Newsletter Archive

Muley Point, Utah                                                                                                                            Mike Painter

October 31, 2011

Dear CalUWild friends and supporters—

There’s some good news today, as reports are filtering out of Washington that Pres. Obama for the first time is going to use the Antiquities Act of 1906 to designate a national monument. It won’t be out West but rather at Ft. Monroe on Chesapeake Bay in Virginia. Though not wilderness by any means—it’s a Civil War Fort—CalUWild has lent its support to a coalition of groups working to protect it and other historic places across the country. While this is a relatively non-controversial designation, it is a good first step. Maybe it will encourage the President to exercise his authority to protect more special places across the country, including out West.

Of course, that won’t be easy, given the attitudes of some. Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests & Public Lands told the Western Republican Leadership Conference meeting that it’s unconstitutional for the federal government to own land, though he’s willing to allow national parks, since they don’t make money anyway. You can here an audio clip of Bishop’s comments here.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) says that much of the public land in the West should be “returned to private ownership,” according to this article in the Salt Lake Tribune. The fact that none of the federal land in the West was ever private doesn’t seem to faze him in the least. The Tribune ran an op-ed piece looking at Rep. Chaffetz’s claims here.

In other public lands news … The Interior Department has announced days in 2012 when admission fees will be waived in the national parks:

          Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, January 14 to 16
          National Park Week, April 21 to 29
          Get Outdoors Day, June 9
          National Public Lands Day, September 29
          Veterans Day, November 10-12

The BLM, Forest Service and Fish & Wildlife Service will also have free days on the above dates (except April 21-29). The Bureau of Reclamation will waive fees on September 29 and November 12. FWS will have an additional free day for National Wildlife Week on October 14.

Mark your calendars!

CalUWild’s Annual Membership Appeal is coming up at the end of November. If you’re a new member or have contributed in recent years, please watch your mailbox. If you would like to help us save us on printing and postage costs, please print and fill out the form at the end of this Update and mail it in with your contribution.

Financial support from our members has been invaluable over the years. We also recognize that these are difficult financial times for many. Your generosity is, therefore, doubly appreciated.


1. Great Outdoors Giveaway
          (ACTION ITEM – URGENT)
2.   Other Congressional Action
          a.   Wilderness Bills
          b.   National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act
3.   Roadless Rule Upheld by Appeals Court

4.   Red Rock Wilderness Bill
          Cosponsorship Update
          (ACTION ITEM)

5.   San Joaquin River Gorge
          Nominated for Wild & Scenic Status
           DEADLINE: December 9
           (ACTION ITEM)
6.   San Gabriel Mountains Special Study Released

7.   Great Old Broads Annual Auction
          October 31 – November 20
          (AUCTION ITEM)



1. Great Outdoors Giveaway

We’ve reported in the past on California Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s (R- 22) bill (H.R. 1581) to release all BLM wilderness study areas and Forest Service roadless areas not recommended by the agencies for wilderness status. The bill is the biggest threat to wild  lands in many years, and it continues to arouse controversy. For a revealing map of the lands covered, click here.

The House Subcommittee on Parks & Public Lands held a hearing over the summer and the full Natural Resources Committee may vote on it sometime in the next few weeks. Therefore, it’s urgent that people make their opinions known to the Committee. All conservationists, as well as the Administration, oppose the bill. Some local officials, even those generally not supportive of wilderness designations, oppose the bill, too, saying that it applies the very same “one-size-fits-all” approach that those anti-conservation forces dislike about other directives coming from Washington, DC.

California Rep. Jim Costa (D- 20) sits on the Natural Resources Committee. The word is that he has heard from many supporters of Rep. McCarthy’s bill. He needs to hear the other point of view now, too.

Talking points:
—   If you do not live in Rep. Costa’s district, say at the outset that you’re from California and calling because he’s on the Natural Resources Committee.
—   Rep. Costa should vote against H.R. 1581.
—   Many of the inventories are now considered out-of-date.
—   In many cases, recommendations against wilderness were influenced by pro-development and pro-extraction attitudes.
—   Attitudes about the balance between landscape preservation and resource extraction have changed in the intervening years. If the inventories were re-done today, the agencies might very well recommend those very same areas for wilderness now
—   Finally, many of those areas not recommended by the agencies have been included in citizens proposals and have been in fact designated as wilderness by Congress. These lands should also be given that chance.

Contact information for Rep. Costa:

          DC:   202-225-3341
          Fresno:   559-495-1620
          Bakersfield:   661-869-1620
          Web Form:   click here

Because it’s not known exactly when a vote will be taken in the full House, it’s also important to call your own representative and urge him or her to vote against the bill. Contact information for House members may be found on their pages at

2.   Other Congressional Action
          a.   Wilderness Bills

Two California wilderness bills were among six given hearings last week by the Subcommittee on Parks & Public Lands. The Angeles and San Bernardino National Forest Protection Act (H.R. 113), introduced by Rep. David Dreier (R-26) would add about 18,000 wilderness acres to the Sheep Mountain, Cucamonga, and San Gabriel Wilderness areas in those forests.

Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-49) Beauty Mountain & Agua Tibia Wilderness Bill (H.R. 41) would protect more than 21,000 acres along the border between San Diego and Riverside counties.

Other wilderness bills considered at the hearing were: Manzano Mountain Wilderness expansion in New Mexico; expansion of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness in Washington and to designation of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River and Pratt River as wild and scenic; designation of land in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan; and the Devil’s Staircase Wilderness Area in Oregon, as well as designation of segments of Wasson and Franklin Creeks as wild or recreation rivers.

These were the first wilderness bills to have hearings before the subcommittee in the 112th  Congress. No votes were taken on the bills.

          b. National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act

Earlier this year, Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) introduced H.R. 1505, the National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act. This law, if passed, would allow the Secretary of Homeland Security to waive the operation of more than 35 laws within 100 miles of either the Canadian or Mexican border including the:

          National Environmental Policy Act
          Endangered Species Act of 197
          Wilderness Act of 1964
          Antiquities Act of 1906
          Federal Land Policy and Management Act
          National Park Service Organic Act
          National Historic Preservation Act
          Migratory Bird Treaty Act
          Clean Air Act
          Safe Drinking Water Act
          Wild and Scenic Rivers Act
          National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act

The need for the bill is not at all clear, since the Border Patrol has said in the past that environmental laws do not significantly hinder its operations, and in fact, the agency has good working relations with land managers. The Natural Resources Committee approved the bill by a party line vote of 26-17 earlier this month. We’ll keep you posted on its progress.

3.   Forest Service Roadless Rule Upheld by Appeals Court

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously overturned a Wyoming District Court’s 2008 ruling that blocked the Clinton-era Forest Service Roadless Rule. Thus the Rule’s general ban on road building and timber harvesting in the inventoried roadless areas is now reinstated. The Ninth Circuit had previously ruled that the Roadless Rule was proper, so with no conflict between circuits, the Rule can now be implemented.

It’s not clear whether Wyoming will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, or whether anti-environmental members of Congress will introduce legislation overturning the Rule.

Wyoming had claimed that the public process in developing the Rule was improperly handled, saying that the outcome was pre-ordained. It also claimed that the Rule created de facto wilderness, and since only Congress can designate wilderness, the Rule was illegal. The Court rejected both of these claims, specifically pointing out that Roadless areas “will allow a multitude of activities including motorized uses” and “imposes no prohibition on mining or mineral-development activities.”

The ruling is available online here.

The New York Times published an editorial in support of the ruling.

4.   Red Rock Wilderness Bill
          Cosponsorship Update
          (ACTION ITEM)

Since our July Update, we’ve added one new California House cosponsor to America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act (H.R. 1916):

          Henry Waxman (D-30)

He joins the following California representatives:

          Mike Thompson (D-01)
          Doris Matsui (D-05)
          Lynn Woolsey (D-06)
          George Miller (D-07)
          Barbara Lee (D-09)
          Jerry McNerney (D-11)
          Jackie Speier (D-12)
          Pete Stark (D-13)
          Mike Honda (D-15)
          Zoe Lofgren (D-16)
          Sam Farr (D-17)
          Lois Capps (D-23)
          Howard Berman (D-28)
          Adam Schiff (D-29)
          Judy Chu (D-32)
          Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-34)
          Laura Richardson (D-37)
          Grace Napolitano (D-38)
          Bob Filner (D-51)

          Sen. Barbara Boxer (D)

Please send a note of thanks to your representative if he or she is on the list above.

