Newsletter Archive

August 19, 2005

Dear friends and supporters of CalUWild —

Summer is drawing to a close, but there is still time for some us to get away before school starts for an extended visit to a wild place. Take advantage of it if you can!

There has been some good news on the public lands front, in addition to some of the items below. In Utah, the BLM has removed from leasing consideration some lands outside Canyonlands National Park, after the Park Service objected. In response to a petition by the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, the Kanab Office of the BLM has instituted an emergency closure of Trail Canyon to all ORVs, and has limited ORV travel in the Hog Canyon area. These victories show that despite a generally unfavorable climate for wildlands preservation it is still possible to achieve results. There’s no point in giving up!

As mentioned in our June Update, CalUWild received a grant for new computer equipment from the Norcross Wildlife Foundation. With our new “modern” equipment and software, we’re able to do new things like including hyperlinks and other formatting in our Monthly Updates. I hope this works for all of you!

If you have Mac software that you’re not using, we could sure use it. In particular we can use recent versions of Adobe Photoshop, PageMaker, and Acrobat (to allow PDF publishing). Contact me at if you’re able to help us out.




1. Judge Has Doubts About the No More Wilderness Settlement


2. North Coast Wilderness Bill (And Others) Passes U.S. Senate

3. Los Padres National Forest Oil & Gas Plan Released


4. Court Throws Out Tongass National Forest Logging Plan


5. Yellowstone Snowmobile Planning Again

Comments Needed

DEADLINE: September 14, 2005



6. Job Announcements

A. California Wilderness Outreach Coordinator

B. Arizona National Monuments Organizer



1. Judge Has Doubts About the No More Wilderness Settlement

On August 8, Utah Federal District Judge Dee Benson stepped back somewhat from his 2003 ruling that approved the controversial settlement between the State of Utah and the U.S. Department of the Interior. Those two parties had agreed that all wilderness inventories undertaken after 1995 were illegal, removing many areas from the status of wilderness study area (WSA) and its accompanying protections.

Stating that he was uncomfortable that the settlement would limit the policy discretion of future administrations, Benson said, “My present inclination is to get the court out of an area where it shouldn’t be.” However, he said that the settlement would remain in place.

Conservation groups had appealed the settlement to the 10th Circuit in Denver, which sent it back to Benson’s court to review the challenges to the settlement.

It is possible now that uncertainty over the ultimate status of lands with wilderness character may make energy firms hesitant to bid on leases in the future when they become available.


2. North Coast Wilderness Bill (And Others)

Passes U.S. Senate

On July 26th, new wilderness for California came a step closer, when the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the North Coast Wild Heritage Act. The bill was part of a package of 38 natural resource and public lands bills that gained approval. Included were three other wilderness bills for New Mexico (Ojito), Washington State (Wild Sky), and Puerto Rico. (The Wild Sky and Ojito bills have been discussed in the Update previously.)

The North Coast bill designates 120,000 acres of BLM land as wilderness, including almost 43,000 acres in the King Range along the Lost Coast in Humboldt and Mendocino Counties.

This is the third time that the Wild Sky bill has passed the Senate, but the House has so far refused to take it up. It would protect over 100,000 in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

The Ojito Wilderness Bill covers an area of 11,000 acres north of Albuquerque.

House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (R-11) from California has steadfastly refused to hear full committee hearings on the North Coast and Wild Sky bills. The Ojito and Puerto Rico bills passed the Committee earlier in the year.

3. Los Padres National Forest Oil & Gas Plan Released

On July 28 Los Padres National Forest released its much-delayed environmental impact statement on new oil and gas development. The plan was probably the best that conservationists could have hoped for, given the political situation in Washington, DC these days. However, there are objectionable parts to the plan, and the possibility exists that some groups will file appeals.

The plan opens up some 52,000 acres of the southern part of the forest to leasing, north and east of Ventura and Santa Barbara. More than half of this area lies within roadless areas. However, the plan prohibits surface development on 47,798 of these acres, and any exploration would have to be done by directional (slant) drilling. The Forest Service claims that all of the allowed development is near already existing oil and gas activities. The plan also states that as few as 21 acres may be required for additional roads and drilling pads.

