Newsletter Archive

DSC_0666b3aCrystal Peak, North Wah Wah Mountains WSA, Utah                                                             (Mike Painter)

January 15, 2015

Dear CalUWild Friends-

I hope the new year is off to a good start for you. With the holidays, civic duty (jury), and items that just kept rolling in, this delayed Update is a bit longer than usual, so I’ve tried to keep the individual items as short as possible.

2014 was a successful year on many fronts, with Pres Obama’s designation of several new national monuments, including the Stornetta additions to the California Coastal Monument and the San Gabriel Mountains. There were also numerous events around the country celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act of 1964. Last month, CalUWild and other members of the steering committee received the Regional Forester’s Honor Award for our efforts organizing September’s Visions of the Wild Festival in Vallejo. We appreciate the recognition and note what an honor it also was to work with such a dedicated group of people.

Now it’s time to look ahead. A new Congress has started, and though we’ll be working on wilderness legislation in Utah (see Item 1), we may be kept busier fighting against bad legislation. Pres. Obama has said repeatedly that he’ll act if Congress doesn’t, so more of our efforts may be directed toward the administration and the agencies responsible for managing our public lands. We’ll continue advocating for Greater Canyonlands and Berryessa Snow Mountain monument designations. We’re also always looking for ways to further our outreach via slideshows, tabling, and other events-so if you have suggestions for any, please let me know.

Many thanks to everyone who responded so generously to CalUWild’s recent annual membership appeal. Your support is gratifying. If you haven’t contributed yet and would like to, please send in the yellow card if you received one or print out this form and send it in with your contribution. Although contributions are accepted year-round, we don’t send out numerous reminders throughout the year. As has always been our policy, contributions are voluntary, but they are appreciated. (REMINDER: Our only membership requirement is to write at least one letter a month to somebody about something.)

Speaking of support, the Wilderness Act 50th Anniversary poster created by California artist Tom Killion last year was popular, and we still have a few left. They measure 18″ x 24″ and are printed on heavy stock. The price is $10 each plus postage and shipping ($5 for 1 or 2, $5.50 for 3). All proceeds benefit CalUWild. So if you’re interested, send a check for the proper amount, along with your name and address, to:

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

If you have any questions, click here to send an email. Also, see Item 12 for a link to a preview of a book due out this summer by Tom Killion and poet Gary Snyder on the California coast.

We look forward to working with you to protect our Western wild places in the year to come. Thanks for your interest!

Best wishes,

1.   Quick Rundown on Issues and News

2.   National Forest Wilderness Recommendations
          (ACTION ITEM)
3.   Sally Jewell Visits Berryessa-Snow Mountain
          (ACTION ITEM)

4.   Rep. Jared Huffman Introduces Bill to
          Protect Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
          (ACTION ITEM)
5.    Pres. Obama Protects Bristol Bay
          (ACTION ITEM)

6.    Oppose a Grand Canyon Tramway
          (ACTION ITEM)

7.   Urge BLM to Protect Wild Places around Las Vegas
          DEADLINE: February 6
          (ACTION ITEM)

8.    Defense Bill Passes with Good and Bad Lands Provisions
9.   Fee-Free Days in the National Parks Announced for 2015
10.   Job Listings
          a.   Western Environmental Law Center
          b.   Mono Lake Committee

11.   Martin Litton

12.   Links to Items of Interest


1.   Quick Rundown on Issues and News

America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act will be reintroduced in the 114th Congress, so 2015 will be the start of a new cosponsor campaign for the bill. Cosponsorship serves various purposes: It is a direct sign of support for the legislation itself; it publicly shows that legislators have an extra measure of concern about the subject and will likely provide support on associated issues; and it signals to government agencies and officials that Congress and citizens will be looking over their shoulders at their management decisions.

The Utah Wilderness Coalition will be sponsoring a Wilderness Week in Washington, DC, February 21-25, giving citizens an opportunity to meet with congressional representatives or their staff, to seek cosponsorship of the Red Rock Bill and bring them up to date on other issues. With California being such a big state, we’re looking for someone from Southern California, preferably the Long Beach area, to join us. If you or someone you know might be interested, please send me an email, and I’d be happy to give you more details about it.


