Newsletter Archive

DSC_0678a3aCanyons of the Ancients National Monument, Colorado                                                                       (Mike Painter)

February 28, 2014

Dear CalUWild friends-

With 2014 being the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, it is fitting to remember that February 25th was the birthday of Howard Zahniser, the Act’s principal author, born in 1906. Working for The Wilderness Society, he wrote the Wilderness Act and saw it through numerous revisions and hearings in Congress. Zahniser died in 1964, several months before Pres. Lyndon Johnson signed the legislation into law. The Wilderness Act’s introduction remains one of our most poetic pieces of legislation, and the Act has served as inspiration for conservation laws around the world.

This month saw the announcement of more congressional retirements, including Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ). This is of particular note to us because Rep. Holt has been the lead House sponsor in this Congress of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, the comprehensive Utah wilderness bill first introduced in 1989 by Rep. Wayne Owens of Utah. Rep. Holt took on the sponsorship from Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) when he retired in 2012.

Also retiring is California Congresswoman Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-35), who felt she could accomplish more locally. She said she would run for a supervisor’s seat in San Bernardino County, where she has lived for many years. Former Rep. Joe Baca (D), whom Rep. Negrete McLeod defeated in 2012, was said to be considering a run for the seat again. He was not a strong conservation vote during his prior terms in Congress.

There has been some rain and snow the last week in California. Let’s hope for more!

Best wishes,

1.   Canyonlands National Park
          Celebrating 50th Birthday in 2014
          (ACTION ITEM)

2.   White House Petition to Stop Solar Site
          Adjacent to Mojave National Preserve
          (ACTION ITEM)
3.   Exhibition of Photos by Philip Hyde
          Wilderness Hobnob in San Anselmo
          Thursday, March 6
4.   Don’t Frack California Rally in Sacramento
          Saturday, March 15

5.   Monument Legislation Pulled in the House
          After Amendment Introduced

6.   Plans to Increase Wireless and Cell Phone Access
          In National Parks Stall
7.   Job Listings

8.   Links to Articles of Interest


1.   Canyonlands National Park
          Celebrating 50th Birthday in 2014
          (ACTION ITEM)

2014 is a big year for 50th Anniversary celebrations: the Wilderness Act, the Civil Rights Act, and Canyonlands National Park. (It’s also the 30th Anniversary of the California Wilderness Act and the 20th Anniversary of the California Desert Protection Act!)

Canyonlands NP sits in the middle of a basin surrounding the confluence of the Green and Colorado rivers. The park boundaries are the result of political compromises made at the time of its establishment and are arbitrary from an ecological perspective. It has long been the dream of conservationists to permanently protect the entire area, which was first proposed as “Escalante National Monument” in the 1930s by then-Interior Secretary Harold Ickes. (You can read some of the history of the proposals here and here.)

There has been a campaign underway over the last couple of years to raise awareness about the Greater Canyonlands region and to encourage its permanent protection. With the Administration giving indications that it wants to move forward on land protection, it’s an opportune time for citizens to show their support before the Park’s actual anniversary in September.

One aspect of the campaign is “50 States for Greater Canyonlands”-events or activities in each of the states, which can be kept track of and used to show national support for protection of the region. In the upcoming months, we’ll continue to highlight actions you can take and events surrounding Canyonland’s Anniversary.

In the meantime, if you haven’t contacted the White House in response to the President’s State of the Union Address last month, we’ll repeat the call in the January Update for people to contact the White House to thank the President for mentioning land protection in his speech, and to encourage him to follow through on his words.

You may comment at:

          phone:   202-456-1111;   or on the
          White House Online Comment Form

Or you might consider sending a wilderness postcard to him at:

          The White House
          1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
          Washington, DC 20500

The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance posted an online petition to the President, asking for protection for Greater Canyonlands, which I encourage you to sign in addition.

2.   Please Sign White House Petition to Stop Solar Project
          Adjacent to Mojave National Preserve
          (ACTION ITEM)

Bechtel Corporation has proposed building solar power installations covering more than 4,000 acres along Interstate 15, less than a mile from Mojave National Preserve, the third largest National Park Service unit in the Lower 48.

Besides destroying views in and around the Preserve, the gigantic installations will destroy desert tortoise habitat, interfere with wildlife corridors between the Preserve and Death Valley National Park, change the hydrology of the area, and affect populations of bighorn sheep and the endangered Mohave tui chub.

You can read more about the project by clicking on these links:

•   Sierra Club California/Nevada Desert Committee
•   Basin & Range Watch
•   National Parks Conservation Association

There is a petition at the White House site “We the People” asking that the administration reject the application. Please click here to sign it.

You will need to set up a username if you haven’t already.


3.   Exhibition of Photos by Philip Hyde
          Wilderness Hobnob in San Anselmo
          March 6

To kick off the Wilderness Act’s 50th Anniversary celebrations in the Bay Area, the first Wilderness Hobnob-a gathering for wilderness supporters and professionals to meet each other socially-will be held next Thursday, March 6.

The occasion will be a special gallery viewing of This Land Is Our Land: Philip Hyde and the American Wilderness.

Philip Hyde was one of America’s premier wilderness photographers. His photographs appeared in many of the Sierra Club’s “Exhibit Format” books, lending pictorial support to campaigns to protect places like the Grand Canyon, Pt. Reyes, Redwoods National Park, the North Cascades, Alaska, and Utah’s Slickrock Country.

Come see some wonderful photography and at the same time meet other wilderness supporters and people from organizations and agencies working to protect our wild lands!

