Newsletter Archive

DSC_0276a3aPetrified Forest National Park, Arizona                                                                                        (Mike Painter)

October 31, 2015

Dear CalUWild friends-

There are just two Action Items this month, but numerous links to interesting articles that came across my computer screen. With Daylight Savings Time ending tonight, you’ll have more evening hours in which to read them in the days ahead, rather than being tempted to be outdoors!

Just a reminder: CalUWild has a Facebook page that we are trying to use more frequently for announcements and appropriate articles that might be time-sensitive. So please like and follow us to be kept a little more up to date than the Monthly Update allows for. However, we firmly believe in not overwhelming people with numerous announcements and emails, and Facebook will be no exception.

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Thanks and best wishes,

1.   Native American Tribes
          Formally Unveil Bear Ears Proposal
          (ACTION ITEM)
2.   Recapture Canyon ATV Ride Update

3.   Land & Water Conservation Fund Expires
          (ACTION ITEM)

4.   Susan Tixier, Founder of Great Old Broads for Wilderness

5.   Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest


1.   Native American Tribes
          Formally Unveil Bear Ears Proposal
          (ACTION ITEM)

We wrote in our July Update about a Native American proposal to create a Bears Ears National Monument in southeast Utah, in the area around the Abajo Mountains and Cedar Mesa. The proposal has continued to receive press since then. Earlier this month, leaders from several Native American tribes traveled to Washington, DC, where they called on Pres. Obama use his authority under the Antiquities Act to designate a monument protecting their ancestral lands.

Click here for a map showing the location of the Bears Ears proposal relative to the Greater Canyonlands proposal from the conservation community. Either would be a spectacular addition to America’s system of national monuments.

A short video regarding the visit and request may be seen here.

Press Articles

Indian Country Today: Bears Ears 1.9 Million-Acre Monument Would Be Unique Tribal-Federal Collaboration

Salt Lake Tribune: Tribal leaders to Obama: Name a new monument in Utah to protect our lands

Interestingly, Smithsonian Magazine has an article in its November 2015 issue, An Exclusive Look at the Greatest Haul of Native American Artifacts, Ever, on the looting of sites in the area and the legal case against people living near Cedar Mesa and the Four Corners area. The article shows clearly why there is a need for greater protections for the heritage of ancient Native American cultures.

President Obama and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell should hear from people who support protecting these lands. Please contact them:

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

Comment line:   202-456-1111
Online comments 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

2.   Recapture Canyon ATV Ride Update

There were two developments this month in the ongoing controversy and trial of San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman for the protest ride he organized in May 2014 in Recapture Canyon near Blanding, Utah. The Bureau of Land Management had closed the area to vehicle traffic in 2007 because of damage to archaeological sites. Mr. Lyman contended the closure was illegal and organized the ride as a show of civil disobedience.

First: Early in the month, the Utah Association of Counties voted Mr. Lyman “County Commissioner of the Year,” despite the fact that a jury has convicted him of federal trespass and conspiracy charges. This gives you a good idea of the thinking that goes on at almost all levels in much of Utah government and makes clear that there is no real interest in land protection. This is why it is so important for Americans who do not live in Utah to be concerned about the future of our federal public lands there.

The Salt Lake Tribune published three letters to the editor critical of the award, the first from CalUWild friend Mike Coronella. You can read the other two here and here.

Second: U.S. District Court Chief Judge David Nuffer, who is currently assigned to the case after several other judges recused themselves, ruled this week that Mr. Lyman and co-defendant Monte Wells are liable for the restitution of $96,000, costs that the BLM incurred in assessing the damage caused by the riders. Mr. Lyman’s attorney argued that, because Mr. Lyman turned around at the actual closure and didn’t cause any damage himself, he couldn’t be held liable for what other riders did. Judge Nuffer didn’t agree: “The person who lights a fire is responsible for the consequences of the fire,” he replied.

Formal sentencing in the case is scheduled for December 18.

3.   Land & Water Conservation Fund Expires
          (ACTION ITEM)

Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, allowed the Land & Water Conservation Fund to expire at midnight, September 30. The LWCF has been one of the most successful environmental land purchase programs in the 50 years of its existence. Royalties from offshore oil & gas development funded local and state purchases of land for parks and other recreation facilities, as well as purchases of inholdings and other areas in national parks and forests. It was not a taxpayer-funded program.

Rep. Bishop has said that he will introduce a bill soon to reauthorize the Fund, but that the status quo will have to change. He has offered no details, though he objects to the current use of funding to acquire new lands, preferring that funding go toward eliminating the already-existing backlog of projects in parks and other areas. (Of course, he never mentions that Congress has consistently cut the budgets of the land management agencies for many years, allowing that backlog to accumulate.)

At a Natural Resources Committee hearing on October 8, California Rep. Jared Huffman (D-2), who is one of the strongest supporters of public lands in Congress, spoke in defense of the LWCF, asking for reauthorization of the fund. He was rebuffed by Mr. Bishop. You can watch a video clip of their exchange here. It gives you a good idea of who’s who and what their thinking is.

Reaction to the expiration across the nation was overwhelmingly negative. Timothy Egan wrote a column in the New York Times, finishing with these words: “In a nutshell crammed with nutcases, this is your Congress. It’s a place that doesn’t work taking on something that does work, and killing it.”

Another strongly-worded article appeared in the fly fishing journal Hatch Magazine: Let’s boot Utah from The Union-But we’re keeping what’s ours. The Salt Lake City Weekly ran a negative article titled Bishop’s Pawn.

In the past, the LWCF has enjoyed very strong bipartisan support, to the extent that it has been a nonpartisan issue. However, for a long time now it seems everything in Congress has been partisan. There have been several bills introduced in the House and Senate to reauthorize LWCF, among them H.R. 1814. All of the Democratic members of California’s delegation-at least those not in leadership positions-have become cosponsors of the bill. However, not a single Republican member from California has, though about 10% of Republicans in the House nationwide have.

Reps. Doug LaMalfa (R-1) and Steve Knight (R-25) might be convinced to sign on. Because so many LWCF-funded projects are actually undertaken by local governments, one way of approaching the issue is through them. So if you live in Congressional districts 1 or 25, please send a letter of support for LWCF to your county board of supervisors asking them to request Reps. LaMalfa or Knight, respectively, to sign on as cosponsors to H.R. 1814.

Talking points (but please use your own words)

•   Over its 50-year history, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has conserved important landscapes in every state and is responsible for more than 40,000 state and local outdoor recreation projects such as playgrounds, urban parks, refuges, and baseball fields.

•   Preserving America’s cultural heritage for generations to come is an important role LWCF plays. LWCF protects Civil War battlefields, presidential sites, landmarks of American history, and other important cultural places.

•   Providing public access for hunting, angling, and other outdoor recreation is an important tenet of LWCF.

•   LWCF and the public lands it protects are critical to an outdoor recreation industry that contributes $646 billion to the U.S. economy. Even during times of economic downturn, outdoor tourism, hunting, and fishing are a robust sector that supports more than 6 million non-exportable American jobs. Protecting these natural and cultural assets and expanding access to our public lands is just smart economic policy.

And if you haven’t yet called or written your congressional representative about the LWCF, please take a moment to do so. Complete contact information may be found by following the links at

4.   Susan Tixier, Founder of Great Old Broads for Wilderness

It was very sad news for the wilderness community in the West this month, when Susan Tixier passed away. Despite being best known by many as the founder of Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Susan had a long history of involvement with conservation organizations, including the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, the Colorado Environmental Coalition, Forest Guardians, the Land & Water Fund of the Rockies, and the New Mexico Environmental Legal Center.

She and a group of older women started Great Old Broads as a response to Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch’s assertion, in opposition to wilderness designation, that “if for no other reason, we need roads for the aged and infirm.” They decided to show him that older people loved being outdoors and didn’t need roads to go everywhere.

In an article on “senior” activism in the AARP Magazine, Susan was quoted:

It is our calling to spread the word to great broads everywhere that the experience of waking up in your sleeping bag in the middle of the canyon country with too-close yipping coyotes under a full moon, walking through a rising river in the rain, seeking shelter from a late snowstorm under a ledge … standing quietly to watch a mama bear and cubs cross the path in front of you-that these events are a living metaphor for how best to live our lives. Without the opportunity to experience wilderness, civilization becomes sterile, safe and dead.

Susan was a woman full of energy and a great friend to us all. We will miss her very much.

5.   Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest

If a link is broken or otherwise inaccessible, please send me an email, and I’ll fix it or send you a PDF copy. As always, inclusion of an item in this section does not imply agreement with the viewpoint expressed.

New York Times articles

A Shifting Approach to Saving Endangered Species

My Dark California Dream on the changes a native Californian has noticed in the state

An article on controlling cheatgrass, an invasive species across the West

Profiles of interesting people

An article in the Washington Post on Elwood York, head of the wilderness program for the US Forest Service

An article in the Washington Post: E.O. Wilson explains why parks and nature are really good for your brain

An article in National Parks Traveler discussing Michael Frome’s lifelong work on issues related to the national parks

An article in The New Yorker, Humboldt’s Gift, on the German naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt, after whom California’s Humboldt County (among other places and things) is named

Pond Scum, another New Yorker piece, on Henry David Thoreau, which raised quite a bit of controversy

Responses to it appeared in The New Republic, the Huffington Post, and Religion Dispatches

A Los Angeles Times article, In raucous tent hearing, Sen. Feinstein defends desert national monument plan reporting on a public hearing held to discuss the senator’s proposal for three new national monuments in the Mojave Desert, which we reported on in our February Update and in September, as well

‘Desperate environmentalism’ won’t save the environment, an op-ed in the LA Times taking a look at recent, and increasingly popular, approaches to environmentalism

A report in the Missoulian on the National Wilderness Workshop, held this past week in Missoula, Montana.

Video Links

Episode 17 in the US Forest Service’s Restore series: Tree-Tipping

Another in the National Park Service series, America’s Wilderness. This time: Wilderness Light: Death Valley. And if you’re planning a trip to Death Valley anytime soon, please check the road conditions, as there was substantial flooding across the park due to heavy rains this month.

Nature Rx, guaranteed to make you smile

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