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2010 October

October 22nd, 2010


Gardisky Lake, Hoover Wilderness, California                                                                                  Mike Painter


October 21, 2010

Dear CalUWild friends—

There are a few California-specific items with imminent deadlines, so we’re sending out the October Update this week to deal with them on their own. We’ll send out another Update next week, covering other items of interest around the West.

Until then, thanks for your interest and efforts,
Mike

IN CALIFORNIA
1.   Point Reyes National Seashore Oyster Farm Permit
          Open Houses Scheduled in the Bay Area
          NEXT WEEK
          COMMENT DEADLINE: November 22
          (ACTION ITEM)

2.   Mono County Supervisors Vote To Take NO ACTION
          On Bodie Hills Resolution Supporting WSA Release
          (ACTION ITEM)

3.   Giant Sequoia National Monument Planning
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINE: November 3
          (ACTION ITEM)

4.   Public Lands Legislative Update:
          A.   Pinnacles National Monument
          B.   Sacramento River NRA
          C.   Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta National Heritage Area
          (ACTION ITEM)

5.   November 2 Election
          (ACTION ITEM)

6.   In the Press

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IN CALIFORNIA
1.   Point Reyes National Seashore Oyster Farm Permit
          Open Houses Scheduled in the Bay Area
          NEXT WEEK
          COMMENT DEADLINE: November 22
          (ACTION ITEM)

We’ve reported over the years on the controversy regarding the Drakes Bay Oyster Company’s commercial permit in Pt. Reyes National Seashore. Here’s a brief historical summary:

Pt. Reyes NS was established in 1962. It contained working dairy ranches and an oyster farm on the shore of Drakes Estero; these were allowed to continue to operate. In 1972, the oyster farm was given a 40-year operating permit. In 1976, Congress created the Phillip Burton Wilderness. The land on which the oyster farm is located was included in the bill, designated as “potential” wilderness because of the pre-existing 40-year commercial lease on the land. The intent of Congress was clear: the land would become part of the wilderness area without further legislative action upon expiration of the lease, i.e., automatically.

The present owner of Drakes Bay Oyster Company bought the business in 2005, knowing that the lease would expire in 2012 and that the Park Service had no authority to renew it because of the wilderness legislation. Since that time, the owner has worked to have the lease extended by various means, most recently via a rider attached to the FY 2010 Interior Appropriations bill. This rider was never fully discussed by the Congress, and in our view was a backdoor method of getting legislation passed that might not otherwise have been approved in the normal committee process. The rider gave the Secretary of the Interior the authority to extend the permit (but did not require an extension, as had been originally proposed).

The Seashore recently announced that it will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on a possible 10-year extension of the Drakes Bay Oyster Company’s permit. The scoping period is open, and there will be three public open house meetings in the Bay Area next week where citizens can get more information, talk to officials, and submit comments.

All meetings run from 6 – 8 p.m.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Dance Palace Community Center
503 B Street
Point Reyes Station

Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Multi-Purpose Room, Bay Model Visitor Center
2100 Bridgeway
Sausalito

Thursday, October 28, 2010
Community Room, REI Berkeley
1338 San Pablo Avenue
Berkeley

CalUWild has no objection to the present operation of the oyster farm. Our concern is with the procedure that has been followed to try to extend the permit. Only Congress can designate Wilderness, and if there are to be changes to Wilderness status, then Congress must be the body to do it, through open, public discussion, not via riders that pass the final decision along to others.

We recognize that there are other issues involved, such as the importance of local agriculture, family businesses, and the historic or at least traditional use of the property. The Seashore, therefore, needs to look at all options, including the possibility relocation to nearby Tomales Bay, as it prepares its EIS. But it should not grant an extension of the commercial permit.

Pt. Reyes is not accepting comments via email. Comments may be submitted online here.

Comments may be sent by US Mail:

DBOC SUP EIS
c/o Superintendent
Point Reyes National Seashore
1 Bear Valley Road
Point Reyes Station, CA  94956

Written comments will also be accepted at the public meetings.

The comment deadline is November 22. You may download the scoping notice from this page.


2.   Mono County Supervisors Vote To Take NO ACTION
          On Bodie Hills Resolution Supporting WSA Release
           (ACTION ITEM)

On September 21, the Mono County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to take no action on a resolution to support H.R. 6129, the so-called Mono County Economic Development Act of 2010. The main provision of the bill would release the Bodie Wilderness Study Area from its protected status in order to allow a gold mining company to conduct further exploration in the area.

While the result is certainly favorable, it’s not a total victory. One supervisor said he would like to have the entire issue of WSAs in the area “resolved.” Several supervisors made it clear that they were irritated by rushed nature of the resolution, regardless of its merits, coming less than a week after the bill was introduced in Congress. The total lack of information about the mining company’s plans was also a factor.

On the other hand, people from all over the West sent in more than 300 letters opposing the resolution. One supervisor specifically commented how impressed he was that these letters were personalized and not just form letters. It was good to hear him comment this way. It shows that letters can have an impact, and in this case, they certainly did.

So, many thanks to all who wrote last month. If you haven’t written yet, please send Rep. McKeon a letter letting him know your views on the bill. Suggested talking points were in last month’s Update, which you can read by clicking here.

Because of irradiation, it’s best to send a fax to DC or send US mail to one of Rep. McKeon’s local offices. Full contact information can be found here. Please send a copy of your letter to both Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. Contact info can be found by clicking on their names.

We’ll keep you posted on further developments.


3.   Giant Sequoia National Monument Planning
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINE: November 3
          (ACTION ITEM)

We wrote in August about Giant Sequoia National Monument releasing a Draft EIS on its new management plan. We didn’t have any comments on the plan at the time, but we said we’d try to get information out in time for the comment deadline of November 3. The Sierra Club, which has long been involved in Monument issues, has prepared the following talking points. You do not need to mention every one, and please use your own words. If you have visited the Monument, write about your experiences.

Support the “Citizens’ Park Alternative” for the Giant Sequoia National Monument

A decade ago President Clinton designated the Giant Sequoia National Monument to forever protect the magnificent Giant Sequoia ecosystem. Unfortunately once again, this national treasure is under threat. After a failed attempt to provide a legally sufficient plan to protect the Giant Sequoia ecosystem, the Forest Service is apparently repeating the same mistakes as the past. The newly released draft Giant Sequoia National Monument Management Plan EIS continues to promote a failed logging agenda, with some proposed alternatives calling for more tree removal than prior to the monument’s designation.

Because of these past and present agency failures, citizens have now come forward with their own management alternative that will forever protect the Giant Sequoia ecosystem. Please tell the Forest Service to adopt the “Citizens’ Park Alternative.”

The “Citizens Park Alternative”

•   Restore the vision of President Clinton’s Proclamation and protect the giant sequoia ecosystem from continued proposals for logging and other dangers, as proposed in the Forest Service’s preferred alternative.

•   The Monument’s Giant Sequoias Groves and intertwined forest ecosystem should be managed in the same fine manner as Sequoia National Park.

•   This means that fire should be used as the preferred method of ecosystem restoration and fuel reduction treatments.

•   The plan must prioritize the protection and restoration of healthy habitats for sensitive wildlife species, including fisher, martens, owls, and goshawks.

•   Alternative C is not really a park style management alternative and goes too far by eliminating all dispersed recreation.

•   Historical recreation is OK, so long as it is consistent with protecting the Monument’s natural resources, including the use of trails and dispersed camping

•   Park style management should focus on ecosystem restoration, not recreation management.

•   Any mechanical thinning for fuel reduction should be focused in areas directly adjacent to structures.

•   Tree removal from the Monument is prohibited by the Clinton Proclamation, unless absolutely necessary, and must be scientifically justified for ecosystem restoration and maintenance or public safety.

•   This means that any larger trees that are cut should be left in the monument because they generally are not the type of material that causes unwanted fire behavior and are needed for ecosystem restoration.

•   Any removal of trees, tree limbs, and slash should be focused on small diameter material, which is the type of material that could cause unwanted fire behavior.

•   Salvage logging should be expressly prohibited because it is only done for commercial purposes and prohibited by the Clinton Proclamation.

•   The Forest Service should cancel the three remaining commercial timber sales in the Monument still under contract that were held illegal by the Federal Court:  Frog, Saddle, and White Mountain.

•   All Roadless Areas should be managed to maintain their Wilderness potential, and the Forest Service must keep its promise from the last plan revision to recommend the Moses Roadless Area as Wilderness.

Please write the Forest Service today and ask them to adopt the Citizens’ Park Alternative for managing the Giant Sequoia National Monument.

Email:   comments-pacificsouthwest-sequoia@fs.fed.us

On the Web: http://gsnm-consult.limehouse.com/portal

By US Mail:

GSNM – DEIS Comments
Sequoia National Forest
1839 S. Newcomb St.
Porterville, CA  93257


4.   Public Lands Legislative Update:
          (ACTION ITEMS)

There have been a few California public lands bills that had hearings in Congress or were recently introduced. Though not all involve wilderness, they nevertheless offer important protections for more of California’s natural heritage.

          

A.   Pinnacles National Monument

S.3744, Sen. Boxer’s bill to re-designate Pinnacles National Monument a national park (and companion bill to H.R.3444 by Rep. Sam Farr (D-17)), had a hearing last month before the Senate Subcommittee on National Parks. It was sent to the full Senate for a vote. In addition to renaming the monument, the bill would enlarge add several thousand acres to the new park and would designate more wilderness within it.

The Park Service supported the bill in the hearing, although last year it testified against the proposal at a House hearing on Rep. Farr’s bill.

B.   Sacramento River NRA

The following (slightly edited) comes from the California Wilderness Coalition:

Please thank Senator Barbara Boxer for introducing S.3879, the ”Sacramento River National Recreation Area Act of 2010.”

On September 29, 2010 Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) introduced S.3879 in the US Senate, the ”Sacramento River National Recreation Area Act of 2010,” a bill to designate 17,000 acres of public land south of Redding and east of Red Bluff as the “Sacramento River National Recreation Area” (NRA). Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) immediately signed on as a cosponsor.

The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) 17,000-acre Sacramento River Bend Area in northern Tehama County and southern Shasta County is the most undeveloped portion of the Sacramento River below Shasta Dam. The river twists and turns through the heart of the area, thus earning its “Bend Area” nickname. This stretch of the river includes the steep and highly scenic Iron Canyon and it hosts some of the best salmon and steelhead trout spawning grounds in California (the astounding “Salmonzilla,” an 85 pound, 51-inch Chinook salmon, was found dead in the northern part of the area in 2008).

Remnants of the great riverside forests that once followed the Sacramento from its source to the San Francisco Bay still exist in the area, and above the river blue oak woodlands and grasslands thrive. Seasonal wetlands dapple the grasslands and serve as rest stops for migrating waterfowl. The proposed NRA is a great place for horseback riding, canoeing, fishing, rafting, hiking, picnicking, scenic driving, wildlife viewing, hunting and mountain biking. The area is noted for its truly spectacular spring wildflower displays. To learn more about the area, visit the BLM’s website.

Designating the area as an NRA will ensure that the BLM’s current effective management continues into the future and that the agency receives additional funding for land acquisition and restoration. This is extremely important because private lands adjacent to the proposed NRA face increasing development pressure as the Shasta-Tehama region grows.

It is very important to thank our elected officials when they do something positive for California’s public lands. Please thank Senator Boxer for working to protect this important area, and thank Senator Feinstein for supporting her!

Please tell her that you strongly support her legislation to establish the Sacramento River NRA. If you have visited the Sacramento River Bend Area, please tell her what you did there and explain that you want others to be able to enjoy such activities in the future. Mention which of the proposed NRA’s recreational, scenic and natural values are most important to you.

For more information, contact Ryan Henson of the California Wilderness Coalition at rhenson@calwild.org or 530-365-2737.

