Category Archives: San Rafael Swell

Déjà vu in the SUWAr

In response to SUWA’s press release from earlier today: https://suwa.org/deja-vu-san-rafael-swell/

My comments follow SUWA’s talking points in brackets and italics:

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So far, the Utah delegation has refused to compromise on a one-sided wilderness proposal drummed up by local politicians — a proposal that omits Wilderness designation for more than one million acres that deserve protection. [Isn't the concept of "more than one million acres that deserve protection" also a one-sided proposal about which SUWA refuses to compromise?]

The largest intact wilderness in the Swell — Muddy Creek — would be chopped down in size by cutting it up with off-road vehicle routes.
None of the western Swell Badlands — Molen Reef, Upper Muddy Creek, Cedar Mountain and similar places — would be given any protection at all. [By definition, if there are off-road routes "cutting up" an area, it doesn't qualify as wilderness. Molen Reef is bisected by many dozer roads and coal mines and prospects. Cedar Mountain has been chained, grazed, and heavily bisected by dozer roads--the cow ponds, fences, and other range improvements are too numerous to qualify Cedar Mountain as anything close to wilderness.]

WSAs would be released in the Sids Mountain region to ensure that off-road vehicle use in those canyons would be perpetuated. [Off-road routes are already cherry-stemmed in the Sid's Mountain WSA. WSAs were created so that Congress may act by designating the areas as either deserving or not of full-on Wilderness. Apparently SUWA is supportive of Congress only when lawmakers support conversion of WSA to Wilderness, but not the other way around.]

Control of the southern San Rafael Reef — including areas such as Chute and Crack Canyons — could be handed over to the State of Utah, which would then charge us for visiting what were formerly our lands, with proceeds given to the state or Emery County. [Can somebody please check the weather forecast in hell? I find myself agreeing with SUWA on this issue.]

The bill may allow Utah politicians to continue their litigation against the United States to force off-road vehicles trails into the same lands designated as Wilderness by the bill. [RS 2477 lawsuits can go forward regardless of Congress' actions on this matter. And, in fact, Congress' actions may very well legally allow existing RS 2477 claims to be cherry-stemmed into any designated wilderness.]

The bill could undo a protected WSA to allow for coal mining. [Again, WSAs are for Congress only to decide whether or not to designate. So fucking what if they choose not to designate a certain WSA as wilderness? It is literally up to them and only them!]

From what we’ve seen, there is little or no conservation gain in this bill. In fact, this bill wouldn’t close a single off-road vehicle route. No lands that are threatened by leasing would be closed to leasing. We understand that part of the intention of the bill is, in fact, to prevent future conservation gains. [Please refer to my first comment above regarding the "one-sidedness" of SUWA. Oh no, the congressional bill doesn't give you everything you want?]

If the legislation turns out as bad as we fear, then with your support we’ll work to either block it, or work to improve it so that it’s legislation worthy of places like Labyrinth Canyon, Muddy Creek and the San Rafael Swell Badlands. [Give SUWA some money, and they'll sue somebody for something. Great business model, guys.]

We’ve seen the Utah congressional delegation do this over a dozen times before: pursuing legislation for a handful of rural politicians, while ignoring the views of all other Utahns — let alone the American people who all share ownership of these lands. [The last I checked, I was among "all other Utahns." And, strangely, the elected officials are carrying out my wishes.]