeks in the following locations:  Nov. 29 (Alton), Nov. 30 (Kanab), Dec. 1 (Panguitch), Dec. 6 (Cedar City) and Dec. 7 (Salt Lake City).  Please consider attending one or more of these meetings to learn more about this terrible proposal and to share your concerns with BLM staff and managers.

With your help, we can turn back this short-sighted proposal.

Steve Bloch

Will the disappointment ever end?

2:45 pm

The Obama administration just announced a meager list of areas that deserve federal protection. Given the fanfare of the list release, you might ask: does Obama plan to use his ample authority under the Antiquities Act to save these places as national monuments or grant some other form of administrative protection?

The answer is . . . drum roll please . . . no. What they’ve done is produce a list. That’s it. And it’s a pathetic list at that, one that omits upwards of 90% of Utah’s redrock wilderness and is based on 30 year-old and grossly deficient BLM inventories. The list includes just a few hundred thousand acres of already protected land in Utah, in contrast to the more than 9 million acres of magnificent BLM lands that deserve wilderness designation.

And what will they do with the list? Nothing. Not a single additional acre of redrock will be protected.

On the other hand, here’s what this administration IS doing: 1) defending in court the disastrous Bush administration decisions that left open much of this wilderness to ORV use and energy development (see feature story in our autumn/winter 2011 newsletter), 2) pushing forward with approval of a massive drilling project in proposed wilderness along the Green River in Upper Desolation Canyon (even though Desolation canyon is on their list), and 3) wasting valuable time and resources on silly gestures like this list.

Utah’s congressional delegation relishes attacking this administration as an electoral strategy, even for meaningless snake oil like this. Appeasement doesn’t work. So why won’t the Obama administration do something, anything, to protect these lands?

It’s of course our job, with your help, to see that it does.

To date, this administration has been a horrible disappointment for failing to step up to its obligation to responsibly manage our public lands. With this latest meaningless gesture, the only recognizable virtue is consistency.

Scott Groene