Newsletter Archive

Escalante scorpion pictographPictograph, Escalante River Canyon, Utah                                                                               (Mike Painter)

October 16, 2012

Dear friends of CalUWild –

There are a few action items this month and more news and press items as well, so I’ll keep the introduction brief.

The election is just three weeks away, and there has been little discussion of the environment, let alone wilderness and public lands, in the presidential race. But there is more to things than the White House. Congress and local officers and issues all play a part in protecting our public lands. Please vote on
November 6. The deadline for voter registration in California is October 22, and you can register online here.

Thanks for your interest and support!

Best wishes,

1.   Utah’s Attempts at Federal Land Grab Continue
          (ACTION ITEM)
2.   Tim DeChristopher Loses Appeal
          But Will Be Released from Prison
3.   Great Old Broads Encounter Vandalism
          And Threats in San Juan County

4.   Sequoia-King Canyon National Park
          Initiates Wilderness Management Plan Draft-
          Public Meetings in October
          (ACTION ITEM)
5.   California State Park News:
          a. East Bay State Park Renamed To Honor Sylvia McLaughlin
          b. Legislative Update

6.   Pres. Obama Uses the Antiquities Act Again
          Chimney Rock in Colorado and
          César Chávez in California
          Designated as National Monuments
          (ACTION ITEM)

7.   U.S. Supreme Court Turns Down Roadless Rule Appeal
8.   Volunteer for Your Public Lands
          (ACTION ITEM)
9.   Great Old Broads Annual Online Auction
          (AUCTION ITEM)

10.   Links to Articles of Interest


1.   Utah’s Attempts at Federal Land Grab Continue
          (ACTION ITEM)

We’ve written before about Utah’s attempts to wrest control of the federal lands within its borders. The saga continues.

Congress is currently on recess and will not return until after the election. When it does, one item on the Senate’s agenda is likely to be action on Sen. Jon Tester’s (D-MT) Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 (S. 3525). The bill itself is somewhat controversial, but Utah’s Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) has introduced proposed amendments that go even further than the state legislation passed and signed by the governor in March of this year.

Sen. Hatch would require that all federal lands in Utah be turned over to the state, including the national parks! In addition, his amendments would make an exception to the Antiquities Act of 1906 for Utah, requiring that the designation or extension of national monuments in the state be done only by act of Congress, i.e., Presidents cannot designate a monument in Utah using their authority under the Antiquities Act. (Currently, only Wyoming is subject to that restriction.) An additional amendment would remove the gray wolf from the protection of the Endangered Species Act within Utah.

None of these amendments is in the interest of Americans and their public lands. Please contact your senators and ask them to convey to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) that these amendments are unacceptable and to not allow them to go forward.

Contact information for Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) may be found here and for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) here.

For other states, please visit your senators’ pages at the U.S. Senate website.

Scott Groene, Executive Director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, wrote an op-ed piece that appeared recently in the Salt Lake Tribune. It lays out clearly the issues surrounding the Utah land grab and its likely consequences.

2.   Tim DeChristopher Loses Appeal
          But Will Be Released from Prison

Last month, Tim DeChristopher lost his appeal before the 10th Circuit Court in Denver, Colorado. The University of Utah economics student was convicted in 2011 of interfering with a BLM lease sale that was held in December 2008 in the closing days of the Bush Administration. Despite the fact that a federal court ruled that the lease sale was improper and the Department of the Interior revoked the leases as well, DeChristopher was charged with placing improper bids.

At trial, the federal judge, Dee Benson, refused to allow DeChristopher to introduce a defense of necessity (that doing an illegal act was done to prevent a worse harm, i.e., destruction of the landscape and climate change). In sentencing Mr. DeChristopher, the Salt Lake Tribune reported that Judge Benson said that it was unlikely he would have been charged if he had not spoken out, and then used those activities to send him to prison. “The offense itself … wasn’t that bad,” said Judge Benson.

After sentencing, DeChristopher was immediately taken into custody. He wound up at a federal prison in California, rather than as requested in Colorado where his parents live. While in California, he was thrown into solitary confinement after an unidentified congressman complained about a email that DeChristopher sent. (See the March Update for details.) He was released after a huge outcry from across the country and then transferred to serve out his term in Colorado.

The Appeals Court said that the sentencing not a violation of DeChristopher’s First Amendment rights, and that Judge Benson “simply relied on those statements to determine the sentence necessary to deter Defendant from future violations and to promote respect for the law. Defendant’s statements that he would “continue to fight” and his view that it was “fine to break the law” were highly relevant to these sentencing factors.”

