Newsletter Archive

Rain over the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah                                                               (Mike Painter)

September 13, 2022

Dear CalUWild friends—

Despite the fact that Pres. Biden restored the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to its original boundaries, a new management plan must be developed rather than simply reinstating the original one from 1997/98. Below are talking points and information for submitting comments for the scoping phase of the new plan. The Bureau of Land Management is asking for input on what issues it needs to address and analyze. CalUWild was founded in 1997 in response to the development of the original plan, so the monument itself holds a special place in our history. Please submit a comment!

National Public Lands Day is Saturday, September 24, an opportunity for people to take part in volunteer service projects at sites across the country. Click here for general information and a link to an interactive map of projects across the country. It’s also a day to celebrate our federal public lands, and therefore, most entrance fees are waived for the day.

With a new school year starting, it’s worth a reminder that fourth graders and their families are eligible for free access to national parks and other public lands for a year through the Every Kid Outdoors program (formerly Every Kid in a Park). Full information may be found here.

Thanks, as always, for your support and interest.

Best wishes,
Mike Painter, Coordinator

1.   Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
          New Management Plan Scoping Period Open
          (ACTION ITEM)

2.   Annual Coastal Cleanup Day
          Saturday, September 17

3.   Event: Move Solar to the City; Save the Wild Desert
          Saturday & Sunday, September 24–25

4.   Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest


1.   Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
          New Management Plan Scoping Period Open
          DEADLINE: September 27
          (ACTION ITEM)

As we mentioned in last month’s Update, the Bureau of Land Management is preparing a new plan to guide the management of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, now that it’s been restored to its original size. Public comment is needed from people who want to see the landscape, scientific, and cultural values for which the monument was designated preserved. As always, comments that reflect your own experiences (or hoped-for experiences, if you’ve never visited) are most helpful.

Our friends at the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance sent out the suggested talking points below for commenting. Use those that most reflect your own thoughts and interests as the basis for your comments.

But please include the first item in all your comments. It is part of a nationwide effort to convince the BLM to begin once more using its authority (under §202 of the Federal Land Policy & Management Act—FLPMA) to designate wilderness study areas as part of ongoing planning. Bush administration Interior Secretary Gale Norton settled a lawsuit with the State of Utah, agreeing that BLM wouldn’t designate WSAs in the future. No administration since has reversed that decision, but the conservation community feels the time is ripe.

While preparing the new management plan for Grand Staircase-Escalante, the BLM should consider the following:

— The BLM must protect lands that qualify as wilderness by designating them as new wilderness study areas.

— To protect monument objects and the wilderness, scenic, cultural, and ecological values of lands within the monument, the BLM should prohibit mechanical treatments (i.e., removal) of sagebrush, pinyon pine, juniper, and other vegetation. The agency should also NOT use nonnative species for restoration and post-fire seeding.

— For managing recreation, which is not a monument object or value but is an important consideration, the BLM should return to using management zones as it did for the original Grand Staircase-Escalante management plan, which can provide guidance for future recreation and travel management decisions while helping facilitate visitor experiences. This management tool worked well overall to protect the monument’s objects and values for 20 years (before it was unlawfully reduced).

— In particular, the BLM must focus any growth and expansion of recreation use and facilities in frontcountry areas where trails and facilities are already developed, while protecting and minimizing development of less-used backcountry areas.

— Special Recreation Permits and group size limits should prioritize the protection of monument resources. Again, the primary purpose of the monument is to protect the landscape and its scientific, natural, scenic, and cultural resources, not to facilitate expansive recreation, which has a high potential to harm these monument values.

— The BLM must protect visual resources, night skies, and natural and quiet soundscapes, all of which are among the most rare and pristine anywhere in the world.

— All motorized travel routes within the planning area that were closed or limited under the 2000 monument management plan must continue to be managed pursuant to that plan and the BLM should take the opportunity to close routes that are harming monument objects. Widespread off-road vehicle use should not be allowed, and no additional routes should be designated in the planning area.

— Cultural resources and traditional properties and uses should be protected and restored, including increased efforts to ensure that Tribal Nations are proactively involved in plan processes, site-specific resource management decisions, and in facilitating ways to protect monument objects and values while retaining traditional use of sacred sites and places of cultural importance.

You may submit comments via BLM’s online page here.

Or via US Mail:

ATTN: GSENM RMP Project Manager
BLM Paria River District
669 S Highway 89A
Kanab, UT 84741

2.   Annual Coastal Cleanup Day
          Saturday, September 17

The California Coastal Commission and various groups around the state (not just in coastal areas, since trash floats down rivers, often winding up in the Pacific) are sponsoring the 18th Annual Coastal Cleanup Day, Saturday September 17. If you’re looking for a worthwhile activity this weekend, this might be it!

Full details and a map of projects may be found here.

3.   Event: Move Solar to the City; Save the Wild Desert
          Saturday & Sunday, September 24–25

Our friends at Basin & Range Watch and Friends of the Amargosa Basin are holding a combination poetry reading and campout at the site of the Yellow Pine Solar Project and the proposed Golden Currant Solar Project near Pahrump, Nevada. The event is being held to protest the destruction of untouched Mojave Desert landscape and habitat for large-scale solar projects instead of placing solar facilities closer to the places where the energy is consumed.

Full event details may be found 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. Gift links are temporary links from some websites, allowing non-subscribers to view articles for free. As always, inclusion of an item in this section does not imply agreement with the viewpoint expressed.

In Utah

An article in the San Juan Record: Closing of the canyons at Lake Powell?

In California

An article in the San Luis Obispo Tribune: Carrizo Plain oil wells to be plugged — is it ‘the beginning of the end’ of drilling there?

An article from the Associated Press: Federal report boosts plan to remove 4 dams on Calif river

An article in USA Today (via Yahoo News): Yosemite in peril: How climate change’s grip is altering America’s national parks

An article in the Marin Independent Journal: State endorses Point Reyes water contamination plan

In Alaska

An article in Rewilding Earth concerning the Administration’s opposition to a petition to overturn the former administration’s approval of a land swap to build a road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, a designated wilderness area: Biden/Haaland Actions and Inactions Threaten Alaska Conservation. We’ve written about the issue frequently over the years, most recently in our June Update.

In Nevada

An article in the Los Angeles Times about the proposed Avi Kwa Ame National Monument: Mojave Desert tribes aim to turn a sacred mountain into a national monument (likely behind their paywall)

An article from the Associated Press, showing the importance of the preservation of wildlife corridors: Moose on the move, migrating to Nevada from Idaho, Utah

In General

An article in National Parks Traveler: Inflation Reduction Act Carries Benefits For National Park Service

BLM to move its headquarters back to Washington, DC, discussed in this article from E&E News/Greenwire: BLM details plans for HQ move.

An announcement from the Interior Department regarding offensive place names: Interior Department Completes Removal of “Sq___” from Federal Use. An interactive map showing locations across the country may be found here.


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– PayPal: email address info [at] caluwild [dot] org (We’re an unincorporated citizens group
and not selling any goods or services.)

– Zelle (interbank transfers): email address info [at] caluwild [dot] org, Michael Painter
(account administrator)

– By Check payable to CalUWild

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San Francisco, CA 94121-0474

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