Newsletter Archive

October 16, 2003

Dear CalUWild friends —

September was a relatively quiet month, and I spent a couple of weeks away from the office exploring some of the wild areas of Utah and visiting with fellow wilderness enthusiasts and friends there. It was a good trip, with no e-mail, voicemail, or computer to interrupt-just slot canyons, red rock and sand, a few ruins and petroglyphs, and lots of blue sky. But now October is here and things are heating up again.

The recall election in California is over. It remains to be seen what Governor-elect Schwarzenegger will do on environmental (and other) issues, since he refused to be specific during his campaign. He did threaten to eliminate the California Environmental Protection Agency to cut back on “waste,” but he seems to have backed off on that position. With so much of the media focused on that election, it hasn’t been hard to lose sight of the fact that there are other issues that the press hasn’t focused on but which need our attention nevertheless.

* On the R.S. 2477 (roads claims) issue, the Interior Appropriations Bill is awaiting the Conference Committee. The House version has language in it that prohibits funding for processing claims in national parks, monuments, wildlife refuges, and wilderness and wilderness study areas (WSAs). The Senate version has no such language, so the pressure needs to be on to keep the House language intact.
* The Bureau of Land Management released two “Instruction Memoranda” on September 29, implementing the recent settlement with the state of Utah and explaining how wilderness is to be dealt with in land use planning processes. There were no real surprises-among other things: BLM renounced its authority to create new WSAs; WSAs created after 1993 will lose their status; there is no mention at all of what to do with lands that BLM acquired after 1993; and there is no requirement to consider wilderness characteristics in planning process, although the agency “may consider” them.
* 2 weeks ago, the BLM issued its final management plan for the Headwaters Forest in Northern California. The plan offers strong protection for the area. However, in accordance with the Utah settlement, it does not propose any new wilderness areas or WSAs. You can be sure BLM in Washington will tout this as an example of what can be done under its new standards. The problem is that what can be done administratively can also be UN-done administratively-much more easily than through legislation.
* On October 6, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear appeals by Tulare County and the Mountain States Legal Foundation. The plaintiffs had challenged Pres. Bill Clinton’s use of the 1906 Antiquities Act to designate Giant Sequoia National Monument and monuments in Arizona, Colorado, Oregon and Washington state. The Bush administration argued that such lawsuits against the president over the designation of national monuments were not authorized by any law.
* Rep. Diane Watson (D-33) of Los Angeles is the latest California co-sponsor of America’s Redrock Wilderness Act, the Utah wilderness bill. Thanks are due to her office. This brings the total number of California cosponsors to 27 in the House. Only Loretta Sanchez has not renewed her cosponsorship, so if you live in her district, a phone call or letter is in order.
* The wilderness community is beginning to prepare for the 40th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act in September 2004, and the Campaign for America’s Wilderness has set up a web site at

If you’re interested in knowing about some of the activities and resources surrounding the anniversary, check it out.

As always, if you have questions, comments, or suggestions about anything in this UPDATE or how CalUWild can improve, please don’t hesitate to contact us by e-mail or phone: 415-752-3911.

Thank you for your support and interest in wilderness and public lands!

Best wishes,



1. Cedar Mountains Wilderness Bill


2. Emigrant Wilderness Dams Comment Due
Deadline: October 27

3. Wild Heritage Campaign

4. CalUWild Slide Shows in Modesto & Marysville
October 17, November 21

5. California Wilderness Coalition Annual Autumn Celebration
November 8


6. Eastern Nevada Wilderness Proposal


7. Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Comments Due
Deadline: October 27


8. Energy Bill



1. Cedar Mountains Wilderness Bill

Today, October 16, the subcommittee on National Parks, Recreation and Public Lands held a hearing on H.R. 2909, the Utah Test and Training Range Protection Act.

* The hearing on the bill was premature (and troublesome) for wilderness advocates for several reasons:
* There were no maps of the proposed wilderness area boundaries, making it difficult to gauge the proposal.
* There was no proposed report language but the bill contains ambiguous language regarding potential construction activities inside wilderness.
* The bill allows the construction of new communications facilities inside wilderness and wilderness study areas. This is inconsistent with the Wilderness Act, since it destroys the sense of solitude found in wilderness. And it is unprecedented management language. The bill also allows for an increase in the number of sites, as long as they do not collectively have a significant impact or increase in the number of sites. But it sets no limits, so there is the danger that over time, the cumulative impact is great, although the individual enlargements were not.

