Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance

Oil and Gas Industry Appeals BLM Decision Not to Lease in San Rafael Swell

2:47 pm

SRSR

Last year the BLM proposed to sell 57 oil and gas leases primarily located in Utah’s stunning San Rafael Swell.  The leases would have green-lighted development on more than 80,000 acres of proposed wilderness, the vast majority of which the BLM itself acknowledges are wilderness-caliber landscapes.  The leases would have also authorized surface activities in a culturally rich area and over the objections of The Hopi Tribe.

Hundreds of people wrote and emailed the BLM asking them to “think first and lease later.”  More than 150 of you rallied at the BLM’s state headquarters in Salt Lake City and delivered this message personally.  Thanks to your hard work that bad idea was tabled in the days leading up to the proposed sale and the leases were withdrawn from the sale.

But last week, an oil and gas trade group filed an appeal with the Interior Department seeking to overturn the BLM’s decision not to offer these leases.  They were joined by a small oil and gas company that had hoped to buy some of these leases — so small, in fact, that they don’t operate a single well in Utah.

The gist of their appeal is that because the BLM initially made the (wrong) decision to offer these leases, it was required to do so no matter what kind of information the agency learned about the threats that development would pose to fragile cultural sites, threatened species, etc.

In other words, industry wants the good old days back of “lease first and think later.”  Not a chance.  SUWA and other conservation groups intend to intervene on behalf of the BLM and defend this important decision.

 

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Constitution: 1; State of Utah: 0 – Redrock Report July 2013

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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.


Constitution: 1; State of Utah: 0

Drill Pad No Public Access Sign
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.


It’s never too hot to help protect Utah wilderness

Congress may be taking August off, but summer is a fantastic time to take action to help protect Utah wilderness!

Greater Canyonlands postcard
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.


SUWA celebrates our community of activists at “Backyard Bash”

Backyard Bash 2013
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

Mexican Mountain airstrip
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 (blm_ut_vernal_comments@blm.gov) 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!


First of six public land use plan challenges heard in federal court

Mt. Ellen
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.


change.orgSign the petition to protect Greater Canyonlands

 



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Tell BLM: Don’t sacrifice Labyrinth Canyon for fertilizer! – Redrock Report June 2013

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Here’s what is happening this month with the redrock:
1.  Don’t let the BLM sacrifice Labyrinth Canyon for fertilizer!
2.  Support in the Senate for protecting Utah wilderness is on the rise.
3.  Educators tell Utah legislators they are chasing imaginary unicorns.
4.  Moab residents discuss the Greater Canyonlands National Monument proposal.
5.  Join us for SUWA’s annual Backyard Bash this July!

BLM poised to sacrifice Labyrinth Canyon for fertilizer!

 

Labyrinth Canyon, Tom Till
The Green River in Labyrinth Canyon.  Copyright Tom Till.
 

The BLM is poised to approve American Potash LLC’s application to drill four core holes to explore for potash in the Labyrinth Canyon area.  The company, a wholly owned subsidiary of a Canadian potash development company, has applied to explore for potash (an ingredient in commercial fertilizer) on the eastern flanks of the Green River as it flows through Labyrinth Canyon.  Three of the proposed core drilling sites are within America’s redrock wilderness and the Greater Canyonlands region.

Labyrinth Canyon’s geological and archaeological wonders are internationally recognized, with artifacts dating back to the mammoth hunter era 10,000 years ago.  Boaters treasure the long stretches of quiet that pervade this section of the Green River as they glide on the calm water and explore the winding side canyons.  Labyrinth Canyon is a sparkling gem in Greater Canyonlands.

The proposed potash exploration will necessitate widening and upgrading existing vehicle routes, and constructing several new routes across the desert to allow access for drill rigs and other drilling equipment.  Visitors to the area will encounter heavy equipment, truck traffic, noise, dust, night lighting, and sludge pits if the BLM approves the exploration.  This should not happen!

Please urge the BLM not to sacrifice wilderness-quality lands for fertilizer and a private corporation’s bottom line!

Read more on our blog by clicking here.

