Newsletter Archive

Looking over Cedar Mesa, “Former” Bears Ears National Monument, Utah                              (Mike Painter)

March 30, 2018

Dear CalUWild friends—

With Congress’s focus on the spending bill, there’s not much to report from Capitol Hill this month. Likewise, the administration has not made any further announcements on the fate of other national monuments. So this month’s Update is relatively short (especially if you’ve already submitted comments on the management plans for the shrunken monuments in Utah—see ITEM 1).

This was a very busy month for the press, however, examining Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on many different issues. It seemed that every day some new controversy reared it head. Thus there is quite a large collection of news articles in ITEM 3, IN THE PRESS. It is encouraging to see the press covering these issues in detail, though the sheer number of different problems they report is discouraging. Please read the articles to bring yourself up to date on those topics. When you’re done reading, share your thoughts with your elected officials in Washington and with the editors of your newspapers!

National Parks Week is April 21-29. This year, there is free admission to all Park Service fee sites on April 21. (Secretary Zinke blames too many fee-free days for some of the budget woes of the Park Service, but enjoy it if you can.)

As always, your enthusiasm and efforts to protect our wilderness and public lands are much appreciated!

Best wishes,

1.   National Monuments Planning Update
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINES: April 11 for Bears Ears
          April 13 for Grand Staircase-Escalante NM
          (ACTION ITEM)

2.   Early Kickoff for the Fifth Annual
          Visions of the Wild Festival
          Downtown Vallejo: April 12

3.   Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest


1.    National Monuments Planning Update
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINES: April 11 for Bears Ears
          April 13 for Grand Staircase-Escalante NM
          (ACTION ITEM)

As we mentioned in our last two Updates (January and February), the BLM is currently undertaking planning processes for the replacements for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah.

BLM held four public meetings this week in Southern Utah and the deadlines for comments were extended 15 days beyond the last meetings for each. If you haven’t submitted comments yet, please do so. Detailed talking points are below. They are verbatim what we included last month.

(If you have submitted comments, you may skip to the press articles on the Utah monuments at the end of this section.)

According to High Country News, the BLM offices have been instructed to ignore comments demanding that they put off planning until litigation is finished. You should include that point, regardless. It lets BLM know that people are paying attention, and it gets the illegality and waste of planning resources into the public record, which may be useful publicity in the likely case that the administration loses in court.

Please use your own words, and if you have been to any of the areas under discussion, please say so and explain why they are important to you.

For both Bear Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments

— The proclamations issued to shrink the original monuments are illegal. The president has no authority under law to reduce monuments once they have been designated. Only Congress has that authority. Most legal commentators agree with that position.

— These rollbacks have been challenged in federal court. It is not appropriate to be undertaking large-scale planning because of this ongoing litigation. Should the plaintiffs win their cases, there will be a large waste of time and money. In times of reduced budgets, that is doubly inexcusable.

— Citizens do not support these rollbacks. See the overwhelming support for all our monuments shown by the 2.7 million comments submitted during last summer’s review. 97% recommended that all monuments remain intact.

Bears Ears National Monument — April 11

— Any interim actions planned within the original and legitimate Bears Ears National Monument boundary should only be done for the purpose of protecting Monument resources as set out in President Obama’s proclamation, Proclamation 9558 (December 28, 2016). This includes vegetation removal projects for supposed grazing range enhancements.

— In developing a management plan for the Shash Jáa and Indian Creek management units—and in order to ensure protection of cultural and natural resources—BLM must consider alternatives that permanently close Arch Canyon, Lavender Canyon, and Davis Canyon to motorized vehicle use.

— In order to ensure adequate public review and comment, the public comment period should be extended to 90 days after the last BLM or Forest Service public hearing.

— In addition to Bears Ears National Monument gateway communities, public hearings should also be held in Salt Lake City, Utah; Flagstaff, Arizona; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Denver, Colorado; and Washington, D.C.

The planning homepage is here and the direct link to the online comment form is here.

