Newsletter Archive

The Bears Ears, from White Canyon, Utah                                                                                 (Mike Painter)

March 1, 2017

Dear CalUWild friends-

The new administration has come in with a bang, and every day seems to bring something new to be alert to. People are speaking out on a broad spectrum of topics that they feel strongly about, exhibiting a level of civic interest and involvement we haven’t seen for a while. We hope this level of energy can be sustained over the long haul.

Next month, we hope to have information about the planned reintroduction in Congress of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act.

Please get your family and friends involved at whatever level is possible. We can never have too many friends of public lands. And if they join CalUWild, so much the better. Membership information may be found on our website here.

Thank you, as always, for your interest and support!

Best wishes,

1.   Bears Ears and General Update
          CALLS NEEDED
          (ACTION ITEM)

2.   Rep. Ryan Zinke Confirmed as new Secretary of the Interior

3.   Court Rules against Forest Service in Wilderness Case

4.   Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest


1.   Bears Ears and General Update
          CALLS NEEDED
          (ACTION ITEM)

The Utah legislature passed a resolution calling for the Bears Ears National Monument to be rescinded and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to be shrunk (in order that coal reserves on the Kaiparowits Plateau be made available for mining). Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch (R), leaving a meeting at the White House, said that he thought the president would comply.

Today, Ryan Zinke was confirmed as the new Secretary of the Interior (see ITEM 2). Mr. Zinke said one of the first things he would do if confirmed would be to go to Utah to talk to the various stakeholders. It is important to remember that the Interior Department also oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and that Native Tribes were the originators of the Bear Ears monument proposal.

It is, therefore, critical that people let him know from the start that they oppose these unacceptable proposals. Please call his office right away to let him know that. Be sure to mention where you’re calling from, so Mr. Zinke knows that it’s not just Utahns who support the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments. Urge him to work to protect ALL our public lands, as well.

          Phone:   202-208-7351 and if you get a recording, press 0 to leave a message.

The lack of support for public lands shown by Utah’s elected officials-congressional representatives, senators, the legislature, and the governor-has led the Outdoor Retailers to cancel their twice-yearly show in Salt Lake City when the current contract runs out in 2018. Several companies had already said they would boycott the show if it continued to be held there, which added to the pressure. The Outdoor Industry Association finally made good on the threat that had been proposed for years; Utah officials cannot say it came as a surprise to them.

Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R) introduced two bills in the House impacting federal public lands. The first, H.R. 621, would pave the way to disposing of more than 3 million acres of federal lands that out-of-date Bureau of Land Management studies had categorized as suitable for disposal. The outcry in opposition from many quarters, especially hunters and anglers was immediate and loud. It was so fierce that Rep. Chaffetz almost immediately said he would pull the bill.

This shows the power of citizen involvement when properly and forcefully targeted.

The second bill, H.R. 622, would strip the BLM and Forest Service of law enforcement authority on federal lands. It also is the target of opposition from conservationists, hunters and anglers, and some local law enforcement agencies. We hope it will meet the same fate, and we’ll keep you posted.

Rep. Chaffetz held a town hall meeting on February 9 at a high school in his district. More than 1,000 people attended and 1,500 more stood outside, as the auditorium was filled to capacity. The meeting drew national attention because attendees regularly interrupted him with shouts of “Do your job!” and “Explain yourself!” Attendees were angry that Mr. Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, has refused to investigate the President’s potential conflicts of interest with Russia, among other things, after being such a harsh critic of Hillary Clinton during the presidential campaign. Mr. Chaffetz claimed that paid, out-of-state agitators were to blame, calling it an “attempt to bully and intimidate.” Press sources were unable to find a single paid person there.

Some attendees sent his office mock invoices for “paid protest hours.”

There is a complete video of town hall meeting here.

The Atlantic published an article about the meeting: A Utah Congressman Faces the ‘Resistance’ in his Home State.

2.   Rep. Ryan Zinke Confirmed as new Secretary of the Interior

As mentioned above, the Senate as Secretary of the Interior confirmed Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) today. The vote was 68-31. Both of California’s senators, Dianne Feinstein (D) and Kamala Harris (D), voted to oppose the nomination. CalUWild joined 167 other conservation organizations in also opposing his nomination.

