Newsletter Archive

Red Rock Alcove, Utah                                                                                                                  (Mike Painter)

April 27, 2017

Dear CalUWild friends and supporters —

A very short introduction this month: We’ve always had one simple membership requirement here—Each person agrees to write one letter (or make one phone call) a month to someone about something. This month, if we had a way to enforce it, we’d make all the actions in Item 1 mandatory. I hope you’ll see why.

Thanks for your continuing support,

1.   The White House Orders a Review
           Of All National Monument Designations Since 1996
          (ACTION ITEM)
2.   America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act
          Reintroduced in the House & Senate
          (ACTION ITEM)

3.   Sen. Feinstein Reintroduces Desert Protection Bill
          (ACTION ITEM)
4.   Mountain and Rivers Proposal
          For Northwestern California Gathers Steam—
          Great Old Broads to Hold 2 California “Broadwalks”
          July 6-10 & July 13-17
          And 1 in Washington, DC
          October 16-20

5.   Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest


1.   The White House Orders a Review
          Of All National Monument Designations Since 1996
          (ACTION ITEM)

The fight for the protection of our federal public lands with the new administration has now begun in earnest.

Yesterday the White House issued an executive order directing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review all the national monument designations of more than 100,000 acres—or any others, at the Secretary’s discretion—made in the last 20 years. This timeline begins with the Grand Staircase-Escalante in 1996 and ends with the Bears Ears designation last December. Both are in Utah, and that state’s politicians vociferously and continuously complained. They finally found willing ears in the White House and, it seems, in the Department of the Interior, where they all gathered for the signing ceremony. So, although the executive order covers all monuments, we’re putting this item first, in the Utah section of the Update.

Although Secty. Zinke stated after the signing that nothing is a foregone conclusion—that it this only a review—his later comments belied that claim when he expressed his hostility to the use of the Antiquities Act.

A press release from the Interior Department stated:

The designations of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in 1996 and the Bears Ears National Monument in 2016 are considered the book-ends of modern Antiquities Act overreach. Each monument is more than 1.3 million acres.

“Historically, the Act calls for the President to designate the ‘smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected,'” Zinke continued. “Despite this clear directive ‘smallest area’ has become the exception and not the rule. Under the President’s leadership, I will work with local, state and Tribal governments to review monument designations made the past 20 years and make sure they work for the local communities.

“The view from the Potomac is a lot different than the view from the Yellowstone or the Colorado. Too many times, you have people in D.C. who have never been to an area, never grazed the land, fished the river, driven the trails, or looked locals in the eye, who are making the decisions and they have zero accountability to the impacted communities. I’m interested in listening to those folks. That’s what my team and I will be doing in the next few months.”

It is true that of the monuments designated recently have been large, but they served the important purpose of protecting unique examples of the American landscape. Any such monument has to be large-scale by definition. It was an important part of then-Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt’s effort to refocus the Bureau of Land Management away from being strictly an extractive resource agency. Congress made the BLM National Landscape Conservation System permanent by law in 2009.

Mr. Zinke’s comments are also a gross mischaracterization of the process that the Obama Administration undertook in designating the latest national monuments. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell held numerous meetings in towns all over the West whenever a monument was proposed, and they were always well-attended. Though there were some objections raised at times, they were often based on mis- or dis-information, with the Bears Ear being the prime example. For the most part, there was widespread support for the new national monuments, both locally and nationally.

Mr. Zinke is to report back within 120 days as to whether any should be shrunk or otherwise modified, and he promised a review of the Bears Ears within 45 days. He is also make recommendations as to legislative changes to the Antiquities Act of 1906, the law authorizing the president to designate monuments.

Please call the Interior Department immediately to voice your objections. The direct number is:

202-208-7351. If you get a recording, press 0 to leave a comment or message.

Or use the contact page on the department website.

Since we are seeing government-by-tweet, you can also contact Secty. Zinke via Twitter: @SecretaryRyanZinke In fact he told one of our friends that’s how he prefers to hear from people …

Please contact the White House on its comment line:

202-456-1111 (though it seems to be busy all the time)

Please contact your Congressional Representatives and Senators. Information can be found on their websites at and (You can combine your call with a message about America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act—see Item 2.)

Finally, write a letter to the editor of your local paper.

Please point out in any and all communications that the Bears Ears monument boundaries very closely matched those in Rep. Rob Bishop’s Public Lands Initiative (though he proposed a National Conservation Area instead of a monument). Pres. Obama waited until the last minute with his designation precisely because he wanted to see whether Congress would act on the PLI proposal. But since it didn’t, judging that the area was worthy of protection—as everyone seemed to agree it was—he used the only tool at his disposal, the Antiquities Act, to protect it.

