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October 31, 2002

Dear CalUWild friends —

It’s been another quiet month in terms of action items, but there are a few items of interest, nevertheless.

The wilderness community mourns the death last week of Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone. He was an ardent champion of wilderness preservation around the West, in addition to being an outspoken proponent of other environmental and social justice issues. Sen. Wellstone will be missed greatly.

There is some good news, however. On Wednesday, a federal court in Washington, DC, temporarily stopped seismic exploration outside Arches National Park in Utah. The judge will look at claims by SUWA, NRDC, and The Wilderness Society that the BLM violated environmental laws by allowing the seismic contractor to begin without taking all the negative consequences into account.

In other court news, an appeals court in Washington, DC, threw out a challenge to the creation of national monuments by former president Bill Clinton. The court upheld Clinton’s use of the 1906 Antiquities Act to create the Giant Sequoia NM in California. The ruling applies to the other monuments named in the case: Cascade-Siskiyou in Oregon; Hanford Reach in Washington state; the Grand Canyon-Parashant, Ironwood Forest and Sonoran Desert in Arizona; and the Canyons of the Ancients in Colorado.

Gifford Pinchot, first chief of the US Forest said: “The vast possibilities of our great future will become realities only if we make ourselves responsible for that future.” Remember to vote on November 5!

Finally, CalUWild is officially 5 years old–we got our start at the 1997 California Wilderness Coalition fundraiser. (See item 5 for this year’s announcement.) We have about 500 dedicated members and supporters around the state, and a few outside California as well. When Keith Hammond, Vicky Hoover and I started the organization, we had no idea where it would lead. We’ve become a strong voice for grassroots citizen involvement in wilderness and public lands management. And we’re a model for organizations in other states as well. Thank you for helping us get as far as we have!

Best wishes,

Mike

IN UTAH

1. Salt Creek in Canyonlands NP Remains Closed to Traffic

ACTION ITEM

2. A Few Cosponsors Short for America’s Redrock Wilderness Act

ACTION ITEM

IN NEVADA

3. Clark County Wilderness Bill Passes

IN CALIFORNIA

4. Wild Heritage Campaign Update

5. California Wilderness Coalition Fundraiser

November 14 in Oakland

IN GENERAL

6. Land Exchanges in the News

=========================

IN UTAH

1. Salt Creek in Canyonlands NP Remains Closed to Traffic

ACTION ITEM

Earlier this month, Canyonlands National Park followed through on its

preferred alternative, deciding to keep Salt Creek Canyon closed to

vehicles. This issue has been ongoing for several years now, and CalUWild

has reported on it and requested comments from you several times, the last

time in July of this year.

This is great news! Salt Creek is the only stream in Canyonlands that runs

year around; thus it provides crucial wildlife habitat. Additionally, easy

vehicle access threatens the many archaeological resources in the canyon.

As reported in the July UPDATE, the Park Service has also made a

preliminary determination that the RS 2477 road claim made by San Juan

County is unfounded. This matter is currently in court, and will be decided

in the next few month. We’ll keep you posted.

You can read more about the decision at:

http://www.nps.gov/cany/pphtml/newseventsdetail5783.html

Please write a letter of thanks to:

Mr. Jerry Banta

Superintendent

Canyonlands National Park

2282 S. West Resource Boulevard

Moab, UT 84532-3298

2. A Few Cosponsors Short for America’s Redrock Wilderness Act

ACTION ITEM

America’s Redrock Wilderness Act currently has 17 cosponsors in the US

Senate and 162 in the House. While the Senate count is a new record for

this legislation, the House tally falls 7 short of the previous record of

169.

Congress will be coming back for a lame duck session after the election

next week, so it can’t hurt to call your representatives if they aren’t on

the bill yet. Here in California we have 27 representatives signed on, a

record. However, there are a few who might still make the list:

Joe Baca (D-42)

Gary Condit (D-18)

Cal Dooley (D-20)

Steve Horn (R-38)

Tom Lantos (D-12)

Maybe even Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D)!

If your rep is a cosponsor and you haven’t sent a thank you letter, please

do so:

Xavier Becerra (D-30)

Howard Berman (D-26)

Lois Capps (D-22)

Susan Davis (D-49)

Anna Eshoo (D-14)

Sam Farr (D-17)

Bob Filner (D-50)

Jane Harman (D-36)

Mike Honda (D-15)

Barbara Lee (D-09)

Zoe Lofgren (D-16)

Robert Matsui (D-05)

Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-37)

George Miller (D-07)

Grace Napolitano (D-34)

Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-33)

Loretta Sanchez (D-46)

Adam Schiff (D-27)

Brad Sherman (D-24)

Hilda Solis (D-31)

Pete Stark (D-13)

Ellen Tauscher (D-10)

Mike Thompson (D-01)

Maxine Waters (D-35)

Diane Watson (D-32)

Henry Waxman (D-29)

Lynn Woolsey (D-06)

IN NEVADA

3. Clark County Wilderness Bill Passes

On October 17, the U.S. Senate passed the Clark County Conservation of

Public Land and Natural Resources Act of 2002, just a day after the House

of Representatives had passed a companion bill. This legislation created 18

new Wilderness areas, totaling about 452,000 acres in southern Nevada.