 

It all adds up: Volunteer action leads to a rise in Senate support for the redrock

Just 2 months after America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act (S. 769, H.R. 1630) was reintroduced in the 113th Congress, we have surpassed the number of Senate cosponsors from the 112th!  Currently, 16 U.S. Senators, along with 86 U.S. Representatives, have signed on in official support of the legislation that would protect over 9 million acres of spectacular redrock wilderness in Utah.  Click here to read about how activists like you have stepped up to make this happen.

YOU can help make cosponsorship happen for your members of Congress too!  If your Representative and/or Senators are not on the list of cosponsors for America’s Red Rock  Wilderness Act yet, please consider taking action this summer to help add to the growing list.

Here’s what you can do:

1)     Volunteer to visit your Representative’s and/or Senators’ district office this summer.  Click here to sign up, and SUWA’s grassroots staff will help you prepare for an in-district meeting or to drop by a district office.

2)     Call your members of Congress and ask that they cosponsor America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act (S. 769, H.R. 1630).  Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to speak with your Representative’s or Senators’ DC office.  Remember to tell his/her staff why protecting Utah wilderness is important to you as a constituent.

3)     Use SUWA’s action center to send an email to your members of Congress.

Click here for more info.

 

Educators to Utah land grabbers: “You are chasing an imaginary unicorn!”


Imaginary UnicornEducators in Utah spoke out again last week against Governor Herbert’s public land grab – this time directly to legislators on the Natural Resources Interim Committee.

Heather Bennett, a three-term Salt Lake City Board of Education member, spoke on behalf of For Kids and Lands, a new group calling for the protection of Utah’s public lands and realistic solutions to education funding.  Bennett took land grab proponents to task for claiming that the effort to seize Utah’s lands could help fund education. “You are chasing an imaginary unicorn, rather than working on realistic solutions” she said, pointing out that the state’s own lawyers have said the land transfer bill has “high probability of being declared unconstitutional.”

In addition, Bennett emphasized that the state’s 30 lawsuits claiming title to 35,000 miles of dirt routes would cost the state millions, diverting money that could go to education, while harming the scenic values that “make Utah a fabulous place for family recreation and renewal.”

Read more on our blog by clicking here.


Discussing Greater Canyonlands in Moab

Panelists
Panelists discuss Greater Canyonlands at Star
Hall in Moab on Tuesday, June 11, 2013.

 

Earlier this month, more than 80 Moab locals turned out to Moab’s historic Star Hall to take part in a panel discussion about the proposed Greater Canyonlands National Monument and other issues affecting public lands in the region.

Following presentations by TrekWest adventurer and Wildlands Network co-founder John Davis and Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune, a panel of experts and activists answered questions from the audience about the proposed Greater Canyonlands National Monument, tar sands mining, and hunting and vehicle access to public lands, among other topics.

Read more on our blog by clicking here.

To get involved in the campaign to protect Greater Canyonlands, visit greatercanyonlands.org.

 

Join us for the SUWA Backyard Bash in SLC!

Backyard Bash Icon
 

It’s time for the annual SUWA Backyard Bash at our office in Salt Lake City!  Enjoy live music by SYNKOFA and spend time with other redrock wilderness fans.  Light appetizers and beverages will be provided.

When: Wednesday, July 17 from 6-9pm
Where: Wyss Wilderness House, 425 E 100 S, Salt Lake City


Please RSVP here: http://bit.ly/BackyardBash

Click here to invite friends on Facebook.  Hope to see you there!


 

change.orgSign the petition to protect Greater Canyonlands

 

 

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Join Daryl Hannah and Neil Young – Redrock Report May 2013

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May 2013

Here’s what is happening this month with the redrock:
1.  Join Neil Young and Daryl Hannah in our Greater Canyonlands photo campaign.
2.  Bad news for Hatch Point in Greater Canyonlands.
3.  Help increase congressional support for Utah wilderness.
4.  Attend an upcoming redrock event in NJ, NY and CT.



Take a Protect Greater Canyonlands photo! Daryl Hannah and Neil Young did.

Daryl Hannah and Neil Young

Recently, actress/director Daryl Hannah and rock legend Neil Young were in Moab and showed their support for protecting Greater Canyonlands!

