by Louise Segreto
Millions of acres of our public lands in southern Utah’s Redrock country are under attack. The risk of losing these world class wilderness lands is a National issue, not just a Utah issue. IKE’s have always advocated for public lands. And, as both an American and member of the IWL, you have a voice about conserving these lands for generations to come. The future of the Redrock wilderness rests upon the shoulders of all of us!
The assault started in December of 2017 when Trump proclaimed a roll back in protections shrinking Bears Ears Monument by 2 million acres (an 85% reduction) and Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument by 1 million acres (almost a 50% reduction). Both Monuments are strategically located very close to our National Parks: Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, and Arches. This sensitive and unique area is our largest last remaining wilderness area in America. Making matters worse, several Utah politicians jumped on the Trump Administration’s land grab bandwagon. Utah Senator Orrin Hatch and Utah Republican Representatives Rob Bishop, Curtis, and Stewart are attempting to push through three different legislative bills to seize management of these lands to benefit: the energy industry, off-road vehicle users, livestock grazing, and mining interests. These uses and the spider network of roads that would ensue will have disastrous effects. Once lost, these lands will be gone forever.
But, many Americans are pushing back hard to resist these changes. Including, at least five native American Tribes who have joined together to fight back to save their sacred lands in Bears Ears. Multiple legal suits are pending to block Trump’s unlawful use of the Antiquities Act and the U.S. Constitution to slash protections for the two Monuments. And, as a back drop to the 2017 set -backs, coalitions of citizen activists and conservation groups have been working tirelessly for years to gain congressional support for the visionary proposed “America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act (ARRWA).” If passed, the ARRWA would protect 9,000,000 acres of Utah Wilderness.
What can you do to learn more?
· Consider joining the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA), a non-partisan, non-profit organization whose mission is to defend Utah’s Redrock wilderness. Check out their web-site: www.suwa.org or on Facebook
· Get involved with Minnesota Friends for Utah Wilderness, a coalition of people and groups here in Minnesota who are advocating for Redrock wilderness protections. Check them out on Facebook.
Having just returned from spending several days this June at SUWA’s Redrock Grassroots Leadership retreat outside of Boulder Utah, I recognize that the battle to save these public lands will not be won quickly. Nevertheless, as the sun sinks over the vast Redrock canyonlands to the song of a cactus wren trilling, I feel compelled to Stand up and fight for Southern Utah’s Public Lands and I hope you do too!