Newsletter Archive

February 16, 2003

Dear Friends of Western Wilderness —

Every day it seems one reads about new threats to our Western lands. Perhaps the administration is hoping that it can get away with its plans while the world is focused on questions of war and peace in Iraq. However, we cannot allow our protective vigilance to wane. If we do, a lot of damage to the landscape will occur, including: new roads will be built, new oil and gas wells will be drilled, new coal mines will be excavated, old forests will be felled.

The good news is that by writing a couple of letters or making a couple of phone calls, you can let your representatives know that some issues are important to you. Amazingly, they seem to be listening! Some bad items did slip through the big budget bill last week concerning Alaskan forests, but drilling in the Arctic Refuge was dropped — yet again! And when it comes to legislation moving on the “normal” track (in other words, not riders to appropriations bills), we have an excellent record.

For example, for all of the power that retired Rep. Jim Hansen of Utah supposedly wielded, we have been unable to find one important piece of legislation (environmental or other) that he managed to shepherd through Congress in his 22 years there. And we managed to defeat all the legislation he introduced that was adverse to Utah wilderness interests: the West Desert and Pilot Range bills, Title XIV of the Military Appropriations Bill. The list goes on. We can be proud of the work we’ve done.

But we can’t afford to rest on our past successes. There is always more to do, as you’ll see from this month’s items (below).

Speaking of Jim Hansen, the Deseret News, Utah’s second-largest newspaper, reported in January that he is setting up a consulting/lobbying firm in Washington. It will be a consulting firm at first, because by law, Mr. Hansen cannot lobby his former colleagues for one year. “We’re zeroing in on military and resources (public lands) issues. That is what I know best,” Mr. Hansen is quoted as saying. So we may not have seen the last of him yet!

In other disturbing news, the Los Angeles Times reported on Jan. 26 that the National Park Service is looking at about 70% of its full-time jobs and considering turning them to private contractors to fill. The article said “Interior Secretary Gayle [sic] A. Norton, ” has earmarked 11,807 of 16,470 full-time positions for possible privatization. They range from maintenance and secretarial jobs to archeologists and biologists.” This proposal could have disastrous consequences, because commercial interests often conflict with resource protection. Other Interior officials said that few current workers would lose their jobs; rather, retiring employees might be replaced by contractors. “This is a way to capture the benefits of competition to produce better performance and better value,” Deputy Assistant Secretary Scott Cameron said. “Competition makes for a much more exciting Lakers game than if only one team were on the court.”

However, Frank Buono, former assistant superintendent of Joshua Tree NP and former manager of the Mojave National Preserve said: “The Park Service is not a business enterprise. There is a fundamental ideological binge that the free-enterprise system will heal all wounds and solve all problems. Ask Enron about the efficiency of the unregulated private marketplace.” Park Service Director Fran Mainella, in a letter to the Times, said that only 1,700 positions would be studied in 2003 and 2004 for privatizing, and none of those would include rangers. We’ll keep you posted.

An intrepid CalUWild volunteer is currently updating contact information for the California delegation to the 108th Congress, and we’ll have that information for you soon. We’ll send it out as part of “How and to Whom: The CalUWild Guide to Effective Advocacy.” Once you’ve received that, you will have current addresses and phone numbers to make your voice heard in Washington.

When we send “The Guide” out, we’ll also remind you to write to your representatives asking them to cosponsor America’s Redrock Wilderness Act. We had hoped to hand-deliver a large number of support letters next week in Washington, however, the response to the request in the January Update was underwhelming, to say the least. Admittedly, there is a lot going on that is claiming our attention, but America’s Redrock Wilderness Act is CalUWild’s major annual legislative campaign. After all, support for Utah’s wilderness was the reason CalUWild was founded, since Utah’s delegation has no interest in the legislation moving forward. It’s not a topic we’re going to give up on. So please, be prepared to send a letter. You’ll be helping a lot.

