Newsletter Archive

Sevier Lakebed, from Notch Peak, Utah                                                                                                              (Mike Painter)

September 15, 2023

Dear CalUWild Friends & Supporters —

July was a pretty quiet month around here, so the Update took a break. But things quickly sped up again in mid-August, so there is a lot to report—so much, in fact, that we will wait with some items until the next Update. The list would be overwhelming otherwise. (It’s long enough as it is!)

ITEMS 2 and 6 below shouldn’t take much time at all, so please do those, plus try to submit even brief comments on at least one of the other ITEMS, 3 or 4.

President Joe Biden for the third year in a row designated September as National Wilderness Month. The tradition was begun by Pres. Obama in 2013 to kick of the year-long celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act (though the tradition was not continued by his successor). You may read Pres. Biden’s proclamation here.

This just in: California Coastal Cleanup Day is Saturday, September 23. A map of sites and full details may be found here.

Now that summer crowds are reduced, it’s a great time to get out and explore and enjoy some of the wonderful public lands we are blessed with here in the West. Saturday, September 23 is also National Public Lands Day. Entry fees will be waived at national parks and other federal lands. So even if only for a day, it is worth getting out for a visit. Thanks for supporting their protection!

Best wishes,
Mike Painter, Coordinator

1.   Red Rocks Bill Cosponsor Update
          (ACTION ITEM)

2.   Berryessa Snow Mountains NM Expansion
          Molok Luyuk Petition
          Signatures Needed
          (ACTION ITEM)
3.   BLM Preparing an EIS for Proposed Gold Exploration
          At Conglomerate Mesa, Inyo County
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINE: October 16
          (ACTION ITEM)
4.   Point Reyes National Seashore Tule Elk
          Management Plan Scoping Document Released
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINE: September 25
          (ACTION ITEM)
5.   Tuleyome Job Announcement

6.   New and Proposed National Monuments
          ACTION ITEM)

7.   Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest


1.   Red Rock Bill Cosponsor Update
          (ACTION ITEM)

We’ve added three more cosponsors of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act (H.R.3031) from California:

Barbara Lee (D-12)   202-225-2661
Salud Carbajal (D-24)   202-225-3601
Ted Lieu (D-36)   202-225-3976

If you live in one of their districts, please call their office to say thank you.

There are currently 13 cosponsors from California. CalUWild’s website contains a full listing of California Senate and House cosponsorships and Washington, DC office phone numbers.

If your representative has not cosponsored, please call and ask them to sign on. Please also call Sen. Alex Padilla’s (D) office at 202-224-3553 and encourage him to sign on to the bill in the Senate, S.3031.

There is now a total of 70 cosponsors in the House and 22 in the Senate. For a full list of cosponsors nationwide, click here.

2.   Berryessa Snow Mountains NM Expansion
          Molok Luyuk Petition
          Signatures Needed
          (ACTION ITEM)

The effort to expand Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument is continuing, and every new monument that Pres. Biden designates moves the proposal closer to becoming a reality. The proposal began as House and Senate bills to add only the portion of Molok Luyuk / Condor Ridge (currently called Walker Ridge) in Lake County, but with the failure of the legislation to move in Congress, the Molok Luyuk Coalition, of which CalUWild is a member, is asking Pres. Biden to include the entire area, which is in both Lake and Colusa counties as an addition to the monument.

Normally we don’t recommend simply signing petitions, but this is a coalition effort plus we are asking you in ITEM 6 to contact the White House directly and include a request for the expansion. If you haven’t already, please sign the online petition asking Pres. Biden to move ahead with a proclamation.

For more information about the proposal, please take a look at the Coalition’s website.

3.   BLM Preparing an EIS for Proposed Gold Exploration
          At Conglomerate Mesa, Inyo County
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINE: October 16
          (ACTION ITEM)

Efforts to protect Conglomerate Mesa, between Owens Lake and Death Valley National Park in Inyo County, have been going on for many years. The major threat to the area has been repeated proposals for exploratory gold mining. Two years ago, the BLM accepted scoping comments for an Environmental Assessment (EA) for expanded exploration by Mojave Precious Metals, a subsidiary of the Canadian company, K2 Gold. In response, the BLM announced that it would require a full-blown Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which requires a more thorough and rigorous analysis. The purpose of the current comment period is to “identify issues, suggest alternatives, or provide information for potential consideration in the environmental impact statement.” Commenting is now open and runs until October 16.

