Newsletter Archive

Petroglyphs, Utah                                                                                                                                    (Mike Painter)

New Year’s Eve, 2020

Dear CalUWild friends—

A tumultuous and stressful 2020 is drawing to a close, and a new year is beginning. Our hope is that 2021 will be a little bit more stable, with Joe Biden’s administration coming in and vaccines to help deal with our public health crisis. (We do need to get through the run-off elections in Georgia and the tabulation by Congress of the Electoral College votes, though …) A new Congress—the 117th—will be sworn in this weekend. We will post updated contact information on our website next month.

The good news for public lands is that President-elect Biden has indicated his interest in reversing many of the rollbacks of the current administration. We expect the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments to be restored. He promised a ban on new oil & gas leasing on public lands during the campaign. Other possibilities include reversing endangered species and NEPA regulations. But he will need the support of all of us to bring this all about.

Most notable in the transition was Mr. Biden’s choice of Rep. Debra Haaland (D-NM) to be Secretary of the Interior. As has been widely reported, Rep. Haaland will be the first Native American to serve as Interior Secretary. This is especially noteworthy because the Interior Department oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs and because it is only very recently that Native American voices have played any significant part in the discussions about public lands (as we know, originally inhabited by Indigenous peoples).

In addition, Rep. Haaland is committed to public lands protection. She is the lead sponsor of H.R. 1050, the ANTIQUITIES Act, which states clearly that only Congress may reduce a national monument, not a subsequent president. It also would restore the shrunken monument boundaries in Utah (and actually enlarge Bears Ears to it original proposed boundaries). She is also the lead House sponsor of H.Res. 835, the “30×30” resolution to protect 30% of America’s land and oceans by the year 2030.

The Washington Post ran this article: With historic picks, Biden puts environmental justice front and center, and this article was in The Guardian: ‘I’ll be fierce for all of us’: Deb Haaland on climate, Native rights and Biden.

Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris has also been a supporter of public lands protection, having introduced companion bill in the Senate for all the local wilderness and public lands House bills introduced for California.

We look forward to both women being strong voices for conservation in the Administration, and we will do what we can to give them the support needed to push ahead.

There are no Action Items this month and only a couple of announcements, but see IN THE PRESS for updates on several issues we’ve covered recently: A temporary halt to a helium project in Utah and denial of a proposed expansion of the Air Force’s Nevada Test & Training Range.

A big thank you to everyone who has contributed so far to CalUWild’s Annual Membership Appeal. Your support is invaluable. If you’d still like to contribute, please see the information at the end of this Update. As always, contributions are voluntary but appreciated.

Thank you for efforts and interest in protecting our Western Wilderness!

Best wishes for the new year to you and your families,
1.   7th Annual Visions of the Wild Festival Continues

2.   Job Listing: Wilderness Workshop
          DEADLINE: January 22, 2021

3.   Six fee-free days in 2021

4.   Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest


1.   7th Annual Visions of the Wild Festival Continues

Our exploration of the 38th Parallel continues with a discussion: Land Art

Wednesday, January 20
7:00 p.m. (PST)

with Bill Fox, director of the Center for Art + Environment at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno.

Two remote desert monuments along the 38th parallel inspired this program. Göbeklitepe in central Turkey is believed to be the oldest known temple. The 11,000-year-old massive carved stones predate Stonehenge by 6,000 years. And “City,” located in a remote corner of Nevada, is arguably the world’s largest sculpture. Artist Michael Heizer has been working on it for most of his adult life.

The event is free, but you need to register in advance here. More information about the presentation and links to several films may be found on the registration page.

Earlier presentations were on travelling the 38th Parallel, a Global Plastic Art Challenge, the Silk Road, daguerreotypist Solomon Carvalho, and Tajikistan are archived on the Visions of the Wild homepage. An upcoming event on the Sacramento River is scheduled for February 17. Registration for it is open here.

2.   Job Listing: Wilderness Workshop
          DEADLINE: January 22, 2021

Our friends at Wilderness Workshop in Carbondale are looking for a Field Director. Click here for full information.

3.   Six fee-free days in 2021

Mark your calendars! Six days in 2021 will be entrance-fee-free days in the National Park System:

Monday, January 18 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Saturday, April 17 – First Day of National Park Week
Wednesday, August 4 – One year anniversary of
          the Great American Outdoors Act
Wednesday, August 25 – National Park Service Birthday
Saturday, September 25 – National Public Lands Day
Thursday, November 11 – Veterans Day

The Bureau of Land Management has also announced six fee-free days, but they are somewhat different. You can see its schedule here.

4.   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 Old Administration

An article in the “This Land Is Your Land” series in The Guardian: Grand Junction is ‘darn hard to get to’: ranchers split on public lands agency’s move west

An article in the Washington Post: Interior Secretary David Bernhardt tests positive for coronavirus

In Utah

A Salt Lake Tribune article on a delay for the helium project we wrote about in our October Update, inside the newly-established Labyrinth Canyon Wilderness: Judge taps brakes on drilling in Utah wilderness on eve of federal OK

An article in the Deseret News: San Juan County Commission wants Biden to restore Bears Ears boundaries

I don’t make too many editorial comments about press articles, but the irony in this one from the Salt Lake Tribune is astounding: As Rep. Rob Bishop leaves Congress after 18 years, he says his biggest beef is no one there listens anymore. Rob Bishop was the biggest “non-listener” of them all. We won’t miss him.

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune: Federal land manager pulls plug on Utah tar sand lease because of conflict of interest.

In Indian Country

An article in High Country News: Trump’s impact on Indian Country over four years

A controlled demolition took down the 3 towers of the Navajo Generating Station in Page, Arizona. The coal-fired plant was a major contributor to haze and other air pollution across the Colorado Plateau. AZCentral reported on it: 3 massive coal stacks that long towered over Lake Powell demolished as crowds watched. The article contains a video. EcoFlight also took aerial video of the demolition, which you can watch on YouTube. Search for “Navajo Generating Station Demolished.”

In Nevada

Good news regarding the Desert National Wildlife Refuge, which we wrote about in our November Update an article in the Las Vegas Sun: Congress acts to shield Nevada public lands from ‘military seizure’. Although the National Defense Authorization Act was passed with veto-proof margins, Trump vetoes defense bill, teeing up holiday override votes in Congress as reported in the Washington Post. He was upset that the bill includes “provisions that fail to respect our veterans’ and military’s history,” presumably referring to requirements that the Defense Department changing the names of military installations named after Confederate figures.

In New Mexico

Good news reported in an article in National Parks Traveler: Omnibus Bill Carried Protection For Chaco Culture National Historical Park

On the Border

An article from the Associated Press, in the Los Angeles Times: Environmental damage from border wall: blown-up mountains, toppled cactus


Support CalUWild!

Membership is free, but your support is both needed and appreciated. 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. If your address is not on the check please print out and enclose a membership form.

Either way, mail it to:

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

Or you can use Zelle to deposit directly to CalUWild’s account (non-deductible contributions only). Our identifier is


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