Congress Eyes Public Land's Role in a Changing Climate

U.S. Geological Survey photo of a dust storm along Indian Creek
U.S. Geological Survey photo of a dust storm along Indian Creek, near Canyonlands National Park, on March 22, 2009 (Credit: Mark Miller, USGS)
During the recent congressional recess, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands, chaired by Red Rock cosponsor Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) held a field hearing to explore the nexus of public land management and global warming with focus on the national parks.  One important takeaway: threatening activities outside of parks such as “oil and gas development on nearby federal and state lands, too many roads and too much unregulated off road vehicle activity in sensitive locations” will impact the resiliency of these special places to a changing climate.  The solutions take a look at managing large swaths of public land to minimize these activities that are known to damage the environment.  With massive dust storms now regularly occurring in red rock country and carrying dust all the way to the Colorado Rocky Mountains causing early snow melt, management of Utah’s BLM lands play an important role in the coming debate about solutions for our changing climate.

As science from the U.S. Geological Survey has indicated, the prevention of surface disturbing activities in southern Utah is critical to controlling regional dust.  Designation of lands as Wilderness is the best way to prevent undue surface disturbance.  This past March, SUWA submitted testimony for a hearing before the same subcommittee on the role of federal lands management in combating climate change.  To read the testimony, click here.

To learn more about the connection between climate change and wilderness protection in Utah, visit our climate change page.


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