Newsletter Archive

July 30, 2008

Dear CalUWild friends —

The smoke over some of California has lessened, and gas prices have begun to drop as well. Both of these are good news for people wanting to get out and explore. However, the overall energy situation in the U.S. still needs to be addressed in a comprehensive and systematic way.

Upon examination, the idea that we can somehow solve our problems by simply drilling more oil or gas wells does not hold up. The imbalance between demand and available supply in this country is just too great. And to permanently alter our landscape for what can only be a short-term fix makes no sense, either.

Efficiency and conservation are known to be the least expensive solutions. Renewable sources, such as wind and solar are also, although the administration and its allies in Congress are allowing tax credits for these sources to expires, while allowing subsidies for the oil and gas industries to continue. (Just today, the Republicans in the Senate refused to allow a vote on a bill that would have provided support for renewable energy production.) This is not wise policy.

Recent polls indicate that many Americans are willing to forego environmental protections to increase energy production. This is also unwise. Much of the focus of the debate is on public lands in the West. As we all know, the current administration has been hell-bent on opening up our remaining wild areas to oil & gas exploration. Vast areas of the deserts in the Southwest are being proposed for large-scale solar energy projects. The federal government is declaring huge areas as transmission corridors, where environmental factors likely will not be considered. So while renewable sources are a good idea, they carry their own risks, especially when it comes to their scale. More effort needs to be made on solutions close to where customers live and work, such as rooftop installations. Siting them on wild public lands should be the last resort.

Energy cannot be viewed as an issue separate from wild lands in the West, and all of us who care about them need to stay informed of the issues and make our views known to our elected officials, our newspapers, and our friends.

This month we have only a couple of items.

Thank you for doing your part, and enjoy the Summer!

Best wishes,

1. Backcountry Volunteers Service Trip

2. Report on Eastern Sierra/San Gabriel Mountains Bill
Sequoia-Kings Canyon Bill Passes House



1. Backcountry Volunteers Service Trips

Our friends at Utah Backcountry Volunteers recently sent out the following announcement about service trips remaining in 2008. This is a great way to get out and see new places as well as help preserve the landscape for the future. Check them out!

Dear Friend of Utah’s Public Lands:

A great opportunity awaits you to spend quality time in Utah’s wonderful backcountry. Camp out…while giving back! Our 2008 season of volunteer service trips is halfway complete and several great places remain. For details and to join one of these fun and fulfilling excursions, go to In About Service Trips, read Testimonials of thrilled participants, and see what you’ve been missing in our Photo Gallery. Then Sign Up while space remains!


Dixie National Forest, Canaan Peak: August 17-23
Volunteers will re-route a one mile section of non-motorized trail from a sensitive wetland area to a ridgeline location around Canaan Peak, about 13 miles west of Escalante, Utah. Escape the summer heat of redrock country by hiking and camping at 8500′ in a high aspen & fir forest.

North Stansbury Mountains Wilderness Study Area: August 30-September 1
Spend Labor Day Weekend…well, lightly laboring, but mostly relaxing in Utah’s quiet and wide open west desert. Volunteers will install an educational bulletin board informing off-road vehicle users about the WSA boundary, and erecting physical barriers to protect Muskrat Canyon. On Monday, we’ll explore the new Cedar Mountains Wilderness, checking out the pioneer wagon trail cutoff route.

Cedar Mesa/Grand Gulch Primitive Area: September 14-20
To protect ancient ruins and sensitive soils throughout this unique area, volunteers concentrate on closing user-created social trails with fallen trees and rocks, and clearly mark open trails to keep impacts under control. We’ll also conduct seasonal trail maintenance on high use and frequently flooded entry trails into main Grand Gulch. Only one space remains open.

Glen Canyon NRA, Escalante River: September 28-October 4
You get to spend a week in this spectacular redrock canyon amongst a golden ribbon of Cottonwoods in their fall splendor. Volunteers participate in restoring the river ecosystem by cutting down invasive Russian olive trees. The project is enjoined in its ninth season and is about half way complete. We’ll backpack down to the river 3 miles through Fence Canyon and camp around Neon Canyon.

Capitol Reef National Park: October 12-18
Spend a colorful fall week in the orchard group camp site in Fruita and venture daily to remote areas of this beautiful Park. Volunteers will restore desert waterways throughout the area by cutting out invasive Tamarisk trees, as well as conducting seasonal trail maintenance and fencing projects. Day hike through, and on top of, the famous namesake reef at this perfect time of year in the canyon country.

2. Report on Eastern Sierra/San Gabriel Mountains Bill
Sequoia-Kings Canyon Bill Passes House

The House of Representatives is considering Rep. Buck McKeon’s (R-25) Eastern Sierra and Northern San Gabriel Wild Heritage Act. The bill creates four new wilderness areas in the White Mountains, Granite Mountain (east of Mono Lake), Magic Mountain, and Pleasant View Ridge (both in the Angeles National Forest). It also adds areas to the existing Hoover, Emigrant, Ansel Adams, and John Muir Wilderness areas. In addition, 26 miles of the Amargosa River, 19 miles of Owens River headwater creeks, and seven miles of Piru Creek in the Angeles NF were designated “Wild & Scenic.”

In addition, the bill releases some areas from Wilderness Study Area status and creates a winter snowmobile area in Leavitt Bowl, next to the Hoover Wilderness. That area is to remain non-motorized during the summer months.

Pressure is building against the bill from off-road vehicle groups, so calls to Rep. McKeon and Sen. Boxer, supporting the bill and urging them to stand firm on its provisions are important.

The Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands & Forests (of the Energy & Natural Resources Committee) held a hearing on it. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D), the Senate sponsor of the legislation, testified in favor of the bill, and the subcommittee approved it.

Rep. McKeon
202-225-1956 (DC)
661-254-2111 (Santa Clarita)
661-274-9688 (Palmdale)

Sen. Boxer
202-224-3553 (DC)
415-403-0100 (SF)
213-894-5000 (LA)
Other phone numbers here.

The House also passed the Sequoia-Kings Canyon Wilderness Act, introduced by Reps. Devin Nunes (R-21) and Jim Costa (D-20). It protects nearly 115,000 acres in the national parks, particularly around the Mineral King area of Sequoia. The bill now moves to the Senate, where Sen. Boxer is its chief sponsor.

Thanks should go to Reps. Nunes and Costa and Sen. Boxer.

Rep. Nunes
202-225-2523 (DC)
559-773-3861 (Visalia)
559-353-5235 (Clovis)

Rep. Costa
202-225-3341 (DC)
559-495-1620 (Fresno)
661-869-1620 (Bakersfield)

Sen. Boxer – as above.