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July 31, 2009

Dear CalUWild friends —

There are quite a few ACTION ITEMS this month, so we’ll dispense with a lengthy introduction.

But I will take the opportunity to thank everyone for their interest in and advocacy for our wildlands in the West. Keep up the good work!

On a financial note: Given the dreary economic situation, foundations are cutting back on support and likely will continue to do so for the next few years, even after things pick up. Thus member support will become even more important than it already is.

We do not send out a lot of fundraising appeals, but if you’d like to send in an extra contribution, it would be much appreciated.

So if you’re able, please consider a mid-year contribution to CalUWild. (Tax-deductible contributions should be made out to Resource Renewal Institute, our fiscal sponsor.) Either way, mail it to:

CalUWild
P.O. Box 210474
San Francisco, CA 94121-0474

Thanks,
Mike

IN UTAH
1. Land Exchange Bill Passes House
(ACTION ITEM)
2. Emery County Developments

IN CALIFORNIA
3a. Rep. Darrell Issa Proposes Wilderness in Northern San Diego County
(ACTION ITEM)
3b. Go Hiking in the Proposed Area!
Saturday, August 8
(ACTION ITEM)
4. Governor Cuts State Parks Budget Even More
(ACTION ITEM)
5. CalUWild Slideshow in Santa Rosa
Tuesday, August 4, 7:30 p.m.

IN GENERAL
6. Show Support for Wilderness Inventories
(ACTION ITEM)

IN THE PRESS
7. Groups Sue over Transmission Corridors (NY Times)
8. Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NY Times)
9. National Landscape Conservation System (Condé Nast)

PHOTO CONTEST
10. Celebrating the 45th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act
(ACTION ITEM)

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

IN UTAH
1. Land Exchange Bill Passes House
(ACTION ITEM)

If you look at a map of some of the Western states, you’ll notice that there are often squares of land belonging to the state embedded in the federal lands. These were lands given to the states to develop or manage for resource and revenue production, often to benefit schools, as is the case with Utah. This checkerboard pattern, however, interferes with ecosystem management and wilderness designation. So one option is to exchange the state lands for federal land elsewhere in the state that might be more appropriate for development.

This system has been abused in recent years, with the federal government falling prey to inaccurate appraisals and other problems. But a recent bill affecting some 40,000 acres of state land in Utah, H.R.1275, passed the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously. It was put together by the Grand Canyon Trust, the State Institutional Trust Lands Administration, and the state’s congressional delegation, and if passed by the Senate and signed into law, will trade the lands for other federal acreage that development has already affected and are thus more suitable for future development.

Many of these acres are in areas included in America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act such as Fisher Towers or Gold Bar along the Colorado River or in the Bookcliffs.

A good way to keep Utah wilderness on their radar would be to call your House representative and thank them for voting for the bill. Contact info can be found by going to your Rep’s website on www.house.gov.

2. Emery County Developments

The Emery County Progress reported earlier this month that the county’s Public Lands Council was beginning a public process to develop a federal public lands bill. The interesting aspect to the announcement is the possibility of including wilderness recommendations in the final proposal.

Emery County covers much of the San Rafael Swell in east central Utah and has already-designated wilderness study areas such as Muddy Creek, Crack Canyon, the San Rafael Reef, Mexican Mountain, and also Desolation Canyon along the Green River.

The fact that wilderness is being considered is a testament to the progress that wilderness advocates have made on the issue, even though it’s been slow progress. It’s not a question any more of whether wilderness will be designated, but rather how much and when.

We’ll keep you posted as the situation develops further.

IN CALIFORNIA
3a. Rep. Darrell Issa Proposes Wilderness in Northern San Diego County
(ACTION ITEM)

The following comes from our friends at the California Wilderness Coalition.