One of the main concerns is how increased operations will affect the endangered California condor. Condors are known to range far and wide in their search for food, and there is nothing to keep them from coming in contact with oil that has leaked or been spilled around wells.

The amount of oil expected to be found is about 17 million barrels, not even enough to meet U.S. demand for six days. The question is whether this amount is worth exploring for. The Forest Service’s project manager, Al Hess is quoted as saying “Even with the price of oil, we haven’t had people clamoring at the door.”

As we reported in last month’s UPDATE, local Congresswoman Lois Capps has introduced legislation in Congress to ban any new oil and gas development in the Forest.

For more information, visit Los Padres ForestWatch.

We’ll keep you posted on further developments.


4. Court Throws Out Tongass National Forest Logging Plan

The Ninth Circuit of Appeals in San Francisco ruled earlier this month that the Forest Service used inaccurate information when it prepared a management plan for the Tongass National Forest, the largest in the U.S, and largest intact temperate rainforest in the world. The forest covers 17 million acres and over half of those are roadless.

Specifically, the court found that the Forest Service overstated the demand for lumber from the forest, did not consider alternatives that would have required logging in fewer roadless areas, and did not consider the impact of the plan on wildlife.

The original plan was prepared by the Forest Service under Pres. Clinton. The Bush administration exempted the Tongass from the Roadless Area Rule, two years before tossing the Rule out altogether.

The Forest Service will now need to prepare a new plan, and again the public will again have an opportunity to comment. We’ll keep you posted.


5. Yellowstone Snowmobile Planning Again

Comments Needed

DEADLINE: September 1, 2005


The ongoing saga of snowmobiles in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks continues. Here is the latest from our friends at the Snowlands Network.


Three recent studies have conclusively proved what Yellowstone visitors want in their Park experience. It is not unregulated snowmobile use. Now, disbelieving the hard facts, the Bush Administration intends a fourth study! They want to spend $3 million and take two more years to re-visit the Yellowstone snowmobile issue. Yellowstone, our first National Park, needs your help today. Grand Teton is also affected by this action. Precedents and rules are being set. Read on.


One of the most hopeful recreational trends in our country right now is taking place at Yellowstone!

Snowmobile use in Yellowstone National Park is declining dramatically, despite unprecedented political manipulation that benefits the snowmobile industry. As a result of this decline, the Park is becoming healthier. It is more enjoyable. Yellowstone is attracting a broader range of visitors. Yet the Bush Administration wants to spend even more tax dollars to justify continued snowmobile use in Yellowstone.

The Administration’s efforts to continue snowmobile use in Yellowstone have run headlong into a visiting public that is demanding stronger park protection. Over the past two winters, fewer visitors have chosen to ride snowmobiles while more have opted to tour or access the park by snowcoach. Snowmobile numbers have plummeted to a fraction of what the Bush Administration supported, resulting in some key benefits to the Park’s environment. Just as the National Park Service and the EPA predicted, the shroud of snowmobile pollution is beginning to lift from Yellowstone, snowmobile engine noise is reduced, and the park is becoming healthier and less chaotic for people and animals alike.

If you want these healthy trends to continue, please take a few minutes to participate in the public process described below. Insist that our national parks belong to citizens, not industries, and must be managed by sound science, not political favors.


Rather than embracing this visitor-led recovery of Yellowstone National Park, the Bush Administration has snubbed the NPS mission, scientific findings, the tide of public opinion – and now even visitor preferences. This has the appearance of delivering what the snowmobile industry wants – wearing the public out with a fourth study. You and I can’t allow this to happen. As a Yellowstone superintendent once remarked, our first national park will be at great risk “only if the American public ceases to care.”

Please write to the NPS to support a full phase out of snowmobiles in Yellowstone and the nearby Grand Teton National Parks. The NPS says in this “scoping” process it wants your thoughts on issues, potential environmental impacts, and management alternatives that it should analyze in determining a final winter use plan for these parks. It will accept comments through September 1, 2005.


Please consider incorporating some or all of the following points in your letter.

Remember, the deadline for comments is September 1, 2005.

* Be sure to give your name and address, and state that you are commenting on the Scoping for the Yellowstone Winter Use Plan.

