Newsletter Archive

Yosemite Wildfires, August 2017                                                                                                      (Mike Painter)

September 5, 2017

Dear CalUWild friends—

Technical difficulties, holidays, and heat delayed this issue of the Update, but we hope you’ll take a few minutes to make a couple of calls on behalf of wild places. As always, full details are included.

As we mentioned last month, the 4th Visions of the Wild Festival, Changing Landscapes, takes place starting Wednesday evening of this week in Vallejo, running through Sunday, September 9. All events— art exhibitions at several Vallejo galleries, lectures, films, a chalk art festival, and field trips—are FREE. Details for all activities and events may be found on the Festival homepage.

It being September now, many of our parks and public lands aren’t quite as crowded as during the height of Summer (though that’s been changing in recent years). Temperatures may be a bit lower, too, making it a good time to get away outdoors.

Thanks for your enthusiasm for our wilderness and public lands!

1.   No Final Word on the Administration’s
          National Monuments Review
          Proposed California Project Needs Opposition
          (ACTION ITEMS)
2.   Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act
          Poses Threat to Wilderness Lands
          (ACTION ITEM)

3.   Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest


1.   No Final Word on the Administration’s
          National Monuments Review
          Proposed California Project Needs Opposition
          (ACTION ITEMS)

August 24, the deadline for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s national monuments review, has come and gone, and there is no final news about the fate of those 27 national monuments. The report has reportedly been delivered to the White House, but nothing about it has been made public.

It turns out that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was on vacation in the Mediterranean with his wife the week before the report was supposed to be completed, so it is likely that Deputy Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, a former lobbyist for extractive industries, was responsible for it.

We do know, however, that more than 2.7 million comments were sent in by concerned citizens across the country, and 99% of them stated that the monuments should be completely left alone.

Unfortunately, Secty. Zinke has handled the whole review like a reality television show, letting out dribs and drabs of information. This began with a preliminary report on Bears Ears, recommending that it be shrunk, but with no other details. Reports are that he might propose a 90% reduction! He also announced at times over the course of the review that there would be no changes to the following monuments:

Canyons of the Ancients (Colorado)
Craters of the Moon (Idaho)
Grand Canyon-Parashant (Arizona)
Hanford Reach (Washington)
Sand to Snow (California)
Upper Missouri Breaks (Montana)

On the face of it, this seems like good news, but the point to remember is that the entire review was a sham and unnecessary. An attack on one monument is an attack on all.

Right now, it seems the best thing to do is to inundate the White House and Congress with comments supporting leaving the national monuments as they are—no changes!

Online comment page here.
Comments by phone: 202-456-1111
By U.S. Mail:

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Follow the links here for contact information for the Senate and here for the House.

We mentioned in last month’s Update that Secty. Zinke faced criticism and calls for an investigation into threats he made to Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) regarding Interior Department policy toward Alaska should she vote against repealing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). The threats did no good, as she voted not to repeal the law.

The Interior Department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) called off the investigation when Sens. Murkowski and Dan Sullivan (R-AK) both declined to take part in it. “OIG does not believe that it could meaningfully investigate the matter further,” the office wrote, and “further investigation would prove unproductive.”

Sen. Murkowski and Secty. Zinke seem to have “made up;” they were photographed sharing a beer.

The Mojave Trails National Monument in California is under particular threat because of the proposed Cadiz water project. This would pump ground water from an aquifer adjoining the monument, and many scientists and others are concerned that it would severely alter the ecology of the area, which also includes the Mojave National Preserve and Joshua Tree National Park.

There is a bill in the California legislature right now, AB 1000, expressing opposition to the project, but a vote is being held up by the State Senate and Assembly. Sen. Feinstein, Gov. Brown, and Lt. Governor Newsom all support the legislation, in addition to all conservation groups in the state.

Please call and ask for the release from suspense of AB 1000 for a vote before the September 15 deadline. Contact:

State Senator Kevin de Leon
Speaker Pro Tempore
Capitol:   916-651-4024
Los Angeles   213-483-9300

State Senator Ricardo Lara
Capitol:   916-651-4033
Huntington Park:   323-277-4560
Long Beach: 562-256-7921

The Palm Springs Desert Sun had a comprehensive article about the issue, with beautiful pictures: Shrink this national monument in the Mojave Desert? Conservationists are appalled

Nationally, the press has spoken out almost uniformly in favor of leaving the national monuments alone. Here are just a few:

An op-ed in the Washington Post: Trump’s chilling contempt for future generations

Two articles in Outside: Four Lies We’ve Been Told About National Monuments and How Ryan Zinke Really Stacks Up to Teddy Roosevelt: American cowboy or posturing Trump enforcer?

In the Houston Chronicle, an op-ed by Theodore Roosevelt’s great-grandson: Roosevelt IV: Interior secretary must defend public lands

An op-ed in High Country News by outdoors writer Ted Williams: Hey hunters, don’t vote against protecting public lands: Hunting and angling groups said Trump would represent their interests—but they were wrong

2.   Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act
          Poses Threat to Wilderness Lands
          (ACTION ITEM)

The following comes from our friends at Wilderness Watch. Please contact your senators and representatives to oppose this proposal, even at the draft stage.

A new analysis by Wilderness Watch calls the discussion draft of the “Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act of 2017” nothing more than a thinly disguised measure to gut the 1964 Wilderness Act and the protections afforded to every unit of America’s 110 million-acre National Wilderness Preservation System.

The analysis corresponds with a leaked memo McClatchy obtained and reported on last week that found the Trump Administration has so far prevented the National Park Service from voicing its serious concerns over the National Rifle Association (NRA)-backed SHARE Act. When the Park Service shared such concerns in a memo to the Department of Interior (DOI), the DOI responded by crossing out the Park Service’s comments, and the agency was told not to go to Congress.

The SHARE Act would give hunting, fishing, recreational shooting, and state fish and wildlife agency goals top priority in Wilderness, rather than protecting the areas’ wilderness character, as has been the case for over 50 years.

The SHARE Act would allow endless, extensive habitat manipulations in Wilderness under the guise of “wildlife conservation” and for providing hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting experiences. The Act would also allow the construction of “temporary” roads in protected Wilderness areas to facilitate such uses and would allow the construction of dams, buildings, or other structures within Wildernesses.

“Taken in combination, the provisions in the SHARE Act would completely undermine the protections that wilderness designation should provide, and dramatically weaken wilderness conservation for the entire 110 million-acre National Wilderness Preservation System. These wilderness provisions in the SHARE Act must not be enacted into law,” explained Kevin Proescholdt, Conservation Director for Wilderness Watch.

The discussion draft of the SHARE Act was scheduled for a legislative hearing on June 14, 2017, but was canceled due to a shooting before the Congressional softball game.

The SHARE Act would also exempt road, dam, and building projects within protected Wilderness areas from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)—eliminating critical environmental analysis of potential impacts and alternatives, and public comment and involvement.

“Sadly, the SHARE Act would eviscerate the letter, spirit, and fundamental ideals expressed in the Wilderness Act,” said Wilderness Watch Executive Director George Nickas. “While the Wilderness Act prohibits the use of motorized vehicles or equipment and the building of roads and other structures, the SHARE Act essentially throws Wilderness areas wide open to motorized use by agency managers and a nearly unlimited variety of wilderness-damaging manipulations and developments. Make no mistake—Wilderness as we know it will cease to exist if the SHARE Act becomes law.”

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.

Several Bundy Family-related articles:

The latest verdict from Nevada for some of the participants in the ranch standoff: No Guilty Verdicts in Bundy Ranch Standoff Trial. Cliven Bundy and his sons still face trial in October on charges related to that standoff.

High Country News article: At Bundy Ranch trial, questions on guns and violence

In the New Yorker: Why the Bundys and Their Heavily Armed Supporters Keep Getting Away with It

Oregon Public Broadcasting: Travis Cox Sentenced For Role In Malheur Occupation

Other public lands articles:

From the New York Times: Let Forest Fires Burn? What the Black-Backed Woodpecker Knows

From the Los Angeles Times: China’s Gobi Desert feeds Yosemite National Park’s forest, study says

From the Washington Post: Cecil Andrus, defender of Alaska’s wilderness as Carter’s interior secretary, dies at 85

Also from the Washington Post: National parks put a ban on bottled water to ease pollution. Trump just sided with the lobby that fought it.


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