Newsletter Archive

March 27, 2003

Dear CalUWild friends —

The last week has been filled with stories about the war against Iraq, almost to the exclusion of everything else. Although our thoughts are turned to that issue and justifiably concerned with all the people involved in that conflict, we cannot neglect the important wilderness and public lands issues facing us here at home. We can be sure that the administration is not neglecting them!

In fact, one Congressional staffer said to me last week that “it is amazing, the thoroughness of what the administration is trying to do” in its rollback of environmental policy.

The only way to protect the areas we treasure is to be involved: writing letters, making phone calls, going to meetings. It takes some effort, but it works!

For example, last week — despite long odds — the U.S. Senate approved an amendment by California Senator Barbara Boxer to exclude revenues from drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from the 2004 budget. This effectively killed the administration’s proposal to open the Refuge up for development, at least for now. Sen. Boxer deserves a lot of thanks for this effort; call her at: 202-224-3553. Oregon Republican Sen. Gordon Smith resisted a lot of pressure to vote against the amendment. So if you have a connection to Oregon, you should call his office and thank him, too: 202-224-3753.

In last month’s UPDATE, we reported on a proposal by Glen Canyon National Recreation Area to blow up rock formations exposed by low lake levels in the reservoir to reduce the distance that boats must travel now that snaking canyon walls are exposed. We’re happy to report that the superintendent has written saying: “it was not identified as a priority project. We also felt it wasn’t an economically sound project based on the projected lake levels.” So thanks to anyone who wrote a letter protesting this craziness.

The Yellowstone Protection Act was introduced in the House of Representatives. This legislation (HR 1130) would implement the Clinton administration’s rules phasing out snowmobile use in Yellowstone over the next several years. The current administration had reversed that policy, in spite of EPA saying that the phaseout was the “the best available protection” for Yellowstone and human health.

The California Wilderness Coalition (CWC) has issued it annual report on California’s “10 Most Threatened Wild Places.” This year’s list:

* Algodones Sand Dunes
* Panamint Range (Briggs Mine and Surprise Canyon)
* Cleveland National Forest
* Tejon Ranch
* Los Padres National Forest
* Duncan Canyon
* Westside Sierra Corporate Forestlands
* Plumas and Lassen National Forests
* Medicine Lake Highlands
* Klamath River Basin.

The report is available online at:

RS 2477 continues to be an issue (see Items 4 & 5). Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein wrote a letter to Interior Secretary Gale Norton strongly objecting to the new rules that the BLM finalized earlier this year. A coalition of wilderness organizations, CalUWild among them, has put together a web site which discusses the new rule and its implications for the West. Visit it for more information:

Now a couple of administrative items:

A friend of CalUWild’s in Utah who runs a tour and guiding business recently broached the idea of leading a trip or two for CalUWild members who would be interested in seeing some of Utah’s spectacular wild places up close. Trips could range from backpacking to car camping to staying in B&Bs and eating in restaurants run by Utahns who support wilderness. If you’d be interested, please send an email to stating your preference.

Finally, the 2003 edition of “The CalUWild Guide to Effective Advocacy” will be coming out in the next day or so. This publication discusses writing persuasive letters to decision makers and setting up meetings with legislators and newspaper editorial boards. It also contains an updated list of contact information for the complete California congressional delegation, as well as addresses for letters to the editors of the major California newspapers.

New this year is the inclusion of addresses and phone numbers for all local offices in California. Because all mail to Congress in Washington, DC is irradiated, letters often crumble when opened. Therefore, we do not recommend mailing letters to offices in DC. You should either fax them there or mail them to their offices in California (or whatever state you live in).

Please hold onto this Guide and keep it where you can refer to it easily. It will also be posted on CalUWild’s web site at:

Many thanks to CalUWild volunteer Lise Adams who tracked down all the information from the House and Senate web sites. It was quite a task!

Please pass this UPDATE along to 2 or 3 people you know who are interested in wilderness issues. We need to continue involving more folks in our efforts to let our representatives and the agencies know that we care deeply about our wilderness and public lands in the West. If you have any questions or comments, please send them to

Thanks for doing your part!

1. America’s Redrock Wilderness Act Cosponsors

2. SWAT Teams in Wilderness ???

3. CalUWild Slide Show In Marin County April 8

4. RS 2477 Desert Fieldwork

5. RS 2477 Field Organizer Position at CWC

6. Arctic Wildlife Refuge Wilderness Bill Introduced

7. Fee Demonstration Program in Congress


1. America’s Redrock Wilderness Act Cosponsors

The number of cosponsors for the Utah Wilderness bill continues to grow rapidly. As of this morning, there were 123 in the House and 13 in the Senate. California’s delegation is renewing its support, but not as fast as we’d like. Phone calls and letters saying “Thank you!” or asking for cosponsorship are needed, as appropriate.


* Sen. Barbara Boxer (D): 202-224-3553
* Xavier Becerra (D-31): 202-225-6235
* Howard Berman (D-28): 202-225-4695
* Lois Capps (D-23): 202-225-3601
* Susan Davis (D-53): 202-225-2040
* Anna Eshoo (D-14): 202-225-8104
* Sam Farr (D-17): 202-225-2861
* Bob Filner (D-51): 202-225-8045
* Jane Harman (D-36): 202-225-8220
* Mike Honda (D-15): 202-225-2631
* Tom Lantos (D-12): 202-225-3531
* Barbara Lee (D-9): 202-225-2661
* Robert Matsui (D-05): 202-225-7163
* Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-37): 202-225-7924
* George Miller (D-7): 202-225-2095
* Grace Napolitano (D-38): 202-225-5256
* Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-34): 202-225-1766
* Linda Sanchez (D-39): 202-225-6676
* Pete Stark (D-13): 202-225-5065
* Ellen Tauscher (D-10): 202-225-1880
* Henry Waxman (D-30): 202-225-3976
* Lynn Woolsey (D-6): 202-225-5161


* Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D): 202-224-3841
* Joe Baca (D-43): 202-225-6161
* Cal Dooley (D-20): 202-225-3341
* Zoe Lofgren (D-16): 202-225-3072
* Loretta Sanchez (D-47): 202-225-2965
* Adam Schiff (D-29): 202-225-4176
* Brad Sherman (D-27): 202-225-5911
* Hilda Solis (D-32): 202-225-5464
* Mike Thompson (D-01): 202-225-3311
* Maxine Waters (D-35): 202-225-2201
* Diane Watson (D-33): 202-225-7084

2. SWAT Teams in Wilderness ???

The following alert came from Wilderness Watch.

The Sacatar Trail Wilderness is along US Highway 395, west of China Lake and southeast of the Golden Trout Wilderness.

Imagine yourself relaxing after a beautiful day spent hiking in the Sacatar Trail Wilderness in California. You sit happily by your cook stove, enjoying the growing silence as the moon rises over a nearby ridge. You are stirring your noodles when you hear a sound and look up, deeply startled to see that your camp is surrounded by a dozen men, faces painted a deep green, shotguns ready.

The Sacatar Trail Wilderness needs your help!

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is considering issuing a Special Recreation Use Permit to the Tactical Firearms Training Team (TFTT), a commercial enterprise offering courses in firearms and tactical skills, to use portions of California’s Sacatar Trail Wilderness for training exercises. The four-day, around-the clock training course, entitled “Combat Fieldcraft”, teaches extreme survival skills and tactics, including night operations, land navigation, patrolling, rope work, small unit operations, observation exercises and camouflage. Participants bring their own shotguns and 40 rounds of ammunition for use during the course. The BLM reports that the course would have “about” 15 people and would “probably” take place twice a year, with the first course scheduled for May 27, 2003.

In the past, the TFTT’s programs were conducted on a privately owned ranch adjacent to the Wilderness boundary. The ranch was recently sold and the new owner has prohibited the training on his land, so the TFTT is seeking permission to use the Wilderness. The BLM reports that no vehicles or mechanized tools will be used, though the team will dig and cover a latrine. The government would receive 3% of the TFTT’s gross receipts for the course, which costs $600 per participant.

Let your voice be heard! Please send your letters to the BLM asking them not to issue a Special Recreation Use Permit to TFTT for their Combat Fieldcraft course. You might want to include the following key points:

1. The training course is a commercial enterprise. The Wilderness Act is clear that commercial services are only allowed in Wilderness to “the extent necessary for activities which are proper for realizing the recreational or other wilderness purposes of the area.” Combat survival training does not meet either of these requirements, and has no place in Wilderness.

