Newsletter Archive

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Interior Secty. Sally Jewell (r) acknowledges a banner of thanks from students to the President,
Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument Dedication, 3/19/16                                   (Mike Painter)

March 2016

Dear CalUWild friends & supporters—

There’s not much new this month to report on, but there were quite a few articles about familiar and relevant topics in the press, so we’ll organize most of this month’s Update around them. (Unfortunately, only one of them is an April Fool’s Day joke …) Please contact your elected representatives and let them know your thoughts on any one of these issues—or all of them, for that matter.

Just a reminder, entrance fees to all national parks and monuments will be waived the week of April 16-24 in honor National Parks Week and the 100th anniversary of the Park Service. More information about the anniversary may be found at

Thanks as always and best wishes,

1.   Public Lands Initiative Draft Still Open for Comment
          (ACTION ITEM)

2.   Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest


1.   Public Lands Initiative Draft Still Open for Comment
          (ACTION ITEM)

The last two months we’ve described the draft Public Lands Initiative (PLI) released by Utah’s Reps. Rob Bishop (R) and Jason Chaffetz (R). So far, the congressmen have not introduced a bill in Congress, and it appears they’re still accepting comments. So if you haven’t submitted any yet, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance has its page up to continue collecting them for delivery to appropriate members of Congress.

Here are the talking points from previous Updates, but please use your own words.

– Designate more real wilderness using the 1964 Wilderness Act as a guide, not wilderness that has all sorts of exceptions built into it.

– Protect the Bears Ears, following the Indian tribes’ proposal.

– The PLI proposal is really a land grab, with its road giveaways, land transfers to the counties, and support for state ownership of federal lands.

– Remove the provisions for fossil fuel zones. We need to move away from dependence on those sources, especially given climate change.

Feel free to add to those. If you want more information, our friends at Wilderness Watch just prepared a detailed analysis of the proposal’s shortcomings with respect to wilderness legislation and management. Click on these links for the analysis and their press release .

600 people turned out for a citizens hearing on the PLI in early March at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, and it doesn’t appear that anyone spoke in favor of the proposal. The Salt Lake Tribune reported on it. The paper has published quite a few letters to the editor regarding the proposal. Here’s just one: Monument would protect lands from Bishop, legislators.

2.   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.

Bears Ears Monument Proposal in Utah

The New York Times published an article: Remote Utah Enclave Becomes New Battleground Over Reach of U.S. Control, looking at the issue in a very general way. The Chairman of Utah Diné Bikéyah, the Native American group leading the Bears Ears campaign, responded with a letter to the editor .

Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, and Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, have demanded that Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and the director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality turn over all documents relating to Pres. Obama’s use of the Antiquities Act in designating six national monuments since 2015. The San Francisco Chronicle ran an article: House Republicans open probe of new California national monuments. Given that two of the congressmen are from Utah, many people feel this is an attempt to intimidate the Administration as part of the opposition the Bears Ears campaign.

The Aftermath of the Malheur NWR Occupation

High Country News ran an article that gives a rundown on the status of many of the players in the controversy: The Bundy bust-up: Charges rain down on militant leaders of Bundy family standoffs in Nevada and Oregon.

Questions have arisen regarding two FBI agents’ actions at the shooting of LaVoy Finicum. It seems that they fired shots but never reported them and possibly attempted a cover up. The Oregonian published an editorial: As the Malheur circus continues, public lands discourse is set back.

The government estimated that the occupation cost over $6 million, with cleanup still to come. A Mess Left by Occupiers at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon appeared in the New York Times.

Also in the Times, a Travel section article: After Oregon Standoff, Birding Is Back.

More seriously, Utah’s four congressional representatives have introduced a bill to remove federal law enforcement authority from the federal government on federal lands. The New York Times published an editorial page blog post Republicans Channel the Bundys With Federal-Land Bill, which has brought national attention to the matter.

Here’s an example of local law enforcement, as reported by High Country News: In southern Utah, a ranger is jailed under questionable circumstances: The region has a history of sheriffs butting heads with federal land agencies. HCN linked to an op-ed in the St. George Independent, which gives a bit more background.

An interesting op-ed was published by the Moab Sun News: Has Bundy insurrection bitten the dust?

An article in High Country News, appearing today, began: “Citing grievous damage to their homeland, a militia composed of endangered desert tortoises has commenced a hostile occupation of Cliven Bundy’s ranch in southeastern Nevada.” Read it here.

Public Lands in General

Texas senator and presidential candidate Ted Cruz (R) said:

Too much land in this country, particularly in the West, is owned by the federal government. It’s not right, it doesn’t make sense. And we need to transfer that land back to the states, or even better, back to the people. The people of Idaho know much better what to do with the land here than does the federal government.

The comments were reported in Adventure Journal and other places. High Country News published an op-ed rebutting Sen. Cruz: No, Ted Cruz, Westerners should not follow in Texas’ footsteps: The state’s public lands boondoggle was a historical accident.

Delaware North, the former concessionaire in Yosemite National Park ignited controversy when they claimed trademarks on many of the locations in the park. This New York Times article explains some of it: Bitter Contract Dispute Extends to Who Owns Yosemite Names.

Reps. Jared Huffman (CA-2) & Raúl Grijalva (AZ), members of the House Natural Resources Committee, wrote an op-ed in the Sacramento Bee regarding the planned removal of dams on the Klamath River in northern California: Congress should stop blocking restoration of Klamath River.

Author and CalUWild Advisory Board member and friend, Terry Tempest Williams, wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times about buying an oil & gas lease with her husband Brooke, near their home in Utah: Keeping My Fossil Fuel in the Ground.

An article in the Los Angeles Times looked at the coal industry in states such as Utah and how it affects other places, such as the Port of Oakland, California: Coal represents the polluted past — except in the interior West.

Wilderness and Re-wilding

The New York Times published an op-ed looking at the philosophical issues surrounding the use of technology in wildlife restoration programs and studies: The Unnatural Kingdom: If technology helps us save the wilderness, will the wilderness still be wild?

Biologist E.O. Wilson has authored a new book Half Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life, in which he proposes setting aside one-half of the planet for nature. The New York Times interviewed him, and he later wrote his own op-ed piece: The Global Solution to Extinction, which the Times published.

Book Review

Douglas Brinkley has written a book on FDR and conservation: Rightful Heritage: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Land of America. The New York Times published this review.

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