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Henry David Thoreau, whose birth bicentennial was celebrated July 12th                     (U.S. Postal Service)

 
August 2, 2017

Dear CalUWild friends —

It’s summertime, so everything has slowed down a bit, including the writing of the Update for July. As you’ll see from the several items that just came in today, things are moving fast and furiously these days. Fortunately, though there is much to report on, there is nothing with too much deadline pressure.

As anyone who follows things knows, the political situation in Washington is getting more complicated and worrisome by the day, including on the environmental front. In addition to the ongoing national monument review we been writing about the last few months, there are rollbacks and budget cuts both planned and underway. But as we just saw last week with the health care debate, not everything proposed by either the administration or Congress gets through.

The reason is simple: Endless pressure, endlessly applied. That is the secret to effective citizen involvement.

We will need to keep the pressure up going forward if we want to protect our wilderness, national monuments, and other public lands. The best ways to do this are: Write or call your elected representatives; submit comments to agencies; and write letters to the editors of your local papers and comment to online articles.

But, don’t forget to take some time to get out and enjoy some of these places we’re working so hard to protect.

 
We’re happy to announce that Dan Gluesenkamp, Ph.D., Executive Director of the California Native Pant Society (CNPS), has joined CalUWild’s Advisory Board. We’ve known Dan and worked with him for many years as he worked with several conservation organizations. He brings a lot of knowledge, fresh ideas, and enthusiasm to everything he does. We look forward to having his further involvement with CalUWild, and us with CNPS. Welcome, Dan!

 
And as always, thank you for your continued interest and support,
Mike

 
IN GENERAL
1.   National Monuments & Marine Sanctuaries Review and More;
          Volunteers Needed to Help Tabulate Comments
          Comment Deadline Extended: August 15
          (ACTION ITEM)
2.    Public Lands Senior Pass: Huge Price Increase
          Deadline: August 27
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
3.   State Legislation
          a.   The Public Lands Protection Act
          b.   Off-Highway Vehicle Modernization & Reform
                 (ACTION ITEMS)
4.   Visions of the Wild Festival: Changing Landscapes
          Downtown Vallejo & Beyond
          September 6-10
5.   Bodie Stewardship Day
          Saturday, August 5

IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
6.   Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

IN GENERAL
1.   National Monuments & Marine Sanctuaries Review and More;
          Volunteers Needed to Help Tabulate Comments
          Comment Deadline Extended: August 15
          (ACTION ITEM)

The comment period for the land-based national monuments review has closed. Conservation groups are reporting that people submitted nearly 2.7 million individual comments through the regulations.gov website. The Department of the Interior said there were far fewer (1.4 million) because it counted multiple comments as one, if they were submitted in a bundle with other comments by an organization or for other reasons.

Regardless of the count, preliminary analysis by the Center for Western Priorities indicates that 98% of the commenters supported leaving all monuments as they were designated. Only 1% favored shrinking any. 88% of the commenters identified as being from Utah supported leaving the Bears Ears National Monument alone.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has not announced any final decision with regard to the Bears Ears. He has, however, announced that he will not recommend any changes to Canyons of the Ancients in Colorado, Craters of the Moon in Idaho, and Hanford Reach in Washington would not be modified. And just today, he announced that he will not recommend modifying Upper Missouri Breaks in his home state of Montana.

Mr. Zinke has visited the Cascade-Siskiyou in Oregon and California and the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and Rio Grande del Norte in New Mexico. Last weekend, he visited Gold Butte and Basin & Range monuments in Nevada. As with his visit to Utah, Mr. Zinke’s Nevada visit was criticized for consisting of meetings mostly with monument opponents, though rancher Cliven Bundy’s wife complained that she wasn’t allowed to meet with him, either, though their ranch is adjacent to Gold Butte, which is where their cattle are trespassing.

August 24 is the date on which final recommendations are due, though they may come earlier, and we’re gearing up for any possible result. If the Administration follows the overwhelming sentiment of the comments submitted, it will simply say: “We’re leaving everything alone. The public has spoken.” From what we’ve seen so far, though, this is unlikely to happen.

 
The Interior Department also announced that the review of the marine national monuments originally begun along with the land-based monuments would be combined with another, similar review of expansions to national marine sanctuaries undertaken by the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The comment deadline for the monuments now coincides with that for the sanctuaries and has also been extended to August 15. Many people fear that the administration is looking to open the coasts to further oil & gas drilling.

Included in that list are four along the California coast:

Channel Islands
Cordell Bank
Greater Farallones
Monterey Bay

We strongly oppose any modification to any of these. All protect areas of great biodiversity and enjoy great local support. They were all approved with substantial opportunities for public input and comment.

Please submit comments via the Regulations website.

As always, including personal thoughts and experiences is best.

Again, the deadline for comments is August 15.

 
This came in from the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance as I was finishing the Update:

 
Here is a terrific hands-on way to help defend Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante and many more monuments across the country — volunteer to help analyze public input on Trump’s monument review.

The goal here is to ensure that the Trump administration does not misrepresent the truth about the overwhelming level of public support for protecting national monuments. The analysis that you would be part of will produce a report that honestly reviews the 2.7 million public comments submitted in response to Trump’s monument review, accurately summarizing things like the total number of comments, the percent supportive, geographic and issue breakdowns and other relevant information. This report is crucial to holding Trump and Zinke accountable.

Here are the two ways you can help.

FIRST: Volunteer to help a third party firm (Key-Log Economics) hired by the Wilderness Society conduct the review of the 2.7 million comments.  Much of the firm’s review will be accomplished with computer algorithms, etc., but the firm needs additional human power to complete some tasks.
•         To help out :    General Volunteer Registration
•         After you sign up, you will receive an email with instructions.
•         The email will come from team@keylogeconomics.com. If you don’t receive the email within 5 minutes of signing up, please check your spam filters.
•         The email will include a link to a brief video with step-by-step instructions. You can view the video here
•         In the email, it will include a link to the “Comment Review form from this link” — this is the form where you will submit your response. The email will also include a link to the comment for you to review.
•         Once you complete your first comment you will receive a link to review a second and so on. You can stop and restart at any time by following the instructions in your email.

SECOND: In addition, there is a need to review technical comments and those with attachments.
•         To learn more and register to help with this task, go to Expert Reviewer Registration

Thanks everyone!  And thanks to the Wilderness Society who has initiated this review and who will be sharing it with all of us working to defend monuments across the country.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Please help out if you can!

 
Interior Secretary Zinke found himself in hot water this last week over a phone conversation he had with Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) during the run-up to the health care votes last week. He threatened that the Administration might go against some of her proposals for road construction and oil & gas exploration in Alaska if she didn’t support the efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The threats didn’t work, because as everyone knows by now, she was one of three GOP senators to vote against the repeal.

What Mr. Zinke didn’t seem to take into account is that Sen. Murkowski is the chair of the Senate Energy and Environment Committee, as well as chair of its Appropriations Subcommittee. In other words, she oversees his department. Ms. Murkowski immediately delayed confirmation hearings on three Interior Department appointments, though she denied that was retaliatory.

There are calls for investigation into Mr. Zinke’s call, as the law prohibits Administration officials from lobbying Congress, particularly in areas outside their purview. While in Nevada last weekend, when a reporter said that his comments had been characterized as threats, Mr. Zinke said: “Uh, you know, the moon has been characterized as those things, too. So, I think it’s laughable.”

The moon … ?

 
There has been a lot of coverage in the press on the national monuments review and other public lands issues. Here is a heavy sampling:

The New York Times had three articles in its Travel section:

At Bears Ears in Utah, Heated Politics and Precious Ruins

At Berryessa National Monument, Wildflowers and Rebirth

In Gold Butte in Nevada, Ancient Rock Art and Rugged Beauty

An article in the Washington Post: Why Americans are fighting over a gorgeous monument called Bears Ears

The Salt Lake Tribune reports on former Interior Secretary Jewell jumping into the fray at the Outdoor Retailers show: Ex-Interior Secretary calls move to shrink Bears Ears illegal, on “the wrong side of history’

A New York Times article: A Call to Activism for Outdoor Apparel Makers

More from the Times: As Interior Secretary Swaggers Through Parks, His Staff Rolls Back Regulations

An article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal: Zinke caps review of Nevada monuments with Bunkerville visit

An article in High Country News regarding a speech by Secty. Zinke: The Interior secretary gave a closed-door speech to ALEC

This has to be a “first” for Utah’s governor, an article in the Salt Lake Tribune: Herbert asking BLM to ‘re-evaluate’ oil and gas leasing near Dinosaur National Monument.

Last week, the Senate confirmed David Bernhardt as Deputy Interior Secretary by a vote of 53-43. The Washington Post reported that he was confirmed

despite recent claims that he continued to represent a client as a lobbyist after his registration was deactivated. … Democrats called Bernhardt a “walking conflict of interest” for his previous lobbying work for energy interests, but Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) called the choice “excellent” because of his “extensive experience and knowledge of issues that are important to Alaskans and western states.”

Full story here.

High Country News had an article looking at the management history of Grand Staircase-Escalante NM: How Grand Staircase-Escalante was set up to fail.

And this just in today: Backcountry Hunters & Anglers has started an ad campaign aimed at the national monuments review and Mr. Zinke. First up, a 30-second TV spot wondering “What happened to Ryan Zinke?”. It’s a question many people are asking.

 
2.    Public Lands Senior Pass: Huge Price Increase
          Deadline: August 27
          (ACTION ITEM)

The price for the lifetime Senior Pass, covering entrance fees to federal lands, will jump from $10 to $80 on August 28. The pass is available to all US citizens and permanent residents age 62 and over, with proof of age and residency. Passes may be purchased in person, online, or by mail.

Click here for a listing by state of the numerous sites around the country selling the pass.

For online purchases, click here. USGS is reporting a 12-week backlog issuing passes (a good sign that demand is high), and they recommend buying in person. However, purchase confirmations will be honored until your pass arrives.

By mail, click here for a form. Your application must be postmarked August 27 or before.

NOTE: Online and “by mail” applications are subject to an additional $10 processing fee, bringing the total to $20.

A new $20 Senior Annual Pass will also be available. Buy four in a row and you can turn them in for a lifetime pass.

For more information on the various passes issued by the land management agencies, click here.

 
IN CALIFORNIA
3.   State Legislation
       (ACTION ITEMS)

CalUWild doesn’t often get involved in state legislative issues—the myriad federal issues keep us more than busy enough—but there are a couple of current bills that you should know about and support. Both of the following are headed to the Assembly, first to the Appropriations Committee and then the full chamber. Please contact the Committee members and your own representative to support both bills. You can do it with one phone call or message on their website.

          a.   The Public Lands Protection Act

After the last presidential election, California was quick to strongly assert its leadership on many environmental and other social and economic issues. In February, a trio of bills under the mantle of “Preserve California” was introduced in the California State Senate.

Because it deals with potential federal land transfers or sales, CalUWild has an interest in SB 50, The Public Lands Protection Act, introduced by Sen. Ben Allen (D-26). This measure establishes a new state policy to discourage conveyances of federal lands to private developers for resource extraction and directs the state Lands Commission to establish a right of first refusal by the state of any federal lands proposed for sale or conveyance to other parties.

In doing so, this measure would ensure (a) that the state reviews any transactions involving federal lands here in California to ensure those lands are protected, and (b) where feasible, important lands are protected via state action.

CalUWild joins Forests Forever and the California Wilderness Coalition (CWC) in supporting SB 50.

High Country News published an article on S.B. 50, extensively quoting our good friend Ryan Henson at CWC: A California counter-attack would ward off land transgfers.

 
The first of the three bills is SB 49, The California Environmental Defense Act, introduced by Sens. Kevin de Leùn (D-24) and Henry Stern (D-27). It makes current federal clean air, climate, clean water, worker safety, and endangered species standards enforceable under state law, even if the federal government rolls back and weakens those standards; Directs state environmental, public health, and worker safety agencies to take all actions within their authorities to ensure standards in effect and being enforced today continue to remain in effect; Federal laws in these areas set “baselines”, but allow states to adopt more stringent standards. This bill simply ensures California does not backslide as a result of rollbacks and damage done by the new regime in Washington DC.

The final bill is SB 51, The Whistleblower and Public Data Protection Act, introduced by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-19). Attorneys, engineers, scientists and other professionals working for federal agencies are often licensed to practice in California. US EPA attorneys and scientists who report cover ups, destruction of information, or other wrongdoing may have federal whistleblower protection but could still lose their professional certifications under California law.

This measure would ensure federal employees do not lose state licensure for revealing violations of law, unethical actions or dangers to public health and safety. It also would direct state environmental and public health agencies to protect any information or data under state law, even if parties in Washington DC order their censorship or destruction. In 2003, the Legislature passed a similar law to provide state whistleblower protections (see AB 2713 of 2002).  That bill was vetoed by then-Governor Schwarzenegger.

For more background about these and other state efforts to “preserve California,” please read the press release from Sen. de Leùn, from which the above descriptions are taken.

CalUWild supports both of these bills as well.

          b.   Off-Highway Vehicle Modernization & Reform

Off-highway vehicle (OHV) abuse has long been a problem on public lands, causing soil erosion, injuring or killing wildlife like the Desert Tortoise, raising dust, and intruding into wilderness. OHV use in California has been exploding, and the state has been unable to keep pace with regulation and restoration. California has an Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission, part of the State Parks Department, which oversees policy and grant funding for managing OHV recreation and restoration programs. The Commission has accumulated a $145 million surplus over the years but has not enforced habitat protection plans or monitored the resources under it jurisdiction.

Sen. Ben Allen (D-26), author of SB 50 (above), with the support of our friends at the California Native Plant Society (CNPS), introduced SB 249 to provide important OHV reform, focusing on three key areas:

1)    Greater Environmental Protection – SB 249 creates improved transparency and implementation of commonsense measures to protect our sensitive cultural and natural resources;

2)   Better Value for Our Dollars — Ensures OHMVR grant funding for federal lands goes toward improved enforcement and restoration; and

3)    Accountable Management – SB 249 clarifies State Parks organizational structure and guarantees transparency.