Last week the BLM announced a two-year ban on activities involving ropes at Corona Arch, near the Colorado River outside of Moab. The arch had become the focus of thrill-seeking activities in the last few years, such as jumping off with ropes attached. At least one person died when he mismeasured the rope. (It was too long, and 70 people witnessed the accident.) Other visitors had complained about the noise that jumpers and others made. A similar closure was instituted at nearby Gemini Bridges, also the scene of accidents and fatalities. BLM says the closure will give it the opportunity to develop an appropriate recreation plan. The two sites reportedly receive a total of 90,000 visitors a year.


We reported in November’s Update that a wolf sighting at the north rim of the Grand Canyon had been confirmed. Reports from Utah came in last month that a collared female wolf had been shot in the Tushar Mountains in southwest Utah. It is feared that the dead wolf is the one seen at the Grand Canyon, and genetic tests are being conducted. The hunter involved said he thought he was shooting a coyote …


December 31 was the State of Utah’s legislative deadline for the U.S. government to turn over our federal public lands (except national parks and military bases) for the State to manage. The date passed without the federal government complying (unsurprisingly). The state has not decided whether to pursue a lawsuit. We’ll keep you posted as the saga continues.

2.   National Forest Wilderness Recommendations

The Inyo, Sierra, and Sequoia national forests are updating their forest management plans. Part of the process is making recommendations for wilderness and other management designations. The California Wilderness Coalition, Sierra Club, Friends of the Inyo, and other conservation organizations have compiled a list of areas in each forest that qualify and that they support for each designation.

Please send an email or a letter to the Forest Supervisor of each forest saying you support the following recommendations. If you’ve been to any of the areas, please mention it and your experience there.

Inyo National Forest

Wilderness: Blanco; Dexter Canyon; Excelsior; Horse Meadows; South Sierra

Backcountry Management: Paiute; Benton Range; Black Canyon

Zoological or Botanical Area: Soldier Canyon

Special Management Areas: Coyote Plateau; Mono Craters; Mt. Olsen; Glass Mountain

Ed Armenta
Inyo National Forest
351 Pacu Lane, Suite 200
Bishop, CA 93514-3101

earmenta [at] fs [dot] fed [dot] us

Sierra National Forest

Wilderness: Ansel Adams Additions; Cat’s Head Mountain; Devils Gulch; Dinkey Lakes Additions; Graham Mountain; John Muir Additions; Kaiser Additions; Monarch Additions; Mt. Raymond; Shuteye; Snaproot; Sycamore Springs

Backcountry Management: Chiquito Creek; North Fork Kings River; Peckinpah Creek; San Joaquin River

Dean Gould
Sierra National Forest
1600 Tollhouse Rd.
Clovis, CA 93611

dagould [at] fs [dot] fed [dot] us

Sequoia National Forest

Wilderness: Lucas Creek; Lightner Peak; Mill Creek; Oat Mountain; Cannell; Chico; Bright Star Additions; South Sierra Additions; Golden Trout Additions; Domeland Addition

Backcountry Management: Saturday Peak; Sunday Peak; Lumreau Creek

Kevin Elliot
Sequoia National Forest
1839 South Newcomb Street
Porterville, CA 93257

kbelliott [at] fs [dot] fed [dot] us

3.   Sally Jewell Visits Berryessa Snow Mountain
          (ACTION ITEM)

The campaign to protect the Berryessa Snow Mountain region of the Inner Coast Range, north of the Bay Area, continues to make progress. Last month, Reps. Mike Thompson (D-5) and John Garamendi (D-3) hosted Interior Secretary Sally Jewell for a visit to the proposed monument, followed by a town hall meeting in Napa that was attended by over 300 people (who turned out despite bad weather). Most speakers at the meeting were in favor of the proposal, which is good, because the Administration views strong local support as being critical to designations.

The Los Angeles Times just ran an article about the campaign.

To add your voice in support of a national monument, please send Pres. Obama and Secty. Jewell an email, a postcard, or a letter. Their contact information is:

Pres. Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500

Comment line:   202-456-1111
Online comment here

Hon. Sally Jewell
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20240

Comment line:   202-208-3100
Email address:   feedback [at] ios [dot] doi [dot] gov

4.   Rep. Jared Huffman Introduces Bill
          To Protect Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
          (ACTION ITEM)

Last week, Rep. Jared Huffman (D-2) announced that he and Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA) had introduced the Udall-Eisenhower Wilderness Act (H.R. 239) to designate the 1.5 million acre Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as wilderness. The bill is named after Pres. Dwight Eisenhower, who established the Arctic National Wildlife Range in 1960 and Congressman Mo Udall, who sponsored legislation in 1980 that enlarged the area and made it a “Refuge.” The campaign to protect the Coastal Plain has been going on for a long time, and CalUWild has supported it all along.

