Newsletter Archive

November 18, 2004

Dear Friends of CalUWild:

The election is over, and the results do not bode well for wilderness and public lands. Mr. Bush is claiming a “mandate” despite a close popular vote, and we can expect his policies to remain the same. What effect this will have on the ground remains to be seen, but we expect the administration to continue full speed ahead with its oil & gas leasing plans. There were also slight shifts in both the House and Senate toward more anti-conservation majorities, but at least the Senate is not filibuster-proof. Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton shows no intention of resigning, so we’ll probably be dealing with her for a while yet. However, administrations often run into trouble in their second terms and are unable to fulfill their agendas. It’s up to us to see that they don’t!

In California, Sen. Barbara Boxer was easily re-elected, so the California Wild Heritage Campaign’s push will continue. Mike Thompson’s North Coast bill may come up for a vote in the lame duck session of Congress, but if not, it will be reintroduced early in the next Congress to even more support. As for America’s Redrock Wilderness Act, all of its California House co-sponsors were re-elected, so we don’t expect support for that bill to dwindle here. We will have to remain vigilant and active, though to fight against specific proposals in Utah and continue to monitor and participate in the BLM’s planning process in Utah.

The Lincoln County Nevada lands bill passed the House yesterday and is headed to Mr. Bush’s desk for his signature. It designated 760,000 acres of wilderness in eastern Nevada, but also contained controversial provisions which open up water pipeline rights-of-way for Las Vegas to take water from rural areas and make possible the sale of federal lands in the county. Nevada’s Sen. Harry Reid, the principal architect of the bill has been chosen Senate Minority Leader, replacing Tom Daschle of South Dakota, who lost his re-election bid.

But no matter what happens in Washington, we will all need to be vocal in support of protections for the landscapes we treasure here in the West. CalUWild will continue to bring you accurate information on the issues and ways to be effective advocates yourselves. Please let us know how we can better serve your needs and interests.

There are just a few items of interest this month.

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


1. Thanksgiving Service Trip to the Escalante

IN California
2. Tim Palmer Book Tour Continues

3. Brower Film “Monumental” To Show in Chico
December 7

IN Arizona
4. Colorado River Management Plan Comments
DEADLINE: January 7


Thanksgiving Service Trip to the Escalante

This is a little bit short notice admittedly because the information came in at a bad time in our UPDATE scheduling, but it’s worth including anyway. If you haven’t made plans for Thanksgiving and can get away for a few days to Utah, this trip is something to consider.

For more details, contact Vicky Hoover at 415-977-5527 or

Escalante Canyons Service Trip
Harris Wash, Thanksgiving Weekend.

Join the Sierra Club’s Thanksgiving service trip to work with the National Park Service to remove Russian olive from the Harris Wash area of the Escalante River, in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Russian olive is fast looming up to be an even greater threat than tamarisk to western watercourses. Bill Wolverton, seasonal park ranger in the GCNRA, has become a leader in the effort to get rid of this pest, and Bill will be the leader and guide for our outing. Bill has guided a number of Sierra Club trips in the Escalante area and is almost legendary for his encyclopedic knowledge of the unknown slot canyons and his ability to outpace any one else.

Here’s what he says about our project:

We’ll backpack down Harris Wash slightly less than 3 1/2 easy miles to an abandoned meander that has a huge overhang in it where we can camp and be completely sheltered from any liquid (or solid) sunshine. I had a Sierra Club national service trip in there in 1994 and we cleaned up all the old cowpies so it is now a pretty nice place to camp. We will wade the creek to get there, no more than ankle deep. The hike in will only take about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The Glen Canyon NRA boundary is a little over 2 1/2 miles down from the trailhead, and that is where I would like to start the work. So from camp we would hike back upstream about 3/4 mile to get started, and work downstream back toward camp. The work will consist of cutting down the Russian Olives with limb loppers and pruning saws and then treating the cut stumps with Garlon herbicide, applied with a hand trigger sprayer. Larger trees we will girdle. Most of what we cut will be left in the wash for the next flood to wash away, although there may be some exceptions to that, depending on the circumstances, which will have to be assessed at the time. GCNRA will provide all the tools and sprayers, unless anyone has their own that they prefer to use. The only thing that participants will have to provide is a good stout pair of all leather gloves. Russian Olive is full of horrible thorns. I have found that non-insulated welders gloves are very good for this. They are fairly heavy and have a longer cuff than most other gloves, which is very desirable. We will sign everyone up as official park service volunteers, which will provide workmans compensation in case of any injuries.

We will set off on the backpack Friday morning.

The plan is to meet on thanksgiving day at the Harris Wash Trailhead, with people arriving approximately 2 to 3 pm. Vicky will be offering the usual “tail gate” Turkey dinner with trimmings at our trailhead camp, and early Friday morning Bill Wolverton will guide us on our backpack down Harris Wash into the GCNRA, where we’ll work Friday afternoon and Saturday, and then Sunday morning enjoy a slot canyon side hike.

In addition to Thanksgiving dinner, Vicky will provide (optional) backpack commissary meals for breakfasts and dinners through Sunday a.m. (altogether three breakfasts, three dinners. A donation of $20 is requested for this culinary extravaganza). Participants must bring own eating utensils and also bring own lunches.

Bring your own personal camping equipment, keeping in mind it could get quite cold in southern Utah at this time of year. And I mean really COLD. Such as ‘way down below freezing at night…

This trip is cosponsored by the Utah Chapter and the National Utah Wilderness Task Force, but is not listed in any official newsletter. It is being offered to the select group of recipients of this message and to anyone else we can coax into joining us to travel long miles to do hard work in a beautiful location with friendly companions and good food. Ideal for those who are happiest when “cold, wet, and miserable.” Also perfect for anyone who loves the southern Utah slickrock canyons and doesn’t have urgent family holiday obligations that could give you an excuse to be off doing less important things. Or, bring the whole family.

IN California
2. Tim Palmer Book Tour Continues

In the October Interim UPDATE, we mentioned an appearance by writer and photographer Tim Palmer. He has a new book of stunning photographs out titled “California Wild: Preserving the Beauty and Spirit of Our Land.”

Tim is currently on a book tour around the state, showing slides from the book and discussing his vision of wilderness in California. The schedule for his remaining shows is below. Having seen the show and the book, I can recommend both!

Thursday, November 18 –
Fresno UC Center
550 East Shaw Avenue
For more information, contact Kristina Ortez, 559-999-0576,

Sunday, November 21 –
Santa Monica Patagonia Store,
2936 Main Street
For more information, contact Vicky Achee,, 310-314-1776.

Monday, November 22 –
Palm Desert Palm Desert Public Library,
73-300 Fred Waring Drive
Sponsored by the Natural Science Collaborative of the Desert Region
For more information, contact Holly Owens, 951-303-7922,

3. Brower Film “Monumental” To Show in Chico

In the October Interim UPDATE we mentioned a two screenings of the new documentary on David Brower, “Monumental.” The following announcement comes from the Environmental Action and Resource Center at Chico State University:

The Environmental Action and Resource Center at Chico State is pleased to announce a premiere event coming this December. The documentary film, “Monumental: David Brower’s Fight for Wild America “will show on December 7, 2004 in the BMU Auditorium. This is a unique opportunity to meet Film Director Kelly Duane and speak with her on how she made such an epic film. In addition, Brower’s former personal assistant Bill Travers will speak on his experiences in climbing and mountaineering with Brower. The event is free to all and there will be a free reception following the presentations. This is a unique opportunity to see the life of David Brower and his fight to save some of the most prestigious national parks we all enjoy today as well as view archival footage, much shot by Brower himself, of rafting and climbing. I invite you to come see this presentation and share this information with others. Feel free to pass on this information and if you would like an 11×17 poster to post in your office, please contact me. I hope to see you all there!

Diana Rector
Director EARC

IN Arizona
4. Colorado River Management Plan Comments
DEADLINE: January 7, 2005

The following alert was put together by the Grand Canyon Wilderness Alliance, of which CalUWild is an active member. The Arizona Wilderness Coalition, acting for the coalition, put together a short Internet film on the issue, and you can submit comments through that web site as well.

The film can be viewed at:

TO: Colorado River Lovers
SUBJECT: Powerboats Will Destroy Grand Canyon Wilderness, Unless

Unless we tell the Park Service we want the wilderness of the Colorado River protected from the noise and crowds of motorized boats.

The Problem: The National Park Service (NPS) released a draft EIS for the Colorado River Management Plan (CRMP) on October 1st. The CRMP does not protect natural resources and the wilderness experience at the river. Instead, the current Administration is pushing forward a river management plan with alternatives that protect a handful of special interest commercial concession operations that provide noisy, crowded powerboat tours. These tours disrupt and continuously degrade the rare wilderness experience found nowhere else in the lower 48 states.

Because of this motorized monopoly, thousands of other people who wish to float the river at its own pace and enjoy the natural quiet and solitude wilderness offers are unable to do so. But river access does not need to be limited by a phase out of motorboats because oar trips are in just as much demand among the visiting public.

How You Can Help Us: Open house meetings are scheduled for the Colorado River Management Plan. Show up and you can help protect Grand Canyon Wilderness!!

Write comments and come to the open house meetings. A strong showing will help turn the tide towards real protection for the heart of Grand Canyon National Park. Bring your friends, bring you family, tell as many people as you can by forwarding this alert.

The meeting is open to the public from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Thursday, December 2, 2004
San Francisco, California
The Presidio of San Francisco Presidio Officers’ Club
50 Moraga Avenue, San Francisco
To download the full plan, visit

You may turn in comments at the meeting or submit them via U.S. Mail, fax, e-mail, or the Grand Canyon NP web site.

