Newsletter Archive

June 30, 2005

Dear friends —

The last two months have not had many important alerts come across my computer screen, so I decided not to write an UPDATE in May and to concentrate on other projects here at CalUWild. Since a member wrote recently to ask what other items we work on, this provides a great opportunity to review our activities.

Much time is spent reviewing the press and newsletters from other organizations (national, regional, and local) and reading through management plans from government agencies. The relevant information then has to be edited or summarized for the UPDATE and sent out. A print edition is prepared for those folks without e-mail. Finally a web edition is posted on the web site by our stalwart webmaster, Phillip Loughlin.

We also write letters on many of the items in the UPDATE on CalUWild letterhead on behalf of our nearly 700 members. We write letters to the editor (LTEs) of various newspapers as well.

CalUWild is an active member of a number of coalitions, including the Utah Wilderness Coalition, California Wild Heritage Campaign, Coalition to Save Los Padres National Forest, Grand Canyon Wilderness Alliance, R.S. 2477 and “No Wild” Coalition (opposing the administration’s attempts to open roads and roll back protection for BLM wilderness study areas), Oil & Gas/Energy, and Fee Demonstration Program. Most of these involve conference calls and occasional planning meetings, where we discuss and plan strategies and activities. In addition, we work with individual organizations, such as the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, the Nevada Wilderness Coalition, and others, helping extend their reach, since they have no real presence in California. This work often involves responding to Environmental Impact Statements, writing letters or signing on to others’ letters, and providing a California perspective on the issue at hand.

Occasionally we engage in direct lobbying, communicating with legislative offices on proposals affecting wilderness and public lands. Support for these activities comes from members’ dues, which is why they are not tax-deductible.

A CalUWild goal is to rovide at least one slide show or other presentation per month. We do seek help in both organizing and/or hosting these, so if you are able to help with this let us know. Examples of appropriate venues would include travel or other recreation clubs, campus groups, environment groups as a guest speaker (Sierra Club, Audubon, etc.), and so forth. Be creative! If you are aware of or affiliated with a group of people who would be interested in learning more about our efforts, we welcome your suggestions and ideas. Occasionally we set up an information table at a conference or event. Again, if you know of events where this might be possible, let me know. A volunteer has stepped forward to help coordinate scheduling, so let’s give her something to do!

Because CalUWild has the dual purpose of protecting wilderness while encouraging citizen advocacy, we’ve published a Guide to Effective Advocacy. This needs to be kept up-to-date, and this year we’d like to include a section on writing effective comments on agency proposals. Again, a volunteer has helped with that, for which we are grateful.

Finally there are all the administrative tasks that go into running an organization, among other things: finances, buying office supplies and making copies, updating and improving the web site, and writing an Action Plan for 2005-6 and the 2004 Annual Report. One important focus the past few months has been fundraising. CalUWild has always been run on a shoestring budget, but as the number of activities has grown, so have the costs. A volunteer has been researching foundations and other sources of support. And that has been successful. We recently received a grant to help purchase a new laptop computer, software, digital projector, and slide scanner. However, member support is still needed.

CalUWild can also use contributions of software (not necessarily the latest version, but not obsolete, either). In particular, we need Adobe PageMaker and Photoshop for Mac SystemX. If you have a copy that you’re not using, please let us know. Thanks!

I hope that gives you a little more of a feeling for the work we’re doing. We want to meet the needs of our members, so if you ever have questions or comments, please send them to and we’ll do our best to accommodate you.

Hope you can get away and have a great 4th of July weekend! Mike

1. Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
Oil & Gas Drilling Proposal
Comments Needed
2. Lake Powell Filling Up
Letters Needed

3. Cache Creek Wild & Scenic River
Bill Passes State Assembly and Senate Committee
Letters to the Governor Needed

4. Mexican Wolf Restoration
Letters Needed


1. Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
Oil & Gas Drilling Proposal
Comments Needed

With crude oil prices at high levels it becomes more economical to explore in places where only marginal success might be expected. A big surprise, though, is the following proposal, in an area managed by the National Park Service.

The following information is adapted from an alert sent out by the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.



Please take a few minutes today to write a comment letter to the National Park Service on this proposed oil well project that would damage fragile redrock lands in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument(GSENM). You may submit your comments online using the National Park Service’s website. See below for suggested guidelines.

