Red Rock Advocate
               the CSU Newsletter  September 2018            
                                                       educate ... advocate ... act

A Message from your Board of Directors

Here is a message from CSU board president Tom Butine

Public Lands” are defined as lands owned by all Americans, held in trust for future generations and managed by federal agencies. West of the Mississippi land was acquired with federal funds, thereby making them “public”. East of the Rockies and west of the Sierra/Cascade ranges land was easy to farm and easy to sell. Between those regions, however, most of those lands couldn’t even be given away, so they were retained under federal management at the expense of federal taxpayers. Those expenses were mitigated by “multiple uses”, which allowed corporations to profit and taxpayers to benefit. Now those lands, previously thought of as useless, are seen as having value for incompatible uses, and the question of who determines which lands are to be used by whom and for which purposes has become an issue with financial consequences.

Utah’s politicians have long chaffed at federal involvement in our state, with public lands being a major issue. Our politicians claim that these lands economically disadvantage our state because they are unable to tax them. This is a false claim for several reasons:

  1. Utah has about 6 taxable acres per capita, more than almost any other state. For example, New York has 1.5 taxable acres per capita.

  2. Taxpayers from other states spend over $250 million annually and employ over 5,000 Utahans to maintain these lands.

  3. Utah reaps over $8 billion annually from tourism and outdoor recreation, which is huge when compared to most other states.

  4. Taxpayers from other states give Utah $20 million per year in Payment-in-lieu-of-Taxes (PILT).

So it is difficult to see how these lands economically disadvantage Utah.

We have some of the most spectacular lands in the world and they are our golden goose, so we should be protecting them and arguing for more National Park and Monument lands rather than fewer. Utah reaps huge economic advantages from them not only at no cost but at a profit from employment, taxes on maintenance operations, and PILT. While our politicians fight for control of these lands they offer no plan for managing them. And why would taxpayers from other states - those who purchased these lands and maintained them all these years - just give them away? Utah certainly can’t afford to buy them, and even if we could most would need to be sold or leased to pay the costs of managing them.

Utah has plentiful fossil fuels and that industry has huge political influence. The issue of Utah’s public lands is fossil fuels, but the long-term economic benefit of public lands that are protected for tourism and outdoor recreation is far greater than using them for fossil fuels, which are detrimental to the land, the Earth, and the long-term health of humans and most other species. Yes, our society needs certain natural resources, but fossil fuel is not one of them. Over the long-term the federal government is capable of doing a much better job of managing these lands for the benefit of their owners and of Utah’s taxpayers than is the state of Utah.

We have our own local challenges, with constant pressure on our public lands: reducing protections and forcing unneeded highways through our National Conservation Areas, developing public lands near Zion National Park, and Zion’s over-crowding and unfunded maintenance.

The voice of the voter is a strong tool at all levels of government, so please exercise your voice and let our representatives and candidates know that we value our public lands and want continued federal management so that they are protected from destructive practices.

Letter from the Editor


Advocating For Our Public Lands

After reading the convincing and compelling words of Tom Butine in his message from the board I find it difficult to understand why our public lands continue to be under such unrelenting siege and why they face so many threats to their existence. At the same time I am struck by the fact that the major, and evidently sole, argument made by those who oppose protecting our public lands from exploitation is an economic one – an argument that Tom effectively debunks.

So is there really more to it than that?

In her personal narrative, guest contributor Chris Gorzalski eloquently expresses how the value of our public lands is far more than just economic. They offer us a peaceful and tranquil escape from the stresses and pressures of our daily lives, an opportunity to reflect and contemplate, to heal and rejuvenate our bodies and our spirits, and in many cases they provide a deep and profound spiritual experience through our connection with nature.

So perhaps a broader understanding of the true value of our public lands is the obstacle that must be overcome. Helping people move beyond a purely “bottom line” mentality to a fuller understanding of the many and varied values of our public lands is certainly a challenge. Convincing those same people that the non-economic benefits of our public lands are as important as the economic ones may be an even greater challenge.

As Tom says in concluding his message, the voice of the voter is a strong tool  It’s up to us to make sure that our strong voices are heard.

                                                                                   --- Joe Montanarella, editor

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


CSU Program Updates

Public Lands
On the road with SUNCLF Director Susan Crook

GSENM Partners Lecture Series
CSU’s SUNCLF Director Susan Crook was in Kanab August 14th and in Boulder August 15th  telling community members what Conserve Southwest Utah is doing to protect our National Conservation Lands.  Her presentation, “Defending our National Conservation Lands 10 Years after OPLMA,” was part of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument Partners Lecture Series.

