Newsletter Archive

March 31, 2004

Dear friends of CalUWild —

There are several items of interest this month. In particular, two new wilderness bills have been introduced in Congress for the West, and Sen. Feinstein is supporting one of the California wilderness bills!

The Bush administration continues its attack on public lands, leasing areas which have been inventoried and proposed for wilderness designation. In addition, they advised national park superintendents to keep secret the fact that budget cutbacks might cause operating hours at some sites to be reduced. This story was widely reported and the San Francisco Chronicle printed a letter to the editor from me, which you can read on-line (second letter) at:

Secrecy seems to be the hallmark of this administration. The Sierra Club’s lawsuit against vice president Dick Cheney, over his refusal to divulge the names of the people he consulted with in preparing the Energy Plan, will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court soon. Justice Scalia has refused to recuse himself from the case, despite doubts expressed by some over his duck hunting trip with the vice president in December. (However, the Energy Bill, with its bad public lands language seems to be going nowhere right now.)

In other Supreme Court news, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance was before the Court on Monday, arguing that BLM has a duty to protect Wilderness Study Areas from damage, in this case caused by off-road vehicles. Eight former heads of the White House Council on Environmental Quality submitted a brief supporting SUWA’s position. We’ll let you know when the ruling comes down.

In another Utah court case, Federal District Court Judge Teena Campbell reaffirmed her ruling setting out strict standards for what constitutes a highway under R.S. 2477: the road must actually be constructed; it must actually go somewhere, In addition, she ruled that the counties in the suit did not have valid RS 2477 claims or that they had exceeded the scope of the right-of-way by making the road wider. Finally, she ruled that illegal bulldozing in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was an act of trespass. The case is on appeal to the 10th Circuit in Denver.

Earth Day is coming up toward the end of April. I will be on the road and unable to set up an information table. However, if you would be interested in distributing CalUWild brochures at events in your area, please let meknow. Send an e-mail to Info at Caluwild, and let’s discuss!

Finally, this September marks the 40th Anniversary of the passage of the Wilderness Act. CalUWild, along with some of the other Bay Area wilderness organizations, is looking for an appropriate way to celebrate. One thought is to have a 3-week series of speakers and slides on several wilderness topics. If you have suggestions for speakers, venues, or avenues for publicity please contact me at Info at Caluwild. Venues need to be easily accessible by public transportation, must accommodate a couple hundred people, and be inexpensive to rent (if not free). Thanks in advance for your ideas!

Best Wishes,



1. BLM Leases Areas Adjacent to Dinosaur National Monument (ACTION ITEM)

2. Sen. Dianne Feinstein Endorses The North Coast Wild Heritage Act (ACTION ITEM)
3. Snowmobiles Threaten Proposed Wilderness In Sierra Nevada (ACTION ITEM)

4. Mt. Hood Wilderness Legislation to be Introduced

5. Ojito Wilderness Legislation Introduced

6. Fee Demo Bill Passes First Test
7. Job Opportunities

A. National Parks Conservation Association
B. Friends of the Inyo


IN Utah and Colorado

1. BLM Leases Areas Adjacent to Dinosaur National Monument (ACTION ITEM)

In February, the Bureau of Land Management held lease sales for 126,000 acres of land in Utah and Colorado. Some the leased areas had been found by the BLM to have wilderness character. Others are adjacent to Dinosaur National Monument in the northeast corner of Utah. If drilling were to occur, rigs would be visible from the Visitors Center and from some of the roads in and leading to the Monument.

Last week, in response to administrative protests by environmental organizations, the BLM put the leases into “pending” status until the protests are resolved.

In the meantime, you should write to the BLM Utah and Colorado offices protesting the lease sales. Please let the BLM know that wilderness-quality lands should not be opened to exploration, nor should areas immediately adjacent to national parks and monuments. It is especially helpful if you have been to Dinosaur NM and can write about your experience there and how oil and gas exploration would have impacted your visit.

Ms. Sally Wisely
State Director BLM Utah State Office
P.O. Box 45155
Salt Lake City, UT 84145

Mr. Ron Wenker
State Director BLM Colorado State Office
2850 Youngfield Street
Lakewood, CO 80215

FROM California

2. Sen. Dianne Feinstein Endorses The North Coast Wild Heritage Act (ACTION ITEM)

Good news came this month as Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) agreed to support Sen. Barbara Boxer’s North Coast Wild Heritage Act, S.738. That bill is the Senate version of H.R.1501, the District 1 bill introduced by Rep. Mike Thompson (D), covering his district.

