Newsletter Archive

June 30, 2004

Dear CalUWild friends —

There’s a well-known quote attributed to the writer Edward Abbey:

“Do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am – a reluctant enthusiast … a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizz, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for awhile and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound people with their hearts in a safe deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this: You will outlive the bastards.”

With summer upon us, it’s time to get out and enjoy our wild places, by ourselves or with our families and friends. Activities include dayhiking, camping, backpacking, fishing, rafting, kayaking, and canoeing. If you’d like to learn about and visit areas in California that are proposed for wilderness designation, check out the California Wild Heritage Campaign’s calendar page for a full listing of hikes and events, informing citizens about and celebrating our wild places. You can find it on the web at:

But Abbey also said: “Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul.” So please pick one or more of the items below and write a letter. Furthermore, pass this UPDATE along to a couple of family members, friends, or neighbors. Ask them to write as well. Let them know the full details of what the current administration is doing to our public lands. Suggest that they join CalUWild. Being informed and being effective advocates are the only ways we’ll be able to save our wild places from the threats that face them.

Thanks for all your hard work.

Best wishes,



1. SUWA Loses Supreme Court Case


2. Yellowstone Snowmobile Rules — Again
Comments Needed


3. Fee Demonstration

4. Forest Service Roadless Rule

5. BLM “Customer” Feedback

6. Volunteer Opportunities in California & Nevada



1.SUWA Loses Supreme Court Case

This month the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that citizens did NOT have the right to sue federal agencies for taking inadequate actions to fulfill obligations mandated by law. The case, filed by the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society, among others, involved off-road vehicle damage in BLM Wilderness Study Areas. The BLM has a statutory duty to manage WSAs so that their suitability for future designation as wilderness is not impaired. If ORV use existed in the WSA before it was created, BLM allows that use to continue. However, it still must adhere to the non-impairment standard.

The plaintiffs sued, alleging that BLM was not doing enough to keep certain WSAs non-impaired.

The Supreme Court ruled that as long as the BLM was doing SOMETHING to manage the areas, courts should not get involved in the on-the-ground management decisions. The Court did acknowledge, though, that ORVs caused significant damage to resources and that BLM has the duty to manage them properly.

This means that wilderness advocates will need to step up the pressure on agencies to manage the lands under their jurisdiction properly.


2. Yellowstone Snowmobile Rules — Again
Comments Needed

The Administration has consistently tried to force Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks to accept snowmobile use, despite the fact that the Park Service has proposed eliminating their use. The issue has gone back and forth.

The latest installment is discussed in the following alert from the Snowlands Network:

NPS Starts Another Plan for Yellowstone Winter Use Please send comments by July 13, 2004 by letter or email

First there was the multi-year planning process that resulted in the phase-out of snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park. Then the Bush administration failed to support the Park Service; the result is a new plan that allows more snowmobiles in the Park than before.

More recently one judge told the NPS that they must implement the phase-out (Clinton plan) in part because the Bush plan was politically motivated with no basis in science. But another judge said that the Bush plan is valid. As you can imagine this issue is proceeding its way through the judicial system.

In the meantime, the NPS has begun what will be a Temporary Winter Use Plan that will eventually lead to a third final plan. Their immediate desire is to create a level of certainty for this winter’s use of the park. To that end they are accepting scoping comments.

Please go to to read more and submit your comments. You can submit your comments directly from there or by postal mail. The deadline is July 13, 2004.

Consider including (in your own words) some or all of the following ideas:

* Why you oppose the use of snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park.
* The Clinton Plan for the phase-out of snowmobile use in Yellowstone was based on good science and should be implemented.
* Snowcoaches provide quality, equal access to all visitors, including disabled individuals, without the negative impacts of snowmobiles. Snowcoaches can go to all places that snowmobiles have been allowed to go in the past.
* Although against the use of snowmobiles in Yellowstone, any public use of them should be restricted entirely to 4-stroke machines, and all individuals should be accompanied by a commercial guide.


3. Fee Demonstration Program
(Action Item)

As we mentioned in the May UPDATE, while the Senate passed a bill restricting the Fee Demonstration Program to the National Park system, there was still the threat of conflicting legislation in the House of Representatives. Well, a bill has been introduced that would make Fee Demo permanent, and we need to act against it.

Details are in the following alert (slightly edited), which comes from our friends at Keep Sespe Wild.



The House Resources Committee staff is right now preparing permanent fee legislation to be pushed through on a fast track for a Committee vote soon. It is imperative that Committee members hear loud and clear that the taxpaying public will not stand for a permanent fee system like Fee Demo for the BLM, Forest Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation, and the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Indications are that this legislation will be closely modeled on H.R. 3283, introduced last October by Fee Demo’s original architect Rep. Ralph Regula, (R-OH). That bill would require Americans to pay a fee, before they set foot or tire on any of 640 million acres of public lands.

H.R. 3283 will create a new annual nationwide “America the Beautiful” pass, costing $85 or more, as well as multiple layers of fees. Basic fees will be levied for access to all — Forest Service, BLM, US Fish & Wildlife Service and Bureau of Reclamation lands and lakes, not just for the Park Service lands. On top of these basic fees, expanded fees will be required for campgrounds and boat launches and special recreation permit fees will be needed for motorized recreation and for group activities.

H.R. 3283 would eliminate the Golden Age Pass, currently available to senior citizens, that allows them a lifetime of entry into the National Parks and a 50% discount at campgrounds for a one-time charge of $10. Penalties for recreating without a pass will increase to a class B misdemeanor punishable by 6 months in jail and/or a $5,000 fine.

Ralph Regula, a Republican from central Ohio who has NO public lands in his district, is actually proud to claim authorship of this shameful legislation, and he has strong Administration support in pushing it forward. Regula created the infamous Recreational Fee Demonstration Program (Fee Demo) in 1996, as a pilot program for the measures he has now written into H.R. 3283.

The Senate recently passed S. 1107, which calls for permanent recreation fees for only the National Parks and allows the program to expire for the BLM, Forest Service and US Fish and Wildlife Service. While the Senate action is a major victory for Fee Demo opponents, we are only halfway to our goal. We must now persuade the House Resources Committee to also pass legislation very similar to S. 1107!

3283’s author, Rep. Ralph Regula (R-OH), is in line to be chair of the House Appropriations Committee next year – a powerful position controlling all the money that Congress distributes. It is risky for Congressmen to oppose him on legislation he’s introduced – such as H.R. 3283 – as Rep. Regula is in a position to retaliate later by restricting funds for programs supported by his opponents. Rep. Regula is actively twisting arms on the House Resources Committee to try and get H.R. 3283 passed, and he may succeed.

Our challenge is to show the House Resources Committee that the American people want an end to Fee Demo, regardless of Rep. Ralph Regula’s wishes. It’s a delicate situation for Committee members, and only strong pressure from across the nation will succeed.

We’re starting by asking you to contact key Republican majority members of the House Resources Committee. The majority Committee members are the ones currently involved in preparing the permanent fee legislation. Later on, after the legislation is made public, we’ll contact Democratic minority Committee members too.

Please contact Committee chair Richard Pombo and Congressman Regula – and as many of the others as you have time for. Please try and contact all listed below. (Try faxes in the evening if fax lines are busy during office hours in D.C.)

Who else can you get to call? Family & friends?

* Richard Pombo, CA, Ph: (202) 225-2761, F: (202) 225-5929
alternate Ph: (202) 225-1947; F: (202) 226-0861
* Ralph Regula, OH, Ph: (202) 225-3876, F: (202) 225-3059
* Elton Gallegly, CA, Ph: (202) 225-5811, F: (202) 225-1100
* Ken Calvert, CA, Ph: (202) 225-1986, F: (202) 225-2004
* Devin Nunes, CA, Ph: (202) 225-2523, F: (202) 225-3404

Please ask that permanent recreation fees be limited to National Parks, as in Senate bill S. 1107.

State your opposition to recreation fees for Forest Service, BLM and US Fish & Wildlife Service sites.

Please support adoption of S.1107, which would allow the Recreational Fee Demonstration Program (Fee Demo) to expire for the US Forest Service, BLM, and US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Please also oppose H.R. 3283, which would require all Americans to buy a pass before they set foot on any public lands. It would abolish the Golden Age Pass and make anyone caught on public land without a pass subject to criminal penalties. Access fees to use public lands are a double tax.

Americans know the difference between the National Parks and the vast tracts of undeveloped land managed by the US Forest Service, BLM, and US Fish and Wildlife Service. I do not want to see these lands developed with the same level of service and infrastructure found in National Parks.

Please end Fee Demo for the Forest Service, BLM, and US Fish and Wildlife Service.