Join them by taking a Protect Greater Canyonlands photo!  Click here to print out your own black and yellow sign and then upload your own photo: http://bit.ly/GCCampaign

More ways to get involved this summer:

Our Greater Canyonlands postcard campaign has been a great success!  Staff at the White House Council on Environmental Quality have noticed the thousands of signatures from redrock supporters throughout the country, and we will continue to deliver signed postcards to President Obama throughout the summer.

Sign up to collect postcards in support of protecting Greater Canyonlands from your family, friends and beyond by clicking here.

You can also visit http://bit.ly/GCCampaign to send an email to President Obama, tweet to the White House, ask your friends to like the Protect Greater Canyonlands Facebook page, and more.



BLM green lights potash drilling on Hatch Point

The Moab Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has approved a mining company’s proposal to drill four exploratory potash* wells on Hatch Point.  K2O Utah LLC, owned by a large Australian mining company, has little concern for the harmful effects its drilling and development activities have on the outstanding scenery of the Greater Canyonlands area; it is interested in making a profit.  Period.  Yet, the tens of thousands of visitors that flock to the Hatch Point and Needles Overlook area annually are not doing so to view drill rigs, sludge pits, tanker trucks and industrial equipment.

Hatch potash
Area of Hatch Point that would be affected by
potash development.

The BLM has acknowledged that its current management plan failed to correctly identify areas where oil, gas and potash development should occur.  As a result, the Moab BLM is currently conducting an evaluation of public lands near Moab (known as the Master Leasing Plan process) to correct this defect.  As part of the Master Leasing Plan, the BLM is considering new management constraints for various areas, such as closing the Hatch Point area to leasing.   The BLM’s draft Master Leasing Plan is scheduled for release later this summer.

The BLM’s resolve to rush headlong into a decision to allow potash drilling on Hatch Point illustrates the immediate need for a higher level of protection for the lands in Greater Canyonlands.

Read more on our blog by clicking here.



Help grow congressional support for Utah wilderness!

ARRWA Facebook graphic

In April, redrock champions Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) introduced America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, legislation that would protect over 9 million acres of spectacular public lands in Utah.

Currently, the redrock bill has 71 House and 12 Senate cosponsors — those members of Congress who have officially signed on in support of this visionary legislation.  Now, our task is to continue to grow this support during the coming months.  Contact from you — their constituents — is what really makes the difference.

What you can do:

1) Send an email to your members of Congress by clicking here.

2) Sign our petition to Congress by clicking here.

If your members of Congress have already cosponsored America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act (see list by clicking here), please thank them by clicking here.



Attend a Utah wilderness event!


Learn more about Utah wilderness, the Greater Canyonlands campaign, and how you can get involved.  In the coming weeks, presentations will be held in New Jersey, Connecticut and New York.

Click here for the upcoming schedule of presentations and events. To suggest a venue or group for a presentation in your area, please contact Clayton (clayton@suwa.org) in the Midwest and Jackie (jackie@suwa.org) in the East.



change.orgSign the petition to protect Greater Canyonlands

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A big deal for Greater Canyonlands – Redrock Report March 2013

11:52 am

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

1. Thank President Obama for designating new national monuments.
2. Take action to protect the Gunnison sage grouse!
3. Ask your members of Congress to support Utah wilderness protection.
4. Activists overcome a storm to advocate for the redrock in DC.
5. See a Utah wilderness slideshow near you and get involved this spring!



Obama protects first large-scale landscape. Is a Greater Canyonlands National Monument in his future?

Roobers Roost Seth Andersen
Camp inside the South Fork of Robbers Roost in
the proposed Greater Canyonlands National
Monument. Copyright Seth Andersen.

Did you hear the news?  On Monday, President Obama designated the largest new national monument of his administration in New Mexico – El Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument.

This is a big deal for those of us in Utah calling for the protection of the Greater Canyonlands region, as this is the first time the President has used the Antiquities Act to protect a large threatened landscape like those we’re working to protect in Utah’s redrock canyon country.

Please thank President Obama for using the Antiquities Act to protect public lands and then urge him to protect Greater Canyonlands!

1) Click here to send an email message to President Obama.