Earlier this month, Congressman Darrell Issa (Republican-Vista) who represents northern San Diego County announced his intention to introduce the “Beauty Mountain and Agua Tibia Wilderness Act of 2009,” a bill strongly supported by the CWC and other conservation groups because it would protect two of southern California’s most important areas of open space as wilderness.

The Beauty Mountain and Agua Tibia Wilderness Act of 2009 would add over 7,796 acres to the existing Agua Tibia Wilderness and would expand the Beauty Mountain Wilderness by an additional 13,635 acres. Representative Issa’s bill would build on successful legislation sponsored earlier this year by Senator Barbara Boxer (Democrat, California) and Representative Mary Bono Mack (Republican, Palm Springs) whose “California Desert and Mountain Heritage Act” established the Beauty Mountain Wilderness and enlarged the Agua Tibia Wilderness that was established in 1975.

Characterized by deep canyons and rugged coastal sage scrub, Agua Tibia is enjoyed by thousands of hikers and equestrians each year who travel through the region via the rugged Cutca Trail. As its name implies, Beauty Mountain is a scenic jewel draped in chaparral, fascinating rock formations and oak woodlands. Both of these areas provide endless recreational opportunities as well as priceless habitat for endangered wildlife. Both areas serve as critical plant and wildlife corridors between Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and the coastal mountains of Riverside and San Diego counties.

Representative Issa toured the areas and agreed to help protect them both for their scenic and habitat values and also because they provide excellent recreation opportunities for his constituents and others. Representative Issa has posted a copy of his draft legislation and his wilderness proposal maps on his website at the following links:

Proposed Beauty Mountain Legislation (Draft)
Map of Agua Tibia Proposed Wilderness Additions
Map of Beauty Mountain Wilderness Additions

The congressman is seeking public input until August 17, 2009 on the idea of protecting the areas. As he says on his website, “I’m asking for the public to review and share their ideas so that this wilderness area is created in full consultation with those who will enjoy the benefits of protecting this land and live near it.”

Please take a moment to e-mail Representative Issa at beautymountain@mail.house.gov to thank him for his efforts to protect these beautiful places. If you have visited either of them or if you are one of his constituents, please share that information with him as well.

3b. Go Hiking in the Proposed Area!
Saturday, August 8
(ACTION ITEM)

The North San Diego Wild Heritage Campaign is leading occasional hikes to areas in the proposal. The next is August 8. Here’s the information from Geoffrey Smith, longtime wilderness activist in San Diego:

Our next hike will be to Beauty Mountain Proposed Wilderness Addition. Like Agua Tibia, this area was partially designated as Wilderness under the Omnibus Land Management Act in April 2009. Congressperson Mary Bono Mack authored that legislation for her district in Riverside County; now, Congressperson Darrell Issa is preparing to introduce companion legislation to complete the wilderness designation in his district for these two beautiful areas.

Please join us on this adventure! Half the fun is just being in the area. We will hike at an easy pace due to the heat, approaching Beauty Mountain from the south. Beauty Mtn. is located due east of Palomar Mountain, just south and west of the community of Anza.

Beauty Mountain Proposed Wilderness Day Hike

Saturday, August 8, 9:00 am
5 miles, moderate difficulty
RSVP to Leader: Geoffrey Smith, 858.442.1425
yourpartners@partners4nature.com

At 14,249 acres, the Beauty Mountain Proposed Wilderness Addition is a scenic jewel draped in chaparral, fascinating rock formations and oak woodlands. The area is a transition zone between Anza-Borrego Desert State Park to the east and the endangered coastal sage scrub of the Coast Range to the west. The California Riding and Hiking Trail crosses the area. On warm spring days, visitors are greeted with the heady scents of sage, manzanita, and California lilac while hill after misty hill rises in the distance, presenting an unbroken view of wild country. Our hike will explore this pristine area, in the shadow of Palomar Mountain. Group size is limited, please call the leader to sign up. Meeting location is the general store and gas station on SR79 in Sunshine Summit, located approximately mid-way between Aguanga and Warner Springs. Sponsored by The North San Diego Wild Heritage Campaign.

