Newsletter Archive

July 1, 2009

Dear CalUWild friends –

The Update often takes longer to get together than planned, so it’s a day late this time. But the information is current, nevertheless!

Summer is underway, but for various reasons, Americans take less vacation than their counterparts in other industrialized nations. Thus, many do not or cannot take the time to get away with their families, friends, or by themselves to enjoy the birthright of every American — the wonderful public lands of the West. And while we don’t want to love our wild places to death, people do need the time to be able to get away to visit them. Very often the motivation to protect those special places comes from having gotten to know them intimately.

At CalUWild we always look for ways to link wilderness protection with other grassroots citizen initiatives. Over the last couple of years, a movement has grown up in support of minimum vacation requirements, sick and maternity/paternity leave, and other areas where Americans lag behind. One of the organizations leading the campaign is Take Back Your Time. More detailed information about the issues, including an August 2009 conference in Seattle, can be found on their website. These are issues worthy of investigation, if not our support.

In breaking news, a federal judge in San Francisco ruled yesterday that the Bush Administration illegally changed the rules for National Forest planning when it dropped requirements designed to restrict logging, protect streams, and ensure “species viability.” This is the latest court decision overturning attempts by the previous administration to weaken or even gut public protections. Congratulations to Pete Frost at the Western Environmental Law Center, who represented the organizations involved in the suit.

One policy we are still waiting to see reversed is the “No More Wild” policy. This resulted from an agreement between Utah’s then-governor, Mike Leavitt and Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton, in which the BLM abdicated its legal responsibility to undertake continued inventories of land that might qualify for wilderness designation. One way of letting Secretary Ken Salazar know this is an important issue is by letting our Congressional friends know as well. So the next time you contact your representative or senator, please also put in a quick mention that you’d like Interior to use all the tools at its disposal to protect wildlands and give them the importance within BLM that they deserve and that the law requires. Thanks

In other news, the Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that the Department of the Interior is putting solar development on public lands on the fast track. The Department will begin a two-year study of some 1,000 square miles of lands for potential commercial development. This may present problems for conservationists, who support alternative energy but do not want to see public lands, which are often sensitive landscapes or home to threatened species, turned into industrial zones. So we’ll have to pay attention as this unfolds.

Click here for maps of the areas identified.

Thanks, as always, for your interest and support!

Best wishes,

1. Red Rock Wilderness Cosponsorship Update
Schedule an August Recess Meeting with Your Rep!

2. In the Press

3. State Parks Still under Threat of Closure
4. Sen. Dianne Feinstein Introduces a Rider in Congress
To Extend Pt. Reyes Oyster Farm’s Lease for 10 Years

5. Wilderness Service Trips

6. No Fee Bill Introduced in the U.S. Senate
7. Documentary on Pete McCloskey
Sunday, July 5, 6:00 p.m.


1. Red Rock Wilderness Cosponsorship Update
Schedule an August Recess Meeting with Your Rep!


America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act continues to draw support in Congress. In the Senate, there are 19 cosponsors of S.799, plus Sen. Durbin. This ties the previous record! Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) is a cosponsor, while Dianne Feinstein (D) is not.

In the House, H.R.1925 is up to 124 cosponsors, and there is still a ways to go there. We are hoping that the Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing after the August recess.

Here’s a list of current California cosponsors:

Mike Thompson (D-1)
Lynn C. Woolsey (D-6)
George Miller (D-7)
Barbara Lee (D-9)
Ellen O. Tauscher (D-10)
Jerry McNerney (D-11)
Jackie Speier (D-12)
Fortney Pete Stark (D-13)
Anna G. Eshoo (D-14)
Michael M. Honda (D-15)
Zoe Lofgren (D-16)
Sam Farr (D-17)
Lois Capps (D-23)
Brad Sherman (D-27)
Howard L. Berman (D-28)
Adam B. Schiff (D-29)
Henry A. Waxman (D-30)
Jane Harman (D-36)
Grace F. Napolitano (D-38)
Loretta Sanchez (D-47)
Bob Filner (D-51)
Susan A. Davis (D-53)

It’s important to let your representative know when they’ve done something you approve of, so if you haven’t thanked them yet, please do so. Special thanks go to Rep. Jackie Speier (D-12); this is the first time she is cosponsoring after replacing long-time cosponsor Tom Lantos.

Missing from the list of returning cosponsors:

Doris Matsui (D-5)

Xavier Beccera (D-31)
Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-34)
Maxine Waters (D-35)
Jane Harman (D-36)
Linda Sanchez (D-39)
Diane Watson (D-33)

Rep. Hilda Solis (D-32) is now Secretary of Labor, and Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-10) is now Undersecretary of State for Arms Control. Their seats are currently vacant.

Others who are potential cosponsors:

Dennis Cardoza (D-18)
Laura Richardson (D-37) replaced Juanita Millender-McDonald, a long-time cosponsor
Joe Baca (D-43) replaced George Brown, a long-time cosponsor
Mary Bono Mack (R-45)

If you live in any of these districts where the rep has not cosponsored or renewed their cosponsorship, the August Congressional Recess (it’s not a vacation time for them) provides a perfect opportunity to schedule a meeting with your representative or their staff. Citizens from around the country will be doing just that in support of Wild Utah.

If you’d be interested in being a part of this campaign in your district, send me an email, and I’ll help you get organized.

2. In the Press
Two ongoing issues in Utah have been the December Energy Lease Sale and even longer-term, the looting and destruction of archaeological sites. Rather than write an item about each, I’ll provide links to 2 New York Times articles that report on recent interesting and disturbing developments.

Registration is required for the Times website, but it’s free and won’t subject you to any SPAM. If you have trouble accessing the articles, let me know.

Interior Report Shows Flawed Utah Lease Sale

23 People Are Arrested or Sought in the Looting of Indian Artifacts

3. State Parks Still under Threat of Closure

It’s July 1, and the state budget crisis is still not resolved, so the fate of California’s State Parks remains undecided.

Negotiations continue among the officials in Sacramento. Please call the following with the message that our parks belong to the citizens of the state and must stay open. You might also point out that they bring in more money to the state than is spent in their budget.

Darrell Steinberg, Senate President Pro Tem: 916-651-4006
Dennis Hollingsworth, Senate Minority Leader: 916-651-4036
Karen Bass, Assembly Speaker: 916-319-2047
Sam Blakeslee, Assembly Republican Leader: 916-319-2033
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger: 415-703-2218

In an interesting development, the San Jose Mercury News reported yesterday that the National Park Service has threatened to step in and take control of those parks that have received funding from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund. These include: Henry Coe, Fremont Peak, Big Basin Redwoods, Castle Rock, Año Nuevo, Bodie Ghost Town, Mono Lake, Andrew Molera, Humboldt Redwoods, Point Lobos, Hearst San Simeon State Park, Anza-Borrego Desert, Sutter’s Fort and Mount Tamalpais.

4. Sen. Dianne Feinstein Introduces a Rider in Congress
To Extend Pt. Reyes Oyster Farm’s Lease for 10 Years

The saga of the oyster farm continues. As we reported in our December Update, the owner of the Johnson Oyster Company, operating in Drake’s Estero in Point Reyes National Seashore, wants his lease from the National Park Service extended when it expires in 2012. Sen. Dianne Feinstein has attached a rider to the Park Service’s budget included in the Interior Appropriations bill that would extend it for another 10 years.

The present owner knew when he bought the property several years ago that it was unlikely the Park Service would give him an extension, but he said at the time he’d be able to recoup his expenses and make a profit.

The issue is now complicated now by the fact that the Park Service has been accused of releasing inaccurate scientific assessments of the environmental effects of the operation on the Estero. In our opinion, that only distracts from the main issue, which is land use, not ecology.

The owner points to the sustainable and local nature of the operation, the fact that much of Pt. Reyes National Seashore is covered with historic dairies, many of which continue to operate, and finally that there are some 30 jobs involved and Johnson’s is the last oyster cannery on the West Coast.

These are all valid and true. However, Congress designated the Estero and the land on which the oyster farm as potential wilderness in 1976, with the expectation that it would become part of the Phillip Burton Wilderness when the lease expired. This law was subject to full and open debate at that time. If Congress wants to change the policy it enacted, then the same type of full and open debate needs to be held again.

Appearing on KQED Radio’s Forum yesterday, Sen. Feinstein said that the issue had been discussed with plenty of input, editorials, discussion, and reports. That, however, is not how legislation is crafted. And it leaves out the fact that (as we repeatedly point out to Utahns who want local control of federal lands) this land belongs to all Americans, so their representatives should be in on the discussion, as well.

We object to riders because they bypass the normal legislative process of committee hearings and public input. (And riders generally involve issues that wouldn’t be able to pass on their own merits. In other words, they’re sneaky.) We complain mightily when legislators opposed to conservation use them. So we’re doubly disappointed when our friends use them, too.

Regardless of where one stands on the issue of whether the oyster farm should remain, it’s a matter of supporting democratic principles.

Please contact Rep. Lynn Woolsey’s (D-6) office, in whose district Pt. Reyes National Seashore lies, and let her know that any decision to change the status of the oyster operation at Drake’s Estero should be open and public, not via a rider.

DC: 202-225-5161
Marin: 415-507-9554
Sonoma: 707-542-7182

Sen. Feinstein may be reached at:

DC: 202-224-3841
SF: 415-393-0707
LA: 310-914-7300
San Diego: 619-231-9712
Fresno: 559-485-7430

5. Wilderness Service Trips

Friends of Nevada Wilderness has a lineup of summer wilderness trip to various wild areas in Nevada. They’re a great way to help restore areas and to get to know and explore them as well. For a full listing, click here.

6. No Fee Bill Introduced in the U.S. Senate

In April Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) re-introduced legislation to repeal much of the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, which had passed a few years ago, charging citizens for using public lands. Sen. Baucus is the chairman of the Finance Committee. The bill number is S. 868 and currently has 2 cosponsors, Sens. John Tester (D-MT) and Mike Crapo (R-ID). Interior Secretary Ken Salazar was a cosponsor in the last Congress, so the bill may have support within the Obama Administration.

No companion legislation has been introduced in the House so far.

As written, the legislation applies only to lands managed by the Department of the Interior (not National Forests) and would leave in place the long-standing entrance fees to National Parks and fees for facilities in parks, including developed campgrounds and boat launches, developed swimming sites, and other amenities. The bill specifically prohibits charging fees for anyone under 16 years of age or for an outing conducted for a noncommercial educational purpose by a school or other academic institution.

In addition the Department of Interior may not charge a fee for Federal recreational land or water managed by the Bureau of Land Management or the Bureau of Reclamation.

We’ll keep you posted as the bill progresses.

7. Documentary on Pete McCloskey
Sunday, July 5, 6:00 p.m.

Bay Area CalUWild members will have the chance to see the premiere of Pete McCloskey: Leading from the Front. Many may remember Mr. McCloskey as a candidate in the 2006 Republican primary election to unseat Rep. Richard Pombo (R-11), then-chairman of the House Resources Committee. (Although he lost, his challenge contributed to Mr. Pombo’s later defeat by Jerry McNerney (D) in the general election, who continues to hold the seat.) But Mr. McCloskey has a long history of achievement behind him as a Korean War hero, lawyer, Congressman, and farmer.

The documentary was produced and directed by Rob Caughlan, a longtime member of CalUWild’s Advisory Board and founder of the Surfrider Foundation. Paul Newman is the narrator.

Click here for more information on the film.

The film airs on KQED Sunday, July 5, at 6:00 p.m.

If you don’t live in KQED’s viewing area, please ask your local PBS station to air it when it becomes available.