Newsletter Archive

In the Needles District, Canyonlands National Park, Utah                                                                            (Mike Painter)

September 30, 2020

Dear CalUWild friends and supporters—

The political world has been focused on the upcoming presidential and congressional elections and now the Supreme Court, too, with the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The importance of voting has never been more critical. Here’s voter information from our July Update:

California does a good job running and monitoring elections. 2020, however, has been a strange year, and it is a good idea to check one’s voter registration status in advance. The California Secretary of State has a website set up where you can do just that:

Residents of California and other states can check also their status here:


Turbovote will also send you notifications about any election changes in your community (and you can unsubscribe at any time. It’s FREE.)

If you do vote by mail, please make sure you give yourself adequate time both to receive and return your ballot. (And let your Representatives and Senators in Congress know that they need to support the U.S. Postal Service.)

It’s not all bleak news, though, as you’ll see in ITEM 1. And we had good news some weeks ago: Radius Gold, the company proposing exploratory drilling on the California side of the Bodie Hills, is abandoning its plans for now. That doesn’t mean the threat is completely gone, but it gives us time to focus more on education and other issues in the Hills.

As always, thanks for your interest and support,

1.    BLM Acting Director Pendley Removed
          From Position by Court Order
2.    3 New California Cosponsors for 30×30 Resolution
          (ACTION ITEM)

3.    Point Reyes National Seashore
          Plan Supports Continued Ranching
          (ACTION ITEM)
4.    7th Annual Visions of the Wild Festival

5.    Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest


1.    BLM Acting Director Pendley Removed
          From Position by Court Order

Last Friday, a Federal District judge in Montana ruled that William Perry Pendley, Acting Director of the Bureau of Land Management, has been holding his position illegally, in violation of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act. The court ordered him removed immediately, and the ruling was not stayed pending appeal.

This is the result of a lawsuit filed in July by Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) in response to actions taken by BLM in Montana. (At least two other lawsuits have filed against Mr. Pendley and his tenure.)

As we wrote in ITEM 2b of last month’s Update, Mr. Pendley was a controversial figure even before he was appointed. He had a history of opposing the concept of federal public lands—claiming that the Founders intended for all federal lands to be sold—and had made disparaging remarks about Indigenous peoples, among other things.

He was appointed first as Acting Director, then nominated to be the permanent Director. However, that nomination was withdrawn when it became clear that the Senate was not likely to confirm him in the face of opposition from the public and conservation groups. He then signed a “succession order” for BLM giving himself a position with all the duties and powers of the Director, without actually being the director, to last indefinitely. The judge dismissed this arrangement, saying it:

represents a distinction without a difference. Such arguments prove evasive and undermine the constitutional system of checks and balances. … The President cannot shelter unconstitutional “temporary” appointments for the duration of his presidency through a matryoshka doll of delegated authorities.”

(Matryoshka dolls are Russian nesting dolls.)

Mr. Pendley had been at the head of BLM for 424 days, far longer than the 210 days allowed by the law for “acting” appointments. Interior Secretary Bernhardt extended Mr. Pendley’s appointment four times, despite the fact that the president is the one who is supposed to make the appointment and Senate confirmation is required. In addition, once nominated for a position, a person is not allowed to be in an “acting” capacity, which he also did while the formal nomination was still pending. The judge wrote that Mr. Pendley’s “tenure did not follow any permissible paths for appointment to the office.”

The judge has asked for a listing of actions BLM that has taken might be invalidated, and of course, those outside Montana would be invalid, as well. Possibilities include oil & gas leasing plans, the move of BLM headquarters to Grand Junction Colorado, and more.

You may read the judge’s ruling here.

The administration has used this type of appointment in other agencies as well.

We’ll keep you posted on developments.

Other BLM issues in the press: An article in The Hill: Interior watchdog: top officials misled Congress on BLM relocation out West

2.    3 New California Cosponsors for 30×30 Resolution
          (ACTION ITEM)

We wrote in last month’s Update about H. Res. 835, the 30×30 Resolution introduced in Congress, expressing support for the protection of 30% of the U.S. land base by the year 2030. Three more California representatives signed on as cosponsors this month:

Barbara Lee (D-13)
Jackie Speier (D-14)
Anna Eshoo (D-18)

That brings the California total to seven out of our 53 representatives. (There are 24 cosponsors nationally, meaning that there’s lots of work ahead!) Please call your representative to thank them or ask them to sign on as cosponsors. A list of California representatives and their DC office phone numbers is on our Congressional Information page.

Our friends at the Center for Western Priorities have put together a website with information about the campaign and various strategies to achieve the goal.

3.    Point Reyes National Seashore
          Plan Supports Continued Ranching
          (ACTION ITEM)

This month, Point Reyes National Seashore released its long-awaited General Management Plan Amendment for ranching. Despite the fact that more than 90% of the comments received from the public opposed continued ranching in the Seashore, the Park Service unsurprisingly chose its Preferred Alternative.

As we wrote in our August 2019 Update:

The … Preferred Alternative proposes to protect cattle ranching at the expense of wildlife, specifically Tule Elk, and the overall landscape. While much of the press reaction has centered around the killing Tule Elk when they come in conflict with cattle, equally (if not more) important is the proposal to allow ranchers to remain permanently and actually increase their commercial operations at the Seashore to include the raising of other animals, such as turkeys and pigs, to allow growing vegetables and row crops, and to allow paying overnight guests at ranches.

