Newsletter Archive

February 13, 2002

Dear CalUWild Friends and Supporters —

As you must be aware, the Olympics are in Utah this week and next, bringing national and international attention to the state. This is a perfect time for a letter to the editor of your newspaper pointing out that Utah is much more than just snow sports in the mountains; there are large, spectacular, wild areas of the state that deserve to be kept as they are, free from oil and gas exploration and off-road vehicle travel. Write a letter today!

The California Wild Heritage Campaign is proceeding with plans for new wilderness in the Golden State. For a complete schedule of hikes to proposed areas and meetings around the state, take a look online at:

or contact Ilysia Shattuck at 510-622-0290 x220 or

There are quite a few items of interest this month. Among them: A new national monument has been proposed for Utah (Item 1); The Bush Administration’s drive to open more and more public lands to oil and gas exploration has come to California (Item 3); the Administration is proposing to weaken the Roadless Rule — sorry for the short deadline on this one: Feb. 19! (Item 7); and the Administration’s budget proposes a new way of managing some of our national forests (Item 8).

Without further ado:


1. Gov. Mike Leavitt Proposes San Rafael Swell National Monument

2. Seismic Exploration Approved Near Arches National Park


3. Oil & Gas Leases Proposed in Los Padres National Forest

Deadline: April 19, 2002

(Action Item)

4. Sequoia National Monument Planning Open Houses

5. California Wilderness Coalition Has a Job Opening

6. Wilderness Backpacking Permit Information Online


7. Proposal to Weaken Roadless Rule

Deadline: February 19, 2002

(Immediate-Action Item)

8. Charter — Coming to a Forest Near You?

(Action Item)



In his State of the State address on January 28, Utah Governor, Republican Mike Leavitt, dropped a bombshell of sorts when he proposed that George W. Bush designate 620,000 acres of the San Rafael Swell in Eastern Utah a national monument. The proposal garnered nationwide attention because of the contradiction it presented: many conservative politicians and members of the public remain outraged by former Pres. Bill Clinton’s use of the 1906 Antiquities Act to designate 12 national monuments.

They have objected to what they see as a lack of local consultation before the designations and to the setting aside of areas larger than necessary to protect monument resources. The administration in Washington and Gov. Leavitt both worked quickly to distinguish this proposal from those of the Clinton era, saying that since the proposal came from the state itself, it was a grass roots proposal. “We’re going to do this by process and not ambush,” said Gov. Leavitt.

Motorized recreation users, however, did compare Gov. Leavitt’s announcement to the proclamation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Brian Hawthorne, director of the Utah Shared Access Alliance (USA-ALL), a wise-use group, said that the major users of the land in the Swell — ORVs and environmentalists — were left out of preliminary discussions with the governor, making the proposal in fact top-down. The Salt Lake Tribune quoted Mr. Hawthorne as saying further that monument would be too big because all that’s worth protecting is a few cabins and some rock art. … The [governor’s] proposal is no less an abuse of the letter and intent of the law than when Clinton stood at the rim of the Grand Canyon on that fateful day” in 1996 designating 1.7 million-acre GSENM.

Reaction within the environmental community was cautious. The Los Angeles Times quoted Heidi McIntosh, conservation director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA): “I think it will be a real litmus test for the Bush administration. If the administration really uses this as an opportunity to do something positive and visionary, we will support them on it.” The same article quoted Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club as saying: “This may be the real thing. But given our previous history of bait-and-switch with the San Rafael Swell, the devil is in the details.”

Those details include especially how a monument management plan will address the issue of off-road vehicle use in the proposed monument. ORVs have been the most contentious issue in legislative proposals affecting the San Rafael Swell, leading to the defeat of numerous proposals in Congress that environmentalists argued didn’t offer meaningful protection.

Retiring Utah Rep. Jim Hansen (R) supports the proposal, saying it “follows the letter and the spirit of the Antiquities Act, which requires the identification of a specific scenic, scientific or historic site and the use of the smallest amount of acreage available to protect that site. We’re doing precisely that and not an iota more.”

