Newsletter Archive

Grandstaff (formerly Negro Bill) Canyon, Utah                                                                                                     (Mike Painter)

July 31, 2018

Dear CalUWild friends and supporters—

I’m reading Mark Harvey’s book Wilderness Forever: Howard Zahniser and the Path to the Wilderness Act. I came across something written in 1940 by Zahniser, the author of the Wilderness Act, which still seems relevant today:

The fact is that it is the land that has made us all Americans, and the moral is that it is the land which must be preserved to save our Americanism. Soil erosion, forest exploitation, and wildlife destruction are more insidious anti-American activities than Communism, Fascism, or foreign propagandizing. We foster self-preservation more truly, I believe, by conserving our natural resources—in bounty and beauty—than we do by combating the isms that will surely be survived or satisfactorily assimilated if only our land lives. (p. 45)

Fortunately we now also recognize the importance of working with Native American tribes to protect the landscapes that are culturally important to them. This has been one of the exciting aspects of the Bears Ears campaign. Part of conserving natural resources is being involved in the processes of government. So in addition to protecting wilderness and public lands, CalUWild also works to provide the information you as citizens need to be effective advocates.

As you’ll see in Item 5 below, there continues to be a lot of press attention to public land issues, especially to the administration’s ethical lapses and its various attempts to roll back monuments and regulations. Most of the press is supportive of protection, so it’s always a good idea when you see an article to write a letter to the editor expressing thanks (or disagreement, if necessary). Even if your letter doesn’t get published, the editor still knows that people are reading and concerned about the issues.

The House of Representatives will be on summer recess for the month of August. (The Senate is not recessing this summer.) Look out for scheduled town hall meetings and other events. They are excellent opportunities to voice support for public lands!

In our April Update we mentioned that the Bureau of Land Management was proposing to lease lands near Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico. National Parks Traveler reports that the proposed leases have been deferred. Thanks to everyone who took the time to write in.

And thanks for your continued interest and support for CalUWild and wilderness!

Best wishes,

1.   Rep. Jared Huffman Introduces Wilderness Bill
          For Northern California
          (ACTION ITEM)

2.   Land & Water Conservation Fund Legislation
          (ACTION ITEM)

3.   Interior Department Documents Confirm Suspicions
          That National Monuments Review Was a Farce

4.   Administration Proposing Changes
          To Endangered Species Act Regulations
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINE: September 24

          (ACTION ITEM)

5.   Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest


1.   Rep. Jared Huffman Introduces Wilderness Bill
          For Northern California
          (ACTION ITEM)

After working on the proposal for five years—involving local citizens, businesses, and various conservation and outdoor recreation groups—last week Rep. Jared Huffman (D-2) introduced the Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act in the House.

The following description is taken from the press release issued by Rep. Huffman. The bill would:

•   Protect roughly 260,000 acres of federal public lands as wilderness by expanding nine existing wilderness areas and establishing eight new ones.

•   Designate 379 miles of new wild and scenic rivers and mandate federal agencies to create management plans for 101 miles of existing wild and scenic rivers.

•   Designate a 730,000-acre South Fork Trinity-Mad River Restoration Area in the South Fork Trinity River, Mad River, and North Fork Eel watersheds in Trinity and Humboldt counties.

•   Establish a partnership of federal, state, and local entities that can help to clean and restore federal public lands in northwestern California affected by illegal trespass marijuana grows.

•   Authorize old-growth redwoods restoration in Redwood National and State Parks through partnerships between the Department of Interior and state and local stakeholders.

•   Require federal agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service to cooperate and coordinate in managing fires in northwestern California’s wilderness areas.

You may read the full press release here.

Please contact Rep Huffman’s office to say thank you.

DC office phone:   202-225-5161
Links to Rep. Huffman’s other office phone numbers (and webform for constituents only) here.

2.   Land & Water Conservation Fund Legislation
          (ACTION ITEM)

We’ve written frequently about the Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), one of America’s most successful environmental programs. The Fund uses royalties from offshore oil & gas development (i.e., no taxpayer dollars) to purchase land for urban parks and other parcels, such as inholdings in national parks, forests, and monuments. For some reason, Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) is opposed to the Fund, even though it is very popular in Congress. (Even Mr. Bishop has gotten funds from it for his district when he wanted!) The fund is due to expire September 30 of this year, unless Congress acts to extend it.

H.R. 502, introduced by Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona, would make the Fund permanent and authorize full funding for it every year. The bill currently has 232 cosponsors in the House, 38 of whom are Republicans. Rep. Steve Knight (R-25) is the only California GOP House member signed onto the bill.

The following alert (slightly edited) comes from Vicky Hoover, Chair of the Sierra Club’s LWCF task force and one of CalUWild’s cofounders.

If Steve Knight can sign on to the LWCF bill and be a supporter, why not other Republicans from California?  A couple, for example, who are not running again for office this fall may have nothing to lose and if urged by a few constituents—what’s to keep them from helping?  Even if they do seek reelection—now could be a good time to ask for their support. After all, California has received more funding via the Land & Water Conservation Fund than any other state. EVERY Congressional district has benefited.

If you are in the district of one of the California members of Congress listed below, please call their DC office or local office during the August recess and urge that the boss sign on as a cosponsor to H.R. 502 when Congress returns just after Labor Day.

Ask for the DC staffer who works on this issue, and give the message to the receptionist if the staffer is not available or leave it on the staffer’s voice mail. Follow up by direct email to staffer. Staff email addresses generally follow the format of  firstname [dot] lastname [at] mail [dot] house [dot] gov.

If there is a chance for an in-person meeting with the Representative during the August recess, it would be a perfect time to bring up the Land & Water Conservation Fund!

