The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance filed new court papers last week to move its case ahead challenging six Resource Management Plans for Utah adopted by the Bureau of Land Management at the end of the Bush administration. The new filings focus on the RMP for the Richfield field office, an area that SUWA lawyer Steve Bloch says includes some of Utah's most spectacular country.
"Places like the Dirty Devil, Factory Butte, the Henry Mountains, Muddy Creek on the southern end of the
San Rafael Swell," Bloch tells KUER. "Really, some of the heart of red rock country and the places that people travel to Utah from all around the country and from all around the world."
The original case goes back to filings in 2008 and 2010. It was transferred from Washington, DC to a federal district court in Salt Lake City, where Bloch says all the parties to the lawsuit got together to try and move it ahead.
"There are lots of intervenors in this lawsuit," Bloch says. "There's the state of Utah, several counties, school trust lands, several off-road vehicle groups, several energy companies."
SUWA and the other plaintiffs argue the BLM put too high a priority on off-road vehicle use and energy development in the Richfield plan, ignoring other federal requirements to study those issues. Bloch says the way this case turns out could lead to settlements covering all the Resource Management Plans. He expects the case to get a hearing before Judge Dale Kimball this summer.