We’d still like to see the following sign on. If your representative is on the following list, please contact him or her, asking them to cosponsor America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act.

          John Garamendi (D-10)
          Anna Eshoo (D-14)
          Brad Sherman (D-27)
          Xavier Becerra (D-31)
          Karen Bass (D-33)
          Maxine Waters (D-35)
          Linda Sanchez (D-39)
          Loretta Sanchez (D-47)
          Susan Davis (D-53)

Contact information may be found on representatives’ pages at

5.   San Joaquin River Gorge
          Nominated for Wild & Scenic Status
           DEADLINE: December 9
           (ACTION ITEM)

The following alert comes from our friends at the California Wilderness Coalition  and the Friends of the River.

BLM Recommends Wild River Protection For San Joaquin River Gorge!
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is recommending protection of the magnificent San Joaquin River Gorge as a National Wild & Scenic River. The agency’s recommendation is gutsy given that it defies the intent of several members of Congress and a fellow federal agency to build the proposed Temperance Flat Dam, which would flood the Gorge and destroy its outstanding attributes.

Dam proponents will be mobilizing to oppose the agency’s recommendation for Wild & Scenic protection. Conservationists need to speak out in favor of protecting the Gorge at upcoming public meetings and in written comments to the BLM. The deadline for public comments in Dec. 9, 2011.

The Wild & Scenic recommendation for the San Joaquin River Gorge is included in the BLM’s draft Bakersfield Resource Management Plan (RMP), which proposes management direction for 400,000 acres of public lands in the southern Central Valley and Central Coast. The RMP also recommends protection for a segment of the North Fork Kaweah River and identifies several other streams as eligible for protection. Federal law requires the BLM to identify, study, and recommend rivers for potential Wild & Scenic status as part of its planning process.

The San Joaquin River Gorge is located upstream of the existing Friant Dam and Millerton Reservoir in the Sierra Nevada foothills northeast of Fresno. The BLM manages about 5,000 acres of public land in and surrounding the Gorge for public recreation, open space, and wildlife habitat. A network of trails in the Gorge provide opportunities to hike, mountain bike, ride horses, view wildflowers, hunt, fish, and camp in some of the most spectacular scenery in the central Sierra foothills. The Gorge is also rich in Native American cultural values.

In the draft Bakersfield RMP, the BLM found 5.4 miles of the San Joaquin River Gorge between PG&E’s Kerckhoff Dam and Kerckhoff Powerhouse to be eligible and suitable for Wild & Scenic protection because of the river’s outstandingly remarkable scenic, wildlife, and Native American cultural values. A shorter 3-mile segment of the river downstream of Kerckhoff Powerhouse was also found eligible, but BLM was unable to recommend protection for this lower segment because the Bureau of Reclamation has a claim on this segment to allow for possible enlargement of Millerton Reservoir (as an alternative to building Temperance Flat).

The BLM’s Wild & Scenic recommendation for the San Joaquin River Gorge directly defies the intent of several members of Congress from the southern Central Valley and the Bureau of Reclamation to build the Temperance Flat Dam, which in its largest configuration could flood the Gorge all the way up to Kerckhoff Dam. Ironically, the proposed Temperance Flat would not contribute significantly to the state’s water supply since existing storage reservoirs already capture about 98% of the San Joaquin’s annual run-off. Based on 80 years of flow records, the Temperance Flat Dam would only store some water one year out of three. But this hasn’t stopped dam proponents, who hope to convince the taxpayers to pay for this outrageously expensive $3 billion dam.