The Park Service is asking for scoping comments on the proposed well- though it is not giving out much detail about the project or what resources it is most concerned about. The Park Service and BLM need to hear from you that they must: (1) prepare an environmental impact statement to analyze this destructive project and (2) hold public meetings in major metropolitan areas such as Salt Lake City.


The National Park Service has begun consideration of a proposed, controversial wildcat oil well in a remote corner of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. This area, known as Middle Moody Canyon, can only be accessed along a rough dirt road that first goes through one of the Bureau of Land Management’s crown jewels, the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

The proposed well pad and access roads would be located in classic redrock country and along a unique geologic formation known as the Waterpocket Fold. In short, the proposed well would be located in one of the most scenic locations in the Glen Canyon NRA/Capitol Reef National Park/Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument area. The proposal would involve blading a drill pad (also putting in a sludge pit and holding tanks), as well as upgrading (reconstructing) and creating several miles of dirt road. The scars from this project would — as other failed attempts in the region attest to — last for many years.

Amazingly enough, this lease was issued in 1969 and thus predates Glen Canyon NRA and the GSENM. After a successful legal fight by the Sierra Club in the early 1970’s to block a similar oil well, the lease was “suspended” by the BLM and sat idle for over 15 years. In 1990, the lessee submitted an application for a permit to drill (APD) with the Park Service who understandably was not in any hurry to consider approving development in such a sensitive location. After a few years of back and forth, the lessee went away — but now they’re back. To make matters worse, the Park Service (meaning with our tax dollars) is footing the bill — $50,000 worth — for the environmental analysis.


The Park Service is asking for scoping comments on the proposed well — though it is not giving out much detail about the project or what resources it is most concerned about. The Park Service and BLM need to hear from you that they must: (1) prepare an environmental impact statement to analyze this destructive project and (2) hold public meetings in major metropolitan areas such as Salt Lake City.

Use the following as talking points in your comments. Please use your own words, though. Simply cutting and pasting these into your letter severely reduces the impact, because it becomes clear that you are part of an orchestrated campaign. Individuals letters are always more effective.

1) The National Park Service (NPS) is wasting its precious resources
(both money and staff) to analyze this proposed wildcat well; the development of which would produce — by the Park Service’s own estimates
— an insignificant amount of oil.

2) The well and access roads would be located in a unique, fragile and
stunning natural environment that has largely healed from the scars of previous unsuccessful wildcat oil wells.

3) The proposed access roads would either require new construction or
substantial reworking and improvement. The environmental analysis should be clear about the direct and indirect impacts from improving these roads, as well as any proposed airstrip improvement.

4) Full consideration of a no-action alternative is consistent with lease
rights–this simply means that the proposed well would not be drilled and the lessee would be free to submit another application for an APD.

5) Full consideration of an alternative in which the NPS would acquire
lease rights (either outright purchase or exchange), keeping in mind the highly speculative nature of the lease and the lessee’s decision not to actively pursue drilling for several decades.

6) The impacts that this well and access roads would have to the area’s stunning visual qualities- as well as its important flora and fauna- would be significant.

7) Encourage NPS and BLM to hold several public meetings at both the
scoping and environmental analysis stages, including one in Salt Lake City, to fully explain to the American people the risks that the proposed project poses to the Glen Canyon NRA, and the Grand Staircase-Escalante NM. The NPS and BLM should have decided to hold such hearings at the outset of this highly controversial project and from now on they should actively solicit and encourage public participation.

Fill in, take the time to review and send your comment letter via the Park Service’s website by following this link:

(If this link does not immediately work, simply cut and paste the link, into your browser’s navigation window and it should get you there).


You may also send written comments to:

Ms. Kitty Roberts-Superintendent
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
P.O. Box 1507
691 Scenic View Drive
Page, AZ 86040-1507

2. Lake Powell Filling Up
Letters Needed

The last eight years have seen drought on the Colorado Plateau. There has been little rain or runoff into the Colorado River Basin, causing a precipitous drop in the water level at Lake Powell, the reservoir behind Glen Canyon Dam. As the water drops, the marvelous side canyons along the Colorado River are increasingly re-emerging, along with rock art panels and other archaeological sites. This spring, there has been quite a bit of runoff, and the reservoir’s level is rising, covering some areas. However, as the summer moves along, the water levels will recede again. The fluctuating water level damages the archaeological sites more than either complete submersion or exposure to air.

With Lake Mead downstream also very low because of the drought, the Bureau of Reclamation could store much of this year’s runoff in that reservoir rather than in Glen Canyon. This would avoid further damage to some of the sites and allow the side canyons to continue along in the process of restoration.

