Newsletter Archive

Looking West from the San Rafael Swell, Utah                                                                        (Mike Painter)

December 4, 2015

Dear CalUWild friends and supporters-

This issue of the Monthly Update is late because the computer was in the shop for a few days. Things are fixed, but a new computer and software are on the agenda for next year.

I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving-including being thankful for our wilderness and public land here in the West, available for recreation, watersheds, wildlife, and just knowing it’s there (every day, not just on the fourth Thursday in November). November is also CalUWild’s anniversary month, so I want to thank you for advocating for protection and learning about the issues involving these lands for the last 18 years. It is citizen involvement that keeps our representatives informed on the issues.

Congress is not doing much, and the country seems focused on the antics of many of the candidates, so there’s not a lot to report. Articles about some of the issues we’ve reported on in the past are linked to in Item 4: IN THE PRESS.

As mentioned last month, it’s time for CalUWild’s Annual Membership Appeal. Thanks to everyone who has already sent in contributions! Your support is much appreciated. If you haven’t sent your annual contribution in yet, and you’d like to beat the rush, please print out this form and mail it with your check to:

P.O. Box 210474
San Francisco, CA  94121

Otherwise, please watch your postal mail or email in the coming weeks for our notice.

Contributions made directly to CalUWild are not tax-deductible. If you’d like to make a tax-deductible contribution, please make your check payable to Resource Renewal Institute and mail it to our address above.

As always, thanks for your interest and support, and best wishes for the holidays to you and your families.

Best wishes,

1.   Yosemite National Park Begins Wilderness Planning Process
          DEADLINE: January 29, 2016
          (ACTION ITEM)
2.   Christmas Bird Count for Kids

3.   Land & Water Conservation Fund Update

4.   Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest


1.   Yosemite National Park Begins Wilderness Planning Process
          DEADLINE: January 29, 2016
          (ACTION ITEM)

Many people think of Yosemite National Park as being the famous 7-square-mile Valley, but the Park actually covers a total of 1,190 square miles, of which 95% is wilderness designated by Congress. The Park Service is mandated to preserve it, according to the requirements of the 1964 Wilderness Act.

The Park just announced that it is undertaking a revision of its wilderness stewardship plan and is seeking public input as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The first stage is known as “scoping,” in which the public has the opportunity to recommend issues that the plan and accompanying environmental impact statement (EIS) should include and address. It’s also a good idea to make specific management suggestions for those issues if you have an opinion on them, so the Park Service can use them in preparing the alternatives required under NEPA.

Among the issues the Park should address are: carrying capacity and levels of visitor use; horse traffic on trails; the High Sierra Camps-which are historic commercial operations inside the wilderness area, but are increasingly unaffordable for many Americans and which need to be supplied by mule train-and how invasive and endangered species should be managed or restored.

The announcement came out just recently, so there are no talking points to pass along yet, but we’ll see what we can do for the next Update. In the meantime, though, the Park Service is making available several opportunities for the public to comment and learn more. It has scheduled two public open house meetings and three online “webinars.” Here’s the schedule so far:

Public Meetings

Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
REI Berkeley
1338 San Pablo Avenue
Berkeley, CA  94702

Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016
12:00 PM -2:00 PM
Yosemite Valley Auditorium
9035 Village Drive
Yosemite National Park, CA  95389


Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
Webinar webex link

Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016
6:00 PM – 7:00 PM

The webinars require the webex app if using a mobile device, and they ask that people log in 15 minutes before the start. The webex link above for Dec. 16 is the only one posted so far, so please check back here as the dates draw near for full details on the others and for the public meetings as well.

You may also submit comments online or the old-fashioned way, by U.S. Mail, to:

Yosemite National Park
Attn: Wilderness Stewardship Plan
P.O. Box 577
Yosemite, CA  95389

For more information click here.

2.   Christmas Bird Count for Kids

There’s a lot of talk these days about how to get children away from their “devices” and out into Nature. One imaginative way we became aware of last year is the Christmas Bird Count for Kids (CBC4Kids), a project begun by Sonoma Birding. The traditional annual Audubon Bird Count has been geared toward adults, but several years ago they got a program going for families and kids, ages 8-16. It has spread to over 100 locations in the U.S. and Canada. Learn more about the Northern California CBC4Kids offerings and how to start your own community event at Sonoma Birding.

2015-16 Christmas Bird Counts for Kids (Northern CA)

Sat. Dec. 12, 2015 (8:30 am -12:30 pm)
Marin CBC4Kids
Sign up

Sat. Dec 19th, 2015 (8:30 am -12:30 pm)
Napa County CBC4Kids

Sat. Jan. 2nd, 2016 (9:00 am – 1:00 pm)
Madrone Audubon CBC4Kids (Petaluma)

Sun. Jan 3rd, 2016 (9:00 am – 1:00 pm)
Sonoma Valley CBC4Kids

Sat. Jan 9, 2016 (10:00 am-3:00 pm.)
Point Reyes CBC4Kids
Contact    Pre-registration required

Sat. Jan. 9, 2016 (9:00 am – 1:00 pm)
Sacramento Audubon CBC4Kids

Sat. Jan. 16, 2014 (9:00 am – 1:00 pm)
Santa Rosa – Mayacamas CBC4Kids
Sign up

For more details about CBC4Kids and individual events click here.