Craft-Your-Own-Letter Talking Points

1. In your letter, tell the Park Service that their preferred “Alternative H” is unacceptable because it fails to restore the Grand Canyon wilderness experience on the Colorado River and perpetuates noisy, crowded motor trips.
2. Ask the Park Service to select Alternative B/C –the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) non-motorized “Alternatives B and C,” plus some critical changes necessary to protect wilderness character. Unlike the agency’s “Preferred Alternative H,” Alternative B/C:
* &nbspProtects the Wilderness Character of the Colorado River in Grand Canyon by providing levels of recreational use consistent with a wilderness experience. The Park Service’s current “Preferred Alternative H ” fails to protect the unique wilderness values of the Colorado River in Grand Canyon. Ask the Park Service to protect the river’s natural, cultural, and experiential values, including wilderness.
* Reduces group size to less than 20 people. The agency’s insistence for group size of 32 people in the preferred “Alternative H” is contrary to providing a wilderness experience. As Park Service research confirms, the overwhelming majority of river runners prefer to travel in groups of less than 20 people (DEIS, Appendix G). The group size of people traveling together is an important factor that the NPS can control to protect the Park’s wilderness character (DEIS, p.29). The size of one’s group is an important consideration in the field of recreational use management and affects each boat passenger, as well as other groups encountered (DEIS, p. 29). As also emphasized in the DEIS, group size also affects park resources because larger groups need more space for activities. When large groups camp at ever-diminishing beaches, they are forced to spread out into the old high-water zone. This intrusion puts sensitive resources at risk. Smaller groups have flexibility to use small or large sites. Larger groups are more likely to disturb larger areas. Ask the Park Service to reduce the maximum group size to 20 people or less.
* Phases out the use of powerboats. In 1980, over 90% of Grand Canyon National Park was recommended for designation as wilderness. The Colorado River corridor was recommended as potential wilderness pending the removal of motorboats as a use that is incompatible with wilderness values [DEIS, page 6]. Powerboats seriously impact the wilderness experience (NPS 1979:I-25) and Park Service policy requires the agency to remove this “non-conforming” use (NPS 2001). Non-motorized craft (oar-powered craft, dories, and paddleboats) easily provide a safe, enjoyable wilderness experience for all river runners (Myers et al. 1999). In spite of the agency’s requirement to eliminate motors, the Park Service’s preferred alternative perpetuates powerboat use for the next ten to 15 years (DEIS, page 51). Ask the Park Service to phase out motorized use over a reasonable time period not to exceed 10 years.
* Reduces the number of encounters between boats to a level that is compatible with a wilderness experience. The Park Service’s own research shows the majority of river users prefer less than three encounters with other groups each day. The preferred “Alternative H” grossly exceeds this level. Motor trips generally experience more river encounters per day because they travel faster and farther (DEIS Appendix G). Studies in wilderness and backcountry settings show agreement among visitors that encounter levels should be low in wilderness (DEIS Appendix G). In general, wilderness preferences are for fewer than 2 or 3 encounters per day, with many preferring no encounters at all (DEIS Appendix G). Reducing the number of daily launches to no more than four non-motorized trips per day should reduce the number of encounters to acceptable levels (Shelby and Nielson 1979). Ask the National Park Service to reduce the number of encounters expected between groups of river runners to 3 or less a day.
* Eliminates noisy helicopter passenger exchanges. Grand Canyon’s natural soundscape is considered a disappearing resource that requires restoration, protection, and preservation so that natural sounds are not masked or obscured by the wide variety of human caused noise impacts (DEIS, p. 128). Natural sounds are considered an inherent component of the scenery, natural and historic properties, and proposed wilderness that constitute the bulk of the park (94%), and consequently natural sound, the DEIS concludes, is vital to the visitor experience at the park. Natural sounds can provide valuable indicators of the health and “naturalness” of the ecosystems found here (DEIS, p. 127). Although the NPS admits helicopter noise significantly impacts the natural soundscape of the wild canyon, the preferred “Alternative H” allows for up to 10,000 people on 2,000 flights in and out of the river corridor each year. Viable alternatives including the use of horses or mules–a wilderness-compatible, traditional use– should be addressed. Ask the Park Service to eliminate helicopter exchanges in Grand Canyon.
* Provides Appropriate Levels of Commercial River Running Services. The Park Service should provide commercial services only when they are demonstrated as necessary and appropriate and the minimum required for providing recreational rafting opportunities consistent with the purposes of wilderness. Only then should the agency establish use allocation between commercial and non-commercial river runners. Ask the Park Service to open up the river for the general public, including more trips for low-income, disabled, and non-commercial boaters, and reduce the 20-year waiting period for public use of the park.

Comments may be submitted by:

U.S. Mail:
CRMP Project
Grand Canyon National Park
P.O. Box 129
Grand Canyon, AZ 86023

Fax: 928-638-7797


Web site:
(The comment boxes in the electronic form will expand to accommodate as much as you want to write.)

Comments will be accepted until January 7, 2005.


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