Newsletter Archive

DSC_0266b3aStornetta Public Lands, California Coastal National Monument, March 12, 2014      (Mike Painter)

April 2, 2014

Dear CalUWild friends-

There’s a lot of information and many links this month, so I’ll keep the introduction short, just to say that it really wasn’t planned that so many of the items would feature Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Public Lands & Environmental Regulation. We’ll be hearing even more from and about him in the future, because he will likely become chairman of the full Natural Resources Committee in the next Congress, as the present chairman, Doc Hastings (R-WA)-also no friend of public lands protection-has announced his retirement when his term expires. We will have our work cut out for us.

An administrative request: With this year being the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, the opportunities for outreach for CalUWild are multiplying. Our brochure, however, is in serious need of updating. If you’re a graphic artist willing to volunteer to help with the design of a new brochure, or someone who might be able to arrange for printing at an affordable price, please get in touch.

Thanks for all your continued interest and support!

Happy April,

1.   Amazing Earthfest in Kanab
          May 11-17, 2014

2.   President Obama Adds Stornetta Public Lands
          To the California Coastal National Monument
          (ACTION ITEM)
3.   Fracking Moratorium Hearing in Sacramento
          April 8, 9:30 a.m.
          (ACTION ITEM)
4.   Save the Dates
          Visions of the Wild Festival
          In Vallejo
          September 3-6, 2014

5.   Rep. Bishop’s Bill to Limit National Monument
          Designations Passes the House
6.   Commercialization & Fees
          In the National Forests
          Comments due Friday, April 4
          (ACTION ITEM)

7.   Links of Interest


1.   Amazing Earthfest in Kanab
          May 11-17, 2014

Rich Csenge, one of our friends at Mainers for Utah Wilderness, decided some years ago to spend several months of every year in Kanab in Kane County, Utah. He is now the director of Amazing Earthfest, a celebration of the landscape there, in its 8th year. He sent along the following description. Spring is perfect for exploring the redrock country of Southern Utah. If you haven’t been hooked by the landscape like many of us have been, now might be the time!

Connect with nature at Amazing Earthfest, Southern Utah’s annual spring festival of learning, discovery, arts and adventure; a premier 7-day celebration of the Colorado Plateau, exploring land and life in the intermountain West.

Choose from over 50 free events in hiking, cycling, horseback and ATV riding, programs in native cultures, wildlife, dinosaurs, ecology, geology, land ethics, astronomy, Pioneer history, performance arts and live entertainment, amidst some of the world’s most beautiful scenery.

Experience the outdoor exhilaration of guided backcountry trips, indoor performance arts and learning opportunities, or engage your senses with a series of contemporary award-winning documentary films to about issues of planetary, national, and regional significance in a cool, comfortable theater.

Make the spectacular scenery of Southern Utah your destination this year and experience Amazing Earthfest! For information on travel and lodging, and a schedule of events visit or call 1-800-733-5263 (1-800-SEE-KANE).

National Geographic Traveler featured Kane County and Amazing Earthfest in it Best Spring Trips 2014 issue.

The Wilderness Society also ran an article on its website.

2.   President Obama Adds Stornetta Public Lands
          To the California Coastal National Monument
          (ACTION ITEM)

On March 11, Pres. Obama invoked the Antiquities Act of 1906 to designate the first onshore portion of the California Coastal National Monument, which stretches along the entire 1,100-mile-long coastline of the state. The designation is the latest addition to the monuments managed by the Bureau of Land Management and its National Landscape Conservation System, established by Bruce Babbitt, Secty. of the Interior under Pres. Clinton.

Pres. Obama’s designation protects almost 1,700 acres around Pt. Arena and the mouth of the Garcia River on the southern Mendocino County coast. It is the home to many wildlife species, including the mountain beaver, endangered butterflies, Coho and Chinook salmon, seals, and sea lions. Tundra swans over-winter at the mouth of the river, and whales migrate offshore.

Secty. of the Interior Sally Jewell, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality Mike Boots, and Principal Deputy BLM Director Neil Kornze all attended a dedication celebration on March 12 on the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, when the photo accompanying this month’s Update was taken.

You may read Pres. Obama’s Proclamation here and his signing comments here.

The proclamation was met with almost universal acclaim, except for Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation. He criticized the designation of the monument, saying:

The President’s use of the Antiquities Act to expand the Coastal California [sic] National Monument is disappointing to say the least. It is also purely political and undermines sincere efforts to reach consensus on questions of conservation. … The fact that this bill hasn’t yet been considered in the Senate is not an oversight, it was intentional. The legislation was held up in the Senate so the President could usurp the congressional process. In other words, the House was punked by the President. … The President seems to view the legislative process as relevant only when it is politically convenient. Unfortunately, that is not how our founding fathers intended for the federal government to operate. I am troubled by the way President Obama and Harry Reid misuse the powers entrusted to them by the American people. …

You can read his full statement here and post a comment, too, if you like.

Rep. Bishop’s statement is rather disingenuous. It is true that the monument legislation had passed the House. The bill had been previously introduced by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-5), and it was passed after being carried on by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-2) following redistricting-the first bill that he introduced, quite an achievement. However, his legislation simply added the land under the provisions of the original monument proclamation by Pres. Clinton in 2000.

However, when the bill was heard by the Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Bishop amended it significantly, requiring that (1) traditional economic activities and existing uses, such as grazing and maintenance of existing structures used for grazing, not be restricted; and (2) acquisition of non-federal lands within the boundaries only occur through donation or exchange, i.e., it prohibited the government from purchasing land (or an owner from selling-so ironically restricting private property rights). The President’s proclamation contains no such language, and it also designated a larger area than was covered by the bill.

The Salt Lake Tribune published a letter to the editor from Scott Schneider, the president of Visit Mendocino County, criticizing Rep. Bishop’s comments.

As we have reported before, Rep. Bishop has inserted these types of amendments into other bills for Nevada and the Pinnacles National Monument-to-Park legislation in California, overriding results achieved through public processes that enjoyed widespread local support.

Please contact Pres. Obama and Secty. Sally Jewell to thank them for protecting the Stornetta Lands and to encourage them to continue designating monuments.

Contact information:

          White House Comment Line: 202-454-1111
          White House Online Comment Form

You may comment via the Interior Department’s online comment page, by email or phone at 202-208-3100.

The BLM’s website for the Stornetta Lands is here and for the California Coast, click here.

Visit Mendocino County’s website is here.

Related to the monument designation, CBS News ran a segment on wilderness specialist Bob Wick, who works in the BLM’s California state office in Sacramento, and who has photographed public lands along the coast and all over the West. Click here to view the 2:34-minute video.

3.   Fracking Moratorium Hearing in Sacramento
          April 8, 9:30 a.m.
          (ACTION ITEM)

The Californians Against Fracking coalition, of which CalUWild is a member, is encouraging people to attend a legislative hearing in Sacramento on Tuesday, April 8, at 9:30 a.m. Senate Bill 1132 would impose a moratorium on fracking and other recovery enhancement processes, such as acidization, until a full environmental impact report is completed. Here’s the information from the coalition:

On April 8 the Senate Natural Resources Committee will hold the first legislative hearing about the fracking moratorium bill. We are planning to pack the hearing room with supporters, and then visit our Senators to tell them to vote for the bill. Please sign up here to join us if you’re able to come to Sacramento that day.

What: Senate Natural Resources Committee hearing on the fracking moratorium bill, followed by visits to legislative offices
When: Tuesday, April 8, 9:30AM
Where: Room 112, California State Capitol Building, Sacramento, CA

If you are interested in visiting legislative offices after the hearing, we can provide you with specific information and answer any questions you might have. Please fill out this form with your address so we can help you figure out who your senator is (if you don’t already know).

Please forward this sign up or your own to your lists so we can get as many supporters to the meeting as possible. Let me know if you have any questions.

With many thanks,

Hillary Aidun
Anti-Fracking Organizer
Center for Biological Diversity
415-436-9682 x 335
haidun [at] biologicaldiversity [dot] org

4.   Save the Dates
          Visions of the Wild Festival
          In Vallejo
          September 3-6, 2014

As we’ve mentioned many times, 2014 marks the 50th Anniversary of the passage of the Wilderness Act, the law creating the National Wilderness Preservation System. The anniversary is being commemorated with events all around the country. Here in the Bay Area and Northern California, the major celebration will be Visions of the Wild: Connecting nature, culture and community, a 4-day festival taking place in Vallejo, September 3-6.

The U.S. Forest Service, whose regional headquarters are located at the old Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo, is facilitating planning for the Festival. But Vallejo is also one of the most diverse cities in the United States, and the intent is to bring many different communities together to celebrate wilderness and introduce people to it.

The Festival will kick off on September 3 with a Walk for Wilderness, and then continue on September 4-6 with a full program of arts & music, speakers, films, field trips, and service projects. The Festival has a website and a Facebook page, both of which will be updated as planning continues.

