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On Cedar Mesa, Bears Ears National Monument, Utah                                                                (Mike Painter)

 
March 3, 2020

Dear CalUWild friends—

There’s a lot going on these days with the presidential primaries and public health concerns. The public lands front is no less busy. Here is some of the latest news, with a few ways for you to make your voices heard.

Thanks as always for your interest and support!

 
Best wishes,
Mike

 
IN UTAH
1.   Red Rock Bill Reintroduced in the House
          (ACTION ITEM)
2.   New Management Plans Released for Shrunken
          Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments

IN CALIFORNIA
3.   Four California Bills Included in Public Lands Package
          That Passed the House
          (ACTION ITEM)
4.   Friends of the Inyo Is Hiring

IN NEVADA
5.   Friends of Nevada Wilderness Is Hiring

IN GENERAL
6.   Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act Introduced

IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
7.   Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest

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IN UTAH
1.   Red Rock Bill Reintroduced in the House
          (ACTION ITEM)

Last month Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-47) of Long Beach reintroduced the House version of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act. The bill number is H.R. 5775.

It already has 63 cosponsors, with 14 from California, including Rep. Lowenthal. Cosponsorship from California representatives is especially important to show home-state support for Rep. Lowenthal and his bill.

Please see CalUWild’s online California Congressional Information Sheet for a current list of cosponsors. They are marked with an “X” in the left-most column under UTAH. If your representative has cosponsored, please call them to say Thank You. If they haven’t, call them asking them to become cosponsors. (The next column indicates whether they have cosponsored previously. If they have, there is a good chance they will do so again.)

The Senate version of the bill, S. 3056, was introduced by longtime champion Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL). Please call Sen. Kamala Harris (D) asking her to become a cosponsor.

Contact information for the Washington, DC offices of all California representatives and senators may be found here.

A list of both House and Senate cosponsors nationwide may be found on the website of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance here. A detailed factsheet about H.R. 5775/S. 3056 may be found on their website here. Scott Groene, Executive Director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance wrote an op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune about the overall importance of the bill: Red Rock Wilderness Act drives Utah’s wilderness debate.

 
2.   New Management Plans Released for Shrunken
          Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments

Despite the fact that the administration’s reductions of both Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments are being litigated in federal court, the Bureau of Land Management released its management plans for the monuments in February. As expected, they offer no real protection for the landscapes or those objects and values for which the monuments were designated. Here are some of the major issues in each.

Bears Ears

There is no inventory of cultural resources, and most decisions regarding activities in the monument will be put off for at least two years. Target shooting is allowed, except at “all rock writing sites.” The plan designates 14 sites for public use and development, including sites that are already subject to heavy use. In the draft plan, “human waste” was to have been carried out, but that provision was changed to requiring burial 4-6” deep, away from water, and outside developed recreation facilities. The recreation plan is to be developed three years after the cultural plan, i.e., at least five years from now. Mechanical vegetation treatment, often known as “chaining,” to remove piñon and juniper forests for cattle grazing, is allowed throughout the monument. Lands with wilderness characteristics will henceforth be managed as multiple-use areas.

Grand Staircase-Escalante

Areas removed from the monument are known as the Kanab-Escalante Planning Area (KEPA). All areas in KEPA are open for mineral and energy development. Vegetation management (see above) is allowed everywhere, and the planting of non-native species is allowed for “range health.” (BLM has, however, in recent months withdrawn four very large chaining proposals in the monument in response to public outcry.) Casual collection of fossils is allowed everywhere in KEPA, though not in the remaining monument. Again, lands with wilderness characteristics will be managed as multiple-use areas. Areas previously closed to cattle grazing are reopened, although one improvement from the draft plan is that grazing will not be allowed in the Escalante River corridor, with the exception of some river access points, where cattle can drink.

