Environews, Regulars and Shorts

Environews: January 2009

By Amy Brunvand

Environmental news from around the state and the west.
by Amy Brunvand
Top 10 ideas for the Jordan River

Envision Utah and Salt Lake County have gathered public and expert comments regarding the future of the Jordan River and come up with a list of 10 big ideas for the future of the urban river corridor:

1. The Jordan River Natural Corridor
2. Regional and Neighborhood “River Centers”
3. Continuous “blue-green” trail from Utah Lake to the Great Salt Lake
4. Rowing in the canal
5. Kayaking in the Jordan narrows
6. Regional trails
7. Public transportation and transit oriented development
8. River habitat preservation and restoration
9. Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District Demonstration Garden & Facilities
10. Equestrian trails
Doesn’t it sound nice?
Envision Utah: www.envisionutah.org/

2008 Utah Congressmen not most anti-environment

The League of Conservation Voters 2008 National Environmental Scorecard reports that last year the U.S. Congress squandered a chance to reduce global warming and oil dependence and, “Unfortunately, a vocal minority of members closely allied with Big Oil instead turned the year into a series of missed opportunities and major steps backwards.” On the bright side, the report indicates that Utah’s congressional delegation does not have the worst environmental voting record in the nation: In the Senate, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Mississippi, Oklahoma and South Carolina fared worse. In the House, Representative Jim Matheson single-handedly lifted Utah’s pro-environment average score above Oklahoma, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. The League of Conservation Voters ranks members of Congress by tracking votes on key environmental bills. A score of 100% would indicate that a congressman always voted pro-environment on those bills, and a score of 0% means he always voted anti-environment.

Utah Senators: Robert Bennett (R):18% Orrin Hatch (R): 18%
Utah Representatives
Rob Bishop (R)     UT-1: 0%
Chris Cannon (R)     UT-3: 0%
Jim Matheson (D) UT-2: 77%   
LCV National Environmental Scorecard, 110th Congress 2nd Session: www.lcv.org/2008-pdf.pdf
Grazing alternative for Grand Staircase/Escalante
As BLM plans to renew grazing allotments in Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument, the Wild Utah Project has proposed a Conservation Alternative which focuses on restoring the health of streams, protecting cultural sites, wildlife needs and plant community health. The conservation alternative proposes to reduce grazing utilization from 50% to less than 25% and change grazing from most of the year to two weeks or less in riparian areas. Comments in support of the conservation alternative are due by January 8, 2008.
Wild Utah Project: wildutahproject.org/

Disappointing decision on wild and scenic rivers

The U.S. Forest Service has issued a very disappointing Record of Decision regarding Wild and Scenic River suitability for rivers on National Forest lands. Of 86 eligible river segments (840 miles), only 10 segments (108 miles) were deemed suitable by the Forest Service for inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The Utah Rivers Council speculates that the Forest Service Supervisor’s final recommendations were heavily influenced by local elected officials who fear limits on development. Wild and Scenic River designation helps protect free-flowing rivers and their immediate environment from water development project and pollution.
Wild and Scenic Rivers Suitability Study for National Forest System Lands in Utah:     www.fs.fed.us/r4/rivers/
Utah Rivers Council: www.utahrivers.org

BLM responds to oil lease protests (sort of)

In response to protests from the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management withdrew nearly 49,000 acres from the oil and gas lease sale scheduled for December 19. Afterwards the Utah BLM office released several defensive press releases claiming, “the upcoming sale is not a last minute effort to allow for oil and gas development on public lands prior to an administration change,” and insisting that Utah’s landscape must be sacrificed for the sake of energy security. Despite the withdrawals, the December 19 lease sale still included parcels in sensitive places like Desolation Canyon, the White River and Nine Mile Canyon. On December 17, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance filed a lawsuit saying that the controversial lease sale, “will lead to construction of well pads, pipelines, and roads in some of Utah’s most impressive wilderness quality landscapes,” and also that BLM “failed to complete the analysis required by federal law for the protection of natural and cultural resources”.  Joining SUWA as plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, the Grand Canyon Trust, the National Parks Conservation Association, The Wilderness Society, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. (See related information elsewhere in this issue of CATALYST.)
Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance: www.suwa.org

This article was originally published on December 31, 2008.