2) Click here to thank President Obama publicly by sending a letter to the editor of your local paper.

The more he hears that the public supports greater land protections, the more likely he is to protect the wild Utah landscapes that we love — including Greater Canyonlands.  Please take a moment to send a thank-you to President Obama today!


Help protect the Gunnison sage grouse!

Spring is coming and soon the Gunnison sage grouse, one of the most imperiled species in the United States, will be dancing at sunrise southeast of Moab to attract mates.  Meanwhile, these fascinating birds may be about to get the protection they need to avoid becoming extinct, but they need your help.

Take action!  Tell the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) that you support protecting the Gunnison sage grouse.

Gunnison Sage Grouse
Photo: BLM

Fewer than 5,000 Gunnison sage grouse remain, occurring in less than 10 percent of their historic range.  The remaining small and isolated populations are at risk due to poorly managed development and other threats.

Take action!  Please tell the USFWS that the Gunnison sage grouse needs protection immediately.

The USFWS has a chance to save the Gunnison sage grouse from extinction by protecting this bird under the Endangered Species Act and designating the habitat that the birds need to survive as “critical habitat”.  In Utah, roughly 3,000 acres of redrock wilderness overlaps with the proposed critical habitat designation.

Decisive actions like these could put these birds on the road to recovery, but the USFWS needs to hear from you.  Take action!  Please send USFWS director Dan Ashe an email in support of protecting the Gunnison sage grouse.

Thank you for helping to make sure that future generations can marvel at the Gunnison sage grouse.

For more information, read this recent New York Times op-ed urging the USFWS to protect the Gunnison sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act.


TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress to protect America’s redrock wilderness!

ARRWA Facebook graphic

Later this spring, redrock champions Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) will re-introduce America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, legislation that would protect over 9 million acres of spectacular public lands in Utah.

Having a long list of original cosponsors – those other members of Congress who sign on in support of the bill – from throughout the country at the time of introduction will help display our strength as Utah wilderness advocates.

Will you help us add to this list?

Here are 3 easy actions you can take:

1) Send an email to your members of Congress by clicking here.

2) Sign our new petition to Congress by clicking here.

3) Share our Take Action image on Facebook here.

Thank you for helping to protect America’s redrock wilderness!



Redrock activists make the difference in DC

Wilderness Week 2013
Wilderness Week activists from Utah meet with the White House Council on
Environmental Quality about protecting Greater Canyonlands.

We can never overstate how much grassroots support for protecting Utah wilderness has helped to advance the cause.  For the Utah Wilderness Coalition’s biannual Wilderness Week in Washington, DC, about 31 fabulous redrock activists traveled from Utah and across the country to ask members of Congress to cosponsor America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act (ARRWA), a piece of legislation that would protect over 9 million acres of Utah wilderness.  Utah activists also met with administration officials about protecting Greater Canyonlands and urged members of Congress to defend the President’s authority to designate national monuments through the Antiquities Act.  They even perservered through a storm that resulted in many cancelled flights and extra days in DC.  Thanks to all of this year’s Wilderness Week participants!

Read more on our blog here.

Click here for more photos from the week.


Spring is here: time to get involved in the Utah wilderness campaign!


In addition to the inspiring activism by the Wilderness Week participants mentioned above, redrock activists throughout the country have been busy advocating for Utah wilderness protection.  Earlier this month, the Wisconsin Friends for Utah Wilderness collected 500 postcards in support of protecting Greater Canyonlands and America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act at a local event.  And the Mainers for Utah Wilderness have begun a letter collecting drive to convince their new senator to cosponsor ARRWA!

Click here to let us know how YOU want to help out with the Utah wilderness campaign.

The Moab Earth Day Bazaar will once again celebrate an “Ode to Greater Canyonlands”.  Click here to RSVP and invite friends on Facebook.

Also, SUWA’s grassroots organizers are back in action in the East and Midwest regions!

Click here for the upcoming schedule of presentations and events. To suggest a venue or group for a presentation in your area, please contact Clayton (clayton@suwa.org) in the Midwest and Jackie (jackie@suwa.org) in the East.


change.orgSign the petition to protect Greater Canyonlands

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