Archive for category Wilderness

Beautiful Film Of The Proposed Bears Ears National Monument

Obviously filmed by somebody very passionate about this extraordinarily breathtaking landscape which must be protected.

Please sign the petition! And you might as well click on the YouTube logo button at bottom right, and “like” the video while you’re there.

Public hearing held in Salt Lake City on March 16th, showing strong opposition to planned degradation of Utah lands, including the Bears Ears area.


Bishop-Chaffetz Bill Is An Attack On Our Public Lands

Today we finally got a look at the Bishop-Chaffetz Public Lands Initiative discussion draft, covering public lands issues in 7 eastern Utah counties. It was not worth the wait.

From the Center for Western Priorities:

After years of work, Congressman Rob Bishop released a draft of his long-awaited Public Lands Initiative (PLI) bill on Wednesday. Early reporting already shows Congressman Bishop trying to spin his bill as a balanced and collaborative success story, even before the public has an opportunity to review the legislation.

Don’t be fooled: The draft Public Lands Initiative bill is an extreme and deceptive attack on our nation’s public lands that does little for conservation. The legislation is another ideological vehicle for Congressman Bishop to express his disdain for national public lands, rather than a true attempt at addressing diverse stakeholder needs.

Rep. Bishop stated recently that “people will win and people will lose” in his bill. There’s no doubt that the winners Bishop picked are big oil and gas companies and Utah’s misguided public lands policy, while the losers include hikers, campers, sportsmen and women, Native American tribes, and the American people.

  • The worst part of the bill is that the 40 areas Congressman Bishop calls “Wilderness” would not be designated wilderness as it’s been understood since the passage of the Wilderness Act over 50 years ago. “It is a designation in name only, and that alone makes the bill a nonstarter,” says Aaron Weiss, spokesman for the Center for Western Priorities.
  • Unspoiled public lands that are currently set aside as BLM wilderness study areas would be given up forever and released for industrial uses.
  • The bill also creates so-called “energy zones,” i.e. areas open to expedited oil, gas, and other mineral leasing and development.
  • The bill seeks to open up disputed RS 2477 right-of-way claims to motorized travel.
  • Bishop wants to prohibit any new national monument designations by presidential proclamation.
  • Congressman Bishop just waged a vicious and ultimately unsuccessful battle against America’s most successful parks program, the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Fresh off his defeat, Bishop is now trying to gut LWCF within Utah by banning land management agencies from using LWCF funds to protect land inside new wilderness and conservation areas.

More info:
Public Lands Initiative discussion draft
Bishop Public Lands Proposal Unveiled, Already Sparking Criticism
Bishop public lands bill unveiled amid support, criticism
Rob Bishop’s “Public Lands Initiative” is an Insidious Attack on Our Public Lands

New House Bill Gives Away Public Lands, Creates Pseudo-Wilderness Areas

[O]ver the past several months there have been many significant changes made to the bill, turning it from a gesture of compromise to a divisive bill that includes Bundy-style public land giveaways, pseudo-wilderness protections, accelerated oil and gas development, and the marginalization of several original stakeholder groups.


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!


Surely You’re Joking, Gov. Herbert!

Arch Canyon
Arch Canyon, Manti-La Sal National Forest

But he’s not joking. (And stop calling him “Shirley.”)

On April Fool’s Day, Governor Gary Herbert signed into law H.B. 160, the so-called “Utah Wilderness Act.” Unlike the REAL Utah Wilderness Act (98 Stat. 1657, signed into law in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan), this bill did not designate a single acre of wilderness land. Why did the Utah legislature pass a fake wilderness law?

Two years ago, Gov. Herbert signed H.B. 148, the Transfer of Public Lands Act. It was a blatant violation of both the Utah and United States Constitutions. The Act purports to require, among other things, that the federal government must transfer title of all public lands in Utah to the state before January 1, 2015. This includes lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service.

Article III, Section 2 of the Utah Constitution says in no uncertain terms that the people of Utah “forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within the boundaries hereof.” Likewise, Section 3 of Utah’s Enabling Act, the legislation which led to Utah’s birth as a state, contains this same disclaimer.

