Newsletter Archive

March 31, 2007

Dear Friends of CalUWild —

I spent last week in Washington, DC meeting with members of California’s congressional delegation, asking their support as cosponsors of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, the comprehensive Utah wilderness bill. It was a good week, because in contrast to previous visits, the mood in the halls of Congress was upbeat, and the place was bustling. It’s clear that people are expecting the new Democratic majority to move on many issues, and are making sure their voices are heard.

One significant change is that the House committee in charge of public lands has had its name restored to the Natural Resources Committee. Another area where the Democrats are moving is in the area of oversight of the administration’s environmental policies and practices. Earlier this month, Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), the chief sponsor of the Red Rock bill grilled Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne on the department’s policy of continuing to lease wilderness quality lands while many leases in other areas have never been developed.

In another DC development last week, J. Steven Griles, former Deputy Secretary of the Interior Department who was a mining lobbyist before Pres. Bush appointed him, pled guilty to making false statements before the Senate Indian Affair Committee about his relationship with lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Mr. Griles left the Interior Department in 2005.

Mr. Griles’s situation, however, is quite convoluted. This week he married a woman who recently resigned her job as chief of environmental enforcement at the Justice Department. The two of them bought a vacation home in 2006 with a lobbyist for oil firm ConocoPhillips. She had signed consent decrees with ConocoPhillips in 2005 regarding violations of the Clean Air Act, although the lobbyist reportedly had nothing to do with the consent decrees. Prior to working at the Justice Department, the woman was Mr. Griles’s deputy chief of staff and later solicitor at the Interior Department, providing ethics advice to him. In 2004, the Interior Department’s inspector general issued a report, criticizing Mr. Griles for not severing his ties with his former lobbying firm and clients. As solicitor, she advised then-Secretary Gale Norton on how to respond to the report, but reportedly never told the inspector general that she and Mr. Griles had begun dating in 2003.

Unfortunately, this kind of relationship seems to be an all-too-typical situation in the present-day Executive Branch. It shows why citizens need to be on top of things if they want to be effective in making their voices heard. As always, it’s our goal at CalUWild to give you the tools you need to be effective advocates for the West’s wild places.

Thank you for all your work!

Best wishes,


1. Cosponsor Drive for America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act in Full Swing
2. Protect Arch Canyon
3. Oil & Gas Drilling in Glen Canyon NRA Denied

4. Resolution on Public Land Fees Introduced
5. Forest Service Decides Not to Appeal Emigrant Wilderness Case
Dams to be Allowed to Decay
6. Cesar Chavez Resource Study
7. California Wilderness Coalition Annual Celebration

8. Webcams in Kofa NWR Wilderness Stopped


1. Cosponsor Drive for America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act in Full Swing

Support for America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act is almost always CalUWild’s major lobbying effort at the beginning of each Congress. As we reported last month, Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) will be reintroducing the bill again. They plan on doing so in mid-April. Already in the House there are 66 cosponsors on the bill and 6 in the Senate. In the House, 16 are from California, more than half of the number from our state who were cosponsors in the last Congress. Rep. Jerry McNerney, who replaced Rep. Richard Pombo, is among them.

Here is the list as of yesterday:

Eshoo (D-14)
Farr (D-17)
Honda (D-15)
Lantos (D-12)
Lee (D-9)
Lofgren (D-16)
McNerney (D-11)
Miller (D-07)
Napolitano (D-38)
Sanchez, Loretta (D-47)
Schiff (D-29)
Sherman (D-27)
Solis (D-32)
Stark (D-13)
Tauscher (D-10)
Waxman (D-30)

If your representative is named, please call and thank him or her. If not on the list, then ask him or her to cosponsor right away. At this point, neither of California’s senators is a cosponsor. Sen. Boxer always has been in the past, and Sen. Feinstein was once, but not again. They could both use calls.

You can find contact information for your representatives and senators on the House and Senate websites.

The Salt Lake Tribune published a letter to the editor this week from me about the bill. You can read it online (for a while, at least).

2. Protect Arch Canyon

The following alert comes from the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

Below the flanks of the Abajo Mountains on southeastern Utah’s Cedar Mesa lies Arch Canyon, a virtual treasure trove of Native American archaeological sites, most of which have never been surveyed by the BLM. Last December, a broad coalition of conservationists, Navajo Tribal leaders, and local business owners filed a formal Petition to Preserve Arch Canyon’s Natural and Cultural Resources. Three months later, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is taking steps in the opposite direction. Instead of acting on the petition, which is supported by independent scientific research, the agency is preparing an Environmental Assessment in order to issue multi-year permits for destructive off-road vehicle (ORV) events in the canyon.

In response, the Navajo Utah Commission has submitted a formal letter to the BLM explaining the cultural significance of Arch Canyon and urging the agency to prohibit motorized vehicle use there. The Hopi Tribe has also asked the BLM to institute an immediate interim closure of the canyon due to the cultural resource concerns raised in the Arch Canyon Petition.

