Newsletter Archive

July 29, 2003

Dear CalUWild friends —

Summer continues to move quickly, and even thought it’s only a couple of weeks since the last UPDATE , I wanted to report on the House Appropriations vote on RS 2477 so that timely “Thank Yous” can be sent (Item 1). There are also a few things to be aware of and to do, besides.

Congress will be on recess through August, until after Labor Day. The House has left Washington, but the Senate continues to work on the Energy Bill, which is full of bad environmental provisions. Recess is not a vacation time for Congress, however. Representatives and senators will be back in their home districts and states, available for meetings with constituents, and holding town-hall meetings. This is a perfect time to meet with them and voice your concerns. Contact the local office to find out their schedule. Complete contact information for the California delegation is in CalUWild’s Effective Advocacy Guide.

A few wilderness proposals around the West have been in the news lately. The Wild Sky Wilderness Act of 2003, for areas in Washington state’s Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, has been re-introduced in House as HR 822 and in the Senate as S 391. It passed its first hurdle when the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved it unanimously on July 23. The bill had passed the Senate last year, but never came up for a vote in the House.

Wilderness advocates in Nevada are beginning a campaign to designate areas in Eastern Nevada, particularly in White Pine County. Their proposal includes some 50 areas and covers more than 3 million acres of already public Forest Service, BLM, and Fish & Wildlife Service lands.

We’ll keep you informed of these and other initiatives as they come along.

A couple batches of membership renewals went out in July. If you received a notice, please consider making a voluntary contribution. We need your support!

I will be heading to Utah for the first week of August to meet with the leaders of other Utah state activist groups from around the country. There are now 24 other such groups, based largely on the model that CalUWild initiated almost 6 years ago. We can all be proud of the work we’ve accomplished. It’s our membership that makes us effective. Thank you for playing such an important role!

Best wishes,



1. RS 2477: House Appropriations Vote


2. E-mail to the White House


3. Cedar Mountains Wilderness Bill


4. Los Padres NF needs your help




1. RS 2477: House Appropriations Vote


Late in the evening of Thursday, July 17, the House of Representatives voted to place restrictions on the Department of the Interior’s use of it new Disclaimer Rule to process RS 2477 right-of-way claims across public lands.

As discussed in the {{July UPDATE }} Colorado Congressman Mark Udall offered an amendment to the 2004 Interior Appropriations bill which would have cut off funding for implementing the new rule. Rather than face a total cutoff, Rep. Charles Taylor (R-NC) offered a secondary amendment limiting the cutoff to National Park units, National Monuments, wildlife refuges, and wilderness and wilderness study areas. Taylor’s amendment protected 200 million acres of land, but left another 400 million open to possible claims.

The vote on the Taylor amendment was 226 in favor to 194 opposed. The amended Udall measure then passed by voice vote.

This was the one amendment to the appropriations bill that the Republicans “whipped” — meaning that prior to the vote, the party’s leadership made it clear they wanted members to vote the “the party line.” In spite of that, 14 Republicans voted against Taylor’s amendment. However, 20 Democrats voted in favor, and this was enough to secure its passage. No California Democrats voted for the Taylor amendment, and no California Republicans voted against it. (Reps. Millender-McDonald and Berman did not vote.)

Representatives voting against the Taylor amendment deserve our thanks. Those in favor need to hear about the importance of not having countless roads criss-crossing our potential wilderness areas and other public lands.

If you don’t live in California, a complete list of votes on the amendment is at:

While we didn’t get all we hoped for, we did force Congressional Republicans to acknowledge for the first time that RS 2477 was a serious issue — particularly the new disclaimer regulations.

The RS 2477/Appropriations issue now moves over to the Senate. California’s two senators, Boxer and Feinstein wrote to Interior Secretary Gale Norton earlier in the year raising objections to the new regulations, and we hope their opposition will continue.

Please call their offices and ask them to remain strong supporters of road-free land.

In other RS 2477 news, Mark Udall’s stand-alone RS 2477 bill, HR 1639, has 19 cosponsors, of which 6 are from California:

Anna Eshoo (D-14)
Barbara Lee (D-9)
George Miller (D-7)
Adam Schiff (D-29)
Ellen Tauscher (D-10)
Lynn Woolsey (D-6)

We would like to see more cosponsors. If your representative is on this list, when you call regarding the Taylor amendment, please say thanks for this as well. If not, ask them to become a cosponsor.

Complete contact information for California congressional offices can be found in the Effective Advocacy Guide.

2. E-mail to the White House

It used to be if you wanted to send George W. Bush an e-mail, you just sent it to:

That has changed in recent weeks. Now the White House recommends going through its web site and filling out a multi-page form at

Jimmy Orr, the White House Internet news director, was quoted in the New York Times as saying that you can still send an e-mail the original way, but there’s no guarantee anyone will read it or respond. That’s not encouraging, to say the least.

The new process is a bit time-consuming, although regular Web users will probably not have any problem with it.

The first step is dealing with encryption. Then it goes to an introductory page explaining new webmail system.

NEXT PAGE: You get a drop menu with the following choices:

Write a supporting comment

Write a differing opinion

Write a general comment

NEXT PAGE: Choose a subject, with a drop menu. “Environment” is one choice.

NEXT PAGE: Choosing Environment, you get a drop menu with the following topics:

Atmospheric issues
Clean Air/ New Source Review
Clean Water
Healthy Forest Initiative
Yucca Mountain

(Note: There is no option for “Wilderness” or “Public lands” or even “Other”)

NEXT PAGE: Please provide your full name/address/e-mail address.

NEXT PAGE: Write your comment.

NEXT PAGE: Confirm your comment and contact info.

NEXT PAGE: Additional comments on another matter?

Then this appears: “An e-mail will be sent to your e-mail address, which you must confirm within 72 hours.”

When I tried the system out, the confirmation message showed up within 15 minutes. It only listed the subject/topic, and did not include the message itself. So if you want to keep a copy of the message when writing it, you’ll need to copy and paste the text into another document.

The main problem, apart from the time it takes to fill out the forms, is that the categories are so limited, and the user is forced to make unrealistic choices. In fact, the message I sent was commenting on the new system, but it did not fit into any of the listed categories. Since I was checking out Environment anyway, I sent it under “Healthy Forest Initiative.” The following day, I received an e-mail from the White House. It contained an attached PDF file of a letter with the president’s signature on it, thanking me for my letter on the Healthy Forest Initiative. It then went on to describe the 2002 wildfire season and the aims of the Healthy Forest Initiative ” to reduce the risk that wildfires pose to communities, watersheds and our environment.”

White House spokesman Orr said about the new system: “It provides an additional means for individuals to inquire about policy issues at the White House and get a personalized response in 24 to 48 hours.” The message I received did not respond at all to my concern about the webmail system, and it’s clear that no one ever read my comment . The response was only personalized to the extent that my name and address appeared at the top of the letter.

Cynics say this new system is just another way to insulate the administration from public participation.

At this point, I would NOT recommend using the new system, and suggest you either call the White House:

202-456-1111 (9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Eastern Time)

or send a fax:



3. Cedar Mountains Wilderness Bill

On July 25, Utah Congressman Rob Bishop (who replaced retired Rep. Jim Hansen) introduced a wilderness bill for a portion of the West Desert area, including portions of the military’s Utah Test & Training Range.

The bill is being used to block the development of a nuclear waste dump on the Skull Valley Goshute Indian Reservation in Utah. The Indian tribe would like to have the dump on its land to generate income, but the state of Utah is adamantly opposed. Wilderness designation of the Cedar Mountain area would prevent its use as a transportation corridor, making it would difficult to ship the nuclear waste to the proposed site.

The bill does not specify a precise acreage, but approximately 100,000 acres have been identified as qualifying by the Utah Wilderness Coalition and are included in America’s Redrock Wilderness Act.

Larry Young, executive director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance said: “There are some important unresolved issues with the bill. It’s not the bill we would write, of course, but we would like to help protect the training range and stop nuclear waste storage and provide genuine protection for wilderness quality lands.”

We’ll keep you posted on the bill’s progress.


4. Los Padres NF needs your help


The Forest Service has said it will release its environmental impact statement for oil and gas exploration in Los Padres National Forest in September. (Release of the plan has been delayed several times already, so there is no guarantee on this.) Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-24) is the only representative in the area who has not publicly opposed the proposal. Because his district includes the areas of the forest proposed for development, it is important that he oppose the plan. We would like still him to do just that.

The House of Representatives will be on recess through the month of August. If you (or anyone you know) live in Rep. Gallegly’s district (Ventura, Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks, and much of Santa Barbara County), this is the perfect time to let him know you oppose oil & gas exploration in the national forest — immediately adjacent to the release areas for the California Condor.

There are several ways to do this. You can call his local office and find out whether he has any townhall meetings scheduled. You can write a letter to the editors of the newspapers in his district — particularly effective is to identify yourself as a Republican voter (if you are one).

Finally, a sign-on letter is being circulated among scientists, civic and religious leaders, and business owners of the state asking him to oppose the project. If you (or anyone you know) fall into one of these categories, please e-mail Erin Duffy at of the California Wild Heritage Campaign, and she will send you the text of the letter so you can sign on.