Newsletter Archive

July 24, 2002

Dear CalUWild friends —

After a nice break, the CalUWild July UPDATE is here. Some of the time since the last UPDATE I spent rafting on the Colorado River for 18 days through Grand Canyon. By nice coincidence, Grand Canyon National Park announced the resumption of its Colorado River Management Plan (CRMP) process while I was on the river. See item 5 below.

In addition, many of the national monuments designated by Pres. Clinton have begun their general management planning processes now. They are all in or have just finished the scoping phase, where issues are identified before the production of a draft plan. Space doesn’t allow for details about all of them, but if you’re interested, please follow up on the web. You can find preliminary information and more links at:

The monuments are:

— Arizona: Agua Fria, Grand Canyon-Parashant and Vermillion Cliffs, Ironwood Forest, Sonoran Desert

— California: California Coastal, Carrizo Plain

— Colorado: Canyons of the Ancients

— Idaho: Craters of the Moon

— Montana: Upper Missouri River Breaks

— Oregon: Cascade-Siskiyou

If significant wilderness issues are involved when the draft plans are released, we’ll let you know how to get involved more directly. CalUWild will submit some scoping comments on its own letterhead on our members’ behalf.

In the meantime, there are many other issues requiring attention. Five action items are included in this UPDATE. Please try to do at least two of them if possible.

On the technical front, we have transferred the domain to a new host, so if you have any questions or suggestions, don’t hesitate to send email to the general mailbox or me The web site is undergoing renovation and suggestions for it can be sent to Phillip Loughlin The address will remain active, so no need to change your address books if you don’t want to.

Finally, with Summer vacation past its midpoint, get out and enjoy some of our wild public lands. You’ll be glad you did!

As always, thanks for your interest and help,



1. Canyonlands NP Salt Creek Environmental Assessment

Deadline: August 12



2. California Wild Heritage Campaign Activities



3. Nevada Public Lands Bill to Have a Hearing



4. Colorado River Management Plan in Grand Canyon

Deadline: September 21



5. Tongass National Forest Wilderness

Deadline: August 17




1. Canyonlands NP Salt Creek Environmental Assessment

Deadline: August 12


One of the issues CalUWild has been following over the years has been the saga of Salt Creek, the only perennial stream in Canyonlands National Park. Four-wheel drive enthusiasts had insisted that they have a right to drive up the creekbed for miles. After a lawsuit was brought by the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance alleging that traffic in the canyon was damaging park resources, the National Park Service closed the road. Vehicle groups sued, San Juan County asserted an R.S. 2477 right-of-way for the route, and the planning process was reopened. However, the Park instituted an emergency closure, which has remained in effect.

Now the Park has released its Environmental Assessment, and the preferred alternative is to keep Salt Creek closed permanently to motorized traffic above Camp. The Park Service also made a preliminary finding that the county’s R.S. 2477 claim was not supportable.

This is good news!

The public comment period on the environmental assessment runs until August 12. Please send a brief letter supporting the preferred alternative. The public overwhelmingly supported the closure of the route during the preparation of the EA.

A couple of points to stress in your comments:

— Salt Creek is the only perennial stream in the Park. Thus it provides important habitat for a wide variety of wildlife.

— Salt Creek is an important archaeological area, and vehicle access make those resources more vulnerable.

— If you have ever hiked or visited Salt Creek, or would like to, please state that in your comments, too. Be sure to say what about your experience was important to you.

The document can be found on the Web at:

Comments should be sent BEFORE AUGUST 12 to:

Mr. Alford J. Banta


Canyonlands National Park

2282 S. West Resource Blvd.

Moab, UT 84532



2. California Wild Heritage Campaign Activities

Here is a quick update on several aspects of the California Wild Heritage Campaign (CWHC).

The companion bills to Sen. Barbara Boxer’s Wild Heritage Act of 2002 have been introduced in the House of Representatives. Two bills cover the northern and southern halves of the state, and there are two additional bills covering specific congressional districts.

The bill’s authors and numbers are:

Northern California: Rep. Mike Thompson (D-01), H.R. 4948

Southern California: Rep. Hilda Solis (D-31), H.R. 4947

North Coast: Rep. Mike Thompson, H.R. 4949

Central Coast: Rep. Sam Farr (D-17), H.R. 4750

As an example of the interest surrounding the introduction of these bills, nearly 100 local officials and Wilderness supporters gathered to celebrate the introduction of Rep. Solis’s Southern California Wild Heritage Act. The event was hosted by the Mayor of Duarte, 40 miles east of Los Angeles, at the foot of the Angeles National Forest, with a view of the Silver Mountain Potential Wilderness in the background. Among those there to speak on behalf of this historic effort were Ed Navarro of the National Hispanic Environmental Council and several local elected officials from the area, while members of the Gabrieleno tribe opened the ceremony with a ritual blessing.

Information about the California Wild Heritage Act can be found on Sen. Boxer’s web site at:

or on the CWHC site at:

CWHC is currently coordinating 2 drives in support of the bills in Congress:

1) Sen. Dianne Feinstein

Sen. Feinstein is still studying her colleague’s bill before deciding whether to support it. CWHC has begun circulating a petition where people can express their support for protection of wilderness areas in California.

CWHC has the goal of collecting 100,000 signatures by the end of the year. But that won’t happen without the active help of wilderness supporters around the state. CalUWild would be happy to provide you with a copy — see below. Ask your family and friends to sign on. If you can, take copies to farmers markets, fairs, concerts, or set up a table at a shopping center.

2) Scientists

CWHC is also circulating a letter to scientists around the state, asking them to sign on as supporters of wilderness in California. If you are a scientist and would consider signing on, please let me know.

