The area around Canyonlands National Park has been identified as a “Globally Important Bird Area” by the National Audubon Society.
As Mark Miller of the NPS says: “The Canyonlands area is known worldwide for its many recreational opportunities and expansive scenic views. This special recognition by the National Audubon Society now brings significant attention to the fact that this striking area also is tremendously important as habitat for a diversity of wildlife including Mexican spotted owls and a large number of other bird species.”
Another interesting fact? There’s only one other “Globally Important Bird Area” in Utah — in Zion National Park.
National Parks Traveler has more.
The area around Canyonlands National Park has been identified as a “Globally Important Bird Area” by the National Audubon Society.
Over at HCN’s The Goat Blog, Sarah Jane Keller reports on a new study that shows how helping desert soil could save Western Colorado’s snowpack:
Southwest Colorado’s snowpack is the West’s hardest-hit when spring winds carrying tiny dust particles slam into the mountains. That cinnamon layer coating the snow means that it absorbs more of the sun’s radiation heats up, and melts faster than clean snow…. As water managers in the Colorado Basin plan for the region’s impending water crunch, and more dust is blowing around the West, they are starting to realize that dust is a hydrological game-changer.
The Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies, in Silverton, Colo., began tracking dust on snow in the San Juan Mountains in 2003, but dust has been worse in recent years, including 2013. In a recent study looking at the combined impact of climate warming and dust on the Upper Colorado River Basin’s snowpack, researchers found that “extreme” dust years like 2009 and 2010 advance spring runoff timing by three weeks, compared to moderate dust years. That’s a total of six weeks earlier than runoff from clean snow.;
The new study “adds more detail to what earlier research has shown,” Keller writes: “That at least in the short term, dust has a bigger impact on the speed of mountain snow melt than increasing temperatures do.”
For many years, SUWA has been pointing out the connection between protecting the wild lands of the Colorado Plateau with other critical issues like climate change and water allocation for the Colorado Basin.
That’s why it’s so critical to protect places like Greater Canyonlands, where an explosion of off-road vehicle use and mining and drilling has helped to hasten the seasonal demise of Colorado’s snowpack and the resulting pressure on the Colorado River’s 40 million water users.
Click here to learn more and to take action.
Here’s what is happening this month with the redrock:
1. The Utah state legislature’s anti-federal government campaign hits a brick wall called the U.S. Constitution.
2. Take action for wild Utah this summer!
3. SUWA’s annual Backyard Bash celebrates our community of citizen activists.
4. The BLM has a lot of bad ideas for Utah public lands.
5. Our challenge to a Bush-era land use plan is finally heard in court.
This could be the norm if Utah Gov. Herbert and the Utah state legislature get their way. Photo copyright Liz Thomas/SUWA.
Recently, Utah Governor Gary Herbert and the Utah state legislature ran into a little problem we like to call “the U.S. Constitution.” Over the past two years, Utah state leaders have been on a roll passing laws that would, in their minds, overrule the federal government’s authority when it comes to public lands. Earlier this month, the Utah state legislature was forced to repeal one of these laws or face a losing legal battle. Back in May, a federal judge blocked implementation of a law that would have prohibited Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Forest Service employees from enforcing state laws anywhere in Utah. In June, the judge issued a preliminary injunction pending a final ruling at trial. Instead of wasting even more taxpayer dollars on this sure-to-fail court case, cooler heads prevailed and the law was repealed this month.
However, the assault lives on in Gov. Herbert’s Utah public land grab, which includes a demand that over 30 million acres of federal land be handed over to the state of Utah and a slew of lawsuits aimed at wresting control of tens of thousands of miles of dirt routes crisscrossing Utah’s public lands. After the above mentioned law was repealed, notorious anti-wilderness state Rep. Mike Noel was quoted as saying his “horse might be down, but it will rise again.”
What can be done to stop this nonsense? Please let Gov. Herbert know that you want him to stop his public land grab! Add your name to our petition by clicking here, and be sure to share it with friends.
Volunteer to collect postcard signatures in support of protecting Greater Canyonlands this summer!
Here’s what you can do:
1) Volunteer to visit your Representative’s and/or Senators’ district office when they are home this August and ask that they support protecting wild Utah. Click here to sign up and SUWA’s grassroots staff will help you prepare for an in-district meeting or a district office visit.
2) Request a stack of Protect Greater Canyonlands postcards that you and your friends can sign (send them back to us and we’ll forward them to President Obama). Click here to volunteer.
3) Easiest of all: Help grow support for protecting Greater Canyonlands by liking and sharing the Protect Greater Canyonlands Facebook page.
Photo by Edward P. Kosmicki.
Sometimes we all just need to kick back and celebrate the amazing community of citizen activists who play such an important role in so many different ways in the ongoing effort to protect Utah’s wild lands. That’s what we did two weeks ago at SUWA’s annual “Backyard Bash” in Salt Lake City. About 100 wilderness enthusiasts of all ages – from babes in arms to those of us more seasoned – mingled and chatted, ate some good food, imbibed our beverage of choice and enjoyed some excellent music (provided by the wonderful band SYNKOFA). As SUWA’s Executive Director noted, SUWA’s members and supporters really are the lifeblood of the organization. They are what energizes and sustains the campaign to win permanent protection for the redrock, and the reason we have made so much progress over the last three decades. Thank you! We wish you all could all have joined us!