 
All in all, the plans are not good for resource protection, though many projects will require further planning and opportunities for public input. Also, energy prices are low currently, so there is not much interest in exploration at this point. Our hope is that the litigation against the rollbacks of the monuments is successful, which would nullify these plans. The New York Times and the Associated Press ran articles about the new plans:

From the Times: Trump Opens National Monument Land to Energy Exploration

And from the AP: Trump administration moves ahead on shrinking Utah monuments

A literally last-minute addition to this Update is this op-ed in the New York Times by John Leshy, former General Counsel at the Department of the Interior when the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was designated: A Trump Plan Breaks a Great Deal for Ranchers and Park Lovers. Mr. Leshy discusses the monument plan and its relationship to the legislation discussed in ITEM 6, below.

We’ll keep you informed as things develop further.

 
IN CALIFORNIA
3.   Four California Bills Included in Public Lands Package
          That Passed the House of Representatives
          (ACTION ITEM)

The last few months we’ve written about three California public lands bills for Northwest California (Huffman, D-2), the Central Coast (Carbajal, D-24), and the San Gabriel Mountains (Chu, D-27). They had all passed the House Natural Resources Committee. In March, they were combined into one package, along with a fourth California bill, the Rim of the Valley proposal from Rep. Adam Schiff (D-28); the Colorado Wilderness Act, sponsored by Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO); and the Wild Olympics (Washington) bill. The overall bill, H.R. 2546, was sponsored by Rep. DeGette, and the vote in the House was 231-183. Six Republicans (though none from California) joined all the Democrats in voting “yea.” The “nay” votes all came from Republicans.

Altogether some 1.3 million acres were designated as wilderness, and more than 1,000 miles of rivers were designated Wild & Scenic.

California Sen. Kamala Harris (D) immediately introduced a companion bill in the Senate, S. 3288, for the four California bills, with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) as an original cosponsor. The original bills and the combined one (brown column) are listed on our website here under the California heading. Please call both senators and your representatives to say Thank You.

 
4.   Friends of the Inyo Is Hiring

This just came in today: Friends of the Inyo is hiring seasonal “Trail Ambassadors” for summer work in the Eastern Sierra—Inyo, Humboldt-Toiyabe, and Sierra National Forests. The application deadline is March 16. Follow the link here for the job description and more information.

 
IN NEVADA
5.   Friends of Nevada Wilderness Is Hiring

Our friends at Friends of Nevada Wilderness have several positions open: full-time, part-time, and seasonal. Click here for more details.

 
IN GENERAL
6.   Bill Introduced to Allow Buyouts of Grazing Allotments

Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) has introduced a bill in the House to make it easier to permanently retire grazing allotments on public lands. The Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act, H.R. 5737, would allow permit holders to sell those permits for market value to private parties. The buyers could then direct the appropriate federal agency to retire the allotment permanently. Present law requires congressional authorization for the retirement of any permits that have been bought.

 
IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
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.

Utah

An article in the Washington Post: The Energy 202: Trump administration decides against drilling for oil under popular Utah bike trail

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune: Recapture Canyon case costs San Juan County $440,000

An op-ed in The Hill by Stephen Trimble, who is on CalUWild’s Advisory Board: Trump thinks wildland resources serve only as cash generators. Steve is also the editor of the recently-published The Capitol Reef Reader, available through your local bookseller or from Amazon.

California

An interesting article in the Los Angeles Times: It’s words, not bullets, for the ‘bear whisperer’ of the Eastern Sierra

Arizona

An article in the New York Times: Tribal Nation Condemns ‘Desecration’ to Build Border Wall

Colorado

An article in Colorado Politics: Report: Interior Department leased nearly 1 million acres prioritized for big game to oil, gas

An article in The Hill: BLM leadership expanded oil drilling in Colorado over local staff objections

In General

An article in the Washington Post: Judge voids nearly 1 million acres of oil and gas leases, saying Trump policy undercut public input

An article in The Guardian: Trump ‘turns back the clock’ by luring drilling companies to pristine lands

Colorado College’s 10th Annual Conservation in the West survey, showing continued majority support among Westerners for conservation and protection of public lands.

An op-ed in the New York Times: I Had a Gloriously Wild Childhood. That’s Why I Wrote ‘How to Train Your Dragon.’

 
 
 
 
 

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