Newsletter Archive

October 31, 2005

Dear CalUWild friends —

There are several items this month with very short deadlines, requiring immediate attention. I apologize for the short notice, but all are important, so please take the time in the next few days to send off a letter or make a phone call. Thanks!

One of our fellow wilderness organizations, Great Old Broads for Wilderness is having an online auction to help raise funds. They are a wonderfully effective group, a joy to work with, and definitely worth supporting. Please check out their auction web site. It won’t be ready to bid on until November 1, but you can go there and check it out now.

Speaking of fundraising, all nonprofit organizations are in constant need of support, and CalUWild is no exception. We do not engage in direct mail solicitations — all funding comes from current members, foundations, and a company or two. Dues have always been voluntary for members receiving our Monthly Update via e-mail. When you receive a dues reminder, please consider making a contribution. Large or small, it will help us help you protect the lands we all love.



1. R.S. 2477 Lawsuit Filed

2. Governor Signs Cache Creek Wild & Scenic River Bill
3. E-mails Needed on Plan Revisions for
Four Southern California National Forests
DEADLINE: November 10

4. Senate Includes Arctic Drilling in Budget Bill
Deadline: Wednesday, November 2 in the Senate
Monday, November 7 in the House

5. Ojito Wilderness Bill Signed

6. Fee Demonstration Hearing
E-mails Needed
Deadline: November 4, 2005

7. Park Service Rules Revisions Get New Draft


1. R.S. 2477 Lawsuit Filed

In mid-October, the Wilderness Society and Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance filed suit in Utah federal court against Kane County for opening up routes to off-road vehicle (ORV) use after the BLM had closed them. The disputed routes include 100 or more in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Earthjustice attorney Ted Zukoski of Earthjustice said in a written statement: “We’re filing this lawsuit because Kane County is attempting to seize control of the management of some of America’s most spectacular public lands. The Constitution and federal law require that these lands be managed for all Americans, not by local counties for the benefit of a few ORV enthusiasts. Kane County’s bluster and bullying don’t give it the right to trash national parks and other lands by turning them into dirt bike and ATV playgrounds.”

Earlier this year, the Utah BLM director threatened to sue the county over the road signs but so far has taken no action. Perhaps this lawsuit will encourage BLM to move.

2. Governor Signs Cache Creek Wild & Scenic River Bill

On October 6, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the bill by Assemblywoman Lois Wolk (D-Davis) designating 31 miles of Cache Creek in Lake and Yolo Counties “Wild and Scenic.” This issue has been at the top of the list of California conservationists for several years and has been the subject of several CalUWild Update items.

The bill protects the creek (actually a small river) from new dams and thus preserves the many recreational opportunities in the BLM-managed lands through which it flows, as well as rafting and other recreation on the creek itself.

Please write the Governor and thank him for signing the bill.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 95814

3. E-mails Needed on Plan Revisions for
Four Southern California National Forests
DEADLINE: November 10

The four national forests — Los Padres, Angeles, Cleveland, and San Bernardino — are among the jewels of the southern part of the state. They are beautiful and very heavily used for recreation. They also provide important reservoirs of plant and wildlife habitat in an area that is growing rapidly.

The Forest Service recently released a Final EIS and Management Plan for the four forests. Two organizations with which CalUWild works closely, the California Wild Heritage Campaign and the Sierra Club, have serious concerns about the final plan, and they are mounting a public letter writing campaign to improve the decisions that will be made under the new plan.

The request below is, therefore, different than most of our calls for letters or comments, because the plan in question has been released in its final form. Although we are asking you to write Mr. Weingardt, the Regional Forester, we are asking you to please e-mail them to Holly Owens, the CWHC organizer for Southern California. CWHC and the Sierra Club will personally deliver the letters to Regional Forester Bernie Weingardt.

Holly assures me that she will not collect e-mail addresses to add to other distribution lists.

***The Forest Service Needs To Hear From You!***

See below for an easy-to-email letter to the Forest Service

Dear friends of wild places:

The Forest Service has recently issued new management plans for the four Southern CA Forests: the Angeles, Cleveland, Los Padres and San Bernardino. These plans are the blueprints for how our forests will be managed for the next 15-20 years, guiding decisions on everything from recommending areas for wilderness to protecting wildlife and deciding where development can occur. Concerned people like yourselves have worked hard for years to share ideas for how the forests can be protected and restored as the Forest Service wrote the new plans.