Please send an email to me at, and I’ll send you either or both of the following:

1) a PDF version of the petition to Sen. Feinstein to print out and copy.

2) the text of the scientist sign-on letter.

A new organization, Mountain Bikers for Wilderness, is circulating a sign-on letter in support of the bills in Congress. Since mechanical transportation is not allowed under the 1964 Wilderness Act, biking is not allowed in wilderness areas. MB4W feels that others in their sport are not necessarily representative of the whole lot. If you’re a mountain biker who supports Wilderness and might be willing to sign on to the letter, please contact Don Massie at for more information.


3. Nevada Public Lands Bill to Have a Hearing


The Nevada Public Lands Bill, which calls for nearly half a million acres of new wilderness for Clark County in southern Nevada — among other provisions, not all of which conservationists are happy about — progresses in Congress.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein is on the Senate Energy Committee. Please call her office at 202-224-3841 to urge her to strongly support the wilderness provisions of S. 2612, the Nevada Public Lands bill. That’s all you need to say!!

If you would like more information on the bill, please send an email to or


4. Colorado River Management Plan (CRMP) in Grand Canyon

Deadline: September 21


The management history of the Colorado River is too complicated to go into much detail here. Suffice it to say that originally the river in Grand Canyon National Park seemed to be on track for inclusion in the Wilderness Preservation System. The Park Service had recommended it in the 1970s. The accepted policy was to phase out motorized boats on the river eventually. However, commercial interests, aided by allies in the Reagan-era Department of the Interior, and Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch (related to the owners of Hatch River Expeditions, one of the largest concessionaires) have succeeded in blocking wilderness designation.

(Then-Secretary of the Interior James Watt was widely quoted in 1981 as saying about his trip down the Colorado: The first day was spectacular. The second day started to get a little tedious, but the third day I wanted bigger motors to move that raft out. There is no way you could get me on an oar-powered raft on that river I’ll guarantee you that. On the fourth day we were praying for helicopters and they came.)

The last time a river planning process was instituted, it was abruptly canceled by the superintendent of the park when the situation got too contentious. A lawsuit forced the park to start its efforts again, when the judge ruled that it was the park’s responsibility to resolve issues, no matter how difficult they might be. So the Park has begun a renewed CRMP process.

The questions on the park’s Scoping Comments form are:

1. What are the conditions and qualities that make a Colorado River trip special to you? Imagine yourself visiting the Grand Canyon in 20 years. Describe what you would like to see and experience on a river trip.

2. List your top 3 priority issues for the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.

3. Additional comments — also list anyone else you think should be placed on the mailing list for future updates.

These are rather generic questions. HOWEVER, the park’s planning web page states:

Issues to be addressed in the EIS will include, but are not limited to:

— Appropriate levels of visitor use consistent with natural and cultural resource protection and preservation mandates

— Allocation of use between commercial and non-commercial groups

— The non-commercial permitting system

— The level of motorized versus non-motorized raft use

— The range of services and opportunities provided to the public

— The continued use of helicopters to transport river passengers from the Colorado River near Whitmore Wash (in consultation with the Hualapai Indian Tribe and appropriate parties)

THEREFORE, if you have suggestions for how the CRMP ought to address any of these specific issues, be sure to include them in your comments as well.

Here are some thoughts:

— The current breakdown of users is: approximately 19,000 commercial passengers, 3,000 commercial crew, and 3,000 private boaters. Commercial users receive the vast majority of allocated spots. In fact, the commercial allotment was increased at one time in order to compensate for the fact that motorized boats would be phased out. That hasn’t happened, and the allotment has remained at its inflated level ever since.

— The current waiting list for private user permits is more than 12 years long. Yet, if you are willing to pay enough, you can get on a commercial trip almost immediately. Commercial trips cost nearly three times as much per person per day as private trips. This is unfair.

— Motorized use is incompatible with Wilderness designation. It may not be possible to eliminate it completely, but at minimum ought to be one option the park considers. Severe restrictions should be placed on motorized use in any event.

— Helicopters also have no place in Wilderness. The flight path goes right over a camp along the river. The noise is horrendous, destroying anyone else’s wilderness experience, and it likely affects wildlife in the area. Another way must be found to get motor boat passengers out of the Canyon at Whitmore Wash.

— If you have been on a river trip, or hope to go, please describe your experience or hopes. This is the best way to write effective comments.

More information on the planning process can be found on various places on the web:

The official Grand Canyon NP web site:

The Grand Canyon Private Boaters Association web site:

The River Runners for Wilderness web site:

The deadline for submitting comments is September 21, 2002.

Submit comments via an online form at:

By mail to:


Grand Canyon National Park

P.O. Box 129

Grand Canyon, AZ 86023

By email to:


Tongass National Forest Wilderness Plan

Deadline: August 17


The Tongass is the largest National Forest in the US and the largest untouched temperate rainforest in the world. Yet the US Forest Service has refused to recommend any wilderness designations for the Forest, in spite of a court order to consider wilderness in the preparation of an environmental impact statement for 9 million acres. This latest supplemental EIS was released in May. It recommends adopting the no action alternative, meaning that no wilderness is recommended. This recommendation flies in the face in of the nearly 2 million comments submitted by Americans on the Forest Service Roadless Initiative, most of which recommended protection for roadless areas. Many of those comments specifically mentioned protection for the Tongass NF.

Please write the Forest Service urging adoption of Alternative 6 in the SEIS, The Alaska Rainforest Conservation wilderness proposal.

The deadline for comments is August 17.

The EIS can be viewed online at:

Submit comments by mail to:

USDA FS Tongass NF

Content Analysis Team

P.O. Box 9079

Missoula, MT 59807

By fax: 406-329-3556

Online at: