Newsletter Archive

Petroglyphs, Utah                                                                                                                                             (Mike Painter)

April 30, 2014

Dear CalUWild friends-

There is good news below and a couple of action items, so we’ll keep the introduction short this month.

To commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act here in California, noted artist Tom Killion, a long time supporter of wilderness in the state, has designed an original poster especially for the Golden State. It looks beautiful, and we are proud to be offering it to our members. It measures 18″ x 24″ and the price will be $10 plus shipping ($6 est., depending on mailing tube cost, order size & weight). Proceeds will benefit CalUWild.

I need to know how many to order, so please let me know by May 20th if you’re interested. While some posters may still be available over the summer, I’d like to get our order in early.

And this just in: At yesterday’s meeting, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act.

Thanks for your continued interest in our Western public lands and wilderness!

Best wishes,

1.   Appeals Court Rules Against San Juan County
          And the Road in Salt Creek
          In Canyonlands National Park
2.   50 States for Greater Canyonlands Campaign
           (ACTION ITEM)

3.   Court Rules Against the Adventure Pass
          Fees in Four National Forests
4.   Pt. Reyes National Seashore to Begin Ranch Management Planning
          DEADLINE: June 2, 2014
           (ACTION ITEM)
5.   Gulf of the Farallones & Cordell Banks
          National Marine Sanctuaries Announce Plans to Expand
          DEADLINE: June 2, 2014
           (ACTION ITEM)

6.   Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest


1.   Appeals Court Rules Against San Juan County
          And the Road in Salt Creek
          In Canyonlands National Park

The battle between San Juan County and the Park Service and conservationists over vehicle use in Salt Creek Canyon in Canyonlands National Park has been going on for years. (We’ve reported on Salt Creek several times, as far back as September 2003 and more recently in May 2011.) San Juan County claims the creek bed as a “highway” under R.S. 2477, the Civil War-era statue that granted rights-of-way for the construction of highways on public lands. The county first sued the Park Service in May 2004. The case has had a complicated procedural history, but the county has lost on the facts every time.

In May 2011, the District Court in Utah ruled that San Juan County had not shown by “clear and convincing evidence” that there had been ten years’ continuous use of the route before the national park was established. The county claimed that use by cattle ranchers, uranium miners, and others since the 1800s satisfied the requirement, and also that the correct standard for evidence was the more lenient “preponderance of the evidence.” So it appealed the ruling.

Last Friday, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled against the county, saying that the trial judge was correct in finding that the county had failed to show continuous public use, and that it had not shown it even using the more lenient standard.

You may read the court’s opinion here. The Salt Lake Tribune today ran a strongly-worded editorial supporting the decision and castigating Utah officials at the state and county levels for their statewide campaign to claim roads. It called on them to “give up this entire absurd crusade altogether.”

We couldn’t agree more.

2.   50 States for Greater Canyonlands Campaign
          (ACTION ITEM)

Over the last couple of years we’ve reported on efforts to protect the lands around Canyonlands National Park (as well as inside). In addition to being the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, 2014 is Canyonlands National Park’s 50th Anniversary. If you look at a map of the park (click on “View Park Map” link here), you can see that the boundaries are straight lines and bear no relationship to the geography of the region. They were the result of compromises at the time the park was established.

Harold Ickes, Pres. Franklin Roosevelt’s Secretary of the Interior, had proposed creating an Escalante National Monument in the basin in the 1930s, but it never happened. The time has come to make that dream a reality, and CalUWild has been part of a large coalition of groups working to support it. In the February Update, we suggested calling the White House. This month we have more suggestions how you can help protect this remarkable landscape.

50 states for 50 years: Protect Greater Canyonlands
   Join the campaign!

Thousands of people from across the country have called upon President Obama to protect Greater Canyonlands as a national monument. This widespread national support is one of the great strengths of our campaign, and we would like to capitalize on that. To make this support visible to the Administration we created the “50 States for Greater Canyonlands” project through which we plan to highlight shows of support from across the country. Interested in joining this nation-wide network of supporters? Add your voice to the project!

Take a photo: We have already collected almost 900 photographs, but always welcome additional photos from any state. Print out a copy of the “Protect Greater Canyonlands” sign on yellow paper or on white paper (which uses lots of yellow ink!) and write in your name, town, and state. Take a photo and email it to rachel [at] suwa [dot] org. If you take a group photo, please also hold a sign or banner with the group name if possible.

For a flyer describing other possible activities that you can take to support the campaign, click here.

Thanks for taking part!

3.   Court Rules Against the Adventure Pass
          Fees in Four National Forests

A federal judge in California has once again ruled against the U.S. Forest Service’s practice of charging citizens to park and hike in national forest areas that are not developed in any way. This case involved the Adventure Pass in the four national forests in Southern California: Angeles, Cleveland, Los Padres, and San Bernardino. The decision came down on Monday.

The following report comes from the Western Slope No Fee Coalition, and you may read the short (5 pages), clearly-written decision here.

In a ruling issued April 28, 2014, Senior U.S. District Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr. found that the United States Forest Service cannot charge fees to visitors who park their vehicles and head off down the trail without using any developed facilities, such as picnic tables and bathrooms, that may be adjacent to the parking area.

“This ruling is a victory for the American public, be they hikers, equestrians, hunters or fishermen. The nationwide fee law has clearly prohibited fees solely for parking since 2004, and the U.S. Forest Service should now cease charging these fees immediately, across southern California and beyond,” said Alasdair Coyne, Conservation Director of Keep Sespe Wild and one of the four plaintiffs in the case.

The Forest Service has been levying such fees, and ticketing parked cars, at trailheads and roadside pullouts since 1996 under a program called the Adventure Pass which encompasses all four National Forests in southern California: the Angeles, Cleveland, Los Padres, and San Bernardino. The Adventure Pass began as an experiment called Fee Demo, which allowed recreation fees to be charged without restriction for any activity. Many Fee Demo fees were extremely unpopular, particularly the requirement to buy a pass merely to park and go for a hike in the woods. In response to rising complaints, Congress repealed Fee Demo in 2004 and replaced it with the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA).

The FLREA allows fees for use of amenities and services at developed sites, but prohibits them solely for parking or for passing through National Forests without using any facilities. This case, Fragosa et al v. US Forest Service, hinged on whether the Forest Service can require an Adventure Pass anywhere amenities are present, even if a visitor does not use them and only parks there while traveling through undeveloped areas.

In his ruling, Judge Hatter said decisively that they cannot.

In an earlier case, Adams v. U.S. Forest Service, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 2012 that the Forest Service was similarly in violation of the FLREA when it charged visitors to Mt Lemmon, near Tucson, a fee to park anywhere along a 28-mile roadway that provides access to numerous backcountry trails. The Adams ruling is binding in the nine western states that comprise the 9th Circuit, including California, but the Forest Service there continued to require an Adventure Pass for parking, and to ticket unoccupied cars at trailheads.

In the current case, four southern California hikers sued in October 2012 to require the Forest Service to follow the Adams ruling and to cease charging for parking throughout the Adventure Pass area. The Adventure Pass is the Forest Service’s largest fee program, selling more than 300,000 passes per year. After almost two decades it remains broadly unpopular, with more than 40,000 warnings and tickets for non-payment issued annually.

4.   Pt. Reyes National Seashore to Begin Ranch Management Planning
          DEADLINE: June 2, 2014
          (ACTION ITEM)

We’ve written over the last few years about the controversy surrounding the Drakes Bay Oyster Farm in the Phillip Burton Wilderness in Pt. Reyes National Seashore, northwest of San Francisco. There’s no news to report on that right now, but in his decision not to renew the oyster farm’s lease, then-Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar directed the seashore superintendent to prepare a management plan for other lands in the seashore that are leased or permitted for cattle grazing.

Dairy ranching has been a historic use of the Pt. Reyes Peninsula since the 19th century, and when the national seashore was established in 1962, ranchers were allowed to remain, although with restrictions on owners’ ability to sell. The ranches are not in the designated wilderness area but rather in the so-called “pastoral zone.” Thus there are not the same restrictions on commercial activities that exist under the Wilderness Act. (During the oyster farm controversy, many people did not understand this distinction.)

Last week, Park Service announced that it is beginning the planning process, and it wants you to weigh in with ideas, concerns, and suggestions. It published a Scoping Letter that you can download from its website by clicking on the link on this page. The letter contains the draft purpose, need, and objectives of the plan as well as questions it would like to have answered. From the Scoping Letter:

Scoping Questions

Below are some scoping questions you may consider as you are reviewing the draft purpose, need and objectives of the proposed project.

• What do you think the NPS should be considering as it develops this Ranch CMP?
• What are the most important issues regarding the lands under agricultural lease/permits that you believe need to be addressed in this plan?
• What are reasonably foreseeable future ranching activities that should be considered and reviewed as part of this plan?
• What are reasonably foreseeable actions related to the management of tule elk affecting park ranch operations that should be considered as part of this plan?
• What are potential park actions related to the management of cultural and natural resources on ranch lands that should be considered as part of this plan?
• What do you, as a member of the public, need from NPS to be meaningfully engaged in the planning process?

The Park Service is holding two scoping meetings:

          Tuesday, May 6, 2014, 5-7 p.m.
          Dance Palace Community Center
          503 B Street
          Point Reyes Station, CA 94956

          Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 5-7 p.m.
          Bay Model Visitor Center
          2100 Bridgeway
          Sausalito, CA 94965

You may submit scoping comments in various ways:

at the meetings, or online here, or by mail or hand delivery to:

          Ranch CMP c/o Superintendent
          Point Reyes National Seashore
          1 Bear Valley Road
          Point Reyes Station, CA 94956

The Park Service says that comments will not be accepted by FAX, email, or in any other way than specified above.

The Park Service announced the following project timeline:

• April/May 2014: Public Scoping
• Summer/Fall2014: Alternatives development, including public workshops
• Spring/Summer 2015: Release Environmental Assessment for public review and comment
• Fall 2015: Planning process complete

For further information, please contact Outreach Coordinator Melanie Gunn at 415-464-5162.

5.   Gulf of the Farallones & Cordell Banks
          National Marine Sanctuaries Announce Plans to Expand
          DEADLINE: June 30, 2014
          (ACTION ITEM)

Two weeks ago, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which manages both the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries west and northwest of San Francisco, released a proposal to expand both sanctuaries significantly. The Farallones NMS would grow from 1,279 to 3,297 square miles and Cordell Bank NMS would expand from 528 to 1,286 square miles. NOAA is also proposing to revise its management plans for the two sanctuaries.

The Farallon Islands are a designated wilderness area.

We don’t have any talking points to share right now, but if you’d like to look at the documents, follow the links on this page, which also contains more details and information about the proposal.

There are three ways to provide public comment:

1. Attend a Public Hearing (see dates below)

2. Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal here. Click on the appropriate “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. If you have comments on more than one of the documents, you can record them by individual document (preferred) or as a combined comment on any of the four documents. All comments will be considered.

3. U.S. Mail to:

          Maria Brown
          Sanctuary Superintendent
          Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary
          991 Marine Drive
          The Presidio
          San Francisco, CA 94129

Public Hearings

          Thursday, May 22, 2014, 6 p.m.
          U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Bay Model Visitor Center
          2100 Bridgeway
          Sausalito, CA 94965

          Monday, June 16, 2014, 6 p.m.
          Point Arena City Hall
          451 School St.
          Point Arena, CA 95468

          Tuesday, June 17, 2014, 6 p.m.
          Gualala Community Center
          47950 Center St.
          Gualala, CA 95445

          Wednesday, June 18, 2014, 6 p.m.
          Grange Hall
          1370 Bodega Ave.
          Bodega Bay, CA 94923

6.   Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest

As always, if a link is broken or otherwise inaccessible, please send me an email.

An editorial in the Los Angeles Times opposing attempts by states to force the federal government to turn over public land

A Moab Sun News op-ed piece In Defense of Development with responses by two CalUWild friends: In Defense of Presevation and History Lesson

In the Denver Post

An op-ed, Protecting Public Lands

An article, Dust on Snow Presents Problems in Runoff discussing a problem, much of which is caused by overgrazing and ORV use further west

A Huffington Post profile of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell

Video links

The U.S. Forest Service has produced a series of short films on restoration, which we began to link to last month. This month we go back to Episode 1: Introducing Ecological Restoration in Pacific Southwest.

The National Park Service has also produced a series of short films, specifically commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act. Here’s one about Pt. Reyes.

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.