Here is a list of the monuments affected by the executive order, by state or geographical area:

Grand Canyon-Parashant
Ironwood Forest
Sonoran Desert
Vermilion Cliffs

Berryessa Snow Mountain
California Coastal
Carrizo Plain
Giant Sequoia
Mojave Trails
San Gabriel Mountains
Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains
Sand to Snow

Canyons of the Ancients

Katahdin Woods and Waters

Upper Missouri River Breaks

Basin and Range
Gold Butte

New Mexico
Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks
Rio Grande del Norte

Cascade–Siskiyou (partly in California, too)

Bears Ears
Grand Staircase-Escalante

Washington State
Hanford Reach

Atlantic Ocean Marine
Northeast Canyons and Seamounts

Pacific Ocean Marine
Marianas Trench
Pacific Remote Islands
Rose Atoll
World War II Valor in the Pacific

Reaction in the press and elsewhere was widespread, most pointedly from the Inter-Tribal Coalition, in a letter to Secty. Zinke. Here is an excerpt:

Our letters to your office from each of our Tribal nations, the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, and the Bears Ears Commission requesting meetings with you have gone unanswered. It seems illogical that letters sent nearly 100 days ago have not been answered, yet there will be review of Bears Ears within the next 45 days. The fact that you have not met with us is evident in your statement yesterday to the press. You said: “The administration has heard from Congress… The designation of monuments may have cost jobs, wages, and public access… It is the opinion of the West that it is abused.” Please do not forget – our Tribes are the original inhabitants of the West long before the United States was a nation, and we do not view Bears Ears National Monument as an abuse. To the contrary, it is a fulfillment of both our duty to preserve our cultures and our ancestral lands, and its designation was the result of a long, deliberative process with your predecessor to further our self-determination.

Other samples:

High Country News fact-checked the comments made by various people at the signing yesterday. Not surprisingly, misstatements were made.

The Salt Lake Tribune published an article setting the Obama Administration’s thinking out very clearly: Jewell defends Bears Ears monument process. Ms. Jewell was the CEO of REI before her appointment to Interior, and REI had this to say about the executive order.

The New York Times had an article: What Is the Antiquities Act and Why Does President Trump Want to Change It?, as well as the Washington Post: Trump orders review of national monuments, vows to ‘end these abuses and return control to the people’.

And a previous column in Time by CalUWild friend Heidi McIntosh: Gutting America’s National Treasures Is Unlawful and Unwise

Please speak out as loudly and as frequently as you can. And talk to your families, friends, and neighbors, encouraging them to do the same. Our shared American heritage is at stake in a profound way right now.

2.   America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act
          Reintroduced in the House & Senate
          (ACTION ITEM)

As we anticipated last month, California Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-47) introduced America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act in the House of Representatives on April 6.

The bill number is H.R. 2044.

In addition to Rep. Lowenthal, six Northern California representatives were among the 30 original cosponsors:

Jared Huffman (D-2)
Jerry McNerney (D-9)
Jackie Speier (D-14)
Eric Swalwell (D-15)
Ro Khanna (D17)
Anna Eshoo (D-18)

We just learned yesterday that Rep. Doris Okada Matsui (D-6) will join her colleagues in cosponsoring the bill.

Please call their offices to say Thank You.

We would like to see the following House Members from California sign on, as well. Those with an asterisk (*) next to their names have cosponsored in the past.

John Garamendi (D-3) *
Mike Thompson (D-5) *
Ami Bera (D-7)
Mark DeSaulnier (D-11) *
Barbara Lee (D-13) *
Eric Swalwell (D-15) *
Jim Costa (D-16)
Zoe Lofgren (D-19) *
Jimmy Panetta (D-20)
Salud Carbajal (D-24)
Julia Brownley (D-26) *
Judy Chu (D-27) *
Adam Schiff (D-28) *
Tony Cárdenas (D-29) *
Brad Sherman (D-30) *
Pete Aguilar (D-31)
Grace Napolitano (D-32) *
Ted Lieu (D-33) *
Norma Torres (D-35)
Raul Ruiz (D-36)
Karen Bass (D-37)
Linda Sánchez (D-38) *
Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-40) *
Mark Takano (D-41) *
Maxine Waters (D-43) *
Nanette Barragán (D-44)
J. Luis Correa (D-46)
Juan Vargas (D-51)
Scott Peters (D-52)
Susan Davis (D-53) *

Contact information can be found on their websites at

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin (D), reintroduced the Red Rocks bill in the Senate yesterday, with 17 cosponsors. He gave a floor speech to mark the reintroduction and also criticized the White House move to review the national monuments discussed in Item 1. His office put out a press release, with links to the video and text of his speech.

