Newsletter Archive

November 30, 2009

Dear CalUWild Friends and Supporters —

Today is CalUWild cofounder Vicky Hoover’s last day on the staff of the Sierra Club’s Alaska Task Force, where she has worked for many years. But Vicky is not going anywhere; she’ll continue as a fulltime wilderness volunteer with the Club, chairing its California/Nevada Wilderness Committee and helping to plan the Wilderness 2010 Conference at UC Berkeley next April. Many thanks to Vicky for her past and ongoing work!

A quick followup on last month’s item regarding legislation introduced in the House for wilderness designations in southwest Colorado: This month, a companion bill to H.R. 3914 was introduced in the Senate, S. 2762, sponsored by Sen. Mark Udall (D) and cosponsored by Sen. Michael Bennet (D).

We are coming up on the end of the year, which means that it’s time for CalUWild’s Annual Membership Appeal. We’ll soon be sending out a letter to those members who have contributed in the past or for whom we have mailing addresses. CalUWild has always been run on a shoestring budget, but we need the support of all our members to keep the organization afloat. We understand that it may not be possible to contribute, given these difficult economic times. But if you can send in something, no matter what the size, please do.

Regular dues, payable to CalUWild, may support our lobbying efforts and are therefore not tax-deductible. If you wish to make a tax-deductible contribution, your check must be made payable to Resource Renewal Institute.

Either way, mail it to:

P.O. Box 210474
San Francisco, CA  94121-0474

Thanksgiving is behind us, but one of the things to be thankful for every day is the land that belongs to each and every American. Thank you for your efforts to protect it and for your support of CalUWild’s efforts as well.

Best wishes,



1.   Red Rock Update


On November 10, Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), chief sponsor of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, asking him to extend administrative protections to the lands included in the proposal.

Among other things, Rep. Hinchey asked that the “No More Wild” agreement that then-Secretary Gale Norton concluded with then-Governor Mike Leavitt be repudiated. There is a growing recognition that this would be an important step — the New York Times even published an editorial in favor of the move.

Rep. Hinchey’s office issued a press release along with the letter that gives more background.

89 members of Congress signed the letter, including the following from California:

If your representative signed on, please call him or her and express your thanks. Contact information can be found on the individual member’s website on the House of Representatives website.

Also, Representative Laura Richardson (D-37) recently signed on as a cosponsor of the legislation. She deserves thanks for that, too.


2.   Rep. Farr Introduces Bill For Los Padres National Forest

Earlier this month, Rep. Sam Farr (D-17) introduced H.R. 4040, a bill that would designate areas in the northern portion of Los Padres National Forest as wilderness. The bill also designates stretches of Arroyo Seco, the Carmel River, and the San Antonio River as Wild & Scenic.

Finally, the bill would also establish the area as a separately funded unit of the forest. Los Padres National Forest stretches from Big Sur all the way into Los Angeles County, and the issues faced in the north can be quite different from those farther south, so the bill makes sense in that regard.

Rep. Farr has posted more details about the bill on his website.

In other news from Rep. Farr’s district: As we reported in our August-September Update, Rep. Farr had introduced a bill, H.R. 3444, that would make Pinnacles National Monument a unit of the National Park System. At a Congressional hearing the National Park Service spoke out in opposition to the legislation. Steve Whitesell, associate director for park planning, testified, “The term ‘national park’ has generally been reserved for units that contain a variety of resources and encompasses large land or water areas to help provide adequate protection of the resources. Pinnacles National Monument does not include the full range of resources usually found in national parks.”

Mr. Whitesell also requested that committee delay renaming any units until the National Parks Second Century Commission has made its recommendations regarding simplifying the naming of units. NPS is hoping to reduce the number of titles for the lands that it manages.

In support of his proposal, Rep. Farr testified to the uniqueness of Pinnacles: “It is one of the few regions in the world that boasts a Mediterranean climate; it serves as home for dozens of federally protected species; it has a long, rich cultural history; it serves as a center for geological science, it’s an area of unspoiled beauty; and opening this summer thanks to the use of Land and Water Conservation Fund to purchase the Pinnacles Ranch the Pinnacles Campground is now within the boundaries of Pinnacles National Monument, and is managed by a concessionaire.” He also said that an adjacent landowner might be willing to sell 18,000 acres, bringing the monument’s size to 44,000 acres total.


3.   Fast Track Solar Projects
Ask BLM to Extend the Comment Deadlines


As we’ve mentioned in the past, there is a concerted push to build energy projects, many of them solar installations, on public lands across the deserts of the Southwest. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar recently released a list of projects in the Mojave Desert (California, Nevada, and Arizona) that BLM is putting on the fast track for development.

While the need to develop alternative sources of energy to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels is indisputable, the potential for destructive effects from that development is indisputable as well.

It is important that the public, the land managers (BLM, most frequently), and the companies wishing to build are aware of the consequences of these proposals and tradeoffs they require. That is why the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires the preparation of Environmental Impact Statements (EISs) with public comment periods. (If they are too unbalanced, then they should not be approved.)

The problem with the fast track announcement is that all the scooping comment periods ending between December 21 and January 4, the height of the holiday season. Whether this is a purposeful choice to exclude the public or not, the effect is the same — many people will simply not have the time to submit meaningful comments.

(This is exactly the same situation we faced two years ago with the six major Resource Management Plans prepared by BLM in Utah. All came due at about the same time, and the time constraints made it extremely difficult for conservation organizations, let alone the public, to prepare comments.)

Please contact BLM and ask for a 60-day extension (until mid-February) to allow meaningful input from the public.

Below is a list with links, provided by Basin & Range Watch. Although there are quite a few, the time issue is the same for all of them, so it should not be too difficult to prepare a template and then fill in the details for each one before sending them off.

The current list of fast tracking projects:

NextEra Ford Dry Lake Solar Power Plant/Genesis Solar Energy Project

(Riverside County, CA) —

Chevron Energy Solutions/Solar Millennium Palen Solar Power Plant

(Riverside County, CA) —

Chevron Energy Solutions/Solar Millennium Blythe Solar Power Plant

(Riverside County, CA —

Solar Millennium Ridgecrest Solar Power Project

(Kern County, CA) — or

First Solar Desert Sunlight Power Project

(Riverside County, CA) — no place to send comments

Tonopah Solar Energy Project

(Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project, Nye County, NV) —

Daggett Ridge Wind Farm

(San Bernardino County, CA) —

Mohave County Wind Farm Project

(Mohave County, AZ) —

Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, California

(Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, Kern, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Inyo, Riverside, Imperial, San Diego, and Tulare Counties) —


Californians for Western Wilderness
P.O. Box 210474
San Francisco, CA  94121-0474