          Thursday, March 6, 2014
          Smith Anderson North Gallery
          20 Greenfield Avenue
          San Anselmo, CA 94960
          6:00-8:00 p.m.

RSVP early because space is limited-once we reach the gallery’s capacity, we won’t be able to accept any more. Send me an email or call me at 415-752-3911.

4.   Don’t Frack California Rally in Sacramento
          March 15

CalUWild has been working with conservation organizations, ranchers, and others around the West since 2001 to protect vulnerable landscapes and public lands from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking as it is now commonly known. Fracking involves injecting large amounts of water, sand, and organic solvents deep into underground rock formations, under high pressure, to crack the rocks and release natural gas or oil. Many people are concerned about potential contamination of groundwater supplies, the huge amounts of water used (especially in the increasingly drought-stricken West), and the disposal of the wastewater from the process. Fracking has also been linked to increased earthquake activity in some places. Finally, it does nothing to move us away from fossil fuels and toward more sustainable energy sources.

At first, fracking was pretty much confined to the Rocky Mountain States and New Mexico. Then it spread to New York and Pennsylvania, and now it’s come to California. A coalition of groups, Californians Against Fracking (CAF), has formed, and CalUWild is a supporting member. CAF will be participating in a rally in Sacramento on Saturday March 15 at 1 pm urging Gov. Jerry Brown to stop fracking in California. He has not taken a stand against it, and in fact last year he signed legislation mandating very weak regulation of fracking.

If you’re interested in attending the rally, buses will be going from around the state. More information about fracking and full details about the rally may be found on the Don’t Frack California website.

5.   Monument Legislation Withdrawn in the House
          After Amendments Introduced

In a repeat of the actions that we reported last month, Utah’s Rep. Rob Bishop (R), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Public Lands & Environmental Regulation, this week introduced objectionable amendments to yet another Nevada public lands bill.

The bill in question, H.R. 2015, by Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV), would have designated Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument, north of Las Vegas. The monument would have been under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, rather than being managed by the BLM as the land is presently. The BLM would also have been authorized to sell over a thousand acres of lands for economic development, as provided for in the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act (SNPLMA). That law, passed in 1998, allows the BLM to sell land around Las Vegas, the proceeds from which are to be used for other conservation activities in Nevada.

The Bishop amendments would have kept the monument in BLM hands and required a Park Service resource study on the significance of the lands, eliminating the bill’s language that “since 1933, the Upper Las Vegas Wash has been valued by scientists because of the significant paleontological resources.” As stated in the bill originally, a prior BLM study “identified sensitive biological, cultural, and paleontological resources,” in an area known to contain “thousands of paleontological resources from the Pleistocene Epoch that are preserved in a unique geological context that are of national importance, including Columbian mammoth, ground sloth, American lion, camels, and horse fossils.” The amendment, if passed, would have meant that additional legislation would be required in the future to bring the monument under the jurisdiction of the Park Service.

Rep. Bishop’s amendment would have prohibited the federal government from buying private inholdings within the monument. Furthermore, it would have dictated that proceeds from land sales to go toward reducing the federal deficit rather than for Nevada conservation purposes.

Nevada senator Harry Reid (D), author of a companion bill in the Senate with his Republican colleague Dean Heller, objected strongly to Bishop’s amendment, as did various conservation organizations around the country. This time the bill was withdrawn before Thursday’s markup hearing rather than being approved and passed out of the Natural Resources Committee.

Once again, Rep. Bishop has shown disregard for the locally-developed proposals of other states, while insisting that any that affect his own constituents have strong local support and input.

6.   Plans to Increase Wireless and Cell Phone Access
          In National Parks Stall

In our January 2013 Update we wrote about plans proposed by national park concessionaires to increase Internet access in national parks, both for cell phone use and for interpretive purposes, such as at trailheads and viewpoints along roads. the concessionaires were proposing that they be allowed to charge the public extra for the interpretive information.

National Parks Traveler reported last week that the plans “appear to have been scrapped due, apparently, to a lack of interest.” When Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility inquired about the proposal recently, it was told that when the director of the Intermountain Office left the NPS last year, no one took the project over.

That’s good news for anyone who values quiet and non-commercialization of our national parks.

7.   Job Listings

Friends of Nevada Wilderness is hiring! Whether you live in Northern or Southern Nevada, they have a wide range of job opportunities for you to explore-seasonally and year-round.

Click here for full details on the positions listed below.

   Southern Nevada
          Stewardship Technician
          Seasonal Trail Crew Leader and Members

   Northern Nevada
          Seasonal Stewardship Technician
          Outreach Support Technician
          Seasonal Wilderness Monitoring Crew
          Seasonal Wilderness Stewardship Challenge Monitoring Crew
          Wilderness Inventory Crew Member

8.   Links of Interest

If a link is broken or otherwise inaccessible to you, please send me an email.

An essay in National Parks Traveler on wilderness philosophy, by environmental historian Alfred Runte, prompted by the publication of the 5th edition of Wilderness and the American Mind by Roderick Nash
A thoughtful op-ed piece in High Country News on wilderness and change, especially as it affects historic structures in designated wilderness areas
Our land, our legacy, our responsibility, an op-ed piece by Reps. Chris Gibson (R-NY) and Jared Huffman (D-CA)
This Land Was Your Land: In Utah and other Western states, the country’s most pristine wilderness faces new threats from Big Energy and its powerful allies
Veterans: a New Cadre of Monument Men (and Women) for America’s Treasures?, an op-ed piece in Roll Call looking at the increasing role veterans groups are taking on in land conservation efforts
An article in National Parks Traveler about the Healthy Parks, Healthy People program

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