His colleague, Rep. Chris Cannon (R), in whose district the San Rafael Swell is located, is against the proposal. The Salt Lake Tribune yesterday reported Mr. Cannon as saying it would be an abuse of the 1906 Antiquities Act: “I’ve been pretty clear on what I think the law is. The law is that you can only name a monument large enough to protect the scientific and historical objects — and that is small.” Cannon prefers that the proposal be dealt with legislatively, rather than by proclamation. He said: “I just think that our process is more important than the outcome. I’d rather see the process be appropriate.”

We’ll keep you posted of future developments.


The Salt Lake Tribune reported February 5 that the BLM has approved the use of giant thumper trucks for seismic exploration in the Dome Plateau region, 23,000 acres of public lands just east of Arches National Park and northeast of Moab. Included are areas proposed for wilderness designation in America’s Redrock Wilderness Act (H.R. 1613 and S. 786). The New York Times reported the story on Feb. 8, giving the issue national exposure.

The BLM in Utah found that the exploration will not have a “significant or long-term effect” on the landscape. Wilderness advocates and others are concerned that the heavy trucks will cause soil damage and subsequent erosion, as well as encourage ORV use in the tracks set sown by the machinery.

The Times article quotes BLM Moab office deputy field manager Bill Stringer as saying “You won’t see it looking like West Texas with oil pumps everywhere. The drilling will be spread out, and in some cases we’ll get them to turn the drills sideways so you can barely see them from the parks.”

Interestingly, the article also quotes Beth McBride, president of Legacy Oil, which owns a lease to drill in the Lockhart Basin (next to Canyonlands National Park): “We’re all just sort of shaking our head because this area is so controversial.” Referring to a lawsuit filed by the SUWA and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), she continued: “I’m kind of with them [the environmentalists]. They [the BLM] shouldn’t tell us we can come in and drill if they haven’t cleared up all the environmental issues.”

SUWA has posted a series of photos on its web site showing some of the damage done near Canyonlands NP and the potential for damage near Arches NP. You’ll find the photos at:





The Bush-Cheney Energy Plan is coming to California.

Over the holidays, the Forest Service announced it was releasing a draft environmental impact statement on oil and gas leases in Los Padres National Forest, above Santa Barbara. The comment period was brief, with a deadline of February 15. Coincidentally (or not), this was the same deadline as for the revisions of the forest plans for all four Southern California national forests.

A group of organizations — CalUWild, California Wild Heritage Campaign, California Wilderness Coalition (CWC), Bluewater Network, the Center for Biological Diversity, NRDC, Oil & Gas Accountability Project, Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society — obtained a 60-day extension until April 19, 2002.

The CWC prepared an alert with the following background information:

