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Utah Wilderness Update

Discussion in 'Land Use' started by mudfanatic, Mar 9, 2001.

  1. mudfanatic

    mudfanatic 1/2 ton status

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    Location:
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    Subject: Utah Wilderness Update
    From: AlertList@suwa.org
    Date: Wed, 07 Mar 2001 17:09:35 -0700

    Hi Folks --

    In this issue: We ask your help in kicking off the America's Redrock
    co-sponsor drive for the 107th Congress, give a rousing thank you to activists
    who are working hard to protect the land and bolster the growing ranks of
    supporters nationwide, and provide some opportunities in Utah for you to get
    more involved in the quest to preserve our remaining wild redrock canyons and
    deserts.

    1) 107TH CONGRESS CO-SPONSOR DRIVE UNDERWAY - WRITE YOUR LETTER TO
    CONGRESS NOW
    2) THANK YOU TO ALL SLIDESHOW HOSTS AND ATTENDEES
    3) PROTEST A COMPETITIVE MOTO-CROSS RACE IN WILDERNESS
    4) STOP SNEAKY ROAD DEVELOPMENT
    5) WILDERNESS INVENTORY WORKSHOP MARCH 21
    6) FOREST SERVICE APPEALS WORKSHOP MARCH 17

    ... [cut] ...

    3) PROTEST A COMPETITIVE MOTO-CROSS RACE IN WILDERNESS

    Located about 10 miles southeast of Green River, Utah, the Duma Point proposed
    wilderness unit's 10,000 acres enhance the vast 166,000 acre Labyrinth Canyon
    roadless area, comprised of rolling bench lands and spectacular side canyons
    arrayed along a 50-mile stretch of the Green River. The area is dissected with
    many washes that support riparian vegetation, including Dripping Spring and
    drainages into Ten Mile Wash. The surrounding landscape is dominated by
    Blackbrush -- once trampled and killed, blackbrush individuals (some that may
    be over three hundred years old) rarely rejuvenate. Several species of high
    management concern including desert bighorn sheep, mule deer, pronghorn
    antelope, prairie falcon, red-tailed hawk, ferruginous hawk, golden eagle, and
    peregrine falcon make this land home. And Coyotes, fox, wrens, ravens and
    other small mammals also frolic about.

    On Saturday, March 10 this wonderland will be invaded by 250 earth- and
    eardrum-tearing dirt bikes and an entourage of spectators, event hosts, and
    tag-a-long riders. Racers will trample blackbrush, crush cryptos, and rip
    through riparian areas along a 35 mile course that punches through proposed
    wilderness, leaving in their wake new and expanded "trails," dead plants,
    fragmented habitat, and unstable wash banks and soils subject to erosion for
    the long term. Although the actual number of animals killed by the racing
    motorcycle can not be predicted, according to the BLM there's nothing to worry
    about since they "would not suffer any long-term loss." Tell that to flattened
    road-kill.

    Representatives from SUWA and Red Rock Forests were at the race site on March
    3, one week before the proposed race and before the BLM issued the permit.
    Race organizers were also out that day posting the course. Riders were
    crashing their dirt bikes through sensitive riparian vegetation within Ten
    Mile wash -- an area explicitly excluded from the course. Other riders were
    traversing cross-country searching for the proposed race-route while creating
    new trails, smashing brush and grasses, and rutting undisturbed drainages in
    their ignorance. We spoke with a couple "Bookcliff Rattlers," the race
    proponents, and offered to work with them in rerouting the course to avoid
    riparian areas and wilderness lands. According to them, it was the BLM that
    suggested that they hold the race to "establish use in the area," and directed
    them into these sensitive lands, totally ignoring wilderness and other
    resource concerns. They even stated that they would be willing to drop
    conflicting portions of the course.

    We relayed this information to the BLM, along with photographs documenting the
    resource and user conflicts that would result from this race. Rather than
    protecting these resources, the agency gave the decision making authority to
    the Rattlers. And rather than seizing this opportunity to work together to
    prevent damage to the land, the Rattlers selfishly (but predictably)
    determined to ride the same course.

    The devastation that will result from this race is a prime example why the BLM
    must not allow "open" off-road vehicle travel on public lands. The agency
    recently limited travel to "existing" roads and trails in surrounding lands in
    order to prevent damage from cross-country travel, but left this area "open"
    because of pressure from ORV groups. In designing these recent travel
    restrictions and in approving the race, the BLM completely ignored
    citizen-proposed wilderness lands, other resources and user conflicts. In
    fact, the BLM had the audacity to presume that people "would likely enjoy
    watching the race."

    Well, we would like to expose that this is far from the truth, and plan to
    hold a PROTEST at the race on Saturday, March 10, 2001! If you think that you
    can attend, please call us at 435-259-5440, and we'll get you the details. You
    can also write the BLM and express your upset over the fact that they were
    unwilling to make minor route changes to avoid major environmental damage.
    Tell them that the Duma Point wilderness is not the place for ORV travel of
    any type, and certainly not competitive events. Emphasize that it was remiss
    for the agency to leave this area "open" in designing the recent emergency
    travel restrictions, and that future planning must not designate the White
    Wash Sand Dunes or any other place as an "open" or "intensive use" area. This
    will only result in impossible management, resource damage, and recreation
    conflicts, and it inconsistent with the wilderness values of the area. Send
    letters to: Maggie Wyatt, Bureau of Land Management, 82 East Dogwood Ave.,
    P.O. Box 970, Moab, Utah 84532; fax 435-259-2106.

    4) STOP SNEAKY ROAD DEVELOPMENT

    Many of you may have seen an earlier alert titled "Stop sneaky plans to
    develop the Abajos." If you have, and took the time to write . . . Thank you,
    your letters are working!! And if we all keep pushing, we can remove the
    unrelated and unnecessary and resource damaging road "improvements" buried
    within the Cottonwood Mine Reclamation Plan.

    Background and area description: The upper Cottonwood Wash watershed, located
    about five miles west of Blanding, Utah, is bordered by drainage divides to
    the north, west, and east, and by highway U-95 to the south. This area of
    approximately 143,000 acres spans from 4,000 feet to Elk Ridge in the Abajo
    Mountains above 10,000 feet (the watershed to Canyonlands National Park and
    the greater Canyonlands basin). The BLM has management jurisdiction over
    about 34 percent of the land, Forest Service lands account for 60 percent,
    while the Ute Mountain Tribe and the State of Utah hold nearly equal portions
    of the remaining 6 percent.

    Over 200 abandoned vanadium and uranium mine openings exist in the watershed,
    many that are clustered in its southern tip on BLM land within a few miles
    north of U-95, the rest scattered throughout the upper portions of the
    drainage on Forest Service land. The majority of the mines are found along or
    near the Cottonwood road that veers from U-95 about five miles east of Comb
    Ridge, heading north into the Abajos. Others are located off the Elk Ridge or
    Causeway roads, while some are hidden at the ends of fading access roads.

    Proposal: The agencies are proposing to reclaim 81 of these 200 abandoned mine
    sites (62 on BLM, 19 on National Forest), 15 miles of mine access roads, and
    44 miles of mining exploration routes. Although that may be a good thing, our
    concerns revolve around unnecessary proposed actions and fallacies in the
    environmental assessment (EA) that may expose the area to increased damaging
    activities without analyzing the additional impacts on various resources.



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