DeChristopher has said he will not appeal, since his defenses have been consistently disallowed.

Later last month, it was reported that DeChristopher would be released from federal prison October 24. He will serve out the rest of his two-year sentence living in a halfway house in Salt Lake City, where the Unitarian Church has offered him a job, making him eligible for the work release program.

The Salt Lake Tribune published an op-ed piece on the case by one of its reporters (before his release was announced).

A documentary film, Bidder 70, has been released that follows the all these events. It was shown at the Mill Valley Film Festival in California recently, and it is quite an indictment of the way things are done here. What comes through clearly is DeChristopher’s strength in doing what he believes in and willingness to take the consequences.

For more information about the film go to For a list of screenings, click here.

3.   Great Old Broads Encounter Vandalism
          And Threats in San Juan County

Our sister organization Great Old Broads for Wilderness has long been a powerful voice for the protection of our public lands and wilderness across the country. They are involved in many ways-though advocacy, on-the-ground monitoring, and occasional demonstrations and broom brigades to clean up after other users.

Several times a year the Broads hold a “Broadwalk,” a weekend campout where they hike and learn about the issues affecting a particular vulnerable area. The latest Broadwalk was two weeks ago in support of the Greater Canyonlands Campaign, of which CalUWild is an active partner.

The local Blanding paper Blue Mountain Panorama published an unsigned, inflammatory “article” which appeared early in September, giving the details about the Broads’ planned event. They were camped out on private land near Canyonlands National Park, where they had someone unknown visitors. On Friday evening their banner was spray-painted and slashed. Sometime Saturday night the gate to the property was padlocked and a fake-bloody mask of an old woman attached to a fence post. Fortunately there was no emergency requiring immediate exit from their camp, and the Broads were able to get the gate opened.

I spoke with Broads’ Executive Director Ronni Egan last week, and she said that although though the situation could have been dangerous had there been an emergency of some kind, there were no serious problems, and they all handled it with humor. That’s the spirit!

It’s not the first time the Broads have been on the receiving end of threats. Several years ago they discovered an illegally-constructed ATV trail outside of Blanding, The BLM closed the trail when vandalism was discovered at archaeological sites along the trail. The Broads were blamed and “Wanted Dead or Alive” posters appeared in San Juan County.

High Country News has a lengthy blog post, including photos, on these incidents, which you can read here. Please feel free to post a comment there.

See Item 9 for an announcement of the Broads’ fundraiser, the Annual Online Auction.

For more information and details about the Greater Canyonlands Campaign, go to or the Sierra Club’s Utah Team page.

4.   Sequoia-King Canyon National Park
          Initiates Wilderness Management Plan Draft-
          Public Meetings in October
          (ACTION ITEM)

Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park (two national parks, but managed as one unit) has begun the process of drafting a new wilderness management plan. It has some preliminary alternatives prepared and is seeking public input before publishing a formal Draft Plan. The following announcement (formatting slightly edited) came from Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park. Following that I’ve also included a few general comments from the Sierra Club for discussion in your comments.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Seek Public Input on Preliminary Draft Alternatives for a Wilderness Stewardship Plan

From October 3, 2012 through November 19, 2012, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks is seeking public input on preliminary draft alternatives for a Wilderness Stewardship Plan. Topics which may be addressed in the plan include: day and overnight use; permitting and quotas; party sizes; campfires; food storage; camping and campsites; human waste management; pack stock and grazing management; scientific research; natural and cultural resource management; maintenance of signs, trails, bridges, and other recreational infrastructure; administrative infrastructure; education and outreach; the extent to which commercial services are necessary to fulfill the purposes of wilderness; and front-country support facilities.

To learn more about the Wilderness Stewardship Plan, including how to comment and about upcoming public workshops in the last two weeks of October, visit the National Park Service’s Planning, Environment, and Public Comment website (PEPC) at At a workshop, you can listen to a presentation by National Park Service staff and meet with them to discuss your ideas.

