Newsletter Archive

August 29, 2003

Dear CalUWild friends:

Congress has been on recess for the month of August, so things have been pretty quiet on the legislative front. However, when the House and Senate come back in September, two important wilderness and environmental issues will need your attention: RS 2477 (the roads over public lands issue (Item 2) and the nomination of Utah governor Mike Leavitt to head the US Environmental Protection Agency (Item 3).

There are a couple of other issues to write letters on as well, as you’ll see below.

On the CalUWild administrative front, have a request: We are in need of a laptop computer. With travel increasing over the last year, there’s a growing need to have access to files away from the office. (Besides, the computer here, although functional, is getting old “a 1997 model” and its system and software are in serious need of upgrading.) So if you are looking to replace your laptop, particularly if it’s a Mac PowerBook of relatively recent vintage, a gift of it to CalUWild would be most welcome. Please contact me at and let’s discuss!

Many thanks to those of you who have sent in dues and contributions in response to our recent appeal. We couldn’t run the organization with your support. A high level of support from our members is important to foundations considering giving us grants, so if you received a notice and haven’t sent a contribution in, please consider doing so.

Finally, please pass this Update along to a few people you know who might be interested in joining the campaign to protect our wild places. The best way to increase our effectiveness is to have more citizens involved, enlarging the circle of folks willing to make their opinions heard. It is the only way to balance out the voices of those who see our public lands as a resource to be used for private gain.

As always, we hope to give you the most usable information for advocacy on wilderness and public lands issues. If you ever have questions, suggestions, or comments, don’t hesitate to send them our way, by e-mail or phone: 415-752-3911.

Thanks for your interest in protecting our wildlands, and have a good Labor Day weekend!


1. Salt Creek in Canyonlands NP (Again)
2. R.S. 2477 Moves to the Senate
3. Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt Nominated To Head EPA In Washington
4. Senator Boxer Announces Opposition To National Forest Recreation Fees

5. Los Padres National Forest Oil & Gas Drilling
6. Bison Event in Marin
Wednesday, September 3, 7 P.M.


1. Salt Creek in Canyonlands NP (Again)
DEADLINE: October 10

Last Fall, Canyonlands National Park finished an environmental assessment on vehicle travel in Salt Creek Canyon. It decided to exclude vehicles above the Peekaboo campsite. The park now wishes to finalizes this decision by changing its regulations and has put a notice in the Federal Register asking for comments. Letters supporting this decision should be sent by October 10.

Complicating the issue has been the fact that San Juan County claims Salt Creek as a route under R.S. 2477, the 1866 law granting rights of away across public lands. In April of this year, Utah governor Mike Leavitt signed a “memorandum of understanding” with the Department of the Interior, in which he agreed that the state would not pursue R.S. 2477 claims in national parks and other protected areas. The Park Service has said that it believes the Salt Creek claim is unfounded, however, Gov. Leavitt has so far not disavowed the claim, despite requests to do so publicly.

The following issues are important in the Park Service’s decision to close the canyon to vehicles and should be mentioned in your letter:

* Salt Creek’s intrinsic value as the only perennial stream in Canyonlands NP.
* The importance of Salt Creek as a water source for wildlife and possibly for hikers.
* Streambank erosion and other impairment of the riparian habitat.
* Direct and indirect effects of vehicles on wildlife.
* The presence of any threatened or endangered plants or animals.
* Pollution of the creek by motor oil, gasoline, antifreeze, and other chemicals.
* Turbidity of water caused by vehicles driving through the creekbed.
* Damage to archeological resources directly by vehicles and as a result of the easier access to sites that vehicles provide.
* Effect on hikers in the canyon.

Written comments will be accepted by mail, fax or e-mail through October 10, 2003. Send comments to:

Canyonlands National Park
Attn: Salt Creek Rule
2282 S.W. Resource Blvd.
Moab, UT 84532

Fax: 435-719-2300


For more information, check out the following web sites.

Canyonlands National Park

Downloaded a PDF file of the recent Federal Register notice.

2. R.S. 2477 Moves to the Senate

In September, the U.S. Senate will begin work on its version of the Interior Appropriations Bill. We are hoping for an amendment which will completely cut off funding for the implementation of the Interior Department’s “disclaimer” regulations, which went into effect earlier this year. A similar amendment was introduced in the House by Colorado Rep. Mark Udall, but it was weakened to include only national parks, monuments, wilderness areas, and wilderness study areas. A stronger Senate amendment would give us leverage in negotiations in the House-Senate conference committee.