Pres. Bush is expected to sign the bill next week.

This bill protects BLM, Park Service, and Forest Service lands around Las

Vegas, one of the fastest-growing cities in the country.

In addition, the legislation created the Sloan Canyon National Conservation

Area and provided for the mineral withdrawal of about 800,000 acres in

areas of critical environmental concern, until the BLM can make the

withdrawal permanent.

This is just the successful beginning of a drive to designate more

wilderness in the Silver State.

For more information on Nevada Wilderness, visit the Friends of Nevada

Wilderness at:

http://www.nevadawilderness.org

IN CALIFORNIA

4. Wild Heritage Campaign Update

Sen. Boxer’s Wild Heritage Act of 2002 continues to attract support from

around the state–except from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who has yet to support

it formally. As a Hallowe’en treat, the Campaign delivered 20,000 postcards

in support of protecting wilderness in our state to her offices in San

Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego. Additionally, as we’ve reported, the

Campaign is conducting a petition drive for people to express to Sen.

Feinstein their support for protecting some of California’s remaining wild

places.

You may sign the petition online at:

http://www.ipetitions.com/campaigns/Wild-Places/

Or if you would like to circulate it, download a PDF version from:

http://www.californiawild.org/pdf/FeinsteinPetition.pdf

Additionally, a letter to Sen. Feinstein is being circulated to businesses

in support of wilderness. As of 5 p.m. today, 233 had signed on. If you are

a business owner, or know someone who might be interested in signing on,

please contact Dave Westman at the Sierra Club in Oakland at:

510-622-0290 x-220

or by email at:

dave.westman@sierraclub.org

Only 17 more signatures are needed in the next week to meet the goal of 250!

5. California Wilderness Coalition Fundraiser

November 14 in Oakland

Every Fall, the California Wilderness Coalition has a fundraising reception

to celebrate the year’s accomplishments preserving California’s wild

places. This year the event will be held at:

Earthjustice

Thursday, November 14

426 – 17th Street, 6th Floor

Oakland

7 – 9 p.m.

California printmaker Tom Killion will discuss his new book The High Sierra

of California, written with poet Gary Snyder. Killion has adapted

traditional Japanese woodblock printing methods to produce marvelous prints

of California’s natural heritage.

Suggested donation is $75, but all contributions are welcome. Please RSVP

to CWC at 530-758-0380 by November 8.

IN GENERAL

6. Land Exchanges in the News

One of the biggest scandals in public lands management has been the way

land exchanges have been handled.

State and federal agencies may wish to exchange ownership of land with a

state for various reasons: it is impractical for an agency to manage a

particular parcel, state lands may be inside national monument boundaries,

etc. The exchanges are supposed to be fairly valued: the value of the real

estate on each side should be roughly equal. This has not always been the

case, however, and in the last few years exchanges have come under close

scrutiny. Two of the principal watchdogs have been Public Employees for

Environmental Responsibility (PEER) in Washington, DC, and the Western Land

Exchange Project, based in Seattle, WA.

There have been several exchanges in Utah recently: in the Grand

Staircase-Escalante NM, the state trust lands I in the monument were

transferred to the BLM for other lands around the state (with more

development potential); and an exchange was recently approved in the House

for the San Rafael Swell.

The New York Times reported on October 12 that in one exchange in Nevada, a

developer acquired 70 acres of BLM land that the agency had valued at

$763,000, then sold it the next day for $4.6 million.

Some employees within BLM have complained that exchanges weren’t being

fairly valued–usually the federal lands were undervalued, giving states a

windfall. These employees were generally ignored by the BLM.

The Appraisal Foundation, a body which sets real estate appraisal standards

and qualifications issued a report at the end of September blasting the BLM

for the way it handles exchanges. Titled “Evaluation of the Appraisal

Organization of the Department of Interior Bureau of Land Management,” the

report found numerous violations of law and charged that the appraisal

process was often politicized. The report called for a moratorium on

exchanges, a Justice Department investigation into legal violations, and

the formation of a board to oversee evaluations and exchanges in the

Department of the Interior.

Coincidentally or not, the BLM has removed two of the officials who were in

charge of exchanges: Ray Brady, Realty Lands & Realty Manager and David

Cavanaugh, Chief Appraiser.

If you’d like more information, the Western Land Exchange Project and

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility sent out a press release

when the report was issued. You may read it online at:

http://www.peer.org/press/282.html

You may download a copy of the report at:

http://www.peer.org/appraisal_report.pdf

(WARNING: It’s a huge file)

or you may request a copy from PEER:

2001 S Street, NW, Suite 570

Washington DC 20009

202-265-7337

For more information on PEER, visit:

http://www.peer.org

For more information on the Western Land Exchange Project, visit:

http://www.westlx.org/

God bless America. Let’s save some of it.

–Edward Abbey

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Michael J. Painter

Coordinator

Californians for Western Wilderness

P.O. Box 210474

San Francisco, CA 94121-0474

415-752-3911

mike@caluwild.org

caluwild@mindspring.com

https://www.caluwild.org

(undergoing renovation)

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