Newsletter Archive

In the Devil’s Garden, Grand Staircase-Escalante NM, Utah                                                   (Mike Painter)

November 30, 2017

Dear CalUWild friends —

It’s hard to believe, but Californians for Western Wilderness is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this month! Ever since the start of the management planning process for the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah, CalUWild has been providing citizens with information and tools that they can use to protect our wild places in the West.

Right now, we’re going through a time when there’s much to feel cynical or despair about, on many fronts. Action is the best antidote to despair, however. So we look forward to the years ahead showing people how to be effective advocates for the places they love, and at the same time hoping to dispel some of the cynicism felt by so many. Thanks for your interest and support over the years.

Special thanks go also to Vicky Hoover and Keith Hammond who, with me, founded Californians for Utah Wilderness, as we were known back then, in 1997. Additional mention must be made of our Advisory Board members, the staff—too numerous to name—at other conservation organizations who have provided support and information, and in Congressional and agency offices who have listened when we’ve brought our concerns to them. It’s been a joint effort, with many different participants.

I’m certain that in the long run we’ll be successful, because we have the majority of Americans on our side in support of wise protections for our public lands.

As we mentioned last month, it’s time for CalUWild’s Annual Membership Appeal. Because so much time has been spent on the national monuments review this month, our mailing hasn’t gone out yet. Please watch your mailbox or email INBOX for the next week or two. And please respond as generously as you can. As always, dues are not mandatory, but are appreciated!

Dues payable to CalUWild are not tax-deductible, as they may be used for lobbying. If you’d like to make a tax-deductible contribution, please make your check payable to Resource Renewal Institute, our fiscal sponsor. Click here for suggested membership levels. Either way, the address is:

P.O. Box 210474
San Francisco, CA 94121-0474

Best wishes,

1.   President Going to Utah
          To Announce Reductions in Bears Ears &
          Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monuments.
          Rallies Planned in
          Salt Lake City, San Francisco & Elsewhere
          (ACTION ITEM)

2.   National Park Entrance Fee Increase
          Comment Period Extended
          NEW DEADLINE: December 22
          (ACTION ITEM)
3.   Job Listing: Western Watersheds Project
          California Director

4.   Rep. Maurice Hinchey
          Long-Time Lead Sponsor
          Of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act

5.   Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest


1.   President Going to Utah
          To Announce Reductions in Bears Ears &
          Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monuments.
          Rallies Planned in
          Salt Lake City, San Francisco & Elsewhere
          (ACTION ITEM)

The White House has announced that the President will travel to Salt Lake City on Monday, December 4 to announce the Administration’s proposals on the two Utah national monuments that interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has proposed for drastic reductions, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. There have been no details released formally by the Administration in advance of the trip, but the Washington Post published an article today containing information that was leaked to it. That article says:

Grand Staircase-Escalante would be split into three areas known as Grand Staircase National Monument, Kaiparowits National Monument and Escalante Canyons National Monument. Bears Ears will be divided into Indian Creek National Monument and the Shash Jaa National Monument, the latter of which will include two well-known ruins, Moon House and Doll House.

Some changes might still be made before Monday’s formal announcement, however. Two maps were also leaked, which you can see here:

Bears Ears Boundary Modification
GSENM Boundary Modification

Acreage-wise this means that Bears Ears would from 1.35 million acres to 201,397 acres and Grand Staircase-Escalante from shrink from 1.9 million acres to 997,490 acres.

Two short proclamations reflecting these maps were also leaked, and the action will be almost immediately challenged in court by Native American tribes and conservation organizations. Legal arguments include that the Antiquities Act only allows the president to designate monuments, not shrink them; the Federal Lands Policy and Management (FLPMA) states that Congress, not the administration, has the sole power to make changes to monuments. In addition, with regard to Grand Staircase, it was the subject of Congressional land exchange legislation and a payment of $50 million to the state of Utah, along with some minor boundary changes, so Congress has already ratified it. The Constitution grants Congress the sole authority to manage the federal lands (Article IV, section 3., clause 2), so even though Congress delegated some of its authority to the president via the Antiquities Act, once it’s passed a law, the executive branch can’t bypass it.

