Newsletter Archive

June 30, 2006

Dear CalUWild friends –

Summer has arrived here in the West, making it the perfect time to get out and enjoy the lands we own in the national forests, parks, and managed by the BLM. The thing to remember is that those lands will remain for our enjoyment only if people take the time to act on their behalf. That’s what CalUWild is all about: encouraging and facilitating citizens’ involvement in the management of our public lands.

Thanks for your interest and support!

There was some good news earlier this month when Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne reversed the administration’s proposals for revamping the management policies for the national parks. See CalUWild’s Updates from September 2005, October 2005, and February 2006 for the details. The secretary was quoted as saying: “Where there is a conflict between conserving resources unimpaired for future generations and the use of those resources, conservation will be predominant.” This announcement reflects the nationwide outcry after the administration made its proposals last year. The Park Service received over 50,000 comments from concerned citizens around the country.

It seems like this Spring there have been fewer opportunities than usual for writing comments and letters. However, a few things have come cross my desk and are discussed below. Please take the time to write about one or more of them.

Finally, an administrative note: CalUWild dues notices have been slow going out this Spring, but will mailed in the next few weeks. You can save us some postage by sending in a contribution now if you haven’t contributed in a while. Click here for a printable form. Or when you do receive a letter from us, please consider renewing your support or contributing for the first time. We can’t keep up our work without your help. Our thanks to all who have so generously supported CalUWild over the years.

Best wishes,


1. Washington County Bill to be Introduced Soon


2. Yosemite National Park:
Tuolumne Meadows Area Planning

3. User Fees on Public Lands
4. Predator Management in Wilderness Areas
Comments Needed
DEADLINE: August 7, 2006


1. Washington County Bill to be Introduced Soon

CalUWild’s April Update had an item regarding a proposal by Utah’s Sen. Bob Bennett (R) and Rep. Jim Matheson (D) for a public lands bill for the southwest corner of Utah, Washington County, where St. George is located. Legislation has not been introduced yet, but the proposal is the object of increasing concern from the citizens and various groups in and outside of the state of Utah. Sen. Bennett and Rep. Matheson held a single Open House in St. George a while ago, but people from around the state were left out, unless they wanted to travel.

A recent poll by the Utah Wilderness Coalition showed that 89% of respondents thought it was important that there be more public input into the process before the legislation is introduced. But the senator and congressman refused to schedule any. To fill the void, the Utah Wilderness Coalition hosted a public meeting yesterday in Salt Lake City. Articles on the meeting ran in both today’s Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News.

Sen. Bennett and Rep. Matheson claim that they still want public input before the bill is introduced, possibly in July, so there is still time to let them know what you think. CalUWild’s major concerns are with the proposed sale of 25,000 acres of BLM land for private development, the designation of an inadequate amount of wilderness, and the proposed water pipeline to Lake Powell.

Because mail to Congress is still being irradiated, I’m only including telephone and fax information for the two. Both have e-mail forms on their websites, but it looks like you need to be a resident of Utah to use those.

Contact Sen. Bennett:

202-224-5444 (phone)
202-228-1168 (fax)

Contact Rep. Matheson:

202-225-3011 (phone)
202-225-5638 (fax)

2. Yosemite National Park:
Tuolumne Meadows Area Planning

This week, Yosemite National Park announced it would begin preparing a Wild & Scenic Tuolumne River Plan as well as a management plan for Tuolumne Meadows. The Tuolumne River for the most part flows through designated wilderness in the Park, and the Tuolumne Meadows area is a highly loved and used area. Therefore, we think it’s important for our members to be informed of this planning effort.

Comments from people who are familiar with Tuolumne Meadows/River are particularly useful, as they can provide factual information and analysis that the Park Service may not be considering or even aware of.

To begin with, the Park is undertaking “scoping,” a process to identify the issues it should address in its plan and to take suggestions on what it should include in its “preferred alternative.” CalUWild will submit its own comments as more information become available, but the most important overall issue is minimizing the impacts to the landscape caused by overuse: trail maintenance and meadow restoration and water quality in the Tuolumne River being at the top of the list.

The announcement has not appeared in the Federal Register yet, and we will get more information to you as the process continues.

Here is the Park Service’s announcement:

Yosemite National Park Announces Opening of Public Scoping for Tuolumne Planning Effort

Yosemite National Park is announcing public scoping in preparation of the Tuolumne Wild and Scenic River Comprehensive Management Plan/Tuolumne Meadows Plan and Environmental Impact Statement.

The National Park Service will prepare two plans for the Tuolumne area in a consolidated document: a Comprehensive Management Plan for the Tuolumne Wild and Scenic River (“Tuolumne River Plan”), and an implementation plan for Tuolumne Meadows (“Tuolumne Meadows Plan”). These will be accompanied by an environmental impact statement (EIS) that analyzes the environmental effects of a range of management approaches.