A professional archaeologist who surveyed Arch Canyon in connection with the petition estimates that there are over 100 undocumented sites in the area and concludes that unmanaged ORV access threatens the centuries-old structures and other artifacts that make this place important for scientific study. The National Trust for Historic Preservation has asked the BLM to prohibit ORV use in Arch Canyon until a comprehensive archaeological survey has been completed and a management plan that provides for protection of cultural artifacts can be implemented.

In addition to its cultural significance, Arch Canyon shelters a year-round stream that supports three species of native fish, including one species the State of Utah considers sensitive (and which could soon be petitioned for listing under the Endangered Species Act). ORVs cross this stream 60 times in the approximately 8-mile trip from the mouth of the canyon to the U.S. Forest Service boundary where ORV use is prohibited. That’s 120 stream crossings for each round trip. Not surprisingly, such intense ORV use damages and pollutes the stream, harming important fish habitat.

Arch Canyon is proposed for wilderness in America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act. It deserves protection, not exploitation as an ORV obstacle course.

How You Can Help:

Tell the BLM that you want Arch Canyon and its outstanding, irreplaceable resources preserved, and that you do not want ORVs to be allowed in the canyon, putting the cultural and natural resources in harms way. Please try to comment before April 6, 2007.

• To send your own personal letter by postal or electronic mail (this type of comment letter is best), write to:

Sandra Meyers, Manager
Brian Quigley
BLM–Monticello Field Office
435 North Main Street
P.O. Box 7
Monticello, UT 84535


If you send your own letter, please let us know by dropping us a quick note at For help composing your letter, see our suggested talking points.

Thank you for taking action to protect Arch Canyon!

3. Oil & Gas Drilling in Glen Canyon NRA Denied
Thank You Letters Needed

In our June 2005 Update, we wrote about plans to explore for oil & gas in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Good news came this month when the Park Service and BLM turned down the application to drill in the NRA.

The Deseret News reported: “The agencies said they were unable to complete the environmental assessment because critical information about the project was not provided, so the request was denied. Viking’s lease also expired Feb. 28.”

Officials always hear from us when we want something, but only rarely do they hear afterward, so it’s always important to write a letter when they do something we approve of. Please write a letter of thanks to:

Ms. Kitty Roberts
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area-
P.O. Box 1507
Page, AZ 86040-1507

You can fax it to: 928-608-6259

Or send an email.

Or call: 928-608-6200

4. Resolution on Public Land Fees Introduced

It has been an ongoing struggle to keep fees away from public land use. The federal government over the years has continued to cut the budgets of the land management agencies, so they have instituted charges for hiking and other non-consumptive uses in sites all over the West. These were finally passed into law in 2004 with the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA).

A resolution opposing has been introduced in the California State Assembly and deserves your support.

The following alert (slightly edited) comes from Keep Sespe Wild, the organization in California leading the fight against recreational fees.

AJR 21 (which stands for Assembly Joint Resolution), authored by Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-Pasadena), will come before the Assembly’s Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee quite soon – maybe by the end of March. Then it will go to the Assembly floor for a vote.

We need you and many others to make phone calls to your Assemblyman or Assemblywoman right away, to demonstrate support for AJR 21 and to urge the Committee and the Assembly as a whole to support it! Below you will find details on contacting members of the Assembly. The text of AJR 21 is available online.

Similar resolutions have been passed by legislatures in Idaho, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, New Hampshire and by the Alaska House of Representatives. Together, these resolutions show our legislators in Washington DC how unpopular the FLREA is – and help move them to repeal it soon. (The House Natural Resources Committee in DC has a list of topics in its website that they will be addressing, and it includes the FLREA.)

California’s Assembly and Senate have in fact already passed (unanimously) a resolution against the FLREA’s predecessor, the Recreation Fee Demo Program, back in 1998. The current resolution, AJR 21, will, when passed, reiterate the California legislature’s opposition to access fees on public lands managed by the US Forest Service, the BLM, the US Fish & Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Reclamation. (Please note, AJR 21 does not include a recommendation to repeal fees in National Parks.)


Please call your local Assemblymember right away, and ask them to cosponsor AJR 21. Briefly explain why. If you don’t know your Assemblymember here is a map, where you can click on your home area and be directed to your Assemblymember’s website and contact information.

