In a move that could save 100,000 acres of pristine Utah wilderness from destruction, an agreement between the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and a coalition of environmental and preservation groups was filed in court late last night. The deal will temporarily prevent BLM from issuing leases on 80 contested parcels of Utah wilderness, including land adjacent to national parks, for thirty days (until January 19). Although BLM will go forward with today's auction, the agency has agreed not to issue the contested leases. This will give Judge Urbina of the U.S. District Court time to hear the case.
The environmental and preservation groups filing the case include: Earthjustice, Grand Canyon Trust, National Parks Conservation Association, National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, and the Wilderness Society. They issued the following joint statement:
"Our legal actions have delayed today's transfer of pristine Utah wilderness, but the fight is not over. We will get our day in court with BLM, and we will do all we can to protect Utah's unspoiled landscapes. Yet President Bush can still do something to save these areas: he can take Utah's unprotected wilderness off the auction block for good. This is not a mess that should be left to the Obama administration."
The case is SUWA et al v. Allred, 08-CV-02187.