Newsletter Archive

CedarMesa 1b3a
Ancient Pueblo Dwelling, Bears Ears NM Proposal                                                                    (Mike Painter)

July 2016

Dear CalUWild friends & supporters-

Summertime tends to be slow on the action front, but not this year, as you’ll see below. Take your choice of items to focus on in August-they’re all critical. But please, with one the major party platforms (See Item 7, below) including the proposition that some federal lands should be disposed of, this is not time to take a vacation from involvement.

Thanks again to everyone who made an extra contribution to CalUWild in response to the request in last month’s Update. If you’d still like to make a contribution, full information may be found here.

There’s always something to add at the last minute: In our October Update and in last month’s, we linked to reviews of a recent book on the great German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt. We just received an announcement that on Friday, August 19, at 6 p.m., the Goethe-Institut San Francisco will be showing the film Measuring the World, looking at the curiosity that drove Humboldt and the equally great mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss in totally opposite directions. The film is based on the novel of the same name, runs 113 minutes, and is in German with English subtitles. Admission is free. The Goethe-Institut is located at 530 Bush Street, 2nd Floor, San Francisco 94108.

Thanks for your ongoing support and enthusiasm for wilderness and public lands!

1.   Public Lands Initiative Bill Introduced in House
          (ACTION ITEM)
2.   Interior Secty. Sally Jewell Visits the Bears Ears
          (ACTION ITEM)

3.   National Forest Planning
          Sequoia National Forest
          (ACTION ITEM)
4.   Yosemite Wilderness Planning
          (ACTION ITEM)
5.   Central Coast Wilderness Bill
          (ACTION ITEM)

6.   Other Legislation in Congress

7.   Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest


1.   Public Lands Initiative Bill Introduced in House
          (ACTION ITEM)

Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) introduced his long-awaited Public Lands Initiative (PLI) covering seven counties in eastern Utah on July 14, just as Congress was heading out of town for a seven-week recess. More significantly, though, the bill is an attempt to prevent the designation of the Bears Ears National Monument by the President. Mr. Bishop introduced it just as Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and other administration officials were visiting Utah to learn more about that proposal (See Item 2).

The bill, H.R.5780, does not incorporate much of the feedback received from various counties and the public, and in some respects is worse than the draft released earlier in the year. The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance sent out this summary (edited very slightly):

After years of missed deadlines, Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT) finally introduced his long-delayed Public Lands Initiative. As anticipated, the PLI fails to protect Utah’s remarkable public lands and divests the American people of their public lands heritage. There is no chance this terrible bill could be passed in the few days left in this Congress, and it serves only as an effort to forestall President Obama from designating a Bears Ears National Monument.

Utah’s congressional delegation will no doubt repeat ad nauseam their talking point about 4.6 million acres of federal land “designated for conservation” in the PLI. Don’t believe it. The big acreages proffered by Rep. Bishop are disingenuous, as a hard look at the bill reveals that the PLI is a cobbled together mess that maximizes resource extraction and includes land “protections” riddled with loopholes.

A pro-development bill disguised as conservation

Among the laundry list of unacceptable provisions of the bill, the PLI:

• Fails to protect 62% of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Actas designated wilderness and opens up currently protected lands, such as Wilderness Study Areas, to energy development and off-road vehicle use.

• Substitutes bastardized National Conservation Areas (NCAs) that enshrine the Bush-era management plans that designated thousands of miles of off-road vehicle routes; allows designation and development of new motorized trails; green-lights vegetation manipulation projects (such as pinyon-juniper clearcuts); mandates livestock grazing; declares that no more wilderness can be protected in these areas; and limits federal land managers’ ability to protect natural and cultural resources.

• Fails to protect over half a million acres of the Bears Ears region as proposed by the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition; diminishes the Coalition’s voice in management of the reduced Bears Ears NCA by creating a 10-member advisory committee with only one tribal representative; promotes motorized recreation in this archaeologically rich region; allows grazing in currently closed areas like Grand Gulch, Fish, Owl, and Arch Canyons; and prohibits the agency from protecting hundreds of thousands of acres of wilderness.

• Seizes authority from public land managers and instead gives the State of Utah control over the permitting and regulation of all forms of energy development on millions of acres of federal lands and, in doing so, likely eviscerates meaningful energy leasing reform such as the nearly completed Moab Master Leasing Plan.

