Environmental news from around the state and the west.
by Amy Brunvand
Sierra Club tracks Utah Legislature
The Utah Legislature is in session from January 21 to March 5, and it's up to us citizens to keep an eye on their shenanigans. You can follow bills of environmental significance by using the bill tracker on the Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club website. The Utah Chapter also provides an environmental legislative preview and it's not all bad: Senator Scott McCoy (D) has legislation in the works to set a goal that 20 to 25% of Utah's electricity would come from renewable sources, such as wind, solar and geothermal, by 2025; Rep Stephen E. Sandstrom (R-Orem) has introduced a bill to protect in-stream flow for trout habitat. So call your state legislators and let them know that you care about the environment!
Utah Sierra Club Legislative Preview:
2008 Legislative Session Bill Tracker: www.utah.sierraclub.org/tracker/
Find your legislators: www.le.state.ut.us/documents/find.htm
Museum exhibit celebrates National Wildlife Refuge System
America's Wildest Places, a new exhibit at the Utah Museum of Natural History, illustrates how the national wildlife refuge system conserves and manages ecosystems and flyways that depend on protected public lands. President Teddy Roosevelt designated the first national wildlife refuge in 1903, and nowadays there are 548 wildlife refuges in the system, with three in Utah: The Fish Springs refuge was established in 1959 to provide habitat for migrating and wintering birds; The Bear River Migratory Bird refuge is a key part of the Great Salt Lake ecosystem; and the Ouray refuge protects a segment of the Green River, giving vital support to wildlife in an area that gets less than 7 inches of annual precipitation.
Through May 26. UMNH. 1390 E. Presidents Circle, University of Utah (Stadium TRAX). www.umnh.utah.edu
National Wildlife Refuge System: www.fws.gov/refuges/
Mayor Becker promises environmental action
In his first State of the City speech, newly elected Salt Lake City mayor Ralph Becker promised to begin work on his environmental agenda to accelerate the planning and funding for Salt Lake Bikeways; to ramp up action on the Jordan River trail completion and restoration of the river corridor; to move aggressively forward with rail and transit programs; and to revise Salt Lake City building codes to encourage use of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building standards
State of the City, 2008: www.slcgov.com/mayor/ speeches/2008/SOC01152008.pdf
DEQ reports on the state of Utah's environment
Population growth in Utah is exacerbating air pollution problems, according to an annual environmental report from the Utah Department of Environmental Quality. Most counties along the Wasatch Front would not comply with proposed tougher EPA ozone standards to protect public health. The growing population dumped 2.5 million tons of solid waste in landfills. Fish consumption advisories were issued because of elevated mercury levels in trout from six popular fishing areas. On the plus side, Utah dropped from third place to sixth place for states with the most toxic chemicals released to the environment.
DEQ Utah Report on the Environment, 2007 www.deq.utah.gov/envrpt/docs/Utah_Report_on_the_Environment_2007.pdf
Update: Wild and Scenic Rivers
There are currently no Utah river segments included in the National Wild and Scenic River System, but there is still time to send in your comments and tell the U.S. Forest Service that there should be some.
Wild and Scenic Rivers Suitability Study for National Forest System Lands in Utah.: www.fs.fed.us/r4/rivers/ Public comments by February 15. email: firstname.lastname@example.org