Though Mr. Zinke has publicly stated that he opposes the transfer of federal lands to the states, and he supports the Land & Water Conservation Fund, his attitudes toward management of those lands is suspect. The League of Conservation Voters gave him a score of 4 (out of 100) for the two years he has served in Congress, meaning he voted against the environment 96% of the time. These include votes to limit the authority of the President to designate national monuments, to block Bureau of Land Management regulation of hydraulic fracking, at least 21 votes against various Endangered Species Act protections, stricter regulation of the ivory trade, and more. Mr. Zinke would be in charge of all federal leasing of lands for oil, gas, and coal, but he introduced legislation to overturn Pres. Obama’s moratorium on coal leasing on federal lands. He also stopped a review of the impacts of leasing on climate change and local communities. The New York Times published a substantial article on Mr. Zinke today.

The White House announced it would seek a 10% budget cut for the Interior Department, though Congress still needs to approve any budget. Challenging times are ahead, so, as always, we’ll need to follow the Interior Secretary’s actions closely.

Again, please call him to voice your support for the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah (see ITEM 1).

The nominee for Agriculture Secretary, who oversees the U.S. Forest Service, is the former governor of Georgia, Sonny Perdue. Not much has been written about him. He was a farmer and veterinarian before being governor from 2003 – 2011. He is a climate change denier and made headlines when, as governor, he led a prayer service for rain during a drought.

3.   Court Rules against Forest Service in Wilderness Case

Our friends at Wilderness Watch won a major case against the Forest Service involving helicopters and wildlife collaring. In an unusually strong ruling, the judge ordered the Idaho Department of Fish & Game to destroy the data that was collected. Here is Wilderness Watch’s announcement:

In a major victory for Wilderness and wildlife, federal Judge B. Lynn Winmill has just ruled that the Forest Service’s approval of Idaho Fish and Game’s helicopter-assisted elk-collaring project in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness (FC-RONRW) was unlawful, that Idaho Fish and Game illegally collared four wolves, and that Idaho Fish and Game must destroy data gathered from the illegally placed elk and wolf collars. Rejecting the State of Idaho’s argument that it does not need Federal approval to conduct these activities in Wilderness, Judge Winmill was clear-“[t]he ‘overarching purpose’ of Congress in passing the Wilderness Act was to preserve the ‘wilderness character’ of that land[,]” and the State of Idaho “must obtain approval from the Forest Service before undertaking a project in the Wilderness Area.”

On January 7, 2016, Earthjustice, on behalf of Wilderness Watch, Friends of the Clearwater, and Western Watersheds Project, filed a complaint in federal court to stop the Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game from conducting a major helicopter-supported elk capturing and collaring project (of up to 120 helicopter landings) as part of Idaho’s egregious plans to eventually kill more than half of the wolves in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness in central Idaho. The FC-RONRW is the largest contiguous Wilderness in the lower 48 states.

Just days after we filed the lawsuit, Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game admitted they captured and collared wolves in the Wilderness “by mistake,” a clear violation of the law and their Forest Service permit. Then in February 2016, Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game also admitted the radio collars would “assist with control actions.”

Fortunately, Judge Winmill’s ruling will force both the State of Idaho and the Forest Service to comply with the Wilderness Act in the future.

You may read the ruling here.

4.   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.

Public Lands in General

Release from the offices of Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA47, and House author of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act) and Rep. Dave Reichert (D-WA8): Congressmen Lowenthal and Reichert Resolution Affirms America’s Federal Lands Are National Treasures Belonging To All Americans

This land is our land: The bitter debate over America’s public spaces

Helena (MT) Independent Record: More than 1,000 rally against transferring or selling federal lands

Wyoming Senate president kills public lands transfer bill

Bundy Trials in Oregon & Nevada

Oregon Public Broadcasting: misdemeanors added to original charges: 4 Of 7 Refuge Occupiers Set To Appear In Second Trial Will Plead Guilty

Oregon Public Broadcasting: Ammon Bundy Contradicts Previous Testimony On Refuge Takeover

An article in The Guardian: FBI posed as journalists to get evidence on Bundys. Now it could hurt their case

An article in High Country News: Why a scientist cut down ‘the oldest living tree:’ The Prometheus Tree in Nevada was nearly 5,000 years old when it was cut down. It could have lived a lot longer.

We’ll continue with video links next month.

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.