Newsletter Archive

September 24, 2007

Dear CalUWild Friends –

After last month’s dearth, we have four ACTION ITEMS this month. Each is important in it own right, so if you’re able to write on more than one, it would be a big help.

Best wishes,

1. Moab BLM Resource Plan Released
Proposed Wilderness at Risk

Letters Needed to BLM and Utah Governor
2. Monticello BLM Office Closes Off-Road
Vehicle Routes in Archaeology Zone
Thank You Letters Needed

3. Eldorado National Forest
Route Designation
Comments Needed
DEADLINE: October 22

4. Oversight Hearings on Recreational Fees
Faxes and Calls Needed
5. Job listing: Northern California Outreach
Organizer for Tuleyome


1. Moab BLM Resource Plan Released
Proposed Wilderness at Risk
Letters Needed to BLM and Utah Governor

We’ve been reporting over the last several years that the Bureau of Land Management in Utah has been updating its “Resource Management Plans” (RMPs). These are plans that each local office drafts to guide its management of the lands in its jurisdiction for the ensuing 10 – 15 years. These are drafted using the process spelled out in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and are subject to public review and input at various stages.

The Moab BLM office has just released it Draft Plan, and 5 other offices will be releasing their draft plans in the upcoming weeks. Each is scheduled to have 90 days during which the public may comment. For those of us who care about Utah’s wild areas and are committed to public involvement, this schedule presents a heavy burden, because each plan has it own complexities and the BLM needs to hear specific comments on each specific element of its draft plan.

It’s difficult enough to do this for one plan, but having six in such short order will be next to impossible. In its latest Alert, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) wrote: “While the BLM has taken the better part of seven years to prepare the six plans for eastern Utah’s public lands, it expects the public to comment on each of them within a 90-day deadline. This would be unreasonable for any one of the plans, but the BLM will release versions of all six plans in the coming weeks, creating significant overlap between comment periods, confusion and overwork for anyone with a stake in these magnificent lands.”

Therefore, SUWA is asking concerned citizens to contact the Utah State BLM Director and the governor to request a 180-day extension for public comment on these plans.

Their contact information is:

Ms. Selma Sierra
State Director
Bureau of Land Management
Utah State Office
P.O. Box 45155
Salt Lake City, UT 84145

Phone: 801-539-4001
Fax: 801-539-4013

Gov. Jon M. Huntsman, Jr.
State Capitol Complex
East Office Building, Suite E220
P.O. Box 142220
Salt Lake City, Utah 84114-2220

Phone: 801-538-1000
Fax: 801-538-1528

Letters and faxes are always better than phone calls. As background, mention your interest in Utah, whether you’ve traveled there, that you’re a believer in a fair process, and one that will achieve the best results in the long term.

Please write or call right away.

The present deadline for comments is November 30, 2007. We will provide more details about the draft plan for Moab next month. In the meantime, if you’d like to take a look at SUWA’s analysis so far of the Moab Draft Plan, click here. A link to a PDF fact sheet is on the right side of the page.

2. Monticello BLM Office Closes Off-Road
Vehicle Routes in Archaeology Zone
Thank You Letters Needed

In an action that it should have taken a long time ago, the BLM Monticello Office has closed an area to off-road vehicles that were damaging archaeological sites. Nearly two years ago, illegally constructed ORV trails were discovered in Recapture Wash, below the Recapture Dam Recreation Area near Blanding, UT.

The area has many archaeological sites that have never been systematically inventoried by the BLM. Many individuals and organizations such as Great Old Broads for Wilderness and SUWA tried ever since the discovery of these routes to have the area closed. The BLM balked until this month, when it finally closed the area off through an emergency decree.

We’re firm believers in saying thanks, even if the actions are delayed, if for no other reason than to remind officials that people are looking out for public resources.

So please send Monticello Acting Manager Nick Sandberg a message of gratitude, as well as State Director Selma Sierra.

Mr. Nick Sandberg
Acting Manager
P.O. Box 7
Monticello, UT 84535

Phone: (435) 587-1500

Ms. Sierra’s contact information is above. Since this is a “thank you,” email is acceptable also (but it is preferable NOT to use email for Item 1).

3. Eldorado National Forest
Route Designation
Comments Needed
DEADLINE: October 22

The following comes from Vicky Hoover at the Sierra Club.

