Newsletter Archive

On Cedar Mesa, Utah                                                                                                                           Mike Painter

April 30, 2011

Dear CalUWild friends

There are a lot of items this month, so we’ll dispense with a lengthy introduction.

I do, however, want to point out an interesting report, Wrong from the Start, prepared by Solar Done Right, a coalition of environmental organizations, which looks at the current push to site industrial-sized facilities in the desert and other sensitive areas. It’s a downloadable PDF, which you can find here.

And now on to the items.

Thanks for all your interest and support!


1.   Red Rock Bill to be Reintroduced
          (ACTION ITEM)

2.   Sequoia Kings Canyon Wilderness Planning Scoping
          (ACTION ITEM)

3.   Grand Canyon Noise Management Planning
          Comment Deadline: June 20
          (ACTION ITEM)

4.   Wilderness Bill Introduced

5.   Stewardship Trips

6.   New BLM Wild Lands Policy
          Falls Victim to Budget Politics …
          And Utah Sues
7.   Wilderness Study Area Release Legislation Introduced
8.   Wilderness Volunteers Service Trips

9.   Gail Hoskisson Loper

10.   Center for American Progress
11.   Wilderness Land Trust (Internship)

12.   Utah Politicians


1.   Red Rock Bill to be Reintroduced
          (ACTION ITEM)

Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) have announced that they’ll reintroduce America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act at the end of the first week of May. So it’s not too late to get your representative signed on as an original cosponsor. So far, 55 representatives have agreed to be cosponsors, almost 1/3 of the total for the last Congress.  Cosponsorship is important for several reasons. It sends a message to the political leadership that many representatives support the bill, helping fend off potential attempts to derail or compete with it. Cosponsorship also signals support to the BLM, both nationally and at the local level, hopefully discouraging projects that would be in conflict with its provisions.

Here are the current California cosponsors:

          Mike Thompson  (D-01)
          Lynn Woolsey  (D-06)
          George Miller  (D-07)
          Jerry McNerney  (D-11)
          Jackie Speier  (D-12)
          Pete Stark  (D-13)
          Mike Honda  (D-15)
          Sam Farr  (D-17)
          Lois Capps  (D-23)
          Howard Berman  (D-28)
          Laura Richardson  (D-37)
          Grace Napolitano  (D-38)
          Bob Filner  (D-51)

Reps. Thompson (D-01) and Speier (D-12) are new since the last Update.

If you live in their districts, please give them a phone call or send them an email of thanks. Or if you have relatives or friends in their districts, have them call. Contact information can be found at the members’ web pages on the House website.

Previous cosponsors are:

          Doris Matsui  (D-05)
          Barbara Lee  (D-09)
          John Garamendi  (D-10)
          Anna Eshoo  (D-14)
          Zoe Lofgren  (D-16)
          Brad Sherman  (D-27)
          Adam Schiff  (D-29)
          Henry Waxman  (D-30)
          Xavier Becerra  (D-31)
          Judy Chu  (D-32)
          Lucille Roybal-Allard  (D-34)
          Maxine Waters  (D-35), though not in the last Congress
          Jane Harman  (D-36)
          Laura Richardson  (D-37)
          Linda Sanchez  (D-39)
          Loretta Sanchez  (D-47)
          Susan Davis  (D-53)

Karen Bass (D-33), a new member, replaced Diane Watson, who was a previous cosponsor that retired last year.

Jim Costa (D-20) is a member of the House Natural Resources Committee, but has never been a cosponsor. He, Dennis Cardoza (D-18), and Joe Baca (D-43) have said that they prefer to focus on local issues.

We’ll keep you posted on the progress of the cosponsor campaign.

The Salt Lake Tribune published a letter to the editor from me today, regarding their characterization of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act. You can read it here.

2.   Sequoia Kings Canyon Wilderness Planning Scoping
          DEADLINE: July 25
          (ACTION ITEM)

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks comprise a good portion of the western slope of the southern Sierra Nevada, and a large percentage of both parks (which are managed as one unit) is designated wilderness. The Park Service has announced its intent to prepare a management plan for the wilderness portions of the park.

The initial step is called “Scoping,” in which the Park Service collects information from the public concerning the issues to be addressed and analyzed in the plan. The public may also make suggestions for the “preferred alternative,” which the Park Service will likely make a part of its Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

Some of the issues that the Park should address are: packstock use (both commercial and private) and its impacts on trails, meadows, and streams; wilderness permitting system and party size; day use; overall use levels; campsites, campfires and firewood; proper food storage; fish stocking in lakes; threatened and endangered species and other wildlife; backcountry ranger stations; trail maintenance.

If you have personal experiences related to any of these (or other) issues, it is helpful to the Park Service to know about them. It is also helpful to include as many facts as possible in support of your comments. The agencies often dismiss “mere opinion” in the planning process (though we think opinions are valid and should be considered).

You may submit comment online by following the links here.

Other documents and updates will be posted there as the process advances.

Comments may also be submitted by mail to:

          Superintendent Karen F. Taylor-Goodrich
          Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
          Attn: Wilderness Stewardship Plan
          47050 Generals Highway
          Three Rivers, CA 93271

All written comments must be transmitted, postmarked, or hand-delivered no later than July 25, 2011.

3.   Grand Canyon Noise Management Planning
          Comment Deadline: June 20
          (ACTION ITEM)

Grand Canyon National Park is preparing a noise management plan, and it’s now open for comment. Our friends at the Arizona Wilderness Coalition prepared the following alert.

Grand Canyon: Noisy or Naturally Quiet?

Grand Canyon is one of our premier national parks and naturally one of the quietest places on earth. For years, controversy has brewed on the number, location, and noise of tourist flights over the canyon.

Now is the time to make your voice heard on the issue of natural quiet in America’s premier park.

In early February, the National Park Service released the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) on how to manage air tours at Grand Canyon. Their preferred alternative has drawn the ire of the tour operators as well as some conservationists. The fact is, there’s something for everyone in the plan, and nobody is fully satisfied.

First, the good news: A centerpiece of the park’s draft plan does the right thing by increasing the time after sunrise and before sunset when no flights are allowed. This means that as you sip your morning coffee or set up your tent, you’ll have some peace and quiet. The park deserves kudos on this point. Secondly, the plan raises the flight “ceiling,” meaning that over the rim or the canyon itself, tour operators can’t give you a buzz cut as they swoop over your camp. Also, the park’s draft plan reduces flights in Marble Canyon and also provides more seasonal restrictions on routes in other places. What this means is that overall, more of the park will be quieter for more of the time.

All is not perfect with the park’s plan, and your voice can help move the agency in the right direction. A major sticking point is the number of flights allowed. As of now, the park plans to actually increase the allowable number of flights by more than 10% above current levels, equaling about 8000 more flights every year. Many of these flights will be directed away from the hotel zone, impacting wilderness character in “sacrifice areas” that don’t deserve to be sacrificed. Additionally, exemptions may exist for certain helicopter and fixed wing tours in areas proposed for seasonal closure. Overall, the park’s goal is to keep half its area quiet for 75% of the day. Follow us here – that would allow tour aircraft to be audible for 25 percent of the day in half of the park, and any amount of noise in the other half of the park. While this may be a nominal improvement over current conditions, is it what we want to expect during a wilderness excursion into our premier park?

What happens at Grand Canyon is up to the American people, not the Park Service or the FAA. Please write asking to have the park’s natural quiet protected. Let your voice be heard! Alternative E – for those who love quiet places – is the best alternative. Click here to read, learn, and comment.

Comments can also be mailed to:

          Planning and Compliance
          PO Box 129
          Grand Canyon, AZ 86023

Comments will be accepted through June 20, 2011.

4.   Wilderness Bill Introduced

This week Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) announced plans to introduce the Eagle and Summit County Wilderness Preservation Act in the House. The bill would designate about 167,000 acres of national forest lands in the central part of the state and grew out of an ongoing stakeholder education process. Rep. Polis has a page on his website with maps and more information.

You can comment on the proposal there, as well. (The “STATE” field is limited to CO, but I wouldn’t let that stop me from saying “thanks,” though.)

5.   Stewardship Trips

Friends of Nevada Wilderness always has a full schedule of service trips in the Silver State:

Tuesday, May 3 – Wednesday, May 4  Training: UNR Cooperative Extension Invasive Weed Class

Stewardship – Two half-day sessions to train volunteers on the “Dirty Dozen” noxious weeds that are problematic in our area.

Thursday, May 5 – Saturday, May 7  Training: USFS Crosscut Saw Training

Stewardship – Volunteers will learn the art and skill of wielding a cross-cut saw. Participants will be certified to buck and clear downed trees.

Saturday, May 7  Spring cleaning in the Spring Mountains NRA

Stewardship – Help beautify the Spring Mountains by removing litter and trash.

Saturday, May 14   Nevada Archaeological Site Stewardship

Stewardship – Learn how to become an archaeological site steward. The class is limited to 15 students. RSVP to Sali Underwood, Site Stewardship Coordinator, via email  by May 9. Refer to the flier for more info.

This is not a Friends of Nevada Wilderness sponsored training, but we support the effort to protect Nevada’s prehistoric artifacts and sites.

Friday, May 20 – Sunday, May 22   Training: Trail Construction and Crew Leaders

Stewardship – Volunteers can choose from a number of training tracks during this weekend facilitated by the Tahoe Rim Trail.

Friday, May 27 – Monday, May 30   Black Rock Rendezvous – learn, work, eat!

Stewardship – Join Friends and other conservation partners for our annual excursion to the Black Rock. Explore the desert, hear talks by local experts, give back to the land on a stewardship project, then taste the winners of our annual Dutch oven cooking contest. Family-friendly event for Memorial Day weekend.

Summer of Sheldon   Several chances to help the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge

Stewardship – In the past, we’ve had fun with the Sheldon Rendezvous. This year, instead of one giant day of restoration, we’re giving you multiple opportunities to join us in giving back to the pronghorn, sage grouse and other wildlife on this most-majestic Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge. Same fun, same great food, multiple opportunities!

Pick one or many dates to join us on the Sheldon:

June 3-5  (Friday to Sunday),

June 23-26  (Thursday to Sunday),

July 22-24  (Friday to Sunday),

August 26-28  (Friday to Sunday).

Contact Friends at (775) 324-7667 or by email for more information or to RSVP for a project. More projects will be announced as they are scheduled. See later emails and the stewardship events page.

6.   New BLM Wild Lands Policy
          Falls Victim to Budget Politics …
          And Utah Sues
          (ACTION ITEM)

Last December, to much fanfare, the Department of Interior and Bureau of Land Management announced that they would once again formally take wilderness character into account in the land use planning process. This decision was a long-overdue reversal of the settlement that former Interior Secretary Gale Norton entered in to with former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt back in 2003 to settle a lawsuit over wilderness inventories by BLM.

The new Wild Lands Policy was not everything we had hoped for, since it did not formally recognize BLM’s authority to establish new Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs). But it was a step in the right direction by recognizing that wilderness character is important and needs to be protected in places until Congress makes a final decision about the lands’ status.

The new policy came under immediate attack by conservatives in Congress, who claimed that it usurped Congress’s role in designating wilderness under the Wilderness Act. This isn’t true, as the Wild Lands designation is not permanent, and it could be removed for various reasons. It is not as strong a category as the WSA, which was authorized by the Federal Lands Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA). The opposition (purposely?) failed to understand the policy before leaping to the attack. Hearings were held in Congress, with the balance of witnesses very heavily tilted against the policy.

So when the budget agreement was announced earlier this month, the Wild Lands Policy found itself in the waste basket. The White House apparently felt it wasn’t that important, so it agreed that no funding could be used for 2011 to implement the policy. Of course, the policy doesn’t really cost anything to implement beyond what would be normal planning processes anyway, but nevertheless, it effectively kills the policy for now. (The White House also agreed to a provision removing wolves from the protection of the Endangered Species Act in several Western states. This is certain to provoke litigation.)

This was a very disappointing concession on the part of the White House. When the agreement came to a vote in the House, California representatives split along party lines, with Democrats opposing the budget resolution and Republicans in favor of it.

So now the battle turns to the Fiscal Year 2012 budget. Once something is de-funded, it is more of a challenge to get that funding restored. But we have to try anyway. Please contact your Representative and Senators asking them to support the Wild Lands Policy and oppose any efforts to de-fund it in FY2012.

The New York Times ran an editorial this week opposing the agreement. You may read it here.

Even though the agreement was reached three weeks ago, it wouldn’t hurt to call the White House and let them know your thoughts on the administration’s caving in on the policy. The number for the comment line is:


Or you can leave a comment on the White House website.

To top it off, the State of Utah announced this week that it would sue the Department of Interior and BLM over the Wild Lands Policy. So we’re right back where we started.

See Item 7 for one further issue related to the Wild Lands Policy.

7.   Wilderness Study Area Release Legislation Introduced

The Republicans, the majority party in the House, keep trying to roll back the clock on many issues, and they are pushing on the wilderness front as well.

In the largest attack on the overall wilderness scheme in a very long time, on April 15 House Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California (R-22), Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), and Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) introduced legislation that would release all the Wilderness Study Areas that BLM has recommended as not being suitable for wilderness designation. This would affect over 6.5 million acres of BLM land.

The bill would permanently abolish the Wild Lands Policy, discussed in Item 6.

But that’s not all. Roadless Areas in national forests  deemed “not suitable” for wilderness designation would also be released. Under early inventories (RARE II), that amounted to some 36 million acres. In addition, the Clinton-era Roadless Rule identified other areas that would become unprotected. Finally, the bill would terminate the Roadless Rule altogether and prohibit the Forest Service from issuing national regulations on how any of the released areas could be managed.

It is unlikely that the Senate would pass such a bill, or the White House sign one, but we will have to keep our vigilance up.

Rep. McCarthy’s hometown paper, the Bakersfield Californian, had an editorial opposing the legislation.

8.   Wilderness Volunteers Service Trips

A reminder that our friends at Wilderness Volunteers, a national service organization, still have spots available on most of their trips through the Fall. Their motto is “Giving Something Back,” and this is a perfect opportunity to do so.

For the list of projects, click here.

9.   Gail Hoskisson Loper

Long-time CalUWild friend and Advisory Board member Gail Hoskisson Loper passed away this month after a long illness. A native of Helper, Utah, Gail helped coordinate the volunteer inventory of potential RS 2477 claims in Utah in the 1990s. She went on to work at the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, becoming their Washington, DC Director before retiring and moving back West. She was also the Co-Chair of the Utah Wilderness Coalition for many years.

Gail loved Redrock Country and protecting it was her life’s work. She brought enthusiasm and a fun spirit to everything she did, whether it was pounding the marble halls of Congress or rafting whitewater rivers. Gail was an inspiration and a friend to everyone who worked with her, and she will be missed by all of us.

10.   Center for American Progress

Manager of Research and Outreach, Public Lands Project

The American Progress Public Lands Project is a new effort to build support for policies that protect wide-open spaces found on America’s public lands. The team is seeking a Manager of Research and Outreach who will assist with communications and congressional education. Through a robust media campaign, the goal is to respond rapidly to mistruths spread about key policies. The project strives to use the clearest facts and the best arguments by conducting unique research that tells the economic story of public lands. The Manager of Research and Outreach will report to the Director of the Public Lands Project and the Senior Fellow and will also collaborate directly with CAP’s communications team.

Read the full description

11.   Wilderness Land Trust (Internship)

The Wilderness Land Trust Is Looking For A Summer Intern

Do you have a passion for wilderness protection, look forward to a career in wilderness conservation and want to spend the summer living in the Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado learning how to secure wilderness?  If so, we’re interested in talking to you.

Summer Internship

The Wilderness Land Trust seeks a summer intern based in its Carbondale, Colorado office for a minimum of 10 weeks this summer.  The position is an unpaid internship, but housing will be provided and work related travel reimbursed.

Internship Description

The summer intern will assist in the completion of multiple real estate transactions undertaken by the Trust during the term of the internship and become familiar with the intricacies of these acquisitions, shadowing projects in multiple states as they progress and completing specific tasks to further the completion of these undertakings.  The intern will also be given significant opportunity to learn the workings of the Trust, its conservation programs, development undertakings and coordination with partners and cooperators.

The Summer Intern will be responsible for researching and establishing a geo cashing/orienteering program based on Trust owned properties in several western States designed to increase the visibility of the Trust and public awareness of its mission and work.

Minimum Qualifications

To have successfully completed a course of study in the environmental field from an accredited four year institution, or to have achieved at least Senior status as of the beginning of the 2011-2012 academic year.

We seek an exceptional individual with strong organizational skills and the ability to quickly learn and understand a layered, complex and established method of land acquisition, as well as willingness to undertake the creation of a public outreach project.

How to apply

Please submit a resume, writing sample and a letter of recommendation electronically to the Trust at the address below by May 30, 2011.

For more on the Trust’s work visit our website


12.   Utah Politicians

The chair of the Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club takes a look at politics in that state.

          Utahns, legislators don’t agree on conservation