Newsletter Archive

Muddy Creek WSA, San Rafael Swell, Utah, September 2011                                                                  Mike Painter

October 3, 2011

Dear CalUWild friends —

I was in Utah and the Eastern Sierra for the second half of September, so this Update is arriving a few days later than usual.

There are a few items of interest this month. In general news, a few more wilderness bills have been or will be introduced shortly in Congress. We’ll try to have a rundown on them for you in the next Update.

As always, please let me know if you have any questions, comments, or critiques. Thanks for your interest and efforts to protect our wild places!

Best wishes,

1.   Greater Canyonlands Protection Update
          (ACTION ITEM)

2.   Pt. Reyes Oyster Farm
          Draft EIS Released
          Comment Period DEADLINE: November 29
          (ACTION ITEM)
3   California Wilderness Coalition Hosts
          Environmental Film Festival
          In Emeryville
          October 20

4.   Wangari Maathai, Green Belt Movement Founder

5.   Links to Articles of Interest


1.   Greater Canyonlands Protection Update
          (ACTION ITEM)

The boundaries of Canyonlands National Park are straight lines and “artificial,” not conforming in any way to ecosystem or geographical features. The Park lies within a basin, and the lands from the boundary to the basin rim are unprotected from off-road vehicle abuse and energy development. Earlier this year, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance submitted a petition aimed at protecting the Greater Canyonlands region. In September, the Department of the Interior announced that it would not open a public discussion on ways of protecting the area.

This is a major disappointment for several reasons: first and foremost, because the Administration isn’t willing to protect the area, let alone discuss the situation publicly. But secondly, when the Administration came in, it acknowledged the inadequacy of the resource management plans that the BLM had completed in the last days of the Bush Administration, allowing ORV routes and energy development in the area around the Park. Now the Interior Department is even defending those very plans against legal challenges.

This is just another example why so many conservationists (among others) are frustrated with the Administration—officials rarely seem to back up their earlier rhetoric with concrete action.

Anyway, we need to keep the pressure up.

The White House has a new petition site called “We the People,” and there is a Greater Canyonlands petition there. The White House says if it gets 5,000 signatures in the next 30 days, they will respond to the petition on the website. We don’t know what that means, but we might as well find out. Click here to sign. You’ll need to create an account at if you haven’t already. It’s a simple process, just asking for your name, email address, ZIP code, and a check box whether you wish to receive email updates from the White House.

After signing, please share the petition with friends. If you’re part of another organization, it would be great if you could post on your organization’s Facebook page & Twitter as well—the petition is not affiliated with SUWA or any other organization.


2.    Pt. Reyes Oyster Farm
          Draft EIS Released by Seashore
          Comment Period & Public Meetings
          DEADLINE: November 29
          (ACTION ITEM)

Point Reyes National Seashore has released its draft environmental impact statement on the renewal of the operating permit of the Drake’s Bay Oyster Company. It is open for public comment through November 29.

The Seashore did not announce a preferred alternative, but will use the comments it receives on the draft to develop one, which will be reflected in the final EIS. There are three alternatives allowing for a 10-year extension of the permit under various conditions and levels of activity and a “No Action” alternative, under which the operating permit would not be renewed when it expires in November 2012, allowing the oyster farm to become part of the wilderness area.

CalUWild supports the “No Action” Alternative A, based on procedural grounds. When Congress passed the bill creating the Philip Burton Wilderness, the oyster farm was designated “potential” wilderness with the expectation that the oyster farm would become part of the wilderness area when its permit expired in 2012. The present owner bought the operation knowing that. Presumably that was reflected in the price he paid. Only later did he decide that he wanted to continue operations past 2012.

Since only Congress can designate wilderness, any changes to the 1972 wilderness law should have taken place in Congress, with full hearings. That never happened. Instead, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) introduced a rider to another bill mandating an extension, though it was later changed to an “authorization” to the Interior Secretary. This EIS is the result. Though an EIS process is a public process, it still does not comply with the 1964 Wilderness Act, giving Congress the final say in designating areas.

The Park Service provided the following information on participating in the current EIS process. Please note its requirements for submitting comments.

Getting a Copy of the Draft EIS
You can visit the National Park Service “Planning, Environment, and Public Comment” (PEPC) website at to download a copy of the Draft EIS. Once there, click the “Drakes Bay Oyster Company Special Use Permit EIS” link.

A limited number of printed paper copies and CDs of the Draft EIS are available at Park Headquarters.

You may also request a hard copy or CD by contacting Melanie Gunn, Outreach Coordinator at (415) 464-5162.

Alternatively, reference copies of the Draft EIS are available at all Marin County Branch Libraries, as well as the Petaluma Main, San Francisco Main, Oakland Main and Berkeley Central Libraries.

Submitting Comments
You may provide comments using any one of the following methods:

Comment online at Click on “Open For Comment,” then click on “Draft EIS DBOC SUP” and finally, click on “Comment on Document.”