Additional organizers include the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Park Service, BLM, the City of Vallejo and the local arts foundation, Tuleyome, Sierra Club, and CalUWild.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, one of CalUWild’s national monuments coalition partners, just ran a feature article on Vallejo in its quarterly magazine.

5.   Rep. Bishop’s Bill to Limit National Monument
          Designations Passes the House

By a vote of 222-201, the House of Representatives passed a bill introduced by Utah representative Rob Bishop (R) that would impose severe restrictions on the President’s authority to designate national monuments under the Antiquities Act of 1906. That law has been invoked over 100 times to establish monuments such as Devil’s Tower, Grand Canyon, Zion, Arches, Death Valley, and Muir Woods. Congress has gone on to designate many monuments as national parks.

The vote was pretty much along party lines, although 10 Republicans voted against it, and three Democrats (including Utah’s Jim Matheson) voted in favor.

The bill, titled the “Ensuring Public Involvement in the Creation of National Monuments Act” (H.R. 1459), is the just latest of Rep. Bishop’s attacks on public land protection. Though the Senate will most likely not take up the bill, and the President would in all probability veto it, it provides a warning for what we can expect should there be a shift in the political landscape in Washington, DC, i.e., control of the Senate and/or White House.

The bill amends the Antiquities Act to prohibit the President from making more than one monument designation in a state during a four-year term of office without an express act of Congress, or including private property without the written consent of the affected property owner. Furthermore, the bill subjects declarations to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), meaning that an environmental impact statement would have to be prepared, followed further by a feasibility study to include an estimate of the costs associated with managing the monument in perpetuity (including any loss of federal and state revenue) and the benefits associated with managing the monument in perpetuity. Finally, designations would expire after three years if not approved by Congress or the NEPA requirements were not satisfied.

There are many ironies involved here. The first is the bill’s very title: “Ensuring Public Involvement …” The Obama Administration has been very (many would say overly) cautious about designating monuments. In every instance, prior to their establishment, the monuments were the subjects of thorough public processes and campaigns. None has been controversial in their local communities.

Secondly, non-conservationists have often opposed NEPA for various practical and philosophical reasons and are always looking to exempt projects from its requirements or even amend or repeal the basic law. (While NEPA compliance can be a cumbersome and time-consuming undertaking, its benefits usually outweigh the burden.) So to now attempt to broaden its application is pretty hypocritical.

Finally, requiring a formal feasibility study can only be meant to discourage designations. Presidents generally take all the stated issues into account before issuing proclamations, even if they aren’t formalized. (In the Nevada wilderness bills mentioned above Rep. Bishop also inserted requirements for studies, despite the fact that studies had already been done by the agencies before the bills were introduced.)

It’s not unreasonable to see Rep. Bishop’s proposal as an attempt to smother monument designations under paperwork in order to discourage them in the first place.

Newspapers across the country published editorials and op-ed pieces against the legislation. Here is a sample:

The Salt Lake Tribune: Bishop’s attack on Antiquities Act is a bad idea
San Francisco Chronicle: Don’t diminish protections of public lands
The Bakersfield Californian: Preserve the Antiquities Act for posterity
The Virginian-Pilot: History lessons lost in Congress
The Hill (DC), by Ken Burns: Don’t sap the Antiquities Act

6.   Commercialization & Fees
          In the National Forests
          Comments due Friday, April 4
          (ACTION ITEM)

Sorry for the short notice, but the following alert (edited for length) just came in from our friends at the Western Slope No-Fee Coalition, a broad-based organization whose goals are:

• To eliminate recreation fees for general access to public lands managed by the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management
• To eliminate backcountry fees and interpretive program fees in National Parks
• To require more accountability within the land management agencies
• To encourage Congress to adequately fund our public lands


Ruling says concessionaires are exempt from the requirements and restrictions in federal recreation fee law.

In a ruling handed down March 28, 2014, Judge Rudolph Contreras of the DC District Court wrote that Forest Service concessionaires are not subject to the restrictions on recreation fees that apply at agency-managed recreation sites.

The ruling essentially means that private companies operating under permit on National Forest land can require everyone to pay a fee for doing anything, anywhere within their permit area.

The ruling concludes a lawsuit filed by several individuals and a watchdog organization, challenging the Forest Service policy of allowing concessionaires to charge fees that the agency is not allowed to charge under the limitations in the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act.

