Newsletter Archive

November 25, 2003

Dear members and supporters of CalUWild –

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, a time to reflect on the many gifts we Americans have been given. Among the most important are our public lands: national parks, monuments, forests, and wildlife refuges, and lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Some of these lands have been formally designated as Wilderness, but much more is eligible. Although the current Administration doesn’t support much further designation, the citizens of the US see value in doing so. It is therefore our responsibility to ensure that those lands are designated as wilderness and to work to protect them until Congress acts to do so.

It’s a difficult task at times, but we’ve shown we can do it. In spite of often bad policies and decisions coming from Washington, it is imperative that we continue to focus on issues affecting our public lands. Otherwise, those whose only interest in the land is commercial exploitation will deprive us of our birthright and our heritage.

This past week gave us some news to be thankful for: The Energy Bill failed an important vote to cut off debate, 57-40, in the Senate. 60 votes were required to stop the filibuster. California’s Senator Barbara Boxer was among the filibuster leaders, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein supported it as well. Both deserve our thanks. Sen. Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) voted to close debate and announced he would support the bill, in spite of the fact that Republicans had largely shut out the Democrats from the conference committee negotiations. Furthermore, the bill was over 1,100 pages long, and senators were given very little time to read it through before the vote.

Press coverage of the bill has been focusing primarily on the immunity from liability for producers of MTBE, a gasoline additive that has polluted groundwater supplies across the country. However, there are many other problems with the legislation as well: making energy production the predominant use of Western public lands; exempting oil field companies from the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act; $32 billion in subsidies for all sorts of programs – a Louisiana shopping center development project that would include a Hooters Restaurant (known for their scantily clad waitresses), an artificial rainforest in Iowa, and to farmers for ethanol production, among others.

At the same time, the bill included nothing to increase fuel economy requirements for automobiles or SUVs or other conservation measures which would lessen dependence on foreign oil. Instead, it was loaded down with pork barrel projects supported by industry and other special interests, its supporters unable or unwilling to put the larger public interest against that of their own narrow constituencies. Many of these provisions were inserted in the House-Senate conference committee. (Usually a conference committee works to reconcile the two already-existing versions of a bill rather than introducing in new sections.)

Senate Majority Bill Frist (R-TN) originally voted to close debate on the bill, but in a deft maneuver, changed his vote afterward, allowing him to resurrect the bill at a later date. He says it will be back in 2004 after the holiday recesses. We need to keep the pressure on the press to dig deeper into the details of the bill and expose it for the ugly piece of legislation that it is. Please see Item 8 in the CalUWild October UPDATE for more details on the bill.

On the CalUWild administrative front, there was a cartoon in a recent issue of the “New Yorker.” It showed a woman opening an envelope and reading the enclosed letter: “Your generous contribution helps fund these solicitations.” We hope you’ve noticed that CalUWild does not send out numerous solicitations – members receive at most one a year in the mail (or by e-mail). We do not undertake direct mail campaigns, choosing to focus our scarce resources on actual projects and office expenses. All this does not mean, however, that we don’t need your support. Member contributions are an important source of funding, and we appreciate the support of many of our members. But if you haven’t sent in a contribution and have received a notice recently, please do consider returning it with your check. Or if you’d like to send an end-of-the-year gift, we would appreciate it greatly. Thanks!

P.O. Box 210474
San Francisco, CA 94121-0474

Best wishes to you and your families for a Happy Thanksgiving.



1. Redrock Cosponsorship Target Met


2. Utah Wilderness Case Goes to Supreme Court

3. BLM Offers Leases in Proposed Wilderness Areas


4. Anza-Borrego State Park Wilderness



5. 2004 Wild Nevada Calendar


6. Fee Demo Program Extended Again

Permanent Legislation Introduced



1. Redrock Cosponsor Target Met


This month, Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-47) renewed her cosponsorship of H.R. 1796, America’s Redrock Wilderness Act, bringing to 29 the number of California cosponsors in the House. In addition, Sen. Barbara Boxer is a cosponsor of the companion bill, S.639, in the Senate. This means that all previous cosponsors have renewed their commitment to the bill, with the addition of Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-39), who is in her first term.