Please send Rep. Huffman and Rep. Fitzpatrick your thanks. Representatives do not answer correspondence from people outside their districts, so access to online comment forms is restricted. A quick phone call is best.

Rep. Jared Huffman
1630 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone:   202-225-5161
Website comments here (constituents only)

Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick
2400 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone:   202-225-4276

5.   Pres. Obama Protects Bristol Bay
          (ACTION ITEM)

Last month, Pres. Obama continued to use his executive powers to protect sensitive ecosystems when he put a stop to energy exploration in Bristol Bay in Alaska. In 2010 Mr. Obama had ordered the bay off limits, but that order was due to expire in 2017, after he leaves office. The new order makes the withdrawal indefinitely permanent, meaning that another president must actively rescind it for oil and gas exploration to resume.

Many kinds of wildlife live in Bristol Bay, north of the Alaska Peninsula, and a large fishing industry is located there, one that reportedly produces 40% of US wild-caught fish.

Please thank Pres. Obama. Contact information is in Item 3 above.

6.   Oppose a Grand Canyon Tramway
          (ACTION ITEM)

A proposal has surfaced over the last couple of years to build a tramway to the bottom of the Grand Canyon at the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers. In addition, a huge resort development is proposed for the rim. Though the land in question is on the Navajo Reservation and not in the national park, it’s generating a lot of controversy. The New York Times published an article about the controversy last month.

Our friends at River Runners for Wilderness sent out the following alert (somewhat edited). Please let Interior Secretary Sally Jewell know your thoughts. Thanks!

Tramway-Free Grand Canyon Comments Needed

The proposed development of a huge resort and tramway at the confluence of the Little Colorado and main Colorado Rivers in Grand Canyon, first proposed in February of 2012, has taken an ominous new turn.

A group of Phoenix developers, known as Confluence Partners LLC, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with some representatives of the Navajo Nation to move the project forward. The LLC has no prior company experience in any type of construction.

Named the Grand Canyon Escalade, the tramway and resort has generated a groundswell of opposition from members of the Navajo Nation, neighboring tribes and citizens from around the world.

Despite this, draft legislation prepared for the Navajo Nation Tribal Council’s vote has been released, outlining development of a destination resort on the rim of the Grand Canyon. The legislation calls for between 800,000 to over 2,000,000 annual visitors per year at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

The Escalade would be built on Navajo Nation land perched above the main Colorado River, with a long, fully visible tramway down to the river’s edge and would include 4,000 square feet of restroom facilities at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

The development would also include an RV park, airport, restaurant, five star hotels, a boutique and a Discovery Center on the rim, 4,000 feet above the confluence, along with boat and helicopter tours.

The Navajo Nation draft legislation spells out the duties of the partners, and requires the Navajo Nation to expend a minimum of $65 million for a 20-mile all-weather road to the development location, as well as power, water, and telecommunications. The Navajo Nation would also be required to construct a wastewater treatment facility able to accommodate over 2 million visitors annually.

A glaring omission from the draft legislation and tribal consideration is that legislation passed in 1975 by the United States Congress recognized that the entire Grand Canyon has many managers, including the National Park Service, the Navajo and other tribes and agencies. The law requires the Secretary of Interior to work with all the Grand Canyon’s many managers in providing “protection and interpretation of the Grand Canyon in its entirety.” The legislation, known as the Grand Canyon Enlargement Act, required the Secretary of Interior to work with all the managers of Grand Canyon, including the Navajo Nation, to protect the resource.

The draft legislation also makes no mention of two existing Tribal Parks, the Navajo Nation Marble Canyon and Little Colorado River Tribal parks. These parks were created by tribal agreement in the 1960’s and 1970’s to preserve this area of Grand Canyon.

With $65 million in Navajo funds to be spent in supporting this Phoenix developers’ scheme, grassroots Navajo groups are working on a list of needs that are more relevant, more helpful, and not destructive of Navajo values and the Grand Canyon.

River Runners for Wilderness encourages you to write Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell. Tell her:

– You support a tramway-free Grand Canyon.

– That the two Navajo Tribal Parks, Marble Canyon and Little Colorado, in the eastern Grand Canyon, would be excellent areas for Interior to work with the Navajo Nation as the 1975 Act encourages her to do, with federal funds, to make these Parks, under Navajo Nation direction, known and available to the public in an appropriate way that does not desecrate the area;

– That the Department of Interior should be supportive of Navajo residents in the Grand Canyon area of Western Navajo by working with the Navajo Nation on a Navajo-generated list of regional needs such as housing, sanitation, telecommunication and water supply projects.

– Remind the Secretary of her duty to work with the Navajo to protect and preserve the Grand Canyon as the 1975 Grand Canyon Enlargement Act required.

You can see the draft Navajo Nation legislation (16 Mb) here.

Additional information is also available here.

Contact information for Secretary Jewell is in Item 3 above.

7.   Comments to BLM Needed to Protect Wild Places around Las Vegas
          DEADLINE: February 6
          (ACTION ITEM)

The BLM is revising its Resource Management Plan for southern Nevada. It includes some recommendations for wilderness designations, but it also leaves areas out that Friends of Nevada Wilderness have identified as worthy of designation. Please write to the BLM thanking the planners for their work and for recommending the areas they did. Also request that they include those additional areas. Please use the following information that comes from an alert that FoNW sent out last week. If you’ve been to any of these areas, please mention that in your comments. Also, FoNW asks that when submitting comments you use the titles and identifiers below to assure your comments address the proper part of the plan.

3.2.14 Lands with Wilderness Characteristics

The following areas evaluated by the BLM have high wilderness values and we support their inclusion as additional lands that meet the BLM Lands with Wilderness Characteristics criteria:

Bitter Ridge (NV-SN-52-015)
Virgin Mountain Addition (NV-SN-52-012)
Eldorado Addition (NV-SN-52-021 A&B)
Buffington Pockets (NV-SN-52-011)
Last Chance Range (NV-SN-30-002 A&B)
Specter Range (NV-SN-30-004 A&B)

The following areas, which were overlooked by the BLM Lands with Wilderness Characteristic inventory, also meet the criteria for wilderness and should be inventoried, evaluated, and included with the Lands with Wilderness Characteristics for the district:

St. Thomas Gap (NV-050-02R-12)
Summit Springs (NV-050-0440) Lands with Wilderness Characteristics

Strongly encourage the district to adopt Alternative 2 for wilderness characteristics with the above listed lands included and also managed to protect, preserve, and maintain their wilderness characteristics.

3.4.6 Wilderness Study Areas

Support the strongest management actions to prevent OHV usage from damaging the wilderness resources of these areas and compromising the non-impairment standards set by BLM Manual 6330 for Wilderness Study Areas. Travel and Transportation

Support the Alternative 2 for OHV Designation with the inclusion of all district WSAs and the above listed additional Lands with Wilderness Characteristics into the “Closed to All Motorized or Mechanized Vehicles” category.

The BLM will accept Draft Resource Management Plan comments by e-mail to sndo_rmp_revision [at] blm [dot] gov. (Please include name and address with email comments.)

or U.S. Mail:

BLM Southern Nevada District Office
Las Vegas/Pahrump Field Offices Draft RMP/Draft EIS
4701 N. Torrey Pines Drive
Las Vegas, NV 89130

Again, the deadline for comments is February 6. Thanks!

8.    Defense Bill Passes with Good and Bad Lands Provisions

In mid-December, Congress passed, and Pres. Obama signed, the National Defense Authorization Act. This “must-pass” legislation contained a public lands amendment made up of a large number of provisions. There was a split in opinion among many conservation groups, however, as to whether these should be included or not. CalUWild joined about 50 groups in a request that they be removed from the bill, but we were unsuccessful.

We opposed the legislation for two reasons: First, we believed that the bad aspects of the legislation included far outweighed the good ones. Wilderness is important, of course, but while compromise may be necessary at times, designations should not be achieved at any cost. Second, we don’t believe that legislation should be passed this way, attached to bills funding the Defense or any other department, which the President has no other choice than to sign. It chains bills with no chance of passing on their own to popular ones, ensuring passage. Legislation is frequently included that had no hearing before a congressional committee, so there is no discussion about the merits of the individual bills. In the end, it circumvents democracy.

Here’s a quick run-down of some of the incorporated bills and other provisions, plus references if we’ve reported on them or linked to articles about them.

In Alaska: Tongass National Forest-Transfer of 70,000 acres to the Sealaska Corp for logging.

In Arizona: Resolution Copper Mine-Transfer of 2,000 acres to the Rio Tinto mining company in exchange for 5,000 acres elsewhere. However, the land in question is sacred to the San Carlos Apache tribe. The original bill was defeated twice in the Senate.