Upcoming workshops include:

Thursday, October 25, 2012
7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Eastern Sierra Tri-county Fairgrounds, Patio Building
Sierra Street and Fair Street
Bishop, CA 93514

Friday, October 26, 2012
7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Los Angeles River Center
California Building Atrium
570 West Avenue 26
Los Angeles, CA 90065

Monday, October 29, 2012
7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
East Bay Regional Parks
Redwood Regional Park
Richard C. Trudeau Training Center
Main Conference Room
11500 Skyline Blvd
Oakland, CA 94619

Tuesday, October 30, 2012
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Visalia Marriott Hotel
Main Ballroom
300 South Court Street
Visalia, CA 93291

In addition, park staff will present information about the preliminary draft alternatives for the Wilderness Stewardship Plan at the Three Rivers Town Hall meeting on:

Monday, November 5
7-7:45 p.m.
Three Rivers Memorial Building
43490 Sierra Drive (Highway 198)
Three Rivers, CA

In order to ensure that your comments are considered, you may use either of two methods to comment during the alternative review process. If you wish to comment electronically, you may submit your comments online to the PEPC website by visiting, clicking on “Open for Comment,” and then clicking on the link to the document. The National Park Service encourages commenting electronically through PEPC, but if you wish to submit your written comments in hard copy (e.g., in a letter), you may send them by U.S. Postal Service or other mail delivery service, or hand-deliver your comments to:

Superintendent Karen F. Taylor-Goodrich
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
Attn: Wilderness Stewardship Plan
47050 Generals Highway
Three Rivers, CA 93271

Faxed comments will be accepted at (559) 565-4202.

Written comments will also be accepted during public workshops.

Comments in any format (written or electronic) submitted by an individual or organization on behalf of another individual or organization will not be accepted. Anonymous comments will not be accepted.

It is the practice of the National Park Service to make all comments available for public review. Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment – including your personal identifying information – may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

From the Sierra Club come the following general talking points for your comments at the meetings or in writing.

• Thank the Park Service for its overall good management of the Parks’ wilderness area.

• Wilderness ought to be accessible at no charge.

• Refrain from “zoning” wilderness. Compartmentalizing wilderness into “zones” of differing amounts of use of levels of intense management or amounts of degradation permitted may be well-meaning but it can lead too easily to allowing inappropriate uses in the “lesser” zones, and managers thinking: “It’s ok here as long as we keep it out of the most protective, or remote zones.” This can lead to de facto higher “classes” and lower of wilderness. The Wilderness Act doesn’t differentiate between different classes of wilderness.
Obviously, areas near access points, edges of wilderness, trail, campsites, popular scenic features will get heavier use. Each of these can be separately documented and assigned for restrictions or whatever management controls are deemed necessary. That is simply practical and differs from a sweeping division into zone classifications.

• No imposition of user fees for wilderness visits. Sequoia Kings Canyon has recently imposed a “wilderness camping fee” for overnight wilderness permits. The Sierra Club generally opposes the relatively new fees structures (starting in 1996 with fee demo, and presently under authority of the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act). We support fees for developed areas like campgrounds, marinas, which are customary, and do not oppose National Park System unit entry fees, which also are long standing. But there should be no fee on top of that to go into wilderness. An advance “reservation” fee in popular wildernesses, such as the Sierra, is justified to assure one’s permit ahead of time; but free permits should be available for people who just come in to pick them up. It is still that way in Yosemite, as it should be.

• There must be sensible management of packstock use, in particular in meadows and riparian zones, to protect habitat and trails.

5.   California State Park News:
          a.   East Bay State Park Renamed To Honor Sylvia McLaughlin

Two weeks ago, the California State Park and Recreation Commission approved a resolution renaming Eastshore State Park along San Francisco Bay in honor of Sylvia McLaughlin. The park’s official name is now McLaughlin Eastshore State Park. Sylvia is one of the founders of the Save San Francisco Bay Association (now Save the Bay), which was formed in the early 60s to fight proposals for massive filling projects in the Bay. Sylvia also led the campaign to establish Eastshore State Park, which follows the East Bay shoreline from Richmond to Oakland. Sylvia is a longtime friend and supporter of CalUWild, and has long been active in many other Bay Area environmental issues. It is wonderful to see her honored.

The park is jointly managed by the State of California and the East Bay Regional Parks District.

          b.   Legislative Update

California Governor Jerry Brown signed two bills last month dealing with the state parks crisis. Both were authored by Assemblyman Jared Huffman (D) of Marin County. The first requires the Park System to develop a plan for increasing revenues and collecting unpaid user fees, as well as transparent accounting of all funds. The second guaranteed that the recently discovered hidden funds (which we reported on in August) were used for state park purposes and placed a two-year moratorium on park closures, among other funding items.
Mr. Huffman has been a strong advocate for the parks and the environment in general. He is a candidate for the congressional seat being vacated by retiring Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, who was always a strong supporter of wilderness and public lands. Under California’s new redistricting scheme, the district now runs from the Golden Gate Bridge all the way to the Oregon border.