Here is the current list of California cosponsors:

Xavier Becerra (D-31)

Howard L. Berman (D-28)

Lois Capps (D-23)

Susan A. Davis (D-53)

Anna G. Eshoo (D-14)

Sam Farr (D-17)

Bob Filner (D-51)

Jane Harman (D-36)

Michael M. Honda (D-15)

Tom Lantos (D-12)

Barbara Lee (D-09)

Zoe Lofgren (D-16)

Robert T. Matsui (D-05)

Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-37)

George Miller (D-07)

Grace F. Napolitano (D-38)

Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-34)

Linda Sanchez (D-39)

Loretta Sanchez (D-47)

Adam B. Schiff (D-29)

Brad Sherman (D-27)

Hilda L. Solis (D-32)

Pete Stark (D-13)

Ellen O. Tauscher (D-10)

Mike Thompson (D-01)

Maxine Waters (D-35)

Diane E. Watson (D-33)

Henry A. Waxman (D-30)

Lynn C. Woolsey (D-06)

Even though these were the targets we had set for ourselves, there are other representatives who might still become cosponsors: Joe Baca (D-43), Dennis Cardoza (D-18), and Nancy Pelosi (D-8).

Senator Dianne Feinstein was a cosponsor years ago but dropped off and has yet to get back on the bill in the Senate. If your representative is on this list and you haven’t written a thank you letter, please do. And if your rep is on the potential list, please send them a letter asking for their cosponsorship.

Addresses for all California representatives can be found in CalUWild’s Guide to Effective Advocacy.

Nationally, the Redrock Act has 159 cosponsors in the House and 15 in the Senate.

2. Utah Wilderness Case Goes to Supreme Court

On November 3, the US Supreme Court announced it would hear an appeal by the Bush administration arguing that it is not required to protect wilderness across the West. The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) and other conservation groups originally filed suit in 1999 after the BLM refused to protect Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) in Utah from off-road vehicle (ORV) damage, in violation of federal law. Agencies are charged with managing WSAs in such a manner that their wilderness character is not impaired.

The WSAs in question are located in places such as the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Parunuweap Canyon (adjacent to Zion National Park), the San Rafael Swell, and areas near Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. The decision could impact lands across the West.

The Supreme Court agreed to review a 2002 decision of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in favor of the original plaintiffs. These conservation groups claimed that the Department of the Interior should be held accountable for its failure to protect WSAs from ORV damage. The BLM argued that a failure to act to protect wilderness character was different than taking some positive action that allowed degradation, and that citizens have no right to sue to compel action by the agency. The Appeals Court rejected this reasoning. The Bush administration and ORV groups have asked the Supreme Court to overturn the Tenth Circuit’s decision.

The Supreme Court may hear arguments in its Spring 2004 term. The case is Norton vs. SUWA. The conservation groups involved in this litigation include Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, The Wilderness Society, the Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club, the Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Wildlands CPR, the Utah Council of Trout Unlimited, American Lands Alliance, and Red Rock Forests.

We’ll keep you posted on the outcome.

3. BLM Offers Leases in Proposed Wilderness Areas

The results of the April 2003 court settlement between the Statue of Utah and the Dept. of the Interior regarding wilderness inventories and study areas became apparent this month. The Utah BLM accepted bids for oil and gas exploration in proposed wilderness areas near the Book Cliffs in eastern Utah, including Desolation Canyon, one of the largest unroaded areas in the lower 48 states. Also offered were areas along the White River, which flows into the Green River from Colorado.

SUWA and the Sierra Club have filed protests against the offers, since they are in areas that BLM has inventoried as qualifying for wilderness designation and have been proposed for wilderness for many years. The BLM has yet to rule on the protests.

