Newsletter Archive

March 27, 2009

Dear CalUWild friends —

I spent the end of February in Washington, DC with the Utah Wilderness Coalition. While there, close to 50 friends of Utah wilderness visited congressional offices on Capitol Hill to inform them about the impending reintroduction of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act and other issues of concern. It was a successful trip, and we are already seeing the results in the numbers of cosponsors for the bill. (See Item 1.)

Last month there was very little news to share with our members, so combined with the travel schedule, we did not send out an Update for February. This month, though, we’re back with important news from Washington, DC: After shuttling back and forth between the Senate and the House, the Omnibus Public Lands Bill passed its final hurdle on Wednesday when the House voted 285 – 140 in favor of the bill. Pres. Obama is expected to sign it into law on Monday.

The package contains nearly 160 separate pieces of legislation, some of which have been floating around Congress for years. Bills that CalUWild has taken a special interest in over the years include:

Utah — The Washington County bill designated almost 200,000 acres of BLM wilderness in southwest Utah, where the Colorado Plateau meets the Mojave Desert and the Great Basin. The bill was much improved over the version in the last Congress, with the biggest public land sale/giveaway provisions removed.

California — Three wilderness bills are included: The Eastern Sierra bill sponsored by Rep. Buck McKeon (R-25), the Riverside County bill sponsored by Rep. Mary Bono Mack R-45), and the Sequoia-Kings Canyon bill sponsored by Reps. Devin Nunes (R-21) — who voted against the Omnibus package anyway — and Jim Costa (D-20). Also included are Wild & Scenic River designations and legislative implementation of an agreement to restore about 60 miles of the San Joaquin River to support salmon populations.

Oregon — Areas around Mt. Hood and the Columbia Gorge were designated wilderness, as well as desert areas in eastern Oregon and Soda Mountain and the Copper Salmon wildernesses in the southern part of the state.

Colorado — Much of Rocky Mountain National Park was designated as wilderness.

National Landscape Conservation System — The bill gives permanent legislative recognition to the system that former Interior Secretary Babbitt created administratively to call attention to some of the more sensitive, unique, or otherwise outstanding lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Included are the national monuments under BLM’s jurisdiction (such as Grand Staircase-Escalante and Carrizo Plain), Wild & Scenic Rivers, National Conservation Areas, and other lands.

Omnibus bills are not the best way to get legislation passed, because everything, good and bad, is lumped together. And this bill was not without controversy. A bill allowing the exchange of wilderness lands in the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska for construction of a road to an isolated village was included. A provision was added, though, allowing the Secretary of the Interior to veto the project, pressure might be needed here in the future. Also, the Owyhee Initiative in Idaho was included, which was put together through a “collaborative” process of ranchers and environmental organizations (although grazing opponents were excluded from the working group). Some of the more egregious provisions were removed, but not everyone is satisfied with the outcome. We will need to remain vigilant as that management process unfolds.

Finally, it was no surprise that some Republicans were concerned that too much land was being locked away from energy production, particularly in Wyoming, where a large portion of the Bridger-Teton National Forest was closed to oil exploration.

You can see the breakdown of the House vote online here.

As always, thanks for all of your efforts to protect the wild places of the West,

1. Red Rock Bill Introduction
2. Interior Secretary Salazar Cancels Some Leases

3. Sen. Feinstein Proposes New
National Monument in the Desert
4. Meet Interior Secretary Salazar in San Francisco:
Hearings on Offshore Energy Development
April 16
5. California Wilderness Coalition Event
April 24 in San Francisco

6. Western Wilderness Conference 2010
UC Berkeley
April 8 – 11, 2010


1. Red Rock Bill Introduction

Longtime Utah wilderness champion Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) is planning to reintroduce the Red Rock Wilderness Act in the House of Representatives next Tuesday. With the new administration and Congress, we’re hoping for a hearing sometime soon in the House Natural Resources Committee.

So far there are 75 cosponsors, and we’re making one last push before Tuesday.

