Newsletter Archive

May 2, 2002

Dear CalUWild Members, Friends, and Supporters —

April was a very busy month here at CalUWild, and it brought with it some good news: The California Wilderness Bill is expected to be introduced in Congress in May (see Item 1, below).

On the comment front, there were 4 deadlines, April 19-23. CalUWild submitted its own comments on 2 issues: a bill in the House legitimizing an illegal road in Joshua Tree National Park’s wilderness (see Item 2), and the San Rafael Swell Route Designation Plan (see the URGENT Alert sent out in March).

We also worked with 2 different coalitions preparing comments on the Los Padres National Forest Oil & Gas Leasing DEIS (February UPDATE) and on BLM’s proposed rule-making on R.S. 2477 (rights-of-way and roads — March UPDATE). We signed onto comments addressing the legality and the procedural issues of the proposal as well as helped prepare comments specifically dealing with the issue here in California.

No sooner were the Los Padres comments turned in when stories appeared in the press that the California Condor chick that had hatched just before the deadline was already covered with petroleum. Apparently its father had put his head into a puddle of oil near a well and carried the contamination back to the nest, getting some on the chick. It’s not believed to threaten the health of the chick, but it does underscore the absurdity of increasing oil & gas exploration in an area so close to where their population is recovering.

It’s not all bad news, though: We all know that oil & gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was turned down by the Senate. Also, the Interior Department’s Board of Land Appeals recently upheld an appeal by several Wyoming groups on coal bed methane (CBM) leases in the Powder River Basin. There, BLM had issued leases based on an EIS that didn’t even mention CBM. (That happened under the Clinton administration.) And EPA just gave a failing grade to BLM’s Draft EIS for a huge increase in CBM development (39,000 new wells in the next 8 years) in the same area.

This success is due to the active involvement of citizens who are willing to stand up for their public lands. Our principal goal here at CalUWild is to promote and facilitate that type of involvement by Californians. We welcome your comments and suggestions.

There are a couple bits of organizational news. First, CalUWild has its first intern, Chris Heintzelman, a senior attending Sir Francis Drake High School in Marin County. Chris is following some of the press around the West on the Internet, looking for items of interest. He is also helping prepare the UPDATE; his first item regarding the Park Service snowmobile ban appears below (Item 5). Welcome, Chris!

Secondly, Phillip Loughlin has agreed to take on the duties of CalUWild Webmaster. As you may have noticed, we’ve been having server problems lately, and due to unforeseen circumstances Webmaster Sharon Stafford has been unable to keep up with things. Sharon did a great job hosting the web site and getting it up and running. We thank her and look forward to her continued involvement with CalUWild. Welcome, Phillip!

As always, thanks for your enthusiasm and involvement.

Best wishes,



1. California Wilderness Bill Introduction (ACTION ITEM)

2. Mary Bono Bill for Joshua Tree NP Wilderness


3. Rep. Hansen Attacks Utah Wilderness (Again)

4. San Rafael Swell National Monument


5. Snowmobile Ban in Yellowstone and

Grand Teton National Parks Revisited

Deadline: May 29, 2002 (ACTION ITEM)




Mark your calendars for a Kickoff and Celebration here in San Francisco, Saturday, May 11 at noon, celebrating the imminent introduction of the wilderness bill for California. Details will follow next week for CalUWild friends living in the Bay Area. If you’re not in the Bay Area but want to attend, send me an email , and I’ll include you on the list.

We’d like to have a big crowd at the event, so if you’d like to help out, the California Wild Heritage Campaign could use you!

The most important part of any successful campaign is the behind-the-scenes volunteer work. CWHC will have 2 evenings of phone banking at the Sierra Club offices in Oakland. Materials for sign-making will also be available if you’d prefer to do that.

DATES: Wednesday and Thursday, May 8 & 9

TIME: 6 – 9 p.m.

LOCATION: 827 Broadway, Suite 310, Oakland

TRANSPORTATION: BART, 12th Street Oakland City Center Station.

If you can help out, please contact Ilysia Shattuck at 510-622-0290 x220 or .

(Pizza will be provided.)


Rep. Mary Bono (R-44) recently introduced a bill (H.R. 3718, The Little San Bernardino Mountains Right-of-Way Act) which would legalize a road illegally constructed through the Joshua Tree National Park Wilderness, by granting it a right-of-way.

There was a hearing on the bill recently and an accompanying public testimony period. We were not able to include it in an UPDATE, but CalUWild did submit testimony opposing the entire concept of the bill. There was no vote taken, and to date there has been no further action on the bill.

In 1987 a 0.7 mile was bulldozed to a communications tower belonging to station KPLM, through a corner of the Joshua Tree Wilderness, which designated in 1976. The owners of the tower say they didn’t know it went through a wilderness area. Nevertheless, this was an act of trespass.

It appears that the road can not be easily reclaimed or moved. It would be far better that the offending road and the smallest area necessary surrounding it be de-designated as wilderness and an equal, or even larger, area be added to the Joshua Tree Wilderness somewhere else.

It would set a bad precedent to create a new right-of-way. In fact, NPS Management Policy 6.4.8 states: “The Service will not issue any new rights-of-way or widen or extend any existing rights-of-way in wilderness.”

