Environews, Regulars and Shorts

Environews: August 2008

By Amy Brunvand

Environmental news from around the state and the west.
by Amy Brunvand
Stephen Trimble bargains for Eden

Salt Lake City author and photographer Stephen Trimble has published a new book titled “Bargaining for Eden” about the tensions between public lands and private development. In 1996 the Snow Basin land exchange bill sponsored by Utah senators Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett transferred ownership of 1,320 acres of National Forest Service land near Snow Basin ski resort to billionaire Earl Holding, owner of Sinclair Oil. Supposedly, the exchange was necessary for the 2002 Winter Olympics, but in fact it was a political favor, allowing Holding to make a fortune from real-estate developments at Snow Basin. Based on this incident, Trimble explores the cultural context driving development in the West and proposes a new ethic of land use.

Stephen Trimble. “Bargaining for Eden: The Fight for the Last Open Spaces in America.” University of California Press. $30

Citizens envision Jordan River future

Salt Lake Valley residents would like to restore the Jordan River to a green, natural area with nonmotorized trails and opportunities to view urban wildlife, according to the results of a recent survey taken by Salt Lake County and Envision Utah. A total of 408 people attended workshops and focus groups, and 880 more filled out an online survey. More than 60% of the respondents said that the primary focus of the Jordan River corridor should be to preserve it as a natural area (as opposed to emphasizing recreation, shopping, or jobs). The most desired facilities were trails and wildlife viewing areas, and more than half said that restoring river habitat is a top priority.

Blueprint Jordan River: www.blueprint.slco.org

Kanab plan fails to rein in off-roaders

Remember last year’s flurry of draft resource management plans for Utah’s public lands? Now the first of the final plans has appeared. In July, the Bureau of Land Management Kanab Field Office released their proposed resource management plan and final environmental impact statement, which will determine land management priorities on 555,000 acres of public lands in Kane and Garfield Counties until a new plan is written 10 to 15 years in the future. When the draft plan was issued, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance submitted many comments (which you can read in the appendix of the online document) including a concern that “one of the most obvious and consequential flaws in the document is its failure to assess the ongoing impact of existing ORV [off-road vehicle] use in the Kanab Field Office.” The BLM responded by writing, “The routes that are already in use are considered part of the baseline, and therefore, it is not reasonable to consider the impacts to vegetation from these already disturbed linear surfaces.” However, the BLM plan also admits that “existing management efforts and processes, which were developed to address OHV use levels 20 years ago, are often inadequate,” which means that the BLM’s “baseline” of ORV damage represents inadequate management of the problem. Protest period ends August 18, 2008.

Kanab Proposed RMP and FEIS: blm.gov/ut/st/en/fo/kanab/planning.html

Utah to reduce greenhouse gas

As part of the Western Climate Initiative (a collaboration by the governors of Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington to develop regional strategies to address climate change) the State of Utah has announced the Utah greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goal to reduce GHG emissions to 2005 levels by 2020. That represents 9 tons per person less than if the policies were not implemented. The strategies tend to be more about government policy than individual behavior; however, your daily commute choices can help support goals of clean car emission standards, aggressive mass transit, and trip reduction for employers of over 100.

Utah’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goal: www.deq.utah.gov/Climate_Change/GHG_goal.htm

This article was originally published on August 1, 2008.