Conserve Southwest Utah (CSU) is a local 501.c.3 non-profit coalition of citizens advocating for conservation of the area’s natural resources (our public lands, our water and our air) and cultural resources (the remnants of native and pioneer activity) and for the Smart Growth principles that enable conservation for the benefit of present and future generations.
We started in 2006 (as Citizens for Dixie’s Future) in response to Congressional legislation that would have sold 25,000 acres of BLM land for development, give a right-of-way to the Lake Powell Pipeline. and plow a four lane highway through Red Cliffs National Conservation Area. The threat of unplanned growth impacting the living environment that is the local economy’s “golden goose” was a great concern to residents. This legislation triggered a two and a half year county-wide Vision Dixie land use planning process. Where 3000 residents participated and had extensive public input that resulted in 10 Smart Growth Principals to ensure that we maintain the key “quality of Life” elements that make our area desirable as we grow. This planning process also shaped the 2009 Omnibus Public Land Management Act, a monumental piece of legislation that created new conservation mandates for the BLM and established the Beaver Dam Wash and Red Cliffs National Conservation Areas, Wilderness Areas, and Wild and Scenic Rivers.
Southwest Utah is a special place of unparalleled beauty. Our signature scenic vistas, accessible open space, and clean air are all qualities worth protecting for future generations. Washington county continues to be one of the West’s most desirable places to live. As our area grows, the need for citizen involvement to protect the things we value about our place becomes increasingly important. Please join us in our effort to protect our special places….our public lands, our water and our air, and to promote the Smart Growth policies that enable those protections.
Southwest Utah grows in a manner that enables conservation and restoration of its natural and cultural resources.
Advocate conservation and stewardship of our area’s natural and cultural resources and advocate implementation of the Smart Growth policies that enables conservation for the benefit of present and future generations.
Our overarching goal is that Southwest Utah implements policies that balance growth and economic development with conservation and stewardship of land, air and water resources to benefit our citizens, both present and future. That translates into these more specific goals:
PUBLIC LANDS – Conserve our public lands, their habitats and cultural remnants of native and pioneer activity, engage in land use policies and advocate that public lands remain in public ownership.
WATER – Promote efficient use of our existing local water and advocate “Conservation First,” before pursuing unsustainable water supplies like the Colorado River.
AIR/CLIMATE – Advocate clean energy policies that protect our blue skies, healthy air, scenic vistas, and climate.
SMART GROWTH – Advocate sustainable development policies that prevent sprawl, foster conservation of natural resources and preserve a high quality of life.
SUNCLF – Southwest Utah National Conservation Lands Friends monitor our irreplaceable natural, historic and cultural resources on our public lands, especially the Red Cliffs and Beaver Dam Wash National Conservation Areas. For information on volunteering, visit conserveswu.org/sunclf/.
CSU's Board and Staff
The leadership team helping you conserve our Southwest Utah
Lisa Rutherford and Paul Van Dam
Land Program Manager/ SUNCLF Director
Our Advisory Board:
Amelia Nuding, Senior Water Resources Analyst, Western Resource Advocates
Betsy Buffington, Director for Training and Mentoring, Conservation Lands Foundation
Bill Barron, Citizens’ Climate Lobby Regional Coordinator covering MT, WY, UT, CO, NM, AZ, and NV
Christi Wedig, former CSU Executive Director
Jeff Feldman, founding CSU board member, former board president
Kerry Kastler-Burt, retired Director of Fundraising, Dixie Regional Medical Center
Lisa Rutherford, founding CSU board member
Mike Small, Former BLM wildlife biologist and natural resource specialist, former CDF board president
Paul Van Dam, former Utah Attorney General, former CSU Executive Director
PUBLIC LANDS: THE LANDS BILL and THE FRIENDS GROUP
- Conserve Southwest Utah (CSU), as Citizens for Dixie’s Future (CDF), worked tirelessly to educate the public and stem the tide of terrible legislation in a 2006 bill that would have sold 25,000 acres of public land for development among many other bad provisions local officials tried to include. Through the public’s efforts the 2006 bill was changed to exclude: any new BLM land sales except for what BLM land already identified for disposal 4700 acres; a right-of-way for the Lake Powell Pipeline; 8% of the revenue from BLM land sales going to the Washington County Water Conservancy; an exemption from compliance with environmental laws; a highway identified by mile posts though the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area. However in 2009 there were good provisions added to the bill that included the creation of Beaver Dam Wash National Conservation Area; BLM would identifying biological Areas of Environmental Concern (ACEC) in Washington County. After all these improvements were made to the bill and it passed in 2009.
