The past two years have seen unprecedented attempts to roll back and failure to implement laws and policies that have long protected our public lands, clean air, and healthy rivers. Drawing on its 30 years of expertise working with decision-makers at all levels, WRA joined the fight against the rollbacks, by defending existing protections in the courts, by promoting fact-based, pro-conservation policies at the state and local level, and by encouraging our supporters to step up and make their voices heard. In 2018, we mobilized public participation in all 7 of the Western states where we work, sending policy makers over 2,500 comments and petitions from citizens in favor of clean air, healthy rivers, and connected lands in local, state and federal forums. Our experts will continue to work to keep the public updated and informed, so you are ready to take action when and where we need it most.
Standing Up for Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument
In 2017, the Trump administration took action to slash the size of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by nearly 900,000 acres, opening these protected lands to mining and coal and oil and gas development. Fewer than 9 months after Trump’s proclamation, a Canadian mining company purchased the rights to operate a hard rock mine within the Monument’s original boundaries, putting priceless biodiversity, breathtaking geology, historical and cultural artifacts, and some of the West’s most renowned recreational opportunities at risk. Twice we asked you to comment to the Bureau of Land Management, and you delivered – sending more than 2,300 messages asking the agency to continue its current management of the Monument and not move forward with a new management plan opening the 900,000 acres to development until a court could rule on what we know is an illegal move to strip protections from these integral sections of the Monument.
Opposing Rollbacks of the Roadless Rule
Adopted in 2001 after the most extensive public involvement process in history, the Roadless Rule prohibits logging and road-building in remote roadless areas on our National Forests, including 4 million acres in Utah. But in 2018, the state of Utah began the process of petitioning the U.S. Forest Service for a Utah-specific Roadless Rule that would open these areas to road building and timber harvesting, putting at risk unmatched recreational and tourism opportunities and intact wildlife habitat that supports hunting and fishing, as well as many threatened, endangered, and sensitive species. Our Utah advocates sent more than 130 messages to the U.S. Forest Service and Governor Herbert calling for an end to efforts to rollback the Roadless Rule in Utah.
Improving Air Quality through the State Implementation Plan
Over the last 10 years, the Utah Division of Air Quality (DAQ) has been developing and revising the PM2.5 State Implementation Plan (SIP) to reduce emissions, improve air quality, and bring the Wasatch Front into attainment with the federal health standards. The plan should create regulations for all emissions sources — from rules that limit emissions from businesses and industrial operations to setting standards on appliances and restricting woodburning — to ensure that the Salt Lake Valley will comply with the standard as soon as possible. However, the 2018 SIP failed to demonstrate how Utah would reach attainment at all air quality monitoring locations throughout the Salt Lake Valley. In response, our Utah supporters submitted more than 65 public comments to the Utah Division of Air Quality demanding that the agency do more to reduce emissions of air pollution and protect public health in their communities.
Defeating Amendment 74
During Colorado’s midterm elections, corporate interests inside and outside of Colorado lobbied for Amendment 74 – a poorly written, risky measure that would have had massive negative consequences for taxpayers and communities across the state. Amendment 74 encouraged developers and landowners to sue the government just to see if a court would grant them compensation for any regulatory action taken that MIGHT result in lost property value – even before a property is developed – and would have left taxpayers to foot the bill for legal costs, settlements and large monetary awards. The Amendment would have severely restricted — even paralyzed — the ability of Colorado communities to set rules to protect the health and safety of their own citizens and the livability of our cities and towns. WRA was thrilled when Coloradans across the state rejected the amendment by making their voices heard where it mattered most: the ballot box.
Funding Local Parks & Rivers
Also on the ballot in Colorado was a measure to provide the city and county of Denver with the funds needed to protect local parks and rivers. The initiative dedicated 0.25% of the city and county sales and use tax to Denver’s neighborhood parks, mountain parks, rivers, canals, trails and open space. We were excited to report with the help of our advocates in Denver, Ballot Measure 2A passed! The measure will help ensure everyone in Denver has access to healthy parks and rivers.
Colorado River – Central Arizona Project
During the summer of 2017, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey started a statewide conversation about taking real action to forestall a Colorado River shortage. Unfortunately, the Arizona legislature wrapped up its 2018 session without any progress toward advancing smart water policy solutions for the West. As we head into the 2019 session, acting on water conservation is imperative. Arizonans have spoken out several times to encourage Arizona decision-makers to take action. Our supporters have signed more than 600 messages and shown up to several public hearings across the state to make it clear to their representatives that no action in 2019 is not an option.
New Mexico | Nevada | Wyoming | Montana
Land and Water Conservation Fund
The Land and Water Conservation Fund was signed into federal law more than 50 years ago to use a small percentage of royalties from federal offshore oil and gas drilling to preserve and build parks, forests, community ballfields and swimming pools, open spaces, and cultural sites across the country – at no cost to the taxpayers. Although Congress did not reauthorize full funding for LWCF before the September 30, 2018, deadline, more than 300 of our supporters across our 7 states wrote their U.S. Senators letting them know how important the LWCF is for protecting so many of the special places we all enjoy across the West. We will continue to push for this critical law in 2019.