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


2. Emigrant Wilderness Dams Comments Due

Deadline: October 27


The Emigrant Wilderness in Stanislaus National Forest, north of Yosemite, was designated in 1975. At that time, the wilderness area contained 18 small dams, which were not addressed in the legislation.

These dams raise the level of natural lakes by a few feet each, and most were installed in the 1920s and 30s to augment stream flow in the creeks below the lakes for fishery enhancement. Three were built to raise lake levels and three to maintain meadows. High elevation lakes in the area were naturally fishless prior to stocking by cattlemen in the 1890s.

The dams have been the subject of attempts to ensure their permanent maintenance, most notably through legislation repeatedly introduced by Rep. John Doolittle (R-04) of Sacramento. However, the Forest Service and the California Department of Fish & Game have done no maintenance on the dams since 1989.

Now the Forest Service has released a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) in which the preferred alternative (Alt. 1) proposes to reconstruct one dam and repair 11 others, The Forest Service would then operate and maintain them in the wilderness area. Six dams would be allowed to deteriorate naturally to restore natural processes. Alt. 3 would allow for the maintenance of seven dams that are eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

CalUWild recommends that the Forest Service adopt Alt. 2, “No Action,” allowing all the dams to deteriorate naturally. Our recommendation is based on the clear language of the Wilderness Act.

Sec. 2(c) reads in part: “A wilderness… is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man[,]… retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements… which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions and which … generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man’s work substantially unnoticeable[.] ”

Maintenance and operation of the 12 dams contradicts the Wilderness Act on at least four counts:

* The dams are a “permanent improvement.”
* Continued operation of the dams to manipulate stream flow conflicts with the requirement that the wilderness area be “untrammeled” (free to operate without interference by human activity).
* The DEIS states: “[O]nce the structures are seen, they tend to dominate the visual environment in the vicinity.” Given this admission, the dams can hardly be considered “substantially unnoticeable.” The Forest Service tries to minimize this objection by stating that given the fact that there are over 100 named lakes in the Emigrant Wilderness, dams on 18 could be considered “substantially unnoticeable.” This is open to debate, and should be addressed in comments.
* Finally, since the Cow Meadow main dam no longer exists, it will be reconstructed. This also violates the Wilderness Act and should not be undertaken.

If you have visited the area, please add personal comments about your experiences there, especially related to the dams.

The DEIS is available on the Stanislaus National Forest website.

Comments should be mailed to:

Stanislaus National Forest
Attention: Emigrant Wilderness Dams
19777 Greenley Road
Sonora, CA 95370.

Comments may also be submitted by e-mail .

[Subject: Emigrant Dams]

(please include full name and a mailing address with comments)

Again, the DEADLINE is October 27.

3. Wild Heritage Campaign


Sen. Dianne Feinstein has still not given her support to the California Wild Heritage Act. The Wild Heritage Campaign continues to collect signatures on petitions expressing citizen support for protecting California’s remaining wild areas. You can sign the petition on-line at

You can also download a copy of the petition to circulate among your friends for their signatures.

On the legislative front, the Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act is that portion of the statewide bill in Mike Thompson’s District 1. In the House the bill number is H.R. 1501 and the companion bill in the Senate is S.738. Both bills need cosponsors.

H.R. 1501 has the 8 cosponsors, with the following 6 from California:

* Rep. Tom Lantos (D-12)
* Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-38)
* Rep. Pete Stark (D-13)
* Rep. Michael Honda (D-15)
* Rep. Hilda Solis (D-32)
* Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-10)

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ7) and Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN4) round out the list.

S.738 has no current cosponsors.

If your representative is not on the list, please call them and ask that they become a cosponsor of H.R. 1501. Please also call Sen. Dianne Feinstein and ask her to cosponsor S.378.

As this UPDATE is being written, the full Northern California Wild Heritage Act, covering all of Northern California, is being introduced in the House, authored again by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-1). The Southern California bill is expected to be introduced shortly by Rep. Hilda Solis (D-32).

4. CalUWild Slide Shows in Modesto and Marysville

October 17, November 21

CalUWild coordinator Mike Painter will give a slide show looking at wilderness issues in the West, using Utah as an example. It’s at the monthly meeting of the Sierra Club Yokuts Chapter, and will take place at the Modesto Police Department, located at the corner of Tenth and G streets. Parking is available on the street. The meeting room is on the ground floor. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. and the presentation will be at 7:30.