The Forest Service, which has recently called unmanaged motorized vehicle recreation a major threat to America’s spectacular public lands, is changing over to a national off-road vehicle (ORV)-management system of allowing recreation off-road vehicle use on designated routes only, instead of general cross-country use anywhere except where specially prohibited. To make this major (and long needed!) change, the Forest Service has undertaken the enormous task of designating off-highway travel routes on all National Forests. Each forest is dong separate planning. Here in California, right now, the Eldorado National Forest (which is just south of Lake Tahoe and north of the Stanislaus National Forest) has released its Travel Management Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) to confine vehicle use to specifically designated roads and trails. The comment period for this plan ends Oct. 22.

The public has an unprecedented opportunity RIGHT NOW to write to keep motorized vehicles out of sensitive habitat, watersheds and unprotected wilderness. Here are some general talking points to put into your OWN words, to begin your comment letter, before you ask for adoption of Alternative E, with two important changes:

* The law requires the Forest Service to minimize damage from off-road vehicles. It does NOT require the Forest Service to fulfill ALL the demand for motorized routes that now exists or may ever exist.
* When figuring out where motorized routes of travel should be the Forest Service should keep in mind the needs of the MANY, many visitors to the Forest who do NOT come for motorized-vehicle recreation. They shouldn’t discriminate against people who wish to hike or families who want to go for a walk from a campground without being disturbed by noise, dust, or pollution of off-road vehicles. (There are two relatively small wilderness areas on the Eldorado Forest, the Desolation in the north, and the Mokelumne in the south. These don’t accommodate all the visitors who just wish for some short and quiet walking places, without the challenge of accessing wilderness.)
* The Forest Service must consider how any new motorized route they add to their travel system contributes to the problem of fragmenting habitat for wildlife. (Since wildlife cannot speak up for themselves, the Forest Service must take special care to assure that providing for human recreation minimizes the harm to wildlife, both plants and animals.) Special concern must be given to sensitive species.

In addition, the Forest Service must be careful not to allow more routes in the travel system than the agency has the staff and funding to monitor, manage, restore, AND enforce. One of the problems of off-road vehicle use has been precisely the lack of adequate monitoring, restoration of impacts, and enforcement of regulations. The agency must consider how THIS plan will facilitate those essential management actions.

Specifically: Urge the Forest Supervisor to adopt Alternative E, with the following important changes:

* Alternative E should adopt the seasonal closures and over-the-snow requirements of Alt. C: “Seasonal closure on all designated system trails and native surface roads from Nov. 1 through April 3. Wheeled motor vehicle over-the-snow travel allowed on surfaced roads only with 12 inches of snow or more and no ground contact.” These closure dates can be shortened by the Forest Supervisor if dry weather warrants opening the forest to vehicles.
* In the Rubicon River area, Hunters Trail (11E09), Gray’s (aka Frey’s) Trail (11E04), Deer Creek Trail (14E11) should not be designated for motorized use. Reason: The Rubicon Canyon is an historic hiking/backpacking/fishing area. Hunter’s is one of the most popular hiking trails on the Georgetown District. Because it is relatively level, it is one of the easier trails for the very young, the elderly or infirm. Fishermen use the trails to access the excellent trout fishing in the Rubicon. Motorized use conflicts with traditional quiet recreation in numerous ways. Dirt bike noise echoes in the canyon, spoiling the natural quiet. Tell the Forest Service motorized use of these trails will create/continue significant user conflicts.

Important: Point out that Alt. E also reduces damage from the other leading “threats” identified by the Forest Service: Fire, noxious weeds, and habitat fragmentation.

Comments on the Travel Management DEIS will be accepted until October 22, 2007. Comments may be submitted by mail to:

Forest Supervisor Ramiro Villalvazo
Attn: Travel Management DEIS
100 Forni Road
Placerville, CA 95667

By email to:

By fax: 530-621-5297

Or by leaving a message on the project hotline: 530-295-5666.

Click here for more information on the Eldorado’s DEIS.

4. Oversight Hearings on Recreational Fees
Faxes and Calls Needed

The fight against user fees on public lands continues. CalUWild supports efforts to keep access to our public lands free for citizens. We support funding by Congress, through the annual budget process for all the land management agencies at a level adequate for the proper protection and restoration of our natural resources. CalUWild firmly believes that as citizens, we are the owners of the public lands, not the agencies’ customers. And while we have no objection to reasonable fees for developed facilities such as campgrounds and marinas, going for a hike in the canyons or the woods should be free to anyone.