We’ll keep you posted on the bill’s progress.



Jim Hansen is at it again.

This time he has inserted wording into the Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 4546, Title XIV) to create wilderness on lands under the airspace of the Utah Test and Training Range. An attempt by Mr. Hansen to insert these provisions into the bill was rejected in an Armed Services subcommittee hearing recently. But they have reappeared in the version of the bill known as the “Chairman’s Mark,” which is a bill put together by the committee chairman and the one which will move forward. At a hearing yesterday, a motion to remove Title XIV was defeated by a vote of 34-22.

As with all of Mr. Hansen’s wilderness bills, this one is not what it appears on the surface. Rep. Hansen’s amendment undermines the 1964 Wilderness Act by:

1) allowing unprecedented military access and development within the designated wilderness areas;

2) denying a federal water right for wilderness uses;

3) releasing hundreds of thousands of acres from future consideration for wilderness designation.

Furthermore, the language also allows the Dept. of Defense to control the BLM land under the Utah Test & Training Range (UTTR) to an unprecedented degree, going so far as to require the Secretary of the Interior to get permission from the Secretary of the Air Force and the Utah National Guard before amending or revising any Resource Management Plan for BLM lands beneath the UTTR airspace.

Finally, Mr. Hansen would only designate a fraction of the lands included in America’s Redrock Wilderness Act (450,000 acres out of 1.67 million acres). This acreage is also less than what he included in his own West Desert Bill of 1999.

Now procedural issues determine the fate of the legislation. The Rules Committee of the House must decide whether to issue an “Open Rule,” under which amendments can be offered on the floor of the House. The only hope is that moderate Republicans on the Committee are able to do this, as the House leadership does not heed minority concerns on these matters.

If an Open Rule is not developed, in these “patriotic times” it will be difficult for anyone to vote against the Defense Authorization Act. Then our only hope is the Senate.


The Salt Lake Tribune reported today that Pres. Bush has asked Interior Secretary Gale Norton to begin a process to collect input from the public on Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt’s proposal for a San Rafael Swell National Monument.

The Bush administration’s key criterion for public lands protection seems to be local input (at least when the local sentiment supports the Administration’s point of view), which somewhat negates its disdain for the 1906 Antiquities Act. Gov. Leavitt had proposed a 90-day public comment in his original proposal, which was made at the behest of the Emery County Commission.

Environmentalists are taking a wait-and-see approach to the monument idea. Were it to offer real protection from off-road vehicle use and abuse, it could be acceptable. But given the popularity of the Swell with ORV users and the antipathy of many in Emery County and other areas to any restrictions, the resulting monument proclamation may provide ineffective protection for the Swell’s many resources.

We’ll keep you posted as the proposal advances.





The EPA said on April 29 that it wanted to ban all snowmobiles from Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, which neighbor each other. EPA said that even restricted snowmobile use would be enough to violate clean air standards and jeopardize the health of park rangers, wildlife and the wilderness itself.

The idea of banning snowmobiles in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks was originally put forth by the Clinton administration. In November 2000 the National Park Service released a report, after a three-year process, including 22 public hearings and 65,000 public comments, urging the ban of all snowmobiles from Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Despite overwhelming public support, Interior Secretary, Gale Norton, after pressure from the snowmobile industry asked the National Park Service to rethink its decision, saying that science and technology (of snowmobiles) had not been adequately studied in the original report. The Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) which was a result of this request, contained no new scientific or technological information and in fact points out that the snowmobile industry failed to provide the National Park Service with any significant evidence not already included in the original report.

The SEIS includes four alternatives to the original plan of phasing out snowmobiles completely, only two of which would implement the original plan. The four alternatives are as follows:

1) Phase out snowmobiles beginning in December, with a full ban effective in the winter of 2003-4.

2) Begin phasing out snowmobiles in 2003-4, with a full ban in 2004-5.

3) Cap the number of snowmobiles at 500 and make them meet stricter emission standards by 2005.

4) Cap the number at 330, require stricter emission standards and require snowmobiles to travel with a Park Service guide.

Obviously the latter two are not sufficient enough to protect our national wilderness.

If any number of snowmobiles were allowed into the national parks, the blue haze which can be seen on clear days would remain, the health of the park rangers, who were issued respirators to wear, would continue to be compromised along with that of wildlife (bison and elk.) The noise pollution would also remain, disrupting the peace so many seek in these natural wonders.

Please send comments to the Park Service (in your own words) reminding them that:

• Snowmobiles causes the health of park rangers and wildlife to be compromised and the peaceful atmosphere of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks to be disrupted.

• Bison, elk, and other wildlife should not be harassed by the noise these machines produce.

• Americans want Yellowstone and Grand Teton to remain calm, peaceful and beautiful areas, which was made obvious by the overwhelming support for the original plan.

• The original, science-based report calling for the phasing out of snowmobiles by the winter of 2003-4 should be implemented because it is the only way to protect our FIRST national park and neighboring Grand Teton.

The plan can be read online at:

Send comments to:

Winter Use SEIS

P.O. Box 352

Moose, WY 83012

or via e-mail to:

DEADLINE: May 29, 2002.

The decision on which plan to implement is expected in November.

We will keep you updated on any further developments.