Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance


12:02 pm

Last week, Gov. Herbert’s spokespeople responded to SUWA’s statewide media campaign (which educates the public about the costs and effects of Governor Herbert’s federal land takeover initiatives) by saying that his initiatives “actually protect Utah’s wilderness, as well as state and national parks.”

This statement is untrue, and it’s time for Governor Herbert to set the record straight about the true effects of his federal land grab initiatives.

Governor Herbert’s radical attacks on our public lands includes his support of HB 148 — a law which would allow Utah to seize 30 million acres of public lands currently managed by the federal government — and the 22 lawsuits against the United States government that Governor Herbert recently directed the state of Utah to file regarding RS 2477 claims.

If successful, Governor Herbert’s litigation would take away the ability of professional land managers to control off-road vehicle (ORV) use in Utah’s National Parks and in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Indeed, Governor Herbert is currently spending tax dollars in an attempt to open an off-road vehicle route in Capitol Reef National Park.

Governor Herbert’s land grab would also open up millions of acres of Wilderness Study Areas and proposed wilderness areas to oil and gas development, off-road vehicle abuse, or even to private development. The Governor is even attacking the 2009 Washington County wilderness bill, which was supported by the entire Utah congressional delegation and Washington County commissioners, by seeking to open ORV routes across the Canaan Mountain and Red Mountain wilderness areas.

Governor Herbert’s plans to ultimately privatize much of Utah’s public lands would radically alter the character of our state, and undermine Utah’s heritage. The loss of our public lands means Utah families won’t be able to roam freely across open land, unmarred by roads, ORVs and oil rigs.

“If Herbert is spending millions of dollars of our tax money for his litigation against the United States, he should at least be honest with Utah Citizens about what he’s doing, “ said Scott Groene, SUWA’s Executive Director. “He’s attacking Utah’s wilderness and national parks, not protecting them.”

Mathew Gross

Utah’s anti-wilderness frenzy – Redrock Report July 2012

6:49 am

July 2012

Here’s what is happening this month with the redrock:
Taking the fight to Utah Governor Herbert.
San Rafael Swell and more threatened by an awful Emery County proposal.
3.  Redrock champs in Congress step up again.
4.  Potash mining & tar sands — more reasons to protect Greater Canyonlands.


Governor Herbert’s federal land takeover will cost you $$

Herbert Land Grab billboard
One of our billboards in Salt Lake City.

That is what Utahns are seeing and hearing in the Salt Lake Tribune, Deseret News, and City Weekly — as well as online, on the radio, and on billboards along the Wasatch Front — thanks to our new media campaign.  Created in response to Utah Governor Herbert’s attempt to seize over 30 million acres of land from the American public, our ads encourage Utahns to call and/or email the governor to tell him that the federal land grab is a bad idea.

Click here to view and listen to our ads.

Help spread the word:

1) Share our webpage and encourage your friends to take action!

2) Sign and share our new petition telling Governor Herbert to stop his land grab by clicking here.

3) Help us fund the media campaign by making a donation.


Has Gov. Herbert found a partner in Emery County?

As if demanding that the federal government concede 30 million acres of public land to Utah and filing 22 lawsuits to seize control of about 12,000 so-called “highways” across the state weren’t
enough, Utah elected officials have set their sights on a new prize: rolling back existing protections for some of the best of the redrock wilderness — the San Rafael Swell, Desolation Canyon, and Labyrinth Canyon.

On July 16, Emery County representatives presented a truly awful wilderness proposal to Governor Herbert’s Resources Committee, which, among other things, would open areas to off-road vehicle use that are currently closed, open protected areas to coal mining, and fail to protect vast tracts of deserving wilderness.

SUWA, with our partners in the Utah Wilderness Coalition, tried to work with Emery County, but unfortunately, a backlash from off-road vehicle interests caused the county to renege on an agreement.  We remain willing to try to resolve differences between America’s Red
Rock Wilderness Act
and Emery County’s proposal.  However, if Emery charges ahead and succeeds in getting this bill introduced in Congress, we will either kill it or fix it so that it is a step forward for protecting the redrock.  We’ve already done that over a dozen times in the past twenty years.

Read more on our blog.


Redrock champs in Congress defend our Utah public lands

As elected officials in Utah continue their attacks on our public lands, the redrock is lucky to have stalwart champions in Congress who are willing to step up and defend Utah wilderness.  On July 24, 44 U.S. Representatives, led by Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), and Rush Holt (D-NJ), sent a letter urging Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to protect some of our nation’s last remaining wild public lands from attempts by the State of Utah to claim ownership of those lands so that they can be developed by oil, gas, and mining companies.

Read the press release and see the list of signers by clicking here

The reason there are so many redrock champions in Congress is because people like you have repeatedly contacted your elected officials to tell them how important protecting Utah wilderness is to their constiuency.  If your member of Congress is one of the 44 on the list, please thank him/her!  Just call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be transferred to your representative’s office.


Potash mining, tar sands proposals threaten Greater Canyonlands

The lands to the west of Canyonlands National Park are some of the most beautiful and remote in southern Utah (easily equal to the lands inside the park), and Happy Canyon’s wide redrock valleys are no exception.  Unfortunately, Happy Canyon also has the distinction of being a part of the “Tar Sands Triangle” and is threatened by the Bureau of Land Management’s decision to revive oil and gas leases that terminated decades ago for destructive tar sands development — including leases that are located within Wilderness Study Areas such as the French Spring-Happy Canyon WSA.

Happy Canyon Ray Bloxham
Happy Canyon proposed wilderness.
Copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA.

Looking out on Greater Canyonlands from the tip of Hatch Point is one of the most grand and majestic views in southeastern Utah, but potash mining proposals currently threaten the area.  K2O Utah, LLC, owned by the Australian mining giant Potash Minerals Limited, has already drilled several exploratory wells on state lands on Hatch Point and has now requested permission from the Bureau of Land Management to drill several more exploratory wells on federal public lands.   Before K2O’s 146-square-mile project area is authorized for full development by the BLM, the agency must assess the highest and best use of this magnificent and still undeveloped landscape.

What can we do about all this?  By urging President Obama to protect Greater Canyonlands, we can help ensure that these places will be preserved for future generations instead of turned into industrial wastelands.

Visit and to take action!


change.orgSign the petition to protect Greater Canyonlands



Keller Williams Redrock Benefit on Aug 2

7:51 am

Please join us on Thursday, August 2nd as Keller Williams performs in concert at the Depot in Salt Lake City to help support protection of Utah’s redrock wilderness.

Hope to see you there!

Invite friends on Facebook by clicking here.

Keller Williams

PROBAR, SUUNTO and LIFE IS GOOD invite you to an evening with Keller Williams raising awareness for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance on Thursday, August 2nd at The Depot. Brought to you by Madison House, United Concerts and Aron Ralston.

Event Details:
Where: The Depot – Salt Lake City, UT
When: Thursday, August 2nd
Times: Doors 8 PM / Show 9 PM
Tickets: ADV: $15 / DOS: $20
Ages: 21+


Singer, songwriter, and guitarist Keller Williams is literally a one-man jam band. His fascinating live shows feature him solo on-stage with a Gibson Echoplex Digital Pro looping unit, and he creates his backing loops in the moment, building and improvising as he goes on his custom-made ten-string guitar.  Williams is an utterly unique performer whose musical eccentricities don’t keep him from being immediately accessible.

Experienced outdoorsman Aron Ralston (of “127 Hours” fame) will be showing his support at the event.  As Ralston explains, “Over the years since my experience in Blue John Canyon, I’ve learned how vital it is to protect our pristine public lands.  I’m really excited to team up with some of my favorite outdoor companies to host Keller Williams — an amazing and light-hearted musician who I’ve seen perform many times — for a party with a purpose to raise awareness for SUWA.”

Deeda Seed

44 U.S. Representatives urge Obama administration to defend America’s redrock wilderness

10:30 am

The following press release was issued by Congressman Maurice Hinchey’s office today:

Hinchey Leads 44 House Members in Urging Interior Secretary Salazar to Defend Against State of Utah’s Attacks on Wild Public Lands PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 24 July 2012 12:12
Washington, DC – Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) today led 44 House members in urging U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to protect some of our nation’s last remaining wild public lands from attempts by the State of Utah to claim ownership of those lands so that they can be developed by oil, gas, and mining companies.  In a letter sent to Salazar today, Hinchey and his colleagues warn Salazar that a failure to stand firm in defense of federal management would set a disastrous precedent for proper management of federal public lands throughout the West and Alaska.  Hinchey was joined by Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Rush Holt (D-NJ) in calling on other House members to press Salazar on the matter.

“In late March, the State of Utah enacted an ill-conceived and unconstitutional state law demanding that the Department of Interior turn over federal public lands to the state for the eventual disposition to oil, gas, mining and other development interests.  Such a transfer would upset the careful balancing of multiple uses mandated by Congress and destroy the unmatched natural beauty found on these lands – and take away from the American people tens of millions of acres of our common natural heritage,” Hinchey and his colleagues wrote in their letter to Salazar.  “We commend you for condemning this ploy, which you previously noted ‘defies common sense,’ and ‘…is political rhetoric you see in an election year.’  Your diligence on this issue needs to be extended to an even greater threat concerning the state’s claim to own highways through these very same public lands…. We urge you to make the vigorous defense of these iconic public lands against the state of Utah’s attacks, one of your highest priorities.  We look forward to talking with you and your staff about the Department’s efforts to ensure that the future of Utah’s wildlands is secure in the face of this threat.”

The state of Utah has passed legislation that demands the “return” of federal public lands under what is widely viewed as a legally deficient interpretation of the U.S. Constitution and the Utah Enabling Act.  The Utah State Legislature’s own legislative counsel deemed the law to likely be unconstitutional and Arizona’s Governor vetoed similar legislation because of constitutionality and cost concerns.

In addition, Utah has recently filed twenty lawsuits in an attempt to gain control over alleged road rights of way, by exploiting a loophole in a repealed nineteenth century law known as “R.S. 2477″.  Though Congress repealed this statute in 1976, some states and counties, mostly in Utah, continue to claim cow paths, abandoned wagon tracks, stream beds and foot paths as “highways” under a faulty interpretation of the repealed law.  A federal district court recently found a similar claim by San Juan County, Utah to be invalid.

Despite this clear ruling, Utah is pursing 12,000 of these claims in places of national significance including in and around Canyonlands National Park, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and lands designated as Wilderness in the Washington County Wilderness provision of the 2009 Omnibus Public Lands Management Act, as well as other areas eligible for protection as Wilderness by Congress.

Hinchey is the author of the bipartisan America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, which would preserve 9.1 million acres of Utah’s spectacular red rock country as wilderness.  The measure would protect the land from commercial development, motorized vehicles, road building, as well as oil and gas drilling. Currently, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) owns the 9.1 million acres, but the agency is not prohibited from selling part of the land for development or developing parts itself.

The publicly owned wild places of Utah are world-renowned for their spectacular beauty, with deep, narrow red rock canyons, fantastic sandstone arches, tremendous open vistas, and wild rivers. Currently, only 1.1 percent of Utah’s BLM public lands are protected as wilderness. Nowhere else in the lower 48 states can such intact wilderness-quality lands be found. These areas are a haven for outdoor recreationists, backpackers, hikers, wildlife enthusiasts, and many more. The red rock area is also rich with archeological remnants of prehistoric cultures.

Joining Hinchey, Grijalva, and Holt in sending the letter to Salazar were: Reps. Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Charlie Rangel (D-NY), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Dale Kildee (D-MI), David Cicilline (D-RI), David Price (D-NC), Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Gary Ackerman (D-NY), George Miller (D-CA), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Hansen Clarke (D-MI), Henry Waxman (D-CA), James A. Himes (D-CT), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Jim Moran (D-VA), John Conyers (D-MI), John Garamendi (D-CA), Judy Chu (D-CA), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Lois Capps (D-CA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mike Honda (D-CA), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Pete Stark (D-CA), Peter Welch (D-VT), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Sam Farr (D-CA), Sander Levin (D-MI), Steve Israel (D-NY), Steven Rothman (D-NJ), Tim Walz (D-MN), Timothy V. Johnson (R-IL)

Taking the Fight To Governor Herbert

2:29 pm

Utah Governor Gary Herbert recently signed a law that demands the federal government hand over more than 30 million acres of public lands now owned and managed by the federal government to the state of Utah.

Governor Herbert’s attempt to seize these public lands would be a disaster for Utah — and for all Americans who love our red rock heritage.

That’s why SUWA has just launched a new media campaign asking Utahns to tell Governor Herbert that his federal land grab is a bad idea.

Our ads are running in Utah’s major print outlets — the Salt Lake Tribune, Deseret News, and City Weekly — as well as online, on the radio, and on billboards along the Wasatch Front.

Click here to see our print ad.

Listen to our radio ad below:

Will you help us get the word out about Governor Herbert’s bad plan by making a contribution to SUWA today?

Governor Herbert’s land grab would cost Utah taxpayers money — the federal government currently spends more than $300 million in Utah every year to manage and protect our public lands.

The Governor’s solution to the cost of properly managing public lands? He hopes to  sell off or lease places like the San Rafael Swell, Cedar Mesa and the Escalante to oil and gas companies and private speculators.

The Governor’s radical land grab must be stopped. And we need your help to stop it:

Click here to help SUWA stop the Governor’s land grab.

Herbert’s land grab is an idea so radical and outside the mainstream, even conservative Arizona Governor Jan Brewer recently vetoed a similar bill in her state.

But here in Utah, the only way we’ll get Herbert to drop his bad idea is if we send him the message that Utahns don’t support it. So please, help us get the word out to all of Utah about the damaging effects of Herbert’s plan on Utah’s lands and economy by supporting our media campaign today.

Click here to make a contribution today.

Thank you for everything you do.

Mathew Gross