Please also call or email (by clicking on their names below) as many as you can, through mid April, of the Assemblymembers who sit on the Committee for Water, Parks and Wildlife. They will be the first to decide on AJR 21. The Committee members are:

Lois Wolk, Chair (D), (916) 319-2008
Bill Maze, Vice Chair (R), (916) 319-2034
Joel Anderson (R), (916) 319-2077
Tom Berryhill (R), (916) 319-2025
Anna M. Caballero (D), (916) 319-2028
Charles M. Calderon (D), (916) 319-2058
Jared Huffman (D), (916) 319-2006
Doug La Malfa (R), (916) 319-2002
Ted W. Lieu (D), (916) 319-2053
Gene Mullin (D), (916) 319-2019
Pedro Nava (D), (916) 319-2035
Nicole Parra (D), (916) 319-2030
Mary Salas (D), (916) 319-2079

To email your Assemblymember, use the following format:


You can keep it brief. Remember, unlike Congress in DC, which is responsible for the unpopular FLREA, these Assemblymembers are just being asked to support a resolution against it.

“My name is (…). I’m calling from (City and/or County). Please support AJR 21 when it comes before the Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee.”


“My name is (…). I’m calling from (City). Please coauthor AJR 21, the resolution opposing access fees on federal public lands in California. I visit the (Los Padres/Angeles/etc.) National Forest to (hike, hunt, ride my horse, mountain bike, etc.), and I oppose fees for access to undeveloped areas. Thank you.”

5. Forest Service Decides Not to Appeal Emigrant Wilderness Case
Dams to be Allowed to Decay

A longstanding controversy in the Sierra has been plans by the Forest Service to maintain 18 dams in the Emigrant Wilderness of Stanislaus National Forest. The dams were constructed between 1920 and 1951 to help maintain streams flows for non-native trout. The Wilderness Act of 1964 prohibits structures in designated wilderness areas, and thus the Forest Service’s plans did not comply with the law.

CalUWild wrote about the dams in February and October of 2003. The Forest Service decided to maintain 11 of the dams and allow the others to degrade. Wilderness Watch and High Sierra Hikers Association sued the Forest Service, and as we reported last year (in an item that contained excellent quotes about wilderness philosophy), a federal judge ruled that the dams should not be maintained.

Earlier this month, the Forest Service announced that it would not appeal the ruling, without stating any reason. Residents of Tuolumne County responded that they would begin a campaign to have Rep. George Radanovich (R-19) of Mariposa introduce legislation protecting the dams. Mr. Radanovich reportedly has asked Pres. Bush to declare the dams national monuments. So it may not be over yet. We’ll keep you posted.

6. Cesar Chavez Resource Study

It is sometimes tempting to think of wilderness as a topic in political isolation. But it is often connected to other issues, sometimes more directly than others. One very effective way of pushing for needed action is the building of coalitions of people and organizations who are willing and able to support a variety of proposals. One opportunity to broaden the environmental coalition recently came our way.

Rep. Hilda Solis (D-32) is the author of the California Wild Heritage Act in the House of Representatives and is a longtime friend of wilderness in California and the West. She is also strong supporter of linking environmental and social justice issues. In addition, the National Hispanic Environmental Council is actively working on behalf of wilderness protection in California. Rep. Solis has introduced the “Cesar Estrada Chavez Study Act” and has asked for support for the bill.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO) previously introduced the legislation in the Senate, where it passed by unanimous consent. A hearing was held before the House Parks Subcommittee this week, and a hearing before the full Natural Resources Committee is anticipated.

The bill, H.R. 359, would:

• Authorize a special resource study of sites in Arizona, California and other states significant to the life of Cesar E. Chavez and the U.S. farm labor movement;

• Seek a determination whether any of the sites meet criteria for listing on the National Register of Historic Places or designation as a national historic landmark;

• Encourage consultation with the Cesar E. Chavez Foundation, the United Farm Workers, and state and local historical associations;

• Require a report to Congress on the findings of the study and any recommendations for action.

Please contact your representatives and let them know your thoughts on the subject.

For more information about this legislation or to provide support, please contact Megan Uzzell in Rep. Solis’s Washington, D.C. office at 202-225-5464 or by email.

7. California Wilderness Coalition Annual Celebration

Please join our friends at CWC!

Friday, April 13, 2007
Celebrating North Coast Wilderness

California Wilderness Coalition’s Annual Celebration

Join us in celebrating the passage of the Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act and honoring Congressman Mike Thompson with our Phillip Burton Wilderness Award.

6-8 p.m.
California Historical Society
678 Mission St.
San Francisco, CA 94105

Montgomery BART Station

8. Webcams in Kofa NWR Wilderness Stopped

Last month we reported on a proposal by the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge to install video cameras near guzzlers (artificial water supplies) for broadcast over the Internet.

The reaction from you and other wilderness supporters was swift, and within a few days the Refuge announced it would not proceed.

Therefore, please send a letter or make a phone call to the Refuge Manager, thanking him for deciding not to install cameras in designated wilderness.


Mr. J. Paul Cornes, Manager
Kofa National Wildlife Refuge
356 W. 1st Street
Yuma, Arizona 85364

Phone: 928-783-7861
Fax: 928-783-8611