Archive for category National Parks

NPS Centennial = Corporate Takeover?

Arches NP Milky Way
Milky Way viewed from Arches National Park

“The national park idea, the best idea we ever had, was inevitable as soon as Americans learned to confront the wild continent not with fear and cupidity but with delight, wonder, and awe.”

–Wallace Stegner

2016 is the 100-year anniversary of the founding of the National Park Service (NPS). But because of chronic neglect and under-funding from Congress, the NPS is set to adopt a very bad idea for our national parks: Corporate sponsorships sold to the highest bidder that run the risk of plastering our most treasured sites of America’s natural heritage with corporate branding and logos. Park employees would be directly engaged in soliciting funds from corporations.

This policy change came as a consequence of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, which compels the NPS to increase private funding through “donor recognition.”

The NPS annual budget of $3 billion isn’t enough to catch up on an estimated $11.49 billion in deferred maintenance costs in our national parks. As National Park Foundation president and CEO Will Shafroth told the Washington Post, “The parks don’t have enough money to accomplish their goals.” Private and corporate donations are needed to fill the gaps.

The new rules, that will take effect by the end of the year, would “swing open the gates of the 411 national parks, monuments and conservation areas to an unprecedented level of corporate donations.”

The comment period has already closed on the order from NPS Director Jarvis that would allow parks to start selling “naming rights,” which would allow the highest corporate bidder to place their name or logo – like a Nike Swoosh or a Starbucks logo – directly on select spaces and areas of our national parks like park buildings, benches, auditoriums, and visitor centers.

Tell Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to pull the plan to commercialize our national parks. And let’s tell our congressional delegation to fund the parks in the federal budget. Some Utah national parks are now charging a $30 entrance fee.

More info:
Yosemite, sponsored by Starbucks? National Parks to start selling some naming rights
Donor Naming Rights in U.S. National Parks – Is Brouhaha Justified?
No, the U.S. National Parks Will Not Be Sponsored by Viagra

NPS centennial patch


Bears Ears National Monument

Bears Ears NM proposal map

For Native Americans, it’s a sacred place of healing. Twin buttes on Elk Ridge that form a landmark called the Bears Ears (Orejas del Oso on old maps).

The Bears Ears national monument designation for 1.9 million acres would include the existing Natural Bridges National Monument, Dark Canyon Wilderness, part of the Manti-La Sal National Forest and part of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Lands surrounding these areas and adjacent to Canyonlands National Park are long overdue for national recognition and protection.

Conservationists have been very patient. Wilderness proposals have been made and talked about for more than 30 years with no action taken by Congress. Now we have an opportunity to do something significant. President Obama ought to proclaim the Bears Ears National Monument before he leaves office at the end of next year.

Petition: Ask President Obama to Protect Bears Ears Now

More info:
Bears Ears Coalition
Tribal coalition in Washington, D.C., pushing for Bears Ears National Monument
Explore the Proposed Bears Ears National Monument!


Tell Congress: Reject the ‘No More National Parks’ Bill

Grand Staircase-Escalante NM
Grand Staircase-Escalante NM

Via CREDO Action:

The way the law works now, presidents can use the Antiquities Act to quickly set aside public lands for protection and conservation through national monument proclamations, instead of going through the difficult congressional process of designating a national park. In fact, it’s often the first step to creating a national park – the Grand Canyon was first proclaimed a monument under the Antiquities Act by President Theodore Roosevelt.

The power to proclaim national monuments is a presidential privilege that has literally shaped America’s landscape and its history, but Republicans in Congress now think it’s time to end all of that. Last month, Representative Don Young (R-AK) introduced a bill that would strip the president of this authority. H.R.4988 (the MAST Act) would overhaul the Antiquities Act, making it nearly impossible for presidents to declare new national monuments. It’s a cynical attempt to forever block the president’s ability to protect our public lands from corporate drilling and mining.

Stop the MAST Act, it could be a big win for the Tea-GOP right-wing agenda. We can’t allow that to happen. Click the link below to sign the petition:
Stop Republicans from blocking new national parks.

More info:
The Highs and Lows of the Antiquities Act


Seriously? Utah’s Plan To Seize Public Lands Would Cost $280 Million A Year

Manti-La Sal National Forest

The right-wing Utah legislature began a legal battle to steal our public lands when Gov. Gary Herbert signed HB 148, the “Transfer of Public Lands Act and Related Study” in March 2012. Supposedly, if the federal government does not turn over title to 31.2 million acres of land by the end of this month the State of Utah will spend millions of dollars of our tax money on a ridiculous lawsuit. HB 148 is utterly unconstitutional according to the Property Clause (U.S. Const. art. IV, sec. 3, cl. 2.), the Utah Constitution (Article III), and illegal under Section 3 of the Utah Enabling Act.

We found out yesterday that a theoretical takeover of public lands by the State of Utah would place a heavy burden on the state budget.

A study released Monday by researchers at three Utah universities found that transferring national forests and other public lands to the state of Utah would cost taxpayers at least $280 million per year — a price tag that could only be paid if the state were able to increase drilling and mining, seize energy royalty payments that are owed to U.S. taxpayers, and, if energy prices remain low, raise taxes to pay for the shortfall.

Here’s the right-wing “plan”: Fire 5,000 or so federal employees, abolish all of our national forests and national parks, and turn over Utah public lands to the corporations– particularly the oil and gas industry and the tar sands industry. These are the same legislators who slashed the Utah Division of State Parks and Recreation budget by nearly 80 percent. What could possibly go wrong?


A Win For Canyonlands National Park

Road Closed

An effort by San Juan County and the State of Utah to re-open part of Canyonlands National Park to motor vehicles has failed. The former jeep trail up Salt Creek from Peekaboo Spring, closed in 1998, is off the map now forever. Late Friday, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the absurd claim that the dead-end creek bed trail was a public “highway” as defined by the 148-year-old Revised Statute 2477 (which Congress repealed in 1976).

Back in 1995, the National Park Service proposed establishing a permit system and a daily limit on the number of vehicles driving the 8 miles to Angel Arch. But the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance obtained a court injunction that closed the motorized trail. In 2004, the Park Service decided to make the closure permanent. Thus began the 10-year court battle that ended last Friday.

While the lawyers argued and the judges deliberated, natural flooding has rendered the area impassable to vehicles.

I’ll probably won’t backpack up Salt Creek, but I’m going to rejoice because that opportunity will be there for others to enjoy in their lifetimes. Oh, and let’s all wish Canyonlands National Park a happy 50th birthday.

“We have agreed not to drive our automobiles into cathedrals, concert halls, art museums, legislative assemblies, private bedrooms and the other sanctums of our culture; we should treat our national parks with the same deference, for they, too, are holy places. An increasingly pagan and hedonistic people (thank God!), we are learning finally that the forests and mountains and desert canyons are holier than our churches. Therefore let us behave accordingly.”

–Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire


To The ‘Barry-cades’!

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

When you shut down the federal government, that means the national parks will be closed. Duh. Senators Mike Lee and Rafael (“Ted”) Cruz were protesting against themselves. The funniest part was Sarah Palin screeching about the “barry-cades.”


Senator Mike Lee To Protest Government Shutdown He Helped Cause

Right-wing radio host Glenn Beck will join Utah Senator Mike Lee and various tea partyers Saturday to “clean up” national monuments by picking up trash on the National Mall.

Basically, it’s an incredibly lame attempt to blame President Obama for the Republican Shutdown that’s in Day 11 now. The Republicans can’t even tell us what they want anymore, while half a million federal employees remain on furlough.

Now that the Koch brothers have waved the white flag, the Republican Shutdown of the federal government is expected to end by the middle of next week. Senator Lee’s career as a highly-compensated trash collector will be short-lived, but at least he will have accomplished SOMETHING during his time in Washington at our expense.

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Petition: Shut Down Oil & Gas On Public Lands

Drilling rig

The Republican Shutdown of the federal government began October 1. Hundreds of thousands of federal employees are furloughed, government services have slowed to a stop, and our cherished public lands are closed for business — or are they?

Yes and no: Our public lands are closed to the public, but landowners and corporations still have free rein to graze, mine, log, and drill for oil and gas there.

Americans who have traveled thousands of miles to hike and camp in our public lands are being turned away from the Grand Canyon, Arches National Park, and other national monuments and parks across the country. But for the oil and gas industry, business as usual goes on without a hiccup.

Even more alarmingly, the shutdown has sent everyone in charge of enforcing the rules that protect our lands and wildlife home without pay.

Congressman Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) is taking a stand for our environment. He’s calling on Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to stop mining, drilling and other dirty energy extraction activities on federally protected lands during the Republican Shutdown. It’s common sense: If the public is shut out, industry should be too.

Take action now with Rep. Grijalva to close public lands to fossil fuel companies during the government shutdown.


A Majority of Utahns Not Happy With Republican Shutdown

GCNRA shutdown

Utah may be a Tea Party paradise, but our economy depends heavily on the federal government. There are 35,000 Utahns who work for federal agencies. Hill Air Force Base is the biggest employer in the state. Utah is home to five national parks, and 30 million acres of national forests and BLM public lands. It should not be surprising that in our state the Republican Shutdown of the federal government has gone over like the proverbial lead balloon.

A Deseret News poll from last week found that 56 percent of Utahns disagreed it was worth shutting down the government.

Commissioners from Washington, Kane, San Juan, Garfield, Sevier, Grand, Iron, Wayne and Piute counties met Monday and declared a state of emergency due to “economic disruption” as a result of the closure of Utah national parks and the furloughing of federal employees.

In national polls, Republicans have hit the 70% disapproval mark for shutting down our government, and threatening America and the world with another financial meltdown and recession.

More info:
New poll finds Utahns don’t believe Obamacare fight worth shutting down government
Early Hints of Shutdown Backlash in . . . Utah?
9 Utah counties declare state of emergency due to gov’t shutdown
Shutdown takes its toll on congressional GOP

UPDATE: Unemployment claims skyrocketed 500 percent in Utah due to the Republican Shutdown.


Moyers & DeChristopher

I’ve been waiting to see the master interviewer sit down with Tim for a long time!

The wait is over:


Watch this important video featuring Tim DeChristopher!

Do something. Peaceful Uprising


Utah Conservationists Try Again in SE Utah

Will President Obama come to the rescue of Utah wildlands?

The Salt Lake Tribune:

The Outdoor Industry Association and more than 100 outdoor-related businesses are asking President Barack Obama to designate 1.4 million acres of federal wildlands surrounding Canyonlands National Park as a national monument.

The OIA and businesses supporting the monument designation are sending a letter Tuesday to the president, asking for the protective designation of what is commonly called Greater Canyonlands.

…The Greater Canyonlands area includes geologic landmarks such as Labyrinth Canyon, Indian Creek, White Canyon, Fiddler Butte, Robbers Roost, Lockhart Basin and the Dirty Devil River.

Canyonlands monument plan

Meanwhile, local residents of San Juan County are proposing a National Conservation Area (NCA) to be called “Diné Bikéyah,” or “Land of the Navajo People.” Unlike a national monument, an NCA requires an act of Congress. The NCA effort might also include legislation for wilderness designation.

One way or another, it looks like land preservation issues in southeastern Utah are about to make headlines once again.

UPDATE: Proposal for Canyonlands monument draws fire


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