In Support of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act 2009 Action of Immediate Witness

BECAUSE Unitarian Universalists respect the interdependent web of all existence, of which we are a part; and

BECAUSE the Unitarian Universalist Association is holding its 2009 General Assembly in Utah, home to the largest intact and most pristine wild land region in the lower 48 states; and

WHEREAS the publicly owned wild lands of Utah, managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), belong to all Americans and all future generations; and

WHEREAS these wild lands are world renowned for their spectacular beauty and majesty, with serpentine slickrock canyons, soaring sandstone cliffs, arches, bridges, mesas, mountains, rivers, and desert streams; and

WHEREAS these wild lands provide home to endangered or sensitive wildlife, including desert bighorn sheep, cougar, and endangered desert tortoise, and habitat for elk, deer, bear, and many other animals;

WHEREAS these wild lands contain some of the world’s richest concentrations of prehistoric ruins, including cliff dwellings, rock art, and 10,000-year-old cave sites; and

WHEREAS these wild lands possess nationally significant scientific, biological, geologic and paleontological value, including threatened and endangered plant species; geologic formations displaying 2.5 billion years of Earth’s history; and fossilized remains; and

WHEREAS these lands are treasured by people around the world for their exceptional wilderness recreation opportunities; and

WHEREAS these lands are deeply valued by people from many different spiritual traditions as places of inspiration, connection, renewal and solace; and

WHEREAS we acknowledge that we have not been in right relationships with relevant indigenous peoples and institutions with respect to this AIW [Action of Immediate Witness], yet some indigenous people have expressed support for this legislative effort, and we affirm the need to create and maintain these relationships and to listen and actively respond to indigenous guidance concerning these lands; and

WHEREAS BLM’s 2008 plans dictating management of these lands over the next two decades fail to protect their wilderness value, pristine character, and ecological health, leaving significant areas vulnerable to oil and gas drilling, rampant off-road vehicle use, climate change, and other harmful activities; and

WHEREAS the best defense against the effects of global warming (drier conditions, wildfires, diminished water resources, spread of non-native invasive plants, and dust storms) on Utah’s public lands is to minimize ground disturbance; and

WHEREAS America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act would protect over 9 million acres of BLM managed Utah public lands; and

WHEREAS America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, re-introduced into the 111th Congress with hearings likely this fall, is supported by the Utah Wilderness Coalition’s more than 250 national and regional conservation groups, and is fully field-checked and documented,

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the 2009 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association urges congregations and their members to:

  • call for passage of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act (S 799/HR 1925), or other legislation, to protect Utah’s spectacular and irreplaceable wild lands by writing or visiting their senators and representatives seeking their support;
  • call for the Department of the Interior, through the BLM, to establish administrative protections for Utah’s wild lands from off-road vehicle abuse, road development, oil, gas, oil shale, and tar sands development by participating in the BLM public comment process; and
  • use the resources of the Utah Wilderness Coalition to educate themselves and others about the environmental and spiritual importance of protecting Utah’s wild lands.