C.   Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta National Heritage Area

Rep. John Garamendi (D-10) and Sens. Feinstein and Boxer introduced legislation  in the House (H.R.6329) and Senate (S.3927) to create the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta National Heritage Area. The bill is designed “to protect and promote the cultural, historical, and natural assets of the region” according to Rep. Garamendi’s office. The bill would set up a framework for federal agencies to cooperate with local governments on such efforts, and authorize appropriations to do so.

For a map and more information, click here. A press release is here.

Reps. George Miller (D-7), Doris Matsui (D-5), Jerry McNerney (D-11, and Mike Thompson (D-1), all the representatives of districts included in the proposed NHA, cosponsored the House bill.

If you wish to write to any of the legislators sponsoring the above bills, contact information for them can be found by clicking on:

Barbara Boxer
Dianne Feinstein
John Garamendi


5.   November 2 Election
(ACTION ITEM)

Proposition 21 would provide permanent dedicated funding for California’s State Park System by adding an $18 annual surcharge on vehicle registration. 85% of the funds raised would go to a trust fund for the state parks. A small amount would go toward administration of the fund, and the remainder to other wildlife and conservation programs. In exchange, personal vehicle registered in California would have free access to all state parks. (The surcharge would not apply to commercial vehicles.)

In an ideal world, the legislature and governor would appropriate adequate funds to maintain and expand our state park system. However, California’s State Park System has been woefully under-funded for many years, and in the last several budget cycles, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed closing many of them to save money. No one has come up with an alternative that preserves the ecological, recreational, and historic values that our state parks protect. As with all resource issues, once those values are degraded or disappear, it is extremely difficult or impossible to retrieve them.

We cannot afford to wait any longer. Prop. 21 may not be a perfect solution from a procedural point of view, but it provides funding for parks that benefit all Californians, and gives support to local economies. Just about all conservation organizations in the state, and CalUWild, too, urge a YES vote on 21.

Proposition 19 would legalize the cultivation and use of marijuana. There are many differing opinions about various philosophical and practical aspects of the proposal, and we’re not taking a position on it. We do want to point out one topic, though, that is sometimes overlooked: the huge impact that illegal “plantations” have on our public lands. Cultivated areas destroy natural habitat. Pesticide use is unregulated, and runoff poisons streams. Personal safety can be a concern for rangers and for hikers who unwittingly come across growing areas. Here’s just one example from  Sequoia National Park:

“On Wednesday, September 29, law enforcement rangers removed an illegal marijuana plot, with a total of 13,077 plants (worth over $52 million), from Sequoia National Park. In addition, rangers found several hazardous materials that can cause harm to the natural environment at the site, including trash, fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. The plot is believed to have ties to a Mexican drug trafficking organization. No arrests have been made yet. An investigation is ongoing. This law enforcement operation has reduced threats to visitors, park resources, etc.”

Please consider this aspect when deciding how to vote.

Proposition 23 would overturn California’s landmark greenhouse gas bill. While not directly a public lands bill, our best science indicates that climate change resulting from human-produced carbon dioxide and other gases is having and will continue to have a profound impact on our landscape. Rising sea levels and higher temperatures that force animal and plant species to migrate or become extinct are just two examples.

A list of the major donors in support of Prop. 23 may be found here. Major donors to the campaign opposed may be found here. It was just announced today that Bill Gates has contributed $700,000 to the campaign against the proposition. Interestingly, George Shultz, Secretary of State under Pres. Reagan, is the honorary co-chairman of the campaign opposing Prop. 23. He can hardly be considered a wild-eyed environmentalist!

CalUWild urges a NO vote on 23.

Please remember to VOTE on November 2 or by mail in advance!


6.   In the Press

An interesting look at science in the wilderness: research in Dusy Basin on the decline of the Sierra Yellow-Legged Frog

A brief look at the controversy over the development of solar power in the California desert

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2010 September

October 18th, 2010

The Bodie Hills                                                                                                      John Dittli, used by permission


September 16, 2010

Dear CalUWild friends & supporters:

We try not to send out emergency alerts, but sometimes it’s unavoidable.

So the September Update is coming out a bit earlier than usual this month, as we just got word that legislation was introduced yesterday in Congress to release the Bodie Wilderness Study Area (WSA), north of Mono Lake in California. The Mono County Board of Supervisors will consider a resolution in support of this legislation next TUESDAY, September 21, 2 p.m., in Bridgeport, the county seat. Details are in ITEM 1, below.

The hearing creates the perfect excuse for an unplanned, early-Fall visit to the Eastern Sierra!
Thanks for your support and help on this and all the other issues we work on,

Mike

IN CALIFORNIA
1.   Bodie WSA Release Legislation Introduced
          Mono County Supervisors Hearing
          September 21 in Bridgeport
          Letters Needed (& Attendees)
          DEADLINE: Monday, September 20
          (URGENT ACTION ITEM)

IN THE PRESS
2.   More reaction to the New York Times
          “Wilderness” Op-ed Piece

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

IN CALIFORNIA
1.   Bodie WSA Release Legislation Introduced
          Mono County Supervisors Hearing
          September 21 in Bridgeport
          Letters Needed (& Attendees)
          DEADLINE: Monday, September 20
          (URGENT ACTION ITEM)

Over the course of the year we’ve written about the leaked Interior Department memo that mentioned 14 areas in the West as possibilities for national monument designation. One of those is California’s Bodie Hills, north of Mono Lake and east of Yosemite National Park.

A threat to permanent protection for the area (whether via monument designation or other means) arose yesterday when California Rep. Buck McKeon (R-25) introduced H.R. 6129, the Mono County Economic Development Act of 2010. The main provision of the bill releases the Bodie WSA from its protected status as a WSA in order to allow a gold mining company to conduct exploration in the area.

The Mono County Board of Supervisors will consider a resolution supporting the bill at a meeting next Tuesday, September 21, 2 p.m. at the Mono County Courthouse in Bridgeport. Letters opposing the resolution are needed by the close of business on Monday, 9/20.

Because of the very short time frame, emailing or faxing letters is best.

Email your letter to:

Mono County Board of Supervisors
lroberts@mono.ca.gov
P.O. Box 715
Bridgeport, CA  93517

Fax:   760-932-5531

Please send a copy your letter to your Congressional representative and to Senator Dianne Feinstein, Senator Barbara Boxer, and Rep. McKeon. Their addresses can be found on their websites. Because of irradiation requirements, please send letters to their offices in California rather than Washington, DC.

Attached is a PDF containing the resolution, Rep. McKeon’s bill, and 2 letters already sent to the supervisors—one “pro” and one “con.” The background information and talking points below come from Sally Miller, Eastern Sierra Representative of The Wilderness Society:


BACKGROUND
The remote and spectacular Bodie Hills are tucked between the Sierra Nevada and the Great Basin in our backyard, and comprise some 200,000-plus acres of mostly public land, managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service. Bodie State Historic Park, the state’s official ghost town and one of our most popular state parks, lies in the center of the Bodie Hills. The area contains an amazingly high level of biological diversity (think pika, sage grouse, antelope, pinyon pine, juniper, lodgepole pine, and a million wildflowers) and one of the highest concentrations of archaeological resources in the Great Basin.  There are three BLM Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) in the Bodie Hills totaling approximately 50,000 acres, attesting to the area’s wild and largely pristine character.

The newly-formed Bodie Hills Conservation Partnership is a coalition of groups organized to advocate for the permanent preservation of wildlands in the Bodie Hills.  Founding groups include Friends of the Inyo, National Trust for Historic Preservation , Conservation Lands Foundation, Trout Unlimited and The Wilderness Society. Our organizations share a commitment to seeing this amazing landscape permanently preserved in a manner that protects the region’s natural, cultural and recreational resources. The Bodie Hills were included on an internal Department of Interior list of possible National Monument candidates which was released earlier this year. While our coalition does not have a NM proposal, we strongly support the area being preserved via some special Congressional designation which recognizes & protects the area’s exemplary values. What form a designation takes should be up to a broad dialogue among all stakeholders in the public lands of the Bodie Hills (local, regional, national).  We are developing a website www.bodiehills.org, which we hope will be live within a day or so.

Meantime, the world’s largest mineral exploration company, Electrum, and the company that owns Electrum, Tigris Financial, want the Bodie WSA, the ecological and cultural heart of the Bodie Hills, “released” from protection as a WSA, so that they can explore for (and market?) gold unfettered by agency regulations. The WSA contains extensive cultural resources, antelope and sage grouse habitat, candidate Wild & Scenic Rivers and unparalleled Great Basin scenic beauty. The existing regulations would ensure these resources are protected while still allowing mineral exploration.

The WSA status is the ONLY handle BLM has to try to protect the area’s outstanding values. Absent WSA protection, Electrum can build roads and do what it wishes to do in the name of mineral exploration and/or development without encumbrances. Yet, under WSA protection, Electrum can still explore, but must do so in a more careful, environmentally sensitive manner. We don’t even know if there is any “there” there as far as gold. No one has seen any plans from the mining company. Why give Electrum carte blanche to muck up some of the most sensitive public lands and resources within the Bodie Hills?

TALKING POINTS
·          The Bodie Hills, and the Bodie WSA in particular, contain outstanding natural and cultural values that deserve special protection.  The Bodie Hills also provide important recreational opportunities including hiking, birdwatching, hunting and roadside exploration of the area’s extensive cultural and natural history.

·          Extensive mineral exploration or development activity, particularly in the Bodie WSA, would irreversibly harm the Bodie Hills and directly threaten antelope, sage grouse and other fish and wildlife habitat as well as the area’s many cultural resources and extensive recreational values.

·           “Release” of the Bodie WSA by Congress is not necessary for mineral exploration.  The mining company can and should conduct lawful mineral exploration under agency regulations governing the WSA to ensure its values are protected from damage.  If sufficient gold is found to warrant further development, then there needs to be a dialogue involving the broad community of local, regional and national stakeholders to determine appropriate future land uses for the public lands in the Bodie Hills.

·          A “partial” release of a portion of the WSA, which may be proposed, is unacceptable.  The area the mining company is interested in seeing “released” to allow unfettered mineral exploration is that part of the WSA that holds some of its most important natural and cultural resources.  (What’s more, it’s not necessary.)

·          Explain your connection to the Bodie Hills.  Mention any experiences you have had exploring the wildlands around Bodie, be it hiking, mountain biking, hunting, auto-touring, photography, birdwatching  or enjoying the area’s spectacular summer wildflowers.

·          Ask the Mono County Board of Supervisors to support permanently preserving the natural and cultural values of the Bodie Hills, and to oppose any proposals such as WSA release that would facilitate new mineral exploration and development, absent a broad discussion among the varied stakeholders of the public lands about the future of the Bodie Hills.


IN THE PRESS
2.   More reaction to the New York Times
          “Wilderness” Op-ed Piece

Letters to the Editor of the NY Times

From Oklahoma!

(Original op-ed piece here.)

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2010 August

October 15th, 2010

Hope Valley                                                                                                                                       Joan Hoffmann


August 31, 2010

Dear CalUWild Friends —

Summer is just about over, at least as far as school vacation goes. The days are getting shorter, but Fall can be the best time to explore our wilderness areas and other public lands. Many of the crowds are gone, the weather is cooler, and the light is not as harsh. So get out if you can! (Besides, it’s National Wilderness Month—
see ITEM 8.)

The end of Summer also means that Congress is back in session. Though public lands (and the environment in general) are not very high on the legislative agenda right now, there is still the possibility of a public lands omnibus bill being introduced and passed before the end of the 111th Congress. There’s also an election in November. Every House seat and one third of the Senate is open. You can raise the profile of public lands by asking candidates about their views, either at campaign events or by writing to the editors of your local and regional newspapers.

The painting at the top of this month’s Update is by CalUWild member Joan Hoffman. There will be an exhibition of her work at the Red Barn, Point Reyes National Seashore Headquarters in Olema, October through December. An Opening Reception will be held October 16, 11 am – 5 p.m. For more information, contact Joan through her website.

If you’re wondering why the August Update is arriving on September 1, ITEMS 3 & 8 arrived after most of newsletter was finished, but I decided to include them.

Thanks for your interest and support!

Mike

IN UTAH
1.   San Juan County Wilderness Process Update

2.   Zion National Park Soundscape Planning
          Comments Needed
          (ACTION ITEM)
          DEADLINE: September 3 (FRIDAY!)

IN CALIFORNIA
3.   Sequoia National Monument Management Plan Hearings
          (ACTION ITEM)

4.   National Park Service Study
          To Lead to a Los Angeles Rim Park?
          Meetings in September & October
          (ACTION ITEM)

5.   Pinnacles National Park Bill Introduced in the Senate

6.   California Wilderness Coalition Fundraiser
          November 12
          (SAVE THE DATE)

IN GENERAL
7.   America’s Great Outdoors Initiative
          DEADLINE Approaching
          (ACTION ITEM)

8.   September is National Wilderness Month
          By Presidential Proclamation

IN THE PRESS
9.   Links to Online Articles of Interest

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

IN UTAH
1.   San Juan County Wilderness Process Update

As we reported last month, the collaborative process in San Juan County came to a halt after the Utah Republican Party failed to re-nominate Sen. Bob Bennett, who had been coordinating the meetings. The county commissioners have not put forth their proposal yet.

The local press in the county, though, has reported on a few interesting proposals, not related to wilderness per se on BLM lands. The word is that expansions of Canyonlands National Park and Hovenweep National Monument are being discussed, though there is no guarantee that either will make it into the county’s final proposal.

Canyonlands National Park has a long and tortured history. As far back as 1936, then-Interior Secretary Harold Ickes proposed the creation of an Escalante National Monument that would have covered most of the Colorado Plateau, down to the Grand Canyon. Opposition from commercial interests in Utah and World War II stopped the idea, although Pres. Roosevelt did designate Arches and Capitol Reef National Monuments—now National Parks. (If the original monument had come about, we wouldn’t be having the protracted arguments over so much of the BLM wildlands now!) The idea for a national park was resurrected in the late 1950s, though the proposal was much smaller, centered on the confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers. Various compromises were made, and Pres. Johnson signed the park into law in 1964. The hope of enlarging the park has never gone away, though.

If you’re interested in reading more, a thorough history of the Canyonlands controversy can be found here, and an interesting interview with then-Superintendent of Arches National Monument Bates Wilson can be found here.

Hovenweep National Monument is a small cluster of parcels containing interesting ruins, some of them towers, and covering only 785 acres. The area is particularly rich in archaeological sites, so any expansion would be a boon to protection of resources. Reports from county commissioners are that there is no opposition to the idea.

We’ll keep you posted on any new developments.


2.   Zion National Park Soundscape Planning
           Comments Needed
          (ACTION ITEM)
          DEADLINE: September 3 (FRIDAY!)

When thinking about wilderness and public lands, the focus for many people is most often on the landscape. But sounds can be just as important, especially if they detract from the wilderness experience, depriving visitors of a sense of solitude. Much of the Zion National Park backcountry was designated wilderness in the Washington County bill of a few years ago, and the Park has implemented some innovative management ideas, including banning most private automobiles in heavily-visited months and running a convenient shuttle in the main canyon. The Park Service is currently preparing a “soundscape” management plan, and our friends at Wilderness Watch recently sent out the following alert asking for comments. If you’ve been to Zion or plan to go, please mention that in your comments. Make them as personal as possible.

Sorry for the short notice. Thanks!

Help Protect the Natural Soundscape of Zion Wilderness and National Park

Background: Zion National Park needs your help in crafting an appropriate Soundscape Management Plan for its Wilderness Zone, which comprises 90% of the Park (84% is designated Wilderness and 6% is proposed Wilderness). Its preferred wilderness noise standards are too weak and fail to protect Wilderness values such as solitude, quiet, etc.

This is not just a fight over excessive and mounting aircraft noise. It is a fight to ensure that the National Park Service (NPS) takes and retains a leadership role in preserving our parks. We need an outpouring of public comments urging the Park Service to assert its legal responsibilities under its Organic Act and the Wilderness Act and to follow its own management policies. This Management Plan has the potential to be precedent-setting, so please make your voice heard.

Comments are due to NPS September 3rd and may be submitted on-line at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/zion, or mailed to:

Zion National Park
Attn: SMP/EA
Springdale, UT  84767

Key Point to Make:

• Natural sounds are an important part of the experience in the Zion Wilderness and National Park, and should be protected and restored as much as possible.

• The Wilderness Act requires that Wilderness remain untrammeled and its wilderness character be preserved. Motorized noise harms both these wilderness values.

• NPS policy requires, when evaluating environmental impacts, to take into account the “preservation of natural conditions (including the lack of man-made noise).”

• The proposed NPS “Desired Conditions” Standard for human noise (including aircraft) in Wilderness in Zion National Park—at generally audible <25% of the time and periodically audible 50% of the time—is too weak to protect Wilderness.

• The Wilderness Zone “Desired Conditions” Standard should allow for zero motor noise.

• The NPS should, to the extent legally allowed, prohibit air tours over Wilderness and direct such activities to areas where they won’t degrade the experience of those on the ground.

• NPS should continue to work with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on addressing noise from high-level aircraft and seek to minimize impacts to the Park.


IN CALIFORNIA
3.   Sequoia National Monument Management Plan Hearings
          (ACTION ITEM)

Pres. Bill Clinton established Sequoia National Monument in 2000, and its management by the Forest Service has been controversial ever since. They prepared an initial management plan that allowed logging in the Monument, at levels far above what many felt the forest could tolerate. A court threw the plan out, ruling in a lawsuit brought by the Sierra Club, Sequoia ForestKeeper, Sierra Forest Legacy, and other conservation organizations. In response, the Forest Service prepared a new plan, and as part of the process is holding a series of open houses to present the plan and gather comments:

Wednesday, September 15, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., at the Elks Lodge in Porterville.

Saturday, September 18, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., at the Doubletree Hotel in Bakersfield.

Tuesday, September 21, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., at the Hilton Garden Inn in Clovis.

Wednesday, September 22, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco.

Wednesday, October 6, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., at the Hyatt Regency in Valencia.

Thursday, October 7, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., at the Hilton in Pasadena.

A meeting of the Science Review Panel has also been scheduled on Tuesday, October 12, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., at the Visalia Convention Center.

We don’t have suggestions for comments on the plan yet, though some of the groups involved say that the new plan is as bad as, or even worse than, the original. So please attend a meeting or review the plan online. Links to all sorts of relevant information may be found on the Forest Service’s website.

The comment period ends Nov. 3, so we will try to get more information to you in a timely fashion.

For more information, please contact Marc Heileson at the Sierra Club, marc.heileson@sierraclub.org.


4.   National Park Service Study
          To Lead to a Los Angeles Rim Park?
          Meetings in September & October
          (ACTION ITEM)

The National Park Service is beginning a study of the “Rim of the Valley Corridor,” the mountains around the San Fernando, Santa Clarita, Simi, La Crescenta, and Conejo Valleys in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. The study, which also includes much of the Santa Monica Mountains NRA, may lead to a proposal to create some sort of National Park Service unit. The purpose of the study is to gather information and explain the process.

The Park Service has announced the following Public Meeting Schedule, to take place during September and October 2010. Meetings marked with *** will have a Spanish translator available. You are invited to join and share your ideas:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010, 7-9 p.m.
Mason Recreation Center
10500 Mason Ave.
Chatsworth, CA  91311

Wednesday, September 15, 2010 ***
2-4 p.m. and 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Los Angeles River Center and Gardens
570 W. Avenue 26
Los Angeles, CA  90065

Tuesday, September 21, 2010, 7-9 p.m.
George A. Caravalho Santa Clarita Sports Complex-Activities Center Building
20880 Centre Pointe Parkway
Santa Clarita, CA  91350

Wednesday, September 22, 2010, 7-9 p.m.
Conejo Recreation and Parks District
Community Room
403 W. Hillcrest Dr.
Thousand Oaks, CA  91360

Monday, October 4, 2010, 7-9 p.m.
King Gillette Ranch
26800 West Mulholland Highway
Calabasas, CA  91302

Tuesday, October 5, 2010, 7-9 p.m. ***
Northeast Valley City Hall
7747 Foothill Blvd.
Tujunga, CA  91042

Wednesday, October 6, 2010, 7-9 p.m.
Charles S. Farnsworth Park
Davies Building
568 East Mount Curve Ave.
Altadena, CA  91001

The Park Service website for the project is here. It contains more information and you can sign up to be on their mailing list. Or you may contact the Park Service as follows:

U.S. Mail:

National Park Service
Rim of the Valley Corridor Study
570 W. Avenue 26, #175
Los Angeles, CA  90065

E-mail:   PWR_rimofthevalley@nps.gov

Phone:   Anne Dove, Project Manager, 323-441-9307
Margie Steigerwald, Outdoor Recreation Planner, 805-370-2373


5.   Pinnacles National Park Bill Introduced in the Senate

On August 5. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) introduced a bill in the Senate that would make Pinnacles National Monument a National Park. The bill is a companion to that introduced last year by Rep. Sam Farr (D-17), in whose district Pinnacles lies.

The Monument was established in 1908 by Pres. Theodore Roosevelt and has been enlarged over the years. Much of the Monument is designated wilderness and it has also been part of the California Condor Restoration Program.

The bill numbers are: H.R.3444 and S.3744. Rep. Farr’s bill has had a committee hearing, and Sen. Boxer’s has been referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, which has not held a hearing yet.


6.   California Wilderness Coalition Fundraiser
          November 12
          (SAVE THE DATE)

We work closely with CWC and are always happy to announce the annual event. Here’s the information:

Please join the California Wilderness Coalition for our annual fundraiser at the David Brower Center. We will celebrate and honor the donors, volunteers, and activists who are crucial to keeping California wild. In addition to the usual fun and festivities, this year’s event features live and silent auctions of art, travel getaways, and outdoor gear.

Hosted by the California Wilderness Coalition at the David Brower Center,

2150 Allston Way, Berkeley CA
November 12, 2010
The event begins at 6:00 pm.

For more information please check out www.calwild.org or call (510) 451-1450.


IN GENERAL
7.   America’s Great Outdoors Initiative
          DEADLINE Approaching
          (ACTION ITEM)

We’ve been reporting the last few months on the Administration’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative. Listening sessions are continuing throughout the Summer, though no more are planned for California. That doesn’t mean it’s too late to share your thoughts via the Initiative website.

The Initiative staff has said it will present its report to the President on November 15, and it’s rumored that there’s a September 30 deadline for comments. So if you haven’t already, please go to the website, register (it’s simple and free), and submit your comments and suggestions in the four categories there. Also, please review previously submitted comments and FOR those you approve of and AGAINST those you don’t.


8.   September is National Wilderness Month
          By Presidential Proclamation

President Obama today signed a proclamation designating September as National Wilderness Month. (The anniversary of Pres. Johnson’s signing of the Wilderness Act of 1964 is September 3.) The proclamation reads in part:

For centuries, the American spirit of exploration and discovery has led us to experience the majesty of our Nation’s wilderness. … We must continue to preserve and protect these scenic places and the life that inhabits them so they may be rediscovered and appreciated by generations to come. [¶] … It was over 100 years ago that President Theodore Roosevelt marveled at the stark grandeur of the Grand Canyon and declared, “the ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it.” [¶] …

This month, we renew our pledge to build upon the legacy of our forebears.  Together, we must ensure that future generations can experience the tranquility and grandeur of America’s natural places.  As we resolve to meet this responsibility, let us also reflect on the ways in which our lives have been enriched by the gift of the American wilderness.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 2010 as National Wilderness Month.  I invite all Americans to visit and enjoy our wilderness areas, to learn about their vast history, and to aid in the protection of our precious national treasures.
Read the entire proclamation here.


IN THE PRESS
9.   Links to Online Articles of Interest

If you have time for extra reading, there have been a few articles on relevant topics in the past month that you might find interesting. (WARNING: Not all reflect CalUWild’s viewpoint.)  ALSO, some links may expire after a while. If you can’t access something, please send me an email, and I’ll provide you with the text.)

Wilderness and the Brain, New York Times


Aw, Wilderness!
, New York Times (op-ed piece in favor of mountain bikes in wilderness areas)

Responses:

National Parks Traveler

the adventure life


National monuments? Maybe they will be
, Los Angeles Times


Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist

Response:

Ecocentrism: A Response to Paul Kingsnorth


Edward Abbey and the “Shock of the Real”
, Forbes blog (on reading Desert Solitaire)

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2010 July – Interim

October 15th, 2010

John Muir Wilderness, California                                                                                                    Mike Painter

July 31, 2010

Dear friends of CalUWild—

There are a few items of interest this month. They contain mostly good news, which is nice for a change!

The House of Representatives yesterday passed an offshore oil reform bill. The bill originally contained many provisions relating to onshore (land) leasing and reform, but unfortunately most of those were stripped out between the hearing in the Natural Resources Committee last week and the vote in the House. However, not all was lost, since the final version retained a requirement for full, permanent funding for the Land & Water Conservation Fund, a longtime goal of conservationists. The LWCF is used to purchase land and easements at the federal, state, and local levels, mainly for recreation and preservation purposes. The Fund was originally established in 1964, with funding coming from offshore energy leasing fees. The Fund has a cap of $900 million annually, but it has only been fully funded twice since its inception. This bill changes that. We’ll see how it proceeds in the Senate. Congress is beginning its August recess soon, so it’s unlikely that anything will happen before September.

It’s also unlikely that there will be any movement before September on the county-by-county wilderness processes underway in Utah. We’ll keep you posted there.

Summer is moving along quickly, and we hope you’ve been able to get away and spend some time in the outdoors—or least plan to do so still.

Best wishes,
Mike

IN UTAH
1.   Desolation Canyon-West Tavaputs Agreement

IN COLORADO
2.   Vermillion Basin Spared Oil & Gas Development
Send Thank You Letters
(ACTION ITEM)

IN WYOMING
3.   Yellowstone Snowmobiling
Planning Update
(ACTION ITEM)
Public Conference Call & “Webinars” Next Week

4.   Yellowstone’s Wild Bison Face Vaccinations
Comments Needed
(ACTION ITEM)
DEADLINE: September 24

IN GENERAL
5.   America’s Great Outdoors Initiative Continues

ON THE WEB
6.   Western Wilderness Conference Sessions Online

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

IN UTAH
1.   Desolation Canyon-West Tavaputs Plateau
Oil & Gas Exploration Impacts Reduced Through Agreement
Between Conservation Organizations and Bill Barrett Corp.

Friends of Utah’s wild places received some very welcome news this week. The Bureau of Land Management announced that it would be releasing a “Record of Decision” (ROD) for the controversial West Tavaputs Full Field Natural Gas Development Project, reflecting an agreement among the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, The Wilderness Society, Natural Resources Defense Council, Grand Canyon Trust, Sierra Club, National Parks Conservation Association, and the Bill Barrett Corp. of Denver. The agreement significantly reduces the footprint of the company’s proposed activities.

Desolation Canyon is one of the most remote areas in the Lower 48, with very few roads. It provides remarkable habitat for a wide variety of wildlife and contains many archaeological sites as well. The Green River flows through it, making it a favorite stretch for river runners.

Reflecting its wild nature, much of the area has been included in America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act for many years. Thus conservationists greeted Bill Barrett Corp.’s original proposals for oil & gas development with alarm. BLM began the planning process in 2008, and barring appeals, the ROD brings it to a close. The highlights from the agreement are:

•   No wells will be drilled on existing leases in the Jack Canyon or Desolation Canyon Wilderness Study Areas.

•   The number of surface-disturbing sites in other proposed wilderness areas will be fewer than six, down from the original 225.

•   Overall, the Barrett Corp. will reduce the number of well pads from 538 to 120, with a corresponding reduction in the number of wells from 807 to 626 (presumably through the use of directional drilling). Thus the number of disturbed cares will drop from 3,656 to 1,603.

The agreement follows another from January 2010 providing increased protection for Nine Mile Canyon and its rock art and other archaeological sites. The Final EIS also reflects that agreement

The Final EIS and ROD may be found on the web here.


IN COLORADO
2.   Vermillion Basin Spared Oil & Gas Development
Send Thank You Letters
(ACTION ITEM)

There was further good news late last month when the Colorado BLM reversed itself on previous proposals for energy development in the Vermillion Basin in Moffatt County. A planning process for the northwest corner of the state has been going on for many years, and the most recent draft allowed for much leasing for energy development. Instead, the BLM announced that the 77,000-acre Vermillion Basin would not be opened for leasing.

Vermillion Basin is a wild, scenic area, home to much wildlife, and it contains a wealth of archaeological resources, too. Vermillion Basin was also mentioned as a possibility for designation as a national monument back in January in an Interior Department memo leaked to Utah congressman Rob Bishop. According to The Wilderness Society, the basin might only contain 10 days’ U.S. supply of natural gas and virtually no oil. TWS also says that some 5 million acres of Colorado lands are leased, but only about 30% have been developed. And in the Little Snake Field Office, where Vermillion Basin is located, less than 15% of the million-plus acres already leased have been developed.

Letters of thanks, supporting the decision, should be sent to:

Ms. Helen Hankins
State Director
BLM Colorado State Office
2850 Youngfield Street
Lakewood, CO  80215-7093

Email: Helen_Hankins@blm.gov


IN WYOMING
3.   Yellowstone Snowmobiling
Planning Update
(ACTION ITEM)
Public Conference Call & “Webinars” Next Week

CalUWild has been following and commenting on Yellowstone National Park’s lengthy planning process for Winter use of the park. Early this year, the Park opened a new scoping period, collecting suggestions and ideas for alternatives and approaches. The Park has just announced the alternatives (see below) that it will analyze in the coming months, culminating in a Draft EIS to be released in early 2011. This announcement is merely informational, and no written action is required at present.

The Park is scheduling an informational conference call and two online “webinars” for members of the public who would like more information.

The conference call is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 4, at 7 p.m. MDT. The toll-free number for the call is 877-918-1346 (this number is for calls from U.S. telephones only). When prompted, please enter the passcode 8654495 followed by the pound (#) sign.

The webinars are scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 3, at 7 p.m. MDT, and Thursday, Aug. 5, at 10 a.m. MDT. Registration is required and is open until the time of the webinar. For instructions about how to participate in the webinars, go here.

Here are the Park Service’s six alternatives, verbatim:

ALTERNATIVE 1: No Action-No Snowmobile/ Snowcoach Use.

The current interim rule for winter use would expire after the 2010/2011 winter season. After that, no public use of over-snow vehicles (OSV) would be permitted in Yellowstone. Only non-motorized winter access into the park (on foot, ski, and snowshoe) would continue.

ALTERNATIVE 2: Continue Snowmobile/ Snowcoach Use at 2008 Plan Limits.

Winter access to the park via snowmobiles and snowcoaches would continue under present limits: up to 318 snowmobiles and 78 snowcoaches per day. All current OSV requirements would continue, including entry only with OSV guides, restrictions on hours of operation, and only snowmobiles that meet “Best Available Technology” (BAT) requirements. BAT also would be developed and implemented for snowcoaches by the 2014/2015 season.

ALTERNATIVE 3: Return Snowmobile/Snowcoach Use to 2004 Plan Limits.

Snowmobile and snowcoach use levels would be allowed to increase to the levels set in the 2004 plan – up to 720 snowmobiles and 78 snowcoaches per day. All current OSV requirements would continue, the same as under Alternative 2, above, including development and implementation of BAT for snowcoaches by the 2014/2015 season.

ALTERNATIVE 4: Mixed-Use: Snowcoaches, Snowmobiles, and Wheeled Vehicles (Road Plowing).

Visitors could enter Yellowstone in the winter by multiple motorized methods. The roads from West Yellowstone and Mammoth Hot Springs to Old Faithful would be plowed for park access in wheeled, commercial, multi-passenger vehicles (buses and vans). The south entrance road would be groomed for use by up to 30 snowcoaches and 100 snowmobiles per day, all required to be BAT. The east entrance road over Sylvan Pass would be closed to OSV use. Non-motorized winter access would continue.

ALTERNATIVE 5: Transition to BAT Snowcoaches Only.

Motorized access to the park would be in BAT snowcoaches only. Snowmobiles would gradually be phased out, beginning in the 2014/2015 season, when all snowcoaches would be required to meet BAT standards. Snowcoaches would replace snowmobiles within a five-year period (depending on snowcoach user demand). This Alternative initially provides for both snowmobile and snowcoach access under present levels – 318 snowmobiles and 78 snowcoaches per day. After the 2014/2015 season, snowcoach numbers would be allowed to increase to 120 per day, with a corresponding decrease in the number of snowmobiles during the five-year phase-out period.

ALTERNATIVE 6: Implement Variable Management.

OSV and visitor use would be managed for a greater variety of winter experiences by setting times and places for higher and lower levels of use, including additional opportunities for undisturbed skiing and snowshoeing. OSV entries into Yellowstone would have a winter season limit of up to 32,000 snowmobiles and 4,600 snowcoaches, and a daily limit of up to 540 snowmobiles and 78 snowcoaches. Up to 25 percent of snowmobile entries would be available for unguided use.

If you’re interested in directly receiving further information on Yellowstone’s Winter Use planning process, contact the Park and ask to be added to their list:

Email:   yell_winter_use@nps.gov
Phone:   307-344-2019
US Mail:

Winter Use
Yellowstone National Park
P.O. Box 168
Yellowstone National Park
WY  82190-0168


4.   Yellowstone’s Wild Bison Face Vaccinations
Comments Needed
(ACTION ITEM)
DEADLINE: September 24

It might come as a surprise to many, but Yellowstone National Park, the nation’s oldest, contains no designated wilderness areas. Yet remarkably, despite very heavy visitation, the Park remains a substantially functioning ecosystem, especially since the successful restoration of wolves there. In fact, Yellowstone is often called America’s Serengeti.

We don’t often write about wildlife issues except where they impact wilderness values, and Yellowstone has had its share of those. One of the ongoing battles, which we’ve occasionally covered, concerns the Park’s wild bison herd and cattle in neighboring states, especially Montana.

The issue centers on the disease brucellosis, which affects cattle, causing pregnant females to abort. Wild bison are known to be carriers of the bacterium causing the disease, ironically having contracted it from cattle 100 or so years ago. However, there has never been a known case of transmission from bison back to cattle. (Elk are more of a threat.) Yet over the years, the Park Service and the State of Montana have engaged in an all-out war (there’s almost no other word for it) against the wild bison of Yellowstone, especially when they migrate out of the Park in search of forage at lower elevations in severe Winters. The bison are hazed back into the Park, often by helicopter, even when they have calves or they are rounded up and shipped to the slaughterhouse. Just about every year some bison are killed, and some years the numbers are large. (In 2007/8, for example, over 1,600 were killed, nearly 1/3 of Yellowstone’s herd.)

In an effort to resolve the problem, the Park Service has proposed vaccinating the wild bison in the Park. There seem to be many scientific uncertainties surrounding the effectiveness of the vaccine and its effect on bison themselves—it may cause them to abort, for example. Animals vaccinated from a distance would be tagged with paintballs or other markings, while animals vaccinated in pens would have chips implanted in them.

