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The Bears Ears (right), Utah                                                                                                                                  (Mike Painter)

 
July 2, 2019

Dear CalUWild friends—

There has not been much recent public lands activity in Congress. There will be a recess for August, though, giving people a good opportunity to attend public events with members. You can also set up in-district meetings to discuss issues, as offices will remain staffed for phone calls and meetings.

There were a lot of articles and other resources that came along last month, on a wide variety of topics, They’re included in ITEM 4—not exactly summer reading and too many to read all at once. But please read some of them to keep current on events.

I hope you are able to get out and enjoy some of our wonderful public lands in the West this summer, while at the same time helping to protect them.

 
Have a happy Fourth of July,
Mike

 
IN UTAH
1.    Red Rock Bill Cosponsor Update
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
2.    Bodie Hills Campout
          July 20-21

IN GENERAL
3.    Mining Reform Bill Introduced in Congress
          (ACTION ITEM)

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

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

IN UTAH
1.    Red Rock Bill Cosponsor Update
          (ACTION ITEM)

We are still waiting for a firm reintroduction date for America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act. It should happen sometime soon. The various interested parties are still working out boundary adjustments resulting from the passage of the public lands package in February, which included major legislation for Emery County.

There is still time to get your representative and senators signed on as original cosponsors, an important signal of support for the bill itself and for the protection of Utah’s BLM wilderness lands in general.

So please call your House representative and senators, requesting that they sign on. They should contact the bills’ chief sponsors in both the House and the Senate: Rep. Alan Lowenthal and Sen. Dick Durbin, respectively.

Telephone numbers for California’s congressional delegation Washington, DC offices may be found on CalUWild’s Online California Congressional Information Sheet.

 
IN CALIFORNIA
2.    Bodie Hills Campout
          July 20-21

Here’s a chance to explore a bit of the Bodie Hills, sponsored by the Bodie Hills Conservation Partnership, of which CalUWild is a member, though a scheduling conflict will prevent me from participating.

 
SAVE THE DATE: Bodie Hills Bonanza and Campout
July 20-21st 2019

Join us in July for this new first-time volunteer stewardship event at the new East Walker State Recreation Area. We will be based and camping at the “Elbow.”

Participants will meet Saturday morning for a volunteer cleanup project at the East Walker River: the Elbow campground.

After the stewardship project we will have various workshops and talks including a fly-fishing demo, wildlife tracking and viewing with optics, and cultural resources. More details coming soon. Meals will be provided and reservations and rsvp required for meals and camping.

Contact April at april [at] bodiehills [dot] org or Russell at California [at] backcountryhunters [dot] org for more information and questions.

 
IN GENERAL
3.    Mining Reform Bill Introduced in Congress
          (ACTION ITEM)

In last month’s Update, we included a link to an op-ed in The Hill by John Leshy, discussing pending legislation to reform the Mining Act of 1872. The bill has been introduced, so please join CalUWild, Wilderness Watch, and other organizations in calling for an end to hardrock mining in Wilderness. Ask your representative in Congress to cosponsor and support the Hardrock Leasing and Reclamation Act of 2019 (H.R.2579). The following information and talking points come from Wilderness Watch.

 
The 1872 Mining Act — one of the most outdated and obsolete pieces of legislation on the books — still allows countless acres of America’s public lands, Wilderness areas, and pristine waters to be polluted by toxic mining every year. Believe it or not, this 147 year-old law still governs mining on public lands, including within Wilderness!

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the mining industry is America’s largest toxic polluter—40 percent of the West’s headwater streams have been polluted by mining.

Adding insult to environmental injury, the 1872 Mining Law allows mining companies — including foreign-owned companies — to use and abuse American public lands for free. That’s right! Mining companies pay no royalties whatsoever. More than 300 billion dollars-worth of minerals have been mined from our public lands, including within Wilderness, without paying taxpayers a dime.

Fortunately, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-NM) has introduced the Hardrock Leasing and Reclamation Act of 2019 (HR 2579) that would reform and replace the 1872 Mining Act. The bill prohibits new mining activity within the National Conservation System, which includes Wilderness and Wilderness Study Areas. The bill also makes existing mining claims in Wilderness invalid and void after 10 years if no plan of operation has been approved.

You may not think hardrock mining is currently a threat to Wilderness, but it is. In a recent case, Wilderness Watch scored an important legal victory for the famed Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho when a judge ordered the Forest Service to conduct further analysis of proposed mining exploration and evaluate less invasive alternatives for activities in the Wilderness. In response to this ruling, in May 2018 the Forest Service released a recommendation to limit mining-related activities (including disallowing and limiting much of the drilling and trenching) at the Golden Hand Mine, which originally proposed extensive drilling, bulldozing, and road construction.

Talking points:

• As your constituent, I urge you to co-sponsor and support the “Hardrock Leasing and Reclamation Act of 2019” (HR 2579).

• This bill would reform and replace the 1872 Mining Act—one of the most outdated and obsolete pieces of legislation still on the books in America. The 147 year-old law still governs mining on public lands, including within Wilderness. Currently, the 1872 Mining Act allows countless acres of America’s public lands, Wilderness areas, and pristine waters to be polluted by toxic mining every year.

• According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the mining industry is America’s largest toxic polluter—40 percent of the West’s headwater streams have been polluted by mining.

• Adding insult to environmental injury, the 1872 Mining Law allows mining companies— including foreign-owned companies—to use and abuse American public lands for free. To date, more than 300 billion dollars-worth of minerals have been mined from our public lands, including within Wilderness, without paying taxpayers a dime.

• Fortunately, HR 2579 would reform and replace this outdated system. The bill would prohibit new mining activity within the National Conservation System, which includes Wilderness and Wilderness Study Areas. The bill also makes existing mining claims in Wilderness invalid and void after 10 years if no plan of operation has been approved.

 
California cosponsors so far are:

Jared Huffman (D-2)
John Garamendi (D-3)
Grace F. Napolitano (D-32)
Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-40)
Alan S. Lowenthal (D-47)
Mike Levin (D-49)

Contact information for all offices may be found on CalUWild’s Online California Congressional Information Sheet.

 
IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
4.    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.

The Department of the Interior & Other Administration News

A column from the Washington Post Energy 202: Congress wants to know when Trump will fill all the vacant positions at Interior.

An article in The Hill: Trump directs agencies to cut advisory boards by ‘at least’ one-third.

An article in Roll Call about Interior Department practices regarding Freedom of Information Act requests: Interior held back FOIA’d documents after political screenings. The Hill requested documents and found them incomplete: Exclusive: Trump administration delayed releasing documents related to Yellowstone superintendent’s firing.

An article in the Washington Post: Trump administration backtracks on closure of Job Corps program after bipartisan opposition from Congress. We reported on the original plan to shutter the program last month.

An analysis by CNN News: Interior has 5 versions of the secretary’s schedule — but they don’t always match.

In our January Update we linked to an article concerning the use of recreation fees to keep the national parks open during the government shutdown. National Parks Traveler reports that Rep. Raúl Grijalva, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee has written a letter to Secty. Bernhardt asking for an explanation of the money’s use. You can read the letter here.

A post at the Environmental Law Institute‘s blog, responding to Secty. Bernhardt’s assertion (reported last month) that he is under no obligation to do anything about climate change (and blaming Congress for his inaction, too!): Secretary Bernhardt Says He Doesn’t Have a Duty to Fight Climate Change. He’s Wrong.

Just made public, a letter from last December, reported in The Hill: Federal investigators concluded Ryan Zinke’s MAGA socks violated Hatch Act.

Utah

From the Washington Post Energy 202: A federal watchdog is investigating Trump administration’s decisions on Utah monument.

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune: Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase remain in limbo as lawsuits move slowly and legislation stalls.

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune: Trump could revive Utah’s uranium mines any day now, but activists worry about the industry’s toxic legacy.

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune: Endangered condor may have hatched in Zion National Park.

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune: How the actions of Utah’s rural officials connect to an increase in violence toward federal employees.

An article in the Los Angeles Times: Life on Mars gets a test run in the Utah desert. Factory Butte, which we mentioned and pictured last month, can be seen in the upper right corner of the fifth picture.

California

An article in the Los Angeles Times: Court throws out federal approval of Cadiz water pipeline. Secretary of the Interior, David Bernhardt, headed up the natural resources division at the law firm which had the Cadiz Company as a lobbying client before his appointment. He has denied personally lobbying for them.

An article in the Palm Springs Desert Sun: Nestlé is still taking national forest water for its Arrowhead label, with feds’ help.

An op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle by CalUWild friend Dan Gluesenkamp, Executive Director of the California Native Plant Society, and former governor Jerry Brown: Finding hope in the face of extinction.

An article in the San Francisco Chronicle about potential tribal public land: PG&E owns land across California. What will happen to it?

Colorado

An op-ed in the Grand Junction Sentinel about a Colorado wilderness bill in Congress: CORE Act will protect wildlife across the state. It passed its first legislative test last week: CORE Act, which would preserve land in Eagle County, passes House committee in this article from the Vail Daily.

Minnesota

Not in the West, but still an important national issue: An article in the New York Times about a mining proposal bordering the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota: A Plan to Mine the Minnesota Wilderness Hit a Dead End. Then Trump Became President.

Nevada

An article in the New York Times about the Air Force’s proposal to expand into the Desert National Wildlife Refuge, north of Las Vegas: Bombing Range or Nature Preserve? A Battle for Control of the Nevada Desert.

New Mexico

In the Albuquerque Journal, an article on Chaco Culture National Park: BLM reverses position on Chaco protection bill. The bill discussedwould create a 10-mile buffer around Chaco, in which no energy production would be allowed. This is a step beyond Secty. Bernhardt’s 1-year moratorium on energy leases announced previously.

Oregon

An article in Courthouse News on the Hammonds’ ranching lawsuit in Oregon, which we mentioned in our May Update: Judge Blocks Grazing Permits for Pardoned Arsonists.

Public Lands in General

Our friends at Headwater Economics have assembled a page with an interactive map from the U.S. Geological Survey data on public lands and their protective status. The page also contains links to reports that Headwater Economics has prepared on public lands.

The BLM has published a series of online maps of popular climbing areas on lands that it manages. Click here.

An article in the New York Times: Who Gets to Own the West—A new group of billionaires is shaking up the landscape.

 
 
 
 
 

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