Newsletter Archive

Dear CalUWild-ers —

It’s only been a week since the March UPDATE, but there have been some developments this week requiring our attention.

There has been movement in Congress on the issue of unauthorized, illegal road claims in wilderness (R.S. 2477 for short), a topic we’ve written about often before. CalUWild has long been an active member of a growing coalition of groups opposing bogus R.S. 2477 claims, and all members are sending out the information and action alert below (Item 1) as part of a coordinated effort. Please read through the information and call and write!

Item 2 is an updated list of Utah Redrock Wilderness Act cosponsors.

These items will give you good opportunities to use the Effective Advocacy Guide we sent out over the weekend. The response to it has been great! Three organizations have already approached us about reprinting it for their own members’ use. Please keep it handy. It should also be posted on the CalUWild web site soon at:

Thanks for your help!


1. Bogus Road Claims (R.S. 2477)

2. Redrock Bill California Cosponsors

3. CalUWild Slide Show in Marin County April 8


In General

Bogus Road Claims (R.S. 2477)
Deadline: April 8 (ACTION ITEM)


Repealed R.S. 2477 Statute Threatens National Parks, National Monuments, Wilderness and Other Public Lands Nationwide

R.S. 2477 became law in 1866-nearly 140 years ago. It provides simply: “the right-of-way for the construction of highways across public lands, not reserved for public uses, is hereby granted. The statute was later repealed, but a grandfather clause left wilderness foes a loophole for asserting bogus “road” claims to prevent wilderness designation. Now, Interior secretary Gale Norton is about to boost their efforts. Your voice can help change her mind.

General History & Background

Across the American West, state and local governments are exploiting a loophole in an obscure law to falsely claim that thousands of miles of routes are highways. The claimed highways include trails, reclaimed century-old mining wagon roads, water courses, and jeep trails that go through some of this country’s most precious national parks, national wildlife refuges, national monuments, wilderness areas, and other public lands. Mining and logging companies, oil and gas developers, all-terrain-vehicle users, and other special interests hope to use this slavery-era statute-which has the technical title of R.S. 2477-to punch dirt-bike trails and paved roads into our National Parks and Wildlife Refuges and to prevent wilderness designations by asserting that old trails should be considered “highways.”

New “Disclaimer Regulations” Revive and Heighten Threat

On January 6, 2003, Interior Secretary Norton issued new “disclaimer regulations” that could be used to give away public lands in our national parks, wildlife refuges, and other special places. The new rule opens the door for states, counties, and special interests to file thousands of unsubstantiated road claims using a loophole in a mining law passed in 1866. Compounding the offense is that the Department of the Interior still does not have standards to assess the validity of these claims.

Why This Is Bad for America’s Natural Wonders

Denali National Park, Zion National Park, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and the Mojave National Preserve are some of our most beloved national parks and public lands-our nation’s birthright. They are all in the crosshairs of a plan to authorize counties and states to lay claim to thousands of new “highways,” effectively thwarting conservation efforts.

Acts of Congress protected these unique places for all Americans, not just a few special interests. Now, our cherished national parks and other public lands could be subject to road claims by greedy developers and local governments.

The creation of a spiderweb of unnecessary roads in wild areas would increase the risk of vandalism to valuable archaeological sites, expand already unmanageable use of dirt bikes, ATVs, and other off-road vehicles, increase habitat fragmentation and erosion, and undermine conservation efforts for lands that should be preserved for future generations.

What You Can Do Today

There are four things you can do right now to stop the Bush administration from carving up your public lands with thousands of unnecessary roads.

1. Write a letter to your member of Congress. Briefly explain the R.S. 2477 threat and ask your representative to sign Rep. Mark Udall’s congressional letter to Interior Secretary Gale Norton urging her not to process R.S. 2477 claims. Fax the letter to your rep’s office in Washington.
2. Make phones ring off the hook on Capitol Hill. Be one of thousands who call Congress on National Call-In Day, this APRIL 8th, against the R.S. 2477 public lands giveaway. Call your representative’s office, and ask him/her to sign onto the Udall letter. Ask enthusiastic offices to write THEIR OWN letter. Above all, urge your representative to demand that Secretary Norton NOT process R.S. 2477 claims under the new “disclaimer rule.”
If you can’t call on the 8th, please call by noon on April 10th, as Rep. Udall would like to send the letter to Secty. Norton on the 11th, before the Spring Recess.
3. Write a Letter to the Editor of your local newspaper. These letters shape public opinion and are read daily by decision-makers. Addresses for major California papers are in the Advocacy Guide. If your paper is not listed there, go to to electronically send your letter to area newspapers.
4. Visit to learn more about the national coalition of groups working to stop this travesty.

Redrock Bill California Cosponsors

Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) is hoping to introduce America’s Redrock Wilderness Act before the congressional Spring Recess begins net Friday. We are hoping to have a record number of original cosponsors on the bill when he does so. (“Original” means that they are cosponsors when the bill is introduced, rather than signing on later.)

In the last week, 3 California Reps-Adam Schiff, Zoe Lofgren’ and Tom Lantos- signed on. There are now 132 cosponsors in the House.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) has already introduced the bill in the Senate. It has 13 cosponsors.

Here is the current list:


* Sen. Barbara Boxer (D): 202-224-3553
* Xavier Becerra (D-31): 202-225-6235
* Howard Berman (D-28): 202-225-4695
* Lois Capps (D-23): 202-225-3601
* Susan Davis (D-53): 202-225-2040
* Anna Eshoo (D-14): 202-225-8104
* Sam Farr (D-17): 202-225-2861
* Bob Filner (D-51): 202-225-8045
* Jane Harman (D-36): 202-225-8220
* Mike Honda (D-15): 202-225-2631
* Tom Lantos (D-12): 202-225-3531
* Barbara Lee (D-9): 202-225-2661
* Zoe Lofgren (D-16): 202-225-3072
* Robert Matsui (D-05): 202-225-7163
* Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-37): 202-225-7924
* George Miller (D-7): 202-225-2095
* Grace Napolitano (D-38): 202-225-5256
* Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-34): 202-225-1766
* Linda Sanchez (D-39): 202-225-6676
* Adam Schiff (D-29): 202-225-4176
* Pete Stark (D-13): 202-225-5065
* Ellen Tauscher (D-10): 202-225-1880
* Henry Waxman (D-30): 202-225-3976
* Lynn Woolsey (D-6): 202-225-5161


* Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D): 202-224-3841
* Joe Baca (D-43): 202-225-6161
* Cal Dooley (D-20): 202-225-3341
* Loretta Sanchez (D-47): 202-225-2965
* Brad Sherman (D-27): 202-225-5911
* Hilda Solis (D-32): 202-225-5464
* Mike Thompson (D-01): 202-225-3311
* Maxine Waters (D-35): 202-225-2201
* Diane Watson (D-33): 202-225-7084

In California
CalUWild Slide Show in Marin County
April 8

Just a reminder:

The Foundation for Deep Ecology will host CalUWild coordinator Mike Painter in a presentation of a slide show on the citizens wilderness movement in Utah and the West. Please join us:

Tuesday, April 8 7 p.m.
The Foundation for Deep Ecology
Building 1062, Fort Cronkhite
Sausalito, CA

Refreshments will be served.

Visit the Foundation’s web site for directions:

Call CalUWild (415-752-3911) or the Foundation (415-259-9340) for more information.

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


Michael J. Painter Coordinator

Californians for Western Wilderness

P.O. Box 210474 San Francisco, CA 94121-0474

415-752-3911 (Constantly undergoing renovation)