Newsletter Archive

Chimney Rock, Colorado                                                                                                         (Mike Painter)
Legislation just passed the House of Representatives
establishing the area as a National Monument. See Item 4.

June 2, 2012

Dear CalUWild friends—

Summer is just about here, so I hope you have a chance to get away to explore some of the West’s magnificent wilderness areas and other public lands.

Today is National Trails Day, and to mark the occasion, the Department of the Interior announced that it was designating 54 new National Recreation Trails across the country. For a listing of the new trails click here. American Trails sponsors the official website for the system.

Earlier in the month, as part of the administration’s “Joining Forces” program, Pres. Obama announced that all members of the military on active duty would be given free admission to national parks, national forests, wildlife refuges, and to lands managed by the BLM and Bureau of Reclamation that charge entrance fees. For more information on the military pass and other park passes, click here.

For those wishing to visit Yosemite National Park, the Park and surrounding communities announced plans to increase the public transportation options available to visitors. For more information go to the Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System website.

On the CalUWild administrative front, I’m happy to announce that Jim Catlin has agreed to join our Advisory Board. Jim is the Executive Director of the Wild Utah Project, the initiator of Utah citizens wilderness inventory, and a former member of the Sierra Club’s Board of Directors. We’ve known Jim and worked with him for many years on many issues, so we’re glad to formalize the relationship.

Finally, many thanks to everyone for the positive comments on our website and the photos in the Monthly Update. It’s always nice to hear from you. We also want to hear suggestions, critiques, and corrections, which help us to provide the best information for our members and the public.

As always, thanks for your interest and support,

1. Counties and State File Suits over R.S. 2477 Routes

2. Two Bills Introduced in the House for Northern California
a. Berryessa Snow Mountain National Conservation Area
b. Coastal Monument Additions
3. Kathleen Dean Moore and Craig Childs
To Speak on Water at the LA County Library
Wednesday, June 6, 7 p.m.

4. Chimney Rock National Monument Bill Passes House

5. Sportsman’s Bill of Rights Continues to Raise Fears
6. Friends of the Inyo Seeks an Executive Director
7. Wilderness Volunteers Seeks a Development Coordinator
& Sponsors Service Trips

8. Links of Interest


1. Counties and State File Suits over R.S. 2477 Routes

Last month, 21 counties in Utah filed lawsuits claiming the rights-of-way to some 12,000 routes across the state that they argue qualify as “highways.” R.S. (Revised Statue) 2477 was enacted in the 19th century when the United States was expanding westward and was intended to facilitate that expansion. By 1976, the law had outlived its usefulness and was repealed. Valid existing rights-of-way were recognized, however, and the current disputes center on those claims.

Many roads have been obviously constructed and maintained over the years, and there is no dispute over them. Others, however, are much more contentious, consisting of tracks, streambeds and washes, and even slot canyons with steep pour-offs, over which a vehicle would be hard-pressed to travel. The state is crisscrossed with such routes, as this this map shows.

We’ll have to see how the cases progress in court. There is no shortage of coverage in the press, however.

The Salt Lake Tribune published an op-ed piece by John E. Swallow and Anthony L. Rampton from the Utah attorney general’s office, explaining the state’s viewpoint. A week later it published an opposing view by Heidi McIntosh of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. High Country News published a comprehensive look at the background of R.S. 2477 and the philosophical issues (e.g., sacred sites, solitude) surrounding it in the context of a visit to Horseshoe Canyon in Canyonlands National Park.

We’ll keep following and reporting on the issue as it moves along.

2. Two Bills Introduced in the House for Northern California

April and May saw the introduction of two public lands bills for Northern California. Details of each are below. Please take a moment to thank the representatives who authored the bills. Here is their contact information:

Rep. Mike Thompson (D-1)
DC phone: 202-225-3311
Local office phone numbers and other contact info here

Rep. Lynne Woolsey (D-6)
DC phone: 202-225-5161
Local office phone numbers and other contact info here

Rep. John Garamendi (D-10)
DC phone: 202-225-1880
Local office phone numbers and other contact info here

a. Berryessa Snow Mountain National Conservation Area

In May Rep. Mike Thompson (D-1), Lynne Woolsey (D-6), and John Garamendi (D-10) introduced the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Conservation Area Act (H.R. 5545). The bill would provide protection for a large portion of the land in the Inner Coast Range from Lake Berryessa north to Snow Mountain. The area is home to much wildlife, such at bald eagles, tule elk, and black bears. Recreational opportunities abound, such as white-water rafting on Cache Creek and fishing at Clear Lake. In addition, many rare plants grow there.

The California Wilderness Coalition provided the following information about the proposal:

– The NCA designation only applies to lands managed by the federal government. Current access to and uses of private land will not be changed.

– No legally-open roads or motorized vehicle trails will be closed as a result of the NCA designation. Federal agencies will retain their existing authority to open new roads and trails or to temporarily close them when necessary, such as during major storms or emergencies.

– Hunting and fishing will still be allowed in the NCA and the California Department of Fish and Game will retain its authority over these forms of recreation. The NCA designation would not impose any new regulations on hunting, fishing, or firearm use.

– Existing laws and policies regarding firefighting will not be changed by the establishment of the NCA. Federal agencies can continue to reduce fuels before fires start by thinning trees, establishing fuel breaks, and by using controlled-burns and other appropriate tools.

— Lake County, Napa County, the Winters City Council, the David City Council, the Clearlake City Council and the Calistoga City Council all passed unanimous resolutions of support in favor of designating the Berryessa Snow Mountain region as a NCA.

– Also in support of the designation are:

• 52 elected officials including former Congressman Pete McCloskey,
       co-author of the Endangered Species Act.
• 148 businesses representing all four involved counties.
• 29 landowners and farmers.
• 28 conservation and recreation groups including the Blue Ribbon Coalition,
       California Waterfowl Association, and the Yolo Audubon Society.

b. Coastal Monument Additions

In April Rep. Thompson also introduced the California Coastal National Monument Expansion Act of 2012 (H.R. 4969), to which Rep. Woolsey has signed on as a cosponsor. This bill would add the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands in southern Mendocino County to the California Coastal National Monument as part of the National Landscape Conservation System.

The bill is similar to legislation Rep. Thompson introduced in 2010, but which did not move in the House. At that time we wrote: “These are 1,132 acres adjacent to Pt. Arena and Manchester State Beach in Mendocino County, which were bought by The Nature Conservancy and donated to BLM for conservation purposes. The Stornetta family owned and continues to use some of the land for dairy and agriculture via a grazing lease until 2014. BLM has a conservation easement on an additional 580 acres.”

If passed, it would mark the first onshore expansion of the California Coastal National Monument, which at present is made up of all the offshore rocks and seastacks, stretching from Mexico in the south to Oregon in the north.

3. Kathleen Dean Moore and Craig Childs
To Speak on Water at the LA County Library
Wednesday, June 6, 7 p.m.

We received the following announcement from the Library Foundation of Los Angeles and are happy to include it.

The Elemental West: Reflections on Moving Water

Kathleen Dean Moore and Craig Childs
In conversation with William Deverell, director, Huntington-USC Institute on the West

Two celebrated writers deeply influenced by the riparian and other landscapes of the American West will read from their work and explore how storytelling – in the tradition of Thoreau and Emerson – can give voice to natural resources. Activist and award-winning author Kathleen Dean Moore discusses her newest book Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril and Craig Childs, the author of more than a dozen acclaimed books on nature and science, reflects on expedition adventures from Colorado to Tibet.

The Elemental West: Fire, Water, Air, Earth (Program two of four)
Co-sponsored by the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West

Kathleen Dean Moore is an essayist and activist who writes about cultural and spiritual connections to wet wild places. Her award-winning books include Riverwalking , Holdfast , The Pine Island Paradox , and Wild Comfort . Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril, her newest book, gathers calls from the world’s moral leaders to honor our obligations to future generations. Moore, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Oregon State University, publishes in both environmental ethics and popular journals such as Audubon, Discover, and Orion, where she serves on the Board of Directors.

Craig Childs is a writer who focuses on natural sciences, archaeology, and remarkable journeys into the wilderness. He has published more than a dozen critically acclaimed books on nature, science, and adventure. He is a commentator for NPR’s Morning Edition, and his work has appeared in many publications, including The New York Times , Outside, and Orion. His subjects range from pre-Columbian archaeology to U.S. border issues to the last free-flowing rivers of Tibet and Patagonia. He has won several awards for his writing.

