|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|
“seen een THE CANYON By Liz Thomas & Herb mm COUNTRY McHarg of the Southern : roposal. eis WATCHDOG Utah Wilderness Alliance rights-of-way in perpetuity to Kane County for all of the routes within the GSENM that are within the Kane County boundaries will significantly foreclose any future attempts to close any of the routes, should the GSENM want to do so. Moreover, Kane County will not be required to relinquish any of its dubious RS 2477 claims for any of these WEST DESERT LAND EXCHANGE In an attempt to salvage something from their ill-fated West Desert Wilderness Bill, Representative Jim Hansen, in collaboration with Governor Leavitt and Secretary of the Interior Babbitt, have introduced legislation that would exchange approximately 100,000 acres of BLM lands for-about 100,000 acres of State Trust lands in Utah's west desert. On its face this sounds like a good idea. It's appealing to get State lands out of proposed wilderness areas in order to avoid the threat of development that is always present with State lands (this threat is getting stronger as time goes by). However, the value of both State and BLM lands that are to be traded should be objectively and fairly determined. And they should be approximately equal in value. Unfortunately, the values of the lands to be traded in Hansen's current bill appear to be greatly out of balance. The State would receive developable blocks of land along highways and near towns in exchange for an equal acreage of widely scattered, inaccessible parcels. It is difficult to believe that these developable blocks have the same average value per acre as the remote pieces. The proponents of this exchange have provided no evidence . to back up their claim that the exchange is a fair deal. The bill has a number of other problems. Rather than comprehensively exchanging all State lands within inventoried wilderness in western Utah, the bill takes a piecemeal approach, avoiding those areas which are most in need of an exchange. For example, Spring Creek WSA (which felt the blade of a bulldozer scraping an illegal road through it last fall) is conspicuously missing. While most of the lands to be acquired by the State may be appropriate (if too numerous), a few of the BLM parcels should not be traded to the state and targeted for development. One is the “La Verkin” block, at the entrance of the Zion scenic corridor, at the top of the Hurricane Cliffs. Housing developments and golf courses are not consistent with a designated scenic corridor. Proponents of the exchange, including Governor Leavitt, claim, quite implausibly, that the proposed development will not detract from the scenery. Yeah, right. Depends on what one likes to look at houses and roads versus unmarred cliffs and vistas. Another BLM parcel the State wants is a large (20,000 acre), remote and undeveloped block of land near the south Wah Wah Mountains. The State wants this for a huge, “spaceport” complex. In the likely event the spaceport dream does not become a reality, other industrial developments would likely take its place, completely changing the remote and isolated character of this part of the West Desert. State acquisitions should be located near existing cities and developments. Utah has enough sprawl already. The bill passed through the House of Representatives but not before it was amended to require some objective documentation of the valuations placed on both the BLM lands and the State lands. These valuations will then be reviewed by an independent appraiser. This amendment was intended to ensure that the federal government was not getting an inordinately short end of the stick while the State made off with a huge windfall. The bill passed the House at the same time that the General Accounting Office released its report that focuses on dubious land exchanges in the West. In particular, the report highlights the scandalous imbalances that have occurred in previous Utah land exchanges and uncovers sleazy deals made by land developers who then reap a many-fold profit at the expense of public lands. Maybe the results of the GAO investigations will not be lost on the West Desert land exchange. routes. GSENM should be setting high standards for other BLM lands in the state and around the West. Granting rights-of-ways, in perpetuity, to Kane County WITHOUT the benefit of public participation is merely advancing the interest of Kane County at the expense of public lands and resources and would set a terrible precedent for BLM lands both within and outside of Utah. You can write the Monument and request public participation in this important decision: Kate Cannon, Manager, GSENM, 180 West 300 North, Kanab, UT 84741. GRAZING AND DROUGHT It was a hot dry summer in southern Utah and domestic livestock that were grazing on public lands were starting to nibble on not much more than the dirt where plants used to be. In the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, BLM began checking the health of the vegetation early in the summer and warned permittees that they might have to remove their cattle before the end of the grazing period due to the conditions on the ground. Subsequently, as a result of the continued drought, BLM notified several permittees that the permittees would have to get their cattle off of the public lands before the end of the grazing period due to the effects the drought and continued