In short, this is not a balanced plan. The Park Service is offering the ranchers almost everything they asked for during the scoping process, as set forth in a letter from the Ranchers Association, which you can read here. The environment and the general public get little or nothing out of the Plan.

Restore Point Reyes National Seashore, a project of Resource Renewal Institute in Marin County (and CalUWild’s fiscal sponsor), has an eight-minute film on its website about the Tule Elk and a list of possible actions to take, including writing to Rep. Jared Huffman (D-2), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D), the House Natural Resources and Senate Energy and Natural Resources committees, and Park Service officials. They also have talking points and a sign-on petition—all too much to include here.

So please go to their page for the film and suggested actions. (You can also sign up for a newsletter.) As always, when writing letters use the talking points but put them in your own words—and include your own personal experiences, for even greater impact.

Ken Brower, son of David Brower, Executive Director of the Sierra Club when Pres. John F. Kennedy signed the 1962 legislation creating Point Reyes NS (and Founding Member of CalUWild’s Advisory Board) wrote an essay recently: Reflections on the 58th Anniversary of the Point Reyes National Seashore. It’s worth reading to get a good perspective on the Seashore’s history and present situation.

4.    7th Annual Visions of the Wild Festival

Since 2014, the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, CalUWild has helped plan the Visions of the Wild Festival, featuring films and art, with Region 5 of the U.S. Forest Service and the Vallejo Community Arts Foundation. This year, the annual event focuses on 38° North, the latitude on which Vallejo lies, but which also turns out to be a significant marker around the world.

In years past events took place over a weekend in Vallejo, but circumstances have forced us into the virtual world. This has the obvious disadvantage of not gathering in person, but it’s also allowed for greater flexibility in scheduling events, arranging for speakers, showing films, and archiving events for later viewing. We are, however, hoping to have a scaled-down in-person event next spring, with art exhibitions and a possible concert, as in years past.

Future events include:

Thursday, October 1
Global Recycled Plastic Art Challenge – Launch Event

with Richard Lang and Judith Selby Lang, One Beach Plastic
Shannon & Kathy O’Hare, Obtainium Works

The “challenge” is for young people to rescue plastic trash of any shape or size and make art from it.

Wednesday, October 21
The 38th Parallel and the Silk Road

with Valerie Hansen, Ph.D.
Stanley Woodward Professor of History, Yale University

This talk will focus on the experiences of Buddhist monk-pilgrims who visited the oases of Niya and Khotan between AD 300 and 1000 and of Sir Aurel Stein, the British-Hungarian explorer and archeologist who excavated multiple sites on the Southern Silk Road in the early twentieth century.

Wednesday, November 18
Film: Carvalho’s Journey

with Steve Rivo, filmmaker
Robert Shlaer, daguerreotypist & author
Stephen Trimble, author & photographer (and CalUWild Advisory Board Member)

The film tells the story of Solomon Carvalho, the daguerreotypist who accompanied John C. Frémont’s fifth expedition along the 38th Parallel.

A previous event was scheduled after our August Update, went out, so we couldn’t announce it in advance, but the program is available on the Visions of the Wild website:

Online at Visions of the Wild
Traveling the 38th Parallel: A Water Line Around the World

with David & Janet Carle, authors of the book of that title

Fascinated with the ways in which we are all connected, especially by water, the authors set out on an around-the-world journey in search of water-related environmental and cultural intersections along the 38th parallel.

Registration is required for each event, separately, but all are FREE (though donations are appreciated). Follow the links for each at the Visions of the Wild homepage.

5.    Links to Articles and Other Items of

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.

In Utah

An op-ed in the Deseret News: The current federal leasing binge is damaging Utah’s economy

An article in the St. George News: ‘It’s just becoming awful’: Zion park officials try to deal with unprecedented amounts of graffiti

In California

An op-ed in The Guardian: Our land was taken. But we still hold the knowledge of how to stop mega-fires

An op-ed in the Los Angeles Times: Don’t believe self-serving messengers. Logging will not prevent destructive wildfires

A review of Exploring the Berryessa Region: A Geology, Nature and History Tour, a new guide book to the Berryessa region, part of the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument. One of the authors is CalUWild friend Bob Schneider.

In Alaska

An article in the New York Times about the Pebble Mine: An Alaska Mine Project Might Be Bigger Than Acknowledged

A follow-up article in the Washington Post: Alaska mining executive resigns a day after being caught on tape boasting of his ties to GOP politicians

An article in the New York Times: Trump Administration Releases Plan to Open Tongass Forest to Logging

In Nevada

An article in E&E News: BLM mum as Bundy continues to send cattle to market

In Wyoming

An article in the Billings Gazette: FOIA documents reveal Interior’s 2018 push to manage Yellowstone bison like cattle

In General

In the New York Times a review of the excellent film: ‘Public Trust’ Review: Saving National Lands. The film is being screened online by various conservation and film organizations and is also now available for public viewing on Patagonia’s YouTube page. (Search for “Public Trust Feature Film” if it’s no longer near the top of the listings.) The filmmaker, David Garrett Byars, also made the film No Man’s Land, dealing with the takeover of the Malheur Nation Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

On the environmental news site Mongabay: Can public lands unify divided Americans? An interview with John Leshy. We’ve included article and op-eds by Mr. Leshy in the past. He was General Counsel at the Department of the Interior during Pres. Bill Clinton’s terms.

An article in Hatch Magazine: The end of dispersed camping?

An article in the Washington Post: This Thai national park was tired of visitors leaving trash, so the government mailed it back to them. (It might be worth a try here!)


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