BLM’s wilderness regulations say:

“In BLM wilderness areas you must not:
Engage or participate in competitive use as defined in section 8372.0-5(c) of this chapter, including those activities involving physical endurance of a person or animal, foot races, water craft races, survival exercises, war games, or other similar exercises.” 43 CFR ยง 6302.20(I)

2. The training course will negatively impact the wilderness character of the Sacatar Trail Wilderness. Combat training, complete with the use of shotguns, is incompatible with the tangible and intangible elements of wilderness character. Wilderness was envisioned as a place for humility, set aside for solitude, self-examination, and reflection upon our place in the larger community of life. The Combat Fieldcraft course is the antithesis these values, displacing wildlife, impacting visitor’s experiences, and trampling fragile areas (not to mention the related safety issues). Sadly, these impacts would continue for four days, 24 hours a day.

Send your comments to:

BLM Bakersfield Field Office Attn: Michael Ayers
3801 Pegasus Drive
Bakersfield, CA 93308

To learn more about TFTT’s courses, visit their website at:

3. CalUWild Slide Show in Marin County
April 8

The Foundation for Deep Ecology will host CalUWild coordinator Mike Painter in a presentation of a slide show on the citizens wilderness movement in Utah and the West. Please join us:

Tuesday, April 8 7 p.m.
The Foundation for Deep Ecology
Building 1062, Fort Cronkhite
Sausalito, CA

Refreshments will be served.

Visit the Foundation’s web site for directions:

Call CalUWild (415-752-3911) or the Foundation (415-259-9340) for more information.

4. RS 2477 Fieldwork

Doing fieldwork is an excellent way to get to know (and protect) some of California wilderness areas and meet other folks who are interested in them as well. The California Wilderness Coalition is embarking on a program of mapping many of the most egregious road claims made by counties in designated or proposed wilderness areas around the state. No previous experience is necessary, and they could use your help!

April 11-13, 2003 California Wilderness Coalition and Sierra Club RS 2477 route-checking field trip.

Please join us in an effort to combat potential abuse to our most pristine California Desert wildlands and wilderness areas. The California Wilderness Coalition and Sierra Club are coordinating a field trip to the Mojave Preserve April 11-13 to document thousands of miles of bogus road claims that threaten to permanently scar wilderness units throughout the Preserve. San Bernardino County has claimed nearly 5,000 miles of right-of way claims pursuant to an antiquated statute known as RS 2477, part of an 1866 mining law aimed at facilitating westward expansion in the late 1800’s. Today many counties and off-road vehicle groups in California are falsely claiming that RS 2477 grants them the right to build roads across our federal public lands. Although Congress in 1976 repealed this archaic statute, known as “Revised Statute 2477”, it also grandfathered legitimate rights-of-way which existed prior to the repeal. Now several southern California counties are claiming thousands of miles of old jeep trails, wagon roads, wash bottoms, even cowpaths and footpaths, as “highways” across our BLM lands, National Forests, even National Parks and Wilderness. To make matters worse, the Bush Administration has just enacted a rule that will facilitate the giveaway of federal lands to private or public entities under this defunct statute through disclaimers of interest.

The California Wilderness Coalition has been hard at work on a statewide effort to identify and thwart these bogus RS 2477 right of way claims that threaten parks, wilderness, and other environmentally sensitive wildlands throughout the state. Our statewide inventory is well underway and will prepare us to participate in public comment opportunities and litigation, should the need arise. We cannot complete this task without the help of activists and volunteers. Several successful field trips have already produced invaluable information regarding the nature of these claims. From our collective wilderness encounters we can better inform our fellow citizens, our friends, our legislators, and ourselves about California’s Wild Heritage.

We are planning on camping out at a central location in the preserve. Everyone is asked to bring their own food, a camera, a note book, GPS equipment is valuable but not essential. We will provide maps and instruction.

RSVP to Amanda Dranginis at CWC: 530-758-0380.

For more information, contact Carol Wiley at the Sierra Club,, 760-245-8734 or Vicky Hoover at the Sierra Club, 415-977-5527.