William Deverell is a professor of history at USC, where he specializes in the history of California and the American West and directs a scholarly institute that collaborates with the Huntington Library in Pasadena. He is the author of Whitewashed Adobe: The Rise of Los Angeles and the Remaking of Its Mexican Past and Railroad Crossing: Californians and the Railroad, 1850-1910. With Greg Hise, he is co-author of Eden by Design: The 1930 Olmsted-Bartholomew Plan for the Los Angeles Region. William is a Fellow of the Los Angeles Institute for Humanities at USC.


Los Angeles Central Library’s Mark Taper Auditorium
630 W. Fifth Street
Los Angeles, CA 90071

4. Chimney Rock National Monument Bill Passes House

By unanimous consent on May 16, the House passed a bill by Colorado Rep. Scott Tipton (R) to designate Chimney Rock in the San Juan National Forest a national monument. Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D) has introduced a companion bill in the Senate, but so far it has not moved.

Chimney Rock is a significant site because it is comprised of several hundred rooms and buildings built in Ancestral Puebloan (Anasazi) style, but rather than sitting in cliff alcoves or on canyon bottoms as in Chaco Canyon, they were built on the slopes and the top of a mountain. The large outcroppings on the top of the mountain, which give the place its name, are used to mark the northernmost rising of the moon in its 18-year cycle.

Click here for photos of the archaeology and other views from a visit I made to the site after the legislation was originally introduced in the 111th Congress.

House passage of the bill reflects the widespread public support for the monument, but the paralysis in the Senate shows no signs of abating. CalUWild has been working for several years with the National Trust for Historic Preservation to have Chimney Rock designated. The Trust has on online petition, asking Pres. Obama to use his authority under the Antiquities Act of 1906 to designate Chimney Rock as a national monument. This may turn out to be the only way Chimney Rock will be preserved. Please click here to sign the petition.

5. Sportsman’s Bill of Rights Continues to Raise Fears

Last month we wrote about H.R. 4089, the Sportsman’s Bill of Rights, which passed the House. Concerns continue to mount over the language contained in the bill and its potential effect on designated wilderness areas and other protected public lands.

These concerns center on language stating that “the provision of opportunities for hunting, fishing and recreational shooting, and the conservation of fish and wildlife to provide sustainable use … shall constitute measures necessary to meet the minimum requirements for the administration of the wilderness area.”

This is a major change in focus for wilderness management. The Wilderness Act of 1964 prohibits all sorts of things unless they are the minimum required for managing a designated area. Usually the agency needs to engage in some sort of analysis of the “minimum tool requirement” before engaging in certain activities. (This is why the use of helicopters to move reconstructed watchtowers or hiking shelters does not comply with the Wilderness Act-those things could be reconstructed in place, as they most likely originally were.)

H.R. 4089 now pre-defines hunting, fishing, and other activities as activities that require pro-active management in wilderness areas, exempting them from analysis. Even if not specifically stated, the bill at least creates a loophole for the use of mechanized equipment, motorized access, and other activities that would be prohibited under the Wilderness Act.

Similar fears have arisen in relation to national park lands as well. The language of the bill would seem to require that hunting and recreational shooting be allowed unless a national park specifically prohibited them. The bill also expands the definition of hunting to include trapping and the training of hunting dogs. “Collection” of wildlife is also allowed.

Significantly, the bill shifts the burden of planning. Generally, agencies engage in a planning process when they are asked to permit some activity or use. H.R. 4089 forces the agencies into a planning when they want to prohibit something. Given that these activities have up until now been prohibited, and given the increasingly severe budget constraints on our land management agencies, this makes no sense.

The sponsors of the bill say that it is not their intention to do any of this. Unfortunately, the language of a bill and the way a court interprets it trump the intent of its congressional supporters. Tellingly, an amendment specifically attempting to clarify some these ambiguities was defeated.

Two analyses of the bill are available online for anyone wishing more detail. They were prepared by Wilderness Watch, looking at the implications for wilderness management and by a DC law firm for the National Parks Conservation Association, looking at the impacts on the national parks.

