Newsletter Archive

Cartoon by Pat Bagley The Salt Lake Tribune, December 29, 2016

New Year’s Eve 2016

Dear CalUWild friends —

2016 is ending on a celebratory note, with the designation this week of two new national monuments: the Bears Ears in Utah and Gold Butte in Nevada. (See Item 1.) The cartoon above was simply too good to pass up to accompany this month’s Update. (If you don’t get the reference, click here.) Take the opportunity to enjoy a nice success. The best way? Go for a hike or walk this New Year’s holiday weekend.

What 2017 will bring remains to be seen, but it will be upon us soon. CalUWild will continue to bring you useful information and the tools needed to be effective advocates for wilderness and other public lands. We can’t do it alone, however, and to be successful, it’s going to take the efforts of many people. Everyone who cares about the environment and our land will need to be involved in some way. So please, spread the word, and get your family and friends involved!

Our friends at Sonoma Birding still have some Bird Count for Kids and other events coming up. Check out their schedule here and read the Nature Conservancy’s profile of the program here.

Many thanks to everyone who has contributed to CalUWild’s Annual Membership Appeal. Your support is much appreciated. If you haven’t sent in a contribution, please consider still doing so. Complete information may be found on this form, which you may print and send in along with your gift.

Happy New Year,

1.   Pres. Obama Designates 2 National Monuments
          (ACTION ITEM)
          a.   Bears Ears in Utah
          b.   Gold Butte in Nevada
2.   Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest


1.   Pres. Obama Designates 2 National Monuments

          (ACTION ITEM)

On Wednesday President Obama designated the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah and Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada, bringing to a successful conclusion (at least for now) two campaigns we’ve supported for a long time.

Mr. Obama had these words to say:

Today, I am designating two new national monuments in the desert landscapes of southeastern Utah and southern Nevada to protect some of our country’s most important cultural treasures, including abundant rock art, archeological sites, and lands considered sacred by Native American tribes. Today’s actions will help protect this cultural legacy and will ensure that future generations are able to enjoy and appreciate these scenic and historic landscapes. Importantly, today I have also established a Bears Ears Commission to ensure that tribal expertise and traditional knowledge help inform the management of the Bears Ears National Monument and help us to best care for its remarkable national treasures.

Following years of public input and various proposals to protect both of these areas, including legislation and a proposal from tribal governments in and around Utah, these monuments will protect places that a wide range of stakeholders all agree are worthy of protection. We also have worked to ensure that tribes and local communities can continue to access and benefit from these lands for generations to come.

You can read the joint announcement from Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack here.

Articles appeared in the New York Times, Obama Designates Two New National Monuments, Protecting 1.65 Million Acres,

and in the Washington Post, With new monuments in Nevada, Utah, Obama adds to his environmental legacy.

Because of the very negative signals that went out before the election and continue regarding the environment, it is critical that people speak out as forcefully as possible now. Both designations require the same three actions, so I’m putting that information first, with some details about each monument in the following sections. You can use some of that information in your letters, emails, and/or phone calls.

First: Say “Thank You” to Pres. Obama and the Cabinet secretaries for the designations. Both monuments are primarily on Bureau of Land Management land (BLM in the Interior Dept. headed by Sally Jewell), but the Bear Ears contains some National Forest acreage, so Secty. Tom Vilsack (Agriculture Dept.) needs to be thanked there as well.

In addition, ask Pres. Obama and Secty. Sally Jewell, in their time remaining in office, to continue to protect landscapes and important sites around the country. Two of particular interest to Californians are the proposed expansions of the California Coastal NM and the Klamath-Siskiyou NM just across the border in Oregon. Both of these were the subjects of legislation introduced in this last Congress, but neither progressed.

Here is the relevant contact information:

Pres. Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500

Comment line:   202-456-1111
Online comments here
Messages via WH Facebook page

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

Bears Ears only:
Hon. Tom Vilsack
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, DC 20250

Comment line:   No phone number found
Email address:   Tom.Vilsack [at] usda [dot] gov

Second: There is a high likelihood of backlash to these two designations, and the best defense will be a good offense, as they say. With that in mind, it is critical that everyone contact their U.S. Senators and Congressional Representatives to support these designations and insist that they oppose any attempts to overturn or modify them in the new Congress. While you’re at it, restate your support for federal public lands in general, stressing their importance to you and the nation, for whatever reasons you find compelling.