5. RS 2477 Field Organizer Position at CWC

The California Wilderness Coalition (CWC) seeks an experienced Field Organizer for its new campaign to fight the revival of RS 2477, the 1866 mining law used for road building and other development in federally designated Wilderness, National Parks, Monuments, Forests, and other public lands. CWC brings together individuals and organizations in the vigorous defense of California’s remaining wildlands. Responsibilities for the Field Organizer include: coordinating a volunteer network, conducting community outreach, working with elected officials, policymakers, and the media, orchestrating campaign events, and providing basic administrative support. Candidates should be proven, energetic, and committed organizers, preferably with experience in environmental campaigns. Superior public speaking skills, familiarity with conservation issues, and a keen political sense are essential. Candidates must be willing to relocate to San Bernardino County or a nearby desert community.

The job is full-time for one year, with the possibility of an extension dependent on funding. Salary mid-$30s, full benefits. Significant travel required.

For more information on the CWC, go to

Send resume and cover letter to:

Hiring Director California Wilderness Coalition
2655 Portage Bay East, Suite 5
Davis, CA 95616
Fax: 530-758-0382

6. Arctic Wildlife Refuge Wilderness Bill Introduced

On February 13, Representatives Ed Markey (D-MA) and Nancy Johnson (R-CT) introduced H.R.770. The measure, which has 132 original co-sponsors, would designate the 1.5 million-acre coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as Wilderness. California cosponsors are:

* Xavier Becerra
* Lois Capps
* Susan Davis
* Anna Eshoo
* Sam Farr
* Bob Filner
* Jane Harman
* Mike Honda
* Tom Lantos
* Zoe Lofgren
* Bob Matsui
* Juanita Millender-McDonald
* George Miller
* Grace Napolitano
* Lucille Roybal-Allard
* Linda Sanchez
* Loretta Sanchez
* Adam Schiff
* Brad Sherman
* Hilda Solis
* Pete Stark
* Ellen Tauscher
* Diane Watson
* Henry Waxman
* Lynn Woolsey

If your representative is listed above, please call to say thanks. If not listed, call to ask them to cosponsor. See Item 1 for district and phone numbers.

7. Fee Demonstration Program in Congress

The following alert comes from Keep Sespe Wild Committee, following up on the report in last month’s UPDATE.

The House Interior Appropriations subcommittee is seeking testimony, as they do each spring, on their fiscal year 2004 budget. This subcommittee is where Fee Demo originated, and where it’s been extended now six times. We need the subcommittee’s new chairman, Rep. Charles Taylor (R-NC), to hear that it’s NOT a good idea to extend forest fees any further – it’s time to END them!

National Park Service Fee Demo is likely to be made permanent soon; the US Forest Service, the BLM, and the US Fish & Wildlife Service Fee Demo together bring in far, far less income (about 25% of what the Park Service brings in) – and far more controversy. This is why the sample letter below requests the subcommittee to end Fee Demo at all these three agencies.


The subcommittee is seeking input by e-mail – quick and easy for ALL of us to respond to. Please ask your family and friends to e-mail also!

DEADLINE – Your e-mail testimony must be submitted by April 3rd, 5 p.m. Eastern Time, to be printed in the official record. But testimony after that date will still be useful.

YOUR E-MAIL LAYOUT – must be as the subcommittee requests, so PLEASE take care to follow these instructions –

* single spaced (max. 4 pages)
* at least 12 point font and one inch margins
* clearly state in the first paragraph the agency and the program (as in sample letter below)
* clearly indicate your name (and your title and the group you represent, if you do) at the TOP of the first page (as in sample letter below).


in Microsoft Word format, please.

SAMPLE LETTER – (please put in your own words and add more, as you wish; note that exact copies of this sample letter will have less impact than your OWN version.)



Chairman Charles Taylor,

Please do not fund, extend or make permanent the Recreation Fee Demonstration Program for the BLM, the USFS or the USFWS. This program must be canceled for these three agencies. It has met with widespread opposition across the nation for being a double tax, for making citizens pay to visit public lands which belong to us all and for excluding low-income and other users of our public lands.

Too high a percentage of the fees are spent on fee collection and on administration. The three agencies also have the incentive to develop additional infrastructure in order to charge more fees, thus changing the nature of our public lands.

Thank you. Yours, ……..

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


Michael J. Painter Coordinator

Californians for Western Wilderness

P.O. Box 210474
San Francisco, CA 94121-0474
415-752-3911 (Constantly undergoing renovation)