Unfortunately, the resulting plans are out of balance with the needs of most people who value and visit these national forests. For example, the Forest Service acknowledges they cannot meet people’s demands for wilderness recreation, yet the plans recommend only an additional 2% of our forests for wilderness designation, leaving out thousands of acres of land eligible for consideration as wilderness.

The new plans also fail to adequately address rapidly growing development and off-road vehicle damage. The LA Times editorialized about its disappointment in the new plans, noting that they “open up more forest land to off-road vehicles, even though the Forest Service admits it cannot police the areas already open.” The plans will expand harmful, polluting off-road vehicle use while offering few improvements for the 90% of visitors who don’t use off-road vehicles.

The plans do not address challenges that threaten the natural and recreational values in the four forests:

– The Cleveland National Forest is confronted with proposals to flood Morrell Canyon, a popular oak-filled canyon for a hydroelectric plant, to build a toll road through wilderness-quality lands, and to construct massive power transmission lines along a spectacular scenic vista.

– A plan to drill for oil in condor habitat and ongoing off-road vehicle damage are key threats on the Los Padres National Forest.

– A toll road has been proposed through the Angeles National Forest, where visitors often suffer inadequate facilities and services, and major new developments are gradually encircling the forest, threatening vital wildlife migration trails, increasing the risk of fire and impacting recreation opportunities.

– The San Bernardino National Forest faces similar development risks, particularly from growth pressures on communities surrounded by national forest land.

The four Southern CA forests are visited by over eight million people a year – twice the number of visitors to Yosemite National Park. These forests are where many children play in snow for the first time, see their first pinecones and deer, and wade in their first sparkling creek. For millions of residents, a personal link with our natural world begins and is sustained in these forests.

“Four years and millions of dollars have been spent on a plan that will only lead to a further decline in the quality of visitors’ experiences and the health and beauty of the forests. Now those who love and value our forests must continue to champion a positive vision that will serve the public and protect the forests in ways the Forest Service plans fail to do.” – Bill Corcoran, Sierra Club Senior Regional Representative [and CalUWild Steering Committee member].

Although there is no official comment period on the new forest plans, it is important that we let the Forest Service know how the plans can be improved as we continue to advance our efforts to protect the wild places of our national forests in the weeks, months and years to come. The Forest Service needs to hear from you.


Please take a few minutes to write a letter to the top Forest Service official in CA, Regional Forester Bernie Weingardt. Your letter, along with hundreds of others from people who care about our forests, will be hand delivered to Mr. Weingardt. Please send me your letter by November 10.


1. ** Customize the letter – include your own personal experiences and concerns by adding in your desire to protect specific places, your concerns about development and other damage to the forest, etc., and add the date and your contact information **

2. Email the letter to:

Address the letter to:

Mr. Bernie Weingardt
Regional Forester
Pacific Southwest Region
1323 Club Drive
Vallejo, CA 94592

Suggested comments:

– Recommend more wilderness and wild rivers for permanent protection. Unlike the Back Country zones, wilderness permanently protects resources like water and wildlife while providing high quality and sustainable recreation opportunities to a continually growing number of forest visitors. These areas include, Morrell Canyon and the Eagle Peak in the Cleveland National Forest; Pleasant View Ridge and Condor Peak in the Angeles; and Cahuilla Mountain and South Fork San Jacinto River in the San Bernardino. Deserving rivers include, the San Antonio Creek and Lower Piru Creek in the Angeles Forest; Pine Valley Creek in the Cleveland Forest; North Fork San Jacinto River and Deep Creek in the San Bernardino Forest; and the South Fork Little Sur in the Los Padres Forest.

– Do not allow an expansion of off-road vehicle trails and do not legalize illegal trails. Trespassing, erosion, fire risk, loss of wildlife, pollution and noise make poorly managed off-road use one of the key threats to our forests.

– Provide real commitments to better serve the 90% of visitors who do not use off-road vehicles. We need improved trails, better facilities, and more field staffing to provide public outreach and education.

– Please take a leadership role in protecting our forests and better serving the majority of forest visitors.