Two factors contribute to the timing of this planning effort. First, the National Park Service is mandated by Congress to prepare a management plan for the Tuolumne Wild and Scenic River corridor. Second, there are facilities issues that need immediate attention in the Tuolumne Meadows area. Before moving forward to repair, upgrade, or remove infrastructure, the National Park Service is looking to the public for input as it works to clearly define the management goals for both the Tuolumne River and Tuolumne Meadows areas.

The Tuolumne River Plan will provide broad management guidance and establish the overall goals and vision for the river corridor. Its policy directives will guide future management and amend the Yosemite National Park General Management Plan for the Tuolumne River area. The 54 miles of the Tuolumne River in Yosemite National Park was federally designated as a Wild and Scenic River in 1984.

The Tuolumne Meadows Plan is an implementation-level plan. It will focus on the types and levels of visitor services and activities offered in the vicinity of Tuolumne Meadows. It will also delineate which areas may be targeted for restoration.

Public ideas and concerns are sought to help identify the range of issues that should be addressed in this planning effort. Involvement of the public is needed to insure that future actions are consistent with the National Park Service mission, enabling legislation, and other relevant laws and policies.

The public scoping process for this project will be open until 60 days from the publication of a Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an EIS, as listed in the Federal Register. The NOI is expected to be published soon, and a link will be posted on the park’s website at Scoping is an opportunity early in a planning process for the public, gateway communities, partner organizations, culturally-associated American Indian tribes, and other local, state and federal agencies to suggest issues to be considered in the proposed draft EIS.

Written scoping comments should be postmarked no later than 60 days after publication of the NOI in the Federal Register. Comments can be submitted at public meetings, by mail, fax, and email. A draft document should be available for public review in summer 2007. To request a hard copy or CD ROM version of the Draft EIS and to submit written comments:

U.S. Mail:

Superintendent, Yosemite National Park
Attn: Tuolumne Planning
P.O. Box 577
Yosemite, CA 95389

Fax: 209/379-1294


For information on this and other planning efforts in Yosemite National Park, go to

Talk With Us at Upcoming Open Houses and Public Meetings

These events will take place from 4:00 to 8:00 pm (unless otherwise noted) at the following locations:

July 12: Modesto Junior College

July 13: San Francisco’s Fort Mason Center

July 18: Tuolumne Meadows at Parsons Lodge

July 19: Lee Vining Community Center

July 26: Yosemite Valley (1-5 pm)

August 7: Mariposa Government Center

August 14: Oakhurst Community Center

August 15: Sonora at Columbia College

August 17: Groveland Public Library

For information on this and other planning efforts in Yosemite National Park, go to

3. User Fees on Public Lands

The battle against user fees on our public lands continues. There is a nationwide effort to let Congress know about the impact these fees are having and how the Forest Service and BLM are implementing last year’s legislation authorizing some fees. Please send a quick fax or make a phone call as outlined in the alert below, which comes from our friends at Keep Sespe Wild. It is slightly edited for our membership.

Dear Public Lands Supporter,

It is extremely important that your legislators in Washington DC hear from you NOW about the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, the FLREA. They need to hear that the Forest Service and BLM continue to charge citizens for simple access and use of our public lands in blatant violation of the provisions of the law. They need to take action to see that that this law is repealed.

Fee opponents are continuing to work with members of Congress to roll back the FLREA. This summer, as Americans head outdoors to enjoy their priceless public lands, is a key time. Please act now to protect this irreplaceable heritage, not only for yourself but also for your children and grandchildren!

This election year is also a vital time to remind key Committee chairmen in DC—as well as those legislators representing you there—why we still strongly oppose the FLREA and want it scrapped. Please contact all those running for office to make repeal of the FLREA a campaign issue.

The FLREA imposes multiple layers of fees on visitors to America’s public lands. Congress attached it as an earmark on a spending bill in December 2004, replacing the previous Fee Demo program. The U.S. Senate’s Public Lands & Forests Subcommittee held a public hearing in October 2005 to review Forest Service and BLM implementation of the FLREA. Numerous agency abuses were identified, but no action has yet been forthcoming to amend or overturn the FLREA.

Scroll down to find contact info for calling and faxing key legislators in DC, the main points to include in your messages, and a sample letter. Please contact the committee chairs as well as your own senators and representative.

Please keep calling and faxing through June and July!

Contact all those running for office to get their stand on public land access fees. Get them to make opposition to fees a part of their platform!!

Who else can you forward this action alert to, who will respond? This is a genuine grassroots campaign, depending on a diverse and expanding network of public lands users across the nation.

Please mention these points (in your own words):

• Ask first that the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act be repealed.

• Say you want the Forest Service and BLM to scrap the High Impact Recreation Areas (HIRAs) and Special Recreation Permits that are being used to charge fees for access to hundreds of thousands of acres of undeveloped backcountry.

• Let them know the Forest Service and BLM are implementing many new fee sites without the public participation process clearly spelled out in the FLREA.

• Protest the FLREA’s authorization of fines of tens of thousands of dollars and/or jail time for visiting your public lands without paying the fee.

• Tell them that candidate positions on fees will effect how you vote.

Whom To Contact (Faxes are still much quicker than letters to DC and much more effective than phone calls or emails):

Everybody should contact the following:

Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID)
Chair, Senate Public Lands & Forests Subcommittee
Phone: 202-224-2752
Fax: 202-228-1067

Rep Richard Pombo (R-CA)
Chair, House Resources Committee
Phone: 202-225-1947
Fax: 202-226-0861

Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV)
Ranking Member, House Resources Committee
Phone: 202-225-3452
Fax: 202-225-9061

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
Phone: 202-224-3841
Fax: 202-228-3954


Thank you all for participating in the summer of 2006’s Big Push to communicate opposition to the FLREA to key legislators in DC. Together we can make a difference, as we have before.

Alasdair Coyne,
Keep Sespe Wild

4. Predator Management in Wilderness Areas
Comments Needed
DEADLINE: August 7, 2006

On occasion we alert our members to important wildlife issues, especially when they conflict with the purposes for which wilderness is designated. Such is the case with the following, where the Forest Service is proposing to make changes in regulations regarding the control of predator species in wilderness areas.

There are two main points involved in this issue that specifically impact wilderness: Wilderness is supposed to be “untrammeled,” meaning unmanaged, allowed to function on its own. Therefore, wildlife in wilderness areas should be left alone, except where human health and safety are concerned—and then it should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Secondly, the new regulations “provide authority for the Regional Forester to permit the use of aircraft, motorized equipment and mechanical transport, and pesticides in wilderness areas under certain conditions.” None of these uses ought to be allowed in wilderness.

You can read the entire Federal Register Notice here.

The following information is excerpted from an alert on the website of the Center for Biological Diversity.

Predator Poisoning and Killing Planned In Wilderness Areas

The U.S. Forest Service just announced plans to relax rules that govern “predator control” in federal Wilderness areas and Research Natural Areas of our National Forests. The move would greatly expand the ways that wolves, coyotes, cougars, bears, foxes and other predators can be killed in these areas, and it signals a very disturbing shift in the way our public land is managed.

The proposed rule would permit aerial gunning and motorized vehicles in Wilderness areas to trap and kill predators and meet nebulous “wildlife management” objectives, which would be created by industry-driven “collaborative groups.” The rule would also allow notoriously dangerous “M-44” cyanide guns to be used in Wilderness areas, even though these devises have accidentally killed thousands of family pets and non-targeted wildlife. Please take a minute to write the Forest Service and demand that it reverse this disastrous plan—and instead put its energy and resources towards ensuring these animals continue to grace the wild.

Wilderness areas are intended to be places where humans are visitors who do not remain, where nature and natural systems are permitted to run their course. Similarly, Research Natural Areas are places of particular biological interest where “unmodified conditions” are to be maintained.

But the Forest Service has proposed to stray from these fundamental principles and dramatically increase the ways that wolves, coyotes, cougars, bears, foxes and other predators can be trapped, shot and poisoned in Wilderness areas and Research Natural Areas. Current rules require that wilderness values not be impaired by such activities, and expressly prohibit poisons like M-44s. The current rules also allow predator killing in Wilderness areas only in very limited circumstances, such as to protect human safety.

In stark contrast, the new rules would require predator control to meet undefined “wildlife management” objectives, and they would also permit local working groups to formulate those objectives—even in Wilderness areas! This would put groups that are dominated by the livestock industry—and hostile to both Wilderness and predators—squarely in the driver’s seat when it comes to predator control. Wilderness areas would be opened to expensive and ecologically devastating aerial gunning and poisoning of predators who belong in Wilderness areas and are a big part of what makes them so special.

Talking points:

• The Forest Service has proposed dramatic changes to Forest Service Manual Sections 2320 and 2650. These changes would reverse protections that are currently in place for Wilderness areas and Research Natural Areas by relaxing the restrictions on motorized use, aerial gunning and placement of motion-triggered cyanide guns to trap and kill predators. I strongly oppose these changes, and urge the Forest Service to uphold the Wilderness Act and its mandate to protect wildlife on all Forest Service lands.

• Predators are a key component of intact ecosystems, an important presence in the wilderness, and an emblem of the wild. They should be protected wherever they are, but in Wilderness and Research Natural Areas most of all. The proposed changes to the rules amount to a devastating attack on both predators and wilderness values.

• Predators like wolves, coyotes, bears, cougars and foxes belong in our forests and deserts, as the current rule recognizes when it states, “predacious mammals and birds play a critical role in maintaining the integrity of natural ecosystems.” Unfortunately, the proposed new rule discards such language in favor of permitting ill-defined “collaborative groups” to decide when and how predators will be trapped and killed. The new rule also permits cyanide guns to be used—even in Wilderness areas—contrary to the language and spirit of the Wilderness Act.

• The new rules regarding predator control in Wilderness and Research Natural Areas should be discarded; if anything, predators deserve more, not less, protection on our public lands.

Comments must be received in writing by August 7, 2006.

Send written comments to:

Forest Service, USDA
Attn: Director, Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Resources
201 – 14th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20250

By email:

By fax: 202-205-1145