The bill now moves to the Senate, where Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) has introduced a similar bill (S. 2066). So far, neither bill has had a hearing there. But the Senate needs to know pre-emptively that the risks to the Wilderness Act and the National Park System posed by these bills are simply unacceptable. Please contact Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein and ask them to oppose both bills.

Contact information:

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D)
DC phone: 202-224-3553
Local office phone numbers and other contact info here

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D)
DC phone: 202-224-3841
Local office phone numbers and other contact info here

6. Friends of the Inyo Seeks an Executive Director

Friends of the Inyo, working to protect the Eastern Sierra, is looking for an executive director. Below is a summary of the job announcement. Click here for the complete announcement.

Friends of the Inyo, a nonprofit public lands conservation organization, seeks a qualified and energetic candidate for the position of Executive Director. The ED oversees a dedicated staff and corps of volunteers, manages thriving programs and works with an engaged Board of Directors and three federal land management agencies while striving to grow the membership and provide long-term organizational vision. The Executive Director position is based at the Friends of the Inyo office in Bishop, and the organization’s working area includes public lands throughout Inyo and Mono Counties. Frequent travel across the Eastern Sierra is required, along with out-of-area travel. Salary is dependent on experience.

Organizational Background & Mission
On the eastern edge of California, there exists a vast and wild landscape where bighorn sheep roam across alpine ridges, golden trout brighten tumbling streams and the Milky Way outshines city lights. Millions of people each year enjoy this land where the desert meets the mountains, touching all who experience its quiet, beauty and power. Since nearly 95 percent of this land is owned by the American people, we have both the opportunity and responsibility to ensure the Eastern Sierra remains wild and free for future generations of people and wildlife. Friends of the Inyo cares for this unique national treasure by connecting people to the wonders of the Eastern Sierra’s public lands.

How to Apply
Please submit a cover letter, resume, professional writing sample (grant proposal or report, newsletter, website, etc.) and contact information for at least three professional references as .pdf documents to the Friends of the Inyo Executive Search Committee at jobs [at] friendsoftheinyo [dot] org. Applications will be accepted through June 29, 2012.

7. Wilderness Volunteers Seeks a Development Coordinator
& Sponsors Service Trips

Wilderness Volunteers, a nonprofit organization that sponsors service trips to wilderness areas around the country, is looking for a development director.

Development Coordinator
Wilderness Volunteers is hiring! We’re searching for a dynamic, enthusiastic and skilled individual to add to our growing program. The Development Coordinator is responsible for achieving the fundraising goals of Wilderness Volunteers. This is a full-time position, salary pursuant to experience. Location is flexible; must be able to work remotely. Occasional travel required. Outdoor leadership experience a plus. Applicants should have experience in nonprofit fundraising.

Interested applicants should submit a resume and a one page cover letter stating your interest in the position and why you should be selected. Please send both as .pdf files to info [at] wildernessvolunteers [dot] org. Deadline June 30, 2012. No calls please.

Primary Responsibilities:

— Manage membership/partner program
— Grow donor base, cultivate major gifts, manage annual endowment campaign
— Manage sponsorship program (corporate and retail)
— Coordinate online auction: solicit donations and sponsors
— Work with ED to develop Board fundraising capacity
— Work with ED to identify and write grant proposals
— Produce annual report

This list is not comprehensive, but reflects primary aspects of the position. Wilderness Volunteers is an at-will employer.

Six Great Summer Adventures

Along with many popular projects from previous years, there are some new offerings for 2012. There are trips for novice backpackers and trail workers, as well as more challenging backpacks for hardcore wilderness junkies. Below is just a sampling of the trips that are still open. But they are filling fast so don’t procrastinate if you want to “Give Something Back” in 2012.

Desolation Wilderness, Eldorado National Forest, California
A review in Backpacker Magazine states that the Desolation Wilderness “is like being in an Ansel Adams photograph.” If you love dramatic cliffs, bald granite peaks, glacially-formed valleys, and gnarly old-growth conifers, come spend the week of Aug 5, with WV in this area of diversity and beauty, just southwest of Lake Tahoe.

Our project will be site restoration including removing illegal campsites and fire rings. Our backpack in will be approximately 5 miles to a remote basecamp. The Forest Service will provide pack animal support for tools, group food, and kitchen supplies.

