Grazing Working Group

Uncertainty Plain

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Richfield-Sevier Valley Center at Snow College

800 West 200 South, Richfield, UT 84701

The Grazing Rights Conference hosted by the Utah Farm Bureau Federation is being held Thursday, February 18, 2016 at 9:00 AM. The conference is being held at the Richfield-Sevier Valley Center at Snow College in Richfield. There will be multiple panel discussion by both Utah’s Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office and Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.

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Judge Finds Deficiencies in Richfield RMP

Brian Maffly | Salt Lake Tribune

“A federal judge has ordered the Bureau of Land Management to document that its designation of a 4,377-mile network of motorized routes in central Utah will not harm wildlife and archaeological resources.

The order that U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball issued Friday spells out the “remedy” needed to address deficiencies he found in the BLM’s Richfield resource management plan (RMP) in 2013. The agency has three years to conduct new analyses of the routes in its travel plan, a component of the larger document.

BLM’s Richfield RMP covers 2.1 million acres in Sevier, Garfield, Wayne and Piute counties — a scenic area bounded by Capitol Reef and Canyonlands national parks, extending north up the Sevier Valley and encompassing the Henry Mountains, Factory Butte, the Dirty Devil River and Muddy Creek, among other notable landscapes.”

To read more of this article, click here.

To read Judge Kimball’s decision, click here.


Grand Canyon Uranium Mining Withdrawal Upheld

Grand Canyon

Prescott, Arizona

On September 30, 2014, the federal district court in Arizona granted summary judgment in favor of the former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. The court ruled that the Secretary’s withdrawal of 1,006,545 acres surrounding Grand Canyon National Park from uranium mining in 2012 was in compliance with the law. The Plaintiffs (several mining associations, multiple counties, a private individual, and the Arizona Utah Local Economic Coalition) claimed that the withdrawal violated the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA).

NEPA directs government agencies to prepare Environmental Impact Statements (EISs) analyzing environmental effects any time there is a project proposal or action impacting federal public lands. As part of this process, agencies gather, develop, and carefully consider information and studies concerning potential impacts. The BLM prepared a draft EIS to determine the effects of uranium mining on the Grand Canyon, which was then opened up for public comment. When that process was completed, the Department of the Interior issued a Record of Decision (ROD) formally withdrawing the lands from mining for 20 years.

Plaintiffs argued that the BLM could not withdraw the land because there was a lot of uncertainty regarding the impacts of uranium mining on the Grand Canyon. The size of the proposed withdrawal area and its location as remote forest and rural land meant that relatively little data was available for the EIS analysis. They also argued, and the BLM agreed, that uranium mining presented a low risk of significant environmental harm.

Despite these uncertainties, the district court upheld the withdrawal. It ruled that Secretary Salazar did not abuse his discretion by proceeding cautiously and withdrawing the 1 million acres surrounding the Grand Canyon. The court explained that Department of the Interior could exercise caution “when faced with uncertainty due to a lack of definitive information, and a low risk of significant environmental harm.” The lands will be closed to any new uranium mining claims for 20 years. Current mines may still operate because they are grandfathered into the withdrawal as “preexisting rights.”

The district court’s decision is currently on appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Study: Federal Lands Transfer for Utah Could be Profitable | Deseret News

December 1, 2014

By Amy Joi O’Donoghue

“A study commissioned by the state and performed by economists from a trio of Utah universities says the transfer of federal lands to Utah control could be profitable and revenues would easily cover the costs of managing the lands.

The 784-page report was mandated after the 2012 passage of the Transfer of Public Lands Act and was carried out by the University of Utah’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research, Utah State University and Weber State University.

“It is important to make decisions based upon a thorough review of accurate, relevant information,” said Gov. Gary Herbert, adding that the analysis will provide policymakers with a sound platform to assess both the risks and challenges associated with the move.”

Read full story | Deseret News