A comprehensive list of Conglomerate Mesa’s important features and values may be found in our July-August 2021 Update. It might be helpful to review before commenting. If you submitted scoping comments back in 2021, they should be incorporated into your present comments—BLM will not be considering comments previously submitted. As always, please mention if you’ve been to the area, and use your own words.

Our partners at Friends of the Inyo suggest these talking points in particular:

Cultural/Spiritual/Recreational Importance
Conglomerate Mesa lies in ancestral lands sacred to both the Paiute and Shoshone people, who still engage in pinyon nut gathering and other traditional activities there. For the greater community, it is a tranquil place for solitude, meditation, stunning photography, backpacking/camping and dark desert sky viewing.

Conglomerate Mesa is a Refuge for Sensitive and Rare Plants and Animals
A large, thriving, Joshua Tree forest is successfully reproducing on and adjacent to the Mesa. Because of climate change, Joshua Trees will likely disappear from Joshua Tree National Park this century; therefore, the presence of hundreds of baby and juvenile Joshua Trees at the higher altitudes of Conglomerate Mesa provides hope for their survival.

Plants endemic to the area, such as the Inyo Rock Daisy, recently accepted for listing under the California Endangered Species Act, and the Badger Thread Plant, just discovered in 2019, are extremely vulnerable.

Mule deer, mountain lions, coyotes, roadrunners, raptors, and many other birds, rodents and reptiles inhabit the Mesa. It is their home, their castle.

Geological Significance
The Mesa is a geological formation that preserves fossils dating back to the Permian Period (289.9 – 259.9 million years ago) and provides an unusually complete record that is key to unraveling the evolution of the continental edge of the Southwestern U.S.

Comments may be submitted in several ways:

Preferred: Via BLM’s ePlanning online form

By email:   BLM_CA_RI_MojavePMetals [at] blm [dot] gov

By U.S. Mail or hand delivered, comments in an envelope labeled “Mojave Precious Metals Exploratory Drilling Project EIS” to”

Tamara Faust
Project Manager
BLM Ridgecrest Field Office
300 S. Richmond Rd.
Ridgecrest, CA  93555

By fax:   760-384-5499

4.   Point Reyes National Seashore Tule Elk
          Management Plan Scoping Document Released
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINE: September 25
          (ACTION ITEM)

We’ve written several times in the past about the management conflicts at Point Reyes National Seashore, between Tule elk and the Seashore’s remaining cattle ranches. Last month, the Park Service released a scoping document based on input it received last year from the public and others. It is now seeking further input as it moves ahead to prepare an Environmental Assessment for the management of Tomales Point at the northern end of the Seashore.

Up until now, the Park Service has favored the ranches, but we are happy to report that the Proposed Action (Alternative B) includes the removal of the existing elk fence, which confines them at Tomales Point. Fence removal would allow them to roam freely in the Seashore, and if necessary, any new fencing would be built to exclude cattle from the elk’s range.

But Alt. B covers more than just the Elk herd; it’s a management proposal for the entire Tomales Point, including habitat restoration, Tribal cultural resources, and recreation. You can read the 8-page, illustrated public report here.

Our friends at Resource Renewal Institute, who along with our other friends at the Center for Biological Diversity and the Western Watersheds Project have led the campaign to properly manage the elk herds at Pt. Reyes, suggest the following talking points for commenting:

•   Ensure cattle do not enter the wilderness area once the 8-foot elk fence is removed;
•   Enhance and restore habitat for threatened and endangered wildlife within the planning area;
•   Develop fire management practices within the planning area to maintain healthy ecosystems and natural processes;
•   Inventory and restore native coastal prairies within the planning area;
•   Assess climate-related impacts on water resources and native vegetation within the planning area;
•   Increase public access, use and enjoyment via new trails, camping, and other activities that integrate the planning area into a parkwide trail network;
•   Expand public education and interpretation of Native American culture and history in consultation with the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria and other descendants of Coast Miwok inhabitants *;
•   Improve public education and interpretation about the Tomales Point elk and their role in the ecology of the Point Reyes peninsula.

*   This is an important point to mention, because not all the descendants of Miwoks who lived (and who built dwellings that are still standing there) are members of the Graton Tribe. The Park Service needs to include all interested Indigenous parties in its planning and management activities.

The comment period runs until Monday, September 25, 2023, 10:59 p.m. PT.

