|Paper||Canyon Country Zephyr|
|Rights||In Copyright (InC)|
|Rights Holder||Tonya Auden Stiles, Moab, Utah|
|Publisher||Digitized by J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah|
|Paper||Canyon Country Zephyr|
a a THE a Le CANYON By Liz Thomas & Herb COUNTRY McHarg of the America's Redrock Wilderness—a dig back in time last several million years: Aeons and water Congress passes the Wilderness Act, which allows certain federal lands to be preserved in their natural state as officially designated wilderness. 1976: The Federal Lands Policy Management Act (FLPMA) is passed, instructing the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to conduct an inventory of potential wilderness study areas (WSAs). These WSAs will be given interim protection until Congress acts on Utah wilderness. 1979—84: The anti-wilderness BLM of this era uses a variety of dubious rationales to disqualify Wilderness Study Areas. Eventually they whittle their inventory down to only 1.9 million acres out of 22 million BLM acres in Utah. 1984—89: Concerned citizens begin to conduct their own wilderness inventory. Despite having many fewer resources than the BLM, they manage find much more potential wilderness. Via a series of appeals, the BLM is forced to add some of these additional areas to its inventory. Eventually the BLM recognizes 3.2 million acres of WSAs, still far short of the true total. 1989: Utah Congressman Wayne Owens introduces H.R.1500, "America’s Redrock Wilderness Bill," which calls for the protection of the 5.4 million acres of wilderness identified thus far in the Citizen’s Inventory. 1990: The Citizen’s Inventory catalogs another 300,000 acres of wilderness, bringing the total to 5.7 million acres. Though the inventory is still not complete, work on it stops and environmentalists shift their efforts toward protecting the wilderness identified thus far. 1993: Congressman Maurice Hinchey assumes sponsorship of H.R.1500. The bill is updated to include 5.7 million acres. 1996: The Utah Wilderness Coalition begins to reinventory Utah wildlands. The goals of the reinventory are to (1) identify areas within the old inventory which have been scarred by development and longer qualify as wilderness, and (2) complete the original inventory and obtain a wilderness catalog which represents the full geographical and biological diversity of Utah. Also in 1996: Upset that the Clinton Administration announced that Utah had at least five million acres that qualified as wilderness, Utah's very own Representative James V. Hansen challenges Secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt to reinventory the lands. Ironically, but predictably, a few months after the BLM embarked on this Hansen-provoked task, it was stopped by a lawsuit filed by the State, the Utah Association of Counties, and the Utah School Institutional Trust Lands Administration. SUWA filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the lawsuit on behalf of the Interior Department, and presented oral arguments in the case. 1997: Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois introduces the companion bill to America's Redrock Wilderness Act, S. 773. 1998: After two years, involving the work of hundreds of volunteers taking 50,000 photos, the citizens’ reinventory is complete. The process disclosed that 99% of the lands within the old inventory are still of wilderness quality (thanks to hard work policing the BLM over the past years), and found much more lands with wilderness characteristics — brining the total to over nine million acres out of a possible 22 million acres of BLM managed land in Utah. 1999: BLM releases the long-awaited reinventory. The new study was not statewide and comprehensive, but only looked at units within the old 5.7 million citizen's inventory, possible expansions of these units, and a few other areas where BLM land acquisitions created new wilderness opportunities. Even with these limits, the new study concluded that an additional 2.6 million acres have wilderness characteristics. Add the 3.2 million acres of WSAs previously identified, and the BLM is now saying that 5.8 million acres in Utah have wilderness characteristics. This verifies the old 5.7 million acre citizen's inventory. No wonder the anti-wilderness forces sued to block the BLM's new study. Beyond: Hopefully, the BLM will designate the newly identified 2.6 million acres as WSAs;, and will complete its study for BLM managed lands state-wide. A comprehensive study will no doubt prove, as the limited recent study did, that the citizen's were right all along about Utah wilderness, SUWA Utah WATCHDOG Wilderness Alliance BLM approves new road blading in Grand County of sedimentation, vulcanism, wind erosion, and tectonic upheaval produce one of the most fantastic, mysterious and beautiful landscapes on the planet. What was once an ocean bed is left exposed to the forces of nature to sculpt magnificent canyons from desert plateaus. Late 1800s: Road building, grazing, mining, and other activities begin to leave their mark on the Utah landscape. The impacts of human activities remain for decades in the fragile desert landscape. 