Public Lands
3:28 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

SUWA Seeks Monument Designation For Greater Canyonlands

The Greater Canyonlands area
Credit Photo Courtesy of Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance

Greater Canyonlands Monument

The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and the Greater Canyonlands Coalition have released a new publication. They are calling for the area surrounding Canyonlands National Park to be designated a national monument.   

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Energy & Environment
5:49 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Lawmakers Hear from Critics of Federal Land Oversight

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management's handling of the West wild horse herds was one of the complaints aired Wednesday at a legislative hearing.
Credit U.S. Bureau of Land Management

State lawmakers hosted a freewheeling discussion Wednesday on the impact of federal land ownership and policies on Utahns. But their hearing focused almost exclusively on criticizing the federal government.

For more than two years state lawmakers have had an eye on transferring the control of federal lands to Utah. On Wednesday, a House-Senate panel heard more than a dozen witnesses describe their frustrations with feds.

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Public Lands
5:15 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

Utah Congressman Wants to Revamp Recreation Fees

Ranger-led programs, including interpretative talks about geology, astronomy and history, are funded by public land user fees. These fees are the subject of a bill by U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, and supported by a coalition of conservation and recreation groups.
Credit National Park Service

Recreation fees provide money for campfire talks and other visitor programs that take place on public lands. Utah Congressman Rob Bishop wants to update those user fees, and he’s got backing from some unlikely supporters.

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Energy & Environment
6:31 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

Bipartisan Bill Simplifies Land Swaps

Streamlining -- and speeding up -- the government land-exchange process will help get more land into conservation and more funds into schools. That's what the Bishop-DeFazio bill intends to do.
Credit Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration


New, bipartisan legislation in Congress would advance public education and conserve important landscapes by making it easier to transfer lands between government agencies.

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Energy & Environment
5:03 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

Lawmakers Spar With Feds Over Policing Public Lands

The standoff in April between federal law enforcement agents and Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and his supporters has rekindled a discussion about policing in and around Utah's federal lands.


There’s been debate all over the West for years about who’s best to police federal lands. On Wednesday, leaders from local, state and federal government agreed the best way to resolve the disputes is to keep talking.

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Energy & Environment
5:50 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

BLM Releases Report on Little Valley Wash Oil Spill

Evidence of an oil spill in Little Valley Wash near Escalante, Utah.
Credit Courtesy of the BLM, Utah office.

This week, the Bureau of Land Management released a final report on an oil spill that occurred near Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. 

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Environment & Public Lands
6:00 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

Green River Leak Prompts Call for Prevention

Cleanup crews with absorbent boom at Salt Wash, just east of Labyrinth Canyon. Vacuum trucks removed some of the petroleum-tainted water.
Credit U.S. Bureau of Land Management


A cleanup is still underway nearly a week after authorities learned that an oil well was spewing contaminated water near the Green River. Over the weekend, the petroleum reached the river, and now some observers want to focus on preventing future accidents.

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Environment & Public Lands
4:42 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

Vandals Deface Pre-Historic Rock Art

Vandals defaced rock art over the weekend in nine mile canyon near the Pregnant Buffalo site.
Credit Courtesy of the Colorado Plateau Archaeological Alliance

Over the weekend, vandals defaced  an area of Nine Mile Canyon that contains rock art dating back more than thousand years. 

Deep inside Nine Mile Canyon near Price is an area of rock art dating back to 900 A.D., including an image of a pregnant buffalo. But on Sunday, several people observed that someone had carved the initials JMN along with the date into the rock near historic images. Jerry Spangler is the executive director of the Colorado  Plateau Archaeological Alliance.  He says the graffiti has compromised an important site.

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Environment & Public Lands
5:50 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Protest Ride Complicates BLM Trail Study

A rally at Blanding's Centennial Park before the ATV ride. County Commissioner Phil Lyman (center, wearing the light-colored shirt) led the drive on a closed BLM road in Recapture Canyon
Credit Judy Fahys / KUER News

Federal investigators are continuing their probe into a protest ride Saturday through Recapture Canyon. And that includes sizing up the impact that the all-terrain vehicles might have had on the canyon's archaeological sites.

Some people regard Recapture Canyon as a mini-Mesa Verde National Park. Both contain prehistoric ruins, religious kivas and ancient burial grounds that make them world famous. But over the weekend more than 60 protestors drove ATVs into those sensitive areas.

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Environment & Public Lands
12:08 am
Mon May 12, 2014

Land Agency Investigates ATV Ride In Utah Canyon

ATV riders ready to drive onto a trail that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management closed to motorized vehicles to protect its archaeological resources. Local law enforcement were on hand to keep the peace, but not to uphold the federal law. Meanwhile, the BLM says it is investigating.
Credit Judy Fahys / KUER News

A protest in Utah’s San Juan County ended without violence on Saturday. But the conflict between a federal government agency and its critics is expected to continue.

