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October 31st, 2020

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2020 October

October 31st, 2020


Lehman Caves, Great Basin National Park, Utah                                                                                          (Mike Painter)

 
October 30, 2020

Dear CalUWild friends—

There are two formal ACTION ITEMS this month. You will notice that they have extremely short deadlines, due to their 14-day comment periods. This is just one example of the administration’s efforts to limit public participation to an unprecedented degree. (Voter suppression isn’t their only tool, unfortunately.) Please, comment if you can!

There’s an informal ACTION ITEM, too, if you haven’t already done it. That is: VOTE! As everyone knows that there is a lot at stake for our public lands and many other issues as well, so I won’t belabor the point. Here is relevant voter information:

California has same-day registration at polling places, where you can cast a conditional ballot, so if you’re not registered yet, you can still vote.

You can vote in person or drop off your mail-in ballot at official voting and drop-off locations and also at your neighborhood polling place until closing time on November 3. The postmark deadline is also November 3 if you decide to mail it in.

The California Secretary of State has a website where you can track the status of your ballot.

Other states my have different procedures, so if you’re not in California, please verify what you need to do.

Other issues that we’ve covered in past Updates may be found in ITEM 5.

 
November marks CalUWild’s 23rd Anniversary. We’re a proud member of a coalition of groups across the West and nationally, working to protect wilderness and other public lands from development, for the enjoyment of all Americans.

November is also the beginning of CalUWild’s Annual Membership Appeal. Dues have never been required to receive CalUWild’s Monthly Update, but we do rely on the support of our readers. If you’d like to help us save on printing and postage expenses for our mailing, you can send in a contribution ahead of time. More information is at the bottom of this Update.

 
Many thanks for your interest and support over the years!
Mike

 
IN UTAH
1.   Save Labyrinth Canyon from Industrial Development
          DEADLINE: November 4
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN ALASKA
2.   BLM Issues Seismic Testing Permits in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
          DEADLINE: November 6
          (ACTION ITEM)

ONLINE
3.   7th Annual Visions of the Wild Festival Continues
4.   Film: My Canyonlands: The Adventurous Life of Kent Frost

IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
5.   Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest

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

IN UTAH
1.   Save Labyrinth Canyon from Industrial Development
          DEADLINE: November 4
          (ACTION ITEM)

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued a Draft Environmental Assessment for exploratory drilling for helium inside newly-designated wilderness in Emery County.

The following alert came in from our friends at the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance just as this Update was being written. It has a short comment period, with the deadline being Wednesday, November 4, so I’m including it here, verbatim. I’m also including the link to their page for submitting comments directly, as well as the pages on the BLM website if you want more information or if you want to submit comments there.

 
Save Labyrinth Canyon from Industrial Development!

One month before the largest wilderness bill of the last ten years was passed (the Emery County Public Land Management Act, signed into law as part of the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act on March 12, 2019), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rushed to issue a lease to drill in the heart of the Labyrinth Canyon Wilderness, which was formally designated as wilderness by the Dingell Act.

The BLM had full knowledge that lands encompassing the leased area would soon be designated as wilderness—but went ahead and issued the lease anyway. SUWA protested that decision but the BLM’s state director rejected our challenge.

Now, the agency has prepared a draft environmental assessment (EA) to approve a helium drilling project on this lease inside the wilderness. The public comment period is open through November 4, 2020.

If allowed to proceed, the project will involve months of extensive construction in this remarkably quiet and remote place, including, at a minimum, road improvements (upgrading and graveling of existing two-tracks), well pad construction (5-7 acres of disturbance), pipelines, infrastructure on the well pad, and construction of a 10-acre processing facility on nearby Utah school trust lands. The project developer plans to drill at least two wells for helium, which requires a federal oil and gas lease to develop and which will have many of the same on-the-ground impacts as conventional oil and gas drilling.

The Labyrinth Canyon section of the Green River, which was designated under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act as a “Scenic” segment, is one of the most iconic, remote, and world-renowned river segments in the United States.

Please contact the BLM today and tell them:

— Labyrinth Canyon Wilderness is too special to drill (this includes the wilderness area itself as well as the adjacent Labyrinth Canyon Scenic segment of the Green River).

— The area is very remote, quiet, and scenic, and industrialization of the area will significantly degrade—or destroy—these values.

— Both the lease and this last-minute rush to approve development before a potential change in presidential administration highlights everything that is wrong with the Trump administration’s “energy dominance” agenda.

