SOUTHERN UTAH LAND USE PLAN STRUCK DOWN IN FEDERAL DISTRICT COURT
A Federal District Court in Utah struck down part of the Bureau of Land Management’s Richfield Plan, a land-use plan that would have designated 4,277 miles of trails and routes for off-road vehicle traffic in Southern Utah. The decision requires the Bureau of Land Management to survey historic and cultural resources in the area before designated off-road vehicle trails. The case, led by plaintiffs including the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Natural Resource Defense Council, Wilderness Society, National Parks Conservation, Sierra Club and other parties, also orders the Bureau of Land Management to review whether the Henry Mountains are an area of critical environmental concern, which would give the region further protection under national law.
“This landmark decision is a resounding rejection of the BLM’s mismanagement of Utah’s stunning public lands,” Stephen Bloch, legal director for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, said in a press release from the organization. “The Richfield RMP wrongly prioritized ORV use over all other uses of the public lands and neglected streams and special places worthy of protection. The court didn’t mince words in its ruling that this violated federal environmental and historic laws.”
The Richfield plan is one of six land-use plans the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance expects to take to court.
STUDY FINDS SALT LAKE CITY REGION FACES PROJECTED DECREASE IN WATER FLOW
For every degree Fahrenheit of warming in the Salt Lake City region, water sources for the area could lose 1.8 to 6.5 percent annual flow, according to a study published by NOAA’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder, NCAR and other groups. The study also projects that by midcentury, Salt Lake City creeks and streams may dry up several weeks earlier in the summer and fall.
“Many Western water suppliers are aware that climate change will have impacts, but they don’t have detailed information that can help them plan for the future,” said lead author Tim Bardsley in a press release from CU Boulder. “Because our research team includes hydrologists, climate scientists and water utility experts, we could dig into the issues that mattered most to the operators responsible for making sure clean water flows through taps and sprinklers without interruption.”
The study also shows temperatures have increased two degrees in the region over the last century and are likely to rise. The study notes however that future precipitation is difficult to model because Utah sits between the Southwest, which is projected to dry, and Northern states, which are project to receive more precipitation.