• Codifies the abysmal Bush-era motorized travel plans in protected areas and prohibits future closures of any motorized route for natural or cultural resources concerns.

• Grants thousands of miles of claimed R.S. 2477 routesto the State of Utah while allowing for continued litigation over R.S. 2477 routes within areas designated as wilderness, NCAs, and Recreation Areas.

• Unleashes a carbon bomb by transferring large blocks of federal land to the State of Utah for tar sand, oil shale, potash, coal, oil, and gas development. These blocks are located in the remote Book Cliffs, in high-value scenic and recreation lands near the Green River west of Moab, on Hatch Point bordering Canyonlands National Park, near the world-renowned San Rafael Swell, and in the Uintah Basin.

• Permanently establishes livestock grazing as a priority across southern and eastern Utah and would result in both increased and new grazing in areas currently closed by federal land agencies due to natural and cultural resource damage.

• Furthers the State of Utah’s land grab efforts by transferring federal land to the state, without compensation, for facility development and increased motorized and non-motorized recreation.

• Rewards dangerous anti-government activity by granting a right-of-way for motorized access in Recapture Canyon, the site of San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman’s illegal 2014 ATV protest ride.

• Undermines the Antiquities Act by including a companion bill [H.R.5781] that would remove the president’s authority under the Antiquities Act to protect deserving landscapes in southern and eastern Utah.

Taken as a whole, the PLI is an assault on the wilderness of southern and eastern Utah.

Where do we go from here?

It’s time to move forward for the sake of Utah’s land, wildlife, and cultural resources. It’s time to call the PLI what it really is: one more failed attempt by Utah’s congressional delegation to develop a meaningful conservation bill for the national treasures of southern and eastern Utah.


There has been much written in the Utah and Western press about the PLI, and I could go on and on about it, but I’ll simply link to an op-ed SUWA’s Executive Director Scott Groene wrote for the Salt Lake Tribune, Utah leaders will fail until they respect wilderness.

Our best line of defense in the House is to alert our cosponsor friends to the legislation. Pick out a couple of the bullet points above and please give your representative a call. Especially important are members of the House Natural Resources Committee, marked with an *.

House cosponsors from California are:

Jared Huffman (D-2) *
Doris Matsui (D-6)
Jerry McNerney (D-9)
Mark DeSaulnier (D-11)
Barbara Lee (D-13)
Jackie Speier (D-14)
Eric Swalwell (D-15)
Mike Honda (D-17)
Anna Eshoo (D-18)
Zoe Lofgren (D-19)
Sam Farr (D-20)
Lois Capps (D-24) *
Julia Brownley (D-26)
Judy Chu (D-27)
Adam Schiff (D-28)
Tony Cárdenas (D-29)
Grace Napolitano (D-32) *
Ted Lieu (D-33)
Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-40)
Mark Takano (D-41)
Alan Lowenthal (D-47), lead sponsor

Not cosponsors, but on the House Natural Resources Committee:

Doug LaMalfa (R-1)
Tom McClintock (R-4)
Paul Cook (R-8)
Jeff Denham (R-10)
Jim Costa (D-16)
Norma Torres (D-35)
Raul Ruiz (D-36)

Full contact information for California members may be found by following the links here, and for other states by following the links here.

A full list of cosponsors nationwide may be found here.

A full list of Natural Resources Committee members may be found here.

2.   Interior Secty. Sally Jewell Visits the Bears Ears
          (ACTION ITEM)

An estimated 1,500 people showed up in Bluff, Utah on July 16 to meet with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, BLM Director Neil Kornze, US Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Robert Bonnie, Jon Jarvis, director of the National Park Service, and Michael Black, Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Significantly, members of Utah’s congressional delegation sent staff members to attend rather than appear in person.

The gathering in Bluff followed a three-day tour of the area by the officials, which included meetings with tribal leaders at the Bears Ears and with Grand County officials. Secty. Jewell hiked to some of the archaeological sites in the proposal and said she was shocked to see the lack of protection for them. She stressed all along that she was in Utah to listen and that no decision had yet been made within the Administration. Secty. Jewell has long said that they prefer legislative protection, but that the Administration would not hesitate to use the Antiquities Act to designate a monument if that process failed. She expressed disappointment that the PLI had taken so long to be introduced.

Further evidence of the need for protection is provided by this article in the Salt Lake Tribune about the planned expansion of a uranium mine in the monument proposal area.