Please contact Sen. Kamala Harris (D) and urge her to sign on as a cosponsor.

Phone:   202-224-3553 or via her website

3.   Sen. Feinstein Reintroduces Desert Protection Bill
          (ACTION ITEM)

At the start of this Congress, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) reintroduced her bill to protect areas in the Mojave Desert. The Desert Protection and Recreation Act of 2017 (S. 32) is the same bill she had introduced in the last Congress, except that the provisions regarding the Castle Mountains, Mojave Trails, and Sand to Snow National Monuments were removed, since Pres. Obama designated them last year.

Our friends at the California Wilderness Coalition provided this summary of the legislation. It would:

—   Protect 230,000 acres (359 square-miles) of federal land as wilderness in southeastern California, ranging from the Avawatz Mountains near Death Valley to Milpitas Wash in Imperial County;

—   Enlarge Death Valley National Park and Joshua Tree National Park by 43,000 acres (67 square-miles);

—   Protect important waterways such as the Amargosa River from future dam construction and development;

—   Establish the 75,575-acre (118 square-mile) Vinagre Wash Special Management Area in Imperial County where many ecologically sensitive areas and Native American heritage sites would be protected;

—   Designate the Alabama Hills area in Inyo County (the location for dozens of movies and television shows) as a National Scenic Area so that its priceless vistas are protected;

—   Permanently prohibit the staking of new mining claims on approximately 10,000 acres of land sacred to the Quechan Tribe in Imperial County;

—   Mandate the study and protection of Native American cultural trails along the Colorado River;

—   Help make it more difficult for developers to exploit groundwater in or near the Mojave National Preserve; and

—   Require the Department of the Interior to study the future impacts of climate change on the California desert, to mitigate these impacts and to identify and protect important wildlife migration corridors in the region.

The bill also protects five existing off-road vehicle recreation areas from mining, military base expansion, or other uses that would close them, requiring the BLM to write management plans for those areas. Though we are no fans of off-road motorized recreation, we feel the protective provisions listed above more than balance these out.

Please call Sen. Feinstein’s office and express support for her efforts.

DC office:   202-224-3841
Online here

4.   Mountain and Rivers Proposal
          For Northwestern California Gathers Steam—
          Great Old Broads to Hold 2 California “Broadwalks”
          July 6-10 & July 13-17
          And 1 in Washington, DC
          October 16-20

A campaign, spearheaded by the California Wilderness Coalition, is growing to restore and further protect public lands and waterways in the northwestern corner of the state, District 2, represented in Congress by Jared Huffman (D).

We’ll cover the proposal in more detail as time goes on, but here are links to pages with information on the three components of the proposal as it stands now:

Wild & Scenic Rivers

Great Old Broads for Wilderness will be hosting two weekend campouts—they call them Broadwalks—in July in the area of some of the proposal. Broadwalks are a fun way to get actively involved in protection campaigns, go hiking, and meet other people who share your interest. So if you love the redwoods or want to learn more about them and/or the proposal, join in the fun.

Click on the following links for more information:

Session I. July 6-10

Session II. July 13-17

Once you’ve gone to the redwoods you might consider joining the Broads for a few days, putting your knowledge to work in Washington, DC, supporting legislation growing out of the Mountains and Rivers Campaign and other campaigns in the West. Click here for more information.

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.

Public lands in general

An interview with the House Natural Resources Committee Ranking (Senior Minority/Democratic) Member, from Arizona: Congressman Raúl Grijalva’s Stand for Public Lands

An op-ed in the NY Times: The Endangered Antiquities Act

An op-ed in Outside: 5 Lies Being Used to Get Mountain Bikes in Wilderness

The Bundy saga

A Los Angeles Times op-ed by writer Rick Bass: The Bundy family and followers are on trial again. Win or lose in court, theirs is a lost cause

A report on the first verdicts in the Nevada trials: Bunkerville standoff case ruled a mistrial


An article in the Arizona Republic: Grand Canyon gondola proposal stalls in Navajo council: ‘They don’t have the votes’

A Salt Lake Tribune article: Utah’s Terry Tempest Williams to teach at Harvard. Terry is on CalUWild’s Advisory Board.

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.

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