Our legislature has chronically underfunded state parks. There is no plan and no budget for the state to manage the 30 million acres now administered by federal land agencies in Utah. The so-called “Utah Wilderness Act” is an attempt to cover up the state government’s lack of seriousness by establishing a mechanism for state-level “wilderness” designation. But it’s a farce.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act of 1964. With these bold and eloquent words, wildlands were declared essential:

“A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”

H.B. 160’s sponsor, Rep. Stephen Handy (R-Layton), included this key language (originally drafted by Howard Zahniser, one of the founders of The Wilderness Society). But Utah Republicans struck it out of the bill, as too “highfalutin.”


Enjoying the Wilderness

Going back on the river for a week, so no blogging. See web map for latest location (using SPOT Locator). Desolation Canyon is the largest wilderness study area in Utah, which makes it probably the greatest un-designated wilderness in the lower 48 states. Nobody lives there, but about 6,000 people a year come through on the river.

Be back second week of June.

More info:
Desolation Canyon River Information (BLM)
Desolation and Gray Canyons of the Green River Special Management Area (PDF)
Desolation and Gray Canyons (June 8, 2010)
Rafting Desolation and Gray Canyons (June 15, 2010)


This Just In: Mark Zuckerberg Is A Bad Guy

What’s the problem with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, other than being a sociopath? He’s running ads advocating the Keystone XL pipeline and more drilling and oil spills in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico.

Think Progress:

Mark Zuckerberg’s new political group, which bills itself as a bipartisan entity dedicated to passing immigration reform, has spent considerable resources on ads advocating a host of anti-environmental causes — including drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and constructing the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

The umbrella group, co-founded by Facebook’s Zuckerberg, NationBuilder’s co-founder Joe Green, LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman, Dropbox’s Drew Houston, and others in the tech industry, is called FWD.US.

More info:
Mark Zuckerberg group launches TV blitz

Progressives Boycott Facebook Ads In Opposition To Zuckerberg Group

UPDATE: Two Major Tech Leaders Quit Mark Zuckerberg’s Political Group Over Ads Supporting Keystone XL


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


BREAKING: Tim DeChristopher Thrown into Solitary Confinement By Anonymous U.S. Congressman

Photo: (Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune)

Update March 29, 2012:  Our outrage and phone calls worked; Tim was released this morning in advance the press conference. (see video)

We are lost as a nation when Big Oil can inflict still greater punishment than a Federal Court itself through an anonymous congressional proxy. This is too outrageous for words.  It’s Kafkaesq.

You can read more about this new travesty of justice here, here, here and here.

DeChristopher’s legal team has scheduled a 1:30 p.m. press conference on TOMORROW (Thurs, March 29, 20112)  in front on the Frank E. Moss Federal Courthouse, at 350 Main Street in Salt Lake City, to announce Tim’s appeal and discuss issues related to DeChristopher’s confinement. Source

Please join us there!  But first, please make some phone calls.

DEMAND Tim DeChristopher inmate #16156-081 be immediately removed from the Special Housing Unit (SHU) and placed back in the Minimum Security Camp at FCI Herlong.

530-827-8000, Richard B. Ives, WARDEN, Eloisa DeBruler, Public Information Officer

202-307-3198, Charles E. Samuels, Jr., Director


Jim Sensenbrenner, WI, Chairman of Subcommittee, (202) 225-5101
Louie Gohmert, TX, Vice Chairman of Subcommittee, (202) 225-3035
Jason Chaffetz, UT, DC: (202) 225-7751 UT: (801) 851-2500


, ,


Have You Been To Jail for Justice? Peter Yarrow Spoke and Sang for Tim DeChristopher in Downtown Salt Lake City on Wednesday

Peter Yarrow of Peter Paul and Mary came to Salt Lake City for Tim DeChristopher’s sentencing. We thank him for his support and wisdom.


, , ,


Lots of Smiles; Some Tears; Very Little Anger

Un-copyrighted photo taken by Larry Bergan minutes after the felony convictions

Un-copyrighted photo taken by Larry Bergan minutes after the felony convictions

That’s what I remember of the day Tim DeChristopher was convicted to a possible ten year prison sentence. It was raining, hailing and cold on what some would call a dreary day, but the jubilation was palatable because Mr. DeChristopher stood strong, good natured and showed no contrition for his “crime”.

The younger generation will take it to a new level; as always.

Make way!