By Email: blm_ut_monticello_monuments [at] blm [dot] gov

Comments may also be submitted by U.S. Mail to:

Attn: Field Office Manager
Monticello Field Office
Bureau of Land Management
P.O. Box 7
Monticello, UT 84535

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument — April 13

— Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was designated in 1996, with its primary purpose to protect the incredible scientific, ecological, and paleontological resources within its 1.9 million acres. Any interim actions within the original and legitimate Monument boundary should only be done for the purpose of protecting Monument resources as set out in the original proclamation.

— BLM’s 1999 Monument management plan was the result of a deliberate and collaborative process that involved scientific scrutiny and intense public participation. Any interim actions within the original and legitimate Monument boundary must comply with the 1999 management plan.

— All motorized travel routes within the original Monument boundary that were closed or limited under the 1999 Monument management must continue to be managed pursuant to the management plan. For example, the Paria River—a fragile riparian corridor within a Wilderness Study Area that was purposely excluded from President Trump’s monument boundaries in order to facilitate ATV use—must remain closed to all motorized vehicles.

— Contrary to what some have said, the designation of GSENM has been important for local communities, which have grown economically more than other rural counties in this region. The monument as is, is a critical factor in the local community. There are proposals to allow coal mining in original GSENM. However, coal is dead in this region, as demonstrated by the upcoming closing of the nearest coal-fired power plant and the fact that other states, such as California, are not interested in providing a market for it, or even providing shipping facilities for export, as is the case in Oakland, California. No coal mining in the area should be considered. The future is in taking care of these remarkable lands and bringing renewable energy to local communities.

— Do not allow current and future vegetation removal projects, in particular “chaining,” within the original Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. This practice negates BLM’s obligation to protect natural resources and wilderness values from irreversible human-caused harm.

The homepage for the project is here, and comments may be submitted here.

By Email: BLM_UT_CCD_monuments [at] blm [dot] gov

Comments may also be submitted by U.S. Mail:

Attn: Monument Manager
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Bureau of Land Management
669 S Hwy. 89A
Kanab, UT 84741

Utah monument press

The New York Times filed a Freedom of Information Act request and then had to sue the Department of the Interior to obtain release of documents relating to the national monuments in Utah. It received some 25,000 pages of emails and other correspondence. 20,000 were from the Obama administration regarding the creation of the monuments, and the remainder from the current administration’s attempts to roll them back. The Times analyzed them and on March 2 published the following report: Oil Was Central in Decision to Shrink Bears Ears Monument, Emails Show.

This confirmed what many suspected. It also showed that the office of Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) had approached the administration in March 2017 about reducing the size of the Bears Ears, more than a month before the executive order authorizing the review of the monuments. The documents also show that a major reason for the attempt at splitting up the Grand Staircase-Escalante monument was the presence of the large coal reserves in the Kaiparowits Plateau.

You may download the complete document trove (all 38.6 MB of it) here. A selection of documents relating only to the Bears Ears may be found here.

High Country News had an article looking behind the scenes at other issues related to the monuments in Utah: The danger of local hands on public lands: When it comes to monuments, Utah lawmakers have conflicts of interest

2.   Early Kickoff for the Fifth Annual
          Visions of the Wild Festival
          Downtown Vallejo: April 12

CalUWild is working with the U.S. Forest Service and the Vallejo Community Arts Foundation for the fifth year, planning and hosting the Visions of the Wild Festival in downtown Vallejo. It began in 2014 as a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act and has turned into an annual event, each with a different theme and focus. This year we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Wild & Scenic Rivers and National Trails System acts.

The main part of the festival will be September 21 – 23, but a few extra events are planned between now and then. The first will be the screening of two films, one on the Noatak River in Alaska and the second on Nevada City in California, by CalUWild friend and filmmaker John de Graaf.

The April 12 event has two segments:

First will be a presentation by Heather Bartlett and colleagues about the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge. They will talk how their Alaska preserve connects with our local San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge. We’ll show a short film about Wild & Scenic River in Alaska called the Noatak.