The same slide show will be shown Friday November 21 at monthly meeting of the Club’s Sierra Nevada Group, Mother Lode Chapter. The meeting will be at the Marysville Library, 7:30 p.m. Details will follow.

Please attend and tell your friends who might be interested.

Slide shows are one of the best ways to spread the news about wilderness issues, and CalUWild is looking to increase the number of presentations to organizations. Possibilities include student groups, service organizations like Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs, or even private homes. If you’d like to organize one, please contact Mike at or 415-752-3911.

5. California Wilderness Coalition Annual Autumn Celebration

November 8, 4:30 p.m.

The California Wilderness Coalition invites you to join them for their Annual Autumn Celebration, honoring Senator Barbara Boxer and Congressman Sam Farr with their inaugural Phillip Burton Wilderness Award, for their tireless work enacting the Big Sur Wilderness and Conservation Act.

Saturday, November 8, 2003
4:30 – 7 p.m.
California Society of Pioneers
300 Fourth Street at Folsom Street
San Francisco
Across from the Moscone Center
Powell Street BART Station

Hors d’oeuvres, Wine, Silent Auction

$75 suggested donation; all contributions are welcome and tax deductible.

RSVP by October 31 to 530-758-0380.


6. Eastern Nevada Wilderness Proposal

The following comes from Friends of Nevada Wilderness

Today, your help is crucial to protect threatened wild lands in Nevada’s Lincoln County. Please take a few minutes now and write a personal letter to Senator John Ensign, asking him to support the entire Citizens’ Proposal for Wilderness in Lincoln County.

As you read this, Senators Ensign and Harry Reid are drafting public lands legislation for Lincoln County, Nev., just north of Clark County and Las Vegas. Senator Ensign supported Wilderness in Clark County because he received overwhelming support for wilderness from people like you. However we need to demonstrate a similar amount of support for wilderness in Lincoln County if these important wildlands are to be protected.

How much Wilderness Sen. Ensign agrees to in this bill depends largely on how much public support he receives for Wilderness. How much Wilderness is protected in this bill depends on you!

Eastern Nevada’s wild places need you NOW! Because legislation is being drafted now, we have very little time to show our broad public support to Sen. Ensign for Wilderness in Lincoln County. Please take a couple of minutes to tell Sen. Ensign how much Wilderness means to you. Personal letters are more influential with our elected leaders than form letters and e-mails. The more letters he receives, the more Wilderness we’ll see protected in the bill. Below are some points you can pass on to Sen. Ensign:

1. Every acre of every Wilderness Study Area should be designated, plus Citizen-Proposed Areas. Support the Nevada Wilderness Coalition’s Citizens’ Wilderness Proposal for Lincoln County, encompassing 37 areas and 2.8 million acres.
2. Wild lands in Lincoln County are facing increasing impacts from the growing Las Vegas population not far away. As the population continues to grow, it is important that we designate Lincoln County Wilderness for people to hike, hunt, backpack and horseback, while protecting them from being destroyed from irresponsible off-road vehicle use and other impacts.
3. Protecting these places as Wilderness will help protect the petroglyphs and other amazing cultural and archeological resources found throughout the region.
4. Wilderness will help assure a healthy habitat for wildlife.
5. Wilderness helps ensure clean air and water for everyone.
6. Please mention areas in particular, such as the Mormon, Meadow Valley and Delamar Mountains, Mount Irish, the Pahranagat Range and Big Rocks.

Nevada’s wild places are what make this state a great place to live. In order to keep these places wild, it takes the effort of people like you to help Keep It Wild!

Thank you!

Brian Beffort, Conservation Director

Friends of Nevada Wilderness

Please address letters to:

Senator John Ensign
600 E. Williams St., Suite 304
Carson City, NV 89701

or send a fax to Senator Ensign at:
(202) 228-2193

or send an email

PS: Please let us know if you write to Senator Ensign. Call or Fax Friends of Nevada Wilderness when you mail your letter, or if you have any questions.