San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman organized the ride into Recapture Canyon, where the U.S. Bureau of Land Management banned motorized vehicles 7 years ago. Lyman urged protesters at a morning rally on Saturday to steer clear of the closed areas because of the risk to the archaeology and to their reputations.

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Environment & Public Lands
3:21 pm
Sat May 10, 2014

ATV Protest on Federal Land Peaceful So Far

Protesters ride all-terrain vehicles into Recapture Canyon.
Judy Fahys/KUER

A local public official in southeastern Utah led a protest on federal land today against the Bureau of Land Management. 

The group rode all-terrain-vehicles into Recapture Canyon located in Utah’s four corners region. The BLM closed off access to the canyon about seven years ago to protect Native American burial sites.  San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman led the group into the canyon.  He says protesters don’t recognize the authority of the federal government.

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Environment & Public Lands
2:27 pm
Thu May 8, 2014

Utah, BLM Sign Land Swap Deal

Corona Arch near Moab is in one of the parcels traded to the BLM by the state of Utah
Utah Institutional Trust Lands Administration

  Utah’s governor and the state director of the Bureau of Land Management have formalized a land exchange involving 60-thousand acres in southern and eastern Utah.

The land exchange has been in the works since 2009, when then-Senator Bob Bennett and Congressman Jim Matheson worked to pass a bill authorizing the deal.  But it’s taken years to finalize the details. 

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Environment & Public Lands
3:43 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

Reduced BLM Auction Brings In $3.3 Million

Well pump in Carbon County, UT
Bureau of Land Management

  The Bureau of Land Management sold most of the parcels it offered in today’s auction of oil and gas drilling leases in eastern Utah, but there was a lot of land taken off the table before it began.

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Environment & Public Lands
2:34 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

Withdrawal of Lands from BLM Lease Sale Spurs Critics

Bureau of Land Management map indicating parcels withdrawn from the November 19th lease sale in blue. Parcels remaining in the sale are outlined in purple.
Bureau of Land Management / Congressman Rob Bishop

  The decision to withdraw almost 100-thousand acres of public land from tomorrow’s auction of oil and gas drilling leases is being criticized by industry groups and members of Utah’s Congressional delegation as caving in to pressure from environmental groups. 

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Environment & Public Lands
4:29 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

BLM Decides Not to Lease Lands in San Rafael Swell

On Firday BLM officials decided not to offer oil and gas leases in areas in and around the San Rafael Swell
Dan Bammes

Officials with the Bureau of Land Management announced today (Friday) that parcels of land in and around the San Rafael Swell will not be offered at an upcoming oil and gas lease auction.  

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Environment & Public Lands
12:26 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

ORV Group Reacts to Court Decision

The BLM's Richfield office manages public land in Sanpete, Sevier, Wayne and Garfield counties in Utah
Bureau of Land Management

  A group representing off-road vehicle users doesn’t think a court decision against a BLM Resource Management Plan means all the others are in trouble. 

The Bureau of Land Management issued six Resource Management Plans for its offices in southern and eastern Utah in the closing weeks of the Bush administration.  This week, a federal judge ruled the off road vehicle routes in the Richfield plan are invalid and ordered BLM to take another look.

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Environment & Public Lands
3:40 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Federal Court Rules Against BLM Management Plan

The Factory Butte area of Wayne County, Utah is covered by the Richfield Field Office Resource Management Plan

  A federal court in Salt Lake City ruled against the Bureau of Land Management yesterday in a key case involving off-road vehicle use.

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Environment & Public Lands
11:58 am
Tue September 10, 2013

Alton Coal Mine Expansion Still Facing Opposition

The Alton Coal Development mine in Kane County, Utah

  Environmentalists are reminding the Bureau of Land Management that public opposition to expanding a coal strip mine in Kane County hasn’t gone away.

The Sierra Club and other groups went to the BLM office in Salt Lake City to deliver more than 45-thousand public comments opposing the expansion of the coal mine.  The mine currently operates on private land near the town of Alton.  The agency is about to issue a supplemental environmental impact statement on the plan that could allow it to expand onto public land in the same area.

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Environment & Public Lands
12:31 am
Thu August 22, 2013

BLM Puts San Rafael Swell Areas Up For Auction

The federal Bureau of Land Management intends to lease nearly one hundred forty thousand acres in and around the San Rafael Swell in eastern Utah for oil and gas drilling. Many conservationist groups are angry about the lease auction, which is set to take place in November. 

The BLM itself has deemed much of the land to have wilderness and recreational value, but BLM Spokesperson Megan Crandall says that they decide whether to manage lands for wilderness uses or for other uses, like development.