The Sutherland Institute, no friend of wilderness (see ITEM 7 for an example), posted a video of the Bluff meeting on YouTube. It’s three hours and 15 minutes long, but you don’t need to watch the whole thing to see what the meeting was about.

The Bears Ears proposal continues to garner widespread press in Utah and across the country. Here are a few examples:

CalUWild friend and Advisory Board member Terry Tempest Williams wrote an op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune regarding the tribes’ proposal.

The Washington Post published an op-ed, President Obama, make Bears Ears a national monument.

Salt Lake Tribune reported on remarks by Gary Herbert, the state governor, voicing his opposition via an unfortunate choice of words: Utah guv calls pro-Bears Ears monument proposal ‘a political tomahawk’

We repeat our action call from previous months: If you haven’t already, please sign the Bears Ears Coalition’s online petition, and send a message of support to both the White House and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell:

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

3.   National Forest Planning
          Sequoia National Forest
          DEADLINE: August 25
          (ACTION ITEM)

Last month we reported that three California national forests-Inyo, Sierra, and Sequoia- had draft management plans open for comment, and we included the California Wilderness Coalition’s recommendations for the Inyo NF. This month we include their recommendations for Sequoia NF. CWC hasn’t released its recommendations for Sierra, and we’ll do our best to get them to you via email or by our Facebook page. (This is one example of a time where Facebook does come in handy, so we don’t have to send out multiple emails, as we try to avoid cluttering up your INBOX. So if you’re on Facebook, please Like and Follow CalUWild there if you haven’t already. We also use it to occasionally post articles of interest between Updates.)

What’s At Stake in the Sequoia National Forest Plan Revisions

The Sequoia National Forest encompasses the iconic landscape of the southern Sierra Nevada. This highly scenic and mostly wild region attracts visitors from all over world. The draft plan addresses many different land and resource management issues, including the identification of and potential agency recommendations to protect additional wilderness and wild & scenic rivers. Protection of these wild places not only ensures that present and future generations may enjoy them, but they also provide refuge for fish, wildlife, and plants; preserve important sources of clean water and air; and help boost the local tourism-based economy.

Unfortunately, the Forest Service’s “preferred” Alternative B for the Sequoia Forest recommends no new wilderness for protection. Even worse, the preferred alternative proposes to double the amount of logging on the Sequoia Forest. But the more conservation-oriented Alternative C recommends more than 206,904 acres of wilderness, while proposing a more modest level of logging.

Some of the outstanding wild places that would be protected under Alternative C on the Sequoia Forest include:

Domeland Wilderness Additions – Alt. C proposes to add 37,415 acres to the existing Domeland Wilderness, including portions of the upper Trout and Salmon Creek drainages and the beautiful Siretta Trail and the unique Twisselmann Botanical Area.

Golden Trout Additions – Alt. C proposes to add 32,920 acres to the existing Golden Trout Wilderness, but roadless lands encompassing Rattlesnake and Durwood Creeks (key tributaries to the North Fork Kern Wild & Scenic River) are not proposed for protection under Alt. C.

Other Wilderness Additions – Alt. C recommends modest additions to the existing Monarch and Jennie Lakes Wilderness.

New “Stand Alone” Areas – Alt. C recommends protection for several new “stand alone” Wilderness areas, including the Stormy Canyon and Cannell Peak areas encompassing much of the lower North Fork Kern watershed, and Slate Mountain and Long Canyon in the Giant Sequoia National Monument portion of the Forest.

The plan identifies about 77.6 miles of rivers and streams previously determined eligible for Wild & Scenic River protection. This includes segments of the Kings, lower Kern, Little Kern, North Fork and North Fork Middle Fork Tule Rivers. But no new eligible streams were identified, including Rattlesnake, Durwood, Trout, Salmon, Brushy, and Dry Meadow Creeks – all important tributaries to the North Fork and South Fork Kern Wild & Scenic Rivers.

Please send an email to the Forest Service TODAY urging the agency to adopt an improved Alternative C for the Sequoia National Forest that protects significant amounts of wilderness and all streams identified as eligible for wild & scenic river protection.

The deadline for public comments is August 25, 2016. For more information, please contact Steve Evans, CWC’s Wild Rivers Consultant at sevans [at] calwild [dot] org or call (916) 708-3155. To review the Forest Service’s draft Forest Plans and EIS, as well as for the full schedule of upcoming public meetings, visit the Forest Service’s website.