One consequence of the discovery of funds during the summer is that some people who contributed to efforts to keep some of the parks open feel betrayed by the accounting scandal. To read how that is playing out at Henry Coe State Park, south of San Jose, click here.

6.   Pres. Obama Uses the Antiquities Act Again
          Chimney Rock in Colorado and
          César Chávez in California
          Designated as National Monuments
          (ACTION ITEM)

Pres. Obama has used his authority under the Antiquities Act of 1906 to designate two more national monuments, the third and fourth of his administration.

In September, he announced the designation of Chimney Rock, an important Chacoan archaeological area in southwestern Colorado. CalUWild has long been active in the campaign to have the site protected, whether administratively or through congressionally. The monument will be managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Up until now, tours of the site have been May 15 – September 30. The Forest Service must now embark on developing a management plan for the monument.

You may read the presidential proclamation here.

The Chimney Rock Interpretive Association’s website is here.

Last week, the President designated César E. Chávez National Monument in Keene, California. The designation provides designation for Nuestra Señora Reina de la Paz (Our Lady Queen of Peace), or La Paz, Mr. Chávez’s family home and the original site of the United Farm Worker’s Union headquarters. The monument will be managed by the National Park Service along with the National Chávez Center and the César Chávez Foundation.

Though not strictly a public lands issue, CalUWild supports this designation. Before becoming Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solís was the chief House sponsor of the California Wild Heritage Act, the statewide wilderness bill, and we worked with her office on several issues. She was always a strong supporter of wilderness and other environmental legislation, so when she introduced a bill to start the monument process we were happy to support it in turn.

To read the presidential proclamation for the new monument, click here.

Mr. Obama’s two previous monument designations were Ft. Monroe in Virginia and Ft. Ord in California. Every time the Antiquities Act is used, it is strengthened against its opponents. We’re happy to see the President continue to move forward.

Please send a thank you message to Pres. Obama, and while you’re at it, please request that he use his authority to protect Greater Canyonlands in Utah (see the links at the end of Item 3). Here is contact information for the White House:

Telephone comments:   202-456-1111
Online comment form

7.   U.S. Supreme Court Turns Down Roadless Rule Appeal

The Supreme Court got its new term off to a good start on the first Monday in October when it rejected an appeal by Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, Alaska, North & South Dakota, Michigan, Alabama, and Virginia joined Wyoming and industry groups in an unsuccessful attempt to overturn the rule.

The states and groups repeated their oft-rejected claims that the rule was adopted in violation of federal environmental laws and that the Roadless Rule represented a de facto illegal creation of wilderness.

By denying the appeal, the Court will have hopefully put an end to the endless controversies surrounding the rule, which went into effect in the closing days of the Clinton Administration, i.e., 2000.

8.   Volunteer for Your Public Lands
          (ACTION ITEM)

Click on the links below to be connected to volunteer opportunities around the West, sponsored by some of our friends.

California Wilderness Coalition
Saturday, November 3
Stornetta Public Lands Day Event
10:30 AM to 3:30 PM

Folks from far and wide and staff of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the California Wilderness Coalition (CWC) and other organizations will enjoy a day of hiking, whale watching and volunteering on the coastal bluffs just north of Point Arena, California in Mendocino County. Learn more and sign up here.

Wilderness Volunteers
Our good friends at Wilderness Volunteers have published their Spring-Early Summer 2013 schedule, with projects all over the West, including Alaska and Hawaii. Click here!

9.   Great Old Broads Annual Online Auction
          October 29 – November 11
          (AUCTION ITEM)

Mark your calendars! Great Old Broads is having its annual online auction, their biggest fundraising event of the year. Check their website beginning October 29.

If you’d like to donate an item for the auction, click here.

10.   Links to Articles of Interest

New York Times

Article on the San Francisco Hetch Hetchy election controversy

(Related article in the San Jose Mercury News)

Timothy Egan writes on The Geography of Nope

Why the Beaver Should Thank the Wolf, op-ed piece on ecosystem interconnectedness

Scientists at work blog: In Utah, A 210-Million-Year-Old Puzzle

An interesting perspective on nature photography (Maybe it will encourage people to actually get out!)

High Country News

Don’t ever forget Cecil Garland, remembering an early Montana wilderness advocate

Abbey’s Road: Retired BLM chief gives one last look across the range, interview with Bob Abbey