Here are the California cosponsors so far. If your representative is listed, please thank him or her. If not, contact the office and urge them to sign on as a cosponsor.

Berman (D-28)
Capps (D-23)
Eshoo (D-14)
Farr (D-17)
Filner (D-51)
Honda (D-15)
Lee (D-9)
Lofgren (D-16)
McNerney (D-11)
Miller, George (D-7)
Thompson (D-1)

Napolitano (D-38)

Schiff (D-29)
Sherman (D-27)
Stark (D-13)
Susan Davis (D-53)
Waxman (D-30)

Complete contact information for all offices can be found on your representative’s page at

2. Interior Secretary Salazar Cancels Some Leases

Last month, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that the administration was canceling 77 leases that had been offered in Utah in December as the Bush administration was leaving office. The leases were near Arches and Canyonlands national parks, Dinosaur National Monument, and Nine Mile Canyon. Many conservation groups and citizens had protested the leases, saying that they were inappropriate.

The Department of the Interior will review the 77 parcels and may offer them at a later time if it determines that doing so would not compromise the sensitive areas nearby.

The December lease sale itself was notable for the actions of Tim DeChristopher, who protested by bidding up prices on parcels. No decision has been made yet regarding charges against him.

3. Sen. Feinstein Proposes New
National Monument in the Desert

As pressure grows for the United States to begin looking more seriously at energy sources other than fossil fuels, an issue of concern is the placement of solar and wind installations and transmission lines. The deserts of Southern California and other areas are prime locations, and many proposals for development have already been put forward. But however harsh and stark they might look, desert ecosystems are remarkably fragile and do not recover quickly from disturbances. They are also home to numerous unique plant and animal species. Therefore, any development must be carefully planned.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has been a longtime champion of protecting the California deserts. This month she announced plans to introduce legislation designating a new national monument in the Mojave Desert, between Joshua Tree National Park and the Mojave National Preserve. Over 600,000 acres of land are covered by the proposal and were once owned by Catellus, the real estate subsidiary of the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific railways. The lands were donated to or purchased by the federal government for conservation purposes.

However, the state of California is looking at development on large sections of the land and Sen. Feinstein says that BLM also considers those lands open for energy development. She has written to Interior Secretary Ken Salzar saying that because those lands were donated and purchased for conservation purposes, they should not now be open to alternative energy development, and she has asked that the BLM suspend consideration of any leases on these lands.

We’ll keep you posted as the situation develops.

4. Meet Interior Secretary Salazar in San Francisco:
Hearings on Offshore Energy Development
April 16

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is holding four public hearings around the country in April to discuss and take comments on the issue of offshore energy development. While not strictly a wilderness issue, it is a topic of interest to many in California, so we thought we’d forward the invitation:

United States Department of the Interior
Office of the Secretary
Washington, D.C. 20240

You are invited to regional public meetings hosted by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar on offshore energy development. These meetings are part of a four-part strategy Secretary Salazar announced in February for developing a new, comprehensive energy development plan for the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf.

Meetings will be April 6 in Atlantic City, April 8 in New Orleans, April 14 in Anchorage and April 16 in San Francisco:

Thursday, April 16 in San Francisco, CA
Mission Bay Conference Center at UCSF
Robertson Auditorium
1675 Owens Street
San Francisco, CA

At each location, doors will open at 8:00 a.m. and meetings will begin at 9:00 a.m. Meetings will conclude by 8:00 p.m., with breaks tentatively scheduled from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Please refer to for final schedule information for each meeting.

If you plan to attend one or more meetings, please RSVP to Please note that an RSVP does not guarantee admission, and that admission to all meetings will be on a first come, first served basis.

Regional Governors and elected federal officials, private citizens, interested organizations, entities, energy producers, advocacy groups, and local governments are invited to attend and offer brief comments or to ask questions. After opening remarks by the Secretary, there will be presentation of a report being prepared by the Department concerning offshore energy resources. The rest of the day’s meeting will be devoted to hearing from public and private interests.