We have been waiting for this for quite a while now, so it is important that people write and thank her for supporting the bill and furthermore, urging her to support Sen. Boxer’s bill covering all of California, S.1555.

Write Sen. Feinstein at:

Hon. Dianne Feinstein
United States Senate
1 Post Street, Suite 2450
San Francisco, CA 94104


11111 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 915
Los Angeles, CA 90025

3. Snowmobiles Threaten Proposed Wilderness In Sierra Nevada (ACTION ITEM)

The following alert comes from the Snowlands Network

Letters Needed


The fabulous and wild skiing terrain around Sonora Pass, Leavitt Bowl, the Emigrant Wilderness and the proposed Hoover Wilderness Additions is facing a huge threat by large numbers of snowmobilers from all over California and the west.

Toiyabe National Forest recommended the Leavitt Bowl-Tower Peak-Piute Meadows area, which lies just east of Sonora Pass and abuts the Emigrant Wilderness, for wilderness designation back in 1986. A large portion of the Forest Service-proposed Hoover Wilderness Additions is contained in Senator Boxer’s California Wild Heritage Wilderness Act, S. 1555.

The Forest Service is supposed to manage the area to retain its wilderness values, which include not allowing snowmobiles and other motorized vehicles in the proposed wilderness. Unfortunately, the Forest Service has not been doing its job! As a result, illegal snowmobile use has been escalating over the past 18 years; the use has dramatically increased in the past five years. The illegal use has been occurring not only in the proposed Hoover Wilderness Additions, but also in the adjacent Emigrant Wilderness and Yosemite National Park.

The Forest Service, due to its inaction over many years, has unwittingly created a huge constituency-larger than any of us imagined- against the wilderness additions. The Blue Ribbon Coalition, a national off-roaders’ group, says, “Anyone who has ever snowmobiled in this area knows that this is the most spectacular snowmobiling in California …This area is incomparable and irreplaceable and will be a huge loss to the snowmobile community if the closure is enacted.”

Not only are the snowmobiles illegal, but witnesses have documented them spilling odorous, petrol-contaminated snow in the Leavitt Creek watershed, smashing exposed vegetation in springtime, and high-marking recklessly in avalanche-prone bowls.

Good and Bad News

Due to increasing complaints by citizens, concerns about safety expressed by the U.S. Marine Corps (which trains troops in the winter in the Leavitt Bowl portion of the proposed wilderness addition) and aerial patrols by the neighboring Inyo National Forest which have documented many violations in recent years, the Forest Service said they would begin enforcing snowmobile violations, but not until 2005.

The really bad news is that the Blue Ribbon Coalition is blitzing the Forest Service with letters and there are signs that it may back down and not enforce the regulations.

What You Can Do

The Blue Ribbon Coalition is fighting the Forest Service’s proposal to enforce the law. Your letters are urgently needed to show the Forest Service that there is support for enforcement of the regulations! Please send a letter today to the Forest Service and tell them to protect wilderness values, backcountry skiing and snowshoeing opportunities, and enforce the law.

Tell the Forest Service you strongly support its decision to enforce the existing snowmobile closure in the Leavitt Bowl/Sonora Pass area. Illegal users should be cited.

Ask the Forest Service to sign the area immediately and start enforcing the closure now, not beginning next year. Illegal snowmobile trespass in existing and proposed wilderness has got to stop!

Tell the Forest Service you support Wilderness designation for the proposed Hoover Wilderness Additions. Remind them they need to manage the area as Wilderness until Congress acts or the Forest Plan is revised accordingly.

Send your letters and e-mails to:

Kathy Lucich, District Ranger
Bridgeport Ranger District
Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest
HCR 1, Box 100
Bridgeport, CA 93517


Please CC your letter to:
Bob Vaught, Forest Supervisor
Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest
1200 Franklin Way
Sparks, NV 89431



4. Mt. Hood Wilderness Bill to be Introduced

Last week, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden (D) announced he would be introducing the Lewis and Clark Mount Hood Wilderness Act of 2004. The bill would designate 160,000 acres as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System, adding to wilderness areas around Mt. Hood and the Columbia River Gorge, as well as designating parts of four rivers Wild and Scenic.

