Newsletter Archive

U.S. Postal Service National Park Forever Stamps, 2016

April 2016

Dear CalUWild friends-

The first thing you probably noticed about this month’s Update is that the illustration is a bit different than usual. On June 2, the U.S. Postal Service will be issuing this panel of 16 stamps commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service. (And you may have noticed a rare occurrence last month when the price of a first class stamp actually decreased-to $0.47.) So stock up!

In response to a recent inquiry: The armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon and the 2014 standoff at Cliven Bundy’s ranch in Nevada didn’t involve wilderness per se. At their foundations, however, is the federal management of public lands, upon which wilderness designation rests. It is important for wilderness supporters to have an understanding of those issues, which is why I’ve been including articles on different topics, all related in varying degrees. I can assure you that our coverage of wilderness issues has not been reduced because of these events. There simply hasn’t been a lot of Congressional or planning activity lately. However, we are still hoping that more California representatives will sign onto America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act. (See Item 1.)

Everyone’s focus seems to be on the presidential campaign, in which there is very little discussion about the environment, let alone public lands. It’s important, though, for citizens to keep their representatives and others conscious of these important issues regardless. So, please, write or call Washington, DC and send letters to the editors of your papers whenever you think something needs attention.

Speaking of elections, the California Primary is June 7. There are no environmental propositions on the ballot, though there may be local issues, depending on where you live. The deadline to register vote is Midnight, May 23, which you can do online here.

Finally, I’ll be giving a slideshow on Wild Utah to the Yerba Buena Chapter of the California Native Plant Society on Thursday, June 2, at 7:30 p.m in the Recreation Room of the County Fair Building (formerly known as the Hall of Flowers) at 9th Avenue and Lincoln Way in Golden Gate Park (San Francisco). Please join us!

Best wishes,

1.   Red Rock Bill Cosponsor Update
          (ACTION ITEM)
2.   Bears Ears Campaign Update

3.   Interior Secretary Sally Jewell
          Gives Major Conservation Speech
          (ACTION ITEM)
4.   Job Listing: Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center
          DEADLINE: May 12

5.   Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest


1.   Red Rock Bill Cosponsor Update
          (ACTION ITEM)

There have been no recent cosponsorships from California for America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, H.R. 2430, though there has been progress across the country. Totals now stand at 108 in the House and 20 in the Senate. Though 19 California representatives are cosponsors, in addition to Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-47), the chief sponsor, we’d still like to see the following California House members sign on.

John Garamendi (D-3) *
Mike Thompson (D-5) *
Ami Bera (D-7)
Eric Swalwell (D-15)
Brad Sherman (D-30) *
Raul Ruiz (D-36)
Linda Sánchez (D-38) *
Maxine Waters (D-43) *
Janice Hahn (D-44)
Mimi Walters (D-45)
Loretta Sanchez (D-46) *
Juan Vargas (D-51)
Susan Davis (D-53) *

* cosponsor in a previous Congress

If your representative is on the list, please ask them to become a cosponsor. And if you have friends or family living in one of those districts, please encourage them to contact the representative. That’s how we spread our message. A simple phone call will do, or send a note via an online comment form on the representative’s website. Complete contact information may be found by following the links here.

A full list of cosponsors nationwide may be found here.

2.   Bears Ears Campaign Update

The campaign by the Bears Ears Coalition to have the area in southeastern Utah designated a national monument continues to gather steam. In an important step forward, the Salt Lake Tribune, Utah’s largest newspaper, published an editorial calling on the president to use his authority under the Antiquities Act of 1906 to do just that: Obama should create a Bears Ears National Monument.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell gave a speech (see Item 3) in which she mentioned Utah, though not the Bears Ears specifically, as a place needing protection, and she said she and her staff would be visiting the state this summer as part of a national listening and fact-finding tour. In that speech, Secty. Jewell also strongly defended the use of the Antiquities Act, saying:

I believe it’s one of the most important tools a President has to improve our country. … I do not think the Act should only be used in places where there is complete agreement, as some are suggesting. If that were the case, then Teddy Roosevelt would never have protected the Grand Canyon or Muir Woods. And Franklin Roosevelt would never have protected Zion or Joshua Tree. These were all controversial when they were established. … [T]oday, every one of those (now) national parks is an economic engine and huge source of pride for its respective state.

A good way to gauge the impact of a campaign or proposal is to see how the opposition reacts. The anti-conservation politicians in Utah seem to be pulling out the stops against the Bears Ears.

In one move, last week Sen. Mike Noel (R) and the state’s Constitutional Defense Council asked Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes to investigate-“ferret out”- the connections, particularly financial, between the Inter-Tribal Coalition and the conservation groups supporting the monument proposal. Mr. Noel claims that the groups, particularly the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, are manipulating the Indian tribes into supporting the monument proposal.

Reaction was negative from many quarters. The Salt Lake Tribune quoted Utah Dine Bikeyah Chairman Willie Grayeyes as saying: “If lawmakers want to know, all they have to do is pick up a phone. Our door is open, and our financials are all online. The state of Utah should consider calling us and asking us how we are funded before launching an investigation. We buy our office furniture at the secondhand store, we have dozens of volunteers and our board members are all unpaid.”

The Tribune also editorialized against Sen. Noel-Noel’s conspiracy theory is insulting-and published several letters to the editor, among them: More ‘conspiracies’ for Noel to ferret out and Constitutional? No, just political.

The Constitutional Defense Council was set up and given a budget of $14 million to promote a lawsuit to transfer of much of the federal land within Utah’s borders to state control and management. It is telling that the Council’s Republican majority has refused to share its lawyers’ legal analysis with its Democratic Party members, despite the fact that those lawyers are hired by the Council, not the GOP members.

Giving yet another insight into the opponents’ mindsets, at a hearing last month of Utah’s Commission for the Stewardship of Public Lands, State Sen. David Hinkins (R), the co-chairman, repeatedly asked one of the witnesses from the Ute Mountain Tribal Council, a woman, why there were no male representatives for the tribe testifying. He’s also been quoted in news stories as saying he’s seen no support among the Navajo tribe in Utah for a monument designation, despite the fact that six out of seven chapter houses in the state have voted to support it.

These examples show why those of us who treasure the federal public lands in Utah , but live outside the state need to be actively involved in citizen and legislative efforts to protect them. It’s abundantly clear that the state’s own politicians at both the local and federal levels have no real interest in doing so.

Click here for a map showing the Bears Ears proposal in relation to America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act and the Greater Canyonlands monument proposal.

3.   Interior Secretary Sally Jewell
          Gives Major Conservation Speech
          (ACTION ITEM)

Last week, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell gave a speech at the National Geographic Society in Washington, DC, in conjunction with the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service. In it, she laid out important ideas for the country to pursue for the next 100 years.

Her speech looked at three broad themes: Make Parks Relevant to All Americans; Think Big: Landscape-level Planning; and Invest in America’s Public Lands. Here are a few highlights.

In addition to her strong defense of the Antiquities Act (mentioned above in Item 2), Secty. Jewell pledged to continue the “Every Kid in a Park” program, giving fourth-graders and their families free admission to national parks and monuments for a year. She continued, saying: “We also need to ensure that when a diverse class of 4th graders does visit, that they see park rangers who look like them. Or talk to wildlife biologists who share their background. Or see signs in their first language. Or, that they can visit a place that honors their heritage or culture,” citing César Chávez, Harriet Tubman, and the Buffalo Soldiers as finally having their historic contributions recognized by the Park Service. She also said she wants to hear from communities what they see as goals for conservation in the years ahead.

Secty. Jewell said it was necessary to “think big. It’s simply not enough to protect a few isolated places. … We need to take a holistic look at an ecosystem_-_on land or in the ocean_-_to determine where it makes sense to develop, where it makes sense to protect the natural resources, and where we can accomplish both.”

Thirdly, she talked about investing for the future, pointing out that parks generated about $32 billion on a budget of about $3 billion, a 10 to 1 return. But infrastructure such as roads and bridges isn’t the only area needing investment. She also mentioned the need “to check the spread of invasive species, build resilient coastlines in the face of climate change, and restore wetlands and watersheds.” Secty. Jewell also highlighted that “Congress can also do right by permanently authorizing and fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund at $900 million as originally intended.”

Secty. Jewell concluded with a defense of public lands and an appeal to all Americans to continue to work for their protection on whatever level needed and “to set a new path for conservation in the 21st century.”

You may find the full text of Sally Jewell’s speech here and watch it online here, followed by Q&A.

Please send Secretary Jewell a message of thanks.

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

Comment line: 202-208-3100
By email

4. Job Listing: Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center
          DEADLINE: May 12

Our friends at CSERC have a staff position open for advocacy and fieldwork. Full details here. (Sorry for the short notice; we only got the announcement last week ourselves.)

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.

A couple of developments in the Oregon & Nevada standoff cases and related issues

Bundy brothers, three others refuse to enter pleas in Bunkerville standoff

Ammon Bundy to challenge authority of feds to prosecute Oregon standoff defendants

The Guardian published an article: Utah ranchers vow to stand up to government despite Oregon arrests

Bundy Militia’s Takeover Dreams Dashed by Bond Between Ranchers and Feds

The Christian Science Monitor wrote about one aspect of the aftermath: Why Malheur Wildlife Refuge is seeing green after the siege

Good news for the Klamath River in Northern California: State, US agree to dismantle 4 dams on Klamath River

A Denver Post article illustrating how legislation sometimes gets introduced: Tipton proposal, largely written by oil and gas company, draws criticism

We wrote last month about April 16-24 being National Parks Week. Pres. Obama issued a proclamation for it, which you can read here.

Video Link

Episode 19 in the US Forest Service’s Restore series: Sage Grouse Habitat

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