1964: Southern will continue to fight every intrusion into all areas identified in the comprehensive citizen's wilderness reinventory. Recently, the BLM gave Grand County permission to maintain nearly 200 miles of “roads” that were either never constructed and maintained or that had not seen a blade in decades. Many of these “roads” were totally reclaimed with vegetation and others were mere two-track jeep trails. Not any more, as Grand County is aggressively bulldozing every mile. The county is motivated by a fluke formula for distributing state gasoline tax monies adopted by the Utah Legislature in 1997. According to the formula, more maintained road miles equals more dollars. In other words, it allows the County to suck money from the state for busywork projects that benefit no one. Before passing them along to the county, the BLM should have taken a hard look at its maintenance schedule and dropped the “roads” that were 'y or causing dation. Now that the county has the full list in its hands, it is refusing to give any up. When will the BLM learn that given an inch, the county will blade a mile? CAPTION WRITER'S NIGHTMARE: Even though Groene was the Heart Throb of Moab for years (women actually swooned when he walked by), he always managed to look goofy for the camera. It was a testament to his own self-confidence that he did not kill the publisher for some of the godawful poses that were ‘captured on film.’ Asa result writing captions was a breeze. In fact, Scott went out of his way to cooperate. Once, he even shaved his head, just to make himself more ‘caption-accessible.” Now comes McHarg, who just stands there and smiles. It's enough to make a caption writer look for other work. Please Herb, have a heart. BLM signs the fate of the Book Cliffs On January 29, 1999, the Vernal BLM signed the death certificate to over 80,000 acres of the Book Cliffs region. The Resource Development Group (RDG), a partnership of politically charged companies, propose to deliver the lethal blow by drilling 969 wells, constructing 267 miles of new road, and reconstructing 139 miles of “existing” routes (i.e., turn faint jeep trails into heavy duty roads). Many of these wells and roads would be developed within the Lower Bitter Creek unit of the citizens' wilderness proposal, and on lands designated by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources as “critical winter range” for mule deer and elk. The BLM supported its “finding of no significant impact (FONSI)” with such ludicrous mitigation measures as restricting development in the critical winter range to four wells per square mile rather than the eight allowed elsewhere, and requiring the companies to paint the equipment juniper green if it falls within a five-mile radius of Goblin City View Area. Big deal. By no means do these mickey-mouse conditions of approval mitigate the impact below the threshold level of “significant.” The agency should have prepared an environmental impact statement (EIS) to take a more comprehensive look at this proposal and the cumulative impacts of past and future developments that could forever change the primitive character of the Book Cliffs. SUWA will appeal this decision. BLM blades campground within HR 1500 Not willing to be trumped by private land developers screwing up the Colorado River corridor, the BLM recently bulldozed a two-lane road, scraped out parking areas and campsites, and constructed toilet facilities approximately 500 feet inside the boundary of the Porcupine Rim proposed wilderness unit. The agency provided no notice to the public and neglected to prepare a site specific environmental assessment — all in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act. Paradigms have not yet shifted in rural Utah Counties An article recently appeared in a San Juan County rag titled “Cultural war moving to local grade schools some parents claim.” Reportedly, a group of Blanding, Utah mothers expressed concern that environmental extremism and secular humanism are being taught at grade schools in the County. One mother stated that she had witnessed such extreme environmentalism as kids being told to actually hug a tree to help them become friends with the tree. Another mother was worried that ideals about globalism and socialism were infiltrating the schools. Some parents have chosen to keep their children home from school on days when these radical field trips are conducted. Stop leasing before it starts. The BLM offered at least six new oil and gas lease parcels within areas that are part of the new citizens’ wilderness proposal at its November 30, 1998 quarterly lease sale, and eighteen at the February 25, 1999 sale. SUWA filed protests against the inclusion of these parcels in these sales, and the BLM State Director, Bill Lamb, denied the first protest and we expect him to deny the second. SUWA will continue to protest every lease offered within the citizens' wilderness proposal, as the issuance of these leases could jeopardize Congress’ ability to protect these areas through wilderness designation Please take a few minutes to write a letter emphasizing that no leases should be offered within the new citizens’ wilderness proposal, and that the agency should adopt an interim protection policy for these areas. A little time spent now may save countless hours of writing comments and appealing each APD. Send letters to: Bill Lamb, State Director, BLM, Guzzler appeal The Cedar City BLM has recently authorized the installation of two wildlife water catchments (guzzlers) to be located within the North Wah Wah H.R. 1500 proposed wilderness area. This area has recently been re-inventoried by the BLM itself, and found to possess wilderness characteristics. As such, the BLM should manage the area so that its wilderness values are not impaired - including no permanent structures or surface disturbing activities - until Congress acts. The BLM approved numerous guzzlers in 1998 for the West Desert, primarily to improve chukar partridge habitat (a non-native game 324 South State Street, Suite 301, P.O. Box 45155, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84145-0155, or fax# bird). The recent decision authorizing these two guzzlers, however, failed to adequately (801)539-4013; and to Tom Fry, Acting Director, BLM, 1620 L Street N.W., Washington D.C. assess the wilderness characteristics of the area and other alternatives. SUWA is preparing 20240, or fax# (202)208-5242. an appeal.