When FLREA was enacted in 2004, its authors included specific requirements and restrictions on recreation fees, in response to public concerns that the federal agencies cannot be trusted with fee authority. But they also included a clause allowing third parties to charge for goods or services “notwithstanding any other provision of law.” The Forest Service interpreted that to mean that concessionaires don’t have to abide by the same legal requirements as the agency must. That interpretation is what was challenged in the lawsuit, and what the court has now upheld

Under Judge Contreras’s ruling:

The Forest Service cannot charge a fee:

-solely for parking.
-for passing through federal land without using facilities and services.
-for a scenic overlook.
-for general access.
-for camping at undeveloped sites with no amenities.
-for picnicking along a road or trailside.

But a concessionaire can!

The Forest Service has already turned over half of all its campgrounds, including more than 80% of the most highly-developed ones, to private operation-typically at much higher rates than agency-managed campgrounds. But this decision is not limited to campgrounds. It will allow the Forest Service to stop providing any recreation at all. They can turn it all over: picnic areas, trailheads, scenic roads and overlooks-everything-to private companies to operate for profit.

If you have a federal recreation pass like the Senior or America the Beautiful Pass, this is likely to make it worthless on National Forests, because concessionaires don’t have to honor those the same way the Forest Service does.

The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act was recently extended into next year to allow Congress time to enact new legislation to replace it. That legislation must include provisions that apply consistent rules and restrictions on all public lands, regardless of whether they are agency managed or operated under permit by private entities.

Tell Congress you want concessionaires to play by the same rules as the federal agencies! Please take action now.


The US House is holding a hearing this coming Friday, April 4th, at 9 am Eastern to consider draft fee legislation proposed by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT). WSNFC President Kitty Benzar will be an invited witness at this hearing. You can live-stream the hearing at the House Natural Resources website, or watch the archived video later. It will be posted after the hearing concludes.


Contact Congress and tell them that new fee legislation must require private concessionaires on federal lands to play by the same rules as the agencies. Americans have a right to expect fair, consistent rules governing access to our public lands – regardless of whether they are publicly or privately managed.

Call-or better yet fax-your comments for maximum impact.

Tell Congress to enact legislation that allows fees only for use of developed facilities, and to apply all fee requirements at concessionaire-managed sites the same as at agency-managed ones.

Here is the contact information:

Committee on Natural Resources
United States House of Representatives
1324 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Phone: (202) 225-2761
Fax: (202) 225-5929
Or use their Webform

Energy and Natural Resources Committee
United States Senate
304 Dirksen Senate Building
Washington, DC 20510

Phone: (202) 224-4971
Fax: (202) 224-6163
Sorry, they don’t offer a Webform

Very important: send a copy of your comments to both of your Senators and to your US Representative. To find their Webform, go to the Senate website and the House website.

7.   Links of Interest

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

Articles and opinion on two important Alaska issues: The Izembek Road through a designated wilderness area and the Pebble Mine above Bristol Bay

          Bruce Babbitt op-ed in the Los Angeles Times: Alaska’s ‘road to nowhere’ is still a boondoggle

          Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) response

          New York Times article: E.P.A. Says It Will Fight Mine Project in Alaska

          Related editorial: A Reprieve for Bristol Bay

Timothy Egan in the New York Times on the recent landslide in Washington state

An op-ed in the New York Times, Is Canada Tarring Itself?, about tar sands development in Canada, by CalUWild friend Jacques Leslie. Tar sands development is a threat in Utah and other Intermountain States.

An article in the Washington Post: John Podesta: The man behind President Obama’s new environmental push

A Michael Frome essay on the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, published by Wilderness Watch

The Atlantic‘s photo blog InFocus posted pictures of the Ivanpah solar plant in the Mojave Desert.

Related articles on the installation’s impacts on birds—first reported by Chris Clarke last Fall, but numerous articles appeared when the plant opened in February (Google “Ivanpah solar birds” for multiple results)—and on aviation

The U.S. Forest Service here in Region 5 (California) has been producing short films on restoration topics. The latest is Marijuana Grows and Restoration. We’ll include more links to other films in the series in future issues of the Update.

Two Park Service studies on park economics:

2012 National Park visitor spending effects: Economic contributions to local communities, states, and the nation

Effects of the October 2013 government shutdown on National Park Service visitor spending in gateway communities

As always, if you ever have questions, suggestions, critiques, or wish to change your e-mail address or unsubscribe, all you have to do is send an email. For information on making a contribution to CalUWild, click here. “Like” CalUWild on Facebook.