Newsletter Archive

Canyon Blue Ribbon                                                                                                                                 (Patrick Dengate)

September 7, 2018

Dear CalUWild friends—

This Update is going out later than usual for several reasons: We were waiting for talking points to emerge regarding the monument planning processes (Item 1); New legislation was introduced late last week regarding Pt. Reyes National Seashore (Item 4); And finally, many people were on vacation in late August, and we didn’t want things to get lost in the email pileup.

And as you’ll see, relevant issues with deadlines keep coming in (Item 8). There’s a lot going on requiring attention, but don’t feel like you have to do all of them or all at once. Spread your actions out.

A reminder: September 22 will be the 25th annual celebration of National Public Lands Day. Standard entrance fees will be waived at all federal sites, though “enhanced” fees will still be charged in some places (e.g.,Cedar Mesa in the former Bears Ears, for day hiking). Many people celebrate by taking part in service activities on public lands. For an event near you, click hereand enter your zip code. At the moment, there are 748 listed nationwide. The California Coastal Cleanup will take place Saturday, September 15. To find an activity near you, click here.

There are still a number of Patrick Dengate’s paintings (above) available for purchase. Patrick has generously offered to contribute 50% of the purchase price of each to CalUWild. You may see some of his paintings here, and more are shown on his website. Contact Patrick via his website for more information.

And as we have also mentioned, another CalUWild friend, Margie Lopez Read, is also a painter and contributes the proceeds from sales of her art to worthy organizations, and she’s including CalUWild on her list. For more information, visit her website.

This is a great way to support CalUWild, the artists, and have some nice art to hang on your wall!

Fall is a great time to get away to enjoy our public lands in the West (though crowds seem to a constant nowadays). Get out if you can, if only for a weekend.

Thanks for your support as always,

1.   Draft Management Plans Released
          For Shrunken Bears Ears and
          Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments
          Comments Due November 15 & 30
          (ACTION ITEM)
2.   Red Rock Bill Cosponsor Update
          (ACTION ITEM)

3.   Two Bills Affecting Rivers Pass the Legislature
          Calls Needed to Gov. Brown
          DEADLINE: September 30
          (ACTION ITEM)
4.   Rep. Jared Huffman Introduces Bill
          To Support Pt. Reyes Seashore Dairies
5.   Wine Country Nature & Optics Festival
          Saturday, September 8,
          Sonoma Plaza
6.   Visions of the Wild / Wild & Scenic Film Festival
          September 20 – 23
          Downtown Vallejo

7.   Last Push for Land & Water Conservation Fund
          Reauthorization in Congress
          (ACTION ITEM)
8.   Mountain Bikes in Wilderness Survey
          (ACTION ITEM)

9.   Links to Articles of Interest


1.   Draft Management Plans Released
          For Shrunken Bears Ears and
          Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments
          Comments Due November 15 & 30

Last month the Bureau of Land Management released Draft Management Plans for the new Bears Ears National Monument and the three units that were originally part of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM), as well as those lands that were removed from GSENM.

The GSENM plan immediately drew widespread criticism because it included an alternative that would have sold off 1,600 acres near Kanab, adjoining property owned by Utah State Senator Mike Noel (R). Sen. Noel is one of the most vociferous opponents of federal public lands in Utah. The proposal flew directly in the face of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s many previous promises not to sell any federal land. After significant public outcry, the Interior Department said the proposal was made without the Secretary’s knowledge, that he opposed it, and it was removed. At the same time, BLM extended the comment period for GSENM by 15 days, hence the different deadlines for the two plans.

To no one’s real surprise, the draft plans offer less protection for the lands than before. Despite the fact that the new boundaries are still being contested in court (there is no progress to report there) it is critical that BLM hear from concerned citizens across the country.

The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance has prepared suggested comments, from which the talking points below are adapted. As more information comes in from other organizations, we will include them in future Updatesover the next two months if they add any significant new issues.

Pick and choose from those that are most meaningful to you. There’s no need for every person to cover every one. Write using your own words—comments with the same wording are easily distinguishable and are more readily discounted by the BLM. For the Bears Ears, though, it is critical that everyone stress the absolute need for full tribal participation in the management of the monument, as was envisioned by the original proclamation.

If you have visited the areas (or hope to) and have experiences that are relevant, mention them. Mention the need for future generations (your children, grandchildren, nieces & nephews, students, whoever) to have access to protected landscapes. Write as an individual citizen and not as a member of CalUWild or any other organization. We will be submitting comments on our own.

Bears Ears National Monument

• In developing a management plan for the Indian Creek and Shash Jaa’ units of Bears Ears National Monument, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) must prioritize consultation with the Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Pueblo of Zuni, and Ute Indian Tribe, who petitioned for the protection of the Bears Ears landscape. The BLM and the USFS must provide the interested Tribes with a meaningful voice in the co-management of the area.

• Proclamation 9681 is currently the subject of ongoing legal challenges. Because the BLM and USFS are only planning for 15% of the original Bears Ears boundaries in the current process, the most protective management possible for the area must be applied. All management decisions considered under the current process must prioritize the protection of the resources the Monument was designated to protect.

• Under BLM and USFS’s current plan, cultural resources are left at risk. BLM’s idea to develop cultural resource monitoring and management strategies two years down the road is not sufficient. BLM must proactively consult with interested Tribes to develop solutions to protect these resources before it is too late, by committing to develop an interim approach that can be implemented as soon as the management plan is completed. The agencies must also work with the Tribes to develop a broader plan and ensure the process is meaningful and inclusive of Tribal interests, not just condensed into the Trump administration’s arbitrary one-year timeline. The BLM should stop prioritizing speed and begin prioritizing Tribal involvement.

In completing a final plan, BLM should ensure it focuses on the following:

• BLM should manage for the protection of the entire Bears Ears landscape for cultural and paleontological resources–including ongoing inventory and management.

• The agency, in co-management with the interested Tribes, should maintain the option to close or reroute social trails when cultural resources are threatened, instead of relying primarily on educational principles for the public.

• BLM should manage identified lands with wilderness characteristics for wilderness values, as this provides protection for cultural resources, paleontological resources, and other irreplaceable Monument objects.

• BLM and USFS should consider one alternative that extends management for the entire Bears Ears National Monument boundaries, as outlined in President Obama’s 2016 proclamation. 85% of the original Bears Ears boundaries cannot be left out in the cold through this planning process while the legality of Trump’s Proclamation is being challenged in court.

Comments may be submitted by email to:

blm_ut_monticello_monuments [at] blm [dot] gov

or by U.S. Mail to:

BLM, Canyon Country District Office
Attn: Lance Porter
82 East Dogwood
Moab, Utah  84532

Comments are due November 15.

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

• In developing management plans for Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (including the Grand Staircase, Kaiparowits, and Escalante Canyon Units) and the Kanab-Escalante Planning Area (KEPA), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) must prioritize protection of Monument objects, including where these same resources are now located outside of the invalidly reduced Monument boundaries.

• Proclamation 9682 is the subject of ongoing legal challenges. BLM should continue to manage for the entire 1.9 million acre area under the existing 1999 Monument Management Plan. Therefore, choose the No Action Alternative in its current planning process. To do otherwise is a waste of taxpayer dollars and risks the resources that the BLM continues to acknowledge deserve protection.

• GSENM was designated as a National Monument in 1996 to protect the incredible scientific, ecological, and paleontological resources within its 1.9 million acres. The Monument’s unique resources are inspiring, and its amazing geological and paleontological wonders deserve protection to ensure scientific and recreation opportunities for people who come from near and far.

While preparing the current management plans, BLM should prioritize the following:

• BLM should not open any lands to oil and gas development, coal and other mining, energy infrastructure, and widespread off-road vehicle use. These cause irreversible damage to the landscape. Designating the Little Desert area as an open off-road vehicle “play” area is unacceptable and should not be permitted.

• BLM should manage lands with wilderness characteristics to protect wilderness values, as this provides protection for paleontological resources, scenic vistas, and other irreplaceable Monument objects.

• All motorized travel routes within the planning area that were closed or limited under the 1999 Monument management plan must continue to be managed pursuant to that plan, and BLM should take the opportunity to close routes that are harming Monument objects. Widespread off-road vehicle use should not be allowed, and no additional routes should be designated in the planning area.

• Although the original proposal was removed, the sale or disposal of monument lands must not be considered again.

• To protect Monument objects and the wilderness, scenic, cultural, and ecological values of lands within the planning area, BLM should prohibit mechanical treatments of sagebrush, pinyon and juniper, and other vegetation, nor should BLM should use nonnative species for restoration seeding.

• The entire planning area is one of the most scenically-pristine areas in the United States, including for nighttime dark skies. BLM should not downgrade the scenic classifications (VRM) for lands within the planning area.

• BLM may take the opportunity to consider new proposals consistent with protecting Monument objects, such as designation of new areas of critical conservation concern, adopting a sustainable approach to grazing, or developing adaptive approaches to climate change.

• BLM should keep the Monument and KEPA closed to casual collection of fossils. As BLM admits, an open approach damages fossils and risks irreversible destruction to both known and yet to be discovered resources.

To comment online, it’s best to create a text file first and then PASTE it into the comment box here. Follow the easy process through the next three pages, filling in the information in the required boxes with red asterisks.

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

U.S. Bureau of Land Management
Attn: Matt Betenson
669 S Hwy. 89A
Kanab, UT  84741

Comments are due November 30.

Issues surrounding the Utah monuments continue to be reported in the press. Here is a sampling:

An article in The Conversation: Why Native Americans struggle to protect their sacred place

An article in E&E (Energy & Environment) News: Zinke ignores critics, creates Bears Ears advisory panel

An editorial in the Washington Post: Our national monuments deserve better. This was followed by a letter to the editorin response to the editorial’s suggestion “that the president has ‘wide discretion’ to undermine monuments.” One of the authors of the letter, Mark Squillace, was also co-author of a Virginia Law Reviewarticle clearly setting out the argument that the president lacks the authority to modify monuments downward. You may read that here.

2.   Red Rock Bill Cosponsor Update
          (ACTION ITEM)

Rep. Judy Chu (D-27) is the latest California representative to sign on as a cosponsor to America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, H.R. 2044. If you live in her district, please say “Thank you.”

Washington, DC Office:   202-225-5464
Other contact info here

The following representatives from California were cosponsors in the last Congress, but have not signed on this time around:

Tony Cárdenas (D-29)
Mark Takano (D-41)

If one of them is your representative, please ask him to become a cosponsor again.

A simple phone call will do, or send a note via an online comment form on the representative’s website. Complete contact information for representatives may be found by following the links here.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D) has not yet signed on as a cosponsor. Here is contact information for her:

Washington, DC Office:   202-224-3553
Online here

A full list of cosponsors nationwide may be found here.

3.   Two Bills Affecting Rivers Pass the Legislature
          Calls Needed to Legislators and to Gov. Brown
          DEADLINE: September 30
          (ACTION ITEM)

Here is some good news, appropriate for the 50th Anniversary of the passage of the federal Wild & Scenic Rivers Act.

The California Legislature has passed several pieces of “safety net” legislation to counter the effects of possible rollbacks by the administration in Washington that would affect the state. The first was granting the state the “right of first refusal” on any lands that the federal government might put up for sale. Last month, the Legislature passed a bill that would allow the state to administratively (i.e., without a further vote by the Legislature) include any river that might be deprived of its federal Wild & Scenic designation in the state Wild & Scenic program. Governor Brown signed the bill into law.

Please say thank youto Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) for introducing AB 2975 and Gov. Brown for signing it. Assemblywoman Friedman may be reached at:

Sacramento office:   916-319-2043
Burbank office:   818-558-3043

You may contact Gov. Brown at:

Phone:   916-445-2841
By webform here
By email:   governor [at] governor [dot] ca [dot] gov
By U.S. Mail:

Governor Edmund G. Brown
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814

When you contact Gov. Brown’s office, please also urge him to signSB 1029 by Sen. Mike McGuire (D-North Bay / North Coast): The North Coast Railroad Authority (NCRA) Closure and Transition to Trails Act. The bill ends NCRA’s control over a rail line that runs partially along the Eel River, a designated Wild & Scenic River. It would convert the unused railway grade into a hiking trail, the Great Redwood Trail.

The San Francisco Chroniclerecently published an article on the proposal, with full details: Dying North Coast railroad could become world-class hiking trail.

Please call Sen. McGuire’s office to say “Thank you.”

Sacramento office:   916-651-4002
Other offices listed here.

4.   Rep. Jared Huffman Introduces Bill
          To Support Pt. Reyes Seashore Dairies

Last week, California Rep. Jared Huffman (D-2) introduced H.R. 6687, a bill with the purpose of “direct[ing] the Secretary of the Interior to manage the Point Reyes National Seashore … consistent with Congress’ longstanding intent to maintain working dairies and ranches on agricultural property as part of the seashore’s unique historic, cultural, scenic and natural values, and for other purposes.”

The bill is already provoking controversy because it comes in the middle of the general management plan update process for the seashore. The bill directs the Secretary of the Interior to complete the management plan without delay and “[c]onsistent with the purposes of [the] Act” to “issue leases and special use permits of 20 years for working dairies and ranches on agricultural property.’’ It further specifies that the Park Service shall “ensure separation [of Tule Elk] from the working ranches or dairies” by working with Indian Tribes to relocate, allow Tribal hunting, or other “suitable and feasible” means.

Three organizations—the Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watersheds Project, and the Resource Renewal Institute—had sued and settled with the Park Service, resulting in the new update planning. They claim that the bill is an attempt to predetermine the outcome to preserve ranching for the next 20 years and that it works against the re-establishment of Tule Elk, a native species across their former range.

Rep. Huffman’s office has said this is not the case.

(Full disclosure: Resource Renewal Institute is CalUWild’s fiscal sponsor, handling our tax-deductible contributions and grants. However, CalUWild is otherwise completely separate organizationally and was not involved in the lawsuit.)

You may read further reporting in this article in the Marin Independent Journal.

So far, the bill has one cosponsor, Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, of which Rep. Huffman is a member.

5.   Wine Country Nature & Optics Festival
          Saturday, September 8
          Sonoma Plaza Barracks

Our friends at Sonoma Birding are hosting the 8th Annual Wine Country Optics & Nature Festival, Saturday, September 8, at the Sonoma Plaza Barracks in Downtown Sonoma. Ten optics companies (such as Nikon, Celestron, Zeiss, and others) and 50 nonprofit organizations will have information tables, and various artists will be exhibiting, too. California State Parks is co-hosting the festival.

There’s a lot of history in Sonoma, and it’s a nice day trip from many places in Northern California.

CalUWild will be there. Please stop by!

6.   Visions of the Wild / Wild & Scenic Film Festival
          September 20 – 23
          Downtown Vallejo

The 5th Annual Visions of the Wild Festival: Wild & Scenic Trails and Rivers takes place starting Thursday, September 20 and running through Sunday, September 23. CalUWild has helped plan the Festival every year since it began in 2014. The U.S. Forest Service and the Vallejo Community Arts Foundation are the main sponsors.

One of the highlights this year will be the Wild & Scenic Film Festival “On Tour,”a screening of thirteen short films about rivers and trails. That will take place on Friday evening, 7:30 p.m., at the Empress Theatre, 330 Virginia Street.

Also, as in years past, the Nature Discovery Zonewill be Saturday morning, September 22, in conjunction with the Vallejo Farmers’ Market on Georgia Street. It includes activities for kids and adults, as well as information tables of organizations working to protect our public lands and animals.

CalUWild will be there, too, so please stop by!

Several art galleries will be hosting special exhibitions, as will the Vallejo Naval & Historical Museum.

A full schedule of all activities and events along with details may be found on the Festival homepage. All events are FREE, except the River Cruises, but please register for tickets online via the website, to help us plan for audience size.

7.   Last Push for Land & Water Conservation Fund
          Reauthorization in Congress
          (ACTION ITEM)

As we’ve reported over the last several years, the Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), established in 1965, provides funding for land acquisition for parks and other recreation and preservation purposes. The funding comes from royalties paid on offshore oil and gas development. No taxes are involved. The LWCF has been authorized to spend up to $900 million a year, though Congress has only rarely appropriated the full amount, although it is one of the most popular programs—almost every congressional district has benefitted.

The LWCF is due to expire at the end of September 2018 unless it is reauthorized. To date, Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) has refused to allow any legislation through the House Natural Resources Committee, despite the fact that a bill, H.R. 502, by Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Ranking Member (most senior in the Minority) on the Committee, has 232 cosponsors.

All California Democrats have signed on as cosponsors, but only one Republican. The following are good possibilities still:

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

If you live in one of their districts, please call them and ask them to cosponsor H.R. 502. (Or if you know anyone who lives in their districts, ask them to call.)

Our friends at the Center for Western Prioritieshave produced a comprehensive report on the LWCF, A data-driven look at the Land and Water Conservation Fund’s recent accomplishments and what’s at stake in 2018, along with a map of LWCF-funded projectsfrom 2014 – 2017.

8.   Mountain Bikes in Wilderness Survey
          DEADLINE: September 20
          (ACTION ITEM)

The use of mountain bikes in wilderness is an issue that never seems to go away. CalUWild believes that the Wilderness Act has always been clear in prohibiting them, via the language that states: “[T]here shall be no temporary road, no use of motor vehicles, motorized equipment or motorboats, no landing of aircraft, no other form of mechanical transport, and no structure or installation within any such area (emphasis ours).” Some in the mountain biking community disagree with that interpretation. The International Mountain Biking Association(IMBA), however, does not support opening up existing wilderness areas to biking, nor does it advocate for amending the Wilderness Act, though it does believe that mountain biking as an appropriate form of recreation in wild places. IMBA does support new wilderness designations where they don’t conflict with existing trails.

The following arrived just yesterday from our friends at Wilderness Watch. If you are a mountain biker and interested in the issue, please fill it out before September 20.

The issue of opening Wilderness areas to mountain bikes has generated a lot of controversy in recent years, as has the conflicts between new wilderness designations and mountain biking. These issues have split the mountain biking community between those who want more access and those who lean toward greater protection for wildlands.

The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) has initiated the National Mountain Biking Surveyseeking the diverse opinions of America’s mountain bikers to understand their habits, access to trails, and levels of engagement.

Up until September 20, anyone and everyone who rides a mountain bike—from the professional to the casual—is encouraged to take the survey. Wilderness Watch strongly opposes efforts to open Wilderness to mountain bikes—and advocates for more protection for wildlands—and we believe it’s important for our members and other wildland supporters to share your views on this survey.

The survey is a joint effort among the IMBA, the SRAM Cycling Fund and Ohio University. The survey is open to U.S. residents ages 18 and older. The survey may only be taken once per person and answers will be anonymous.

According to the IMBA, while much is known about the habits and priorities of passionate and engaged mountain bikers, much less is understood about the experiences and desires of those who ride only occasionally and casually, and those who might not even ride at all but are interested peripherally in mountain biking.

Aside from user experience, IMBA also asks about what respondents believe are the biggest threats to gaining trail access, about electric-mountain bikes (e-MTB) use on mountain bike trails, and views on bike access in federal Wilderness Areas, which is prohibited in the Wilderness Act of 1964.

IMBA will own the data and says they will use it to guide their efforts. A high-level summary of the findings will made available online via IMBA.comafter late October 2018.

Link to survey, which closes 9/20:

9.   Links to Articles 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.

The Administration and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke

An article in E&E Newsabout a Secty. Zinke’s reaction at a protest in Colorado: Zinke tussles with Colo. protester: ‘You haven’t served’. The Western States Director for the Vet Voice Foundation made a pointed reply: “Secretary Zinke’s insinuation that military service is a prerequisite for having a voice is insulting…” Read the entire statement here. The Vet Voice Foundationhas been a stalwart ally these last few years in various campaigns to protect public lands in the West, as places of healing and peace for veterans.

An article in The Guardian: US interior secretary’s school friend crippling climate research, scientists say

An article in The Hill: Zinke hires Endangered Species Act critic for senior post

CNN reports: “Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke held nearly 50 official meetings in May and June that, in sharp contrast to previous months, were so vaguely described on his official calendar that the public is unable to tell what he was doing or with whom he was meeting.” Read the complete article: Latest Zinke calendars stripped of most details about his meetings

An article in the Washington Post: Top interior staffer who backed shrinking national monuments to join BP

An op-ed in High Country News: Zinke is letting corporations profit off our national parks

Public lands in general

An op-ed by Nicholas Kristof of the New York Timeson the last installment of his six-year exploration of the Pacific Crest Trail with his daughter: Six Years, Four Feet, 2,650 Miles

Good news for sage grouse populations living in the Bodie Hills: US Judge Reinstates Proposed Listing Of Bi-state Sage Grouse

An article from the New York Timeson potential energy development in Utah: A Plan to Unlock Billions of Barrels of Oil From Utah’s Sands

An op-ed in the New York Timeson fires and logging, by Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club, and Chad Hanson of the John Muir Project: Using Wildfires as an Excuse to Plunder Forests

An article in Outside: Yosemite Finally Reckons with Its Discriminatory Past

An op-ed in the New York Times: Summer Road-Tripping While Black

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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