Reps. Cook and Denham are both on Rep. Bishop’s Natural Resources Committee and would seem the least likely to cosponsor the bill—but they can be asked at least to talk personally with Speaker of the House Ryan—which could well be as good or even more valuable at this stage late in the Congress.  Also, there is one conservative republican (from North Carolina) on Bishop’s Committee who has cosponsored H.R. 502.  He was probably lobbied heavily by sportsmen—who rely on easements and purchases by the LWCF to give them access across some private lands to places they like to hunt and fish.

Paul Cook (R-8):   202-225-5861
— Apple Valley district office:   760-247-1815

Jeff Denham (R-10):   202-225-4540
— Modesto district office:   209-579-5458

Ed Royce (R-39):   202-225-4111
— Brea district office:   714-255-0101

Mimi Walters (R-45):   202-225-5611
— Irvine district office:   949-263-8703

Darrell Issa (R-49):   202-225-3906
— Vista district office:   760-599-5000

Duncan Hunter (R-50):   202-225-5672
— El Cajon district office:   619-448-5201
— Temecula district office:   951-695-5108

Here’s an op-ed in the Denver Post by Colorado’s two senators supporting the LWCF: Coming together for public lands and the conservation fund that protects them

3.   Interior Department Documents Confirm Suspicions
          That National Monuments Review Was a Farce

No one really believed that the Interior Department’s review of national monuments last year would support the designations made since 1996, when the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM) was established. And the results confirmed that, at least with respect to the Bears Ears and GSENM.

In a very interesting development last week, documents provided to our friends at the Center for Western Priorities under the Freedom of Information Act showed that officials in the Department of the Interior systematically rejected information supporting the monuments, such as economic benefits or the numerous scientific discoveries. Many of the documents had sections marked for redaction, with the explanation that they showed the rationale and strategy behind the review.

What made the documents stunning, however, was the fact that the redactions were never actually implemented. So there is now clear proof that the outcome was pre-ordained and that the review itself was a sham.

The Interior Department realized its mistake and removed the documents the next day, substituting the redacted versions. But it was too late—the unredacted documents had already been downloaded.

It’s not clear what impact this development will have on the litigation over the monument rollbacks, but it definitely provides political ammunition to supporters of all our national monuments. We’ll keep you posted on future developments.

The Washington Post was the first major newspaper to cover the story: Trump administration officials dismissed benefits of national monuments.

This article in the Pacific StandardPublic Lands Advocates Respond to New Revelations from the DOI’s ‘Sham Review’ of National Monuments contains reactions from various conservation organizations.

On a related topic, the Los Angeles Times published an op-ed looking at various facets of the debate over Bears Ears National Monument: Bears Ears is waiting for a ruling: Will we protect this land or exploit it?

4.    Administration Proposing Changes
          To Endangered Species Act Regulations
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINE: September 24

          (ACTION ITEM)

Though we occasionally cover wildlife issues, especially when they overlap with wilderness concerns, we generally do not get involved with Endangered Species Act issues. However, the administration is proposing a major overhaul of how it enforces the law, and there is an open public comment period.Realizing its importance and the fact that some people might be interested in submitting comments, we’re including the following, giving background on the issues, followed by the link to the online comments page.

An article in the Washington PostEndangered Species Act stripped of key provisions in Trump administration proposal

An op-ed in The GuardianTrump’s next target? The endangered species that define America

Click here for the Interior Department’s comment page.

Please submit comments if you’re interested. Thanks!

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.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and the Department

The latest ethics problem: The Hill reports on an investigation by CNN: Zinke left some details off public calendar: report

An article in Politico regarding another ethics investigation: Interior watchdog opens probe of land deal linking Zinke, Halliburton chairman

An article in the Washington Post on an end to mitigation payments by lessees on public lands: Trump team stops asking drillers and miners to pay for damage to federal lands

An article from The Center for Investigative Reporting: Top Interior officials ordered parks to end science policy, emails show

The President pardons the Hammonds, ranchers in Oregon

An article in The GuardianTrump pardons Oregon ranchers whose case sparked 2016 militia standoff

An op-ed in the Washington PostThis is the message that Trump’s latest pardon sends to the radical right

Utah public lands

An article in Outdoor LifeSenator Mike Lee Pledges Long-Term Attack on Public Lands

George Pyle, editorial page editor of the Salt Lake Tribune, wrote: Keep your hands off my land, Mike Lee

California public lands

An article in the Los Angeles Times: A changing climate at Mono Lake could mean more dust storms in the Eastern Sierra — or less water for L.A.

An article in the Modesto Bee: Interior Secretary Zinke visits reservoirs, signaling federal interest in water fight

An article in Courthouse News about litigation over Hetch Hetchy: Appeals Court Rejects Effort to Drain Yosemite Reservoir

A New York Times slide show on Manzanar National Historical Site, a WW II Japanese internment camp, an interesting stop for anyone visiting the Eastern Sierra: Returning to Manzanar

General interest

An obituary in the Washington Post for former Interior official Nathaniel Reed: Nathaniel P. Reed, leader in efforts to protect endangered wildlife and wetlands, dies at 84 and a remembrance written by Huey Johnson: Remembering Nathaniel P. Reed, ‘a great environmentalist’. Huey is a member of CalUWild’s Advisory Board.

An op-ed in the Denver Post by Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia and Land Tawney of Back Country Hunters & Anglers: Hunters, hikers unite to protect beloved public lands, waters

An article in the New York Times‘The New Normal’: Wildfires Roar Across the West, Again

An article in OutsideSacred Native American Sites Are Not Your Playgrounds

An article in The Guardian: ‘Bad things happen in the woods’: the anxiety of hiking while black

An article in the Health section of the New York TimesWriting Prescriptions to Play Outdoors


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