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Utah Travel Headlines

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Navajos Propose Large 'Conservation Area' In SE Utah

The battle over wilderness in Utah is heating up again, with two significant new developments.

1) The federal BLM is expected to aggressively push for wilderness protection for more federal land, now that the agency has overturned a Bush-era moratorium.

2) The Navajo Nation, for the first time, is entering the controversy and is proposing the establishment of a "conservation" area in San Juan County, outside of the Navajo Reservation.

The New York Times has this article on the BLM decision. Below are experpts.

Conservation groups for years have lobbied Interior to overturn the Norton settlement -- known as the "no more wilderness" policy -- arguing that it blocked the agency from its statutory duty to protect pristine landscapes in its resource management plans.

The new policy would be a crucial tool for BLM to protect the ecological and recreational values of lands in the face of proposed oil and gas development or off-highway vehicle use, proponents say. Wilderness management bars the use of machines, including bicycles and off-road vehicles, and is opposed by many people in the West who claim it stifles economic development.

The Salt Lake Tribune has this article about the Navajo initiative. Below are excerpts.

The Utah Navajo will propose a San Juan National Conservation Area that would cover large tracts of land outside their reservation administered by the federal Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service.

Their involvement would be a stark departure from the past when Navajo voices, for any number of reasons, have been muted in the debate over public lands in the West.

But there are numerous sites on public land outside the Navajo Reservation in San Juan County that are sacred to Navajo. And the Dineh, as they call themselves, are hesitant to identify those sites to non-Navajos for fear they’ll be ravaged.

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