Environmental news from around the state and the West.
—by Amy Brunvand
Return of the Hive Pass
The Hive Pass is back! Salt Lake City residents who want to ride more and drive less can buy a Hive Pass for $42/month good for unlimited rides on UTA buses and TRAX. Passholders can also take single-stop rides on Front Runner. The Hive Pass is available for purchase one month at a time, or buy an annual pass for $475 (a $29 discount).
Test and training range vs. Wilderness
Why is Utah using national security as an excuse to steal public lands? That’s what the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance is asking as Utah politicians propose to increase the footprint the Utah Test and Training Range in the West Desert by 40%. That would impact the Newfoundland Mountains, Dugway Mountains and Fish Springs Range in the West Desert. Worse, the bill for the Test and Training Range expansion has been loaded with a riders to designate every dirt two-track in Box Elder, Juab and Tooele counties as a “highway.” The proliferation of non-existant roads would mean no area of the West Desert could be managed to preserve wilderness values because, by law, wilderness areas are specifically roadless areas.
Share your fruit harvest
Don’t let fruit rot on the ground! If you have a fruit tree you would be willing to share or you would like to help pick fruit (and walk away with fresh produce) you can register on the SLCgreen FruitShare website which boasts, “To date we have harvested almost 50,000 pounds of fruit from neighborhood trees!”
Utah legislators reconsider Utah water policy
In May, a legislative audit found that Utah water conservancy districts were inflating predictions of future water needs in order to promote big, expensive and environmentally damaging water projects like the Lake Powell pipeline and water development in the Bear River. Utah water is squandered because it is heavily subsidized by taxes so that water users don’t pay directly for the amount of water they use. In fact, according to a review of publicly available financial statements, Utah water conservancy districts made more money collecting property taxes than by selling water. In June two Utah legislative committees met to examine how cheap water rates discourage water conservation. Maybe the State of Utah is finally on the way to more sensible water management in our dry, desert state.
Should taxpayers defend off-road vandals?
The ironically named Utah Commission for the Stewardship of Public Lands voted to ask for taxpayer money from the Constitutional Defense Council fund in order to pay the legal fees for San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman who was found guilty of misdemeanor conspiracy and illegally driving an off-road vehicle into a closed area in Recapture Canyon. All Republicans on the committee voted in favor of giving Lyman $100,000; both Democrats voted against using public funds to promote vandalism of public lands. It should be noted that the Commission does not have any authority to allocate money. If Lyman actually gets the money, it will be decided by the Constitution Defense Council chaired by Lt. Governor Spencer Cox.
Tar sands resistance continues
Tar sands protesters have begun their summer protest vigil at PR Springs in the Book Cliffs where US Oil Sands (a misleadingly named Canadian Company) plans to expand the existing stripmine pit. Scientists say developing tar sands and oil shale raises the risk of ecological and economic damage due to climate change, slows the shift to clean energy and contaminates the landscape.