CalUWild joins CNPS and CWC in supporting S.B. 249.

 
Take action

The Assembly is currently on recess, but will return August 21. The bills will be voted on in committee between then and September 1 before going to the full Assembly. If passed, they go back to the Senate for concurrence and then to the Governor for his signature by September 14.

Members of the Appropriations Committee are:

Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (Chair, D-80)
Frank Bigelow (Vice Chair, R-5)

James Gallagher   (R-3)
Susan Talamantes Eggman   (D-13)
Rob Bonta   (D-18)
Adam Gray   (D-21)
Jay Obernolte   (R-33)
Vince Fong   (R-34)
Raul Bocanegra   (D-39)
Laura Friedman   (D-43)
Eloise Gùmez Reyes   (D-47)
Ed Chau   (D-49)
Richard Bloom   (D-50)
Eduardo Garcia   (D-56)
Ian Calderon   (D-57)
Reginald Jones-Sawyer   (D-59)
William Brough   (R-73)

Contact links for each may be found by clicking on the link in each member’s entry on the main Assemblymembers page. If you’re not sure who your Assmeblymember is, click here.

 
4.   Visions of the Wild Festival: Changing Landscapes
          Downtown Vallejo & Beyond
          September 6-10

What began three years ago as a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act has become an annual event in Vallejo every fall since. CalUWild has continued to work with the U.S. Forest Service Region 5 Office, the Vallejo Community Arts Foundation, and other environment and arts groups to plan this year’s festival. The theme for this year’s festival is “Changing Landscapes” with a look at how various natural and manmade forces affect the world around us.

Events include art exhibitions at several Vallejo galleries, lectures, films, a chalk art festival, field trips, information tables (including CalUWild—please stop by!) and two river cruises, one up the Napa River on Saturday, the other up Carquinez Strait on Sunday, as far as the “Mothball Fleet” in Suisun Bay.

All events are FREE, with the exception of the river cruises. Seating on those is limited to about 33 passengers, and tickets ($45 plus service fee) are sure to sell out quickly. Details for all activities and events may be found on the events page.

Please visit the Visions of the Wild webpage for more information.

 
5.   Bodie Stewardship Day
          Saturday, August 5
          Bodie State Historic Park
          Bridgeport, CA

If you need to make a quick getaway this weekend, consider going to the Eastern Sierra (or if you will be there anyway), where the Bodie Hills Conservation Partnership (BHCP), Friends of the Inyo, Bodie State Park, the BLM Bishop Field Office, and the Bodie Foundation are sponsoring a stewardship day. CalUWild is a member of the BHCP. Here is the announcement:

Join us August 5, 2017 at Bodie State Historic Park to help us steward these amazing public lands and spend a day in the Bodie Hills. We will help care for this unique and special place by removing unnecessary fences that disrupt wildlife movement. Please wear work appropriate clothing including long pants, hat, and closed toed shoes. Tools and gloves will be provided.

Volunteers will get a light breakfast, lunch, raffle prizes and a free entrance day to the park along with a free interpretive tour after lunch.

Meet at the Red Barn at Bodie State Historic Park at 8:30 am on Saturday August 5th.

For more information email: info@friendsoftheinyo.org or april@bodiehills.org or call (760) 873-6500

 
IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
6.   Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest

If a link is broken or otherwise inaccessible, please send me an email, and I’ll fix it or send you a PDF copy. As always, inclusion of an item in this section does not imply agreement with the viewpoint expressed.

Washington Post articles

An op-ed in the Washington Post: I’m a scientist. I’m blowing the whistle on the Trump administration.

Homeland Security will waive laws to build US border wall

National Parks

An article in the Los Angeles Times: Dark Sky designation puts Joshua Tree National Park in a new light

An article in Yale Environment360: How A Surge in Visitors Is Overwhelming America’s National Parks

Henry David Thoreau

At Walden, Thoreau Wasn’t Really Alone With Nature

An essay in the Book Review section of the New York Times by historian Douglas Brinkley: Thoreau’s Wilderness Legacy, Beyond the Shores of Walden Pond

A book review in the New York Times of a new biography of Henry David Thoreau. Buy from your local bookseller (or available on Amazon).

And yet another angle in the Los Angeles Times: Happy birthday to Henry David Thoreau, a great sleep scholar

The U.S. Postal Service issued a Forever stamp in Thoreau’s honor. (It never showed up at our local post office, but you can buy it online).

An article in High Country News: Bundy supporter gets 68 years

Video link

Episode 24 in the U.S. Forest Service’s Restore series: Culvert and Road Restoration

 
 
 
 
 
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