Update: More pics I took. Feel free to use any of these or the top one:





tim 2

crowd 3

tim 3

tim 4

tim 5

Update: Three important interviews with Mr. DeChristopher at:

Democracy Now


BLM Wilderness Causes Yet Another Right-Wing Freakout

Comb Ridge
Comb Ridge in southeastern Utah, one of the areas re-inventoried by the BLM in 1999 and found to have wilderness characteristics.

Senator Orrin Hatch said it was “an insult to the people of Utah” and “proof – if any more was required – of this administration’s radical environmentalist agenda that threatens to devastate our Western way of life.”

Governor Gary Herbert called the timing of the announcement “suspect” and said it smacks of “political posturing.”

Rep. Rob Bishop opined, “This is little more than an early Christmas present to the far left extremists who oppose the multiple use of our nation’s public lands… [the Obama administration has] deliberately slapped western communities in the face.”

“This is an unprecedented usurpation of Congress’ power,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz. “The potential negative consequences of today’s actions will be far-reaching in the West, where we actually rely on the land for energy development, recreation, and food production (grazing and ranching). I look forward to working closely with my colleagues on the Natural Resources Committee and in the Congressional Western Caucus to demand an accounting.”

Whew. “Radical environmentalists.” “Political posturing.” “Far-left extremists.” “Far-reaching” consequences that “threaten to devastate our way of life.” What happened?

Basically nothing. After almost two years of insistent lobbying from conservationists, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has issued an order that effectively reversed an illegal decision by the Bush administration back in 2003. Secretarial Order 3310 (PDF) provides direction to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) “regarding its obligation to maintain wilderness resource inventories on a regular and continuing basis…”

From the Q & A document:

Since the controversial out-of-court settlement between then-Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton and the state of Utah and other parties (Norton-Leavitt Settlement) on wilderness in 2003, the BLM has been without comprehensive national guidance on how to inventory and manage lands with wilderness characteristics that are not congressionally designated as “Wilderness” (with a capital “W”) as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System or are not Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) that are pending before Congress for possible inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System.

There is a bit of history behind this. In 1995, during a hearing on the doomed Utah Public Lands Management Act (a Republican-sponsored BLM wilderness bill), former Rep. Jim Hansen challenged then-Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt to produce evidence that Utah had anywhere near five million acres of wilderness-eligible BLM land, as conservation groups claimed. At the time, there were only 3.2 million acres of BLM wilderness study areas resulting from a flawed and biased 15-year congressionally-mandated wilderness review that concluded in 1991, during the George H. W. Bush administration.

Secretary Babbitt then ordered a BLM wilderness re-inventory in Utah, focusing on the 3.1 million acres eliminated at an early stage of the original review process, the 1980 Intensive Inventory. He could do this because the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA) (PDF), the same law that provided for the wilderness review, also gave the Secretary of the Interior the authority to set aside public lands for protection through the BLM planning process.

Of course, the right-wing Republicans immediately freaked out, and the State of Utah went to court. In 1996, a district court judge issued an injunction to to stop the re-inventory of wilderness. Two years later, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Department of the Interior, affirming the Secretary’s authority under FLMPA.

The re-inventory concluded in 1999, and identified an additional 2.6 million acres as having wilderness characteristics according to the Wilderness Act (PDF).

Here’s a little bit of math: 3.2 + 2.6 = 5.8. Yes, it turns out that what conservationists had been saying all along was right. Utah had more than five million acres of BLM land eligible for designation as wilderness. In addition to the 3.2 million acres of wilderness study areas, the BLM now had another 2.6 million acres of inventory units that Secretary Babbitt ordered to be protected.

In April 2003, Interior Secretary Gale Norton made an out-of-court settlement with Utah Governor Mike Leavitt that rescinded former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt’s order protecting potential wilderness areas inventoried in the 1999 BLM re-inventory in exchange for dropping the lawsuit that had been filed in 1996. Conservation groups termed this the “No More Wilderness” policy. More legal wrangling ensued. Not to mention an unprecedented frenzy of oil and gas leasing, some of it in places that had been off-limits under Babbitt.

With Secretary Salazar’s order, we’re back at square one, with the BLM once again adhering to the policy established by Congress in FLPMA 34 years ago. It’s… wait for it… A GOVERNMENT TAKEOVER OF PUBLIC LANDS!

UPDATE: Salt Lake Tribune editorial: More wilderness?: Salazar’s small step forward


%d bloggers like this: