Newsletter Archive

Lehman Caves, Great Basin National Park, Utah                                                                                          (Mike Painter)

October 30, 2020

Dear CalUWild friends—

There are two formal ACTION ITEMS this month. You will notice that they have extremely short deadlines, due to their 14-day comment periods. This is just one example of the administration’s efforts to limit public participation to an unprecedented degree. (Voter suppression isn’t their only tool, unfortunately.) Please, comment if you can!

There’s an informal ACTION ITEM, too, if you haven’t already done it. That is: VOTE! As everyone knows that there is a lot at stake for our public lands and many other issues as well, so I won’t belabor the point. Here is relevant voter information:

California has same-day registration at polling places, where you can cast a conditional ballot, so if you’re not registered yet, you can still vote.

You can vote in person or drop off your mail-in ballot at official voting and drop-off locations and also at your neighborhood polling place until closing time on November 3. The postmark deadline is also November 3 if you decide to mail it in.

The California Secretary of State has a website where you can track the status of your ballot.

Other states my have different procedures, so if you’re not in California, please verify what you need to do.

Other issues that we’ve covered in past Updates may be found in ITEM 5.

November marks CalUWild’s 23rd Anniversary. We’re a proud member of a coalition of groups across the West and nationally, working to protect wilderness and other public lands from development, for the enjoyment of all Americans.

November is also the beginning of CalUWild’s Annual Membership Appeal. Dues have never been required to receive CalUWild’s Monthly Update, but we do rely on the support of our readers. If you’d like to help us save on printing and postage expenses for our mailing, you can send in a contribution ahead of time. More information is at the bottom of this Update.

Many thanks for your interest and support over the years!

1.   Save Labyrinth Canyon from Industrial Development
          DEADLINE: November 4
          (ACTION ITEM)

2.   BLM Issues Seismic Testing Permits in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
          DEADLINE: November 6
          (ACTION ITEM)

3.   7th Annual Visions of the Wild Festival Continues
4.   Film: My Canyonlands: The Adventurous Life of Kent Frost

5.   Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest


1.   Save Labyrinth Canyon from Industrial Development
          DEADLINE: November 4
          (ACTION ITEM)

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued a Draft Environmental Assessment for exploratory drilling for helium inside newly-designated wilderness in Emery County.

The following alert came in from our friends at the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance just as this Update was being written. It has a short comment period, with the deadline being Wednesday, November 4, so I’m including it here, verbatim. I’m also including the link to their page for submitting comments directly, as well as the pages on the BLM website if you want more information or if you want to submit comments there.

Save Labyrinth Canyon from Industrial Development!

One month before the largest wilderness bill of the last ten years was passed (the Emery County Public Land Management Act, signed into law as part of the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act on March 12, 2019), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rushed to issue a lease to drill in the heart of the Labyrinth Canyon Wilderness, which was formally designated as wilderness by the Dingell Act.

The BLM had full knowledge that lands encompassing the leased area would soon be designated as wilderness—but went ahead and issued the lease anyway. SUWA protested that decision but the BLM’s state director rejected our challenge.

Now, the agency has prepared a draft environmental assessment (EA) to approve a helium drilling project on this lease inside the wilderness. The public comment period is open through November 4, 2020.

If allowed to proceed, the project will involve months of extensive construction in this remarkably quiet and remote place, including, at a minimum, road improvements (upgrading and graveling of existing two-tracks), well pad construction (5-7 acres of disturbance), pipelines, infrastructure on the well pad, and construction of a 10-acre processing facility on nearby Utah school trust lands. The project developer plans to drill at least two wells for helium, which requires a federal oil and gas lease to develop and which will have many of the same on-the-ground impacts as conventional oil and gas drilling.

The Labyrinth Canyon section of the Green River, which was designated under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act as a “Scenic” segment, is one of the most iconic, remote, and world-renowned river segments in the United States.

Please contact the BLM today and tell them:

— Labyrinth Canyon Wilderness is too special to drill (this includes the wilderness area itself as well as the adjacent Labyrinth Canyon Scenic segment of the Green River).

— The area is very remote, quiet, and scenic, and industrialization of the area will significantly degrade—or destroy—these values.

— Both the lease and this last-minute rush to approve development before a potential change in presidential administration highlights everything that is wrong with the Trump administration’s “energy dominance” agenda.

P.S. This Salt Lake Tribune article has more detail on how this lease was slipped in during the 11th hour before Labyrinth Canyon was designated as wilderness.

Use the talking points above to comment directly to BLM here or through SUWA’s website. Whichever you choose, use your own words, and if you’ve been in the area, talk about your experiences.

The Washington Post mentioned the project and featured a picture of the area in an article today: Trump rolled back more than 125 environmental safeguards. Here’s how.

If you’re interested in more details and documents, BLM’s page for the project is here.

2.   BLM Issues Seismic Testing Permits in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
          DEADLINE: November 6
          (ACTION ITEM)

This alert from our friends at Wilderness Watch came in even later than the previous one, so we are simply providing a link to their information page and online comment form. Please submit a comment if you can, again using your own words. Thanks!

3.   7th Annual Visions of the Wild Festival Continues

Join us for a discussion about the film: Carvalho’s Journey

Wednesday, November 18
6:00 p.m. (PST)

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.

The event is free, but you need to register in advance here. More information about the film and the presentation may be found on the registration page. The film will be available for streaming online one week before the presentation. A link and password will be emailed to everyone who registers for the event.

Earlier presentations on travelling the 38th Parallel, a Global Plastic Art Challenge, and the Silk Road are archived on the Visions of the Wild homepage. Two other upcoming events on Tajikistan and land art are scheduled for December and January. Registration for those is open, too.

4.   Film: My Canyonlands: The Adventurous Life of Kent Frost

Here is an alternative to (or preparation for) watching election returns on November 3, from the Moab Museum:

Tuesday, November 3, 2020
5:30 p.m. PST – 6:30 p.m. PST

Tuesdays with the Museum presents a screening of the film My Canyonlands: The Adventurous Life of Kent Frost by filmmaker Chris Simon and a discussion with Jeff Frost, Kent’s nephew. Join us online to enjoy the stunning footage and stories of Kent Frost’s incredible life as an adventurer and advocate for the canyonlands region of southeast Utah.

This free event will be held on Zoom and simulcast on Facebook Live. Join us on Zoom here:

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.

30×30 Initiative

Press Release: Governor Newsom Launches Innovative Strategies to Use California Land to Fight Climate Change, Conserve Biodiversity and Boost Climate Resilience, and text of his Executive Order.

An op-ed in Scientific American by New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall (D) and Prof. Subhankar Banerjee: We Must Mobilize to Avert a Lonely Earth

A “story map” from our friends at the Center for Western Priorities: Road to 30: Urban Conservation

An article in the New York Times: Europe Moves to Protect Nature, but Faces Criticism Over Subsidizing Farms

The Department of the Interior & Administration

As we reported last month, a federal judge in Montana ordered the Acting BLM Director William Perry Pendley removed from his position. A follow-up article in the New York Times: Judges Tell Trump His Officials Are Serving Illegally. He Does Nothing.

An article in the Casper Star Tribune: High-ranking public lands official says he’s still on the job during visit to Wyoming

An article in Courthouse News: Federal Judge Nullifies Actions Taken by Acting BLM Director

An article in National Parks Traveler: PEER Claims Acting Park Service Director Is Serving Illegally. PEER claims the same legal rationale applies as with BLM.

An article in The Hill: Interior ‘propaganda’ video and tweets may violate ethics laws, experts say

An article in National Parks Traveler: Interior Department Finalizes eBike Regulations For National Parks

A feature article in The Guardian’s “This land is your land” series: Revealed: the full extent of Trump’s ‘meat cleaver’ assault on US wilderness

For anyone interested in an in-depth analysis of the administration’s public land policies, an article by the Harvard Law School Environmental & Energy Law Program: Managing Public Lands Under the Trump Administration and Beyond

Every Kid in a Park program for 4th graders extended and expanded: Veterans, Gold Star families, 5th graders to get free entry to national parks


An article in the San Francisco Chronicle: Yosemite gets new superintendent in bid for stability at the national park. Cicely Muldoon was the superintendent at Pt. Reyes National Seashore before being appointed as acting superintendent at Yosemite, her position now being made permanent.


An article in the Los Angeles Times: Pebble Mine developer promised riches, but expects $1.5-billion subsidy from Alaskans. Ronald Thiessen, chief executive of Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd., said in recordings made by environmentalists posing as potential investors that the $5.5 billion project would need money from the state.

A Washington Post story: Trump to strip protections from Tongass National Forest, one of the biggest intact temperate rainforests


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