The following, slightly edited, comes from Keep Sespe Wild, one of the groups working to end the fee structure on our public lands.

URGENT: Ask Senators to Hold Oversight Hearings on Public Lands Recreation Policy!

It’s the end of summer and the US Forest Service is releasing proposals to close thousands of developed recreation sites around the nation – campgrounds, trailheads, picnic areas, boat launches, and swimming sites – to charge new or increased fees at hundreds of others, and to remove facilities, reduce capacity, and shorten seasons at hundreds more.

These changes are outlined in documents known as Recreation Facility Analysis (RFA) Proposed Programs of Work (PPOW). Each National Forest is producing an RFA -PPOW and the bulk of them – around 140 – are due out in coming weeks.

The Western Slope No-Fee Coalition (WSNFC) has carefully gone over the 18 or so RFAs that are so far available to the public, and in just these 18 forests, the agency’s proposals over the next five years will

– close 407 campgrounds (17% of sites in these 18 forests);
– reduce capacity at 464 sites (20% of the total);
– remove amenities (toilets, tables, trash cans, fire rings) at 243 sites (10% of total);
– turn 225 sites over to concessionaires or partners (10% of total);
– implement new fees at 136 sites (6%)
– and increase fees at 170 sites (7%).

We don’t have time to wait until all the RFAs are published to alert Congress to these threats to our publicly-owned recreation sites! In some cases, the US Forest Service has already gone and removed water systems, toilets, picnic tables, and fire rings, and completely closed campgrounds and other developed recreation sites without ANY public notice at all.

For the WSNFC’s June 2007 update report on RFA/RSFMP plans go to


The RFA process was not authorized by Congress; the US Forest Service calls it an internal matter.

It is up to you and me to bring the RFA-PPOWs to Congress’s attention, by requesting that the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee hold oversight hearings on recreation policy, particularly on the RFAs and on the agencies’ implementation of the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA), the public lands recreation fee program.

Below you will find which Senators to contact and what to say.


At a Minimum: Contact the majority and minority chairs of the committee by calling the committee’s office number at – (202) 224-4971. Or you can fax your comments – the fax number for the two chairs is below. Faxes have the most impact, phone calls are next. Emails are not effective. Regular letters take too long because of security delays.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)
Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM)

fax (202) 224-6163


Neither of California’s senators sits on the committee. Other committee members are listed below. If you live are in their state or have family or friends who do, please be sure they get contacted.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO)
Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT)
Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY)
Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR)
Sen. Bernie Sanders (Independent-VT)

Mention the FIRST point at least, and then one or more of the following points. Please put them in your own words!

* Ask that the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee hold oversight hearings this fall on the FLREA / fee legislation and on the Forest Service’s Recreation Facility Analysis.
* State that you oppose Forest Service plans to close thousands of developed recreation sites.
* Support adequate public funding for public lands recreation sites that reaches sites on the ground (rather than going mostly to administrative overhead).
* Mention your opposition to the Forest Service’s High Impact Recreation Areas (HIRAs), where recreation fees are charged often miles away from any developed facilities.
* Say you want trailhead access to wilderness and undeveloped backcountry to be free from fees, as the FLREA requires.
* Oppose the BLM and Forest Service use of Special Recreation Permits for individual access to BLM lands.



Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) is expected to introduce his bill soon to repeal the FLREA. We will send out a new action alert at that point in support of the bill.

Thanks, as ever, for your help in this truly grassroots effort.

Alasdair Coyne
Keep Sespe Wild

5. Job listing: Northern California Outreach
Organizer for Tuleyome

Outreach organizer: Tuleyome and the National Hispanic Environmental Council are hiring an organizer to work on the proposed Blue Ridge Berryessa National Conservation Area and outreach within the Latino community. This is a joint contract position for one and perhaps two years. The work requires demonstrated organizer experience, excellent communication skills, bilingualism in English and Spanish, and drivers license. Work is directed from Tuleyome’s Woodland office with travel throughout the Napa, Lake, Colusa, and Yolo regions. Contract amount starts $3,000 per month. For additional information go to and email