<<<<< Potential new wilderness areas in the Los Padres National Forest are threatened by oil and gas development, which could ruin some of California's most spectacular scenery and recreational places. WHAT'S AT RISK The Los Padres National Forest is offering oil and gas leases on approximately 140,000 acres. Over 100000 of these acres are in roadless areas, including the Sespe Frazier, Nordhoff, White Ledge, Sawmill-Badlands, Madulce-Buckhorn, Fox Mountain, Cuyama, Spoor Canyon, Tapusquet Peak, La Brea, Horseshoe Springs, and De La Guerra Roadless Areas. This project is currently the largest threat to roadless areas in California. Between 1979 and 1998, the Los Padres National Forest lost 130,067 acres of roadless land to development, the largest loss of roadless resources of any national forest in California. The Los Padres is part of California's central coast region, and a higher percentage of the central coast region's public lands are unprotected wilderness than any other region of the state. Within the areas that could be developed for oil and gas, 20 threatened and endangered species make their home, including the California condor and San Joaquin kit fox. According to the Forest Service, the species most at risk from oil drilling are the hybrid blunt-nosed leopard lizard, as well as the California condor. The mountain plover, Swainson's hawk, southern rubber boa, mule deer, brush rabbit, and California spotted owl are all at risk from habitat loss, human disturbance, and noise disturbance. Two critical habitat areas could be harmed, including Lion Canyon, the original release point for re-introduction of the condor into the wilderness. Also at risk are fragile areas adjacent to the Condor Sanctuary. Introducing new oil and gas development could also damage unexplored archaeological sites that contain a wide variety of Native American history, including permanent village and temporary habitation sites, cemeteries, rock art and places of religious significance. NO REAL SOLUTION While drilling in these areas poses significant risk, it offers no real solution to our energy needs. The potential oil reserves within the Los Padres National Forest add up to only a FIVE DAY SUPPLY for the nation. By fast-tracking the pursuit of oil and gas, the Forest Service is subverting a process intended to protect the public interest, and the forest. Seventy-two percent of California voters support government protection of more of our remaining wild lands and free-flowing rivers, according to a recent statewide public opinion survey. The survey, conducted by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin and Associates, interviewed 900 likely voters during August 25 to 30, 2001. >>>>>


Write the Forest Service and tell them that:

There should be no oil or gas leases in potential wilderness areas in the Los Padres National Forest.

Decisions regarding oil and gas leasing should be included in the new forest management plan revision process. It makes no sense to propose a program with such potentially serious consequences as leasing under a management plan that is out of date and being revised.

Send your letter to:

USDA Forest Service

Attn: Al Hess, Project Manager

1190 East Ojai Avenue

Ojai, CA 93023.

For more information on how you can help protect the Los Padres National Forest, please contact Carrie Sandstedt at 530-758-0380 or .

A summary of what the Forest Service is considering can be found on the Los Padres National Forest website at:


Sequoia National Forest has announced 2 Open Houses to inform the public on progress in developing a management plan for the monument. Each will begin at 4:30 p.m. with an opportunity to look at draft alternative maps and meet with the planning team. At 5:30 there will be a presentation on the planning process and a review of the working draft alternatives. 6:30 will be time for questions and answers, followed by breakout sessions.

The National Forest expects the Draft Environmental Impact Statement to be released in the Spring. The alternatives are on the monument web site at:

The Open Houses will be held:

Monday, March 11

Porterville Veterans Memorial Auditorium

1900 West Olive Avenue

Porterville, CA 93257


Tuesday, March 12

Holiday Inn Select (Baxter Room)

801 Truxtun Avenue

Bakersfield, CA 93301


If you have any questions, contact Jim Whitfield, team leader, at 559-784-1500 or by writing to him at:

900 West Grand Avenue

Porterville, CA 93257


If the name Keith Hammond in the following announcement looks familiar to you, it’s because he was one of the co-founders of CalUWild 4 years ago. Keith went to work for SUWA for 3 years, and is now back working for CWC. Welcome back to California, Keith!


The California Wilderness Coalition (CWC), a nonprofit environmental organization based in Davis, California, seeks a Conservation Associate to develop new wilderness supporters throughout the California desert region.

Significant threats to cultural, recreational, and biological resources on both private and public lands in the California desert remain and new ones arise every day. We seek to conduct public outreach and education within desert communities in order to recruit and train new wildlands guardians, and to integrate these new advocates and partners into ongoing desert conservation work.

Responsibilities will include:

* Facilitating communication among organizations/community partners on key issues.
* Identifying and conducting outreach to potential partner organizations.
* Identifying potential volunteers and facilitating their recruitment and involvement in ongoing conservation work.
* Preparing for a desert symposium in spring 2003.
* Identifying needs for educational materials and assisting in their development.

Desired qualifications include:

* Familiarity with conservation and the California desert.
* Background in grassroots organizing or public outreach.
* Willingness to relocate to the California desert region.
* Ability to work with citizens from a wide array of perspectives on land management.
* Solid communication skills.

