SOUTHERN UTAH WILDERNESS ALLIANCE
THE WILDERNESS SOCIETY
SIERRA CLUB

MEDIA ADVISORY

REPORTER TELECONFERENCE
11 A.M. MDT, OCTOBER 14, 2008

BUSH ADMINISTRATION FINALIZES LEGACY OF DESTRUCTION FOR UTAH’S CANYON COUNTRY
New, 20-Year Plans Open 80% of Public Lands in Southern and Eastern Utah to Drilling and Turn Over More Than 20,000 Miles of Trails to Off-Road Vehicles

WHO:
U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-NY, (expected)
Jim Baca, former BLM director and former Albuquerque Mayor
Phil Brueck, former deputy superintendent of Arches and Canyonlands national parks
Jerry Spangler, Colorado Plateau Archaeological Alliance
 

WHAT: Reporter briefing on the Bush administration’s last-minute push to change how 11 million acres of iconic Utah canyon country are managed for the benefit of the oil and natural gas industry and off-road vehicle recreation, impacting national parks, wilderness, historic cultural sites, regional air quality and fragile desert ecosystems.

WHEN: 11 a.m., Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2008

WHERE: (800) 311-9404, call one of our contacts for the passcode

BACKGROUND:
The Bush administration released six new land management plans during the last month covering 11 million acres of iconic Utah canyon country in southern and eastern Utah.  These lands surround Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef national parks, and Dinosaur national monument, and include places such as Labyrinth and Desolation Canyons along the Green River -explored by John Wesley Powell’s expeditions, Cedar Mesa and Grand Gulch recognized as one of most important archaeological areas in the United States, and spectacular geologic formations in the Vermilion Cliffs, San Rafael Desert and the badlands of the Muddy Creek and Dirty Devil river drainages.

These fast-tracked plans roll back protection for wildlife, sensitive species, rivers and streams, cultural resources, and “areas of critical environmental concern.”

The plans legitimize 20,000 miles of pioneered trails and roads, haphazardly created by years of random trailblazing, for destructive ORV use putting unsurveyed archaeological artifacts, wildlife habitat, and rivers and streams in harms way.

These plans are a missed opportunity to demonstrate that wilderness preservation is compatible with resource extraction and other uses.  Data from the plans themselves show that even if BLM were to protect all the remaining roadless lands it found to have wilderness character, nearly 86% of the proposed oil and gas wells could still be drilled.  Similarly, protecting wilderness character lands would leave 91% of proposed ORV trails open.

These controversial plans, which attempt to extend the Bush administration’s devastating environmental policies for another two decades, are a going-away gift to the oil and gas industry and those who are outright hostile to wilderness preservation.  All six, thousand of pages in length, have been rolled out in quick succession, leaving little time for public input.

Our fact sheet, with further information and photographs, is available at
http://www.suwa.org/rmp

CONTACTS: 
Heidi McIntosh, SUWA, 801.428.3980  
Liz Thomas, SUWA, 435.259.5440
Nada Culver, TWS, 303.650.5818, ext. 117
Lawson Legate, Sierra Club, 801.467.9294

 

 

 

 

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