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Fog at Drakes Bay, Point Reyes National Seashore, California                                                                             (Mike Painter)

 
August 24, 2019

Dear CalUWild friends—

This Update for August is coming out earlier in the month than usual so people who are able can attend one of the Park Service Open Houses on August 27 and 28 for the Point Reyes National Seashore Draft Management Plan. We have serious reservations about the plan and urge people to attend an open house if possible and to submit comments, regardless of whether they can attend or not. Full details are below in ITEM 2.

 
There are a few events in September to mention. Click on the links for more information:

The 6th Annual Visions of the Wild Festival, a film and arts festival in Vallejo that CalUWild has helped plan with the Forest Service and the Vallejo Community Arts Foundation since 2014. The theme this year is Transforming Fire, in recognition of Smokey Bear’s 75th anniversary.
September 12–15 in Downtown Vallejo

The 9th Annual Wine Country Optics & Nature Festival, featuring many conservation organizations and leading manufacturers of optical gear like binoculars for birding and wildlife viewing. (We won’t be there this year, unfortunately, because of the conflict with the Visions Festival.)
September 14 at the Sonoma Barracks on the Plaza, Sonoma.

35th California Coastal Cleanup Day. Not just the coast, but also other waterways in the state!
September 21

National Public Lands Day. Many organizations sponsor stewardship projects and most federal lands are admission-free.
September 28

 
As always, thank you for your support of America’s public lands!

 
Best wishes,
Mike

 

IN UTAH
1 .    Final Management Plans Released for the Areas
          Covered by the Original Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
2.    Draft Management Plan Amendment Released for
          Point Reyes National Seashore
          Open Houses Aug. 27 & 28
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINE: September 23
          (ACTION ITEM)

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

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

IN UTAH
1.   Final Management Plans Released for the Areas
          Covered by the Original Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
          (ACTION ITEM)

The Bureau of Land Management yesterday released its Final Management Plans for the shrunken Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and the areas removed from it by the administration in December 2017. Since it is a final document, they will not be open for general public comment, although organizations that filed earlier comments will most certainly file formal protests. The best thing for citizens to do now is to contact their representatives in Congress—more on that below.

The Salt Lake Tribune published an article answering some questions about the plans. We await a more detailed analysis, but the coalition of organizations working on national monuments named their major flaws:

The plan opens up hundreds of thousands of acres of the original Monument (designated in 1996) to drilling and mining, while the administration’s illegal reduction of the Monument (decreasing it by nearly half) is still being actively litigated and while the Government Accountability Office is investigating whether the planning process itself is in violation of long-standing spending law.

It is the result of a rushed and closed-door process, opening up land for inappropriate development with little input from the public.

The plan changes standards for the management of all national monuments—affecting treasured places across the country—and doesn’t even protect what remains of Grand Staircase-Escalante.

You can read the entire press release here.

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) said: “This is a dangerous precedent for all our national monuments, and everyone who supports our public lands should be concerned about this shameless giveaway campaign.” You can read his entire statement here.

If you wish, you can read and download the following BLM Plan documents:

Executive Summary

Volume 1 (Chapters 1–4)

Volume 2 (Appendices A–W)

We’ll continue to keep you up to date as more information becomes available. In the meantime, please call your Congressional Representative and Senators and let them know you object to these plans and then either thank them for their cosponsorship of the two bills below, which we have discussed in the past, or ask them to cosponsor the bills of they haven’t already.

S. 367/H.R. 1050, the ANTIQUITIES Act of 2019, reaffirms that presidents lack the authority to rescind or diminish national monuments. It also codifies the 52 existing national monuments established or expanded under the Antiquities Act since January 1996 and expands protections for the Bears Ears, Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks, Rio Grande del Norte, and Gold Butte National Monuments. The bill would also create a $100 million fund to improvement the management and conservation of national monuments.

H.R. 871, the Bears Ears Expansion and Respect for Sovereignty Act (BEARS Act—in the House only), proposes to expand the boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument to 1.9-million-acre boundary proposed by the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition. Its language is also incorporated into H.R. 1050.

There are a few new California cosponsors for these bills since our last Update, so please check our online California Congressional Information Sheet, where you can find contact information for all California offices and cosponsorship information on two other bills, as well.

 
IN CALIFORNIA
2.   Draft Management Plan Amendment Released for
          Point Reyes National Seashore
          Open Houses Aug. 27 & 28
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINE: September 23
          (ACTION ITEM)

The National Park Service this month released its Draft Management Plan Amendment for Point Reyes National Seashore. The current general management plan dates back to 1980. The present amendment is the result of a settlement reached after the Park Service was sued by the Resource Renewal Institute, the Western Watersheds Project, and the Center for Biological Diversity. You can read some of the details of the suit here. (Full disclosure: Resource Renewal Institute is CalUWild’s fiscal sponsor, handling tax-deductible contributions and grants, but CalUWild was not involved in the Pt. Reyes litigation, nor have we been involved with RRI’s project Restore Point Reyes National Seashore, to which we link below.)

Dairy and beef cattle ranching has a long history at Pt. Reyes, dating back to the 1800s. When the Seashore was established in the 1960s, there was opposition from the ranching families, but they eventually agreed to a buyout-leaseback arrangement with the National Park Service. It was never the intent that ranching would continue indefinitely. The fact is that there is no mention of ranching as being a purpose for the establishment of the Seashore in its enabling legislation:

In order to save and preserve, for purposes of public recreation, benefit, and inspiration, a portion of the diminishing seashore of the United States that remains undeveloped, the Secretary of the Interior … is authorized to take appropriate action in the public interest toward the establishment of the national seashore.

Some people, however, are now claiming that it was Congress’s original intent that ranching continue, but note the quote in this article: “‘We just want to change the founding legislation … so that ranchers are guaranteed they’ll always be able to farm out there. [emphasis added]’”

Legislation was later passed giving the ranchers leases for 25 years or for the life of the rancher, whichever was longer, with the possibility of lease extensions. The general expectation at the time was that ranching would be phased out. In the 1970s, Tule Elk were released into areas of the Seashore, and the cattle operations now cause conflicts with the expanding herds.

The Draft Plan’s Preferred Alternative proposes to protect cattle ranching at the expense of wildlife, specifically Tule Elk, and the overall landscape. While much of the press reaction has centered around the killing Tule Elk when they come in conflict with cattle, equally (if not more) important is the proposal to allow ranchers to remain permanently and actually increase their commercial operations at the Seashore to include the raising of other animals, such as turkeys and pigs, to allow growing vegetables and row crops, and to allow paying overnight guests at ranches.

Restore Point Reyes National Seashore provides more details as to what this means.

In short, this is not a balanced plan. The Park Service is offering the ranchers almost everything they asked for during the scoping process, as set forth in a letter from the Ranchers Association, which you can read here. The environment and the general public get little or nothing out of the Plan.

Therefore, CalUWild opposes all of these proposals.

The question comes down to this: What is a National Seashore for?

Is it “to save and preserve, for purposes of public recreation, benefit, and inspiration, a portion of the diminishing seashore of the United States that remains undeveloped” as its establishing legislation states?

Or is it to foster private businesses even after they’ve been bought out, especially when they have been shown to be damaging to the resources the Seashore was established to protect?

Two informational meetings on the proposal are planned in Marin County. You may submit comments at them.

Tuesday, Aug. 27
5–7 p.m.
West Marin School Gym, Point Reyes Station

Wednesday, Aug. 28
5–7 p.m.

Bay Model Visitor Center, Sausalito

CalUWild suggests the following talking points for your comments:

• Point Reyes National Seashore should be managed for those values it was originally created to protect: the landscape and its wildlife.• Dairy and beef ranching should be phased out as was originally intended.

• There should absolutely be no increase in the level of commercial activity allowed to leaseholders in the Seashore.

• Wildlife should always take priority over livestock.

In addition, Restore Point Reyes National Seashore suggests the following talking points:

• Restore the Seashore’s Pastoral Zone for wildlife habitat, native plant communities, scientific research and education.

• Repurpose historic ranch buildings for scientific research, interpretation and public education.

As always, when writing comments it is best to use your own words, to give your personal perspective on the issue, and to incorporate any experiences you have had that are noteworthy or influence your thinking.

You may also comment on the plan through September 23, by following the links here. You may also mail or hand deliver comments to:

GMP Amendment c/o Superintendent
Point Reyes National Seashore
1 Bear Valley Road
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956

For more information, check out these resources:

Restore Point Reyes National Seashore, mentioned above

The Center for Biological Diversity has a fact sheet contrasting the impacts of Tule Elk with cattle at Point Reyes.

An independent filmmaker investigated the conflict over Tule Elk, cattle ranching, and environmental impacts at Point Reyes. He produced a film about it, titled The Shame of Point Reyes. You can view it on the filmmaker’s website, which also has lots of information about Point Reyes, or on YouTube. You’ll see things you likely never knew anything about.

The Point Reyes Rewilding Network

 
IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
3.   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 Interior Department & Administration

An article in Pacific Standard about yet another Interior Department official meeting with former employers: New Documents Reveal More About Alleged Ethics Violations at the Department of the Interior. In an unfortunate development, it was announced the day after this article appeared that Pacific Standard would be ceasing publication, after it major funder pulled the plug on it without warning. The Los Angeles Times had an article about it: Pacific Standard magazine is shutting down after losing its main financial backer

An editorial in the Washington Post on Acting BLM Director Pendley: William Perry Pendley did not have Senate approval. Congress should not stand for it.

An op-ed in The Hill on the Acting BLM Director: New Bureau of Land Management leader is not only unfit to serve, he’s a threat to Western values

An op-ed by NY Times writer Timothy Egan: The Great Western Public Land Robbery

An article in The Hill: Bureau of Land Management retirees fight plan to relocate agency out west

The PBS NewsHour had a segment: How Trump is shaping the future of America’s public lands

Utah

More on the Factory Butte situation that we’ve reported on recently, from the Deseret News: Environmental groups sue BLM over opening southern Utah area to off-road vehicles

California

An article in The New Yorker: A Trailblazing Plan to Fight California Wildfires

Alaska

An article in Courthouse News about the latest Izembek Wildlife Refuge land exchange promoted by the Interior Department: New Alaskan Land Swap Called Just as Illegal as the First One

Regarding the proposed Pebble Gold Mine, CNN reported: EPA dropped salmon protection after Trump met with Alaska governor. An article also appeared in Courthouse News: Commercial Fishermen, Indigenous People Unite to Fight Mine in Alaska

Nevada

An op-ed in Nevada Current: Public lands: It’s who we are as Nevadans

Public Lands in General

An article in Outside: The Controversial Plan to Protect America’s Trails

An article from The Guardian‘s “This Land is Your Land” project: Trump administration authorizes ‘cyanide bombs’ to kill wild animals. Five days later, the EPA reversed the decision after a huge public outcry, as reported here by the New York Times: E.P.A. Backtracks on Use of ‘Cyanide Bombs’ to Kill Wild Animals.

 
 
 
 
 
 
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