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Aspens near Capitol Reef National Park, Utah                                                                                                    (Mike Painter)

 
September 29, 2018

Dear CalUWild friends—

It’s been an exhausting week, with the confirmation hearing for Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court taking center stage. The last couple of weeks have focused on his conduct against women, but earlier in the month the committee asked questions about his environmental record. He gave misleading answers then, too. For example, he claimed that he ruled in favor of environmentalists in many cases. In fact when he did, it was very often only on procedural issues while ruling against on substantive issues. You can read more in this blog post from our friends at the Natural Resources Defense Council. For many reasons, then, he doesn’t deserve to be confirmed.

Remember: When it all gets to be too much, go out for a hike.

 
Many thanks to our members who have supported CalUWild over the last few months by buying a painting by our friend Patrick Dengate. He’s generously contributing 50% of the selling price to CalUWild. Some of his paintings can be seen here, and there are more on his website.

 
Finally, an administrative note: We had an involuntary migration of the CalUWild website over to a new host recently, and there were a couple of minor glitches. If you come across any broken links, please send me an email, and I will fix them right away.

 
Thanks for your interest and support!
Mike

 
IN UTAH
1.   Emery County Bill Update
          (ACTION ITEM)
2.   National Monuments Update
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINES: November 15 & 30
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
3.   Rep. Huffman’s Pt. Reyes Ranching Bill Passes House
4.   Vote NO on Prop. 3,
          The Water Bond on November’s Ballot
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN GENERAL
5.   Land & Water Conservation Fund Due to Expire
          (ACTION ITEM)
6.   Job Listing: National Parks Conservation Association
          Communications Manager

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

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IN UTAH
1.   Emery County Bill Update
          (ACTION ITEM)

The bill for Emery County, which we reported on in our May Update had a markup hearing this week in Congress. The following comes from our friends at the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

 
There were a few fireworks during the House Committee on Natural Resources markup of H.R. 5727, Rep. Curtis’s (UT-3) “Not-So-Swell” bill for Emery County.

Rep. Grijalva (AZ-3), the committee’s ranking member, issued a strong opening statement, acknowledging the work Rep. Curtis has put into this legislation, but highlighting all the many things still wrong with the bill. He specifically called for more protections for Labyrinth Canyon, Muddy Creek, and the San Rafael Badlands, and for resolution to the Ute Tribe’s concerns about the land exchange the bill facilitates.

At the outset, Rep. Curtis offered an amendment in the nature of a substitution (ANS), which serves to change the underlying bill being debated. The amendment fixed the travel plan we’d long had concerns about, but also made some things worse. For example, it downgraded the National Conservation Area in the San Rafael Swell to a National Recreation Area, which would put conservation on the backburner in the eyes of the BLM.

Some of Rep. Curtis’s fiercest critics came from his own side of the dais. Rep. Gosar (AZ-4) offered a string of amendments that would actually make this bill even worse, removing a mineral withdrawal and removing Wild and Scenic river protections. His amendments were all defeated squarely, but not before he offered at least one argument we agree with: that the lands in question are federal lands, and all Americans should have a say in their management. We couldn’t agree more, Rep. Gosar.

That’s why our champion in the House, Rep. Lowenthal (CA-47) offered a stirring defense of the special places that have been left out of the bill, and offered an amendment to add additional Wilderness protections for Labyrinth Canyon and Muddy Creek, and a National Conservation Area for the San Rafael Badlands. Rep. Curtis had complained earlier that nobody gets to have a “winner take all” bill, but the truth is, even if Lowenthal’s amendment was adopted, the bill would only protect half of what’s in America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act. Unfortunately, the amendment did not pass.

Rep. Hanabusa (HI-2) offered an amendment that would ease the Ute Tribe’s concerns by defining Indian land as any land within an Indian reservation. This amendment was defeated on a party line vote, 21-17.

The bill ultimately passed out of committee, but not before the mark-up showed why no conservation organizations support this legislation. It’s a step backward for conservation, and Rep. Curtis doesn’t seem to want to fix that. He is still only catering to the desires of Emery County—in fact, he went as far as to say he would turn the land over to the county if he could: “If they had stewardship—believe me, I would love to wave a wand and give them the land, but this is the next best thing to it — to ask what they would do with the federal land in their area.”

But these are all American’s public lands. Keep emailing your members of Congress and asking them to oppose this legislation as it continues to move throughout both chambers.

 
Please call your representatives and ask them to oppose H.R. 5727 and your senators to oppose S. 2809, Orrin Hatch’s (R-UT) companion Senate bill. Contact information for the House may be found by following the links here and for the Senate, here.

 
2.   National Monuments Update
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINES: November 15 & 30
          (ACTION ITEM)

The comment periods for the shrunken Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments are still open. It’s important that interested citizens submit their thoughts, especially if you have visited the areas or hope to some day.

Please see Item 1 in the last Update for detailed talking points and the links and addresses for commenting on the plans.

BLM has announced open houses in Utah for the planning processes.

Bears Ears NM

Tuesday, October 2
San Juan High School
311 N 100 E
Blanding
5 to 8 p.m.

Wednesday, October 3
Bluff Community Center
190 N 3rd St E
Bluff
5 to 8 p.m.

Thursday, October 4
White Horse High School
State Highway 262
Montezuma Creek
5 to 8 p.m.

Grand Staircase-Escalante NM

Monday, October 15
Escalante High School
70 N 1 W
Escalante
4 to 7 p.m.

Tuesday, October 16
Kanab Elementary School
41 W 100 N
Kanab
4 to 7 p.m.

In other news regarding the lawsuits filed against the administration’s shrinking of the monuments, Federal Judge Tanya Chutkan ruled against the administration’s request for a change of venue from Washington, DC to Utah. Among the factors influencing her decision was that the “abundantly clear” and “substantial” national interest in the case outweighs the local interest.

Judge Chutkan also ordered the government to notify the plaintiffs if any proposals for hard-rock mining or other surface-disturbing projects are proposed within the original monuments.

This is good news for us. We’ll keep you posted on further developments.

The New Yorker published an article on the one of the Grand Staircase-Escalante lawsuits: Why Two Chefs in Small-Town Utah Decided to Sue President Trump.

 
IN CALIFORNIA
3.   Rep. Huffman’s Pt. Reyes Ranching Bill Passes House

In Item 4 of the last Update we reported that Rep. Jared Huffman (D-2) had introduced a bill directing the Secretary of the Interior to issue 20-year leases to ranchers at Point Reyes National Seashore in Marin County. After some minor amendments, the bill passed the House last week.

It remains to be seen how the bill, if signed into law, will affect the Park Service’s ongoing general management plan updating process at the seashore. One of the alternatives mandated by the previous court settlement is a “no ranching” alternative. This legislation would seem on its face to prevent such an alternative from being considered. Rep. Huffman denies it will interfere with the planning process.

Although the bill appeared suddenly, it seems something has been in the works for a while. Here’s an article from earlier in the year in the East Bay Express with some background information that might shed some light on the issue: Point Reyes Ranchers Create Lobbying Group to Weaken Protections for Public Lands. Note the quote in the article: “‘We just want to change the founding legislation of the [Point Reyes National Seashore] so that ranchers are guaranteed they’ll always be able to farm out there. [emphasis added]’”

Legislation for the Seashore passed 40 years ago this Fall gave leasebacks to ranchers of 25 years or for the life of the rancher or spouse, whichever was longer. Restrictions were also placed on transfers of leases outside of ranchers’ families. It’s clear that ranching that was never intended to continue at Pt. Reyes always.

Congress should not manage our public lands at that level of detail. That is why our agencies hire land managers. The bill also sets a bad precedent for Congressional representatives to introduce similar laws for their districts.

Unfortunately, the misleading language in Rep. Huffman’s original bill, concerning the directive to “the Secretary of the Interior to manage the Point Reyes National Seashore … consistent with Congress’ longstanding intent to maintain working dairies and ranches on agricultural property,” is already being used as an example to support viewpoints opposing future restrictions on public lands grazing elsewhere. This letter to the editorabout the Emery County, Utah bill discussed in Item 1 appeared earlier this month.

 
The Marin Independent Journal published two op-eds, one opposing the legislation, Huffman wrong to protect Point Reyes cattle ranchers, and one in support of it, Huffman is doing what a political leader should do.

 
4.   Vote NO on Prop. 3,
          The Water Bond on November’s Ballot
          (ACTION ITEM)

With early voting set to start before publication of our next Update, we’re joining the Sierra Club in coming out against Proposition 3 on the November ballot.

This statement from the Sierra Club, Proposition 3: A Fiscally Irresponsible Approach to California’s Water Problems, lists the reasons for voting against it. Some of them include:

• It was written and is being funded by groups that would receive bond money if it’s passed.

• Taxpayers would be paying for repairs to projects that are normally paid for by the recipients of the water.

• It could provide funding for raising dams and other environmentally harmful projects.

The San Francisco Chronicle published an editorial supporting the Club’s position and also pointing out that a similar proposal was defeated in 2002.

 
ALSO: Please make sure your voter registration is current. You can check it out at Vote.org, regardless of which state you live in. If you’re not registered for some reason, you can do it there, too. The deadline for registering in California is Monday, October 22, 15 days before the election.

 
IN GENERAL
5.   Land & Water Conservation Fund Due to Expire
          (ACTION ITEM)

The Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) will expire tomorrow, September 30, for the first time in its history. But all is not lost. The following (slightly edited) comes from Vicky Hoover, LWCF campaign director at the Sierra Club (and CalUWild co-founder):

 
In a surprise move earlier this month, the House Natural Resources Committee actually marked-up and voted on the bill to permanently reauthorize the Land & Water Conservation Fund, H.R. 502—-after its champion, Mr. Grijalva made a relatively minor compromise to overcome the chairman’s long-time hostility—and it was passed by the Committee!

This opens up the door to a full House vote.

Please thank the six Democrats from California who are on the Committee—and who vigorously defended the LWCF and fought off a few damaging amendments that were proposed by Rep. Gosar (R) of Arizona.

Jared Huffman (D-2): 202-225-5161
Jim Costa (D-16): 202-225-3341
Grace Napolitano (D-32): 202-225-5256
Jimmy Gomez (D-34): 202-225-6235
Alan Lowenthal (D-47): 202-225-7924
Nannette Barragán (D-44): 202-225-8220

The markup should really make it easier for more Republicans to cosponsor. And so far we still have only one from California — Steve Knight.

It STILL would be valuable and useful to get Walters, Royce, Issa and Duncan Hunter on as cosponsors of H.R. 502. The more cosponsors, the more effective political support. Please call the following

Ed Royce (R-39): 202-225-4111
Mimi Walters (R-45): 202-225-5611
Darrell Issa (R-49): 202-225-3906
Duncan Hunter (R-50): 202-225-5672

The more cosponsors, the more ammunition against damaging amendments, and against efforts to “rob” the LWCF to pay for parks maintenance—the final bill MUST leave dedicated funds for the LWCF alone and not waylay them into other programs—even if another new use for such funds—such as a new fund to address the maintenance backlog in our national park system—is a good use. It MUST be additive and totally separate from the LWCF.

 
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, announced that she would hold hearings next week to consider legislation to reauthorize the LWCF and a bill to fund maintenance in the national parks, too.

 
6.   Job Listing: National Parks Conservation Association
          Communications Manager

The position will be based in NPCA’s Oakland, CA office and will lead development and implementation of a national communications campaign related to oil and gas/harmful energy development near national parks. The manager will also lead communications strategy and outreach for the Southwest and Northwest regions.

For full details, click here.

 
IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
7.   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.

An article from the Center for Investigative Reporting: National park officials were told climate change was ‘sensitive.’ So they removed it from a key planning report

In The New Republic What the Public Lands Are Truly Worth: A new book argues that America’s forests and streams provide far more value than they cost to support. A review of In Defense of Public Lands: The Case against Privatization and Transfer

An article in The New Yorker: The Grand Canyon Needs to Be Saved By Every Generation

From the Taos News: Rio Grande Trail: Putting a 500-mile path on the ground

And in the New York Times: The Rio Grande Is Dying. Does Anyone Care?

 
 
 
 
 
 

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