grazing were having on the soils, vegetation and other resources. BLM determined that there was an “imminent likelihood of significant resource damage” if grazing continued. Most permittees realized that their cattle were not thriving on the nearly nonexistent vegetation on the public lands and voluntarily moved their cattle to private lands to feed them. However, a few permittees did not comply with BLM's directive to remove their cattle. GSENM began preparation to remove the trespassing cattle in order to preclude further damage to the resources. However, at the last minute, GSENM was prevented from doing so by the State BLM office. It appears that the State BLM office would rather have the resources of the Monument suffer long-term impairments than to follow the existing federal grazing regulations in order to avoid a conflict with a couple grazing permittees who are in defiant violation of their grazing permit. The decision by the State Director, Sally Wisely, to force the GSENM to back off of enforcing the rules and regulations that govern grazing on public lands sent out a message loud and clear to other BLM offices in the state of Utah: It doesn't pay to try to do the right DAM IN ZION?? Thé National Park Service has authorized a new dam and water diversion pipeline on Shunes Creek inside Zion National Park so that Jim Trees, an absentee landowner, can grow crops in the desert. The new dam is authorized for an area that the park has recognized as having wilderness character. Therefore, according to NPS policy, the area should be managed as wilderness meaning no man-made developments. It doesn't take much imagination to figure out that a new dam and water diversion development within thing. BLM potential wilderness will diminish wilderness values. Shunes Creek, located in the southwest corner of the park and which has been determined to be eligible for Wild and Scenic River designation, will likely be dried up several months of the year. This will mean certain death for the stream's Virgin spinedace, identified as threatened in 1979, and currently managed under a multi-agency conservation agreement that does nothing to protect the spinedace in this portion of Shunes Creek. SUWA is looking into legal options in order to keep this proposed wilderness area in Zion NP free of permanent developments. You can send a letter to Martin Ott, Superintendent, Zion NP, Springdale, UT 84767-1099, and remind him that wilderness areas in national parks DO NOT have new dams constructed in them. BLM was a chance for the agency to shed:its old reputation and prove that it could manage and protect a national treasure as capably as the National Park Service (the agency that has been named manager of most, if not all, national monuments up to the GSENM). Unfortunately, the GSENM got overruled by the BLM's old guard and the State MONUMENT GIVING ROADS TO KANE COUNTY The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM) is making plans to grant rights-of-ways to Kane County for all of the Monument routes that are within the county. The GSENM's plans include granting these road rights-of-way to Kane County “in perpetuity” (ie. the right-or-way would last forever) and, for many of the routes, WITHOUT allowing public participation through the NEPA process. This is incredible given that the “roads issue” is one of the hottest and most controversial public lands issues in Utah. The BLM often grants rights-of-way for roads that cross public lands that serve particular and legitimate purposes or needs, including municipal water supplies and power and utility structures. However, many of the routes for which GSENM intends to grant rights-of-way to Kane County do not go.to anything that needs vehicular access. Several of the routes are merely old jeep trails that are barely perceptible on the ground due to nonuse. Some of these routes are so nonexistent that they are within the citizens' wilderness has historically been accused of catering to local economic interests grazing, mining, oil and gas. The designation of the Monument -- the first to be managed by Director. This does not bode well for the future of the Monument and other BLM lands in Utah. ROCKY MOUNTAIN ATV JAMBOREE The Fishlake National Forest recently issued a permit for a huge ATV event, sponsored by Polaris, Kawasaki, Coca-Cola and others, without providing public notice and inviting public participation in the decision making process. The event, which has.a cap of 800 riders (if this can be called a cap), includes over 60 rides through national forests and BLM lands. The US Forest Service's own handbook that guides the decision-making process requires that the public be informed of proposed actions. The only “public” that the Fishlake NF gave notice to was the Paiute ATV Committee, and travel councils, government officials, and merchants of local communities. Conspicuously absent from any public notice was any environmental organization or interest that might have submitted adverse comments on the event or on particular rides. Several of the rides were planned for inventoried roadless areas. Actions that involve roadless areas require a rigorous environmental analysis according to the USFS's own handbook. With the deck stacked against them, the Fishlake NF eventually agreed to cancel the rides that were planned for roadless areas and agreed to conduct appropriate environmental analysis for future events of this type.