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Environmentalists sue over more Utah BLM plans (Read 986 times)
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Environmentalists sue over more Utah BLM plans
11/18/10 at 11:36:35
 
By Brandon Loomis

The Salt Lake Tribune

Published Nov 16, 2010 05:10PM
Updated Nov 16, 2010 05:10PM
Environmentalists seeking greater protections on Utahs public lands have widened their legal complaints against regional plans written in 2008 by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Already in court challenging plans crafted by the agencys Moab, Vernal and Price offices, environmental groups last week filed suit in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., with the same complaints against plans for the Monticello, Kanab and Richfield areas.

The groups, including the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA), assert that the BLM violated federal environmental laws by failing to identify and protect areas that have wilderness qualities and could qualify for congressional designation for permanent protection.

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Re: Environmentalists sue over more Utah BLM plans
Reply #1 - 11/18/10 at 11:59:29
 
Just when you think our side (Take Back Utah) is making some progress, like we did down in Kane County with the new road designations, the other side is continue the attack on many other fronts. There just seems to be no time to sit back and rest on our success. I just renewed my membership for the year to Utah Shared Access and hope others will join too. We really need to keep taking the fight to the other side. Thanks to all who help in that effort along with the letter writing for such worthy projects as the GCNRA.
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Re: Environmentalists sue over more Utah BLM plans
Reply #2 - 11/18/10 at 19:27:14
 
Just a few thoughts:

1.  For all of the cases they file, SUWA wins very very few of them.  Don't become complacent, but do take heart.
2.  It's highly telling that they filed in D.C. rather than in Utah Federal Court.  With one exception, all of the Utah Federal judges are wise to SUWA's approach, and hold their feet to the fire.  
3.  I'm pretty sure the reason for this suit is to provide a springboard for a closed-door settlement with Interior at the Washington level.  Such negotiations are already underway for the suit in D.C. over Price, Moab, and Vernal plans.  A TOP PRIORITY of Utah's congressional delegation should be to force those negotiations into the open.  Sunshine is the best disinfectant.
4.  Look for Secretary Salazar to use this suit (and its companion) as an excuse to revive the Babbitt-era wilderness reinventory.
5.  SUWA's litigation-focused strategy has grown old in many quarters--witness Ted Wilson's move to Gov. Herbert's staff.  I think a broad-based conservation organization made up of folks who love and use Utah's open lands could, over time, make SUWA nearly irrelevant.
6.  With the recent shift in Congress, the best window SUWA ever had to pass their Redrock Wilderness Act has closed.  The question is:  When the individual county-by-county land use bills are drawn up instead, who will represent our interests, and how?
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Re: Environmentalists sue over more Utah BLM plans
Reply #3 - 11/19/10 at 18:55:57
 
There IS a lot of progress being made . But it seems that SUWA is feeling the heat from what is going on . I got an e=mail this week stating that SUWA is going to spend two million in the next four years on tv ads  to promote their cause . It seems they don't like the fact that public land users want their lands back .

I try to look at the use of public lands this way . You generally don't pay for the use of the lands like they do in other parts of the country and you also have some of the best riding in the world . So instead of  paying to use the lands every ride , write a letter or do something else to help the cause . In other words , the day of the free ride is over . Working for land access  has to be a routine for everyone .
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Re: Environmentalists sue over more Utah BLM plans
Reply #4 - 11/21/10 at 10:11:35
 
I had a long talk with a forest service employee from the Price area yesterday.  He was attending the same emergency medical conference I was.   I expressed some of our concerns regarding what is being closed and the lack of good maps.  He said they are working on new maps and that they even had tough times using their maps sometimes.  He said that he quite often used their map in conjunction with the BLM maps just to help make sense of it.  I told him we prefer areas where we can ride loops and that this would lighten some of the over-usage of some of the more popular trails.   He did not say much.

He said that most of what he closes is new trail blazing and I can tell he was really frustrated.  This will only hurt those of us that ride with respect.   He said that he felt a lot of what was happening was being created by deer and elk hunters.   He said he and another ranger spent almost a week felling trees to block a mile of trail that had been cut back in further from existing trails just in the last few weeks.

He too is concerned about the 50 ruling.  He said there is a lot of push for >50 and they are hesitating because they do not want new roads created off of the ATV tracks.  He said there are only a couple of rangers and that they could not be everywhere so policing offenders was sometimes near impossible.   He conceded much of what he does is trying to undo what the 1% wreck for the rest of us.  We talked about how to help them document damage and how to report it.  He said it was best to turn pictures and tag numbers into the forest service law enforcement.  I have a friend who does that and I will talk to him about the best way to report offenders.

I suggested he or his fellow rangers log in to ATVUtah and tells us their problems and give us recommendations on what we can help them with.  I told him that we would be willing to do service projects where he needed help and that would really help with the dialog.  He said he would pass it along.
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