It’s not clear at this point whether the President will make any announcements regarding Cascade-Siskiyou NM in Oregon and California and Gold Butte NM in Nevada, the two other monuments recommended for downsizing.

Several rallies in support of our national monuments are being held around the country this weekend and next week.

In anticipation of the announcement, Utah Diné Bikéyah, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, and other organizations will be holding a “Rally Against Trump’s Monumental Mistake” in Salt Lake City:

Saturday, December 2
Utah State Capitol
1 PM – 2:30 PM MST

A weeklong series of rallies is planned in support of national monuments, beginning Saturday, December 2. Major ones in California are planned for:

San Francisco
Monday, December 4

Bank of America Building
555 California St
12 Noon

Saturday, December 2

Banner Event
University Ave. pedestrian overpass over Hwy. 80
University Ave. at Western Frontage Road
Berkeley, CA 94720
2:00 PM

Los Angeles Area
Saturday, December 2, 2017

Paramount Ranch
Cornell Road
Agoura Hills, CA 91301
9:30 AM
Host contact info: bongodrum [at] gmail [dot] com

San Diego
Sunday, December 03

Cabrillo National Monument
1800 Cabrillo Memorial Dr.
San Diego, CA 92106
11:00 AM
Host contact info: Rae Newman, dancingriver [at] Hotmail [dot] com

A map with these and other events in California and across the country may be found here. Please confirm event location and other information with any listed event hosts before heading out!

Please also check the page as the week goes by, as other events will be added as they’re organized.

Stay tuned—there will be more to report in the weeks ahead!

2.   National Park Entrance Fee Increase
          Comment Period Extended
          NEW DEADLINE: December 22
          (ACTION ITEM)

Last month we reported that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had proposed raising entrance fees to 17 of the most popular national parks to as much as $70 for a private vehicle, $50 for a motorcycle, and $30 for a person on foot or bicycle.

The Interior Department opened a public comment, where we asked people to submit their thoughts. Originally, the deadline was November 23. At the last minute the Department extended it by 30 days, so they are now collecting comments through December 22 on the same Park Planning website.

So if you didn’t get around to commenting before Thanksgiving, click on the “Comment Now” button!

As we said last month:

The higher fees would be in effect during the five heaviest visitation months for each park, i.e., generally summer vacation for most Americans. According to Mr. Zinke, the fees collected, estimated at $70 million a year, would go toward reducing the backlog of infrastructure projects in the various parks.

The parks affected would be: Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Denali, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Olympic, Sequoia and Kings Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Zion national parks with peak season starting on May 1, 2018; Acadia, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, and Shenandoah National Parks with peak season starting on June 1, 2018; and Joshua Tree National Park as soon as practicable in 2018.

That reasoning is a stretch for a few reasons: First, the Interior Department has already proposed reducing its budget by several hundred million dollars for the next year. This would simply transfer a small portion of that decrease onto visitors. Secondly, the backlog is estimated to be close to 11 billion dollars; in other words, it’s a drop in the bucket. And finally, the cost of the “America the Beautiful” annual pass, allowing entrance to all national parks and fee areas, will remain at $80 per year. It is not at all clear that people would pay the single-entry fee every time they visited a park. (Skeptics are already saying that this will soon lead to a huge increase in the price of the annual pass, as well.)

We are also concerned that proposals (of any kind) that put national parks (and other public lands in general) more and more outside the reach of the general public will contribute in the long run to partial or even full privatization of our common inheritance of public lands.

Reaction to the proposed fee increases continued to be unanimously negative:

Attorneys general from ten states and the District of Columbia wrote a letter to Acting NPS Director Mike Reynolds objecting to the proposed fee hike, quoting John Muir: “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.” (The Yosemite) The San Francisco Chronicle reported that California Attorney General Xavier Becerra threatened to sue the Interior Department if it failed to comply with legal concerns about the process used to implement the proposal.

Timothy Egan wrote a column in the New York Times: National Parks for the 1 Percent

An op-ed was published in the Salt Lake Tribune: Higher park fees create a barrier to recovery from war. That column included a link to an article worth mentioning for its historic interest: Let’s Close the National Parks by Bernard DeVoto, appearing in Harper’s back in 1953.

3.   Job Listing: Western Watersheds Project
          California Director

We received the following from our friends at Western Watersheds Project.

