Newsletter Archive

Light in Kolob Canyon                                                                                                                          (Patrick Dengate)

November 28, 2018

Dear CalUWild friends—

We hope you had a nice Thanksgiving holiday, remembering our good fortune to have such a wide variety and expanses of federal public lands, including Wilderness, here in the West.

CalUWild celebrates its 21st Anniversary this month. We are thankful for the support of all our members, some since the very beginning!

Was your INBOX filled with funding appeals yesterday for Giving Tuesday? We decided to hold off a day sending out this Update, so it wouldn’t get lost in the pile. Though dues are not required, we still need member contributions as well. We are in the process of sending out our annual member appeal over the next couple weeks, either by US Mail or email. Please contribute if you can.

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, CalUWild’s fiscal sponsor. Please print out and enclose a membership form if your address is not on the check. Either way, mail it to:

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

Thanks to everyone who has already sent in gifts; it saves on printing and postage.

As we’ve mentioned before, you can also support CalUWild by buying art! Patrick Dengate, whose painting appears above, is generously contributing 50% of the proceeds from paintings he sells to CalUWild. You can see some of the ones he’s offered here. Check out his website for more and to contact him.

Another CalUWild friend, Margie Lopez Read, 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.

Thanks again for all your interest and support. We’re looking forward to the years and challenges ahead!

Best wishes,

1.   Emery County Bill Update
          (ACTION ITEM)
2.    Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
          Management Planning Comments Due
          DEADLINE: Friday, Nov. 30
          (ACTION ITEM)
3.   Congressional Amicus Brief Filed
          In National Monuments Lawsuits
          Thank You Calls Needed
          (ACTION ITEM)

4.   Point Reyes National Seashore
          Ranch Management Planning
          Scoping Comments Due
          DEADLINE: Friday, Nov. 30
          (ACTION ITEM)

5.   Brief Election Summary
6.   Park Service Fee-Free Days Announced for 2019

7.   Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest


1.   Emery County Bill Update
          (ACTION ITEM)

We’ve written in detail previously (in our September Update and May Update) about H.R. 5727, Rep. Curtis’s (R-UT) “Not-So-Swell” bill for Emery County and its companion bill in the Senate, Sen. Hatch’s (R-UT) S. 2809.

With the election over, there is concern that the Utah delegation will try to get the bill passed in the lame duck session. The main objections to this bill are:

•   The bill protects only 1/3 of the lands eligible for wilderness designation, with important areas such as Muddy Creek, parts of Labyrinth Canyon, and the San Rafael Badlands left out.

•   It conveys management authority over federal land to the State of Utah for recreational uses around Goblin Valley, including the popular Crack and Chute canyons.

•   The House version contains a land exchange provision in the Ute Reservation that the Ute Tribe itself opposes.

So it’s important, once again, to let your representatives know that it’s a controversial bill and should not be passed in its present form. And unfortunately, Rep. Curtis has shown little interest in incorporating changes suggested by the conservation community. He has frozen us out just about every step of the way.

Contact information for the House may be found by following the links here and for the Senate, here.

When you call, please include the Thank You discussed in Item 3 if your representative is on the list there.

2.   Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
          Management Planning Comments Due
          DEADLINE: Friday, Nov. 30
          (ACTION ITEM)

The comment period for the shrunken Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument ends this Friday,   November 30. Please submit your comments! They are especially pertinent if you have visited either area or hope to some day.

Item 1 in our August-September Update contains detailed talking points and the links and addresses for commenting on the plan. Please refer to it.

As we reported last month, an additional, important issue came to light recently—the Bureau of Land Management is proposing to re-open the Escalante River corridor to cattle grazing. There are two equally important reasons for opposing this proposal. The first is ecological: the corridor has undergone a tremendous amount of habitat restoration, removing non-native invasive plants such as Russian olive and tamarisk. Allowing renewed grazing would cause irreparable damage to the restored landscape. The second reason is both economic and equity-based: Years ago the Grand Canyon Trust purchased grazing permits from willing ranchers in order to remove cattle and retire the allotments permanently. BLM should not be allowed to circumvent those buyouts now. If you’ve already submitted a comment, please submit a supplemental comment on this issue. It’s important.