California’s Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D), a member of the Appropriations Committee, has been a strong opponent of the administration’s handling of the R.S. 2477 issue, and we need her to remain strong on the issue. Calls and letters to her office are important! Remember, mail to Washington, DC is still irradiated and delayed up to 3 weeks, so please call or fax letters to Washington, or mail them to the local offices below.

In Washington, DC:
202-224-3841 phone
202-228-3954 fax

1 Post Street, Suite 2450
San Francisco, CA 94104
415-393-0707 phone

11111 Santa Monica Boulevard, Suite 915
Los Angeles, CA 90025
310-914-7300 phone

750 B Street, Suite 1030
San Diego, CA 92101
619-231-9712 phone

For more information on R.S. 2477 visit

3. Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt Nominated To Head EPA in Washington

As you’ve undoubtedly heard, Pres. Bush has nominated Utah’s governor Mike Leavitt to replace retiring EPA administrator Christy Todd Whitman. This is not good news.

Gov. Leavitt is not a real friend of the environment and believes in letting states make their own regulations on many issues, rather than adopting a single national approach. He has consistently misstated wilderness advocates’ positions on issues, and uses the word “extremist” to refer to us at every possible opportunity. However, he claims to be a moderate himself, although he always adopts the positions of those who look to use the land for their own advantage: extractive industries, off-road vehicle users, ranchers, and others.

If he has the same attitudes toward his EPA duties as he does toward public lands issues in Utah, Mr. Leavitt will fit in perfectly with the Bush administration, probably better than Ms. Whitman ever did.

Some areas of concern:

1. Gov. Leavitt frequently touts collaboration in solving difficult issues as his goal. In practice, he has never collaborated with anyone in the environmental community on anything: wilderness designation, R.S. 2477, or his Legacy Highway plans.

One example is the settlement of his lawsuit against the Department of the Interior regarding BLM’s Utah wilderness inventories. This settlement overturned policies in place for decades, stretching back to Pres. Jimmy Carter’ days. A second is the negotiation of the memorandum of Understanding with the Interior Dept. over R.S. 2477 claims in Utah. Even Gov. Bill Owens of Colorado, another Republican, called those negotiations “secret, closed-door with no public process and no involvement of stakeholders,” and vowed that Colorado would undertake a more open process.

So far, Gov. Leavitt’s administration has failed to disavow the R.S. 2477 claim in Canyonlands National Park (Item 1).

2. His philosophy of “Enlibra” – a Latin word that he made up himself, supposedly meaning “toward balance”. is for people “who choose problem-solving instead of politics, litigation and obstructionism,” to quote his web site. However, he has never hesitated to threaten or instigate lawsuits when it suited his own purposes. The lawsuit against the Interior Department comes to mind. The state of Utah also filed suit against the Forest Service Roadless Rule.

3. One task of EPA is to protect wetlands. As governor, one of Mr. Leavitt’s pet projects has been the construction of the controversial Legacy Highway. The freeway itself would destroy over 114 acres of marshland on the edge of Great Salt Lake, and open many more acres to development. The freeway route is part of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve System. In addition, the construction contract specified that the government would reimburse the contractors for delays brought about by litigation and appeals. The EPA had sent a letter warning Mr. Leavitt not to proceed because of pending litigation, but knowing full well that lawsuits would be filed against the project, he proceeded anyway. So far, the state of Utah has had to pay out $23 million in penalties to contractors: $17 million because of the delay and $6 million to get out of the contract. Should the project be permanently stopped, $100 million in construction cost would wind up being for nothing, plus the state will have to pay to restore the land where it has already built.

Confirmation hearings in the Senate will likely be held in September. Phone calls and letters to opposing Mr. Leavitt’s nomination are crucial. Contact information for Sen. Dianne Feinstein is in Item 2. Sen. Barbara Boxer’s information is:

In Washington, DC:
202-224-3553 phone

1700 Montgomery Street, Suite 240
San Francisco, CA 94111
415-956-6701 fax

312 N. Spring Street, Suite 1748
Los Angeles, CA 90012
213-894-5042 fax

201 N. E Street, Suite 210
San Bernardino, CA 92401
909-888-8613 fax

4. Senator Boxer Announces Opposition To National Forest Recreation Fees

The following comes from the Keep Sespe Wild Committee:

Senator Barbara Boxer recently announced her opposition to extending the Recreation Fee Demonstration Program (Fee Demo) on National Forests, including Southern California’s “Adventure Pass” parking fee.

The Senator stated: “I believe this demonstration program has not worked, and I will oppose efforts to extend it.”

Previously, the Senator had not taken a position on this issue.

The Fee Demo program is being addressed by Congress this year in several ways – Sen. Craig Thomas (R-WY) sponsored a bill, S.1107, to make permanent the Fee Demo program only in National Parks, with hearings scheduled for September 9; on August 17 the House passed, by 241 – 184, an Interior Appropriations rider to extend the program in all four agencies (NPS, USFS, BLM and USFWS) by two more years; and Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA), chair of the House Resources Committee, is preparing permanent legislation for all four Fee Demo agencies, for introduction this fall.

Please make a couple of quick calls to California’s two Senators.

Please thank Senator Barbara Boxer for opposing forest fees. You may also, if you wish, ask her to cosponsor S.1107 (see above). Call Senator Boxer in DC at 202-224-3553 or in CA at 213-894-5000 or 415-403-0100

Please call Senator Dianne Feinstein and ask her to oppose any extension to Fee Demo in the Senate. (She sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee which will soon be deciding whether to extend Fee Demo or not.) Ask her, if you wish, to cosponsor S.1107 (see above). Call Senator Feinstein in DC at 202-224-3841 or in CA at 310-914-7300 or 415-393-0707.

5. Los Padres National Forest Oil & Gas Drilling

We are repeating the following item from our July Interim Update:

The Forest Service has said it will release its environmental impact statement for oil and gas exploration in Los Padres National Forest in September. (Release of the plan has been delayed several times already, so there is no guarantee on this.) Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-24) is the only representative in the area who has not publicly opposed the proposal. Because his district includes the areas of the forest proposed for development, it is important that he oppose the plan. We would like still him to do just that.

The House of Representatives will be on recess through the month of August. If you (or anyone you know) live in Rep. Gallegly’s district (Ventura, Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks, and much of Santa Barbara County), this is the perfect time to let him know you oppose oil & gas exploration in the national forest — immediately adjacent to the release areas for the California Condor.

There are several ways to do this. You can call his local office and find out whether he has any townhall meetings scheduled. You can write a letter to the editors of the newspapers in his district — particularly effective is to identify yourself as a Republican voter (if you are one).

Finally, a sign-on letter is being circulated among scientists, civic and religious leaders, and business owners of the state asking him to oppose the project. If you (or anyone you know) fall into one of these categories, please contact Erin Duffy of the California Wild Heritage Campaign, and she will send you the text of the letter and you can sign on.

6. Bison Event in Marin
Wednesday, September 3, 7 P.M.

Let the Buffalo Roam!

Meet Ernest Callenbach author of Bring Back the Buffalo!
and Mike Mease of the Buffalo Field Campaign

Wild Buffalo are a symbol of America’s national heritage, yet the United States government and the state of Montana, under the influence of the powerful livestock industry, in just ten years slaughtered over 3,000 native buffalo that roamed out of Yellowstone Park – forever altering the wild character and integrity of our public lands and wildlife.

The Foundation for Deep Ecology invites you to learn more about the plight of the buffalo. Join us for an informative discussion and video presented by Ernest Callenbach, author of the new book Bring Back the Buffalo! and Mike Mease, co-founder of the Buffalo Field Campaign.

Wednesday, September 3rd at 7:00 p.m.
Foundation for Deep Ecology
Building 1062 Ft. Cronkhite, Sausalito
Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Marin Headlands

The Buffalo Field Campaign is dedicated to protecting Yellowstone’s bison, America’s only wild herd, 365 days a year. Volunteers defend the bison and their habitat through grassroots campaigning, and are often seen roaming with the herds as they move from wintering to breeding grounds inside and outside of the park.

Author Ernest Callenbach’s books include Ecotopia, Ecotopia Emerging, and Ecology: A Pocket Guide. His new publication, Bring Back the Buffalo! offers constructive alternatives to the decline of cattle ranching, depletion of underground water, and dependency on outside energy sources. It shows how bringing back the hardy, majestic bison and using the region’s winds to generate power are keys to renewed economic and social health for Plains communities.

Refreshments will be served
Contact Tracee at 415-229-9339 to RSVP and for directions