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Aug. 23, 2000- Hidden away in southwestern Wyoming lies one of the most unique and spectacular landscapes in North America -- The Red Desert. A wondrous and incredible place: the desert's stunning rainbow-colored hoodoos, towering buttes and prehistoric rock art define this rich landscape and provide a truly wild "home on the range" for the largest pronghorn antelope herd in the lower 48 states and a rare desert elk herd.

Since the settlement of the West and even long before, this region has played a special role in the lives of Native Americans and early settlers. For thousands of years the Red Desert has been a sacred place of worship for the Shoshone and Ute tribes. Pioneers, Pony Express riders, Mormon settlers and mountain men also found important landmarks among the desert's features, guiding them west toward Oregon, Washington, Utah and California.

BLM plan falls short
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has recently released a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for the management of the 600,000 acre Jack Morrow Hills study area in the Red Desert. The BLM plan fails to protect the magnificent values of the Red Desert. Even the so-called "resource protection alternative" proposed by the agency, allows oil and gas development, mining and new roads and utility lines in this fragile area.

Citizens' Alternative
What is needed is a fundamental shift in the way BLM manages the Red Desert. Conservation groups are recommending a completely new management approach to ensure the protection and continued use of this national resource. This new approach is outlined in a document called the "Citizens' Red Desert Protection Alternative" that is currently being drafted by a coalition of conservation groups and interested citizens.

Download Red Desert brochure (PDF, 400Kb)

The Citizens' Red Desert Protection Alternative would:

1. Prohibit all new oil and gas leasing and mining activities;
2. Prevent new roads and developments in roadless areas adjacent to wilderness study areas;
3. Provide increased protection for nationally significant historic trails;
4. Ensure long-term survival of the unique Red Desert elk herd;
5. Protect traditional cultural properties revered by Native Americans;
6. Give priority to the restoration and protection of air and water quality;
7. Restore and protect wildlife habitat damaged by roads and pipelines;
8. Establish several "Research Natural Areas"; and
9. Expand the boundaries of existing "areas of critical environmental concern" to focus attention on the extraordinary natural wealth and sensitivity of the area.

Take Action
Conservationists are urging the BLM to adopt their Citizens' alternative for management of the Red Desert. The BLM is accepting comments on the proposal through October 5, and your comments are needed! Click here to send a letter to Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt and the state BLM director for Wyoming, Al Pierson, or see below for contact information.

 

  • Tell the BLM that you strongly support the Citizens' Red Desert Protection Proposal for the Jack Morrow Hills Plan which would:
  • Prohibit all new oil and gas leasing and mining activities;
  • Prevent new roads and developments in roadless areas adjacent to Wilderness Study Areas; and
  • Designate the lands in the plan as one large area of critical environmental concern.

Send your comments to:

Al Pierson, State Director
Wyoming BLM
PO Box 1828
Cheyenne, WY 82003
EMAIL: Al_Pierson@blm.gov

ALSO, Send a copy of your comments to:
Bruce Babbitt
Secretary of the Interior
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20240
EMAIL: bruce_babbitt@ios.doi.gov

Or click here to send prepared comments.

 

Send mail to johndenverfon@aol.com with questions or comments about this web site. Last modified: August 24, 2000