In a last-minute maneuver before leaving for his post at the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, Utah’s then-Governor Mike Leavitt and Lt. Governor Olene Walker wrote the BLM asking it to hold off on leases along the White River because it deserves designation as wilderness. “This corridor contains outstanding opportunities for river recreation, hiking and the like,” they are quoted as writing. Many feel that the letter was sent only because the Outdoor Industry Association had renewed its threat to pull its annual trade shows out of Salt Lake City due to lack of progress on Mr. Leavitt’s commitments to work for some wilderness protection in the state.

CalUWild’s response to this action was published in the Salt Lake Tribune (

Also before leaving Utah, Mr. Leavitt announced the formation of a new economic ecosystem task force to look at areas around the state that have significant recreational opportunities and ought to be protected. Significantly, Mr. Leavitt did not appoint any representatives of environmental organizations to the task force.


4. Anza-Borrego State Park Wilderness


CalUWild usually deals only with federal public lands issues. However, California has its own Wilderness Act and state wilderness areas, and they face the same threats as our federal lands. The following alert comes from the California Wilderness Coalition.


Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (ABDSP) is truly a national jewel. Located in Riverside and San Diego counties, it is the largest California state park and is a critical refuge for endangered plant and wildlife species, including approximately 60% of California’s remaining peninsular bighorn sheep population. ABDSP’s magnificent arid landscape of giant boulders, mesas, canyons, sand dunes, and famous groves of majestic native palm trees attract visitors from around the world.

Though founded in 1933, ABDSP still does not have a management plan to guide the California Department of Parks and Recreation’s stewardship of the area. Over the last few years park staff have worked hard to develop a General Management Plan (GMP) for ABDSP and finally completed one earlier this year. The proposed GMP recommends that over 54,000 acres of the park be designated as wilderness, and that other areas be protected for their historical and natural values. The GMP also provides a blueprint for how to meet the growing demands of visitors to the park.

Before it can be implemented the GMP must be approved by the California State Park and Recreation Commission. The commission was scheduled to vote on the GMP in October, but appeals from anti-environmental groups to the new Schwarzenegger administration has resulted in a delay in the vote. Meanwhile, energy developers, off-road vehicle enthusiasts, mountain bikers, and others are taking advantage of the delay to lobby Governor Schwarzenegger to oppose the GMP. We can’t let the forces of development overrun our parks!


You can help defend the ABDSP by writing a letter as soon as possible to:

Caryl O. Hart, Chair
California State Park and Recreation Commission
P.O. Box 942896
Sacramento, CA 94296-0001
Fax: 916-653-4458

In your letter, you should explain why the park is important to you and then make the following points in your own words:

–The Anza-Borrego Desert State Park GMP is an excellent document that balances the needs of people with the protection of the environment.

–The GMP is the result of years of study and a great deal of public input.

–The GMP deserves the unanimous support of the State Park and Recreation Commission.


5. 2004 Wild Nevada Calendar

The 2004 Wild Nevada calendar is now available. It showcases beautiful photographs of Nevada’s wild landscapes, interesting history and facts about the Silver State, while celebrating designated Wilderness around the state and bringing attention to wonderful wild places throughout Nevada that still deserve protection.

And all proceeds benefit Nevada’s wild places!

It also makes a great holiday present. Get your holiday shopping out of the way before fall ends. The Wild Nevada 2004 calendar makes a great gift for friends, family, clients and coworkers. It’s an affordable gift that lasts all year long.

Calendar prices (prices include tax):
1-4 Calendars $12 ea
5-9 $11 ea
10-24 $10 ea
25-49 $9 ea
50-99 $8 ea
100 or more $7 ea

Add 10% for shipping.

Order yours today! You can do so in the following ways:

1. Call (775) 324-7667

2. Click here to order yours securely online.


6. Fee Demo Program Extended Again

Permanent Legislation Introduced

The immediately following information comes from Keep Sespe Wild. The second alert is based on information from Wild Wilderness.

In the last week of November, the House/Senate Conference Committee on Interior Appropriations extended Fee Demo for now the fifth time – by 15 months. The demo program is now set to end on December 31st, 2005.