- The bill’s provisions now have to be incorporated into BLM’s Resource Management planning documents. CSU made extensive scoping comments on what issues should be included in the BLM’s Draft Resource Management Plan for the Red Cliffs and Beaver Dam Wash National Conservation Areas that were created in the 2009 Bill. CSU also nominated several Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) and commented on the proposed transportation plan for roads and trails in the county. BLM’s Draft Resource Management Plan and transportation plan should be released for public comment January 2015.
- In January 2013, we started a Friend Group to support, protect and conserve the Red Cliffs and Beaver Dam Wash National Conservation Areas and adjoining/influencing territories. It’s called the Southwest Utah National Conservation Lands Friends (SUNCLF) where volunteers have the opportunity to participate in site stewardship, training, restoration, rock art documentation and outreach projects. SUNCLF works to create a pool of engaged citizens to assist BLM with inventory efforts and long-term monitoring of the natural, historic and cultural resources in Southwest Utah’s National Conservation Lands. In addition to citizen stewardship, volunteers assist in creating and implementing programs that promote natural resource protection and visitor safety using interpretive and education programs. Here are some other highlights 2016-2017:
- 110 volunteers (thanks DSU students!) spent 425 hours cleaning up the Red Hills Parkway through the Red Cliffs NCA.
- 51 volunteers donated 237 hours unloading 4000 one-gallon native plants, helping plant them in the Red Cliffs NCA, and making cages to protect them.
- 24 Site Stewards spent 630 hours monitoring archaeological and paleontological sites on BLM land.
- 978 people attended CSU and SUNCLF outreach and education events, including 280 students from 2nd grade and intermediate school classes.
Thanks to all who helped with the Land/SUNCLF activities and events, including sponsors and members whose generous donations funded the conservation forum.
WATER: CONSERVATION and the LAKE POWELL PIPELINE
- We worked with Western Resource Advocates on completing the Local Waters Alternative to the Lake Powell Pipeline that advocates for water conservation and wise use of local water resources in lieu of developing the pipeline.
- We formed the Lake Powell Pipeline Coalition, a group of concerned organizations that are participating in the permitting process by attending hearings, submitting comments and making sure our concerns are answered in the studies.
- We were appointed to Governor’s Water Task Force to develop Utah’s 50-year water plan.
- We continue to attend meetings of the Community Integrated Resource Planning Advisory Committee (CIRPAC) to assist in guiding future water resource planning for Washington County formed by Washington County Water Conservancy District. CSU has a seat on the committee and it meets once a month. Committee members are leaders in community and it provides us an opportunity to bring our message of water conservation to more water managers. We also sit on a water conservation committee formed by the water district to update their water conservation plan.
AIR: LOCAL AIR QUALITY, ATMOSPHERIC QUALITY and ENERGY POLICY
- We led local opposition to the Toquop coal-fired power plant proposed just 30 miles west of St. George near Mesquite NV that has now been scrapped. As CDF, we held many rallies and public events, submitted opinion pieces to the local newspaper and participated on radio talk shows – all in our effort to educate the public on the health hazards of burning coal.
- We has joined the City of St. George’s Southern Utah Air Quality Task Force that addresses air quality issues in our county.
- We teamed up with the Moapa Band of the Paiute Tribe to facilitate closing of the Reid Gardner coal-fired power plant in near Mesquite NV due to Tribe’s health concerns. We introduced Dr. Arden Pope PHD to the Tribe who is an expert on air quality and he started a study on how the plant impacts the Tribe’s health. The Nevada Power Company, the owner of plant is planning to shut the plant down as they turn to more renewable solar energy instead.
- We wrote comments asking for air quality monitors near the proposed expansion of the Black Rock Gypsum Mine in Arizona that pollutes our valley with dust. CDF has also commented on new gypsum mines proposed in the area that could put more dust in the air.
- CSU is joining forces with the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, an international non-profit organization with over 300 chapters world-wide, to form a local chapter to educate the public and our political leaders on climate change and to advocate practical solutions.
- CSU promotes local solar power, advocates clean energy policies with our local utilities, and provides consultation to anyone considering their own solar energy installation on their home.
SMART GROWTH : VISION DIXIE
- After the 2006 bill was released we called for planning before disposing of any public land for development. Federal and state officials decided they would go to the community and see how they felt about growth and the sale of public lands. The $500,000 Vision Dixie process was started with over 3000 residents participating in the planning exercise. CDF was a driving force within the Vision Dixie process, by providing staff and board participation on the Steering Committee, the Technical Advisory Committee and facilitating citizen workshops for the year and half process. The majority of people that participated did not support a large scale sale of public lands and chose only 5,000 acres for disposal. They also wanted to see growth inward with protection to the surrounding scenic landscapes. After the results of all the surveys were in the bill was changed. We continue to educate and encourage communities to adopt and implement the ten Vision Dixie Principles that were as result of the process.