Wind River Mountains, Popo Agie Wilderness, Wyoming
Located in western Wyoming, the Popo Agie is a portion of the Shoshone National Forest whose high jagged peaks and vast forests leave visitors breathless. More than 20 summits rise above 12,000 feet, including Wind River Peak at 13,255 feet.

On Aug. 12 we’ll backpack 3.5 miles to our base camp near a mountain stream, where we’ll spend the week doing trail maintenance-cutting back overgrown vegetation, improving erosion control, and trail tread. Day off options include fishing, swimming, hiking, or simply relaxing in this rugged setting where mountain men once roamed.

Goat Rocks Wilderness, Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Washington
Named for the bands of mountain goats that live there, the Goat Rocks Wilderness in southwest Washington State is a 105,600 -acre alpine wonderland, a portion of the volcanic Cascade Mountain Range between Mount Rainier and Mount Adams.

On Aug. 12 we’ll backpack 4.5 miles into the Jordan Basin and spend the week doing trail maintenance on the Goat Ridge Trail, with an emphasis on loose rock removal, installation of rock water bars, and tread work. Day hikes to area peaks are an option on the day off. Or you may choose to relax in the beautiful meadow. The forest service will provide pack support to help get our supplies into the wilderness.

Three Sister Wilderness, Deschutes National Forest, Oregon
The Three Sisters Wilderness in the Deschutes National Forest of Oregon is named for Three Sisters Mountains– all above 10,000 feet–that dominate the landscape. Here one can see volcanic cinder cones and craters, waterfalls, lava fields, glaciers, and alpine meadows. This is truly a four season vacationland to camp, hike, ski, fish, and other outdoor activities.

On Aug. 19 a WV crew will backpack 7 miles to a lakeside basecamp beneath soaring glaciers. Our project will be breaking down and removing illegal campsites, fire rings, and social trails. We’ll hike up to 6 miles daily, so start getting in shape now. Fortunately for us pack animal support will be provided for group food, kitchen gear and tools.

Big Bend National Park, Texas
Big Bend National Park derives its name from the “big bend” in the Rio Grande River that defines the park’s southern boundary, separating the U.S. and Mexico. The park is the largest protected area of Chihuahuan Desert topography and ecology. In addition, the park is valuable as a paleontologic resource. Archeologists have discovered artifacts estimated to be 9,000 years old!

On Sept. 23, we will camp in the Chisos Basin in the center of the park, adjacent to the Remuda Bunkhouse which has full amenities. We’ll hike 4-8 miles a day to do the trail work, which will include cleaning water bars, brushing of trail corridor, improving eroded trail base, and other tasks. Free day options include day hiking, biking, hot springs, and scenic drives.

Dolly Sods Wilderness, Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia
Named for the Dalhe family who used open grassy fields or “sods” for grazing sheep, the Dolly Sods Wilderness, located high on the Allegheny Plateau in West Virginia is a region known for its sweeping vistas, upland bogs, and rocky plains.

On Sept. 30 a WV crew will backpack 4-6 miles and set up a base camp for the week near Red Creek Trail and make daily trips to our worksite. Our service project will be trail maintenance, erosion control, improving trail tread, and brushing back overgrown vegetation. There will be time to hike, swim and fish throughout the week. Or you may want to take the off day to simply relax and enjoy the beautiful fall colors.

As of this writing, all of the above trips had space available. For a complete listing of Wilderness Volunteer trips, click here.

8. Links of Interest

An op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune comparing Utah Rep. Rob Bishop’s comments on the new Ft. Ord National Monument with his support of projects in Utah in areas proposed for wilderness. Rep. Bishop (R) is Chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests & Public Lands.

Bishop’s Hypocrisy

A Salt Lake Tribune article on oil and gas bid disrupter Tim DeChristopher’s time in jail

Tim DeChristopher speaks from prison on his present, future

The Departments of the Interior and Commerce National Travel & Tourism Strategy including the role national parks and other public lands can play

Headwaters Economics report Montana’s Economy and the Role of Federal Protected Lands. The page has links to other reports prepared by Headwaters Economics dealing with other states as well as national parks and public lands in general.