4. Forest Service Roadless Rule

In its latest public lands rollback, the Bush Administration this week announced plans to basically eliminate the Roadless Rule permanently. In its place would be a process whereby state governors could individually petition the federal government to adjust the management of National Forest roadless areas in their states.

This would allow anti-conservation-minded governors to significantly weaken or even eliminate the protections afforded by the original rule. This approach defeats the purpose of the rule, which was to bring uniform standards of management to inventoried roadless areas.

In the same announcement, the Administration stated that it intends to propose permanently exempting Alaska’s national forests — the Tongass and Chugach — from the Roadless Rule come November 2004.

The proposal should be appearing in the Federal Register sometime in July, and when it becomes clearer what exactly the administration proposes, we will let you know how to respond.

5. BLM “Customer” Feedback

The BLM is trying to be responsive to the public that uses its land. It is now taking comments on its web site at

While feedback is important to all government agencies, the problem in this case is that the BLM is labeling its form “Customer Feedback.”

As citizens of the United States, we are the OWNERS of our public lands. The various agencies (Park Service, Forest Service, BLM, Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Reclamation) are merely the managers. (That’s what the “M” in “BLM” stands for in the first place.) The citizens of the U.S. are the bosses; we tell the managers what to do.

This attitude has infected many areas of our government. The corporate model is held up as the one to emulate, where satisfying the customer is what it’s all about. But it’s not an appropriate model for managing public assets — the “commons.”

So please, tell the BLM what you think about being considered a customer.

You can go to the web site itself and submit a comment to them. You’ll be asked to pick a State first, so pick your home state (not all CalUWild members live in California), then for “Field Office” choose “Other/Don’t Know” and for “Activity” choose “Recreational and Educational Users.”

The check boxes will be irrelevant, but there is a space for your comments.

You might also send a letter directly to:

Department of Interior
Office of Planning and Performance Management
1849 C Street, NW, Mail Stop 5252
Washington, DC 20240

6. Volunteer Opportunities in California & Nevada

>From Sequoia ForestKeeper:

Hello Friends of the Forest,
Sequoia ForestKeeper is currently seeking volunteers who are willing to spend a day or more in the forest photographing and measuring trees in the Sherman Pass Restoration Project area. This project is in the heart of the burned area of the 2002 McNally fire, and is a very large section of the forest to cover, so the more the merrier! We are especially interested in volunteers who own digital cameras, but it is not necessary to participate. If you are interested in taking part in this monitoring project, please contact me at (760) 376-4434, or reply to

I hope to hear from you soon!
Valerie Cassity
Programs Director
Sequoia Forestkeeper

From Friends of Nevada Wilderness:

Give back to your public lands and enjoy them at the same time.

Throughout the summer and fall, the Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service need volunteers for various restoration and monitoring projects – everything from rehabilitating vehicle impacts to cleaning up trash, removing old fences and invasive plants, installing signs, conducting on-foot maintenance of wildlife water developments (guzzlers) in wilderness and WSAs and monitoring Wilderness and WSA boundaries.

Not only do these trips involve rewarding work, they also are an opportunity to explore Nevada’s wonderful wild lands.

If you’re interested in joining us, or would like more information, please contact the person(s) listed after each trip. Please RSVP for the trips, so we can plan to have enough tools and get a big enough campsite, etc.

Aug 28 — Mt. Rose Wilderness

Friends of Nevada Wilderness & REI will be sponsoring a Restoration Day in the Mt. Rose Wilderness. There will be three or four projects going, with Gallina Creek being the “headquarters.”

For more information, contact Brian Beffort (info below).

Sept 18 — National Public Lands Day — Black Rock Desert

The focus is on habitat restoration in Soldier Meadows, home to endangered fish and plants. There are a few roads that go to wrong places, and the BLM is building a campground 1/4 mile away. So there is a little bit of everything to do. Additionally, there are six wilderness areas within a mile or two.

Contact Brian Beffort (below)

Mount Charleston Wilderness and Spring Mountains National Recreation Area

The US Forest Service is looking for volunteers to help monitor the Mt. Charleston wilderness boundary.

For details, contact Amy Meketi at 702-515-5428;

If you have general questions about volunteer work trips, please contact:

Brian Beffort
Conservation Director
Friends of Nevada Wilderness
Phone: 775-324-7667 Fax: 775-324-2677


God bless America. Let’s save some of it. –Edward Abbey