3.   Land & Water Conservation Fund Update

As we reported last month, the Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) expired at the end of September, and Utah Rep. Rob Bishop (R), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee has vowed to “reform” it.

Rep. Bishop has released his proposal for a new LWCF, but it is far removed from the original intent of the Fund as legislated 50 years ago. A few “highlights,” as announced by the Natural Resources Committee:

• 45% of the funding would go to states as grants.• 20% would go to promote-and to streamline permitting for-offshore energy exploration, innovation, and education, including training of oil workers.

• 15 % would go to the Payment in Lieu of Taxes, program, which provides funding for counties that have large areas of federal land.

• 3.5% would go to federal land acquisitions, but only for inholdings, with no more than 15% of that for land west of the 100th Meridian (which is where most of the nation’s inholdings are, given that that is where the bulk of federal public lands are).

• 3.5% would go to eliminating the backlog of maintenance and infrastructure projects on federal lands. (There are $20 billion in projects and Rep. Bishop proposes no more than 3.5% of the funding from LWCF would go toward that. Also, the backlog exists to a large degree because Congress has consistently cut the funding for the land management agencies.)

LWCF has been a very successful and popular program, benefiting just about every congressional district in the country. So there is a growing backlash among many members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, against Mr. Bishop’s proposals. The Obama Administration has also come out against the proposal.

Given his proposals, it’s not surprising that there’s so much opposition. A study done by Energy & Environment Daily (no link, sorry-it’s behind a paywall) found that districts represented by Republican had received more than two-thirds of the funding and contained more than two-thirds the acreage preserved. (This is not surprising, since much of the rural West, where most federal public land is located, is represented by Republicans.) In fact, Rep. Bishop himself requested $500,000 for purchases in the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in his own district.

In the Senate, the Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved the Sportsmen’s Bill of Rights, S. 556, which contained an amendment for the permanent reauthorization of LWCF, worked out by Chairman Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA). That bill has not moved forward, but there is talk in Washington of attaching a reauthorization provision to an appropriations bill, and there is guarded optimism that it will be successful.

This just in: Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) introduced a bill in the House this week, H.R. 4151, which would permanently reauthorize LWCF, using the language of the Murkowski-Cantwell deal. Also just in, there’s an excellent op-ed piece, So-called ‘fix’ bill is a thinly veiled attempt to kill conservation fund, that minces no words on Rep. Bishop and his proposal.

4.   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.

The Bears Ears Monument Proposal

Bishop is wrong, Utah’s Native Americans want Bears Ears protected, an op-ed piece, by Herman Daniels, Jr., a Navajo Nation Council Delegate

Wilderness and Public Lands in General

The Washington Post Fact Checker on Ben Carson’s claim that the federal government should ‘return’ public land to states. (N.B.: CalUWild does not get involved in electoral politics, so this item is not included as a statement about Mr. Carson’s candidacy. Rather the article contains useful information and a rebuttal to the claims made by many politicians and others in the West about the history, ownership, and management of our public lands.)

The Center for Western Priorities issued a report, The Mining Burden: States Would Shoulder Significant Costs of Cleaning Up Abandoned Mines if They Take Over American Lands, estimating the cost of mine cleanup on federal public lands at as much as $21 billion, which states would be responsible for, should they be successful in gaining control of federal public lands within their borders. Click here for a summary and here to download the report.

Follow the links on this page for The Wilderness Society’s Third Assessment of the State of the National Conservation Lands, BLM’s landscape conservation system.

An essay by CalUWild friend George Wuerthner: Wildlands Protection: an Antidote for Climate Change

Wolf Recovery in California

A California Department of Fish & Wildlife press release on its Draft Gray Wolf Plan. For the complete draft, click here.


A conversation with outdoors writer Ted Williams, covering various topics

Book Review

Artist Tom Killion and poet Gary Snyder’s latest collaboration: California’s Wild Edge. It would make a nice gift for someone (or yourself!).

Video Links

Last month’s Forest Service’s Restore Series brought us to the last one. We’ll post installments as more are produced.

Another in the National Park Service series, America’s Wilderness. This time: Memoirs of a Cactus: Saguaro Wilderness

An 18-minute film from the Bay Area Open Space Council, Here and Now on partnerships between Native American tribes, open space districts, and others to restore some of the landscape of the South Bay Area

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” and “Follow” CalUWild on Facebook.