To comment online, it’s best to create a text file first and then PASTE it into the comment box here. Follow the 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

3.   Congressional Amicus Brief Filed
          In National Monuments Lawsuits
          Thank You Calls Needed
          (ACTION ITEM)

There’s not much we can do to support the litigation over the reductions in the Utah national monuments, but this month 118 Representatives and Senators took the unusual step of signing their names to amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs, circulated by Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM).

The briefs were in support of the Plaintiffs’ main legal argument—one with which most legal scholars seem to agree: Only Congress has the authority to reduce national monuments. The language of the Antiquities Act itself only grants the president authority to designate monuments, not reduce them. Additionally, the Federal Lands Policy Management Act specifically says that the power is reserved to Congress.

Given the Constitution’s grant of authority to Congress to “make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory … belonging to the United States,” these cases have a strong separation of powers component. It is important that Congress is standing up for its rightful authority, especially when the Executive Branch attempts to usurp any of it.

The following Representatives from California signed on:

Jared Huffman (D-2)
John Garamendi (D-3)
Mike Thompson (D-5)
Jerry McNerney (D-9)
Mark DeSaulnier (D-11)
Nancy Pelosi (D-12)
Barbara Lee (D-13)
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-14)
Anna Eshoo (D-18)
Zoe Lofgren (D-19)
Jimmy Panetta (D-20)
Salud Carbajal (D-24)
Judy Chu (D-27)
Ted Lieu (D-33)
Grace Napolitano (D-32)
Jimmy Gomez (D-34)
Raul Ruiz (D-36)
Karen Bass (D-37)
Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-40)
Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-44)
Alan Lowenthal (D-47)
Susan Davis (D-53)

If you live in one of their districts, please contact their offices to say Thank You!

Both Senators Dianne Feinstein (D) and Kamala Harris (D) signed on, as well and deserve a Thank You, too.

Contact information for the House may be found by following the links here and for the Senate, here.

A full list of signers may be found at the end of Sen. Udall’s press release, which also contains further details about the briefs, including links to their full texts.

Though not directly related to the litigation, National Parks Traveler ran an editorial: Bears Ears And Grand Staircase-Escalante Are Today’s Hetch Hetchy.

4.   Point Reyes National Seashore
          Ranch Management Planning
          Scoping Comments Due
          DEADLINE: Friday, Nov. 30
          (ACTION ITEM)

This month, Point Reyes National Seashore announced a 30-day scoping period on an amendment to its General Management Plan, covering ranch and Tule Elk management.

The timing is very short on this, and we have not been able to develop a comprehensive set of talking points, so this item may only be relevant to people who already have some knowledge of the issues involved. We discussed some of this in our August-September Update. There will be an opportunity to comment on the Draft Plan when it’s released, and we will try to have more specific suggestions then.

Dairy and beef cattle ranching has a long history at Pt. Reyes, dating back to the 1800s. When the Seashore was established in the 1960s, there was opposition from the ranching families, but in the end they agreed to a buyout-leaseback arrangement with the National Park Service. It was never the intent that ranching would continue indefinitely, though some people are claiming that now. In fact, there is no mention of ranching as being a purpose for the establishment of the Seashore in its enabling legislation:

In order to save and preserve, for purposes of public recreation, benefit, and inspiration, a portion of the diminishing seashore of the United States that remains undeveloped, the Secretary of the Interior (hereinafter referred to as the “Secretary”) is authorized to take appropriate action in the public interest toward the establishment of the national seashore.

Legislation was later passed giving the ranchers leases for 25 years or for the life of the rancher, whichever was longer. Rep. Jared Huffman’s (D-2) bill,   H.R. 6687, which we discussed in our August-September Update, is attempting to codify the revised intent.

In the 1970s, Tule Elk were released into areas of the Seashore, and there are now conflicts with the cattle operations. So the management plan will be addressing this as well.

The Park Service has released a proposal for scoping that includes six different alternatives (one of which is   “No Action,” meaning things would stay as they are). You can read about them here. The Park Service describes them as ranging from

twenty-year agricultural lease/permits with diversification and increased operational flexibility, to reduced ranching, no dairy ranching, and no ranching alternatives. The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will also include a range of alternatives for the management of tule elk in the planning area, from elimination to active management to expansion of the Drakes Beach herd.