Whether a river should remain free flowing and undammed is exactly the question the National Wild & Scenic Rivers Act was intended to answer. When it approved the nation’s foremost river conservation law in 1968, Congress explicitly stated its intent of balancing the nation’s existing policy of developing many rivers for their water supply and hydropower potential by adopting a new policy stating that some free flowing rivers with outstanding natural and cultural values should remain undammed and free flowing. In addition to prohibiting dams, the federal lands through which Wild & Scenic Rivers flow are to be managed specifically to protect the free flowing character of the river and its outstanding values.

In addition to recommending protection for the San Joaquin River Gorge, the BLM proposes to protect 2.5 miles of the North Fork Kaweah, as it flows out of Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park into BLM lands. Unfortunately, the BLM is not recommending protection for eligible segments of the East and Middle Forks of the Kaweah River, even though the National Park Service proposes Wild & Scenic status for upstream segments. Similarly, the BLM has not recommended a 3.2-mile segment of the lower Kern River below Isabella Dam, even though the Forest Service considers another 26 miles of the river on downstream National Forest lands to be eligible. In addition, the draft RMP does not recommend protection for segments of Chimney Creek, South Fork Kern River and the Salinas River.

Take Action!
The deadline for written comments is Dec. 9, 2011. Please send an email to BLM Bakersfield Field Manager Tim Smith today thanking him for recommending the San Joaquin River Gorge as a Wild & Scenic River and urging him to protect this river and its public lands from drowning by the Temperance Flat Dam. Also urge the BLM to recommend Wild & Scenic protection for the North, Middle, and East Forks of the Kaweah River, Lower Kern River, South Fork Kern River, and Chimney Creek.

Email your comments by Dec. 9 to

and/or mail a hard copy to

          Tim Smith
          Attn: Bakersfield RMP
          3801 Pegasus Drive
          Bakersfield, CA  93308.

You can review a copy of the RMP by visiting:

For more information, contact Steve Evans, Wild Rivers Project Consultant for Friends of the River and the California Wilderness Coalition, phone: (916) 708-3155, email:

6.   San Gabriel Mountains Special Study Released

The National Park Service has issued a draft study, begun in 2005, that analyzes various options for protecting the San Gabriel Mountains above Los Angeles. The draft looks at a “no action” alternative and 3 others. National Parks Traveler  is an excellent source of daily news on issues related to the Park System. It published a quite comprehensive article reporting on the draft here. So we’ll point you there rather than repeat it here. While you’re at it, look over the website for other news of interest.

You may read or download the Park Service report and other materials from the study website.

The Park Service held a kickoff meeting this past weekend and will be hosting a series of public meetings on the proposal the third week of November:

          Monday, November 14
          7 p.m. – 9 p.m.
          Larry Chimbole Cultural Center,
          Joshua Room
          38350 Sierra Highway
          Palmdale, CA 93550

          Tuesday, November 15th
          7 p.m. – 9 p.m.
          Agriscapes Center, California Polytechnic Institute Campus
          4102 S. University Drive
          Pomona, CA 91768

          Santa Clarita
          Wednesday, November 16th
          7 p.m. – 9 p.m.
          George A. Caravalho Activities Center
          Santa Clarita Room A
          20880 Centre Point Parkway
          Santa Clarita, CA 91351

          Thursday, November 17th
          7 p.m. – 9 p.m.
          Northeast Valley City Hall Auditorium
          7747 Foothill Blvd
          Tujunga, CA 91042

7.   Great Old Broads Annual Auction
          October 31 – November 20
          (AUCTION ITEM)

Great Old Broads for Wilderness is holding its annual fundraising auction. Help support them and their excellent work by checking out and bidding on wonderful items of all sorts.

The auction site is here.


We share as much information as possible with our members via e-mail, but it may sometimes be necessary to contact you by mail or phone. This information will NOT be given out to ANYone for ANY reason.

Congressional Representative:

Dues are used to help offset some of CalUWild’s lobbying and other expenses. Dues are not tax deductible, and checks should be made out to “CalUWild“.

A tax-deductible contribution may be made payable to “Resource Renewal Institute“.

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Either way, please mail your check with membership information to:

          P.O. Box 210474
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