The House Interior Appropriations subcommittee has been responsible for all the extensions to Fee Demo, and for its creation in 1996.

The House Interior Appropriations bill contained a 2-year extension, the Senate version contained no extension.

While obviously this extension is a setback, it does not derail our work to support legislation to end Fee Demo, in both the House and Senate. The Senate is more strongly supportive of our goal – Senator Craig Thomas (R-WY) has introduced S. 1107 to make Fee Demo permanent only for the Park Service, effectively terminating it for the BLM, US Forest Service and US Fish & Wildlife Service. S. 1107 is expected to be marked up and move to a Senate floor vote before the end of the year.

We’ll keep you posted.
Alasdair Coyne
Keep Sespe Wild


On October 8th, seven East-Coast Republican Congressmen lead by Ralph Regula (R-OH) introduced the Bush Administration’s long-awaited legislation to permanently authorized the “Recreation Fee Demonstration Program”. This legislation that will affect all Americans and forever change the purposes for which public land recreation is managed.

H.R. 3283 represents the culmination of a 20-year effort by a powerful element of the recreation industry to commodify, privatize and commercialize outdoor recreation on America’s public lands. (Read relevant Congressional Testimony .)

H.R. 3283 proposes the creation of an outdoor recreation “Passport” that would be required by all Americans for access to federal lands. The passport would be called by the name given to it a dozen years ago when it was first proposed by the American Recreation Coalition and George Bush Senior — the “America the Beautiful”.

The bad news is that H.R. 3283 was introduced at all. The good news is that there is little chance of this legislation being acted upon in the remaining weeks of the current legislative session. Unfortunately, the possibility remains that Mr. Regula would insert this language into other “must-pass” legislation as he did in 1996. The threat of H.R. 3283 must not be ignored.

HR 3283, if passed, would…

1) …make fee-demo permanent for 5 federal agencies…. adding the Bureau of Reclamation to the agencies already covered by fee-demo.

2) … create three levels of outdoor user fees. In addition to the “Basic Recreation Fee” there’d be new “Expanded Recreation Fee” and “Special Recreation Permit Fee” categories.

3) … permit the issuance of an “America the Beautiful” Pass/Passport which “will be accepted by one of more Federal land management agencies or by one or more governmental or nongovernmental entities…”

4) … make it virtually impossible to maintain the direct connection between the fee paid and the service received. These user fees would become a regressive user-tax paid by anyone wishing to visit public lands.

5) … authorize “volunteers” to collect recreation fees and sell recreation passes. Volunteers would be compensated for their work by being issued a pass “in exchange for significant volunteer services performed.” America’s minimum wage laws would be thrown out the window as underpaid volunteers are used to replace agency staffers. This section of the legislation, like the related “Take Pride in America” initiative, is a key component in President Bush’s federal jobs “outsourcing” program.

6) … criminalize failure to pay. Currently failure to pay a recreation fee is an infraction, like a parking ticket. H.R. 3283 would make it a crime publishable by a maximum penalty of $5000 and 6 months in jail (the maximum for a Class B misdemeanor).

7) … throw out the Constitution’s protection of “presumed innocence until proven guilty”. The owner of a vehicle illegally parked on public land would become jointly liable. Unless that person could prove that his vehicle was used without his express or implied permission, he would be issued a ticket and charged with a criminal offense. Likewise, persons who fail to properly display a pass (even though one might have been purchased) will be required to prove their innocence within a given time period or be subject to criminal prosecution.

8) …. repeals the section of the Land Water Conservation Act that has for nearly 40 years severely constrained the number and type of recreation fees that could legally be charged upon public lands.

9) … repeals the Golden Age, Golden Access and Golden Eagle passes. It used to be that if you were 62 years of age you could purchase for $10 a life-time pass good for admittance into all National Parks.

10) … authorize a minimum of ONE free day each year when all Americans will be permitted “Basic Access” to their public lands. Even on that day, expanded and special fees will still apply.

We’ll keep you posted on the legislation