She noted that as we approach the 10th anniversary of President Obama’s signing of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, we find ourselves defending, rather than celebrating the protections placed on the Beaver Dam Wash and Red Cliffs National Conservation Areas, and the rest of the National Conservation Lands.  The bill codified the system of National Conservation Lands established by Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt in 2000.  It protected millions of acres of public land in the U.S., including the designation of the Beaver Dam Wash and Red Cliffs National Conservation Areas in southwest Utah.
Friends of Gold Butte Mesquite Office Opens
The Friends of Gold Butte and the Mesquite Chamber of Commerce celebrated the grand opening of the Friends of Gold Butte Office and Visitor Center with a ribbon cutting the evening of September 13th.  Susan Crook represented CSU at the event.  The Friends of Gold Butte advocates for Gold Butte National Monument and educates visitors.  The office will serve as a place visitors can learn about the monument and the Friends of Gold Butte, and schedule hikes.  It is located at 12 West Mesquite Boulevard, Mesquite, NV.  Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The CSU Water Works Committee meets regularly and works with state and local authorities on water conservation and tiered water pricing.  The true costs of water delivery need to be visible to consumers, instead of being hidden in property taxes and other taxes and fees unrelated to water.

The tagline on Utah's official Lake Powell Pipeline website calls the pipeline "Cost Effective, Dependable, and Environmentally Responsible." The estimated cost of the proposed Lake Powell Pipeline should be compared with the cost of an aggressive water conservation strategy that goes beyond feel-good consumer education campaigns to an in-the-ground secondary water delivery system for landscape irrigation to every home, business and public green space in Washington County.

Simple things like changing the terms we use when talking about water can help change the conversation.  Let's eliminate "wastewater" from our vocabularies, and start talking about water as the essential resource it is by saying "reuse water" or "recycled water."  We have the technology to purify the water in our sanitary sewers to drinking water quality.  Do we have the will to do it?  
On September 8th, CSU and the St. George Chapter of the Citizens Climate Lobby participated in the global Rise for Climate day of action with a rally and march starting at Washington City's Nisson Park and ending at the Green Springs intersection.  The St. George News reported that about 40 people joined the march with placards and calls for elected officials to address climate change before it's too late.
The online nonprofit fundraiser sponsored by the Community Foundation of Utah is now on Giving Tuesday.  And Conserve Southwest Utah is participating.  Watch your inbox for details on how you can help by connecting family and friends, being a social media influencer, and by giving to help us reach our goal!

Love Utah Give Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Just for Fun

Sneaky Snake and Cooner

by Sandy Johnson

Our senior cat is a Maine Coon cat, known as the Cooner.  He is a senior cat of about 15 years.  Since he no longer jumps out of the back courtyard, he is generally allowed to hang out there whenever he wants during the day.  Usually he just naps in the casita.  We leave the door open a crack for him.  One afternoon a couple of weeks ago it was getting pretty hot so I went out to bring him into the house.  I walked across the room to where he was napping and picked him up.  As I turned to go there was a small commotion right by the door.

It was a big snake!  This was startling but not really scary because he was a long, slim snake with a pinkish color; definitely not a rattler!  He was big though, I’m guessing at least 4 feet long & 3 or 4 inches around.  He beat it out the door very quickly.  I deposited Cooner in the house, called my husband and we tried to get a better look but he went into a hole under the flower bed in about 2 seconds.  No telling how long he and Cooner had been napping together.  I think the cat was oblivious to the whole thing.  Owen named the snake Sneaky Snake. 
In researching this type of snake, it appears that he is a Red Racer, a variety of Coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum).  Subspecies name is m.f. piceus.  According to The Peterson Field Guides “Western Reptiles and Amphibians”, the Coachwhips are so named because of the pattern of their scales which suggests a braided coachwhip.  There are lots of varieties throughout the Southern half of the U.S.  Their coloration is quite variable but Red Racer is generally a pinkish color, with fainter bands of whiteish/tan.  It can get big, from 36 to 102 inches and is reportedly one of the fastest snakes in the U.S. According to Wikipedia, it can move at up to 15 m.p.h.   It is comfortable in open, dry, brushy habitat and it hunts by day or night.  Prey is small mammals, birds, eggs, lizards, other snakes (including rattlers) insects, frogs and even carrion.  Racers are not constrictors, they simply catch and bite their prey.  It is not poisonous but it is quite aggressive and will hiss and bite if threatened.  If you pick it up, it will bite you!  Sneaky Snake didn’t feel threatened enough to hiss or try to bite, he just took off and made for the nearest hole. 
We hope Sneaky Snake will stick around and help keep the rodent population down.  We are rather fond of our packrats, but the gophers tearing up our tiny back lawn are definitely fair game!

Guest Writer:
The Saving Grace of Wild Places

by Chris Gorzalski

The question “Where are you from?” throws me. I’m from the inner city, south side of Chicago. I’m from North Wisconsin, a Yooper through and through. I’m from Southeast Wisconsin with its rolling fields. I’m from Southern Utah which has awed me with its grandeur.

Chicago, where the only nature I could find was a misplaced willow in our backyard. I’d climb that tree and hide out there. I camped on our back porch. My parents divorced when I was four years old and my mother went AWOL at regular intervals. Then a succession of events occurred - the Chicago riots, the boarding up of the first house on our block, and then the gangs moving in. My sister and I were sent up to live with friends in a small town in Wisconsin.

Chicago had forever spread on my mind. When we went on vacation it seemed as if we traveled for hours and were still in the city. Now we were living with a family on a farm in Wisconsin. I found a place in the woods with soft green grass. I called it rabbit grass. That place was my new hideaway during all the changes that were happening in my life.

The north woods of Wisconsin were my solace during these tumultuous years. Clear lakes, rivers, and small streams were my reprieve from the cascade of events that poverty brought on. Being without food, living in homes without water, evictions, and violence in our home turned me into a rebellious teenager. On one of my worst days I went to the woods and didn’t come back. I returned eventually but at 17 was declared an emancipated minor and went to college on low income grants and work-study.

My life turned around. I married and had two great kids. My career for 35 years was in pediatric nursing. Through the years, our family enjoyed backpacking trips and being outdoors as much as possible. We made the big decision to include this as a bigger part of our lives and moved to Utah. Our kids have joined in and enjoyed all of the opportunities that life in Southern Utah offers.

So now wilderness is a constant for us. Our lives have changed immeasurably, and what an amazing change! How can you thank the wild for being a safe place, a place of refuge? A debt of gratitude becomes a promise to protect for all. It may be that one day some young girl needs the feel of soft grass around her, or perhaps the smell of sagebrush. Let’s do all we can to make sure it’s there for her.

Upcoming Events

Click on the links below for more information about upcoming events:

Water Works Committee, Saturday, October 1st, 1 PM

Citizens Climate Lobby Meeting October 13th, 10 AM

An Essay from the 2018
Washington County Youth Creative Writing Contest

Here is one of the winning essays in the 2018 Washington County Youth Creative Writing Contest, themed “The Beautiful Landscape of Washington County.” The contest featured poetry and personal essay in four age divisions. Authors wrote vivid descriptions of our county’s one-of-a-kind terrain, from red rocks and mountains to streams and cottontails, including the Red Cliffs Recreation Area, Sand Hollow, the Pine Valley Mountains, and Zion’s West Temple.

Congratulations to our featured author, Trisadee Horsley, and to all contest participants for creatively capturing in poetry and essay the beauty and grandeur of southwest Utah!

"See For Yourself"

by Trisadee Horsley

As I step out of my car and hear the dirt crunch underneath my feet, and breath in the cold, fresh air I feel an indescribable surge of excitement enter into my heart.

The colors melt together, from the royal blue of Pine Valley Mountain, to the red rock, to the green canopy of desert trees, standing tall against the bright blue sky. My eye catches something rustle far ahead, as a flock of small black birds fly out in a cluster, over the rolling hills.

Bright, shining ponds and lakes flow onto the dry ground. The soothing sound of the softly swishing water calms all uncertainties and fears. My mind flashes to a kayak, one of the ways to cross this amazing body of water.

Yellow chocolate flowers adorn the pebbly trail, adding a pop of color one can only imagine. Lizards and other reptiles scamper across the sun-cracked ground, only stopping to do their tiny push-ups.

Layers of sandstone and black melted looking rocks prove the cycle of erosion, mixed with volcanic eruptions has occurred. Dormant volcanoes lay all about, a great wonder and mystery still waiting to be solved.

Trudging up mountain like hills, taking deep breaths in and out, enjoying the petroglyphs, and life like nature-sculpted rocks is an exquisite way of using your time. Once on the top you look down, upon much more hills just like the one you have accomplished.

The vibe of the nature, and the beauty that you are surrounded by is one that cannot be described by words. So, if you truly want to know, and feel this great pleasure you must see for yourself. Now is your time.

Get Involved!

If you'd like to help and/or make a contribution please visit our website
(link below) to learn more,
or email 
Susan Crook at and she will help match
your interests and skills to available volunteer opportunities.
Copyright © 2018 Conserve Southwest Utah, All rights reserved.

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences 

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp