Newsletter Archive

April 29, 2005

Dear CalUWild friends:

April is just about over, and the IRS has collected taxes from many of us again. Unfortunately, the federal government doesn’t make public land management and protection a very high priority, so it’s up to us citizens to work on the ground to see that the places we treasure are there for us, our children, and our grandchildren to enjoy. There’s never of a shortage of issues to be involved in, as you’ll see below. But despite setbacks on occasion, we continue to get our message through to Congress and the land managers.

As most of you probably know, we had one setback this month : the vote on including revenues from drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska in the budget. Even though the amendments to strip the provision out failed, the story is far from over, and we’re not giving up hope. We’ll keep you posted on things to do.

Spring has been wet around the West, leading to a profusion of wildflowers everywhere. And the late snows in the Sierra and elsewhere indicate that it should be a good year for river rafting. So make plans to get out and enjoy Nature-and see some of the places we’re working so hard to preserve.

Thanks for your efforts and enthusiasm,




1. America’s Redrock Wilderness Act

Reintroduced in Congress
With Record Cosponsorship

2. Cedar Mountains Bill Reintroduced in Congress
3. Vernal Resource Planning Needs Comments

For Desolation Canyon and the White River
DEADLINE: Indefinite

4. Rising Levels in Lake Powell Threaten (Again)

Uncovered Areas and Sites


5. Inventory Volunteers Needed


6. Union Pacific Dynamites Wilderness



7. New Report Details Perils to Wilderness, Parks & Monuments
8. Job Posting: Wilderness Watch



1. America’s Redrock Wilderness Act

Reintroduced in Congress
With Record Cosponsorship

Last week, Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-New York) and Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) re-introduced America’s Redrock Wilderness Act in the 109th Congress. Both bills, which would designate many qualifying areas in Utah as wilderness, enjoyed a record number of original cosponsors: 151 in the House and 14 in the Senate.

This level of supports sends a strong message to the Administration: Americans support wildlands protection, and the Administration needs to rein in its policies that view our lands as something to be exploited solely for economic gain. If not, then Congress needs to stand ready to act.

The California delegation came through with flying colors: all cosponsors from the 108th Congress signed on as original cosponsors this time. Here is the complete list:

Sen. Barbara Boxer
Mike Thompson (D-1)
Doris Okada Matsui (D-5)
Lynn C. Woolsey (D-6)
George Miller (D-7)
Barbara Lee (D-9)
Ellen O. Tauscher (D-10)
Tom Lantos (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)
Xavier Becerra (D-31)
Hilda L. Solis (D-32)
Diane E. Watson (D-33)
Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-34)
Maxine Waters (D-35)
Jane Harman (D-36)
Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-37)
Grace F. Napolitano (D-38)
Linda T. Sanchez (D-39)
Loretta Sanchez (D-47)
Bob Filner (D-51)
Susan A. Davis (D-53)

Please send Sen. Boxer and your representative (if listed) a thank you letter. If not on the list, please send a letter stating your views on wilderness and asking them to become a cosponsor.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein was a cosponsor in the 106th Congress, but despite many letters urging her to cosponsor again, she never has. A letter to her couldn’t hurt. You’d do best to view it as letting her know your views rather than expecting to convince her to cosponsor again. But you can never tell-it might just work.

The bill numbers are H.R. 1774 in the House and S. 882 in the Senate.

A complete listing of contact information for the entire California delegation can be found at:

2. Cedar Mountains Bill Reintroduced in Congress<

On April 6, Utah Congressman Rob Bishop (R) reintroduced the Utah Test and Training Range Preservation Act, HR 1503. This bill, which passed the House-but not the Senate-in the last Congress, would designate 100,000 acres of the West Desert’s Cedar Mountains as wilderness. The main motivation behind the bill, however, is to stop the Goshutes Indian tribe from developing a portion of their land as a waste dump for out-of-state waste. Designation as wilderness would prevent the construction of a rail line into the reservation to transport the waste.

Utah has long suffered the negative consequences of America’s history of nuclear testing, being downwind from the above-ground testing in Nevada.
Thus, the state has absolutely no interest in having a waste repository within its borders. (Utah itself has no nuclear power plants.)

The bill has support from the entire Utah congressional delegation, the governor, and many conservation groups. It’s one of the few times where it seems everyone’s interests have converged.

No companion bill has been introduced in the Senate yet, where its future may be slightly clouded, since Nevada’s senators probably still remember the fact that Utah’s senators did not support Nevada in its opposition to the much-troubled Yucca Mountain nuclear facility. Therefore, Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate Democrats’ leader may not be enthusiastic about lining up support for the bill. This remains to be seen.

We’ll keep you posted as things develop.

3. Vernal Resource Planning Needs Comments

For Desolation Canyon and the White River
DEADLINE: Indefinite

The Bureau of Land Management’s web site has been non-functioning for a while now, due to ongoing web security concerns. So the Vernal, Utah Resource Management Plan comment period has been left open, since people are currently unable to submit their comments over the Internet.

This gives us a chance to continue our efforts to bring some control to off-road vehicle use and oil & gas exploration in many wild areas.

* In Upper Desolation Canyon, the BLM should not designate ORV routes in the San Wash area, the put-in area for the Green River through Desolation Canyon, to preserve the non-motorized qualities of the river. Numerous routes that the BLM’s preferred alternative would designate are re-naturalizing, are not needed for motorized recreation, and would further create BLM management compliance concerns.
* Near the White River, BLM is proposing several routes that go toward the river corridor. Specifically, Saddle Tree Draw and Atchee Wash should not be designated as open. The current endpoints of these routes are unmanageable and the routes should end further south to preserve the primitive and wild character of the area.
* Routes should not be designated in areas proposed for wilderness designation in America’s Redrock Wilderness Act.
* Oil & gas leasing should not be permitted in areas near either the Green or White Rivers, nor in areas covered by the Redrock Wilderness Act.

Using the above as talking points only, please submit comments in your own words soon to:

Vernal Field Office RMP Comments
Attention: Planning Coordinator
Bureau of Land Management, Vernal Field Office
170 South 500 East
Vernal, UT 84078

The BLM Vernal RMP website is:

Once the web site is functional again, the deadline for comments on the Draft RMP/EIS will be extended at least as many days as the web site was down, and you’ll be able to submit comments through it.

4. Rising Levels in Lake Powell Threaten (Again)

Uncovered Areas and Sites

The Intermountain West has been suffering through a drought for nearly eight years. Water consumption has greatly exceeded runoff, causing the water level in both Lake Powell and Lake Mead to drop drastically. The drop in Lake Powell has been especially dramatic-more than 150 feet, uncovering many drowned side canyons and archaeological sites. The Spring runoff has begun, and the lake level is rising, but will again resume its overall drop later in the Summer and Fall.

The Glen Canyon Institute is starting a campaign to protect the emerging sites, and the information below comes from them.

Save Cathedral in the Desert and Fort Moqui

The Issue:
It does not make sense to pretend the drought is over and surpluses will happen again. Recent studies on the future hydrology of the Colorado River demonstrate that Lake Powell will be below its current 35%-of-full most of the next century. At this low level, the costs to maintain the dam and reservoir, as well as detrimental environmental impacts, surpass the benefits that are achieved at higher water levels, such as hydropower and recreation on the reservoir.

Protection of cultural, historic and scenic sites:
As reservoir levels have fallen, some of Glen Canyon’s most spectacular features have emerged, including Cathedral in the Desert, Register Rock, Fort Moqui, and the inscriptions at Hole in the Rock. Unnecessary water level fluctuation during spring runoff is destructive to these emerging cultural, historic, and scenic sites in Glen Canyon. As water levels at Lake Powell drop, they should not be allowed to rise and further damage these emerging fragile sites in Glen Canyon.

Fill Mead First!
Western states can secure water in a more sustainable manner by storing Colorado River water at Lake Mead and in available upper basin reservoirs.
Evaporative losses from storing water primarily at Lake Mead will be lower than if water is kept at both Lake Mead and Lake Powell. The occasional flood captures at Lake Powell can easily be stored in existing reservoir and aquifer facilities elsewhere across the basin. This can eliminate the destructive water level fluctuations at Glen Canyon that currently threaten emerging sites in Glen Canyon.

This is a good opportunity for a letter to the editor of your local newspaper and/or to Secretary Gale Norton. Use the above talking points, but write in your own words. If you have personal experience at Lake Powell, write about its importance to you. Secretary Norton’s address is:

Hon. Gale Norton
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20240

You can find contact information for major California newspapers at:

If you feel like you’ve written enough letters this month, Glen Canyon Institute has an on-line petition you can sign at:

However, a personal letter is always preferred!


5. Inventory Volunteers Needed
The following comes from the California Wilderness Coalition.

How often do you get to combine one of your favorite pastimes with a good cause? The California Wilderness Coalition (CWC) needs you to take a walk for wilderness!

CWC needs your help to identify and protect wilderness candidates through our Golden State Wilderness Campaign. We are seeking volunteers to visit targeted parcels of state-owned land and document their wild character.
This is an ideal project for school groups, hiking clubs, or even just motivated individuals. All you need to get involved is a digital camera and hiking gear. CWC will provide all of the maps and everything else you will need in your official survey packet.

If you’re interested, contact:

California Wilderness Coalition
1212 Broadway, Suite 1700
Oakland, CA 94612

Email: Info@Calwild.Org
Telephone: 510-451-1450


6. Union Pacific Dynamites Wilderness


It’s not very often that we ask for letters to a corporation, but here’s a case when it would be good to write. This comes from Friends of Nevada Wilderness.