* Add a personal touch to your letter. Give background on yourself (and family) and any relevant experiences you have had.


* The National Park Service has already spent well over $7 million conducting three separate studies of winter use in Yellowstone. Each study concluded that fully replacing snowmobiles with snowcoach access, “…best preserves the unique historic, cultural, and natural resources associated with Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks…” and would “…attain the widest range of beneficial uses of the environment without degradation and risk of health and safety.” This alternative should be implemented without further delay. It is redundant, wasteful, and wrong to conduct a fourth study when three previous studies have agreed on what is best for public health and safety and the resources of Yellowstone National Park.


* If the Park Service goes forward with a fourth study, it should not merely analyze “an alternative allowing only mass-transit snowcoaches,” as the agency’s June 2005 Notice of Intent advertised, but also the benefit of expediting implementation of this alternative. The snowcoach alternative has already been identified three times as the best option for protecting park resources and assuring visitor enjoyment, yet its implementation has been delayed for five years. Some business owners in the gateway communities have reported that even in the uncertain climate that has prevailed, visitor response to snowcoach tours has been highly enthusiastic, surpassing their own optimistic business forecasts. Visitor use of snowcoaches has climbed 42 percent during the past two winters. Not studying swift implementation of the best protection for Yellowstone cheats the public. Increasingly, it is also shortchanges local tour operators who are making investments in a more protective means of serving Yellowstone’s visitors.

* Snowcoaches are equalizing in that they give all individuals the same opportunity to see Yellowstone in winter. This includes children, the elderly and the disabled. The use of snowmobiles benefits one group of park visitors at the detriment of other park visitors who must live with the noise and odor of the machines, or just not visit the park.


* If the NPS insists upon studying continued snowmobile use, it should NOT consider any option that it already knows exceeds newly-established thresholds put in place to protect park resources and visitor health and enjoyment. On average fewer than 300 snowmobiles per day entered Yellowstone the past two winters. Yet even with this much reduced number, and even with all the snowmobiles being “best available technology,” snowmobile engine noise has frequently exceeded Yellowstone’s new protective thresholds.


* If the NPS insists upon studying continued snowmobile use, it should NOT study unguided or non-commercially guided snowmobile use. The Park Service has already analyzed alternatives that included no guiding, partial guiding, and full guiding. Moreover, the NPS directly experienced the benefits of requiring all snowmobilers to be accompanied by a commercial guide. Based on that analysis and direct experience, the NPS already has concluded that full commercial guiding is a critical component of resource protection. In its August 2004 Environmental Assessment, the NPS called for all future snowmobile use to be commercially guided adding that this requirement, “applies the lessons learned in the winter of 2003-2004 relative to commercial guiding, which demonstrated, among other things, that 100 percent commercial guiding was very successful and offers the best opportunity for achieving goals of protecting park resources and allowing balanced use of the parks.”

* In addition, NPS Director Fran Mainella published a letter stating, “…the essentially unregulated snowmobile use of the past, and its attendant effects, must not be allowed to continue…We required trained guides to escort groups of snowmobilers into and through the park to ensure that they would avoid disrupting wildlife.” Yellowstone’s Chief of Planning and Compliance, John Sacklin, has stated that the guiding requirement is “fundamental to controlling the issue of inappropriate behavior.” In sum, the benefit of 100 percent commercial guiding has already been studied and NPS has concluded emphatically why it is a necessary component of any continued snowmobile use. Revisiting this issue is a waste of time and tax dollars.

Online comments are strongly preferred. Submit them at:


Winter Use Scoping

Yellowstone National Park

P.O. Box 168

Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190


6. Job Announcements

A. California Wilderness Outreach Coordinator

Position Title: Wilderness Outreach Coordinator

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Classification: Exempt/Grade

Reports To: Dan Smuts, Deputy Regional Director

California/Nevada office of The Wilderness Society

Deadline: Open until filled

Start Date: Immediately

General Description:

The Wilderness Society and the California Wild Heritage Campaign seek an experienced Outreach Coordinator to develop and implement a strategy for building grassroots support for the protection of wilderness areas and wild and scenic rivers in California.