The following Action Alert comes from the Glen Canyon Institute, a Utah group seeking to restore a free-flowing Colorado River through Glen Canyon.

Dear Lover of Glen Canyon,

Sunday, June 19, on the front page of the opinion section, the Los Angeles Times ran an opinion piece which argued that Glen Canyon should be allowed to restore itself by storing water in Lake Mead before attempting to refill Lake Powell. This was a major statement for any newspaper to publish.

It recognized that there is not enough water now, and that there will be even less water available in the future, to try to refill Lake Powell. It pointed out that it is the overuse of the river, not the drought, that has lowered the level of Lake Powell. It also editorialized in favor of the re-designation of the National Recreation Area as Glen Canyon National Park. It is the most widely read statement of Glen Canyon Institute’s new position thus far.

To read the full story, click or copy and paste the URL into your browser:

The Bureau of Reclamation is now soliciting public comments as they develop strategies for how water is stored and managed in the Colorado River and Powell and Mead reservoirs. This is the perfect opportunity for you to tell key decision makers that you want to see Glen Canyon restored and ensure a sustainable water supply for the west. Use the talking points below (in your own words) to write or email your own letters to Gale Norton, Robert Johnson, and Rick Gold urging them to Fill Lake Mead First and protect Glen Canyon’s priceless cultural, biological, and scenic resources from being flooded again.

Thank you for your tireless support!

1) The steadily dropping water levels at Lake Powell reservoir on the
Colorado River revealed spectacular features not seen in decades. These cultural, biological, and scenic resources found only in Glen Canyon are now threatened by fluctuating reservoir levels.

2) Restored precious features such as Cathedral in the Desert, Register
Rock, petroglyphs, and Fort Moqui are going right back under water, only to be uncovered once again later this year. This fluctuation of water levels is unnecessary and destructive to these priceless emerging cultural, historic, and scenic sites in Glen Canyon.

3) All “surplus” water of the Colorado River can easily be stored at Lake
Mead instead of in Glen Canyon. We urge the Bureau of Reclamation to protect these priceless treasures by storing “surplus” water in Lake Mead instead. Please uphold the established legal protections for priceless sacred and historical sites and emerging endangered species habitats. Please protect Glen Canyon for future generations.

Comments can be mailed, faxed, or e-mailed to:

Gale Norton
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20240

Robert Johnson
Regional Director
Bureau of Reclamation
Lower Colorado Region
Attention: BCOO-1000
P.O. Box 61470
Boulder City, Nevada 89006-1470
FAX: 702-293-8156

Rick Gold
Regional Director
Bureau of Reclamation
Upper Colorado Region
Attention: UC-402
125 South State Street
Salt Lake City, Utah 84318-1147
FAX: 801-524-3858

If you have any questions, please contact or call Glen Canyon Institute at 801-363-4450.

3. Cache Creek Wild & Scenic River
Bill Passes State Assembly and Senate Committee
Letters to the Governor Needed

Earlier this month, the California Assembly passed AB 1328, introduced by Assemblymember Lois Wolk. The bill adds 31 miles of upper Cache Creek flowing out of Clear Lake toward the Central Valley 100 miles north of San Francisco, to the state’s Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The vote was 43 – 22. The bill then passed through the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee, and now awaits a vote by the Appropriations Committee and the full Senate before going to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for his signature.

Letters to the governor in support of the bill are needed. Use some or all of the following talking points (from Cache Creek Wild) and add anything personal, to make a stronger letter.

1) Cache Creek provides lush vegetation, pristine waters and fresh air
for diverse species of wildlife. Bald eagles, ospreys, tule elk, black bears, mountain lions, and river otter flourish in this amazing habitat.

2) Cache Creek offers outdoor enthusiasts an amazing number of activities
including hiking, horseback riding, birding, hunting, fishing, river rafting, and camping.

3) Protecting Cache Creek can give an economic boost to local business
because a Wild and Scenic designation will bring visitors from all over eager to see our wild river. This bill has received bipartisan support in the legislature.

4) This designation will prevent the state from participating in the planning or development of any new dams or diversions in these reaches of the river, and it protects farmer’s water now and in the future.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-445-2841
Fax: 916-445-4633

4. Mexican Wolf Restoration
Letters Needed

We don’t often cover wildlife issues in the UPDATE, but the following program directly impacts wilderness areas and the spirit behind the concept of wilderness. The restoration of wolf and other top predator populations is critical to the functioning of an intact, complete ecosystem. So across the globe, efforts are underway to restore these populations.

It has successfully happened in Yellowstone National Park, and the effects on the ecosystem can already be seen. Deer and elk are reportedly not browsing as heavily along creeks, because the vegetation cover makes them more vulnerable to predation. This is allowing the riparian areas to grow more lush, covering the creeks and thus cooling the water. This in turn provides better habitat for fish increasing their populations, which in turn helps other predators. And so the cycle goes.

In Arizona and New Mexico, the government has been restoring Mexican gray wolves, but now a one-year moratorium has been proposed. Details and suggestions for letters are included in the alert below, which comes from the Arizona Wilderness Coalition. For more information, contact them at

Please write!

Dear Friends of Wilderness and Wildlife:

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing a one-year moratorium on new releases of Mexican gray wolves, as well as restrictions on the use of relocation as a method to control wolves that have attacked livestock. These proposals will undercut the Mexican wolf recovery program. Please email the Arizona Game and Fish Department ( by July 31 and ask them to put science and the welfare of the Mexican gray wolves above politics and the anti-wolf sentiment of the minority.

Wolves are an integral part of healthy, wild ecosystems. With science to support their important place in the natural world, it’s time to stop the unfounded hatred toward this magnificent keystone species. Please see the announcement and talking points below for more information on the issue. More information on the proposed moratorium and the revised Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), including #13 on lethal management is at Press releases from the Fish & Wildlife Service, including the lethal take order on the Francisco pack, and the field updates are at or at

The Arizona Wilderness Coalition

More Wolves! Less Politics!
Please help the Mexican gray wolf recover in Arizona and New Mexico

In response to a private meeting with the livestock industry and other opponents of wolf recovery, called by Representative Stevan Pearce (R-NM), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing a one-year moratorium on new releases of Mexican gray wolves. This will risk the genetic diversity of the wild population and will also virtually ensure that no wolves are released in New Mexico. In addition to that, there is a proposal on the table to make it easier to kill wolves that have had interactions with livestock.

Please ask them to put science and the welfare of the wolves above the politics and the anti-wolf sentiment of a few disgruntled ranchers.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is now proposing the following:

I. A one year moratorium on releases of Mexican gray wolves to the wild from the captive breeding population, from July 1, 2005 to June 30, 2006 . This will prevent infusion of new genetic material even though the lead Mexican wolf genetic researcher, Dr. Philip Hedrick of Arizona State University, has written that only one of the three lineages comprising the limited Mexican wolf gene pool is well represented in the wild population, and it is imperative to introduce new animals from the other two lineages. Dr. Hedrick added that it is important to introduce these new animals as soon as possible while the population is small so that their relative contribution to the genetic mix will be greater.

II. A one year ban on translocations (re-releases) of wolves that have killed livestock within one year, into any jurisdiction (i.e., state or
tribal) excepting that from which they were captured. This will exacerbate the detrimental effects of the present policy that prevents any releases from the captive breeding population into New Mexico. Should the proposal go into effect, no wolves captured in Arizona could be released in New Mexico. The translocation of wolves from Arizona to New Mexico has been a standard practice until now and is the primary tool available for establishing the wolf population in New Mexico. Direct releases from captive stock are currently precluded by regulation.

III. A permanent new policy requiring killing of wolves responsible for attacking three head of livestock if trapping does not succeed within ten days, and immediate killing of wolves if four domestic animals have been attacked. This will ramp up the lethality of the present control program which has already resulted in a twenty percent drop in the known Mexican wolf population between the end of 2003 and end of 2004 (from 55 to 44 animals). Had this policy been in effect from the outset of the program, several packs in existence now would have been destroyed. For example, the Bluestem Pack, which committed a brief spate of livestock killings in 2002 and have since then relied entirely on natural prey, would have been captured or killed.

1. Comments may be submitted via email to the Mexican wolf reintroduction

or via postal mail to:

Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project
c/o Arizona Game and Fish Department
Attention: Terry B. Johnson
2221 West Greenway Road
Phoenix, Arizona 85023

2. Comments must be received by July 31 to be considered.

3. Please copy Governor Janet Napolitano on your comments. Her address is:

1700 West Washington, 9th Fl.
Phoenix, Arizona 85007

Fax: 602-542-1381

E-mail: Either click on the following link or cut and paste it into your

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