Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance

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The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) is a wilderness preservation organization in the United States based in Salt Lake City, Utah, with field offices in Washington, D.C. and Moab, Utah. The organization formed in 1983 and is a partner in the Utah Wilderness Coalition, a coalition of organizations nationwide that support federal wilderness designation for deserving public lands in Utah.[1]


The mission of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) is the preservation of the outstanding wilderness at the heart of the Colorado Plateau, and the management of these lands in their natural state for the benefit of the Americans that support their efforts.

SUWA promotes local and national recognition of the region's unique character through research and public education; supports both administrative and legislative initiatives to permanently designate the Colorado Plateau wild places within the National Park and National Wilderness Preservation Systems, or by other designations where appropriate; builds support for such initiatives on both the local and national level; and provides leadership within the conservation movement through uncompromising advocacy for wilderness preservation.[2]


The primary campaign of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance is to build public support for America's Red Rock Wilderness Act, which was first introduced in Congress in 1989 by Utah Congressman Wayne Owens. The bill has been reintroduced in every session of Congress since. In 1997 the first companion bill was introduced in the United States Senate by Dick Durbin. On October 1, 2009, the bill was discussed in a legislative hearing before the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands.[3]

In 2011, SUWA began a public campaign urging President Obama to use his authority under the Antiquities Act to designate Greater Canyonlands (the 1.4 million acres of BLM land surrounding Canyonlands National Park) as a new national monument.[4] By the end of 2013, the campaign for a Greater Canyonlands National Monument was supported by other conservation groups including the Sierra Club, the Grand Canyon Trust, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Great Old Broads for Wilderness.

SUWA also works through the courts to protect areas in Utah that qualify as Wilderness under the federal Wilderness Act of 1964 from uses which would cause these areas to be disqualified from Wilderness consideration.[5] Such uses include off-road vehicle use, oil and gas development, and mining.[5][6]

Notable events[edit]

SUWA participated extensively in the creation of the Cedar Mountain Wilderness. This approximately 100,000-acre wilderness area is located roughly fifty miles west of Salt Lake City and was established in January 2006.[7]

SUWA also participated in the Washington County land bill, which designated approximately 256,000 acres of wilderness in southwestern Utah when it passed in 2009. Originally introduced by Senator Bob Bennet in 2006, early versions of the Washington County land bill failed to pass in two congresses due to opposition from SUWA and the Utah Wilderness Coalition.[8]

On May 8, 2012, SUWA and Anadarko Petroleum Corporation announced an agreement concerning a proposed oil and gas development project in eastern Utah. Part of this agreement included a commitment from the company to avoid development in the proposed White River wilderness and a conservation easement on private lands purchased by the company. This announcement came as part of a signing ceremony for the project attended by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.[9]

On November 4, 2013, U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball ruled the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) failed to minimize the impacts of motorized use on the land and its resources and to inventory archaeological sites when the BLM issued its Richfield Resource Management Plan in 2008. The Richfield plan covers 2.1 million acres in Sevier, Garfield, Wayne and Piute counties.[10]


In 2012, nearly 85% of SUWA's expenses went to programs; the organization received a 4 start rating from the website Charity Navigator[11]


  1. ^ Utah Wilderness Coalition
  2. ^ Southern utah Wilderness Alliance: Mission
  3. ^ H.R. 86, H.R. 118, H.R. 1925, H.R. 2689, H.R. 2781 & H.R. 2888: Legislative Hearing before the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands of the Committee on Natural Resources U.S. House of Representatives. 111th Cong., 1st Sess. (2009). Hearing Report.
  4. ^ On November 20, 2012, more than 100 outdoor recreation industry businesses sent a public letter to President Obama in support of monument designation, arguing that such a designation would bolster the outdoor recreation industry, which nationally generates $646 billion in sales per year and supports 6.1 million jobs. [1]
  5. ^ a b 1964 Wilderness Act
  6. ^ Forest Service Management of the Wilderness Resource and Activities within Wilderness
  7. ^ Bureau of Land Management, Wilderness Areas, Cedar Mountain Wilderness Area (Mar. 4, 2011).
  8. ^ [2]
  9. ^ Brandon Loomis, “Salazar Lauds Utah Drilling Deal - One Enviros and Industry Back,” Salt Lake Tribune (May 8, 2012).
  10. ^ Court Strikes Down BLM Travel Plan By Brian Maffly The Salt Lake Tribune
  11. ^ [3]
  • Paul Beebe, "Ex-SUWA bigwig faces prison in stock scheme" Salt Lake Tribune (August 1, 2007)
  • Stephen Hunt, "Former SUWA board member facing prison" Salt Lake Tribune (October 25, 2007)

External links[edit]