Severe floods in January washed away roads, bridges and railroad tracks and bridges in Lincoln County near several new Wilderness areas. While repairing the railroad, Union Pacific ignored the Clover Mountain Wilderness boundary and blasted away 5 acres of beautiful cliff in the Wilderness to get rock. Had they bothered to contact the BLM, as rock source outside the Wilderness could have been found easily. Ely BLM personnel discovered the damage on March 14 and ordered the Railroad’s contractor, Las Vegas Paving Corp., to stop work immediately.

Union Pacific has a history of disregarding wilderness protection, and this latest violation is outrageous. Union Pacific needs to be held accountable for their illegal actions. Friends of Nevada Wilderness is working with the BLM to see that Union Pacific rehabilitates the damage done to the Clover Mountain Wilderness.

You can help. Please write Union Pacific and tell them to restore the damage they did to Clover Mountain Wilderness.

Richard Davidson, CEO
Union Pacific railroad Company
1400 Douglas Street
Omaha, NE 68170

Fax: 402-271-3298


7. New Report Details Perils to Wilderness, Parks & Monuments

Two weeks ago, the Environmental Working Group, (EWG) a nonprofit think tank in Washington, DC, released a report stating that extractive industry interests (oil & gas and mining) control land in or near more than 2/3 of the nation’s wilderness areas, national parks, and national forests. The report, titled “Losing Ground,” went on to state: “At current loss rates, within 20 years, mining and oil and gas industries will actively drill, mine, or otherwise control public lands inside or within five miles of every Western natural treasure, including all national parks and wilderness areas.”

Of course, industry and the administration have long claimed that conservationists have prevented access to much of the West’s landscape. But the truth is that, for example, the oil and gas industry has been unable to begin to exploit all the areas it has under lease now. And they still want more access. EWG found that in the last 15 years, industry has had access to over 200 million acres of public lands in the West, which is an area larger than Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona.

The data that EWG used for its study does not include proposed drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Colorado’s Roan Plateau, New Mexico’s Otero Mesa, or Wyoming’s Red Desert, all areas that CalUWild has been working to protect.

In addition, the report disagreed with industry’s claim that environmental damage from extractive uses tends to be temporary and not very significant.

You can find more information on the report on-line at:

8. Job Posting: Wilderness Watch

Wilderness Watch has been one of CalUWild’s partners over the years on several issues: motorized recreation in the Grand Canyon, management of the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho, and others. They are circulating the following job announcement:

Wilderness Watch is seeking a highly motivated person for the position of Membership and Development Coordinator. WW is a national Wilderness protection organization based in Missoula, Montana. We are looking for a person experienced in fundraising and membership development, who cares passionately about Wilderness, works well with others, and wants to continue and expand our successful development program.

The primary responsibilities for the Membership and Development Coordinator include foundation research and prospecting, grantwriting, grant reporting and developing / maintaining a healthy working relationship with our foundation supporters. The job also includes coordinating Wilderness Watch’s individual giving program, member acquisition, member renewals, donor campaigns, and management of the membership database.

Other duties include coordinating our accounting system with the bookkeeper, participating in staff and Board of Director meetings, and generally serving as an active participant in organizational activities.

A passion for protecting Wilderness is essential to being successful and happy in this position. Knowledge of Wilderness and / or other natural resource issues is a big plus.

Minimum Qualifications:

* Demonstrated experience in grantwriting and membership/donor development (minimum 3 years)
* Experience using a database (FileMaker Pro is preferable-WW uses ebase)
* Excellent writing and verbal communication skills
* Working familiarity with computers (WW uses MacIntosh) and basic software and e-mail programs (Word, Excel)
* Willing to travel

The successful candidate must be able to effectively handle multiple projects and deadlines, be self-directed and detail oriented. Must be able to work effectively as a member of a team, and be willing to help with other organizational priorities when necessary.

Salary and Benefits:
Salary range is comparable to similar positions in the Northern Rockies and the Northwest. Individual salary dependent on experience.

Benefits include medical and dental insurance, 4 weeks paid vacation (2 weeks first year), sick leave and 10 paid holidays.

Benefits also include knowing you are part of the leading citizens’ effort to protect America’s Wilderness legacy.

Applicants should provide a cover letter, resume, 1-3 short writing samples and 3 references. Send by regular mail or e-mail (Word format, please) to:

Executive Director
Wilderness Watch
PO Box 9175
Missoula, MT 59807


Wilderness Watch is the leading national organization for protecting and ensuring the proper stewardship of the lands within the National Wilderness Preservation System. Wilderness Watch has a staff of five, and we work closely with other wilderness activists around the country. For more information about our work, our staff and our Board of Directors visit our website at

Missoula Montana is a progressive community known for its wealth of environmental advocacy groups, history of wilderness research, protection and training, and for its close proximity to some of our nation’s premier Wilderness lands and rivers.

God bless America. Let’s save some of it. –Edward Abbey