CAMPAIGN BACKGROUND

The North San Diego Wild Heritage Campaign is conducting a series of outings to proposed wilderness and wild & scenic river areas that are being considered for bill introduction by Congressman Darrell Issa. The purpose of these guided outings is to inform the public about the places we are aiming to protect through federal wilderness and wild & scenic river designation. These outings are part of a comprehensive grassroots volunteer-based campaign in San Diego and southern Riverside Counties. Each of these outings is lead by Geoffrey Smith, a long-time outing leader in San Diego county with over 25 years of experience conducting group outings into backcountry areas.

Please let me know if you would like to come!

Geoffrey

The North San Diego County Wild Heritage Campaign (www.californiawild.org) &
www.Wilderness4All.org

4. Governor Cuts State Parks Budget Even More
(ACTION ITEM)

The legislature finally agreed this week on a budget deal, but when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger received it, he decided to cut another $6 million from the already-reduced parks budget, bringing the total cuts to $14.2 million. Under the legislature’s original plan, estimates were that 30 parks might have to be closed. The governor’s actions might cause another 70 parks to close, bringing the total to 100 or more.

One is left wondering whether the governor sees this as an opportunity to sell off or privatize the state park system.

It’s not clear whether the governor has the legal authority to proceed as he did. The constitution gives him a line-item veto over appropriations, but the legislation was defined items as reductions to already-approved appropriations. So the line item veto power may simply not apply.

Please write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper protesting this scheme. Here are some talking points:

— These small cuts like $8 million, $14 million, even $140 million are so insignificant compared with the total deficit that they can’t possibly make any difference. All the small budget cuts added together amount to only about one percent of the deficit.

— For every dollar expended on parks from the General Fund, $2 comes back to the General Fund in the form of sales taxes on purchases by park visitors. Two separate studies, one in 2002 and one in 2009 reach essentially this same conclusion. Even if it’s only a dollar back for every dollar spent, there is still no benefit to cutting the parks budget. The parks pay for themselves. Claiming a decrease in expenditures but not acknowledging a corresponding decrease in revenue is dishonest bookkeeping.

(3) More fundamentally, the parks were set aside to be preserved forever for the people of California. It may be illegal to close a park; it is at least a breach of public trust. Nobody will want to donate land for state parks that may be closed at the whim of the governor or the legislature.

Also: Let the governor know what you think!

Fax: 916-445-4633
Phone: 916-445-2841
Email via his website at: http://gov.ca.gov/interact

5. CalUWild Slideshow in Santa Rosa
Tuesday, August 4, 7:30 p.m.

I will be presenting a slideshow on Utah wilderness for the Rock, Ice & Mountain Club of Santa Rosa next Tuesday, August 4. I’ll discuss the citizens wilderness campaign there as a prime example of and influence on citizens proposals all over the West. The pictures are my own, illustrating all the major regions covered by America’s Redrock Wilderness Act and the management issues on the ground. Please join me and forward this announcement to anyone you know who might be interested!

The Club meets monthly at:

Round Table Pizza
2065 Occidental Road (near the corner of Stony Point Road and Hwy 12)
Santa Rosa

The meeting will start at 7:30 p.m., with slides around 7:50.

IN GENERAL
6. Show Support for Wilderness Inventories
(ACTION ITEM)

One of the Bush Administration’s legacies is its policy of discontinuing inventories of public lands managed by the BLM for their wilderness character. The Obama Administration is looking at these policies and needs to hear from people who treasure wild places. The Sierra Club’s National Utah Wilderness Team, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, and other concerned organizations are hoping to see the policy reversed. Citizen input will help it happen. The following (slightly edited) comes from the Sierra Club’s Utah Wilderness Team:

Dear Fellow Wilderness Supporter:

America’s heritage of wild public lands – our true “wild west” – is in danger. You can play a part in assuring these lands get the protection they deserve.

After nearly a decade of mismanagement and neglect the West’s unprotected wilderness quality public lands are in dire circumstances, particularly BLM managed lands in the southwest. Bush administration policies that prioritized oil and gas exploration and uncontrolled use of off-road vehicles rather than conservation are still in place.

The Obama Administration is reviewing these Bush policies but is under great pressure to avoid change and stay the course. These negative voices need to be counterbalanced by your positive voice asking the Administration to give our wild public lands the protection they deserve.

It’s easy for you to help. Just write to Department of Interior Deputy Secretary David Hayes on a postcard or in a short letter:

— Please protect the red rock canyonlands and other western wild lands by reversing President Bush’s “no more wilderness” policy and utilizing the BLM’s authority to inventory and protect roadless and wild lands.

Use your own words and personalize the message with your own experiences if you like. Be sure to add your name and address.

Mail it to:

Mr. David Hayes, Deputy Secretary
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20240

By sending this message you will help to protect some of America’s most special wild places such as southern Utah’s sandstone plateaus, many Native American archeological sites, the basin and range country of Nevada, the Vermillion Basin in Colorado, and Quayle Draw in Arizona. These wild lands are a haven for hiking, family adventures, and enjoyment of majestic scenery.

Thank you for helping to protect America’s magnificent wild public lands.

Bob Jordan
Chair, Sierra Club Utah Wilderness Team
www.sierraclub.org/utahwilderness

IN THE PRESS

There’s always more information and news about various important issues than can be comfortably fit into an Update, so when appropriate, we’ll provide links to various articles or other sources of information that you might find interesting.

7. Groups Sue over Transmission Corridors (NY Times)

Energy and public lands are an ongoing issue. The desert and other public lands are being eyed as potential routes for transmission lines to bring energy to cities from the areas where it has been produced (often many miles away). The Bush Administration pushed through the designation of corridors in areas that many feel are inappropriate, and some groups are fighting back in court:

http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2009/07/08/08greenwire-groups-sue-us-over-energy-transmission-corrido-17235.html

8. Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NY Times)

The New York Times has consistently taken a strong stand in favor of public land protection in the West. Here’s an editorial in favor of the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act, a bill that deals with large-scale landscape protection and provides for connectivity between protected areas. This is an idea that will become increasingly important as climate change seems already to be forcing species to move up in elevation or northward to new areas.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/07/opinion/07tue3.html

9. National Landscape Conservation System (Condé Nast)

We covered issues relating to the BLM’s National Landscape Conservation System for a long time. Word about the System is making it into the mainstream press:

http://www.concierge.com/cntraveler/articles/500993

PHOTO CONTEST
10. Celebrating the 45th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act
(ACTION ITEM)

This might be of interest to some of you, from the Campaign for America’s Wilderness:

Help Celebrate the Wilderness Act’s 45th Anniversary — In Pictures
The Winning Photo Will Become a Poster!

The Wilderness Act turns 45 years old in September, and to celebrate the Campaign for America’s Wilderness is calling on wilderness photographers around the nation to send in a favorite image they’ve taken of a federal wilderness area. The best photo, as judged by our crack staff, will become a limited edition 45th Anniversary poster, and the photographer will receive an autographed copy of Doug Scott’s new book, Our Wilderness: America’s Common Ground.

Submission guidelines:

Limit two (2) photos per person. We’re especially partial to photos of people enjoying the wilderness, but appreciate wildlife and scenery, too.

Poster-quality images should measure 3600 x 5400 pixel resolution or 150 dpi @ 24″ x 36″. Photographers should send low resolution copies (under 2 MB) of their wilderness photo to info@leaveitwild.org.

Please include a brief description of the scene (name of river, peak, mountain range, etc.), the name of the wilderness area, your e-mail address and contact information.

The deadline for entry is August 21, 2009

If you have any questions, please e-mail the Campaign at info@leaveitwild.org.