Newsletter Archive

August 29, 2004

Dear Friends of CalUWild:

Next Friday, September 3, is the 40th anniversary of the passage of the Wilderness Act. The Act is one of the major American contributions to environmental thinking and law. “Wilderness,” however, is not a recreational classification, even though the Act says that lands should provide opportunities for “primitive” recreation. It is a philosophical designation: some land deserves to remain just as it is, set aside, with no significant human interference.

The writer Edward Abbey said: “The idea of wilderness needs no defense. It only needs more defenders.” It may have been true when he said it, but it is no longer. The very concept is under attack by people who think that every acre of land must be exploited for maximum economic gain. Others think that motor access should be encouraged everywhere and that designating wilderness “locks up the land,” keeping people out.

The Wilderness Act of 1964 was passed with significant support from members of both parties in Congress-it was a non-partisan issue. The landscape has changed much in the last 40 years. Unfortunately, few Republican champions of wilderness are to be found. It is now more difficult to pass “stand-alone” wilderness bills. Instead, large public lands packages, which often contain measures that are not good for the environment are being introduced more and more frequently. There is a major discussion going on in the wilderness community how to react to these types of bills. One thing is for sure: There are no easy answers.

But what will make a difference is the active participation of as many concerned citizens as possible. That’s why CalUWild exists-to encourage and facilitate widespread participation by citizens in wilderness decision-making: advocacy for legislation and for proper management of existing and potential wilderness lands. After all, these lands belong to all of us as Americans. It’s our right and duty to protect them as we see fit.

The best way to celebrate the 40th Anniversary is to get out and enjoy the wilderness and then to come home refreshed and ready to work again to protect it.

On TV tonight, NOW with Bill Moyers (PBS) will have a segment on the 40th Anniversary and the threats facing public land. Check your local listings for exact time, or go to:

This edition of the Monthly UPDATE deals with the issues that won’t go away: the status of snowmobiles in Yellowstone, the National Forest Roadless Rule, and off-highway vehicle (OHV) use. These are all very important issues, and even though we ask our members to write one letter a month, we’d like to ask that you submit comments on all the topics this month, if you have the time. The issues are that important. Your comments need not be long or involved, but please make them as personal as you can. All the information you’ll need to write is contained in the items below.

Next month we’ll look at the Draft Price Resource Management Plan in Utah. Since it has a comment deadline of October 15, we didn’t want to overwhelm you by discussing it now. If you want to get a head start on the issue, visit

Finally, over the course of the last week, CalUWild sent out its major membership mailing of the year, which asked for your financial support. Running the organization requires a lot of time, and while we work to keep expenses to a minimum, they are nonetheless considerable. We do not send out direct mail, and our members only receive one renewal notice per year. If you received your reminder, whether by U.S. Mail or e-mail, please help CalUWild continue its work by sending in a contribution. Many thanks to those whose generous responses have already shown up in our mailbox!


IN California
1. Fax Gov. Schwarzenegger in Support of the North Coast Wild Heritage Act

IN Wyoming
2. Comments Needed on Snowmobiles in Yellowstone and Teton National Parks
DEADLINE: September 20, 2004
IN General
3. Forest Service Roadless Rule Comments Needed
DEADLINE: September 14, 2004
4. Forest Service Off Highway Vehicle Comments Needed
DEADLINE: September 13, 2004


1. Fax Gov. Schwarzenegger in Support of the North Coast Wild Heritage Act
DEADLINE: October 10I

Last month we asked our members to call Gov. Schwarzenegger, asking him to publicly support the Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act, S. 738/H.R. 1501. So far he has not, and therefore, the California Wild Heritage Campaign is going to the next level and asking people to fax the Governor.

From last month, the points to raise are:

* This bill will protect some of California’s most spectacular areas such as the King Range, the longest stretch of undeveloped coastline in the lower 48.
* It would also protect critical areas for California’s threatened Steelhead trout and salmon populations.
* It would also protect Cache Creek, home to California’s second largest wintering bald eagle population.
* Throughout California there is broad support for the bill.
* Tell about your personal experience, such as: I have been hiking, fishing, camping on the Lost Coast and want this area protected for future generations.
* You hope the Governor will consider formally supporting S. 738/H.R. 1501.

The Governor’s fax number is: 916-445-4633

2. Forest Service Roadless Rule Comments Needed
DEADLINE: September 14, 2004

Despite numerous studies by the Park Service and others showing that snowmobile use in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks has serious impacts on natural resources and human health (particularly rangers stationed at entrance kiosks), the Bush administration continues to push for snowmobile use in the Wyoming parks. In response to overwhelming public comment, the Park Service devised a phase out of private snowmobile use, but a court ordered a new plan.

So for at least the third time, the Park Service is taking comments on winter use in the parks. The draft’s preferred alternative would allow up to 720 machines to enter the park every day. However, Alternative 1 would allow only snow coaches (mass transit) to carry visitors into and through the park. We urge you to write in support of this alternative.

Points to include:

* You support Alternative 1, which emphasized snow coaches and prohibits recreational snowmobiling.
* Numerous studies, including those by the park itself, document negative impacts on wildlife and other resources. Bison, elk, and other wildlife should not be harassed by the noise these machines produce.
* Snowmobiles cause the health of park rangers to be compromised and the peaceful atmosphere of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks to be disrupted.
* Americans want Yellowstone and Grand Teton to remain calm, peaceful and beautiful areas, which was made obvious by the overwhelming support for the original plan.
* For these reasons, the Park Service’s preferred alternative does not comply with the Park Services legal mandate to protect park resources, unimpaired for future generations.

For more background information, visit:

Mail comments to:

Management Assistant’s Office
Temporary Winter Use Plans EA
P.O. Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190

Comments may be submitted through the Park Service’s web site at:

Comments are due by midnight September 20, 2004.

3. Forest Service Roadless Rule Comments Needed
DEADLINE: September 14, 2004

The Bush administration has had its sights set on the Clinton administration’s Forest Service Roadless Rules since Inauguration day, 2001. However, it gave lip service to enforcing the Rule but never defended it vigorously in court challenges. This, despite the fact that the original rulemaking was the most extensive ever: 1.6 million Americans submitted comments and attended over 600 meetings. The majority of them supported keeping roadless areas wild.

In July, the administration announced its alternative: to let the state governors petition the Forest Service for the level of protection the wanted for the national forests in their states. So it’s time for concerned citizens to send in letters once again.

Points to include:

* Our national forests belong to ALL Americans, and their management should not depend on state lines or gubernatorial whim.
* Federal taxpayers, not governors or state dollars, pay for the management (including road construction) of national forests. Thus, it is a bad policy to give governors control over something for which they have no responsibility.
* The proposed plan suggests a willingness by the Forest Service to abdicate its responsibility for managing these lands in the interest of ALL Americans and should, therefore, be rejected.
* Instead, the Roadless Area Conservation Rule should be left intact in the Lower 48 states and Alaska’s Chugach National Forest and reinstated in the Tongass National Forest.

Comments are due September 14, 2004. Send them by mail, fax, or via e-mail.

Mail comments to:

Content Analysis Team
Attn: Roadless State Petitions
USDA Forest Service
P.O. Box 221090
Salt Lake City, UT 84122

Fax: 801-517-1014


4. Forest Service Off Highway Vehicle Comments Needed
DEADLINE: September 13, 2004

The following alert is taken from information provided by the Natural Trails and Waters Coalition, of which CalUWild is a member.

The U.S. Forest Service has proposed a new rule concerning use of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), dirt bikes and other off-road vehicles on America’s National Forests. Although it represents a step forward, it falls far short of what is needed to address one of the greatest threats to National Forests. Please urge the Forest Service to strengthen the draft rule by sending a comment today. Comments must be received by September 13, 2004.


The future of our National Forests and the values they represent are threatened by growing and uncontrolled use of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), dirt bikes, snowmobiles and other off-road vehicles.

In many National Forests today, off-road vehicles can go drive almost anywhere. The Forest Service reports that more than 273,000 miles of roads and other routes are open to various off-road vehicles. On some forests, ATVs and dirt bikes can travel virtually without limit across hundreds of thousands — even millions — of acres.

And this one use dominates the landscape at the expense of almost any other activity. According to the Forest Service, millions more people visit our National Forests to hike, view nature, hunt or fish than visit to ride off road vehicles. As off-road vehicle use has exploded and vehicles become capable of traversing almost any terrain, the Forest Service has failed to effectively manage this use or consistently enforce even its most basic rules on off-road use.

Forest Service Acknowledges the Problem:

In April 2003, Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth identified unmanaged off-road vehicle use as one of the four greatest threats to America’s National Forests, along with fire, the spread of invasive species and habitat fragmentation. The Chief catalogued the damage and the other negative impacts caused by uncontrolled off-road vehicle use: “We’re seeing more and more erosion, water degradation and habitat destruction. We’re seeing more and more conflicts between users. We’re seeing more damage to cultural sites and more violation of sites sacred to American Indians. And those are just some of the impacts.”

Chief Bosworth also called attention to the spreading spider web of unplanned — or renegade — ATV and dirt bike tracks that crisscross so many of our forests. In 2001, the Forest Service estimated that forests nationwide were scarred with at least 60,000 miles of unauthorized roads, many blazed by off-road vehicles. This figure has only grown over the past few years.

Early this year, Chief Bosworth appropriately issued an urgent call to action: “This is not an easy issue to tackle, but if we wait a day, a week, or even a year, the impact on the land and the issues surrounding the problem will be come even harder to deal with. We need to address the issue now.”

Draft Rule Small Step Forward, But Falls Far Short of the Mark:

The draft rule falls far short of what is needed to respond to the growing threat. The proposal does include some policy changes that would be beneficial if effectively implemented on the ground, including:

* Prohibiting cross-country motorized travel across entire forests
* Authorizing ATV and dirt bike use only on roads and off-road vehicle routes specifically designated as open for such use
* Concluding that forests do not have to inventory and/or map unauthorized renegade routes prior to commencing the designation process

Overall, however, the draft rule is extremely tentative, does not address critical problems, and fails to reflect the urgency highlighted by Chief Bosworth only a few months ago.

* Chief Bosworth has appropriately cited the need to act “now,” but the proposed rule does not include a timeframe for starting or completing the process of studying and designating roads and routes appropriate for ATVs and dirt bikes.
* Chief Bosworth has highlighted the problem with unauthorized renegade routes, but the proposal is almost completely silent about how to address this pernicious threat.
* Uncontrolled off-road vehicle use is damaging the land, polluting water, shredding wildlife habitat, and driving many forest visitors away, but the proposal does not clearly require the Forest Service to study the negative impacts of specific roads or routes that could be opened to ATVs, dirt bikes and other vehicles.
* Having enough people and other resources to monitor impacts and enforce basic rules is essential to successful management, but the proposal does nothing to boost on-the-ground management and enforcement capability.

When commenting, please tell the Forest Service to ensure that any final rule requires each National Forest to:

* Complete off-road vehicle route designations within 2 years of the effective date of that rule
* Include snowmobiles in the rulemaking so that other users and wildlife are protected
* Designate roads and routes, including any unauthorized renegade route, for off-road use only after public participation and site-specific analysis of environmental impacts and user-conflicts
* Immediately end use of all unauthorized renegade ATV and dirt bike routes pending site-specific study and official designation
* Ensure that it can afford, maintain and manage any system of roads and routes designated for off-roads vehicle use.

In addition, please urge the Forest Service to retain the following in any final rule:

* The general prohibition on motorized cross-country recreation, provided that any area designated as available for off-road vehicle use be limited and discrete
* The requirement that off-road vehicle use be authorized only on those roads and routes specifically designated as open on use maps
* The conclusion that forests are not required to inventory and/or map unauthorized renegade routes prior to commencing the official route designation process.

Please also share personal experiences and observations in your comments.

Send comments via:

U.S. Mail

Proposed Rule for Designated Routes and Areas for Motor Vehicle Use
c/o Content Analysis Team
P.O. Box 221150
Salt Lake City, UT 84122-1150

Fax: 801-517-1014