Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance

Urgent! Utah Governor declares war on wilderness!

7:42 am
Kane County claims this typical Class D
“road” is a county highway.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert just launched the biggest attack against Utah’s wilderness we’ve faced in fifteen years.

The State of Utah is suing the United States to seize control over nearly 17,000 “roads,” many of which are actually wash bottoms or other rough trails.  They slice apart the San Rafael Swell, Grand Staircase-Escalante and Canyonlands National Park.

If the State wins then the Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service can’t stop ATVs and dirt bikes from ripping through proposed wilderness.

We need your donation to stop the Governor’s attack.

We’ve proven we can win these battles.  In May, a judge ruled against the State of Utah’s bid to force the National Park Service to open Salt Creek Canyon in Canyonlands National Park to off-road vehicles.

But this fight is over 17,000 thousand off-road vehicle routes, not one.

The State has blustered for two decades that it would file this lawsuit, and Herbert finally pulled the trigger.  The State is now gearing up with lawyers and field workers, and it will blow millions of dollars before this fight is done.

Will you help us stop this madness?

We’ve defended the Redrock before when others said it couldn’t be done.  And with your help, we’ll do it again.

Scott Groene

State wastes taxpayer dollars in lawsuit over 19,000 remote dirt roads

3:58 pm

Kane County has claimed this typical class D route as an RS 2477 "highway."

With 40 kids per classroom and no money for schools, the State of Utah has now bet millions of taxpayer dollars on litigating title to nearly 19,000 remote dirt roads, 16,594 of which have never been maintained or constructed.  These routes, defined by Utah statute as Class D “roads,” are usually streambeds, wash bottoms, two-tracks, abandoned seismic lines or other rough trails, are sometimes difficult to find on the ground and some are downright dangerous to drive.  They are often adopted by ORV users who then create spiderwebs of new routes and wreak havoc on pristine and sensitive desert landscapes.  They are a management nightmare.

Class B roads, on the other hand, are generally wide, graded dirt roads.  There’s no controversy about their use (although disputes about their width and surface have arisen).  BLM hasn’t tried to close them down, and neither have we.  Even if the State were to succeed in the lawsuit for the Class Bs, it would change nothing, other than depleting the state coffers.

But this isn’t really about roads.  It’s Utah’s wasteful, ideologically-driven attempt to undermine protection of spectacularly scenic federal public lands, including wilderness study areas, proposed wilderness areas, national parks and other natural gems.

The state’s press release touting its filing a “notice of intent to sue” with the Interior Department can be found here.  Federal law requires would-be plaintiffs suing the federal government to provide it 180-days notice before filing their lawsuit.

Heidi McIntosh

Enough is Enough!

11:40 am

The Monticello BLM office is requesting comments on its environmental assessment, which analyzed a proposal to give San Juan County a right-of-way to construct a new ATV route across scenic public lands next to Indian Creek, directly east of the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. This ATV route would irretrievably impact the Indian Creek-Lockhart Basin proposed wilderness area, and would be a significant conflict with other recreational uses of the area.

Please tell the BLM that Indian Creek has enough ATV routes and ask the agency to deny San Juan County’s request to construct a new one.

The Indian Creek area, located on the east side of Canyonlands National Park, south of Moab, Utah, is famous for its dramatic and sheer Wingate Sandstone cliffs, and is an internationally-known and treasured rock climbing destination.  Beyond the sheer walls, as Indian Creek continues its journey downstream towards Indian Creek Falls and its eventual confluence with the Colorado River, off-road vehicle users enjoy many miles of trails that allow for recreational adventures and exploration of the vast canyonlands basin.

Even though the BLM has designated more than 3,000 miles of off-road vehicle routes in San Juan County, including dozens of routes in and near the Indian Creek area, San Juan County is requesting that the BLM grant the county a right-of-way for yet another off-road vehicle trail “to provide an exclusive recreational opportunity for ATV enthusiasts . . .”  The proposed ATV trail, approximately 4 miles long, would bisect a roadless areas and could adversely affect this stretch of Indian Creek – a desert stream that supports a variety of wildlife species including desert bighorn sheep, mule deer, and golden eagles as it meanders through the redrock and high desert grasslands on its way to the Colorado River.

There are reasonable alternatives to this proposed ATV route (i.e., using existing off-road vehicle routes and roads) that would not impact wild lands, Indian Creek, and its world-famous scenery and that would minimize conflicts with other users of the Indian Creek area.  However, the BLM failed to analyze these alternatives in its environmental review.

Please tell the BLM, by December 22, 2011, that there is no need for additional ATV routes in the Indian Creek area.

With your help, we can preserve the scenic and wilderness qualities of the Indian Creek area.

Thanks for your support.

Liz Thomas

Save it before it’s too late

3:51 pm
Copyright Lin Alder

In this turbulent world, it’s good to keep some things as they are.

For millennia, America’s redrock wilderness has stood as testament to the wonders of the natural world.  Places like Greater Canyonlands, the Grand Staircase-Escalante, Robbers Roost and Labyrinth Canyon are just a few of the wild landscapes the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) works to protect.

Please help us preserve these national treasures by making a donation today.

The threats to America’s redrock wilderness are numerous and immediate – ranging from the shortsighted development of dirty fuels to the epidemic spread of off-road vehicles.

Since 1983, SUWA has effectively held off these threats, securing some form of protection for over 5 million acres of treasured wild landscapes.  Prior to SUWA’s existence – between 1930 and 1980 – America lost over 14 million acres of Utah’s wild desert lands.  Fortunately, in the 29 years since SUWA was founded, with support from people like you, we’ve preserved almost 99% of the remaining wild country.

However, our work is not done, the threats persist, and we need your help!

Eighty percent of our funding comes from individuals like you. This support allows our small, dedicated staff of field specialists, organizers, policy advocates and attorneys to do their work to protect some of our nation’s most iconic and imminently threatened wilderness – so it will be there for you and future generations to enjoy.

Please help us continue our important work to protect America’s redrock wilderness by making a donation today.

Deeda Seed

A public hearing on the Alton coal strip mine is tomorrow

8:23 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 a public meeting in Salt Lake City tomorrow night, where you can share your opinion about this terrible proposal with BLM staff and managers.  Please attend the meeting if you can!

Salt Lake City, UT
December 7th, 2011
Salt Lake City Library, 210 E 400 S

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

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

Steve Bloch