This is a full-time, permanent position. Overtime required, including travel, evenings, and weekends. Salary $30-36k DOE. Full benefits included. Available immediately. Open until filled. Location flexible, but strongly preferred within desert communities.

For more information about California Wilderness Coalition, see For information about the position, or to apply, contact Keith Hammond at:

California Wilderness Coalition

2655 Portage Bay East, Suite 5

Davis, CA 95616

(530)-758-0380/fax (530)-758-0382

Please include cover letter, resume, writing sample, and references with application. Applications should be received by Friday, March 1.


If you’re planning a trip to the wilderness areas of the High Sierra this Summer, Tom Stienstra, outdoors writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, had a recent column discussing the hiking permit system. You can find it online at:



DEADLINE: FEB. 19, 2002


The Roadless Plan saga continues. Sorry for the short notice, but please write a short letter (preferred: fax or email); it need not take much time.

Information for the following came from the Oregon Natural Resources Council:

In yet another stealth attempt to erode protections for our National Forest roadless areas, the Bush Administration has opened two new proposed interim directives on roadless area management for public comment. These interim directives – issued as amendments to the Forest Service Manual – went into effect on December 14, 2001 and will continue to be in affect for at least 18 months.

The new Forest Service directives significantly reduce administrative protection for national forest roadless areas.

The directives essentially allow logging and road building in roadless areas, subject to the approval of the Forest Service Chief or Regional Foresters. These directives continue the agency’s policy of turning over all roadless area management decisions to the forest planning process, which has historically favored logging and other development in roadless areas.

In your comments, please be sure to state at the beginning that you want to see the Roadless Rule and Roads Policy fully implemented, not weakened by the Forest Service or the Bush Administration.

Further, please state that the Forest Service should retain, rather than eliminate, the following:

* the requirement that there must be a “compelling need” for road construction in roadless areas;
* the existing requirement to prepare an environmental impact statement prior to building roads in roadless areas;
* special protection for uninventoried roadless areas greater than 1,000 acres that are adjacent to inventoried roadless areas or wilderness areas;
* roadless protections for Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, the country’s largest old-growth forest.

Please send comments by February 19, 2002 to:

USFS CAT, Attention: Road Policy,

P.O. Box 221150,

Salt Lake City, UT 84122;

Via e-mail to:

Via fax to: USFS CAT, Attention: Road Policy, at 801-517-1021.

The USFS would prefer e-mail and faxes due to the current uncertainties surrounding U.S. mail delivery. If you send an e-mail, please cc: your comments to They are keeping track of comments.



“To overcome inertia and an excessive decision-making structure, USDA will develop legislation to establish Charter Forests certain forests or portions of forests administered outside the Forest Service structure and reporting to a local trust entity for oversight. The structure would eliminate inefficiencies and focus upon specific strengths. Pilot forests would establish and address land management objectives; comply with all Federal and State environmental laws; include a diverse and balanced group of stakeholders as well as appropriate Federal, tribal, state, county, and municipal government representatives in the design, implementation, and monitoring of the project; incorporate current scientific forest restoration information; and include a multiparty assessment to identify both the existing ecological condition of the proposed project area and the desired future condition.”

That’s a description of the latest privatization scheme for our public lands cooked up by the Bush Administration. Please write to George W. Bush objecting to this concept. Remind him that federal public lands belong to all Americans, and must, therefore, be managed for the benefit of all Americans. (That’s why they’re called national forests!) Also send copies of your letter to Undersecretary of Agriculture Mark Rey as well as to your congressional representative and both senators.

Mr. Rey’s address is:

Mr. Mark Rey


US Department of Agriculture

14th & Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, DC 20250

The other addresses can be found at:

The Administration’s complete budget can be found online at:

That ought to be enough to keep you busy for a while. Thanks for taking the time to write on one (or more!) of the above issues.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact me at:

Best wishes,