The Buffalo Field Campaign has an extensive web page with all sorts of information on many aspects of the issue, much more than I want to go into here. A far less expensive (and less complicated) option would be simply to buy out the grazing leases in the animals’ migration path. It would preserve the naturalness of the ecosystem at the same time.

From a wilderness advocacy standpoint, vaccinating wild bison is simply an absurd idea. Wild ecosystems should be left wild, and that includes their animal populations. This proposal would destroy the wildness of Yellowstone’s ecosystem.

If you would like to read the Park Service vaccination proposal, you may download a copy of it by clicking on the link near the bottom of this page.

The Park Service just extended the deadline for accepting comments on its proposal until September 24. It is not accepting email or fax comments; you’ll have to submit your comments online here. Or mail your comments to:

Bison Ecology & Management Office
Center for Resources
P.O. Box 168
Yellowstone National Park
WY  82190-0168


IN GENERAL
5.   America’s Great Outdoors Initiative Continues

We’ve been reporting the last few months on President Obama’s “America’s Great Outdoors Initiative,” a program to help “reconnect Americans, especially children, to America’s rivers and waterways, landscapes of national significance, ranches, farms and forests, great parks, and coasts and beaches, by exploring a variety of efforts.”

As part of the process to involve ordinary Americans, earlier this month several “listening sessions” took place in various cities in California and around the country. More are being added to the schedule all the time. Check the AGO website for the evolving schedule. If there is one nearby, please try to attend.

I attended a session at UC Davis, hosted by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-1). Over 250 citizens and several Administration officials were present: Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality; Will Shafroth, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior; Ed Burton, Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA; and Jovita Pajarillo, Assistant Director, Water Division, US EPA, Region 9.

The officials seemed genuinely interested in hearing what people had to say and encouraged people to submit comments via the AGO website or to them directly. There were three formal presentations from: the California Rice Foundation and Ducks Unlimited about private wetlands and their importance to the millions of birds along the Pacific flyway; Andy Beckstoffer on conservation easements; and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation on Tule Elk restoration programs, including the Cache Creek Natural Area. Several members of the public spoke in favor of the proposed Berryessa-Snow Mountain NCA (another area considered for national monument status by the administration).

The California Wilderness Coalition reports that almost 800 people attended another session the following day at Occidental College in Los Angeles.

If you are unable to attend a listening session, you may submit comments via the AGO website. The website itself is evolving, and while it has been open for comments and suggestions since the beginning, the format has changed and now it’s dividing suggestions into four categories:

Challenges – What obstacles exist to achieving your goals for conservation, recreation, or reconnecting people to the outdoors?
What Works – Please share your thoughts and ideas on effective strategies for conservation, recreation and reconnecting people to the outdoors.
Federal Government Role – How can the federal government be a more effective partner in helping to achieve conservation, recreation or reconnecting people to the outdoors?
Tools – What additional tools and resources would help your efforts be even more successful?

Topics submitted prior to the site’s reorganization have been archived, but they cannot be voted or commented on.

It’s not clear how long the listening sessions and comment opportunities will continue, but the President is supposed to be given a report in November. So act sooner rather than later! As with all undertakings one thing is for certain: if we don’t take part, our ideas are guaranteed not to appear in the final report. And if you look through the suggestions and comments, you’ll see that many come from people who do not value wilderness and quiet recreation.

Some of the topics we would like to see addressed in the report include:

• Wilderness and WSA designation & management
• Adequate funding for land management agencies
• Focus on protecting Nature, including the restoration of degraded areas
• Establishment of a formal system of wildlife corridors
• Establishment of new parks and recreation areas at all levels
• Pitfalls of privatization of public resources
You need to register on the website in order to submit topic suggestions, comments, or to vote on others’ suggestions.

Comments may also be submitted directly CEQ chair Nancy Sutley at:

Council on Environmental Quality
722 Jackson Place, NW
Washington, DC  20503

Email is best, though, because of potential irradiation of the mail, since it’s a White House Office:

FN-CEQ-OpenGov@ceq.eop.gov

CEQ’s fax:   202-456-6546


ON THE WEB
6.   Western Wilderness Conference 2010
Sessions Now Online

If you were unable to attend the Western Wilderness Conference 2010, missed a session because you were attending another one at the same time, or just want to listen again, now is your chance to catch up. The California Wilderness Coalition has posted many of the sessions through the generosity of the Morrissey Family Foundation. Click here for the list of sessions currently available for viewing.

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2010 July

October 15th, 2010

July 2, 2010

Dear Northern California CalUWild friends—

We just learned this morning that Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA1) will be hosting a listening session for the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative at UC Davis on July 7 (next Wednesday). You may recall that Rep. Thompson was the author of the Northcoast Wild Heritage Act a few years ago, and we appreciate his willingness to be involved in the AGO process now.

Among Rep. Thompson’s guests will be:

Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality
Will Shafroth, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks
Senior EPA staff

Please RSVP by July 6 to Rep. Thompson’s Legislative Director Jonathan Birdsong (jonathan.birdsong@mail.house.gov) if you plan to attend.

Here are the details:

Vanderhoef Studio Theatre
Robert & Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts
UC Davis
July 7, 2010
11 a.m.

For directions, click here.

We apologize for the short notice. This meeting does not appear on the AGO website, so we could not list it in the recent June Update.

Also: We tried to send this announcement out only to people who might be in a position to attend or might otherwise be interested. If you received it and could not possibly attend, please send me an email with at least your home or work ZIP code and Congressional District. That will help us improve the functioning of our database. Thanks!

Hope to see you there. And Happy 4th of July,
Mike

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2010 June

October 14th, 2010


The Priest and the Nuns, near Moab, Utah                                                                                      Mike Painter

June 29, 2010

Dear CalUWild friends—

After taking a break from the news last month while I was on the road, there are a few items of interest to share this month.

You may recall a few months ago there was an uproar over a Department of the Interior memo, leaked by Utah Rep. Rob Bishop (R), mentioning some places that the administration might consider for national monument designation. If you’d like to see for yourself what all the fuss was about, Sunset Magazine had articles on the 14 that were mentioned. Unfortunately, the Interior Department has not done a good job of supporting the suggestions. Secretary Ken Salazar told Utah lawmakers that there would be no designations without consultations with local interests. Since many, if not most, local officials are opposed to federal management, what this might actually mean is open to interpretation. Of course, the President could designate monuments over local objection, but it seems unlikely given the generally cautious approach the Administration takes to things.

In other political news, former representative and Chairman of the House Resources Committee, Richard Pombo (R), lost his congressional comeback bid in the California June primary. Though a resident of Tracy, he was running in the adjacent 19th District for the seat of retiring Rep. George Radanovich (R). Mr. Pombo is remembered for his stalwart opposition to wilderness and to endangered species. Needless to say, supporters of both issues were not disappointed by the result.

I hope that Summer is off to a good start and that you’re able to get out sometime for a visit to a wilderness area or other public land. It’s your birthright as an American—enjoy it!
Best wishes,
Mike

IN UTAH
1.   Red Rock Wilderness Act:
Status Report &
Two New California Cosponsors Added
Thank You Letters Needed
(ACTION ITEM)

2.   New State BLM Director for Utah

IN CALIFORNIA
3.   Update on State Parks
(ACTION ITEM)

4.   Pleasant Valley Trails Lawsuit
Information Needed
(ACTION ITEM)

5.   Wilderness Stewardship Internships

IN NEVADA
6.   Wilderness Stewardship Trips

IN GENERAL
7.   America’s Great Outdoors
Listening Session in Los Angeles
July 8
SHORT REGISTRATION DEADLINE: July 1
& Website Comments
(ACTION ITEM)

8.   Free Days for Public Lands

9.   Wilderness Volunteers Service Trips

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

IN UTAH
1.   Red Rock Wilderness Act:
Two New California Cosponsors Added
Thank You Letters Needed
(ACTION ITEM)

There are few things to report regarding America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act.

There has been no further congressional action on the bill following the hearing before the House Natural Resources Committee last Fall. Unfortunately, when Interior Secretary Salazar made his comments regarding national monuments in Utah (see introduction), he also said that the Administration does not support ARRWA, but favors a county-by-county approach instead. The problem is that wilderness boundaries do not follow county lines. In addition, county commissioners tend to focus only on local issues and concerns. Larger (state or federal) interests are likely to be overlooked or opposed. Since these are federal public lands after all, belonging to all Americans, those larger interests need to be considered.

In addition, the county-by-county approach is now in question. Sen. Bob Bennett (R) has been behind proposals in San Juan and Emery Counties. Utah Republicans, at their state nominating convention in early May, declined to nominate him for a fourth term in the Senate. So it’s not clear that those processes can be furthered while Sen. Bennett is still in the Senate. Sen. Hatch has been working on a proposal for Piute County, but again, it’s not clear whether that will make progress, either. That the local political situation can stall progress illustrates why the whole county-by-county idea is flawed to begin with.

The Red Rock bill, however, continues to gather support in Congress. Several representatives have added their names to the cosponsor list in recent weeks. Two of them are from California. They are:

• Rep. John Garamendi (D-10), who was elected to replace former Rep. Ellen Tauscher when she joined the Administration. Rep. Garamendi is a former Deputy Secretary of the Interior, serving in the Clinton Administration from 1995-98. Rep. Tauscher was a cosponsor before she left Congress.

• Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-39). Rep. Sánchez is a returning cosponsor.

Letters and phone calls saying thank you to both are needed. If you (or anyone you know) live in their districts, please send a message.

Rep. John Garamendi

Phone:              DC:   202-225-1880
Walnut Creek:   925-932-8899
US Mail:           1981 N Broadway, Suite 200, Walnut Creek, CA  94596
Webform here.  Other contact info may be found here.

Rep. Linda Sánchez
Phone:              DC:   202-225-6676
Cerritos:   562-860-5050
US Mail:           17906 Crusader Avenue, Suite 100, Cerritos, CA  90703
Webform here.

Thanks!


2.   New State BLM State Director for Utah

BLM Director Bob Abbey announced last month that he was replacing Utah State Director Selma Sierra. The move was one that conservationists have been hoping for, for a long time. Ms. Sierra was originally appointed during the Bush Administration, and her policies gave precedence to energy exploration and off-highway vehicle use rather than conservation, even in and near wild areas.

Juan Palma will be the new director. He comes from Virginia, where he served as the BLM Eastern States Director. Prior to that, Mr. Palma served as director of the Las Vegas office and in Oregon. Ms. Sierra will take his position in Virginia.

We hope that Mr. Palma will bring a more balanced approach (maybe even pro-conservation!) to the issues facing Utah’s BLM lands.


IN CALIFORNIA
3.   Update on State Parks
(ACTION ITEM)

The initiative to permanently fund California’s State Park System via an $18 annual motor vehicle fee was officially placed on the November ballot. It provides that passenger vehicles registered in California would not have to pay entrance fees at state parks. (You can read the text of the initiative here.)

The Sacramento Bee has started a section on its website for stories, pictures, and other items related to the State Park System, and it plans on adding to it throughout the Summer. The newspaper sent out the following message:

You can read the full story at: www.sacbee.com/stateofstateparks. We hope you enjoy it and welcome your feedback now and as our coverage continues with stories on crime, encroachment of civilization, and creative ways to pay for parks.

We’re looking for your help getting the word out about the parks guide linked to this project, which includes public information available nowhere else online related to maintenance and crime – and asks those interested in the parks to upload photos showing their favorite areas, walks, views and any problems they uncover during their visits. We’ve been getting a lively response from park enthusiasts and photo hobbyists already, but there is great potential for this becoming a focal point in the debate about state parks.

Our goal is to get at least one photo uploaded for each of the 278 state parks and we know we can’t reach that goal without you. Would you be able to let your acquaintances/friends know about this effort? If you or your organization has a Website, would you be willing to link to it? Ditto with Tweets and Facebook updates?

