Introduction: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has recently unveiled a draft plan for the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM). The Utah Chapter Sierra Club's Conservation Committee is calling on our members to participate in the public comment period, which ends on Thursday, November 9th. This is a unique opportunity to shape the future of GSENM and protect its extraordinary values, and we've prepared a guide to help you make your voice heard.
Guide for Comment: With GSENM now fully restored to its original boundaries, the BLM is crafting a new management plan. This plan is set to guide the monument's management for decades. We urge individuals who appreciate this wild landscape to take part in the planning process.
Comments: Keep your comments concise, preferably fitting on one page but two at most. Reference monument "objects," as mandated by the Antiquities Act, which includes natural geology, ecological communities, Indigenous and cultural resources, paleontological resources, wildlife, and plant and animal life.
Key Points to Include:
- Advocate for the management zone approach in Alternative C to best protect monument objects.
- Request the inclusion of all qualifying lands with Wilderness Characteristics, as specified in the America's Red Rock Wilderness Act.
- Urge the BLM to designate monument lands as 'Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs)' and protect all Lands with Wilderness Characteristics.
- Oppose mechanized cutting of trees, including pinyon, juniper, and ponderosa, to preserve forests.
- Prohibit the use of non-native seeds in restoration and vegetation projects.
- Manage and restrict aircraft landing and takeoff to protect soundscapes, visual resources, and habitat.
- Prohibit drones from flying over candidate wilderness areas and high-recreation use areas.
- Protect plant communities, biological soil crusts, and undisturbed soil to safeguard carbon storage.
- Prioritize science, ecology, and cultural resources in cases of conflicting values.
- Prohibit grazing in unoccupied allotments and areas where grazing impairs monument values.
- Develop a comprehensive lightscape management plan that meets or exceeds International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) standards.
- Limit motorized and mechanized travel within the Monument to designated routes and restrict bicycle and e-bike use to existing motor vehicle routes.
Submitting Your Comments: You can submit your comments in writing to:
ATTN: GSENM RMP Project Manager, BLM Paria River District, 669 S Highway 89A, Kanab, UT 84741.
Alternatively, use the online portal. Remember to navigate to the comment portal by clicking "Participate Now" in the left-hand column and then "Participate Now" again on the new page.
Your voice is crucial in shaping the future of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Make sure your comments are submitted by the November 9th deadline to advocate for its protection and preservation. Together, we can make a difference.