THE CANYON COUNTRY WATCHDOG By Scott Groene, Herb McHarg 6 Liz Thomas of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance Avoid a third by staying involved with the Comb Wash and Lockhart Basin Plans. Write Kent Walter and Brad Palmer at the above addresses and request to have your name added to the “interested public” list for these two plans and any other proposals in the area. Help the BLM stop San Juan County in its tracks: Since mid-summer, two San Juan County survey crews have been systematically driving and documenting every putative “highway” in the county. This includes, at a minimum, any abandoned jeep trail or mineral exploration route that existed before 1976, and any other old tire tracks that are visible on historical aerial photographs. Many of these R.S. 2477 claims wander haphazardly across Cedar Mesa. Re-opening them would threaten wilderness and priceless archeological sites. Recently, three San Juan County employees illegally drove toward the Moon House ruin within the Fish and Owl Creek Wilderness Study Area. The route driven by the County had © Get High on Public Lands: The publication entitled “How Parents Can Help Children Live Marijuana Free,” which includes an introduction by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), provides helpful warning signs for identifying children who are using marijuana or drugs of any kind. The list of social signs of “regular users” includes “excessive preoccupation with social causes l issues, etc.” Another warning — is “camp-outs and stay-overs (to distance themselves from parents). ” That Hansen. . . what's he been smok'n? been posted as closed to motorized vehicles since 1991, and the BLM had blocked the route with trees and rocks to prevent any travel. The bull-headed (and obviously lazy) County survey crew, however, chose to drive over or move these natural road-blocks rather than walk, leaving a wake of crushed cryptogamic soil. Although the BLM has expressed concern that significant resources are being impacted by the County’s activities, it has not yet taken any of the available legal actions. The BLM A careful examination of both Herb McHarg photographs indicates there has been no change whatsoever in the last 20 years. We recommend he be examined by qualified scientists. should be citing the County for trespass, and ordering the County to reclaim any damage done. Give the BLM some confidence to stand in the way of the County by writing to: Kent Walter, BLM-Monticello Field Office, P.O. Box 7, Monticello, UT 84535; fax (435) 587-1518. Better yet, give the County some grief by writing to or calling the commissioners at the San Juan County Clerk Office, P.O. Box 338, Monticello, UT 84535; Ph: (435)587-3223; Fax: (435)587-2425. Brawling at Baullies: The BLM recently proposed to chop-down nearly 2,000 acres of pinon pine and juniper forest on Little Baullies Mesa with a monstrous mower, and re-seed the area with a seed mixture that includes non-natives. The mesa is located between the Elk Ridge portion of the Abajo Mountains and the upper Comb Wash (Arch Canyon) drainage, and overlooks the Cedar Mesa-Grand Gulch area to the south. Little Baullies is part of the Cedar Mesa Area of Critical Environmental Concern for its abundant significant cultural sites, and its scenic and natural values associated with primitive recreation. Although the Mesa was chained in 1960, (chaining involves dragging an anchor chain between two bulldozers, ripping out all the trees and other vegetation in its path while churning the soil and destroying cultural sites) over the last 38 years it returned to its primitive splendor. Not for long though, if the agency is allowed to unleash its lawnmower on steroids. The proposed action may not be as devastating to the soil and cultural resources as chaining, but the impact on visuals and wilderness quality would be similar enough, and the pinon juniper ecosystem, with all of its inhabitants, would be completely destroyed. The BLM claims that the proposed action is necessary to prevent catastrophic fire and to reduce competition between elk and livestock by creating more forage. Basically, the BLM is using industrial force to form an artificial, unsustainable landscape. Instead, the ‘agency should consider entirely removing cattle from Little Baullies and Comb Wash. Also, it may be that past range-creating (and ecosystem devastating) projects and other “management” activities have elevated game herds to unhealthy levels. Regardless, it is totally obnoxious to clear-cut the mesa under any scenario. Please write Kent Walter at the BLM to express your outrage. The BLM backs itself onto the edge of a canyon rim: The BLM is processing Legacy Energy Corporation's nominations for oil and gas lease parcels on Hatch Point above Lockhart Basin, a citizen's proposed wilderness area. The agency recently issued an environmental assessment (EA) with an abbreviated time period for public comment. SUWA's request for extension of the comment period was denied, but some of our act-in-aflash activists got letters in before the door closed. The EA addressed the impacts of adding lease stipulations designed to mitigate visual and wildlife (especially bighorn sheep) conflicts. The protection of these resource values is what prompted the larger Lockhart Basin/Canyon Rims Plan Amendment EIS (Plan) (see April/May Zephyr), within which this area was originally included. Thus, the BLM gains . nothing by