Newsletter Archive

March 31, 2010

Dear CalUWild Friends —

As we’ve been announcing for the last few months, the 2010 Western Wilderness Conference will be taking place next week, April 8 – 11, at UC Berkeley. It promises to be an interesting and exciting event. Program highlights include:

— Rick Ridgeway from Freedom to Roam, on the need for connections
between wild areas for wildlife migration.
— Malcolm Margolin of Heyday Books, hosting an evening program
on writers and wilderness.
— Speakers on the history of wilderness, working with Congress, and
how climate change is affecting wilderness and management philosophy.
— Panels and workshops on initiatives in states around the West, stewardship,
grassroots tools, increasing the involvement of youth, under-served, and
non-traditional allies and communities.
— Entertainment by I See Hawks and Walkin’ Jim Stoltz on Friday night.

Full details are available online at the Conference website. Advance registration is recommended and is available through midnight, Monday April 5. After that, attendees can register on-site, but the cost will be higher ($200 for the entire conference or $100 for a single day). Scholarships for students and youth (under age 25) are still available. An additional travel stipend is available for students or youth coming from beyond the Bay Area or out-of-state. For details, contact Vicky Hoover at the Sierra Club.

We look forward to seeing you there!

In breaking news today, Pres. Barack Obama announced that the federal government will relax restrictions for drilling for oil & gas in the coastal waters of Alaska as well as along the East Coast. The West Coast does not appear to be affected. We’ll keep you posted, especially as this decision might impact the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which we still hope to see designated as wilderness one day soon.

As always, thanks for your efforts on behalf of our Western public lands!

Best wishes,

1. Utah Redrock Legislation Cosponsors

2. Utah Governor Signs Legislation
Allowing the State to Institute Eminent Domain
Actions Against the Federal Government

3. “No More Monuments” Legislation Introduced

4. Forest Service Says Seniors
Will Continue to Receive Discounts

5. Ed Wayburn

6. Stewart Udall

7. Terry Shepherd


1. Utah Redrock Legislation Cosponsors

The number of cosponsors for America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act continues to climb. The totals stand at 161 in the House (H.R. 1925) and 22 in the Senate (S.799). This ties the number from the last Congress and is only eight below the previous record.

Here in California we added three cosponsors recently: Doris Matsui (D-5) and Judy Chu (D-32). Reps. Matsui is a returning cosponsor, while Rep. Chu was elected last summer to replace longtime cosponsor Hilda Solís, who became Secretary of Labor in the Obama Administration.

Many thanks to everyone who called, asking them to sign on. Now it’s time to call and say thanks; that’s just as important! Contact information for each:

Doris Matsui
202-225-7163 (DC)
916-498-5600 (Sacramento)

Judy Chu
202-225-5464 (DC)
626-448-1271 (El Monte)

California is still lagging a bit on cosponsorships, probably because everyone’s focus has been on health care. The following previous cosponsors have not signed on yet in this Congress. If you (or anyone you know) live in one of these districts, please contact them, asking them to renew their cosponsorship of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act. (Diane Watson is retiring at the end of this term, so it would be a good note for her to leave Congress on.)

Xavier Becerra (D-31)
202-225-6235 (DC)
213-483-1425 (LA)

Diane Watson (D-33)
202-225-7084 (DC)
323-965-1422 (LA)

Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-34)
202-225-1766 (DC)
213-628-9230 (LA)

Maxine Waters (D-35)
202-225-2201 (DC)
323-757-8900 (LA)

Linda Sanchez (D-39)
202-225-6676 (DC)
562-860-5050 (Cerritos)

2. Utah Governor Signs Legislation
Allowing the State to Institute Eminent Domain
Actions Against the Federal Government

The State of Utah’s animosity toward the federal government reached new heights last Saturday, when Gov. Gary Herbert signed legislation that he and legislators hope to use to claim some of the federal land in the state, using eminent domain. The federal government owns and manages more than 60% of the land in the Beehive State. Under normal circumstances, eminent domain is used by governments to seize private property for public purposes.

The state claims that it needs control of the lands so that it can adequately support its schools, which currently have among the lowest funding levels per student in the country. The state has long had its eyes on the Kaiparowits Plateau in the heart of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which contains large coal reserves. (The state has also never forgiven Pres. Clinton for designating the monument in 1996.) Furthermore, the state is irritated that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar voided 77 oil & gas leases in 2009, finding that they were too close to some of Utah’s national parks and potential wilderness areas.

