Enviro Update: January 08
Environmental news from around the state and the west.
by Amy Brunvand
Green skiing on white snow
Park City, Sundance and Alta made the top 10 list for responsible environmental practices on the 2007/2008 Ski Area Environmental Scorecard issued by the Ski Area Citizen's Coalition. All other Utah resorts received a grade of "C" except for Brian Head which got an ignoble "D." Nonetheless, no Utah ski resorts were disgraced by appearing on the Coalition's "Worst 10" list.
Ski Area Citizen's Coalition: www.skiareacitizens.com/
Speak up for Wild and Scenic Rivers
Even though many of Utah's rivers are both wild and scenic, currently no Utah river segments are officially designated as such. After evaluating 840 miles of Utah rivers, the U.S. Forest Service has issued a draft environmental impact statement that recommends only 212 river miles in 24 segments for inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic River system. If your favorite river didn't make the final cut, now is your chance to speak up. The goal of the system is to preserve the character of a river segment by protecting water quality, free-flowing condition and remarkable values such as scenery, recreation, fish and wildlife geology, and historical sites. The U.S. Congress has the final authority on which river segments will be designated for Wild and Scenic status.
Wild and Scenic Rivers Suitability Study for National Forest System Lands in Utah: www.fs.fed.us/r4/rivers/
Public meeting: Feb 6, 2008, 7-8:30pm. Salt Lake City Library, 210 E. 400 S. (Library TRAX).
Public comments by February 15: firstname.lastname@example.org
Say no to nukes in Utah
Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. says that it's OK to dump foreign nuclear waste in Utah. Aaron Tilton (R-Springville) and Rep. Mike Noel (R-Kanab) want to build a nuclear power plant near the town of Green River. Utah Senator Orrin Hatch has declared, "If environmentalists had any brains, they would support nuclear power." The Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah says it's important to let our political representatives know that the public doesn't want nuclear power or nuclear waste in Utah, and we don't think the government should offer taxpayer subsidies to encourage the nuclear power industry.
HEAL Utah www.healutah.org/
Black-footed ferrets regain foothold
Wild black-footed ferrets are breeding in Utah! At one time black-footed ferrets, a nocturnal weasel that eats prairie dogs, were the most endangered animals on earth, and they became a kind of poster child for the Endangered Species Act. The ferrets were declared extinct in 1967, but a small population was rediscovered in Wyoming in 1981. The last known 18 animals were captured and bred in captivity for reintroduction. Ferrets released in Utah have not only survived, they have expanded their range, and in November the Utah Division of Wildlife released more ferrets to help supplement the new population. A healthy population of ferrets requires more than more than 10,000 acres of prairie-dog colonies, but habitat destruction has reduced prairie-dogs to less than 5% of the area they originally occupied.
Utah Division of Wildlife Resources: wildlife.utah.gov/news/07-12/ferrets.php
Update: BLM Resource Management plans
The fate of 11 million acres of Utah public lands managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management will be decided in the next few months. Public comments help shape the final decision, so it's important to take a bit of time to defend your favorite places. In January, public comments will be accepted for the Kanab and Richfield areas, and there will be a public meeting in Salt Lake City for the Monticello area. When you write to the BLM, make your comments as specific as possible. Share experiences you have had in specific places and tell them that the Draft RMP fails to adequately protect these places.
Kanab RMP (comments due Jan. 10) Threatened areas include Coral Pink Sand Dunes, Upper Kanab Creek, Parunuweap Canyon, and the Paria River. UT_Kanab_Comments@blm.gov
Richfield (comments due Jan. 23) Threatened areas include the Henry Mountains, Robbers Roost Country, Dirty Devil River and canyons, Factory Butte, Bluejohn Canyon and Bullfrog Creek. UT_Richfield_Comments@blm.gov
Monticello RMP (comments due Feb. 8) Threatened areas include Cedar Mesa/Grand Gulch, San Juan River, Arch Canyon, White Canyon, Dark Canyon, Indian Creek, Nokai Dome, Mancos Mesa, Comb Ridge, Recapture Canyon, and Valley of the Gods. UT_Monticello_Comments@blm.gov
Monticello area public meeting: Red Butte Garden, 300 Wakara Way, SLC, Jan. 10, 6-8pm.
For more information and links to the BLM planning pages, visit www.suwa.org.