leasing the parcels at this time, yet it stands to lose the benefit of a full analysis in an EIS (not to mention a potential appeal). In addition, the BLM is not required to issue the leases, and may always reserve the right not to lease at all. It appears, however, that BLM State Director, Bill Lamb's chest caved under Legacy Energy's directive finger. Legacy may now have the agency set-up for a fall, since issuance of the leases will create certain valuable rights in Legacy that could prove inconsistent with the Plan. Then what? Well, either the public forks over some loot or lives with oil and gas wells in one of the most scenic places on the planet. Tell the BLM to stop leasing away your favorite places to industry. Write Brad Palmer, Moab BLM, 82 East Dogwood Av., Moab, UT 84532; Fax: (435)259-2106, or Bill Lamb, BLM State Office, 324 South State Street, Suite 301, P.O. Box 45155; Fax (435)539-4013. BLM a-la shish-kabob. If the agency falls, it may end up skewered by a couple drill rigs. Despite SUWA's efforts, Legacy currently has an approved permit to drill below the rim in Lockhart Basin (see April/May Zephyr). Now, the company has filed another APD, and the BLM is diligently preparing the EA for its approval. Ouch!! The “RAC” Is Wacked. Besides denying SUWA a seat on the Resource Advisory Council (“RAC”) (see last Zephyr at 8), the Council is effectively stone-walling recommendations by the public that share the same view as SUWA. As you know (see Aug/Sept Zephyr at 1011), the RAC formed a sub-committee (sub-RAC) to address the Comb Wash and Lockhart Basin Plans. This committee is supposed to operate by consensus, forwarding only those recommendations to the RAC and the BLM that every member agreed with. Not the case. Instead, the chairman of the sub-RAC, Hardy Redd, changed the rules and plans to present the committee's majority opinion (comprised of grazing and extractive interests) to the RAC, allowing SUWA to give its dissenting opinion. So, the national public gets screwed twice. BLM caters to ATV's in sand dune area of WSA: The BLM has been hounded by citizens and SUWA for years to get the ATV's out of the Coral Pink Sand Dunes area of the Moquith Mountain WSA. In its decision on an appeal filed by SUWA, the Interior Board of Land Appeals recently directed the BLM to determine whether ATV use in the WSA is violating the non-impairment standard (statutory requirement that BLM prevent unnecessary or undue degradation to WSA lands and their resources). The BLM responded to the IBLA directive by keeping the entire dune area open to ATV use (except for a few periphery acres that were being thoroughly trashed as access routes to the large dunes), and implementing a temporary closure — with ATV use legal on several designated trails—for a wooded area (which is not a particularly popular area with ATV riders). Never mind that 95% of the users of the dunes are non-ATV riders. Never mind that the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, which is adjacent to the BLM managed dunes, offers nearly 1500 acres of dunes open to ATV's. Never mind that ATV riders have acknowledged that it would be impossible to see and/or keep from hitting someone walking along the blindside of a dune. Never mind that the dunes are home to the federally listed threatened Welsh's milkweed, and candidate species Coral Pink Sand Dunes Tiger Beetle (GUWA petitioned for listing as an endangered species with critical habitat in 1994). At a public hearing sponsored by the BLM to receive input on the ATV issue for a permanent plan on ATV use for the dunes, it was clear that the BLM has already concluded that ATV's will not be excluded from the sand dunes. An interesting observation from the hearing: an ATV enthusiast, after listening to the criteria the BLM must look at in determining whether degradation is occurring, concluded that there could be no way the BLM could decide that there was no impairment to wilderness values when reviewing the impacts of ATV's on the dunes! How can the BLM not comprehend this? Comments on ATV use of the dunes are due by November 27, 1998 to: Ron Bolander, BLM, State Office, PO Box 45155, Salt Lake City, UT 84145-0155. How To Keep Species Off The Endangered List: Exterminate Them: In a bizarre response to a newspaper questionnaire item regarding the rare Coral Pink Sand Dunes tiger beetle, Kane County Commission candidate Stephen Crosby said, “I'm really not a sensitive person when it comes to insects. Personally,I suggested to spray for them when they were contained to 40 acres.” SUWA appeals Dixie resource plan: The BLM's Dixie Resource Area's Proposed Resource Management Plan and Final EIS are finally out, after more Unfortunately, time invested does not equate with quality protest, based on several issues including: 1) the BLM's wilderness alternatives, even though the BLM won an appeal than 10 years in the making. output. SUWA has filed a failure to analyze various to allow them to do just that; 2) the Plan excludes many eligible river segments from Wild and Scenic recommendation on the basis that the segments are not “regionally significant” -- which is NOT a criteria under the (the draft species or by federal Wild and Scenic Rivers Act; and 3) the Plan leaves 8000 acres open to ATV use plan had only 2000 acres open), with no analysis of threatened and endangered soil erosion, and it fails to designate specific trails open for ATV use (as required regulations).