Environmental news from around the state and the west.
by Amy Brunvand
Utah Sierra Club endorses Ralph Becker for mayor (Vote November 6!)
The Utah Sierra Club Political Committee calls Ralph Becker "the ideal candidate to carry forward an environmental agenda in Salt Lake City for the next four years." The committee cites Becker's leadership on issues such as canyon development, bike and pedestrian safety, recycling, climate change and recycling, and points to his stellar pro-environment voting record in the Utah legislature. As a legislator representing District 24 (the Avenues, Capitol Hill and downtown), Becker scored 100% on the committee's "legislative scorecard" of environmental votes for the last four years.
BLM Resource Management Plan Updates
The future of Utah's public lands will be shaped by a number of Resource Management Plans currently in progress. If you care how public lands are managed, you need to write comments right now. The window of opportunity for the public to influence the planning process will close soon. When you write to the Bureau of Land Management, keep in mind that the most effective comments will refer to specific areas that you know and love. The BLM also suggests including a reference to the page number and/or section number of the draft RMP.
Moab Area: Comments due 11/30/07
The Moab plan outlines four possible priorities for land management: A (no action); B (protection/preservation of natural resources); C ("balanced") and D (commodity production/motorized recreation). Conservation groups such as the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance say that the supposedly balanced alternative C tips much too far in favor of motorized recreation and commodity production. A true balanced option would protect Moab district areas that still remain wild.
Send comments by November 30 to: Bureau of Land Management; Moab Field Office; RMP Comments; 82 East Dogwood; Moab, UT 84532. or by e-mail to : UT_Moab_Comments@blm.gov
Price Area: Comments due 12/13/07
The BLM Price Field Office has released a supplement to the original 2004 Draft that offers an additional Alternative E, to emphasize "protecting/maintaining the wilderness characteristics of all non-Wilderness Study Area lands found to have wilderness characteristics." You might ask, how can a non-wilderness have wilderness characteristics? Exactly so. Translated from bureaucratic language, it simply means roadless areas over 5000 acres that the BLM neglected to include in their original wilderness inventory.
Price Area RMP: www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/fo/price/planning/Resource_Management_Plan. Comments due by Dec. 13 to: Bureau of Land Management; Price Field Office RMP; Attention Floyd Johnson; 125 S. 600 W. Price Utah, 84501. UT_Pr_Comments@BLM.gov
Vernal Area: Comments due 1/3/08
The BLM Vernal Field office has also released a supplemental "Alternative E" for the Vernal area Resource Management Plan, to prioritize protection of lands with wilderness characteristics (not to be confused with the Price supplement). An October 16 editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune praised the Vernal Alternative E saying, "With… seemingly minor reductions in motorized travel and drilling, the plan would keep hundreds of thousands of acres of critical wildlife habitat intact. It's a trade-off the BLM should make."
Vernal Area RMP: www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/fo/vernal/ planning.html.Send comments by January 3 to: BLM Vernal Field Office; Attention: Kell Buckner; 170 South 500 East; Vernal, UT 84078. UT_Vernal_Comments@blm.gov.
Kudos to "Ripper of the Year"
Congratulations to Carol Jeffers and Josh Gold who were named "Ripper of the Year" by the Utah Rivers Council for ripping the grass out of their parking strip and replacing it with an attractive xeriscape (low water) garden. The proud winners say their water bills are less than half of what their neighbors pay, so the landscaping has already paid for itself.
Learn how to rip your own parking strip and enter next year's contest at the Utah Rivers Council website: http://www.utahrivers.org/
Governor presents Utah energy efficiency plan
An energy efficiency strategy released by the Governor's Office has the goal of increasing energy efficiency in the state of Utah 20% by 2015. The strategy outlines 23 major policies that could help reduce energy consumption. The strategies range from incentives to weatherize existing homes, to pay-as-you-drive auto insurance, to implementing energy efficiency in government offices, universities and public schools, to increasing energy efficiency expertise through programs at public colleges. A news release from the Governor's office quotes Dianne Nielson, Governor Huntsman's energy advisor, saying, "The Utah Energy Efficiency Strategy shows that energy efficiency is a major energy resource, even in an energy-producing state with relatively low energy prices."
Utah Energy Efficiency Strategy: Policy Options (October 2007) http://energy.utah.gov/energy/utah_energy_efficiency_strategy.html
Mountain View Corridor Comments due December 24
Get out your "Transit First" bumper stickers! The Mountain View Corridor is the next big proposal for non-sustainable highway expansion in the Salt Lake Valley. The Utah Department of Transportation says the project, which will raze hundreds of houses and businesses for a parallel freeway west of I-15, is necessary in order to relieve traffic congestion since "[t]ravel on Utah's highways is growing nearly twice as fast as the population." That's in direct conflict with Governor Huntsman's Utah Energy Efficiency Strategy Option 18: "Reduce the rate of growth in vehicle-miles traveled-keep the percent growth in vehicle-miles traveled to no more than the percent growth in population." You can't have it both ways-a phenomenon called "induced traffic" means that building more highway capacity causes people to drive more. Building a "Mountain View" TRAX line first would enable people to avoid traffic jams by simply choosing not to drive.
Mountain View Corridor Draft EIS: www.udot.utah.gov/mountainview/index.php Comments due by Dec. 24, 2007 to: Mountain View Corridor, C/O Parsons Brinckerhoff, 488 E. Winchester St., Suite 400, Murray, Utah 84107 email firstname.lastname@example.org
National Climate Day of Action, November 3
Salt Lake City will participate in the National Climate Day of Action on November 3 with an environmental rally. The event features a free pancake breakfast, speakers, information booths, and music by the School of Rock (a rock music school for kids age 7-18).
Step it Up 2 global warming rally. November 3. 9:00am-1:00pm Washington Square. 400 S. State S. SLC. (Library TRAX).