Your voice is important in protecting our national forests’ wild places for future generations. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Thank you for your time and for taking action,



Holly Owens

Regional Organizer

Sierra Club / CA Wild Heritage Campaign

P.O. Box 638

Idyllwild, CA 92549


4. Senate Includes Arctic Drilling in Budget Bill
Deadline: Wednesday, November 2 in the Senate
Monday, November 7 in the House

The information in the alert below comes from CalUWild’s co-coordinator Vicky Hoover of the Sierra Club. California’s senators will not vote to open up the refuge, but we are mounting a campaign to convince senators from other states to vote against drilling as well. So if you have family or friends in Arizona, Maine, Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon, or Rhode Island, please take a moment to call them or e-mail them. Ask them to contact their senators urging a NO vote on the Budget Reconciliation Bill. To make it easier for you, contact information for those key senators is given below.

REUTERS: Updated: 2:26 p.m. ET Oct. 19, 2005

WASHINGTON – The Senate Energy Committee voted Wednesday to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil drilling as part of a broad budget bill to fund the federal government.

Within weeks, the measure could become law. By attaching the language to the budget bill, Republicans have made it impossible for Democrats to block it with a filibuster. And the House of Representatives has repeatedly voted in favor of opening the refuge to energy development.

Tapping the refuge’s billions of barrels of crude oil is a key part of the Bush administration’s national energy plan. Environmental groups and most Democrats oppose drilling, saying that instead of threatening the habitat of wildlife in ANWR, lawmakers should look at ways to cut oil consumption with more fuel-efficient vehicle standards.


We Need Your Help

Please take a moment to tell Congress to keep the oil industry out of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Conservationists are not alone in opposing the Reconciliation bill. A broad and growing coalition of progressive organizations — operating under the banner of the Emergency Campaign for America’s Priorities (ECAP) – has added its voices to the chorus demanding that Congress reject the Reconciliation Bill’s draconian cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, student aid, and other vital programs.

Now, after this ominous Committee action, final round of calls to key swing legislators in BOTH House and Senate assume extra urgency and importance:

No matter what state you live in, contact your own representatives and contact people you know in the states listed below, urge them to ask the relevant Senators and representatives to vote AGAINST the budget when both Houses hold their votes, which could be as early as Thursday. The House is expected to vote the week of November 7.

Phone numbers and fax numbers for these key votes are given below.

SENATORS (liberal Republicans who have voted previously to protect the Arctic) Phone number is listed first, then fax

John McCain, Arizona

(202) 224-2235 (202) 228-2862

Olympia Snowe, Maine

(202) 224-5344 (202) 224-1946

Susan Collins, Maine

(202) 224-2523 (202) 224-2693

Norm Coleman, Minnesota

(202) 224-5641 (202) 224-1152

Mike DeWine, Ohio

(202) 224-2315 (202) 224-6519

Gordon Smith, Oregon

(202) 224-3753 (202) 228-3997

Lincoln Chafee, Rhode Island

(202) 224-2921 (202) 228-2853

5. Ojito Wilderness Bill Signed

Pres. Bush signed the Ojito Wilderness Bill last Thursday, designating about 11,000 acres in Sandoval County, New Mexico as the Ojito Wilderness. South of San Ysidro, the new wilderness area is rich in archaeological resources, rare plants, and spectacular scenery. The area is on BLM-managed lad and had been a wilderness study area since 1991. This was the first wilderness designation in New Mexico since before 1990.

The bill also transferred adjacent ancestral lands to the Zia Pueblo, to also be managed as open space. Grazing will be allowed in the wilderness area, but mining, ORVs, and mountain biking will not be allowed.

6. Fee Demonstration Hearing
E-mails Needed
Deadline: November 4, 2005

The alert below comes from Keep Sepse Wild in Southern California. Sen. Dianne Feinstein is on the Public Lands Subcommittee that held the hearing discussed. If there is an example of a non-compliant fee area near you, tell her about it. It wouldn’t hurt to send Sen. Barbara Boxer a copy of your comments as well.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein
(ph) 202-224-3841
(fax) 202-228-3954

Sen. Barbara Boxer
(ph) 202-224-3553
(fax) 415-956-6701

The Senate Subcommittee hearing held on Wednesday, October 26th to review implementation by the US Forest Service and the BLM of the new fee law, the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA), presented plentiful evidence of agency overreach beyond the letter and the intent of the law.