Explore the Noatak, one of Alaska’s wildest rivers, through the eyes of the people whose lives and livelihoods have long depended on its waters and wildlife, and discover the national conservation program that ensures that this and many other wild rivers will provide these values forever.

This will be followed by a screening of the film Redefining Prosperity: The Gold Rushes of Nevada City, followed by an in person discussion with the film’s director John de Graaf. This film features a segment on the Yuba River, a Wild & Scenic River in California.

Born in the California Gold Rush, Nevada City was once the scene of some of the most destructive environmental practices on earth. By the 1960s, the town was a backwater, its extractive industries dying. Then it was discovered by the “back to the land movement.” It was a second gold rush but with a different idea of gold based on nature, community and a sense of place. The Yuba River brought conflicting factions of the community together while different ideas about the meaning of wealth have led to changes in local food production, education, arts, music and a commitment to building community. Redefining Prosperity: The Gold Rushes of Nevada City includes two dozen of Nevada City’s most active citizens and their stories.


Empress Theatre
330 Virginia St.
Vallejo, CA 94590

Date: Thursday, April 12
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Tickets: $10

Online tickets are available here.

The film will also be shown in Nevada City the following weekend:

Nevada Theatre
401 Broad St.
Nevada City, CA 95959

Date: Sunday, April 15
Time: 7:00 p.m.

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.

California national monuments

The San Francisco Chronicle on the potential shrinking of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument: Along California-Oregon border, debate over protected lands is clash of values

The Los Angeles Times on the Sand to Snow National Monument: Feral cattle terrorize hikers and devour native plants in a California national monument

The Interior Department and other politics

Good news first: Zinke Cancels Chaco Canyon lease sale in the Albuquerque Journal. You may read the BLM press release here.

Unfortunately, this was followed by a lease sale in Southeastern Utah on lands containing many archeological sites and close to Hovenweep and Canyons of the Ancients national monuments. The Washington Post wrote this article: National Park Service warned lease sale Tuesday could harm national monument in Utah

Washington Post opinion columnist Dana Millbank wrote: All hail Ryan Zinke, our imperial viceroy

An article in The Hill: Zinke signed order in January making ‘acting’ directors official

An article in the Washington Post: A mining firm executive griped to Zinke about federal pollution rules. The secretary apologized.

CNN reported: White House scolds Cabinet officials after embarrassing ethics reports. Secretary Zinke was included among them.

A Washington Post article: Oversight panel seeks details on Interior’s pricey doors. The Interior Department plans to spend $139,000 to replace double doors in the Secretary’s office.

Our friends at the Center for Western Priorities report: Documents reveal Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke uses a private email address for official business

The Democrats on the House Natural Resource Committee released a statement stating that a letter held up by Secty. Zinke in a hearing was not what he claimed it to be, nor had such a letter ever been sent. Secretary Zinke Testified Falsely Today – Said Letter to Chairman Bishop Responded to Rep. Barragan’s Ethics Concerns

An article in The Hill: Zinke and his wife took security detail on vacation to Turkey, Greece: report

From CNN: Sources: Zinke tells employees diversity isn’t important

A Washington Post article: Zinke creates new outdoor recreation panel made up almost entirely of industry advisers

From CNN: Zinke says ‘Konnichiwa’ after hearing story about WWII Japanese internment

An article in Outside: Congress Just Ignored Trump’s Public-Land Cuts

An op-ed in The Hill by Peter Metcalf of Black Diamond: Secretary Zinke, you’re no Teddy Roosevelt

In Nevada

From Reuters: States’ rights rancher Ryan Bundy to run for Nevada governor


An op-ed in the San Jose Mercury News, by our friend Ryan Henson of the California Wilderness Coalition: Opinion: Trump’s ruthless attack on California’s desert lands

An essay in High Country News reflecting on Edward Abbey and the 50th Anniversary of the publication of Desert Solitaire: Balancing the pulls of domesticity and wilderness


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.

Please “Like” and “Follow” CalUWild on Facebook.