A couple of suggestions for comments:

•   Regarding Alternative B, “Continued Ranching and Management of the Drakes Beach Tule Elk Herd (NPS Proposed Action):” No expansion of commercial activities should be allowed. Ranchers have proposed having overnight stays, growing different kinds of crops and introducing other types of animals to their farms. These should not be allowed in the name of “ranch operational flexibility and diversification.”

•   Alternative C, “Continued Ranching and Removal of the Drakes Beach Tule Elk Herd,” should not be considered at all. It’s antithetical to the purpose of a national park.

Comments may be submitted online at   or by mailing or hand delivering comments to:

GMP Amendment c/o Superintendent
Point Reyes National Seashore
1 Bear Valley Road
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956

For more information, please see the GMP Amendment Frequently Asked Questions, the GMP Amendment website, or Point Reyes National Seashore’s website:

More general information may be found at

5.   Brief Election Summary

After this month’s election, we have hope that the next Congress will be friendlier to land protection and oversight of the administration. It’s likely that Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) will be chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee. He’s a stalwart defender of America’s public lands and will be a welcome change from Utah’s Rep. Rob Bishop (R). (The Salt Lake Tribune ran an article on Mr. Bishop’s new status.)

In other welcome news, there is now a Diné (Navajo) majority on the San Juan County Commission, home to the Bears Ears National Monument. This was due to a court redrawing districts in the county. Diné are a slight majority of residents in the county and now hold two of the three seats on the Commission

Finally, in California, long-time senator Dianne Feinstein (D) was re-elected. She’s been a champion of the Mojave Desert (among other places) for many years. In the House, it looks like 45 of California’s 53 seats will be held by Democrats, who have been far more supportive of public lands protection than the GOP in recent years. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-12, San Francisco) will likely be the next Speaker of the House, and Kevin McCarthy (R-23, Bakersfield) will be House Minority Leader—so two Californians in the highest positions.

As we’ve said before, though, CalUWild is not a partisan organization. Party affiliations are included for identification purposes only. However, we do regret that land conservation has become such a highly partisan issue in Congress.

Here are links to some articles discussing the elections, Native American representation, and public lands:

In The Guardian: ‘They’re playing dirty’: Can Navajos win power after racial exclusion?

In High Country News: In southern Utah, Navajo voters rise to be heard

An article in Outside: In New Mexico, Public Lands Turned an Election Blue

6.   Park Service Fee-Free Days Announced for 2019

The Park Service announced that there will be five days in 2019 when entrance fees to all sites in the system will be waived. They are:

Monday, January 21 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Saturday, April 20 – First Day of National Park Week/
National Junior Ranger Day
Sunday, August 25 – National Park Service Anniversary
Saturday, September 28 – National Public Lands Day
Monday, November 11 – Veterans Day

The annual $80 America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass allows unlimited entrance to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas, including all national parks. There are also free or discounted passes available for senior citizens, current members of the U.S. military, families of fourth grade students, and disabled citizens.

7.   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.

The Interior Department & Secty. Zinke

An   article in The Guardian: The Zinke effect: how the US interior department became a tool of big business, with an op-ed the same day by Joel Clements, the scientist who resigned in protest, rather than be transferred to a position he was unqualified for: Interior department whistleblower: Ryan Zinke hollowed out the agency

From the Washington Post: Newly released emails suggest Zinke contradicted ethics pledge

A letter to the editor in the Washington Post from the Managing Director of the Vet Voice Foundation. Vet Voice has a been a strong supporter of the national monuments campaigns and public lands in general. It’s good to have them on our side! Zinke doesn’t represent the values of military veterans

The Washington Post reports: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke remains defiant amid ethics probes

An article/interview in the Washington Post about David Bernhardt, the Assistant Secretary of the Interior, considered the likely secretary should Ryan Zinke leave at some point: ‘The man behind the curtain’: Interior’s No. 2 helps drive Trump’s agenda

An article in the New York Times: Energy Speculators Jump on Chance to Lease Public Land at Bargain Rates

Public Lands in General

An article in the New York Times: Scientists Warn That World’s Wilderness Areas Are Disappearing

An in-depth report by The Guardian: Crisis in our national parks: how tourists are loving nature to death. The statistics on the number of visitors are astounding.

An article in the New York Times: ‘Entering Burn Area’: Yosemite After the Fire

An article in the Sacramento Bee about SB 50, one of the laws passed to protect public lands in California from sales by the federal government: Trump scores victory over California in latest court battle over land

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