The Wilderness Society (TWS), a national non-profit organization with over 250,000 members, is devoted to the conservation of wilderness and public lands and was a founder of the California Wild Heritage Campaign. The California Wild Heritage Campaign (Campaign) seeks to permanently protect California’s remaining public wild lands and rivers through an outreach, education, and community activism campaign. The Campaign is a coalition of more than 500 local, regional, state, and national conservation organizations, businesses, faith groups, and civic leaders committed to this goal. A nine member Governing Board (which includes TWS’ Deputy Regional Director) and a Campaign Director guide the work of the Campaign.

The Outreach Coordinator will be responsible for designing the Campaign’s local and statewide plans to build support for wilderness and wild and scenic rivers protection. The Outreach Coordinator will oversee a team of field organizers and contractors in implementing the outreach plans. The Outreach Coordinator will also coordinate the Campaign’s outreach efforts with those of partner organizations and activists around the state. The Coordinator will be a key member of the Campaign’s larger team, serving as a liaison between the Campaign’s outreach efforts and its related political and media efforts.

The ideal candidate has experience managing a multi-faceted grassroots campaign, including developing and implementing grassroots outreach strategies. Experience working in a coalition setting is highly desirable because the Coordinator must be able to collaborate with, and lead, a diverse group of interests. This individual must also be willing to work on many projects, juggle competing priorities, and be responsible for the implementation of both local and statewide campaign efforts with minimal supervision. The Campaign is complex and, as a result, the Outreach Coordinator needs to be able to show leadership in their efforts while also working well with the larger campaign team. Strong communication skills, flexibility, and a “can-do” attitude are essential.


* Develop and implement outreach strategies to secure wilderness protection in targeted areas of the state.

* Coordinate outreach activities of Campaign field organizers, contractors, and partner organizations. Work with individuals on local campaigns to win support for the protection of wild places.

* Build and maintain coalitions with statewide constituency groups including conservation groups, unions, businesses, and scientists.

* Organize advocacy trips to Washington D.C. and Sacramento.

* Communicate with local decision makers, federal agencies, and members of Congress.

* Design and implement grassroots organizing trainings for Campaign staff, contractors, and activists across the state.

* Work with the Campaign’s Communications Director to design outreach and educational materials for the press, general public, community leaders and decision makers.

* Coordinate and communicate to volunteer activists throughout the state, using the internet, e-newsletters, and mailings. Assist in establishing a system of updates and alerts to member groups, activists, and targeted supporters.


* 3-5 years experience managing a grassroots campaign and working with media and elected officials.

* Demonstrated ability to develop grassroots outreach strategies.

* Ability to coordinate the activities of many diverse partners.

* A strong sense of initiative and the ability to work with minimal supervision.

* Excellent written and oral communications skills.

* Demonstrated ability to multi-task and achieve deadlines.

* Demonstrated ability to work positively with all kinds of people.

* Demonstrated expertise in email, word processing, spreadsheet and fax programs.

* Dedication to the preservation of California’s public lands.

We offer a very competitive salary and benefits package, including health and dental insurance and a pension plan. The Wilderness Society is an equal opportunity employer and actively works to ensure fair and equal treatment of its employees and constituents regardless of differences based on culture, socioeconomic status, race, marital or family situation, gender, age, ethnicity, religious beliefs, physical ability, or sexual orientation.

Submit résumé, cover letter, writing samples and references to:

Dan Smuts

The Wilderness Society
P.O. Box 29241

San Francisco, CA 94129-0241


No phone inquiries please.

B. Arizona National Monuments Organizer

The Sierra Club is looking for a skilled organizer to continue our campaign to protect Arizona’s five newest national monuments.

We’re looking for someone who wants to protect public lands, is effective at recruiting others to get involved, can work well in diverse coalitions, can present the issues to the media and the public, and can be effective with government agencies.

Full-time, $30,000/year, health benefits. Office in Phoenix.

Apply to: AZ Monuments Organizer at: (email preferred)


c/o Sierra Club Southwest Office

202 E. McDowell, #277

Phoenix, AZ 85004.

Include cover letter, resume and references. Please apply by September 20, 2005.