The direct link for the parks guide, filled with information and the photo uploading form, is www.sacbee.com/stateparks.

I appreciate any attention you can help us draw to state parks.

Amy Pyle
Assistant Managing Editor/Investigations & Enterprise
The Sacramento Bee
apyle@sacbee.com
(916) 321-1050


4.   Pleasant Valley Trails Lawsuit
Information Needed
(ACTION ITEM)

Sometimes the only access to public lands is across private property. It is a long-settled principle of law that public use of a path over private property for a specified period of time creates a public easement that is permanent and cannot be revoked by subsequent owners. We recently received the following notice from a citizens group in the Sierra Nevada south of Lake Tahoe regarding access issues. If you have information that might help them and are interested in helping out, please get in touch with the people mentioned in the alert. Thanks.

Pleasant Valley is a beautiful meadow south of Lake Tahoe that for well over 100 years had served as a major access point into Alpine County high country, including the Pacific Crest Trail and the Mokelumne Wilderness Area. Access to Pleasant Valley was gated shut by a private landowner in 1999 who no longer wished to have hikers, anglers, and others cross his land. In the years following the trails’ closure, Friends of Hope Valley (FOHV) worked hard to persuade the landowner to voluntarily reopen these trails for public use, but after eight years of working for an amicable resolution this gateway to public lands remains closed. With no other recourse, FOHV has filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California in an effort to reopen the trails.

FOHV is working to find members of the public who accessed the Pleasant Valley trails in the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s. Potential witnesses will be interviewed by FOHV’s legal team, possibly deposed by the defendant’s lawyers, and may be asked to testify in court in Sacramento. The deadline to discover witnesses is fast approaching and is essential to building the case for the trail’s historic use.

The public’s right to access public trails, even if people have to pass through private land to reach them, is firmly grounded in California state law. Any land in California that was used by the public for five continuous years before March 1972 cannot lawfully be closed to public access at the whim of the landowner. There is ample evidence demonstrating lengthy historical use of Pleasant Valley for hiking, fishing, and other recreational uses, including prior use by the Washoe tribe for more than a century.

Securing trail users from the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s as witnesses is crucial to asserting the public’s legal right to access these pristine trails. Hikers, anglers and others who used Pleasant Valley from 1950-1980 are asked to contact Friends of Hope Valley by emailing info@hopevalleyca.com or to call FOHV’s lawyer, Matthew Zinn of Shute, Mihaly and Weinberger LLP, at 415-552-7272 as soon as possible. For more information about the Friends of Hope Valley lawsuit, visit http://www.hopevalleyca.com/issues.html.

Feel free to email with additional questions or for more information.

Sincerely,

Severn Williams, on behalf of the Friends of Hope Valley
Severn Williams, Principal
Public Good PR – Communications for a Better World
510-336-9566
f: 510-588-4641
sev@publicgoodpr.comwww.publicgoodpr.com


5.   Wilderness Stewardship Internships

The following came in from our friends at the California Wilderness Coalition.

WANTED: TWO INTERNS INTERESTED IN SPENDING THEIR SUMMER IN THE YOLLA BOLLY-MIDDLE EEL WILDERNESS!

The California Wilderness Coalition, Mendocino National Forest and Student Conservation Association are seeking two full-time, paid interns to serve as volunteer coordinators this summer/fall in the rugged and remote Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness. The Yolla Bollys form the spine of the Coast Range in Mendocino, Tehama and Trinity counties, roughly 30 air-miles west of the town of Red Bluff and 12 air-miles northeast of the little community of Covelo.

About the area: This region consists of steep, old-growth shaded canyons and windswept, open ridges which form the headwaters of the South Fork Trinity River and the Middle Fork Eel River, two very important salmon and steelhead trout streams.  Important tributaries of the Sacramento River also originate in the wilderness area’s eastern side. As the northern end of the interior Coast Range, the southern end of the Klamath Mountains and the western rampart of California’s Great Central Valley, it is a rich ecological melting pot with a wide range of plants and animals. For more information visit: http://www.wilderness.net/index.cfm?fuse=NWPS&sec=wildView&WID=661

About the job: From 2007-2009 we had interns for the Yuki, Sanhedrin and Snow Mountain wilderness areas. Volunteers were recruited and trained to erect wilderness boundary signs, restore areas damaged by illegal vehicle use, monitor recreation impacts and conduct a host of other important activities in the three wilderness areas. Full-time interns who served as volunteer coordinators were essential to these efforts.  This year we want to carry this successful partnership to the Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness, so we are seeking two volunteer coordinators who can:

–Recruit potential volunteers by giving presentations to groups and by using the phone, the media and the Internet;
–Plan and complete volunteer projects;
–Ensure that volunteers are properly trained and provided with necessary equipment; and
–Supervise volunteers in the field.

Interns will receive:

–Stipends of $160/week for six months;
–Medical insurance;
–An education scholarship worth $2,360 at the end of the internship; and
–Free housing and on-the-job transportation.

Qualifications: The volunteer coordinators must be self-motivated, willing to work in remote locations for up to 4 days at a time and must have excellent written and oral communication skills.

For more information please contact Ryan Henson of the CWC at 530-365-2737
or at rhenson@calwild.org.


IN NEVADA
6.   Wilderness Stewardship Trips

Friends of Nevada Wilderness always have a nice list of trips and service projects for people looking to do a little work and explore some of the wild places of the Silver State. Check out the listing of their current trips here and sign up for one!


IN GENERAL
7.   America’s Great Outdoors
Listening Session in Los Angeles
July 8
SHORT REGISTRATION DEADLINE: July 1
& Website Comments
(ACTION ITEM)

We’re following the progress this Summer of the Great Outdoors Initiative. So far there have been listening sessions in Montana, Maryland, and South Carolina, with another scheduled for Seattle tomorrow. Los Angeles plays host to one next Thursday, July 8. With the 4th of July holiday, there is a short registration deadline, tomorrow July 1. This announcement just went up yesterday on DOI’s website. EPA told me today that all are welcome, even if not registered in advance.

The Department of the Interior’s announcement says:

Senior national and local leaders from US EPA, CEQ, USDA, DOI and DOD will be present to hear your recommendations and to participate in a conversation with you about America’s Great Outdoors.

Please Register:
This event is free and open to the public.  For planning purposes, please register by Thursday, July 1st by sending an email to sun.nelly@epa.gov with your name, the name of the organization with which you are affiliated, if any, your telephone number and email address.  We will endeavor to accommodate everyone.

When:
Thursday – July 8, 2010, 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm

Where:
Thorne Hall
Occidental College
1600 Campus Road
Los Angeles, CA  90041 (See map at http://www.oxy.edu/x6062.xml)

If you live in the Mojave or east of Los Angeles, California Wilderness Coalition will be providing a bus for attendees. Here’s information regarding the bus:

To get a ride on the bus, you can meet at:

1.) 11am at the Victorville Park n Ride 16838 D St. Victorville 92392
or
2.) 12:30pm at the REI in Rancho Cucamonga 12218 Foothill Boulevard Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91739

Both of these locations are easily accessible from I-15 and/or I-10 for folks coming from the high desert, the Morongo Basin, Coachella Valley, Riverside, San Diego, or the Inland Empire. From there, the bus will take us to the Listening Session in Los Angeles. For bus riders, we will provide lunch and dinner.

RSVP to Laurel:lwilliams@calwild.org or 909.260.8833 or Monica at margandona@calwild.org to reserve your spot on the bus. We strongly encourage everyone to join us on the bus to reduce traffic and pollution!

We just need to know that you’re coming by FRIDAY, JULY 2nd.

If you are not able to attend a listening session, there is a page on the GOI website where you can submit your own ideas, vote on others’ suggestions, and make comments.

It’s not totally clear how the website is operating. Previous suggestions have disappeared off the main pages, and their comments have been removed, such as Overturn the “No More Wilderness” Policy , KEEP IT WILD, and Protect the National Conservation Lands. The links take you to the original pages, and you can still vote for them, but they are no longer listed under their authors’ names. I’m trying to find out what’s going on, but so far have no answer.

One idea that hasn’t disappeared is Protect Wilderness-Quality Public Lands.

These are all suggestions that CalUWild supports, and it can’t hurt to vote in their favor, whether they are active or not. To vote, though, you need to register. It’s an easy process, starting with clicking on “register” in the top right corner.

We’ll keep you posted as the Initiative moves forward.


8.   Free Days for Public Lands

The public lands agencies, as part of a concerted effort to get Americans outdoors and aware of their lands, have announced that entrance fees will be waived on several dates in the coming months. This applies for the National Parks, National Forests, BLM lands, and National Wildlife Refuges. The dates are:

August 14 & 15, Back to School
September 25, Public Lands Day
November 11, Veterans Day


9.   Wilderness Volunteers Service Trips

Besides Nevada (above), there are many more opportunities for service trips in wilderness areas and other public lands. Our friends at Wilderness Volunteers keep a busy schedule around the country. You can see their trips here.

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2010 May

October 14th, 2010

May 27, 2010

Dear CalUWild friends—

I’ve been spending these last weeks of May in the Four Corners region, meeting with fellow wilderness advocates, talking with land managers a bit, and looking at some of the areas CalUWild has been interested in over the years. It’s nice being away from regular email, but it also means that there aren’t a lot of items collected to share with you this month. So instead, I’m going to do something different and share a few pictures from some the areas I’ve visited. We’ll resume our regular format in June.

Have a good Memorial Day weekend, and enjoy some of our public lands if you get the chance. And thanks for all your interest and support!

Best wishes,
Mike

Professor Creek, near Moab, Utah. Included in America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act.

San Juan Mountains, Colorado. Legislation recently introduced to establish and enlarge wilderness areas.

Chimney Rock Archaeological Area, Colorado. Legislation recently introduced in Congress to establish it as a national monument

Chimney Rock Archaeological Area, Colorado. Legislation recently introduced in Congress to establish it as a national monument

Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, Colorado

Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, Colorado

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2010 April

September 8th, 2010

April 27, 2010

Dear CalUWild friends and supporters –

The Western Wilderness Conference at UC Berkeley 2 weeks ago was a great success. Over 500 people attended over the course of the 4 days, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. The Conference received a last minute offer to videotape the proceedings, so we’re hoping to make the keynote speeches and panel presentations available online. We’ll keep you posted as that happens.

It was great to meet so many CalUWild members, too. Thanks to everyone who attended and who worked so hard to make the Conference a success!

On the financial front, funding for CalUWild this year is reflecting the generally dismal state of the economy. We don’t spend a lot of time or money mailing out numerous funding appeals during the year, but we’ll again include a brief reminder this month. If you haven’t sent in your 2010 dues, please consider doing so. Dues have always been voluntary, and we keep expenses to a minimum by using email as much as possible. Contributions of any size are welcome and will be put to good use.

Because dues may be used for lobbying expenses, contributions made payable to CalUWild are not tax-deductible. If you’d like to make a tax-deductible contribution, your check should be made out to Resource Renewal Institute, our fiscal sponsor. Either way, though, mail your contribution to:

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

Thanks to everyone who has supported CalUWild so generously over the years.

Best wishes,
Mike

IN UTAH
1. Wilderness Bill Introduced for National Forest Lands
Along the Wasatch Front

2.   Settlement Reached Protecting Nine Mile Canyon Rock Art

IN CALIFORNIA
3.   Signatures Filed to Place Parks Funding Initiative
On November Ballot

4.   Wilderness Encampment in San Diego County
May 22-23

IN ALASKA
5.   Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Planning
DEADLINE: June 7, 2010
(ACTION ITEM)
IN GENERAL

6.   America’s Great Outdoors Initiative
(ACTION ITEM)

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=


IN UTAH
1. Wilderness Bill Introduced for National Forest Lands
Along the Wasatch Front

On April 13, Utah Rep. Jim Matheson (D) introduced the Wasatch Wilderness and Watershed Protection Act of 2010, H.R. 5009, to add areas in the Wasatch Mountains above Salt Lake City to the National Wilderness Preservation System.