You may also mail or hand deliver comments to:

          Draft EIS DBOC SUP c/o Superintendent
          Point Reyes National Seashore
          1 Bear Valley Road
          Point Reyes Station, CA 94956

Written comments will also be accepted at the public meetings (see dates below).

Please note that comments will not be accepted by FAX, e-mail, or in any other way than those specified above. Bulk comments in any format (hard copy or electronic) submitted on behalf of others will not be accepted. Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment – including your personal identifying information – may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

Public Meetings
During the comment period the National Park Service will hold three open house public meetings to gather your comments on the Draft EIS. The meetings are scheduled as follows:

          Tuesday, October 18, 2011, 6-8 pm
          Dance Palace Community Center
          503 B Street
          Point Reyes Station, CA 94965

          Wednesday, October 19, 2011, 6-8 pm
          Ft. Mason Center, Building D
          Marina Boulevard at Buchanan
          San Francisco, CA 94123

          Thursday, October 20, 2011, 6-8 pm
          Tamalpais High School Student Center
          700 Miller Avenue
          Mill Valley, CA 94941

A Spanish language interpreter will be present at each of the above meetings.

Project timeline
Draft EIS released to the public: September 23, 2011
Public review and comment on Draft EIS: September 23-November 29, 2011
Final EIS completed and released: June 2012
Record of Decision signed: July 2012

Additional background information is also available on the park’s website at If you have questions regarding this process, please contact Outreach Coordinator Melanie Gunn at Point Reyes National Seashore at (415) 464-5162. We appreciate your participation in this process.

Cicely A. Muldoon

3.   California Wilderness Coalition Hosts
          Environmental Film Festival
          In Emeryville
          October 20

Help support our friends at the California Wilderness Coalition as they host the Bay Area Wild & Scenic Film Festival, celebrating activism and its diversity of voices.

Three films (18 – 30 minutes in length) will be shown in addition to two shorts. Click on the links to see a short trailer for each.

Walking the Line
What’s it like to walk 500 miles of a proposed transmission line, a line that will run through some of the West’s most remote landscapes? World-class thru-hiker, Adam Bradley hiked it to help the Nevada Wilderness Project find out how our country’s transition to renewable energy will affect the land, wildlife and people.

Journey into the mind and soul of whitewater, into the places only river runners can go, places of discovery, solitude and risk. Meet the riverpeople from multi generations who share a deep passion for wild places, rivers and running whitewater. We cross beyond generational and experiential boundaries, even beyond whitewater, to look at the soul of adventure sports and what they mean to all of us as a practice that is about far more than just fun. Best Adventure Film, Kendal Mountain FF; Best Short Film, Salem FF

Notable anthropologist Jane Goodall, National Geographic Editor-at-Large Michael Nichols, and International League of Conservation Photographers president Cristina Mittermeier, among many others, share candid thoughts on the power of photography and its value as an effective conservation tool. The narrative is accompanied by stunning photographic contributions from over 40 conservation photographers to illustrate the convergence between the conservation and photography realms.

Regular admission ($20) includes free beer and food, plus live music by the ClifBar Band, so buy your tickets today–this event sells out quickly!

Better yet, purchase a $35 ticket becoming a member of the CWC helping to ensure the strongest protection for California’s wild places, such as Big Sur, Joshua Tree, Beauty Mountain and the Los Padres National Forest.

To purchase tickets, go to

4.   Wangari Maathai, Green Belt Movement Founder

On Sunday, September 25, Dr. Wangari Maathai, the founder and coordinator of the Green Belt Movement of Kenya, died at the age of 71. She was a remarkable woman on many levels, as this New York Times article and blog post recount. Wangari was a winner of the 1991 Goldman Environmental Prize and later the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize. I had the privilege of knowing Wangari when I handled some of GBM’s international operations while working for Resource Renewal Institute (CalUWild’s fiscal sponsor) in the 1990s.

Wangari saw governance, democracy, and the environment as being inseparable. Her approach to her work and its relationship to political systems laid the foundation for much of CalUWild’s own philosophy. We’ve said from the beginning that our organization is as much a pro-democracy organization as pro-wilderness. Democracy can flourish and function only when informed citizens are willing to participate effectively. Decisions are often a reflection of how they are made. So we’ve made effective advocacy for wilderness be the cornerstone of our approach, in the hope that people use the tools we provide to become advocates in other areas of concern as well.

I saw Wangari run the GBM in a collegial fashion. As a reflection of that, she called herself the “coordinator” rather than the executive director, and when CalUWild was founded, that was title we decided to use.

Wangari worked tirelessly on behalf of the natural environment, democracy, and the women of Kenya and the world. She inspired many people and will likewise be missed by many.

5.   Links to Articles of Interest

All from the New York Times. If you’re unable to access any of them, send me an email.

          Nicholas Kristof: We’re Rich! (In Nature.)

          Michael Lipsky: A Well-Regulated Wilderness

          Timothy Egan: Sometimes the Bear Gets You