Invited witnesses Kitty Benzar, Western Slope No Fee Coalition, Marv Stalcup, Arizona No Fee Coalition, and Lance Young, World Outing Club, Seattle, testified that few or no changes have occurred at fee sites since the FLREA was signed into law 10 months ago – though the FLREA specifically restricted fees to “areas” with six amenities present (trash can, picnic table, toilet, interpretive sign, designated parking and security services), prohibited entrance fees for Forest Service and BLM lands, and banned fees for access to backcountry, parking, or passing through public lands without using any facilities.

Further, the agencies have created a new fee category (nowhere mentioned in the FLREA), the “High Impact Recreation Area,” or HIRA, which often extends for up to tens of thousands of acres around the core site where the six amenities are present.

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED: The Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests chaired by Senator Larry Craig, (R-ID) has demonstrated a keen interest in Forest Service and BLM implementation of the FLREA, simply by holding this hearing and by inviting three fee opponents to testify.

What happens next is not immediately clear, however. Will the Senate introduce legislation to tighten the poorly-defined language of the FLREA? With your help, this CAN be accomplished!

On our side is the fact that the Senate unanimously passed Sen. Craig Thomas’s (R-WY) bill in 2004, which made permanent Park Service fees ONLY, and would have allowed US Forest Service, BLM and US Fish & Wildlife Service recreation fees to lapse. Key Senators were extremely upset when the FLREA was foisted on them instead, with no opportunity for debate, amendments, hearings or a vote, as a rider attached to a must-pass spending bill in Dec 2004.

But vital to the success of our efforts to curtail the agencies’ overreach in the implementation of the FLREA is YOUR INPUT to Washington DC! Written public testimony is being accepted into the official record of the hearing until November 4th. Quite simply, more will happen, and faster, if an unprecedented number of emails are received at the offices of the Subcommittee.

WHAT TO DO: Please email the Subcommittee that held the hearing. Deadline for comments to be entered in to the public record (this is important) is Friday November 4th, 5 pm Eastern time.

We are not providing a sample letter, as brief comments are OK and we want to avoid the sample letter being seen as a form letter (which carries much less weight).


In order to be accepted into the record you must

1. Begin your email with the following statement: “Please include this in the public record for the 10/26/05, 2 pm hearing before the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests on the implementation of the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act.”

2. End your email with your name and complete regular mailing address.

Your testimony WILL NOT be accepted without these TWO inclusions.

Please also mention facts about agency overreach in your area, such as the following:

(a) High Impact Recreation Areas (HIRAs) which illegally extend fee authority beyond a core site that contains the six amenities (toilet, trash can, interpretive sign, designated parking, picnic table and security services) and which also include undeveloped trailheads under fees, when the FLREA says they should remain free. (b) Special Recreation Permits. These used to be for commercial outfitters and guides, but are now being required by the agencies for individual uses of public lands (i.e. Wilderness access, ORVs, mountain biking and horseback riding). If you are now being required to buy one, give the details. (c) Trailhead parking fees, which are using fees to control access to dispersed, undeveloped backcountry areas despite language in the law prohibiting fees for backcountry use.

For further details on agency fee overreach and examples of non-compliant fee sites, check out the WSNFC’s Oct 2005 Survey Report to Congress at their NEW website,

We don’t often have the opportunity to submit testimony for the official congressional record, especially via email. Emails are easy to generate! Please help further by contacting friends and family who will send an email similar to yours.

This may be 2005’s MOST IMPORTANT opportunity to give input to the public record of a fee hearing in DC. Please help deluge the congressional record with testimony from concerned citizens!

Thank you.

Alasdair Coyne,
Keep Sespe Wild
(805) 921-0618

P.O. Box 715
Ojai, CA 93024

7. Park Service Rules Revisions Get New Draft

As we reported in the September Update, the Department of the Interior in August released a revision to the Department’s park management policies. These revisions were prepared by a political appointee, Paul Hoffman, and would have allowed more commercial and recreational activities in parks, including opening many trails to ORVs. The Park Service rejected these changes.

Mr. Hoffman said that his draft was meant to stimulate discussion. However, it is not clear why the policies needed revision, as they were just revised in 2001. In any event, this month the Department issued a new draft which stepped back from many of the more controversial provisions. However, conservationists remain concerned. The new rules are undergoing a 90-day public comment period and CalUWild will try to provide more information next month for our members.

Stay tuned.