Third: Please write a letter to the editor of your local paper making two points: 1) supporting the designations; and 2) expressing dismay that Utah politicians have already said they want to undo them. Politicians follow their local press closely, and it’s an excellent way to educate fellow citizens about the issues, as well.

Now on to some of the specifics …

          a.   Bears Ears in Utah

The Bears Ears Monument covers 1.3 million acres of both BLM and Forest Service lands, only about 2/3 of the proposal originally put forth by Native American tribes. However, it does cover Cedar Mesa, the Bears Ears themselves, and Indian Creek, areas with numerous sacred and archaeological sites.

The boundaries roughly follow those of the national conservation areas included in Rep. Rob Bishop’s (R-UT) Public Lands Initiative (PLI). BLM posted a map comparing the final boundaries with both the PLI and the Bears Ears Coalition proposals. The large area left out in the southwest includes the uranium mine that is hoping to expand, and which we mentioned in the July 2016 Update. Click here for a map of the monument alone.

Importantly, the proclamation specifies that the tribes will have a role in the management of the new monument, with a commission made up of officers from each of the five tribes in the Bears Ears Coalition providing “guidance and recommendations,” according to the proclamation. The managing agencies, in turn, are to “carefully and fully consider integrating the traditional and historical knowledge” of the tribes into their decision-making. The proclamation specifically allows for the continued “collection of medicines, berries and other vegetation, forest products, and firewood for personal noncommercial use” by Indian tribes. (This provision was expected, as prior designations have included it, but opponents of the Bear Ears consistently spread fear among the various tribes by insisting that these uses would not be allowed.)

You may read the complete proclamation here.

As expected, reaction to the monument’s designation from Utah politicians was fierce and negative. Even before the designation, members of the state’s congressional delegation threatened to try to overturn it, calling on the president-elect to revoke any designations and threatening lawsuits. There has never been a monument designation overturned by a subsequent president, and many legal authorities think any revocation would not hold up in court. Congress, however, does have the power to pass a law undoing a monument-thus the importance of contacting your representatives, mentioned above.

BLM has a webpage for the monument.

There were a couple of noteworthy items in the Salt Lake Tribune in the month leading up to the designation:

An editorial: Bishop is wrong to call for national monuments to be undone

An op-ed by Terry Tempest Williams and Bill Hedden rebutting Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s assertions (which he continues to make): ‘Midnight monument’? No, Utah leaders had years to make a Bears Ears deal. Terry is on CalUWild’s Advisory Board, and Bill Hedden is Executive Director of the Grand Canyon Trust.

Utah’s two major papers published editorials with varying degrees of support for the designation:

Salt Lake Tribune: Utah should accept Bears Ears Monument and work to make it a success

Deseret News: In our opinion: Make the best of the Bears Ears Monument

          b.   Gold Butte in Nevada

Gold Butte, northeast of Las Vegas, has been the subject of a longstanding protection campaign by our friends in Nevada, including Friends of Nevada Wilderness and the Sierra Club. Legislation was introduced in 2008 to establish a national conservation in the area, but like so much important legislation in the last eight years, it went nowhere, despite Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV, Senate Democratic Leader) being a supporter of protection. He’s retiring now, so the timing of the designation is perfect. The legislation and other protection efforts had broad support from local tribes, conservationists, and stakeholders.

The monument is almost 300,000 acres in size and protects significant Native American cultural sites, rock art, and paleontological resources. There are also more recent historic structures in the area as well. It sits between Lake Mead National Recreation Area and the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument in Arizona. There had been a lot of vandalism and damage from off-road vehicles in recent years, especially after the BLM pulled its employees out of the area following the 2014 armed standoff at the nearby Cliven Bundy ranch.

You may read the Presidential Proclamation here.

Click here for the Gold Butte National Monument map.

The Gold Butte National Monument webpage is here.

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.

There’s just one link this month, and though it’s about more than just parks, privatization of public resources is an important issue. This New York Times piece is worth reading: Mother Nature Is Brought to You By …

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