Utah Governor Gary Herbert is pushing a lawsuit agains the federal government that seeks to give Utah counties control over 25,000 miles of so-called roads that traverse most of Utah's Wilderness-quality federal land. According to Conservation Alliance grantee Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance:
"The vast majority of these routes have never been established or maintained, and they don't really exist on the ground. They are but cow paths, old seismic lines, dry stream beds and one-man joyride trails. This is not really about transportation at all. Utah is simply using an old mining law, Revised Stature 2477, as an excuse to undermine future wild lands conservation and to open these special places to development, extractive industry and off-road vehicle assault. If they succeed, such lawsuits will spring up throughout the West, and our last wild public lands will be lost forever."
Following is a map showing the extent to which these "roads" (in red) would intrude on Utah's wild public lands. Click here for a larger version.
Ask Interior Secretary Salazar to defend Utah's public lands today! Click here to send a message to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, asking that he vigorously fight the State of Utah's lawsuit.
This lawsuit is one of a growing list of efforts and proposals that elected officials are making to undermine protections for public lands in Utah. In March, Governor Herbert signed into law a bill that authorizes the state to do everything within its power to transfer title of federal lands in Utah to the state.
Also in March, the BLM authorized nearly 1,300 new natural gas wells in Utah’s Desolation Canyon wilderness and other remote areas. In approving the so-called Gasco development project, the Department of the Interior rejected calls by the Environmental Protection Agency and tens of thousands of citizens from across the country to approve an alternative to Gasco’s proposal. This alternative would have allowed for significant development while protecting the department’s plan to designate Desolation Canyon as wilderness and reducing the overall footprint and impact of the project.
It is disappointing to watch Utah — which benefits economically from outdoor tourism and from the outdoor industry's twice-yearly trade show in Salt Lake City — work so hard to diminish the wild and natural places in the state.