Western Watersheds Project seeks a California Director to expand and continue WWP’s campaign to protect and restore public lands in California and parts of Nevada, particularly in the context of reining in livestock grazing and related environmental problems. The position will entail administrative and legal oversight of federal decisions, fieldwork, data collection and analysis, participation in agency planning processes, media outreach and legislative advocacy. The ideal candidate will be highly organized, self-motivated, be able to synthesize and understand ecological and biological concepts, and have strong written and oral communication skills.

• Coordinate and develop WWP’s public lands and waterways protection in California and Nevada and work with current staff on existing projects and threats posed by domestic livestock/sheep grazing on public lands across the West;
• Collect and track research documenting the impacts of livestock on public lands, and utilize a variety of tools to determine focal areas for protection emphasis;
• Submit data, public comments, and appeals and engage in discussions with the Forest Service and BLM about how to protect public lands from domestic livestock, including the use of grazing permit retirement;
• Work with WWP’s Public Policy Consultant to pursue legislative options specific to livestock grazing and predator defense issues;
• Participate in outreach opportunities including press releases, op-eds, position statements, newsletter articles, and blog posts;
• Meet with public lands livestock grazing operators to discuss options for conflict reduction;
• Visit public lands grazing allotments, documenting habitat conditions and management.

• Educational background in science, law, or policy and/or advocacy experience;
• Affinity for and knowledge of remote and rugged areas in the West;
• Willingness to travel and camp alone in field sites;
• Highly organized and able to use GIS software, mapping tools, and basic database software;
• Strong oral and written communications skills;
• Desire to make a difference in protecting native species from livestock grazing impacts on public lands;
• Able to take direction and work as part of a team;
• Self-directed and accountable;
• Position will be located in California or Nevada, Reno preferred.

Please send a cover letter, resume, writing sample (preferably administrative or legal appeal) and 3 references in a single .pdf file by January 31, 2018 to Position open until filled.

4.   Rep. Maurice Hinchey
          Long-Time Lead Sponsor
          Of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act

Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) died last week, four years after retiring from Congress, where he served ten terms representing Upstate New York. All through is long career in politics he was a champion of the environment, holding hearings on the Love Canal toxic pollution when he served in the state legislature, before being elected to Congress. We knew Rep. Hinchey because of his championship of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act in the House. He took on that mantle after Utah Rep. Wayne Owens retired in 1993, and he continued with it until his retirement in 2013. (Reps. Rush Holt (D-NJ) and now Alan Lowenthal (D-47) of California succeeded him as the lead sponsor.)

We extend our condolences to his family and former staff.

The New York Times published this obituary: Maurice D. Hinchey, Congressman and Environmental Advocate, Dies at 79

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.

Articles about the Interior Department and Secretary Ryan Zinke

An op-ed in U.S. News & World Report: A Tale of Two Zinkes: The interior secretary hasn’t turned out to be the defender of public lands many hoped for.

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune:‘We’ve gotten so bureaucratic’: Secretary Zinke plans to use his military experience as a blueprint for reorganizing his department

An article in The Hill: Durbin blocks Interior nominees from confirmation. Secty. Zinke eventually agreed to meet with Sen. Durbin, and two of the holds were lifted.

An article in High Country News: Interior Department mired in investigations

Other news from Washington:

An article in the Los Angeles Times: Under Trump, the lines are drawn for a battle over resources in the West

A Washington Post article about Utah Rep. Rob Bishop: Powerful lawmaker wants to ‘invalidate’ the Endangered Species Act. He’s getting close., followed by an article from the Center for Western Priorities: House committee chairman attacks reporter for doing his job

An editorial in the New York Times: Trump Attacks Teddy Roosevelt’s Grand Legacy

Other items

An article in the New York Times: Federal Trial Begins for the Nevada Rancher Cliven Bundy

An article in High Country News: Drones intrude on the outdoor experience

A long article in Mountain Journal: Holding The Line On Wild: Is The U.S. Forest Service Up To The Challenge?

And finally, two items that aren’t bad news

An article Washington Post: The Grizzlies Are Coming

A column in National Parks Traveler: Wanderings From Cable Mountain In Zion National Park


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