Regulars and Shorts

Enviro Update: March 2007

By Amy Brunvand

Environmental news from around the state and the west.
by Amy Brunvand
Neff's Canyon future: forest or debris basin?
Neff's Canyon is a wild, untrammeled forest retreat on the edge of the Mount Olympus Wilderness Area and only a few minute's drive from Salt Lake City. However, the natural splendor of the canyon could be spoiled if the U.S. Forest Service allows construction of an enormous debris retention basin and dam that would cover an area as large as three football fields. Save Our Canyons says that the stated purpose of the structure is flood control, but pressure to build the debris basin comes mainly from wealthy Olympus Cove homeowners who want to lower their flood insurance rates. If safety were a real issue, they say, then other alternatives would be less abusive to an unspoiled and popular hiking area.
Save Neff's Canyon:
Save Our Canyons:
Contact: County Mayor Peter Coroon: Mayor Peter Corroon: 468-2500, or Mayor@SLCO.ORG

Donut Falls is public at last!
Three years ago, the private land owner of Donut Falls in Big Cottonwood Canyon posted "No Trespassing" signs and asked the Forest Service to delete the trail from signs and maps. Now, thanks to the Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities, the popular, child-friendly hike is permanently in public hands. In order to protect the water supply, the City spent $1.284 million from the Watershed Purchase and Water Rights Funds to purchase 145 acres surrounding the falls. The happy side effect is that a beautiful hiking destination is open to everyone.
Salt Lake City Dept. of Public Utilities News Release:

Global warming threatens western national parks
In the future, global climate change might mean no glaciers in Glacier National Park, no Joshua trees in Joshua Tree National Park and no saguaro cacti in Saguaro National Park, according to a report from the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization and National Resource Defense Council.  National parks in Utah are expected to suffer from intolerable heat, wildfire, loss of native species and increased problems with invasive species. If climate change significantly alters the ecosystems of existing parks, it may even be necessary to create new protected areas. The report says that protecting our National Parks will take a combination of personal action and political advocacy to support energy efficiency, cleaner power plants, cleaner vehicles and a shift to renewable energy.
Losing Ground: Western National Parks Endangered by Climate Disruption.

UTA aims to improve public transit
In our collective effort to combat global climate change, cleaner vehicles are one solution, but parking the car and riding public transit is even better. If UTA transit doesn't work for you right now, it might in the near future. The Utah Tranisit Authority is planning a massive overhaul of the bus system in Salt Lake County in order to provide greater frequency in high demand corridors with better connections to other buses and current and future TRAX lines. Open houses on the new bus system are scheduled throughout the county in March.
UTA Salt Lake City open house: Salt Lake City Library, 210 E. 400 S. SLC (Library TRAX). March 12. 4:30-7:00pm. Open houses in other locations are posted on the UTA website.
UTA Salt Lake Bus Route Redesign: schedulesAndMaps/2007routeChanges/

Parowan Gap saved from oil & gas development
Due to public outcry, the Utah BLM removed 14 parcels near the Parowan Gap from oil & gas lease sales in February. The Parowan Gap features one of the most extraordinary rock-art panels in the state of Utah-a Fremont Indian drawing representing an ancient solstice calendar.
SUWA Action Alert: Parowan Gap:

Utah prairie dogs not endangered, say feds
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service has declined a petition to reclassify the Utah prairie dog (Cynomys parvidens) from threatened to endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. However, they are initiating a five-year review for the species.
Comments on threats or status of Utah pairie dogs are due by April 23 to Utah Ecological Services Field Office, 2369 W. Orton Circle, Ste. 50, West Valley City, UT 84119.

Sierra Club tracks Utah Legislature
Want to know how the environment fared in the 2007 General Session of the Utah Legislature? The Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club keeps score in their online Guide to the Utah Legislature:

Rainforest lecture, March 13
"Ecology, Discovery and Conservation in the Panamanian Rainforest," featuring Phyllis Coley and Thomas Kursar-Main is this month's Nature of Things lecture sponsored by the The Nature Conservancy of Utah and the Utah Museum of Natural History.
March 13. Main Library auditorium, 210 E. 400 South, SLC. 6:30 p.m. Nature of Things Lecture Series:

West Bench development forum, March 27
In March, the Wasatch Front Forum topic is West Bench development. The event is sponsored by Save Our Canyons, KCPW, and Westminster College.
March 27. 7-9pm. Gore Auditorium, Westminster College 1840 S 1300 E, SLC.

This article was originally published on February 28, 2007.