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Red Rock Advocate
                the CSU Newsletter       March 2018
 
 
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A Message from your Board of Directors

Here is a message from CSU board member
Jane Whalen


 
To paraphrase Charles Dickens, in Southwest Utah we are having the best of times and the worst of times.
 
The best of times can be found in the glorious fall and winter we have had!  Beautiful blue skies and warm temperatures remind of us of why we love this place we call home.  The worst of times can be found in the looming dark cloud of water shortages and extended drought.

We cannot depend on the Lake Powell Pipeline’s (LPP) 1957 junior water right to provide water in the future because in a water shortage junior water rights are shut off as other water rights have priority.  Also, Utah’s water officials do not believe a warming climate has reduced river flows or that it will continue to do so in the future.  These risks are simply too high for the citizens of southwest Utah, and as such water conservation and resources, opposition to the expensive and costly LPP, and addressing the serious flaws in the regulatory approval process are and will continue to be top priorities for CSU.
 
We will also never lose sight of the fact that water conservation will always be necessary in arid southwest Utah. We are encouraged when we look at the Intermountain Healthcare landscaping but discouraged to hear that two new man-made lakes are being proposed in a new subdivision. We cannot let the hollow promise of a pipeline distract us from the need to conserve water – one of our most precious resources - now.  We can and must do a better job of conservation by not permitting water-intensive landscapes to be installed.

Letter from the Editor

 

Taken for Granted

Taking things for granted - an all too common practice in which many of us actively participate.  Aldous Huxley once said, “Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.”  One definition of taking things for granted is underestimating the value of something and expecting that something to be always available.  Just think about how seldom we express gratitude for our good health, or how seldom we wake up in the morning in full appreciation of being alive.
 
Two things we take for granted and are critical to sustaining life are clean water and breathable air.  We turn on the tap and, magically, out comes a steady stream of clean water.  Our bodies inhale and exhale involuntarily, even as we sleep, supplying our lungs with needed oxygen.  We consider the availability of clean water and breathable air to be our birthright, a given, that they will always be there for us, when in fact they are precious and limited resources that require our diligence to protect.
 
In this newsletter we focus on water and air quality.  Read Jane Whalen’s Message from the Board, as well as articles on Water and Air/Climate in the Noteworthy News section below.  From them you will learn about the state of these two resources in southwest Utah, how they are under siege, and what we can collectively do to protect them.  And while you're there also read the updates on Public Lands and Smart Growth.
 
Once we are equipped with a thorough knowledge of the problems we face in protecting our water and air, we can combine that knowledge with a desire and passion to preserve them for ourselves and for future generations in order to educate our political leaders and decision makers.  This is critical, as the decisions that are made today will irrevocably impact our water and air quality for many years to come.  And while we can live without many of the things that we consider to be essential, such as smart phones, it is impossible for us to live without clean water and breathable air.

On another subject, please note that at the bottom of this newsletter we have added a new button for AmazonSmile.  When customers shop on AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation donates 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to the charitable organizations selected by customers.  Please save this link (http://smile.amazon.com/ch/56-2600858) and use it to donate to Conserve Southwest Utah whenever you shop on AmazonSmileThanks! 

(Note:  Citizens for Dixie will be shown if you have selected it in the past.. Please change your selection to Conserve Southwest Utah by clicking on "Citizens for Dixie." Then click "Change"  and enter Conserve Southwest Utah in the search box to select us under our new name.)  

                                                                               --- Joe Montanarella, editor


Please send comments, questions, and ideas for content to the editor at
<E-Mail the Editor>

NOTEWORTHY NEWS


Updates on CSU's Program Areas
 
Public Lands
Can a Satellite Reserve Mitigate the Northern Corridor?

One of the issues delaying renewal of the Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) for the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve (RCDR) is the Northern Corridor.  The new preferred route for the highway would still go through prime tortoise habitat from Green Springs west to Red Hills Parkway.  To mitigate for habitat lost to the highway, Washington County proposes a satellite reserve, known as Zone 6, west and northwest of Bloomington.
 
A 2017 survey found that the tortoise population in Zone 6 is comparable to that of the areas in the RCDR, despite heavy recreational use and active grazing permits in Zone 6.  The Habitat Conservation Advisory Committee (HCAC) discussed a draft amendment to the HCP from the Washington County Attorney at their meeting on February 20, 2018, outlining the proposed Zone 6 satellite reserve..
 
These are some of the issues with the proposal to establish the satellite reserve and build the Northern Corridor:
  1. The Northern Corridor would still bisect prime tortoise habitat along most of its length, despite proposals to provide some elevated sections and box culverts.
  2. Only one tortoise has been documented as having gone under Red Hills Parkway in the culverts that were supposed to allow tortoise mobility.
  3. Fencing meant to protect tortoises actually places additional stresses on them as they pace along it, searching for ways to get to traditional foraging, mating and burrowing grounds that have been cut off by roads. 
We will update you as we learn more about this draft amendment, including any opportunity for public comment on it.


Water
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gave notice on December 11, 2017 that the license application for the Lake Powell Pipeline (LPP) was ready for environmental analysis.  However, the State of Utah requested that the process be put on hold, resulting in a stoppage of public comment until FERC decides who has jurisdiction over the pipeline’s alignment.  After FERC decides on jurisdiction the comment period will resume.

Many issues remain unresolved and incomplete.  There is no draft document that includes the changes that have been requested over a 10-year process.  One would have to go back to FERC’s massive files and search through 10 years of comments and responses to find the details. It doesn’t appear that our concerns will be addressed in the upcoming draft Environment Impact Statement (EIS). We made several specific requests regarding data deficiencies on cost, water use, how water supplies are accounted for, cheaper alternatives, water availability, over-allocation of the Colorado River, and LPP junior water right status.  And the Central Utah Project has priority water rights over the LPP meaning that, in a drought, the Wasatch Front will get the water.  We have had no meaningful response to or analysis of these concerns.

Furthermore, we were stunned to discover that after 10 years of study and $33 million of taxpayer money spent that the water right for LPP is just now being negotiated with the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR).
Air/Climate
This program area addresses not only ground-level air quality that has direct and immediate damaging health impacts, but also high-altitude air quality that threatens all species and has indirect, delayed and much more severe impacts on human health and basic societal functions.

We view air quality as a scientific issue, and while solutions may be partisan the problem is not.  HCR 7, “Concurrent Resolution on Economic and Environmental Stewardship, commits the Legislature and the Governor to the “use of sound science to address causes of a changing climate and support innovation and environmental stewardship in order to realize positive solutions.”  This represents a significant step forward in our state policymaker’s discussion of the challenges that climate change may pose for our economy and local and state solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

All of our work to conserve southwest Utah will be in vain if we don’t address the damage being done to our air by poor energy choices.  Time is critical.  In recognition of that point CSU has sponsored the formation of a local chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL), now with 160 members.  CSU and CCL have common values of clear science and bipartisan solutions.  Our focus is to move toward clean energy policies at the local, state and federal levels.

The Southern Utah Climate Discussion held last December in concert with Dixie State University, Utah State University, Brigham Young University, and our elected representatives and their constituents was a step in that direction.  We are continuing to engage our representatives in understanding the issues and forging resolutions with them.  This requires your involvement.  Our voice is but a squeak without constituents.  Please join us.


Smart Growth

Smart Growth is a development approach with a mix of building types and uses, diverse housing and transportation options, development within existing neighborhoods, and community engagement.

Approval by the City of St. George of Wilkinson’s Joule Plaza and PEG Development’s City View are good starts towards embracing Smart Growth Principles.  These two mixed-use developments bring much needed compact redevelopment and housing choice to the St. George urban core.  They have the potential to spur a downtown revival and a return of essential neighborhood retail to support downtown living.
 
Clyde Company’s massive Desert Color development on the Schools and Institutional Trust Lands (SITLA) managed South Block could be a model New Town community or a greenfield folly.  Citizens can make a difference by becoming informed and staying involved.  RSVP for Kyle Paisley's talk about SITLA's mission and role in Washington County on March 8th at noon in the CSU office.  Sign up for St. George Planning Commission and City Council meeting notices on the Utah Public Notice Website.  Attend public hearings and comment on proposals for each phase of the development.  Speak up for Smart Growth!  
 
Sustainability Rating. In 2018 we created a Growing Smarter program goal to create a "sustainability rating" for homes in the 2018 Parade of Homes, focusing on water conservation and energy efficiency.  The factors in this rating are home size, glass type, HVAC efficiency, water heating efficiency, type of landscaping, type of irrigation control, and type of pool.  The rating serves as an indicator of overall sensitivity to water and energy sustainable construction.
 
While the initial results were discouraging we are looking forward to educating builders, architects, landscape designers, city officials, and buyers/owners about the need to consider sustainable, conservation-oriented construction and instituting a simple rating system for water conservation and energy efficiency in all local home building.  Stay tuned for a status report later this year.

Learning from Litter

Excerpts from DSU Students' Reflections Essays

Here are a few thoughts from students who helped pick up litter along the Red Hills Parkway on January 27, 2018.

 “What would hstueappen if everyone took the time to educate themselves about the important problems affecting their communities – if we voiced our opinions about decisions we feel are not in the best interest of ourselves, our communities, and our families, or took a few hours out of our busy lives to restore a tiny portion of the beauty Southern Utah provides us with.”
 
“I was very glad I decided to get involved in this service project. It was liberating to be a part of a productive activity with people who care about what they do.”
 
“Being involved with wildlife conservation inspires me to be better and do more for our natural world from simply reducing my car usage to education on environmental awareness.”
 
“We found a lot [of litter] that had probably been blown out of the back of trucks, but we also found metal from accidents and lots of cigarette butts. This really bothered me. We were walking in really dry brush and any one of those [cigarette butts] thrown out of a car could have ignited that whole area.”
 
“My four boys know to not litter, but this would be a great experience for us to do as a family just to show them how horrible it looks when people don’t care about the environment enough to protect it.”

Quiet User Tool Training

Session #2 Coming up Tuesday, March 13th, 2018

Quiet Users = non-motorizedFour volunteers completed the first Quiet User Tool Training in February. They learned how to navigate the online site and label trails and areas where quiet (non-motorized) users (like those in the photo) go for recreational activities on public lands.

The next Quiet User Tool Training will be held on Tuesday, March 13th, 2018, from 10 a.m. to noon at the Conserve Southwest Utah office, 321 North Mall Drive, Suite B-202, St. George.

To sign up for the next Quiet User Tool Training click on the link in the "Upcoming Events" section below.  If you have questions about the training please contact Susan Crook at susan@conserveswu.org.

Upcoming Events

 
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If you'd like to help and/or make a contribution please visit our website
and click on the Volunteer link below to learn more,
or email 
Susan Crook at 
susan@conserveswu.org and she will help match
your interests and skills to available volunteer opportunities.

VOLUNTEER

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