The bill was a compromise involving several ski areas that wanted to preserve heli-skiing, which is prohibited under the 1964 Wilderness Act. So some of the originally-proposed acreage is being set aside as special watershed management areas, rather than being designated as wilderness. The management areas are contiguous to designated wilderness, and with the exception of heli-skiing, they are to be managed to preserve their wilderness character.

One of the proposed new designations is above Mill Creek Canyon and would be named the Wayne Owens Grandeur Peak-Mount Aire Wilderness. Rep. Owens was the original Utah author of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act.

There is no companion bill in the Senate.


2.   Settlement Reached Protecting Nine Mile Canyon Rock Art

We’ve written before about Nine Mile Canyon in Utah, sometimes called the world’s longest art gallery. Located in the Bookcliffs of Utah and stretching for nearly 40 miles, Nine Mile Canyon is home to numerous rock art panels and archaeological sites. The canyon itself and the plateau in which it lies have also been leased for energy development. As a result, truck traffic through the canyon has increased dramatically in the last few years, and there is evidence that the dust kicked up by vehicles is beginning to damage many of the panels along the road. In addition, chemicals spread on the dirt roads, acting as dust suppressants, may actually eat away at the rock even more corrosively.

During the previous administrations, BLM took advantage of “categorical exclusions,” which exempted the agency from rigorous environmental reviews of areas being leased for energy development. Several conservation groups-the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, The Wilderness Society, and the Nine Mile Canyon Coalition sued BLM over its use of these exclusions, arguing that it was improper to use them when “extraordinary circumstances” are present.

Such circumstances include potential damage to historic and cultural resources, the environment, or to other important resources. At the end of March, the BLM settled with the organizations and agreed to conduct environmental reviews whenever projects threaten these types of resources. In addition, BLM agreed to undertake a study of the effects on the rock art of dust and dust-suppressing chemicals in Nine Mile Canyon.

Reaction from Utah’s Sen. Bob Bennett (R) was swift and negative. The New York Times quoted Sen. Bennett as saying: “I find it outrageous and cynical that on the same day that the president is attempting to persuade Americans that he is supportive of new oil and gas development, a secret deal is announced … that will result in gutting one of the key energy streamlining provisions of the Energy Policy Act of 2005-ironically a bipartisan legislative achievement that both he and Secretary Salazar supported when in the Senate.”

It’s unlikely, however, that BLM will completely end the use of exclusions; rather it will simply look more carefully before employing them.

In other BLM-related oil & gas news, the trial of Tim deChristopher, the University of Utah student who bid on leases in December 2008 has been scheduled to begin June 21 in Salt Lake City. Although the leases were ruled illegal by a court and the Interior Department subsequently withdrew them, the U.S. Attorney is still pursuing the case. Mr. deChristopher has a website at bidder70.org with more details.


IN CALIFORNIA
3.   Signatures Filed to Place Parks Funding Initiative
On November Ballot

Two weeks ago, a coalition of conservation organizations submitted 760,000 signatures to the California Secretary of State in support of an initiative that would add $18 to California annual vehicle registration fees. This would fund the state park system and allow vehicles with California plates free access to state parks. 433,931 valid signatures are required, so it seems likely to qualify.

The measure is expected to raise close to $500 million annually. 85% of the funds would go to the state parks, and the other 15% to the Department of Fish & Game, and other state conservation agencies. The park system’s current operating budget is about $380 million, so it looks like the system will have some extra funding to work with after the recent cutbacks.


4.   Wilderness Encampment in San Diego County
May 22-23

Our friends and colleagues at Wilderness4All in San Diego, the Sierra Club, and Great Old Broads for Wilderness, are hosting the following event. Here’s their announcement:

“Wilderness Encampment” to Bring Wilderness Advocates Together on May 22/23 in the Cleveland National Forest

Join dozens of enthusiastic wilderness and wild river advocates at this Wilderness Encampment convening on Saturday – Sunday, May 22-23, at Oak Grove Forest Service Campground and Community Hall, located midway between the communities of Aguanga and Sunshine Summit on SR79 in the Cleveland National Forest. Participants will enjoy rousing presentations, stimulating discussions, hikes, great food, and fellowship at this coming together of organizations and individuals who are working to establish federal wilderness and wild & scenic river protections for federal land in San Diego County.

From the vantage point of our car-camp location at Oak Grove, we will enjoy splendid views of the Palomar range including Agua Tibia Proposed Wilderness to the south, and Beauty Mountain Proposed Wilderness to the north. These pristine areas in San Diego County comprise Congressperson Darrell Issa’s “Beauty Mountain and Agua Tibia Wilderness Act of 2009” (H.R. 4304), which would add 13,635 acres to the Beauty Mountain Wilderness, and 7,796 acres to the Agua Tibia Wilderness – which were established in Riverside County in 2009 by Congressperson Mary Bono Mack.

Sierra Club CA/NV RCC Wilderness (www.sierraclub.org/ca/wilderness) and Forest Committees are joining with the venerable Durango, Colorado-based group Great Old Broads for Wilderness (www.greatoldbroads.org), and Wilderness4All (www.wilderness4all.org) in San Diego County to stage this momentous event.

Here are some details…

Audience: Sierra Club members and guests who care about preserving wild places — from various places in California and Nevada, especially southern California

Guest speakers: Rick Halsey of The Chaparral Institute, Land management agency officials, and other guests

Format: Campout Friday night followed by sit-down wilderness meeting Saturday 10 am to 5 pm, group dinner (provided) in campground, with evening walk or program. Group breakfast Sunday (provided)

Hike: Sunday morning hike in the Beauty Mountain Proposed Wilderness Addition led by Geoffrey Smith, finished by 3:00 pm

Meeting agenda topics include: Current Wilderness legislation, wilderness management issues, agency reports, forest updates, off-road vehicle concerns, public lands fees concerns, outing reports and listings, and more.

Meals: Lunch provided during Saturday meeting. Saturday camp night dinner and Sunday breakfast provided; donations will be requested to cover meal costs.  Bring own utensils, cups, bowls, etc.

Costs: $10/person camping fee; $10/person fee for catered Saturday dinner (RSVP by May 12); $3 each donation for Saturday lunch and Sunday breakfast, both prepared by acclaimed gourmet camp cook Vicky Hoover.

Sound fun?  It will be!  For more details and to register, write to yourpartners@partners4nature.com (preferred), or call 858.442.1425.  Hope to see you there!  – Geoffrey Smith


IN ALASKA
5.   Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Planning
DEADLINE: June 7, 2010
(ACTION ITEM)

2010 marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge is updating its Comprehensive Conservation Plan and is seeking public input. Comments should be submitted by June 7, and may be sent by email, fax, U.S. Mail, or through the Refuge’s Comment Form on its planning website, also linked to below.

By Email:   ArcticRefugeCCP@fws.gov

Include “Arctic NWR CCP” in the Subject line.

By Fax:   907-456-0428, Attn: Sharon Seim, Planning Team Leader

By U.S. Mail:

Sharon Seim
Planning Team Leader
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
101 – 12th Avenue, Room 236
Fairbanks, AK  99701

Our friends at Wilderness Watch have sent out the information below giving background and suggested issues and talking points. Please follow the links in their alert for more detailed information.

Background:
The future of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is being decided and we need your help to Keep it Wild! The Fish and Wildlife Service is beginning to revise the Refuge’s Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP). The Plan will make important decisions regarding the degree to which the Refuge will remain natural, wild and free. It will guide many aspects of Refuge management, especially “on the ground” activities and uses of the Refuge. This also presents an historic opportunity to recommend the Plan include a wilderness review for all non-Wilderness Refuge lands, including the coastal plain.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is an irreplaceable national treasure, the crown jewel of America’s wilderness. It has no comparison in its vastness, remoteness, awe-inspiring landscapes and wildlife. Protecting the Arctic from both incremental changes caused by visitors and development/industrial exploitation is a great challenge that must be addressed by the revised plan. A strong, effective plan is essential to keeping the Arctic wild.

We’ve posted information below on the Refuge, suggestions for ensuring a strong CCP, and other resources. Please be sure to bookmark this page and keep checking back for updates to this page, including alerts and more information.

Take Action Now:
Help keep the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge wild by sending in your comments today. Fish & Wildlife Service is looking for public input on important questions regarding the Refuge’s future, including whether additional areas should be designated as Wilderness. Comments are being accepted through June 7, 2010.

The Alaska Chapter of Wilderness Watch has brought together the collective knowledge of veteran Arctic Refuge activists and former agency stewards to identify provisions that will be essential for an effective plan. Included in these suggestions are:

• Wilderness and Ecological Values
• Indigenous Cultures and Subsistence Use
• Recreation
• Information and Interpretation
• Access
• Inholdings
• Climate Change
• Agency Actions

Please consider incorporating some of this information in your comments. You can read the Suggested Provisions online or download a Word document by clicking here.

TO COMMENT:
1) Go to the Arctic Refuge planning website.
2) Download the Planning Booklet.
3) Use the comment form to provide your comments-send them electronically or print the form and send via mail.
4) Request to be placed on the mailing list.

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Facts:

• Originally established by Executive Order in 1960 for “preserving unique wildlife, wilderness and recreational values,” Congress doubled its size in 1980 through enactment of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act.
• At 19.3 million acres, the Nation’s largest refuge. It extends 200 miles north to south.
• Has 8 million acres (40% of the Refuge) of Wilderness.
• Contains a full range of arctic and subarctic habitats.
• Inupiat Eskimos and the Athabascan Indians have lived here for thousands of years.
• More than 20 rivers run through it, with three designated Wild Rivers-the Sheenjek, Ivishak and Wind.
• Home to 45 species of land and marine mammals, 36 species of fish, and more than 194 species of birds from six continents. Wildlife includes:

– The 120,000 Porcupine Caribou herd migrates throughout the Refuge and uses the coastal plain to give birth and raise young.
– Muskoxen and thousands of Dall sheep.
-All three North American bears live here-black, grizzly and polar.

• No roads, trails or commercial developments-visitors must travel by foot, boat or plane.
• According to FWS, “The Arctic Refuge is a place where the mystery of nameless valleys remains alive, where visitors can experience solitude, self-reliance, exploration, adventure, and challenge.”

Resources and Links:

• Arctic NWR website
• FWS Map of the Arctic NWR
• FWS Arctic NWR brochure
• Celebrating a Wilderness Legacy, The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, essay by Roger Kaye
• To download a Word document letter to FWS by Johanna Eurich, urging an end to game spotting by plane, click here.
• Proceedings of the National Academy of Science paper: Human predators outpace other agents of trait change in the wild

For More Information:
Fran Mauer, Wilderness Watch Alaska Chapter Representative
George Nickas, Wilderness Watch Executive Director: 406-542-2048


IN GENERAL
6.   America’s Great Outdoors Initiative
(ACTION ITEM)

On April 16, President Obama kicked off the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative. In a speech and signing ceremony, the President announced a program to help “Reconnect Americans, especially children, to America’s rivers and waterways, landscapes of national significance, ranches, farms and forests, great parks, and coasts and beaches, by exploring a variety of efforts.”

An 11 minute White House video of the President’s comments and signing may be watched here. The President’s memo may be read here.

This is just the beginning of a process that will include public listening sessions and more. Some of the topics we would like to see addressed include:

• Wilderness designation & proper wilderness management
• Establishment of a formal system of wildlife corridors
• Adequate funding levels for land management agencies
• Restoration of degraded areas
• Establishment of new parks and recreation areas at all levels
• Pitfalls of privatization of public resources

We’ll keep you posted a things develop. In the meantime, you can check out the Department of Interior’s website for the Initiative. They are already accepting comments and suggestions. Please speak up for the issues you care about.