In Colorado: Hermosa Creek Wilderness-Designated 37,000+ acres. (September 2014 and November 2013)

In Montana: Bob Marshall Wilderness-Added 50,000 acres, but removed completely unrelated Wilderness Study Areas on BLM land in eastern Montana. Also required that ATV use be permitted in adjacent roadless areas that might be considered for future wilderness designation.

In Nevada: Pine Forest Range & Wovoka wildernesses-Designated about 75,000 acres, but allowed for helicopter and motorized vehicle access. Also transferred land to the town of Yerington for a copper mine. (January 2014 and June 2013)

In New Mexico: Columbine-Hondo Wilderness-Designated 45,000 acres but de-designated part of the Wheeler Peak Wilderness for a mountain bike trail. (November 2013)

In Washington State: Alpine Lakes Wilderness-Designated 22,000 acres. North Cascades National Park and its Mather Wilderness-Permits a park and wilderness boundary adjustment for the realignment/reconstruction of the Upper Stehekin Road. The road itself starts at the north Lake Chelan and is not reachable by any other road.

In General: Livestock grazing-Increased the term of grazing permits from 10 to 20 years and allows permits to be renewed without undergoing any environmental review.

9.   Fee-Free Days in the National Parks Announced for 2015

The National Park Service just announced the 2015 calendar of fee-free days, when its parks and sites that charge entrance fees will allow people in at no cost:

January 19: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
February 14-16: Presidents Day weekend
April 18-19: opening weekend of National Park Week
August 25: National Park Service Birthday
September 26: National Public Lands Day
November 11: Veterans Day

10.   Job Listings
          a.   Western Environmental Law Center

Our friends at the Western Environmental Law Center, one of the premier groups of environmental lawyers, are looking for a Communications Director to, in their words, “leverage our conservation advocacy campaigns with our supporters and the broader public. This exciting full-time position will be located in Eugene, Oregon or Taos, New Mexico and will be filled as soon as possible.”

If you are interested, check out the full job listing here.

          b.   Mono Lake Committee

The Mono Lake Committee has two seasonal positions open-for an Intern and an Information Center & Bookstore Assistant-as well as volunteer opportunities. Follow the links here for more information.

11.   Martin Litton

Longtime conservation leader and CalUWild Advisory Board member Martin Litton died November 30 at the age of 97.

Martin was best known as a leader in the fight to keep dams out of Dinosaur National Monument and the Grand Canyon. His last campaign was for the protection of Giant Sequoias in the national monument in California designated by Pres. Clinton in 2000. Martin was an inveterate river runner, too, rowing through Grand Canyon numerous times, and in fact became the oldest person to run it at age 87.

Ken Brower wrote an appreciation on National Geographic‘s website. Other major stories about Martin appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and the San Jose Mercury News. An excerpt about Martin from a documentary on Grand Canyon river runners is on Vimeo.

Martin believed fiercely in protecting wild places and was not someone who believed in keeping quiet when something needed saying. It’s an example we could all learn from.

He will be missed.

12.   Links to Items of Interest

As always, if a link is broken or otherwise inaccessible, please send me an email, and I’ll fix it or send you a PDF copy.

Reaction to an article in the Los Angeles Times, John Muir’s legacy questioned as centennial of his death nears, to which we linked in our November Update

From the LA Times op-ed page itself, a report on letters received: 56 in support of Muir to 0 in support of Jon Christensen, the professor who questioned Muir’s legacy

Letters to the editor of the LA Times, the first being from CalUWild friend George Wuerthner

Christensen’s own follow-up, I, Jackass, published in LA Observed

The Sierra Club’s John Muir Exhibit had a response, too. The Exhibit is a comprehensive source of information about John Muir, his work, and his writings.

This same Jon Christensen is also the editor of Boom: A Journal of California, published by UCLA. It has articles and interviews on many topics regarding the Golden State. In the latest issue is a preview of a new book of prints and poetry- California’s Wild Edge: The Coast in Prints, Poetry, and History-by Tom Killion and Gary Snyder, to be published by Heyday Books. You can also read a lengthy and interesting interview with Heyday publisher and founder, Malcolm Margolin.

A Robert Redford essay in Outside, supporting a Greater Canyonlands monument designation

A National Park Service website on UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the U.S.

Video Links

Episode 8 in the Forest Service Restore series: Indian Valley Meadow Restoration

Grand Canyon in Depth #1: More Than a View

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.