Finally, in the face of all that the administration has planned for the West, we need to dramatically boost the number of Californians willing to actively support wildlands. Satisfied members are CalUWild’s best recommendation. The Update currently is sent out to more than 515 people. Please forward this Update to three people you know who might be interested–particularly if they live in Southern California. If you send us their name and email address, we’ll send them the information they need to join up. Tell them we don’t send out numerous alerts (generally once a month), dues are voluntary (but appreciated), and we do NOT share personal information with ANYone for ANY reason, so they won’t be receiving unsolicited email. It won’t be hard to double or triple our membership. We need to do it!

Thanks as always for all your support,

Mike Painter


1. Park Service Considers Blowing Up Red Rocks at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area


2. BLM Releases San Rafael Swell Travel Plan


3. Emigrant Wilderness Dams Comments



4. Giant Sequoia National Monument Planning


DEADLINE: March 17


5. Wild Sky Wilderness Campaign Gets into Gear


6. Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness Bill



7. Fee Demonstration Program Update



1. Park Service Considers Blowing Up Red Rocks

at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area


The Southwest has had several years of drought, leaving Lake Powell about 50% full at present (and dropping daily). This means that rocks submerged by the reservoir (it’s not a lake!) are now in the open, and some serpentine canyon walls are above the water line. Thus, boaters cannot speed across the surface of the reservoir, but must follow the contours of exposed geological formations. The Denver Post reported today that the National Park Service is considering blasting or using earth moving equipment to deepen the Castle Rock cut near Wahweap Marina to save boaters 7 miles to get to the other side of it.

Please send a letter to the superintendent pointing out that the drought is a natural phenomenon, and since the government currently has no plans to drain the reservoir, the rocks blocking boaters’ way will presumably be submerged again some day. This kind of proposal is an outrage for the Park Service to consider in a national recreation area.

Send your letter to:

Ms. Kitty Roberts
P.O. Box 1507
Page, AZ 86040-1507
fax: 928-608-6283

The full text of the story, discussing the Lake Powell situation and the drought’s effects across the Southwest can be found at:,1413,36%257E23447%257E1183305%257E,00.html

2. BLM Releases San Rafael Swell Travel Plan

On February 3, the BLM in Utah released it off-highway vehicle (OHV) travel plan. It was only 11 years late. The plan allows 677 miles of OHV trails to remain open, but closes another 468 miles.

Among the important closures are Muddy Creek which cuts through the San Rafael Reef. BLM said that OHV use was a threat to the riparian environment and that continued use might disqualify the creek from Wild and Scenic River designation. (Muddy Creek is also a road claim under the Mining Act of 1866 — RS 2477. But that’s a different issue.)

Temporarily closed, until vegetation recovers, is Little Wild Horse Canyon.

Steve Bloch, attorney for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) was quoted in the Salt Lake Tribune as saying: “We’re not thrilled with all aspects of it. Still, we think this is a good first step to try and bring balance back to the San Rafael Swell.” But Bloch said: “It is 11 years late. Some of the routes included in this plan are ones that in all likelihood would have never shown up in a travel plan had the BLM gotten the job done when it was supposed to.” Steve also said: “We will be watching closely to see if BLM follows through on-the-ground and implements the travel plan. We will continue to work with the BLM on service trips that build fence, post closure signs, etc.”

Brian Hawthorne, of the Utah Shared Access Alliance, an OHV group, said BLM “ma[de] an honest attempt to consider all the stakeholders. We credit the BLM for making a good-faith effort to bring all the voices into the plan, from the wilderness advocates to us.”

The Tribune article listed other areas of contention:

* Routes through Sids Mountain Wilderness Study Area will remain “conditionally open.”

* The route to Junes Bottom, downstream from the confluence of the San Rafael and Green Rivers, will be closed to protect desert soils and the Green River’s candidacy for Wild and Scenic Rivers designation.

The plan calls for increased signs, increased enforcement, and widely distributed maps of which trails are open and closed.

You can find the plan at:


3. Emigrant Wilderness Dams Comments



We’ve written about this issue before, in the context of Rep. John Doolittle (R-04) introducing legislation in every Congress, mandating the permanent maintenance of these dams. His legislation has never made it through Congress. It seems now the Forest Service has decided to do administratively what Mr. Doolittle was unable to do legislatively.

This alert came from Jeff Kane of the Sierra Club Bay Chapter Wilderness Subcommittee:

On January 31, 2003, the Stanislaus National Forest announced its intent to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) to support its recent proposal to re-construct and maintain 12 old dams in the Emigrant Wilderness (located in California’s Sierra Nevada, north of Yosemite National Park).

The scoping notice does not discuss “why” the agency wants to re-construct and maintain 12 of the 18 old dams deep in a high-elevation wilderness area. The truth is that the dams are not needed or used for water supply or any other consumptive purpose. The real reason is that the USFS is under intense pressure from local politicians and sportspersons (such as fishing groups and Backcountry Horsemen) that want to do everything in their power to maintain the artificial trout fishery and the history of human dominance over natural processes in the Emigrant Wilderness.

Wilderness advocates have long argued that allowing all 18 of the decades-old dams to deteriorate naturally would be more in keeping with wilderness values, as well as provide improved habitat for severely threatened amphibians (such as Yosemite toads and mountain yellow-legged frogs).

The scoping notice provides details on the location of the dams and proposed projects:

Please send a letter by March 3, 2003 and remind the USFS that:

1) these dams do not serve any useful purpose;

2) their presence only serves to degrade wilderness values;

3) the artificial reservoirs created by the dams are degrading habitat for threatened amphibians (e.g., Yosemite toad and mountain yellow-legged frog); and

4) all eighteen dams should be allowed to deteriorate naturally, and the trash should be packed out.

Comments should be sent to:

ATTN: Emigrant Dams

Stanislaus National Forest
19777 Greenly Road
Sonora, CA 95370

or emailed to:

More information is available from John Maschi at:

209-532-3671 x 317

4. Giant Sequoia National Monument Planning


DEADLINE: March 17

The Forest Service has released its Draft Management Plan for Giant Sequoia National Monument on the western slopes of the southern Sierra Nevada. Alternative 6, selected as the “preferred alternative” could hardly be worse. The California Wilderness Coalition sent out the following alert:


In April 2000, President Clinton established by presidential proclamation the Giant Sequoia National Monument, to ensure that 329,000 acres of giant sequoia groves would be protected from logging and bulldozing. However, the U.S. Forest Service has released its draft management plan for the monument, which abandons the agency’s duty to protect and restore forest ecosystems, wildlife, geologic formations, paleontological resources, and archaeological sites. The Forest Service also ignores the clear language of the proclamation that says monument lands are not to be opened for commercial logging operations, and proposes instead to “protect” this monument with extensive logging disguised as “fuels reduction” or “restoration” — even in groves of the ancient giants.

The draft management plan tosses aside the Forest Service’s own science, which finds that logging activities are the main cause of fire risk and severity. The monument proclamation requires a science advisory board to guide the Forest Service in developing this plan, but thus far this board has been merely commenting on superficial queries but giving no substantial guidance.

The only alternative in the draft plan which does *not* call for major logging is Alternative 4. It calls for tree cutting only in the near vicinity of structures and in areas of high human use, as recommended in recent fire behavior studies. In the general forest, Alternative 4 relies primarily on hand thinning and prescribed fire to restore the forest. It increases compatible recreation such as camping, hiking, riding, and cross-country skiing, while it restricts off-road vehicle use to forest roads.

What You Can Do:

Please write to the Forest Service by March 17 and ask them to protect the Giant Sequoia National Monument from logging. To view a copy of the draft plan online, visit the monument’s website at:

Four public meetings will be held from February 10th through the 18th in Porterville, Bakersfield, Fresno, and Los Angeles; see the website for details.

Please send your letter to:

Jim Whitfield, Team Leader
Giant Sequoia National Monument
900 West Grand Avenue
Porterville, CA 93257

Please send copies of your letter to:

Senator Barbara Boxer
1700 Montgomery St. # 240
San Francisco, CA 94111
Fax: (415) 956-6701

Senator Dianne Feinstein
One Post St. # 2450
San Francisco, CA 94104
Fax: (415) 393-0710

Jason Swartz
California Wilderness Coalition
2655 Portage Bay East # 5
Davis, CA 95616
Phone: (530) 758-0380

Points to make in your letter:

1. The preferred alternative, Alternative 6, is completely unacceptable. It fails to value these unique natural wonders — the last remaining giant sequoia trees — and is blinded by the Forest Service’s allegiance to the timber industry. It would open the monument to commercial logging, ignoring the most basic requirements of the monument proclamation. This alternative gives the administration the power to do anything it wants with the least amount of accountability. We suggest you adamantly oppose Alternatives 2, 3, 5, and especially Alternative 6.

2. Alternative 4 most closely follows the original proclamation. We suggest you propose adopting Alternative 4 because it:

a) Has two sensible management zones, one for those areas of high human use and another with an integrated ecosystem approach;

b) It allows tree removal only for fuels reduction in areas near structures and where human safety is a key concern;

c) It relies on hand thinning and prescribed and natural burning as primary management tools; and

d) It allows increased non-motorized recreation and keeps the historic trail network intact.

Your letter must be postmarked no later than March 17, 2003. Thank you for your help!


This JUST came in:

The Sierra Club and other concerned citizens will rally before and speak out at the US Forest Service public meeting being held in Glendale, CA.


Tuesday, February 18th

5:30 pm

The rally will be from 5:30-6. The Forest Service meeting is from 6-8 pm.


The Hilton Los Angeles North/Glendale Hotel
100 West Glenoaks Boulevard
Glendale, CA 91202

For directions, go to or follow these: from I-5, take Hwy 134 East. Take the Brand Blvd./Central Ave. exit and turn left on Central Ave. Go north on Central Ave. for 4 lights to W. Glenoaks Blvd. Turn right on W. Glenoaks Blvd. The hotel is on the right.

If you take Brand Blvd. turn left on W. Glenoaks Ave. There will be reduced rate parking at the hotel for $4. Just tell the attendant you are there for the Forest Service meeting.


5. Wild Sky Wilderness Campaign Gets into Gear

This information comes from the Wilderness Support Center.



The Wild Sky Wilderness Act, which was introduced in May of 2002 by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Congressman Rick Larsen (D-WA) would permanently protect 106,000 acres in the heart of Washington State’s Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Sen. Murray and Rep. Larsen met with local stakeholders over two years and the lawmakers built broad consensus for their proposal to create the new Washington wilderness area.

The proposal steadily worked its way through Congress last year, unanimously passing the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee as well as the House Resources Committee with bi-partisan support. The full Senate passed the proposal by unanimous consent in November. Unfortunately, the House failed to give final approval to the measure after it got caught up with a series of unrelated bills in a legislative logjam last fall.

A little more than an hour from downtown Seattle, the Wild Sky is a rugged landscape with thousand foot cliffs, high alpine peaks, breathtaking waterfalls, lush old-growth forests, crystal clear rivers, and substantial tracts of low elevation forest land. Low elevation forests have not typically been protected as part of existing Wilderness areas in the west. Only 6.6 percent of Washington Wilderness areas are under 3,000 feet in elevation – making the areas included in the Wild Sky bill unique and valuable additions to state’s wilderness legacy.


In a new wave of momentum to create Washington’s first Wilderness area in nearly twenty years, the Wild Washington Campaign, a statewide alliance of conservation and recreation groups, released a 30-second TV spot last week that showcases the natural beauty of the Wild Sky wilderness and urges quick action by Congress to protect it. This ad is airing in conjunction with continued efforts by supporters to permanently protect the Wild Sky Wilderness early in 2003.

“This television ad builds on the overwhelming public demand to protect the Wild Sky,” said John Leary, Campaign Director for the Wild Washington Campaign. “It reminds our members of Congress of the importance of protecting our natural heritage and urges them to act now to save this special place right in our own backyard,” said Leary.

“Congress almost permanently protected the Wild Sky last year – they need to finish the job in 2003,” said Amy Schlachtenhaufen, Assistant Director for the Northwest Office of the Wilderness Society.

Senator Murray and Congressman Larsen have both pledged to continue their effort to protect the Wild Sky early this year. Representative Jennifer Dunn, a key supporter, especially in the Republican-held House of Representatives, has also said she will join Murray and Larsen again in 2003.

On February 13, Representative Rick Larsen (D-WA) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) reintroduced the Wild Sky Wilderness Act H.R. 822/S. 391 to designate wilderness in the Skykomish River Valley in Washington’s Mt. Baker/Snoqualmie National Forest.


6. Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness Bill


On February 5, Congressman Mark Udall (D-CO) reintroduced a bill (H.R. 640) to designate wilderness within Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. We wrote about this bill in May 2001 when it was first introduced. Here’s what we said:

Folks in Colorado are hoping to have eligible areas of Rocky Mountain National Park declared Wilderness under the 1964 Act. According to the National Park Service, 93% of the park qualifies as Wilderness. Sen. Wayne Allard (R-CO) has indicated that he might introduce legislation if he hears from enough constituents.

Even though we aren’t his constituents, Rocky Mountain NP belongs to all Americans, and we have as much at stake as the citizens of Colorado.

Take a moment to write Sen. Allard supporting wilderness designation for Rocky Mountain NP. Send copies of your letter to Sens. Boxer and Feinstein.

Hon. Wayne Allard
U.S. Senate
7340 E. Caley, Suite 215
Englewood, CO 80111

Hon. Barbara Boxer
U.S. Senate
1700 Montgomery St. # 240
San Francisco, CA 94111

Hon. Dianne Feinstein

U.S. Senate
One Post St. # 2450
San Francisco, CA 94104


7. Fee Demonstration Program Update

The following, slightly edited, comes from the Keep Sespe Wild Committee, one of CalUWild’s Fee Demo Coalition partners:

We’ve held back our usual year-end update on Fee Demo’s status in Washington, DC until the new Committee Chairs were announced.

Right now, things are looking more encouraging than at any point since Fee Demo was foisted on us here in Southern California nearly six years ago. The end of 2002 brought the retirement of some strong fee proponents in powerful places – Rep. James Hansen (R-UT), House Resources Committee Chair and Rep. Joe Skeen (R-NM), Chair of Interior Appropriations. They will be replaced by Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA), Chair of House Resources and Rep. Charles Taylor (R-NC) Chair of Interior Appropriations.

Even these retiring Fee Demo champions wouldn’t touch the Administration’s 2002 permanent fee bill for the four public lands agencies (currently under Fee Demo) plus the Bureau of Reclamation. That’s right, the word we have from behind the scenes in DC is that the Administration couldn’t find a Senator or Representative to sponsor their permanent fee bill last year.

We first saw a copy of this bill a few weeks ago; it represents a truly disheartening commercialization of America’s public lands, with “basic recreation fees,” “expanded recreation fees and special recreation fees,” to be levied on motorists, cyclists, pedestrians, equestrians. Naturally, it exempts National Park Service sites in DC itself. Can you imagine how long public lands access fees would last if they were levied on those who crossed the Capitol Mall, for example (an NPS site)? It would create a new multi-agency pass called “America the Beautiful;” the bill itself is titled the “Visitor Recreation Enjoyment Act.”

But there’s even better news to come – this just in two days ago. The Administration seems uncertain if they’ll even ask Congress to make Fee Demo permanent in 2003; we’ll know for sure when the President’s budget is announced on Feb. 3rd. Either way, the recreation corporations which CREATED Fee Demo, members of the American Recreation Coalition (ARC), are feeling the heat from the enraged American public. “At this point ARC is not actively pursuing legislation,” ARC’s President Derrick Crandall said recently. “We’re in a wait and see mood.” It’s the first time they’ve said anything close to that in six years of Fee Demo! They usually push hard for permanent fees, ASAP.

You may recall that back in June, Rep. Jim Hansen was about to introduce HIS permanent fee bill, when it was quietly shelved with no explanation. And Senator Bingaman (D-NM and Chair of the Senate Energy Committee last year) introduced his permanent fee bill (S. 2607) to considerable flak and not enough support for it to move forward.

In other words, it looks as if all the major players in DC are backing away from permanent fee bills. The suspicious among us wonder what else they – any of the above players – may be up to as an alternative. We’ll keep you posted. Meanwhile, let’s try to end Fee Demo this year!

Thanks, as ever, for your continued interest and support.
Alasdair Coyne

Keep Sespe Wild Committee
PO Box 715,
Ojai, CA 93024