Oregon’s other senator, Gordon Smith (R) has not endorsed the plan, but will consider supporting it.

For more information, visit the Oregon Natural Resources Council at:


5. Ojito Wilderness Bills Introduced

New Mexico Sens. Pete Domenici (R) and Jeff Bingaman (D) introduced S.1649, the Ojito Wilderness Act, which would designate an area about 35 miles northwest of Albuquerque as wilderness. A companion bill, H.R.3176, was introduced in the House by Reps. Heather Wilson (R) and Tom Udall (D).

The lands in the bill contain many archaeological, cultural, and paleontological sites, in addition to a dramatic landscape.

The bills are supported by the Albuquerque City Council, local businesses, and the Zia Pueblo, which is adjacent to proposal. In fact, part of the land splits the reservation into two parts, and the tribe would be allowed to purchase the land to unite the halves, although land would remain accessible to the public.

For more information, visit the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance.


6. Fee Demo Bill Passes First Test

The U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources in February passed S.1107, a bill allowing only the National Park Service to collect fees under the Fee Demonstration Program. The committee resisted efforts to add amendments granting authority to the National Forest Service, the BLM, or other agencies to be able to charge fees for recreational use of public lands.

If the bill passes the full Senate and a similar bill passes the House, the authority to collect fees for hiking and similar activities will expire December 31, 2005 on lands not managed by the Park Service.

We’ll keep you posted as the bill progresses.

7. Job Opportunities

A. National Parks Conservation Association
DEADLINE: April 13, 2004

The Northwest Regional Office of the National Parks Conservation Association is accepting applications for 2 experienced grassroots organizers to work with our volunteers inside Mount Rainier National Park and Olympic National Park this summer.

These short-term contract positions require:

* Full term completion of contract (May-August 2004).
* Working 5 days/week (including weekends) from Memorial Day – Labor Day.
* Occasional overnight camping.
* Your own reliable transportation.


* Spend your summer inside two of the Northwest’s gorgeous national parks.
* Monthly stipend provided.
* Educating thousands of visitors about the decline of our national parks.
* Working with our corps of enthusiastically dedicated volunteers and activists.

Applicants should have:

* At least 2 years of grassroots and political organizing, or public education experience.
* Familiarity with national parks and park issues.
* Substantial experience recruiting, training and leading diverse groups of volunteers.
* Highly organized, enthusiastic, and dependable work ethic.
* Extensive public speaking and communication skills.

Send resume, cover letter and references by April 13, 2004 to:
fax: (206) 903-1448
Learn more about NPCA.

B. Friends of the Inyo

Friends of the Inyo Conservation Associate – Job Description
Application Deadline – April 19, 2004

For the full job description, please send an e-mail to

The Conservation Associate will work with the Executive Director and Board of Directors to carry out our mission of preserving the ecological, recreational and cultural values of public lands in the Eastern Sierra (Inyo-Mono counties).

Friends of the Inyo’s work consists of three program areas:

Outreach and Education – Preservation of wildlands and wildlife cannot be achieved solely through rear-guard, defensive actions. By reaching out and helping involve citizens, both locally and abroad, in defending and determining the future of their public land resources, FOI works to empower, educate, and weave conservation into the very fabric of Eastern Sierra communities.

Wildland Defense – FOI’s wildland defense efforts are crafted to inform, educate and engage the public. Our goals are to create public lands advocates and to influence public opinion with regard to public lands conservation issues while achieving specific outcomes, such as closing a damaging road in a riparian desert canyon or ensuring agency planning processes respect the needs of wildlife and ecosystem function.

Wilderness Advocacy – Home to over 1.5 million acres of potential Wilderness, the public wildlands of the Eastern Sierra contain nearly a quarter of the state’s potential Wilderness acreage. Through education, advocacy and grassroots organizing, we work to ensure more of the magnificent Eastern Sierra is preserved for future generations of people, plants and animals as Wilderness.

Our work is supported and maintained by a vibrant and growing dues-paying membership, private donations, and foundation grants.

Given the small size and grassroots nature of Friends of the Inyo, the Conservation Associate will be required to work on all aspects of our organization – from conducting public field trips to working with federal land managers to maintaining our membership database and member communications.

Please call (760) 647-0079 or visit for more information about FOI and our work to preserve the public lands and wildlife of the Eastern Sierra.


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