Thanks!

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2010 March

September 8th, 2010

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,
Mike

IN UTAH
1. Utah Redrock Legislation Cosponsors
(ACTION ITEM)

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

IN GENERAL
3. “No More Monuments” Legislation Introduced

4. Forest Service Says Seniors
Will Continue to Receive Discounts

IN MEMORIAM
5. Ed Wayburn

6. Stewart Udall

7. Terry Shepherd

=-=-=-==-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

IN UTAH
1. Utah Redrock Legislation Cosponsors
(ACTION ITEM)

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!

IN GENERAL
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!

IN MEMORIAM
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.

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2010 February

September 8th, 2010

February 22, 2010

Dear CalUWild friends —

There is only one ACTION ITEM this month, so I’ll call your attention to a few articles of interest that have appeared in the last couple of weeks.

One of our favorite organizations, and one we mention frequently, is Great Old Broads for Wilderness. The Christian Science Monitor recently printed an article on the Broads and its executive director Ronni Egan, which you can read here.

National Parks Traveler is a website that follows all sorts of topics related to the National Park System. It recently published an article looking at wilderness in the parks and at proposals for completing the system. A second article there deals with the history of Canyonlands National Park in Utah and the prospects for enlarging it, so its boundaries better conform to the landscape. They’re both interesting and worth reading.

Don’t forget to check out the website for the 2010 Western Wilderness Conference at UC Berkeley, April 8-11. And plan to attend if you’re able. California Wilderness Coalition, Sierra Club, Wilderness Watch, The Wilderness Society, Great Old Broads, and CalUWild have put a lot of time and effort into planning it — it promises to be a great event!

Finally, sincere thanks to everyone who sent in their annual membership contributions to CalUWild. If you haven’t gotten around to it, it’s not too late! We appreciate contributions of any size and promise to put them to good use. A membership form may be found here — please print and mail it in with your gift. Thanks!

But more importantly, thanks for your interest in protecting the public lands of the West!

Mike


IN GENERAL
1. INTERIOR DEPARTMENT CONSIDERING
NEW NATIONAL MONUMENTS
ON BLM LANDS

IN CALIFORNIA
2. MENDOCINO COUNTY COAST
ADDITIONS TO NLCS

3. SIGNATURE CAMPAIGN FOR
STATE PARK FUNDING INITIATIVE
VOLUNTEERS NEEDED
(ACTION ITEM)

IN GENERAL
4. JOB ANNOUNCEMENT
LOS PADRES FORESTWATCH
CONSERVATION COORDINATOR

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

IN GENERAL
1. INTERIOR DEPARTMENT CONSIDERING

NEW NATIONAL MONUMENTS
ON BLM LANDS

The big news of the last week was that the BLM and Secretary of the Interior are looking at possible expansion of the National Landscape Conservation System, with a list of 14 areas that might be considered for designation as national monuments and three more as conservation areas.

Already, the possibility is causing controversy. In fact, the proposal came to light when two western Republican congressmen, Rob Bishop (R-UT, and Ranking Minority Member of the House Natural Resources Committee) and Doc Hastings (R-WA), leaked and posted a supposedly “secret” Interior Department internal memo hoping to pre-emptively head off the possibility. The Interior Department responded, saying these are very preliminary possibilities and that the list is merely of areas that could be looked at for possible eventual inclusion in the NLCS.

The monument areas mentioned in the memo are:

San Rafael Swell, Utah
Northern Prairie, Montana
Lesser Prairie Chicken Preserve, New Mexico
Berryessa Snow Mountains, California
Heart of the Great Basin, Nevada
Otero Mesa, New Mexico
Northwest Sonoran Desert, Arizona
Owyhee Desert, Oregon/Nevada
Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument (expansion), California
Vermillion Basin, Colorado
Bodie Hills, California
Modoc Plateau, California
Cedar Mesa, Utah
San Juan Islands, Washington

For a New York Times map of the West showing these areas, click here. The Times also ran an article on the history of controversy over monument designations in the West. (Free registration may be required on the NY Times site.)

Many in the interior West have not forgotten (or forgiven) Bill Clinton and his establishment of the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument in Utah in 1996. They want to be certain that a “land grab,” as they term it, doesn’t happen again. (Of course, these designations are not lands grabs, because the land is already federal land, meaning that it’s owned by all Americans and managed by the federal government. But that is not stopping some Utah legislators. Two state legislators recently proposed a bill that would authorize the state to institute eminent proceedings against federal lands in Utah.)

The Times article states:

The fury is nothing new. In 1969, for example, the town of Boulder, Utah, passed a resolution changing its name to Johnson’s Folly, and predicted the town’s demise after President Lyndon B. Johnson added thousands of acres to Arches and Capitol Reef National Monuments, which were both later designated national parks by Congress.

The town later reverted to its original name, and on its Web site the Boulder Business Group now proudly calls the town the “gateway to the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.”

Secretary Salazar met with Utah’s governor Gary Herbert yesterday in Washington and assured him that no decisions would be made regarding designations without consultation with local officials.

There are four possibilities mentioned for California, as well as in other states, where Sagebrush Rebellion attitudes are not as entrenched, so opposition to more monument designations is not necessarily West-wide.

The three additional conservation areas mentioned are: Bristol Bay and Teshekpuk Lake, both in Alaska, and the Red Desert in Wyoming.

Former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt instituted the NLCS in 2000. It is made up of some of the BLM lands in the West with exceptional scientific, cultural, and/or ecological characteristics. The System was formally codified in the 2009 Omnibus Public Lands Bill and covers some 27 million acres and over 8,000 miles of Wild & Scenic Rivers and Scenic or Historic Trails.


IN CALIFORNIA
2. MENDOCINO COUNTY COAST
ADDITIONS TO NLCS

Speaking of additions to the NLCS, on Wednesday the House Natural Resources Committee will hold a markup hearing on H.R. 4192, The Stornetta Public Lands Outstanding Natural Area Act. Rep. Mike Thompson (D-1) introduced the legislation late last year, which would include the Stornetta Public Lands in the BLM’s National Landscape Conservation System.

These are 1,132 acres adjacent to Pt. Arena and Manchester State Beach in Mendocino County, which were bought by The Nature Conservancy and donated to BLM for conservation purposes. The Stornetta family owned and continues to use some of the land for dairy and agriculture via a grazing lease until 2014. BLM has a conservation easement on an additional 580 acres.

If the area is protected, perhaps it will facilitate the designation of Wild & Scenic River status on the nearby Garcia River.

Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-6) has signed onto the bill as a cosponsor.


3. SIGNATURE CAMPAIGN FOR
STATE PARK FUNDING INITIATIVE
VOLUNTEERS NEEDED
(ACTION ITEM)

Although we mostly cover federal public lands issues, we’ve written several items over the last year or so about the funding crisis facing California’s state park system. There is a signature drive starting up to place an initiative on the November ballot that would add $18 to California auto registration fees, which would fund the parks and allow Californians free entrance to our parks.

Many organizations such as CalUWild, the Sierra Club, and the California Wilderness Coalition are supporting this effort. The following alert from CWC gives more information on how you can become involved in the campaign to collect signatures:

Dear Wilderness Supporter,

It’s no secret our State Park System is in big trouble. Lack of funding threatens our State Parks with inadequate maintenance, periodic or even permanent closures, damage by invasive plant species, trespass by inappropriate users and marijuana growers, and even illegal development.

Your help is needed now to qualify an initiative to provide adequate funding for the State Park System, which includes wilderness, such as at Anza Borrego and Henry Coe. We need you to help gather signatures to place a measure on the ballot which would provide a permanent funding source for our State Parks. 700,000 signatures must be turned in by April so we need your help now.

This statewide ballot initiative would raise vehicle registration fees by $18 per year. The proceeds would go to a special fund for State Parks and Wildlife Refuges. By removing the need to provide General Funds to State Parks, the General Fund would be freed up for other uses like education.

In exchange for this small $18 fee, California vehicles would be allowed free day use in State Parks and Wildlife Refuges. Since day use entry often costs $10 or more and many Californians visit a State Park or Beach more than once a year, this is a very fair exchange.

Please respond to scstpks@gmail.com to volunteer to gather signatures one or more times between now and April. Please provide the following:

Name:____________________
Address:__________________
Phone Number:_____________

We will contact you.

With your help we can get this measure on the ballot, and pass it in November. Our State Parks need your help! Thank you.


IN GENERAL
4. JOB ANNOUNCEMENT
LOS PADRES FORESTWATCH
CONSERVATION COORDINATOR

Our friends at Los Padres ForestWatch recently sent out the following job announcement.

LOS PADRES FORESTWATCH
CONSERVATION COORDINATOR

Click here for a pdf version of this job announcement.

Position Summary
Los Padres ForestWatch, a nonprofit conservation organization based in Santa Barbara, California, is seeking a Conservation Coordinator to join our expanding team. Now in our sixth year, ForestWatch is the only organization focused on protecting wildlife and wild places in the Los Padres National Forest, the Carrizo Plain National Monument, and other public lands along California’s central coast. The Conservation Coordinator will help us build on our successful track record of land conservation in our region.

Primary Duties and Responsibilities
The Conservation Coordinator is a new position that involves a combination of conservation advocacy, field work, community outreach, and volunteer coordination. Specific responsibilities include:

1. Advocate for protection of wild places along California’s Central Coast.
· Write concise and accurate fact sheets, opinion pieces, internet and newsletter articles, and email action alerts, and communicate effectively with the media.
· Review development proposals and environmental documents and prepare written and/or oral comments on land use activities that may impact natural resources.
· Maintain positive working relationships with agency officials and decision-makers.
· Analyze information from land management agencies and present it to the public in an understandable and usable format.

2. Cultivate and engage conservation allies to build broad public support for protecting key wild places in the Los Padres National Forest.
· Build and maintain relationships with diverse forest user groups – including mountain bikers, rock climbers, hunters, anglers, and horseback riders – who may share our interest in protecting wild places.
· Foster relationships with private landowners in and around the National Forest.
· Encourage stakeholders to write letters and participate in land use decisions.

3. Collect field data, monitor land uses, coordinate volunteers, organize environmental restoration projects, and communicate with the public.
· Monitor land use activities (i.e. oil drilling, mining, logging, livestock grazing, vegetation clearing), collect field data, and communicate findings and conclusions to land managers and decision-makers.
· Develop and implement environmental restoration projects using volunteers.
· Attend public events and staff informational booths to enlist new supporters.

Other Requirements
We’re seeking someone who’s highly motivated, a quick learner, able to work independently and juggle multiple priorities and tasks, has excellent communication skills, and exceptional writing and research skills. Applicants should have a demonstrated passion for protecting wild places, along with a robust sense of humor. A bachelor’s degree in environmental studies, science, communications, public relations, political science, or related field is desired, but applicants with equivalent work experience will also be considered.

This position requires occasional work on evenings and weekends, traveling in remote areas (sometimes on dirt roads requiring four-wheel drive), and work in the field (including hiking several miles, removing barbed wire fencing, and other moderate physical labor). In addition, experience with GPS units and knowledge of ArcGIS and Google Earth is a plus.

Compensation
ForestWatch offers a competitive nonprofit salary in a stimulating, rewarding work environment, as well as health benefits and a generous paid vacation policy.

To Apply
This position is available immediately. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis through February 28 or until the position is filled.

Please submit via email a cover letter describing your qualifications for this position, resume, writing sample, and the names and contact information of three references to info@LPFW.org

Los Padres ForestWatch is an equal opportunity employer. For more information about our conservation programs, visit our website at www.LPFW.org

LOS PADRES FORESTWATCH
POST OFFICE BOX 831
SANTA BARBARA, CA 93102

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