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Science & Technology
2:32 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

Discovery of New Triceratops Species Announced at the Natural History Museum of Utah

Nasutoceratops titusi discovered in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Southern Utah
Credit File: Samantha Zimmerman, Natural History Museum of Utah

Officials at the Natural History Museum of Utah announced today the discovery of a new dinosaur species related to Triceratops. Paleontologists made the discovery in the nearly 2 million acres of wilderness in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah. Doctor Scott Sampson led the study following the initial find in 2006. He says the Nasutoceratops titusi  was unique for an oversized nose and long, curving horns.

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Environment & Public Lands
1:33 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

Repeal of HB 155 on Special Session Agenda

Sego lilies, Utah's state flower, growing on BLM land near Moab, UT
Dan Bammes

  One of the items on the agenda of Wednesday’s special legislative session is the possible repeal of a controversial bill restricting the authority of federal law enforcement officers.  KUER’s Dan Bammes has more.

House Bill 155 limits the authority of Bureau of Land Management or Forest Service personnel to enforce state laws on public land, and threatens them with prosecution if they try it.  A federal court has issued an injunction preventing the state from implementing the law.

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Environment & Public Lands
11:52 am
Fri June 14, 2013

Sequester Cuts PILT Payments to Rural Counties

Rural counties use PILT funding from the federal government to respond to emergencies in areas such as the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Dan Bammes

  Rural counties in Utah will get less money this year from the Payment in Lieu of Taxes program, or PILT.  The federal government provides the funding to counties with large areas of public land.  Garfield County has more than two million acres of federal land, but this year it will get just over $800,000 dollars from the PILT program.

County Commissioner Leland Pollock says providing services on federal land is a burden on local taxpayers.

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Environment & Public Lands
9:28 am
Thu June 13, 2013

Traveling the Grand Staircase - Hole-in-the-Rock Road

This sign marks the boundary between the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in Kane County, Utah
Dan Bammes

The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument covers 1.9 million acres of Kane and Garfield Counties.  It’s not the easiest place to visit, but there’s an effort underway to improve access along one of its most popular roads.  

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Environment & Public Lands
2:18 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

Lawsuit Could Challenge Tar Sands Leasing

Potential tar sands resources in eastern Utah
Bureau of Land Management

Seven environmental groups are telling the Bureau of Land Management they plan to sue the agency over its leasing plan for oil shale and tar sands.  They say the agency didn’t consult the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the possible impact on endangered species.   

Attorney Steve Bloch with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance says the 60-day notice is required before the suit can be filed in federal court.

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Environment & Public Lands
12:58 pm
Wed May 8, 2013

BASE Jumping Fatality at Notch Peak

BASE jumper Fernando Motta posted video of himself at Notch Peak three days before his death.
Fernando Motta

  Notch Peak is a 9600-foot mountain about 35 miles west of Delta, Utah.  From the top, it’s a two-thousand foot drop straight down – and that’s one reason why it’s become a favorite spot for BASE jumping – jumping off the cliff with wing suits and parachutes.  There have been two fatalities there in the past year, one just ten days ago.

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Environment & Public Lands
5:31 pm
Mon March 25, 2013

Final Plan for Oil Shale and Tar Sands Development Announced

PR Springs, in the Book Cliffs of Utah, slated for tar sands mining.
Before It Starts

US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has announced a plan to encourage oil shale and tar sands development in the Mountain West. The Bureau of Land Management released its final plan Friday to develop and test technologies to extract these fossil fuels in Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming. But the citizen group Utah Tar Sands Resistance says this move will endanger the environment and public health. 

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Environment & Public Lands
3:14 pm
Mon December 31, 2012

Mining Claims Come Cheap

Abandoned mine in Frisco, Utah

Monday is the deadline for people who own a few mining claims on public land to make sure the government knows they want to keep them.  The paperwork is minimal and the $140 fee for maintaining a claim can even be waived.

Under a federal law that dates back to 1872, the rules for mining claims aren't that different for the lone prospector and the huge companies that extract millions of dollars' worth of minerals from public land.  That bothers Tim Wagner with the Sierra Club, who says big corporations pay almost nothing for the minerals they extract.

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Environment & Public Lands
12:09 pm
Fri December 28, 2012

BLM Approves Las Vegas Water Pipeline

Delamar Valley, Nevada
Kristi Fillman

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management announced its approval Thursday for a 300-mile pipeline from the interior valleys of the Great Basin to Las Vegas.  The pipeline would be used to carry more than 84,000 acre-feet of water pumped from underground aquifers each year.  The project is opposed by environmental groups, ranchers, local government officials and Native American tribes in both Nevada and Utah.

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-KUER News Pod
11:43 am
Thu December 27, 2012

KUER News Pod: Thursday December 27, 2012

The Salt Lake Tribune names its Utahns of the Year, Several Utah cities designate city parks as Christmas Tree drop off zones, and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance moves forward with a lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management.

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Environment & Public Lands
11:57 am
Wed December 26, 2012

Challenge to BLM Plans Moves Ahead

Dirty Devil River in southern Utah
Scott Braden

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 

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