Phone: (775) 324-7667; Fax: (775) 324-2677; email:

For full information on the lands proposed for protection in eastern Nevada, visit our website:


7. Frank Church/River of No Return Wilderness
Comment Due
Deadline: October 27

The following is an edited version of an alert sent out by Wilderness Watch. Due to space considerations, it contains only the “Background” and the specific request for each suggested talking point. When writing your comments, it is important to back up your requests with good arguments, so please read the complete alert at:

Help Keep the Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness Wild!

Your Letters Make a Difference!

The U.S. Forest Service has released the final environmental impact statement (FEIS) for the Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness management plan. If approved, the FEIS and Record of Decision will guide management of the 2.4 million-acre Wilderness – the largest in the Lower ’48 – for years to come. The wild character of this area has degraded significantly in the past 20 years and that trend will actually increase under the new plan. Please take a few minutes to write a letter to the Forest Service asking them to protect the wilderness character of the Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness.

Comments must be submitted by October 27, 2003.


Established by the 1980 Central Idaho Wilderness Act, the Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness provides essential habitat for populations of grizzly bears, wolves, salmon, bull trout, wolverine, otters, and many other species found in the Northern Rockies. The Wilderness harbors two of the nation’s premier Wild and Scenic Rivers, the Middle Fork and Main Salmon, where visitors can view bighorn sheep from the river, bathe in natural hot springs, and sleep under a blanket of stars. It is Wilderness on a grand scale, though its future is anything but certain.

The Forest Service issued a draft EIS in 1999 and a supplemental draft EIS in 2000. These studies addressed a broad array of issues including many of the most contentious and Wilderness-damaging activities now occurring in the FC-RONR Wilderness. Unfortunately, in the Final EIS the agency has opted to omit many of the most damaging activities from its analysis. As a result the final plan allows unlimited expansion of aircraft and motorboat use, continued degradation around campsites, lakes, streams and trails, serious impairment of the opportunity for a wilderness experience on the Middle Fork Salmon and Main Salmon rivers, and an unfair quota system that has commercialized much of the access to these rivers. It’s important that we speak up and urge the agency to address the issues at hand.

While the draft EIS included 11 alternatives for consideration, the FEIS is reduced to 5 Alternatives (A to E). The Forest Service’s preferred alternative is Alternative D. Though none of these alternatives will protect and preserve the area’s Wilderness character and values, Alternative B comes closest. Urge the Forest Service to adopt Alternative B with the following changes:

* Aircraft Use: Urge the Forest Service to limit the number of aircraft landings to pre-Wilderness designation levels, and to implement a permit system that allows access for legitimate Wilderness dependent activities only. Urge the Forest Service to permanently close the Dewey Moore, Mile-Hi, Simonds, and Vines landing strips.
* Campsites, Trails and Related Impacts: Urge the Forest Service to implement specific management strategies to reduce crowding and on-site physical impacts from occurring elsewhere.
* Outfitter Camps: Urge the Forest Service to require that outfitter camps be temporary and removed at the end of each season.
* Managing use on the Middle Fork and Main Salmon rivers: Urge the Forest Service to cap river use at the level set in Alternative B, but to increase the number of trips available to the public by reducing group size limits to 12 per trip, and by allocating a much larger percentage of the launches to the public, rather than commercial users.
* Jetboats: Urge the Forest Service to prohibit “jetbacks,” and to cap motorboat use at 1978 levels.
* Painter Bar Road: Urge the FS to close the Painter Road in the final plan.
* Livestock grazing, fire control, fish stocking: Urge the Forest Service to adopt standards that promote naturally functioning ecosystems.

Send your comments to:

Mr. Ken Wotring
FC-RONR Wilderness Coordinator
Forest Supervisor’s Office
Salmon-Challis National Forest
50 Highway 93 South
Salmon, ID 83467
Phone: (208) 756-5131
Fax: (208) 756 – 5151

via email:


8. Energy Bill

21 organizations, including CalUWild, released the following fact sheet opposing the proposed Energy Bill in currently in Congress. Please call your senators and representatives regarding the bill.

Title III of the discussion draft released by the House-Senate Energy Conference Committee on September 29th would make oil and gas development the dominant use of America’s western public lands. The myriad other uses and values of these lands – water quality and quantity, livestock grazing, the private property rights of ranchers and farmers on “split estate” lands, wildlife and wildlife habitat, recreational uses, wildland preservation, and cultural and archeological values – would take a back seat to oil and gas production on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and on national forests. The bill represents a radical departure from Congress’ direction for our public lands over the past 50 years. It threatens the landscapes of today’s West with rapid industrialization, resulting in the pollution of its clear air as well as streams and rivers, degradation of wildlife habitats and dwindling populations of big game and other species, and the destruction of the quality of life of its residents.

For over five decades, Congress has mandated the multiple use principle for management of our public lands – not the dominant use principle. Rather than allow these lands to be managed for a single, dominant use, Congress has directed that activities like energy production be balanced against other land uses and values and that the damaging impacts of development activities to be minimized. Under this proposal, energy production would trump all other uses – and western landscapes and communities would pay the price.

The September 29 draft includes provisions that seek to:

Prohibit drilling fluids from being considered drinking water pollutants – even when they contain diesel fuels and other potentially harmful chemicals (Sec. 327).

Exempt oil and gas drilling sites from water pollution controls (Sec. 328).

Establish a new “Office of Federal Energy Project Coordination” in the White House to expedite the permitting and completion of energy projects on public lands (Sec. 341).

Require the Secretary of the Interior to review federal oil and gas permitting processes and take action to ensure “timely action” on applications for drilling permits (Secs. 342, 343) – at a time when more than thousands of drilling permits have already been approved so far this year.

Require the U.S. Geological Survey to identify “restrictions” and “impediments” to oil and gas development on public lands – including scientifically based measures to protect fish and wildlife, cultural and historic values, and other publicly-owned resources from harm during development (Sec. 345).

Prohibit federal land managers from “taking any action” before determining if there would be “a significant adverse effect” on energy development (Sec. 346) – an attempt to discourage adoption of any resource protections that might affect development.

Establish a special “pilot project” to streamline approvals of drilling permits (Sec. 348) – a project that could result in the abandonment of protections for wildlife and other public values in seven specific BLM field offices across the West.

Allow applicants for drilling permits up to two years to complete their applications but mandate BLM approval of drilling permits within days (Sec. 349). This provision also seeks to require approval of an application that is “complete,” even if the project is fundamentally flawed because its impacts cannot be mitigated – as when the site is near a sensitive area like a stream or on a steep slope. This language was in neither the House or Senate passed energy bill.

Allow corridors for oil and gas pipelines, as well as electricity transmission and distribution facilities, to be established by Secretarial order circumventing the land use planning process (Sec. 351). This provision too was in neither the House or Senate passed energy bill.

Put the Energy Department in charge of permitting utility corridor rights-of-way on public lands (Sec. 352).

Mandate approval of a 500 KV power line through California’s Cleveland National Forest precluding meaningful environmental review and public participation (Sec. 354)

In addition, the bill would ease access for energy companies to tribal lands by undermining environmental review and public participation requirements (Indian energy title).

And, the discussion draft would provide massive subsidies to the oil and gas industry – already the nation’s wealthiest industrial sector – to underwrite their degradation of our lands. Its subsidies include:

Creation of a $500 million loan program to assist and encourage companies to develop oil and gas reserves (Sec. 335). This sum is $400 million more than the House bill provided and, unlike the House bill, the discussion draft lacks any guarantees that loans would actually be repaid.

Establishment of a program for reclaiming some of the orphaned, abandoned and idled wells on federal lands that includes provisions for reimbursing energy companies for cleanup costs (Sec. 319). Instead of forcing the industry to internalize these costs, taxpayers could end up footing the bill.

Allowing the Secretary of the Interior to reimburse oil and gas companies when they pay for environmental reviews of their projects (Sec. 326), rather than making adequate federal funds available.

Granting royalty exemptions for marginal wells that produce less than 15 barrels of oil per day or 90 million Btu of gas as well as offshore wells deeper than 400 meters (Sec. 313). The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that these exemptions would cost $136 million over the next ten years.

Drilling the West won’t make America energy independent. Making oil and gas production the dominant use of our western public lands will destroy western landscapes, western communities and the environmental values of those lands. All Americans will suffer – now and in the future – if this legislation, written by and for the energy companies, becomes law.

The groups signing the fact sheet were:

Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, Californians for Western Wilderness, Colorado Environmental Coalition, Dakota Resource Council, Dakota Rural Action, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, Environment Colorado, Forest Guardians, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Northern Plains Resource Council, Powder River Basin Resource Council, San Juan Citizens Alliance, Sierra Club, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, U.S. PIRG, Western Colorado Congress, Western Organization of Resource Councils