The BLM is again wreaking havoc in southern Utah
Abandoned airstrip in the Mexican Mountain WSA. Photo copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA.
Recently, the BLM has come up with a lot of bad ideas for Utah public lands. If you haven’t already, please take action to tell the BLM to protect wild Utah!
1) The BLM is starting a multi-year environmental study to consider the impacts of an Estonian-owned company developing a large-scale oil shale mine, conducting on-site refining, and transporting the product to market. It will also look at impacts from several rights-of-way across BLM land leading to the mine site itself, which is located on private lands. Tell the BLM “NO WAY!” You can submit written comments via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or mail (Vernal field office, BLM, Attention Stephanie Howard, 170 South 500 East, Vernal, UT 84078).
2) The BLM Price field office appears ready to give in to the demands of the Utah Back County Pilots Association (BCPA) by allowing the naturally reclaimed landing strip in the heart of the Mexican Mountain Wilderness Study Area (WSA) to be upgraded to its pre-WSA condition. There are several other backcountry airstrips in and near the San Rafael Swell that are available for BCPA and others to use and enjoy. Please tell the BLM to preserve the integrity of the Mexican Mountain WSA by denying the proposed maintenance project.
3) The BLM’s Monticello field office has announced a proposal to add more off-road vehicle (ORV) routes to the 3,000-plus miles of routes in San Juan County that were designated in the 2008 Resource Management Plan and Travel Plan (RMP/TP). Please tell the BLM to do its homework first!
The Mount Ellen proposed wilderness in the Henry Mountains. Photo copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA.
Attorneys for SUWA and Earthjustice recently argued in federal district court to overturn a Bush-era land use plan. The Richfield Resource Management Plan and Off-Highway Vehicle Travel Plan was completed in late 2008 and prioritized oil and gas development and motorized vehicles above all other uses of the public lands. Of more than 680,000 acres of BLM identified wilderness character lands, the Richfield plans only manage 78,600 acres to protect wilderness values (and then just barely). This is just the first of six Bush-era plans challenged by SUWA and our conservation partners to be heard in court.
Read more on our blog by clicking here.
Sign the petition to protect Greater Canyonlands
|We launched a campaign to encourage President Barack Obama to designate a Greater Canyonlands National Monument; it has spread across the nation. It began with SUWA members but now boasts the support of many other organizations and their members, including the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Grand Canyon Trust, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, and more than 100 local and national businesses from the outdoor recreation industry. Read more . . .|
|Litigation over Utah’s right-of-way claims to roads across public lands is gathering steam. Relying on a 19th Century law known as Revised Statute (RS) 2477, the state and rural counties are asserting claims covering 36,000 miles across the state. If Utah and its rural counties succeed in this litigation they will shred wild Utah. Faint two-track routes, present-day cow paths, and impassable desert routes could all become “highways.” Read more . . .|
|The Moab office of the BLM has approved a mining company’s proposal to drill four wells to explore potash deposits on Hatch Point, a scenic promontory that draws thousands of visitors every year. The agency has acknowledged that its current management plan (rushed out the door in the last hours of the Bush administration) failed to correctly identify areas where oil, gas and potash development should occur. Read more . . .|
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We sound like a broken record lately, but we’re just the messenger. The BLM’s Monticello field office has announced a proposal to add more off-road vehicle (ORV) routes to the 3,000-plus miles of routes in San Juan County that were designated in the 2008 Resource Management Plan and Travel Plan (RMP/TP).
Please tell the BLM to do its homework first!
This new proposal, which comes on the heels of the BLM’s recent decision to allow four new ORV rights-of-way on Cedar Mesa, would add 10 new ORV routes in San Juan County. This is in addition to the county’s pending right-of-way requests for new ORV routes in Recapture Canyon and Indian Creek.
BLM, do your homework first
Ignoring the fact that the BLM’s 2008 travel plan in San Juan County went overboard by designating over 3,000 miles of motorized routes (the equivalent to driving across the Untied States with a side trip to Canada!), the 2008 RMP/TP did require the Monticello BLM to develop an ORV monitoring plan and provide enhanced enforcement for more effective management of ORV use. Per the agency’s own directive, the ORV monitoring plan was deemed necessary due to the large number of outstanding identified and recorded cultural sites eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, and the continuing identification of yet unknown sites. Five years later, we’re still waiting for that monitoring plan and for actual monitoring to occur along the 3,000-plus miles of designated routes.
And, since the national average is one BLM law enforcement officer for every 1.76 million acres, we’re nearly certain that the Monticello field office has not enhanced its enforcement presence in the backcountry to a meaningful level.
Wrong places, wrong message
The new ORV routes are proposed in Arch Canyon, Recapture Canyon, at the base of Wingate Mesa west of White Canyon, near Lake Canyon, and along the San Juan River east of Comb Ridge. Several of these routes are located in areas with wilderness character, while others are located in sensitive riparian habitat or in areas known to have dense archaeological sites.
The BLM should complete the required ORV monitoring plan and undertake on-the-ground monitoring of the existing ORV routes to document ongoing resource damages and user compliance before considering the addition of more ORV routes. In addition, adding these illegally pioneered ORV trails to the BLM’s official travel plan legitimizes unauthorized ORV use and sends the message that the BLM will reward the creation of illegal trails by eventually adding the trails to its travel plan.
Please take a moment to tell the Monticello BLM office: Monitor existing routes before adding new routes, and do not designate new ORV routes in proposed wilderness or other ecologically sensitive areas.