The preferred method for commenting is online using this form on the NPS Planning website.

Hard copy comments may also be submitted by mail or hand delivered to:

Tomales Point Area Plan
c/o Superintendent
Point Reyes National Seashore
1 Bear Valley Road
Point Reyes Station, CA  94956

5.   Tuleyome Job Announcement

Our friends at Tuleyome are looking for a Policy Director. In addition to being leaders in the campaign to originally establish, protect, and now enlarge the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument, Tuleyome is involved in other efforts to preserve the ecosystem of the Inner Coast Range in the southern Sacramento Valley.

For a full job description and more information, click here. Tuleyome will review résumés as they are received, and the position will remain open until filled.

6.   New and Proposed National Monuments
          (ACTION ITEM)

July and August brought two new national monuments, Pres. Biden’s fourth and fifth. We’re including them both in one item here because it just takes one quick comment on the White House website or a call to thank the Administration for all of them, and make a couple of additional requests.

Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument
In late July, Pres. Biden designated the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument, consisting of three separate sites connected to the 1955 murder of the 14-year-old Black boy, visiting Mississippi from his home in Chicago. They are the two sites in Mississippi: on the Tallahatchie River where Till’s body was found, and the courthouse in Sumner where his murderers were tried and acquitted, and the third: Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ in Chicago, where Till’s funeral took place.

You may read the White House fact sheet here.

There are proposals for two other national monuments commemorating dark chapters in our history. One is the Historic Greenwood/ Black Wall Street National Monument in Oklahoma. Greenwood was a very successful Black district of Tulsa that was destroyed in a race riot in 1921. Another race riot took place in Springfield, Illinois in 1908. The NAACP was founded as a result of it. The conservation community stands firmly behind both of these proposals.

Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument
This new monument in Arizona is approximately 917,600 acres, divided among three separate areas on the north and south sides of Grand Canyon National Park. The land is and will be managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service. The monument’s name comes from the Havasupai Tribe, who call the land baaj nwaavjo, or “where Indigenous peoples roam” and the Hopi Tribe, who call it i’tah kukveni or “our ancestral footprints.”

You may see a map of the monument here and read the White House fact sheet here.

Please contact the White House and THANK the Administration for designating the

•   Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley and
•   Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon national monuments

At the same time, please REQUEST that the Administration move ahead with enlarging the

•   Berryessa Snow Mountain NM with the Molok Luyuk addition, including the BLM lands in Colusa County as discussed above and
•   San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, both in California

and with designating

•   Historic Greenwood / Black Wall Street in Oklahoma and
•   the Site of the Springfield Race Massacre in Illinois and
•   Great Bend of the Gila in Arizona (That is one monument proposal we haven’t previously discussed, but you can read about it here.)

You can find the White House comment form (their preferred method of communication) here. Just COPY and PASTE all the names into the body of the form and add your own words for the various sections.

If you prefer to make a phone call, the White House Comment Line number is


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. 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 from the Associated Press about Sevier Lake (photo above): Environmentalists sue to stop Utah potash mine that produces sought-after crop fertilizer

An article in High Country News: Environmental groups sue Utah over crisis at the Great Salt Lake

An essay in the New York Times by Terry Tempest Williams, who is on CalUWild’s Advisory Board: 47 Days in Extreme Heat and You Begin to Notice Things (gift link for non-subscribers)

An article in The Hill: Why is it called Capitol Reef National Park if there’s no reef?

In California

An in-depth article in the Washington Post about the proposed Chumash Marin Sanctuary along the central coast: Tribe fights to preserve California coastline — and its own culture (gift link for non-subscribers). And a follow-up report from NPR: Biden proposes vast new marine sanctuary in partnership with California tribe

A press release from California Department of Fish & Wildlife: New Gray Wolf Pack Confirmed in Tulare County

An Apple News article: A new generation preserves tribal land and culture in America’s national parks

In General

The Washington Post published a lengthy profile of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland: Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s charged mission of healing (gift link for non-subscribers)

An article in The Hill: White House tells agencies to weigh ecosystem impact whenever they make rules or take other actions.

An article in the Las Vegas Sun: Biden proves to be an able guardian of nation’s land as well as economy

In the New York Times, columnist Nicholas Kristoff’s annual column about hiking & the value of wilderness: Hungry Mosquitoes, Irritable Bears and the Glories of Wilderness (gift link for non-subscribers)


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