You may submit your comments using one of the following methods:

Project web-site comment form


US Mail:

Planning Team Leader
Forest Plan Revision
1839 South Newcomb Street
Porterville, CA 93257

4.   Yosemite Wilderness Planning
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINE: September 30
          (ACTION ITEM)

Yosemite National Park is updating its Wilderness Stewardship Plan and has released a Preliminary Concepts Overview. The Park is currently accepting public comments regarding this overview and ideas pertaining to two of the more complex issues in the Yosemite Wilderness: Visitor Use and Capacity, and Stock Use.

The Park’s announcement just came out, so there hasn’t been any time to review it, but if you’d like to do some independent reading, you may download the relevant documents by clicking on the links at the bottom of the project’s Preliminary Concepts page. The page also lists some suggested questions to answer for your comments.

The Park will also host a series of webinars and public meetings in August:

Online Webinar #1
Tuesday, August 9
12 noon – 1 p.m.
Webinar link

Groveland Public Workshop
Wednesday, August 10
5:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Groveland Community Hall
18720 Highway 120
Groveland, California

Lee Vining Public Workshop
Thursday, August 11
5:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Lee Vining Community Center
296 Mattly Avenue
Lee Vining, California

San Francisco Public Workshop
Monday, August 15
5:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Fort Mason Center, Building C
2 Marina Blvd.
San Francisco, California

Oakhurst Public Workshop
Thursday, August 18
5:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Oakhurst Branch Library
49044 Civic Circle
Oakhurst, California

Online Webinar #2
Monday, August 22
6 – 7 p.m.
Webinar link

For the webinars, the Park Service advises visiting the webex website prior to the meeting date to ensure your device has the proper software to participate.

To submit comments online, click on the Comment Now button on the Preliminary Concepts page.

Comments may also be submitted by U.S. Mail:

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

5.   Central Coast Wilderness Bill
          (ACTION ITEM)

CalUWild is a member of the coalition working for permanent protection of areas on the Central Coast of California. Rep. Lois Capps (D-24) has been a staunch advocate for wildlands protection there via the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act (as well as many other places, including Utah). We shared a detailed description in Item 2 of our May 2014 Update. Rep. Capps reintroduced the bill in the 114th Congress in April 2015 as H.R.1865, and Sen. Barbara Boxer reintroduced companion legislation in the Senate.

Here is a brief description of the bill from the California Wilderness Coalition:

The legislation will protect 245,500 acres of wilderness, create two scenic areas encompassing 34,500 acres, and safeguard 159 miles of wild and scenic rivers in the Los Padres National Forest and the Carrizo Plain National Monument. Once they become law, these protections will help sustain the area’s quality of life by ensuring clean water for communities, protecting valuable wildlife habitat, and stimulating a vibrant local economy.

CWC is asking people to support the effort at protection by contacting the offices of Rep. Capps and Sens. Boxer and Dianne Feinstein as follows:

Rep. Lois Capps:Thank her for her leadership on this to date. Urge her to push for a hearing in the House Natural Resources Committee, including submitting a new letter to the committee

Phone:   202-225-3601
Online (for constituents only) here

Senator Barbara Boxer:Thank her for securing a hearing on the bill. Urge her to prioritize the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act and explore strategies to get it passed before the end of her term.

Phone:   202-224-3553
Online here

Senator Dianne Feinstein:Ask her to co-sponsor the Central Coast Heritage Act.

Phone:   202-224-3841
Online here

6.   Other Legislation in Congress
          (ACTION ITEM)

Three anti-public-lands bills have come to our attention recently. Please feel free to share your thoughts about them with your legislators. (It’s interesting that all of them come Utah legislators … )

Interior Appropriations Bill
Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) has introduced an amendment to the Interior Appropriations bill that would prevent the president from designating national monuments in Utah and other areas using the Antiquities Act. The Administration has threatened to veto the bill if this provision is included. Let’s hope Pres. Obama keeps that threat if needed.

Mountain Biking in Wilderness
The Wilderness Act of 1964 (16 USC §1131) begins with: “In order to assure that an increasing population, accompanied by expanding settlement and growing mechanization, does not occupy and modify all areas within the United States …” Further on it states: “[T]here shall be no temporary road, no use of motor vehicles, motorized equipment or motorboats, no landing of aircraft, no other form of mechanical transport, and no structure or installation within any such area.” (Emphasis added.)

These words have been generally understood to prohibit bicycles, wheelbarrows, and chainsaws in designated wilderness areas. Over the years, some in the mountain biking community have urged that wilderness areas be opened to mountain bike use. This idea has been gaining some steam, and in March 2016 CalUWild joined over 110 other environmental organizations in a letter to Congress objecting to the idea. In mid-July, the idea became more concrete when Utah Senators Mike Lee (R) and Orrin Hatch (R) introduced the “Human-Powered Travel in Wilderness Act,” S.3205. The bill would allow land managers to open trails to mountain bikes, as well as use chainsaws for trail maintenance and other activities.

The Park City, Utah, Park Record published an article explaining the legislation in more detail as well as an editorial opposing it: Mountain bikes don’t belong in designated wilderness areas.

Wilderness is a philosophical land designation and not based solely on criteria related to recreation or harm to trails. Rather, it’s meant to keep the modern world at bay. People who enjoy mountain biking are entitled to the same access as everyone else: on foot, horseback, raft, or canoe.

Law Enforcement
Earlier in the year Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) introduced the Local Enforcement for Local Lands Act of 2016, H.R.4751, which would terminate the law enforcement functions of the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management and to provide block grants to States for the enforcement of Federal law on Federal land under the jurisdiction of these agencies. This is another example of the anti-federal-lands viewpoint of some Westerners finding support from their legislators.

So far, the bill has been cosponsored by: Reps. Rob Bishop (R-UT), Chris Stewart (R-UT), Mia Love (R-UT), Dan Newhouse (R-WA), Paul A. Gosar (R-AZ), Frank C. Guinta (R-NH), Tom McClintock (R-CA), Mark E. Amodei (R-NV), Steve Pearce (R-NM), and Raul R. Labrador (R-ID).

7.   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 Bundy Case

The Oregonian reports: Ammon Bundy’s bodyguard Brian Cavalier pleads guilty to two federal charges

Prosecutors: Ryan Bundy Jail Escape Foiled During Cell Search, reporting that Ryan Bundy tore his bed sheets and braided them together into 12-15 feet of rope in an attempt to escape Multnomah County, Oregon jail.

High Country News Articles

Don’t just save the Grand Canyon. Save the wider region, too.

#whereisjose: The man forging a new path in the outdoors, an article on CalUWild friend José Gonzáles, founder of Latino Outdoors, and his efforts

An essay on the relevance of a sometimes forgotten Western writer: Sometimes, the West must be protected from itself: Today, we need to listen more carefully than ever to the ideas of Western historian, Bernard DeVoto.

A story about the Yosemite ranger, featured in Ken Burns’s series on the national parks: How Shelton Johnson became the Buffalo Soldiers’ champion: The Park Service’s best-known ranger is determined not to let the African-American soldiers fall into obscurity.>

Other Public Lands Links

As mentioned in the introduction: Outside Magazine published an op-ed, Fact-Checking the GOP’s Plan to Steal Your Public Land

As mentioned in Item 2, above, a Center for Western Priorities exposé- Quote: “PERC and Sutherland gave Oregon’s visitation data to New Mexico, Utah’s numbers to Oregon, and Washington’s to Utah. Washington received visitation data from Wisconsin-a state which wasn’t included in the Sutherland/PERC report.” Busted: Right-wing “environmental research” group uses falsified data to justify state land grab

An op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune supporting a Greater Grand Canyon National Monument proposal: Obama should declare this monument … in Arizona

US Fish & Wildlife Service photos of wolf pups in the Rogue Pack started by OR-7, the wandering wolf from Oregon of 5 years ago. (California has its own Shasta Pack in Siskiyou County with pups, as we reported in August last year. So far they’ve pretty much managed to stay out of the spotlight.)

On the Web

CalUWild is a member of the Bodie Hills Conservation Partnership. Here’s an interesting website and blog dealing with the natural history of the Bodie Hills and the surrounding area.

On Television

In Item 4 of our April Update we linked to a ProPublica series titled Killing the Colorado. On Thursday, August 4, 9 p.m./8 p.m. Central, the Discovery Channel is airing a documentary with the same title, based on the series. The film will be available on, Discovery Go, and Discovery On Demand on August 5.

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.