Some in the state have expressed hope that this will spark a West-wide rebellion against federal ownership of significant tracts of land in the region. But most legal scholars give the law slim chance of passing constitutional muster because of the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution.

Interesting times in the West!

3. No More Monuments Legislation Introduced

As we reported last month, Rep. Rob Bishop (R) of Utah leaked an Interior Department memo containing a list of potential new national monuments around the West. Despite Secretary Ken Salazar’s explanation that it was a study list rather than a designation list, the uproar that ensued among government officials in the Intermountain West has not gone away.

Utah’s Sen. Bob Bennett (R) introduced legislation early this month to prohibit the president from using the Antiquities Act of 1906 to designate any monuments in the state of Utah without congressional approval. The bill was co-sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) of Utah and a companion bill was introduced in the House by Rep. Rob Bishop (R).

The New York Times reported that representatives from California (Wally Herger, R-2), Colorado, Montana, and Nevada had introduced similar bills, and that Alaska and Arizona representatives were considering their own legislation. The Arizona bill has since been introduced. And in the Senate, Sen. David Vitter (R-Louisiana) introduced a bill barring the president from designating any national monuments on federal land anywhere, without congressional approval. Wyoming was exempted from the monument designations under the Antiquities Act back in the 1950s.

These most recent bills have all been referred to their proper committees, where they will likely not receive much support from Democrats. We’ll keep you posted.

4. Forest Service Says Seniors
Will Continue to Receive Discounts

On March 17, US Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell announced that the Forest Service would not change the way in which Golden Age and Golden Access passes are honored at campsites and other fee areas around the country. This means that seniors and disabled citizens will enjoy the same discounts at facilities run by private concessionaires as they traditionally have. The Forest Service had proposed reducing the discount from 50% to 10%.

Chief Tidwell said that they had received over 4,000 comments in response to the proposal.

Many thanks to all of you who submitted comments in response to our January Update!

5. Ed Wayburn

On March 5 America lost one of its conservation heroes, when Dr. Edgar Wayburn of San Francisco passed away at the age of 103. He was the Honorary Lifetime President of the Sierra Club in recognition of his tireless efforts to protect the nation’s wild places. Dr. Wayburn was also a member of CalUWild’s Advisory Board since it was founded in 1997.

Dr. Wayburn and his wife Peggy, who died in 2002, were instrumental in the founding of Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Pt. Reyes National Seashore, and protecting some 100 million acres of land in Alaska with the passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act in 1980. (ANILCA alone created 10 new national parks and expanded three others!)

Dr. Wayburn was an effective advocate, never calling undue attention to himself. Pres. Bill Clinton awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1999 in recognition of his efforts, saying he had “saved more acres of wilderness than any other person alive.” Dr. Wayburn continued his work for many years thereafter.

Dr. Wayburn will be missed, but the lands he protected will forever stand as a memorial to him.

You may read more about Dr. Wayburn in the San Francisco Chronicle and New York Times.

6. Stewart Udall

Stewart Udall, Secretary of the Interior from 1961-1969 under presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, died March 20 at his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He was 90 years old, the last surviving member of JFK’s cabinet.

As Secretary of the Interior, Mr. Udall helped create Canyonlands, Redwood, North Cascades and Guadalupe Mountains national parks, as well as Cape Cod National Seashore. Important legislation signed during his tenure included the 1964 Wilderness Act, the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, National Historic Preservation Act, the National Trails bill, and the Water Quality Act. In addition, the Land and Water Conservation Fund was set up while he was Interior Secretary.

The Udall family has a long record of public service. Prior to serving as Secretary, Mr. Udall served three terms in Congress. Morris K. “Mo” Udall, Stewart’s brother, was elected to fill his congressional seat when he became Interior Secretary. Their father, Levi Udall, was a Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court from 1947 to 1960, serving twice as Chief Justice. Stewart Udall’s son Tom is currently a U.S. Senator from New Mexico, and his nephew Mark serves in the Senate from Colorado.

The New York Times published a lengthy obituary from the Associated Press, containing more information about Mr. Udall’s life.

7. Terry Shepherd

Friends of Utah’s wildlands were saddened by the news that Terry Shepherd, former Executive Director of Red Rock Forests in Moab, passed away in February from complications from the H1N1 virus. Terry had been working in Alaska, where she was Executive Director of the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies since last year. Aged 45, Terry was an energetic woman who brought boundless passion to her work.

Red Rock Forests has posted a warm and heartfelt tribute to Terry on its website. CalUWild wishes to express its condolences to Terry’s family and friends. Our thoughts are with all of them.