Newsletter Archive

Cathedral Peak, Yosemite Wilderness                                                                                      Mike Painter

November 30, 2011

Dear Friends of CalUWild —

We began last month’s Update with the news that Pres. Obama was going to finally use the Antiquities Act to designate a national monument. The reports of the impending action turned out to be true and he designated Fort Monroe National Monument in Virginia. The New York Times is running a series of columns marking the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. On November 1, they published a column discussing the history and significance of Ft. Monroe.

The designation was one of the projects of the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative. Later in the month, the White House made public a report that included list of 101 projects (two in each state) that it would be promoting. (The report can be downloaded at the link.) The two projects for California are the restoration of the San Joaquin River National Blueway and improvements to the Los Angeles and San Gabriel River Trails.

At last the Administration is taking some positive steps!

As mentioned last month, it’s time for CalUWild’s end-of-the-year membership appeal. We don’t do direct mail, we don’t mail out numerous letters during the year. But we do rely on contributions to help pay for phone and Internet, occasional travel to meetings, postage, and small salary, among other things. Unlike other organizations, dues have never been mandatory, but funding is still critical. A coupon is again at the end of this Update. Printing and mailing it in with your contribution will help us save on expenses. Your support and generosity are greatly appreciated.

Best wishes for the holidays,

1.   Counties and State File More Road Claims

2.   Pt. Reyes Oyster Farm Study Released
          Comment Deadline Extended
          NEW DEADLINE: December 9
           (ACTION ITEM)

3.   Secretary Salazar Recommends 18 New Wilderness Areas

4.   Friends of Nevada Wilderness 2012 Calendar

5.   Articles and Other Links of Interest



1.   Counties and State File More Road Claims

Kane and Garfield Counties, as well as the State of Utah, filed suit this month to claim more roads under R.S. 2477, the Civil War-era statue that granted rights-of-way for road construction. They are claiming title to pretty much all the “roads” on BLM and Park Service land (including in Grand Staircase-Escalante NM and Glen Canyon NRA) in each county that had not been included in prior litigation. Garfield County is claiming 94 roads, Kane County 710.

This litigation is just the latest round in the attempts by counties in Utah and the State to get title to roads across federal lands. We’ll keep you posted at the case progresses.

2.   Pt. Reyes Oyster Farm Study Released
          Comment Deadline Extended
          NEW DEADLINE: December 9
          (ACTION ITEM)

The federal Marin Mammal commission issued a new report examining some of the environmental controversies surrounding the Drakes Bay Oyster Company’s operations Pt. Reyes National Seashore, particularly the effects on harbor seal populations. The verdict: more study is needed. For a detailed discussion of the issues in the report, the National Parks Traveler has an excellent overview. The report may be found online here.

To all allow time for people to read the report and incorporate it into their comments, the Park Service has extended the deadline for comments 10 days. The new deadline is December 9.

We see the environmental issues raised about the operation as being secondary to the intent of the law passed in 1972, which designated Drake’s Estero as potential wilderness, and therefore a distraction from that main issue. As we said in our September Update:

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. Pres umably 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.

Comments may be submitted online. The direct link is:

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

Comments will not be accepted by FAX, e-mail, or in any other way than those specified above.

In response to the drawn-out saga of the Park Service’s relationship to the oyster company, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, chaired by California Rep. Darrell Issa (R-49), announced it would investigate the situation, beginning in November. Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-6), in whose district Pt. Reyes lies, spoke out against the investigation, saying it was politically motivated. Rep. Issa has opened numerous investigations into the Administration’s activities, so many in fact, that the NY Times has labeled Rep. Issa the Administration’s “annoyer-in-chief.”

We’ll keep following and reporting on the issue as it develops further.

3.   Secretary Salazar Recommends 18 New Protected Areas

Earlier this month, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar released a report nominating 18 areas that the Administration thinks are worthy of protection, either as designated wilderness or in national conservation areas. About half the areas are included in bills that have been introduced in this Congress. Some, like Gold Butte in Nevada, have been the subject of previously introduced legislation.

Nine of the 18 are in California and most are included in Sen. Feinstein’s Desert Bill and the Beauty Mountain and Agua Tibia Wilderness Act, introduced by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-49). In Northern California, the Secretary recommended wilderness designation for English Ridge, along the Eel River.

The areas recommended in other states are:

Colorado— San Juan Mountains/McKenna Peak Wilderness Study Area and Castle Peak Wilderness Study Area and Addition

Idaho—Jerry Peak Wilderness Study Areas in the Boulder-White Clouds Region.

Montana—Sleeping Giant and Sheep Creek Wilderness Study Areas

Nevada—Pine Forest Range—Blue Lakes and Alder Creek Wilderness Study Areas

New Mexico—Rio Grande del Norte National Conservation Area and Wilderness Areas

Oregon—Devil’s Staircase and the Wild Rogue River

Utah—Desolation, Westwater, and Mill Creek Canyons in Grand County

Washington—San Juan Islands National Conservation Area

The report is the Administration’s response to the furor that erupted earlier in the year over the Wildlands Policy. These particular areas were chosen because they have significant local and often bipartisan support. Recommendations for inclusion in the report originally came from officials and citizens in the states themselves. However, Secty. Salazar said that the list was meant as a starting point rather than a final determination that these are the only areas deserving of protection.

You can read the report online or download it here.

4.   Friends of Nevada Wilderness 2012 Calendar

Every year, Friends of Nevada Wilderness publishes a calendar featuring spectacular photos of the some of the wild areas in that state. Perfect as a gift or for your own use, the price is $12, which includes shipping.

You may order online, by phone (775-324-7667), or by mail:

          Friends of Nevada Wilderness
          P.O. Box 9754
          Reno, NV  89507

5.   Articles and Other Links of Interest

Outside Magazine on Tim DeChristopher, who tried to buy Utah oil & gas leases:

          The Trials of Bidder 70

Editorials and Op-ed Pieces against H.R. 1581, the WSA Release Act

          The San Francisco Chronicle

          The Bakersfield Californian, by Jim Eaton, founder and former ED of the California Wilderness Coalition

          The Sacramento Bee, by Steve Frisch, president of the Sierra Business Council

Interview with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, in the Washington Post

National Parks Conservation Association Report on the funding needs of America’s national parks


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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__  $25  Regular
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Either way, please mail your check with membership information to:

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