If you are unable attend in person, or are unable to speak at the meetings, you are welcome to submit written statements, comments or documents, either at the meeting or during the extended public comment period, which ends September 21, 2009. For more information on how to submit a comment, please visit:

These meetings are all free and open to the public, and we want to encourage broad participation in this important discussion about how to proceed with development of a comprehensive offshore energy plan. Please feel free to pass along this invitation to your colleagues and other interested parties with whom you work.

Ray Rivera
Director of External and Intergovernmental Affairs
Office of the Secretary
U.S. Department of the Interior

Owens Street at Mission Bay is a little south of the baseball stadium and of the Caltrain Station at 4th and King, within walking distance of Caltrain.

5. California Wilderness Coalition Event
April 24 in San Francisco

Our friends at the California Wilderness Coalition are holding their annual Wild Event April 24th in the Presidio in San Francisco. Here’s their invitation — attend if you can!

The California Wilderness Coalition invites you to come and enjoy a very special evening in support of our work to protect California’s remaining wild lands.

Join us in San Francisco’s historic and elegant Presidio for a wonderful evening of fine wine and food. We are delighted and proud to honor pioneering mountaineer Rick Ridgeway with this year’s Philip Burton Award. Rick is Patagonia’s Vice President of Environmental Initiatives and the force behind Freedom to Roam, an effort to create, restore and protect wildway corridors for America’s wildlife. Silent and live auctions will offer guests the opportunity to bid on a wide variety of items and services donated by our generous sponsors, including art, wine, back-country trip planning services, outdoor gear, and much, much more. And take advantage of this very unique opportunity to hear from and meet Rick.

Please consider taking a leadership role in protecting California wilderness by joining CWC as a sponsor for this year’s event. We have a broad range of sponsorship opportunities. Please contact our Development Director, Bill Tieman, for further information about our sponsorship levels and benefits at or (510) 451-1450.

VIP Reception at 5 p.m.
Main Event, 6 – 9 p.m.

The Officers’ Club
50 Moraga Avenue
The Presidio, San Francisco
Silent and Live Auctions, Fine Wine, Beer and Buffet

Map of venue

Capacity is limited. Click here to purchase tickets online, or contact us at (510) 451-1450 or

6. Western Wilderness Conference 2010
UC Berkeley
April 8 – 11, 2010

CalUWild is working with the Sierra Club, California Wilderness Coalition, The Wilderness Society, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Wilderness Watch, and other organizations to plan a West-wide wilderness conference next year, at UC Berkeley. Here’s our first announcement:

New Aims, New Allies

The Western Wilderness Conference 2010 will take place April 8 – 11, 2010, on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley, California.

Save the date now! For anyone who cares about the wild places of the West, this is one event not to miss!

Although the event will take place in California’s San Francisco Bay Area, wilderness organizations and advocates from all twelve western states, including Alaska, are involved, and wild lands advocates from all those states are enthusiastically invited to participate in this grand event.

Who’s invited? Wilderness advocates, both professionals and volunteers, new advocates; Native American leaders, land agency personnel, outings leaders, individuals, college students and faculty, representatives of organizations working on quiet recreation and on varied land-preservation efforts, decision makers at different levels of government. .

Where will they come from? All over the West! From California, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Wyoming. Maybe Western Canada and Mexico.

Why attend? Western Wilderness Conference 2010 will:

** inspire interested new advocates, including students, to preserve our nation’s remaining wild places;
** re-inspire longtime dedicated wilderness advocates to vigorous new advocacy with renewed motivation;
** offer a forum to discuss and debate timely wilderness-related topics, particularly as they relate to global warming changes;
** explore how to incorporate Native American traditional land-ethic and cultural values into wildlands advocacy;
** promote getting children outside into Nature’s wild places!
** provide training sessions to help activists become more effective advocates for wild places; preservation.
** and have fun!

Speakers, plenary sessions, workshops, music, meals, outings! They’re all part of the celebration of the West’s wild places.

Berkeley, California. April 8 – 11, 2010.

Check out the conference website: