Newsletter Archive

Aspens, Firs & Clouds, Great Basin National Park, Nevada                                                       (Mike Painter)

November 2016

Dear CalUWild friends-

The holiday season is upon us, and the electoral season is behind us, much to the relief and dismay of many. Given the amount of information that’s been thrown at everyone these last 18 months, this month’s Update will be short, with Item 1, below, being the only substantive one. It contains some thoughts on where things stand and how we need to respond going forward. As always, if you have questions or suggestions, please let me know.

There’s still hope for designations of the Bears Ears in Utah and Gold Butte in Nevada as national monuments, so please contact the White House and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to keep those prioritized for them. Contact information is in Item 1 of our October Update. Please write or call!

Our 2016 Membership Appeal was mailed out last week to previous contributors. The remainder will go out by email next week. Contributions of any size are appreciated, so please support CalUWild as generously as you can.

Best wishes,

1.   Thoughts on “What’s Next?”
2.   Fee-Free Days for National Parks in 2017

3.   Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest


1.   Thoughts on “What’s Next?”

CalUWild turned 19 this month. We started out after Pres. Clinton’s designation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah, just three people who had been to the state and loved the redrock landscape there. When the Monument began its planning process, we decided to get friends and others involved and started Californians for Utah Wilderness. We soon became involved with the Utah Wilderness Coalition and supported its efforts to inventory and protect the wilderness-quality lands in Utah managed by the BLM. As time went on, citizens in other states around the West began their own wilderness inventories, and we realized we could be a voice in California for their efforts as well. It was then that we changed our name to reflect this expanded scope to Californians for Western Wilderness, though keeping the original “U-for-Utah” in our acronym.

But CalUWild had a second goal as well: To help citizens become effective advocates in our political system. I worked with the Green Belt Movement of Kenya and had seen the positive results achieved by them under the leadership of Wangari Maathai, linking environment and democracy. She was fighting against a brutal dictatorship while working with women to plant trees. Here in the U.S. we faced a different problem: Many people were cynical about government, very often with justification. But we believed that ordinary people could have an impact on decision-makers, if they knew how to work effectively and had the tools to do so. (Our Guide to Effective Advocacy is one example.)

So we combined the two ideas and have always said that CalUWild is as much a pro-democracy organization as it is pro-wilderness.

With respect to wilderness and public lands, regardless of who is in the White House or which party controls Congress, an active citizenry has always been important because these issues are rarely at the top of any politician’s agenda, though many people love the land. The results of the recent election will certainly make citizen involvement even more critical. The President-elect is not known as a friend of the environment, though he did say during his campaign that he was not in favor of selling off federal lands in the West. However, the names that have been floated around for Cabinet appointments are anything but environmentally friendly, though no one has been formally nominated yet.

CalUWild friend Erik Molvar wrote an op-ed in The Hill today, Trump’s Interior candidates would play Russian roulette with West, with an overview of some of the names apparently being considered as possibilities for Secretary of the Interior.

Given the Administration and the make-up of Congress, it is unlikely that major land protection legislation will make it into law. Rather, we can anticipate playing much more defense. Already, Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) is calling on the President-elect to “de-designate” three national monuments: the Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah, Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks in New Mexico, and Katahdin Woods and Waters in Maine. (Whether a president had the authority to undo a prior designation is doubtful, though it is the subject of debate. Regardless, it shows the thinking that is prevalent.)

One of the main tasks facing us, therefore, will be to keep public lands issues in the public eye and to keep elected officials constantly aware that protection of these lands is important to many Americans. That may be a difficult task, because the incoming Administration is likely to make controversial proposals regarding many issues at once-Obamacare, climate change, Iran, Social Security & Medicare, to name a few. Many people will view those as being more important, so politicians and the media might easily overlook public lands.

So as we move ahead into 2017, here are a few things to keep in mind:

•   Regardless of how dire a situation may seem, panicking won’t help. We will need to stay focused and analyze the issues clearly and thoroughly.

•   Get to know the public lands staff in your congressional representatives’ and senators’ offices. Go to open houses and town hall meetings and speak with elected officials directly if you can. Get on their email lists, which you can sign up for by going to their pages on the House or Senate websites.

•   Write letters to the editor of your local paper whenever specific issues arise and in support of public lands in general. Ask them to devote more coverage of these topics if necessary. Even if letters don’t get published, they can still influence editorial decisions at the publication.

•   Get your friends involved. Wilderness and public lands will need more active supporters. This doesn’t need to be burdensome. CalUWild has always asked for just one letter or phone call a month, and we provide all the necessary information to be effective. Our membership has been holding steady at around 850 members. If everybody reading this Updatetalked to just one other person and convinced them to join, we would double our impact.

•   When it feels like it’s getting to be too much, go for a hike! Being out in Nature is known to have positive effects on mood and thinking.

•   Remember Edward Abbey’s quote: Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul.

Preserving what remains of America’s wilderness and democratic heritage is too important to be left to others. Thank you for being part of the endeavor.

2.   Fee-Free Days for National Parks in 2017

The National Park Service has announced the following fee-free days for next year:

January 16: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
February 20: Presidents Day
April 15-16 & April 22-23: National Park Week weekends
August 25: National Park Service birthday
September 30: National Public Lands Day
November 11-12: Veterans Day weekend

Mark your calendars!

Other options for free or reduced price entrance fees to the national parks include passes for senior citizens (age 62+), military personnel, disabled citizens, and fourth-graders and their families. The $80 annual “America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Pass” also allows unlimited entrance to federally-managed recreation areas

3.   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.

In Item 1 of last month’s Update, we wrote about the sale of a Utah state trust land parcel inside the proposed Bears Ears National Monument. The Salt Lake Tribune had an article about the buyer: ‘Family farm’ has spent millions buying acres of state land for unknown purpose.

More on the Bundy verdict (coverage was tapering off as the month progressed)

A New York Times op-ed piece: Bundy Verdict Puts a Target on the Backs of Federal Workers

A Washington Post article: In the Nevada desert, Bundy family warns of another standoff

An article in New Republic by historian Char Miller: The Bundy Standoff is a Sign of Things to Come

Standoff members’ beliefs also in mainstream politics-Others also seek to wrest control of federal lands

Return to Malheur: A Battle-Scarred Community Where Cowboys and Conservationists Are Working Together

A post on the Wilderness Watch blog by CalUWild friend Kevin Proescholdt, looking at the issue of mountain bikes in wilderness: Wilderness is Intended as Refuge from Bikes and other Mechanization

The Seattle Times reports on the death of one of our wilderness heroines: Polly Dyer, driving force for Northwest conservation, dead at 96

California Department of Fish & Wildlife reports: Two Gray Wolves Confirmed Present in Lassen County

An op-ed by CalUWild friend Jacques Leslie in the Los Angeles Times: The delta tunnels – a project only engineers can love

Book review

A gift idea: 100 Classic Hikes: Utah from Mountaineers Books, reviewed in National Parks Traveler

Video link

The Resource Renewal Institute (with whom I used to work and now CalUWild’s fiscal sponsor) has been producing a video series Forces of Nature: Environmental Elders Speak, in which significant people in the environmental movement talk about their lives and work. With this Update, we’ll begin including links to selected films. This month we feature a talk between RRI founder Huey Johnson and John Leshy, a law professor who has also worked in the Department of the Interior. The short film has a title appropriate for our first installment: Keep Public Lands Public


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.