P.S. This Salt Lake Tribune article has more detail on how this lease was slipped in during the 11th hour before Labyrinth Canyon was designated as wilderness.

 
Use the talking points above to comment directly to BLM here or through SUWA’s website. Whichever you choose, use your own words, and if you’ve been in the area, talk about your experiences.

The Washington Post mentioned the project and featured a picture of the area in an article today: Trump rolled back more than 125 environmental safeguards. Here’s how.

If you’re interested in more details and documents, BLM’s page for the project is here.

 
IN ALASKA
2.   BLM Issues Seismic Testing Permits in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
          DEADLINE: November 6
          (ACTION ITEM)

          
This alert from our friends at Wilderness Watch came in even later than the previous one, so we are simply providing a link to their information page and online comment form. Please submit a comment if you can, again using your own words. Thanks!

 
ONLINE
3.   7th Annual Visions of the Wild Festival Continues

Join us for a discussion about the film: Carvalho’s Journey

Wednesday, November 18
6:00 p.m. (PST)

with Steve Rivo, filmmaker
Robert Shlaer, daguerreotypist & author
Stephen Trimble, author & photographer (and CalUWild Advisory Board Member)

The film tells the story of Solomon Carvalho, the daguerreotypist who accompanied John C. Frémont’s fifth expedition along the 38th Parallel.

The event is free, but you need to register in advance here. More information about the film and the presentation may be found on the registration page. The film will be available for streaming online one week before the presentation. A link and password will be emailed to everyone who registers for the event.

Earlier presentations on travelling the 38th Parallel, a Global Plastic Art Challenge, and the Silk Road are archived on the Visions of the Wild homepage. Two other upcoming events on Tajikistan and land art are scheduled for December and January. Registration for those is open, too.

 
4.   Film: My Canyonlands: The Adventurous Life of Kent Frost

Here is an alternative to (or preparation for) watching election returns on November 3, from the Moab Museum:

Tuesday, November 3, 2020
5:30 p.m. PST – 6:30 p.m. PST

Tuesdays with the Museum presents a screening of the film My Canyonlands: The Adventurous Life of Kent Frost by filmmaker Chris Simon and a discussion with Jeff Frost, Kent’s nephew. Join us online to enjoy the stunning footage and stories of Kent Frost’s incredible life as an adventurer and advocate for the canyonlands region of southeast Utah.

This free event will be held on Zoom and simulcast on Facebook Live. Join us on Zoom here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84816376005

 
IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
5.   Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest

If a link is broken or otherwise inaccessible, please send me an email, and I’ll fix it or send you a PDF copy. As always, inclusion of an item in this section does not imply agreement with the viewpoint expressed.

30×30 Initiative

Press Release: Governor Newsom Launches Innovative Strategies to Use California Land to Fight Climate Change, Conserve Biodiversity and Boost Climate Resilience, and text of his Executive Order.

An op-ed in Scientific American by New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall (D) and Prof. Subhankar Banerjee: We Must Mobilize to Avert a Lonely Earth

A “story map” from our friends at the Center for Western Priorities: Road to 30: Urban Conservation

An article in the New York Times: Europe Moves to Protect Nature, but Faces Criticism Over Subsidizing Farms

The Department of the Interior & Administration

As we reported last month, a federal judge in Montana ordered the Acting BLM Director William Perry Pendley removed from his position. A follow-up article in the New York Times: Judges Tell Trump His Officials Are Serving Illegally. He Does Nothing.

An article in the Casper Star Tribune: High-ranking public lands official says he’s still on the job during visit to Wyoming

An article in Courthouse News: Federal Judge Nullifies Actions Taken by Acting BLM Director

An article in National Parks Traveler: PEER Claims Acting Park Service Director Is Serving Illegally. PEER claims the same legal rationale applies as with BLM.

An article in The Hill: Interior ‘propaganda’ video and tweets may violate ethics laws, experts say

An article in National Parks Traveler: Interior Department Finalizes eBike Regulations For National Parks

A feature article in The Guardian’s “This land is your land” series: Revealed: the full extent of Trump’s ‘meat cleaver’ assault on US wilderness

For anyone interested in an in-depth analysis of the administration’s public land policies, an article by the Harvard Law School Environmental & Energy Law Program: Managing Public Lands Under the Trump Administration and Beyond

Every Kid in a Park program for 4th graders extended and expanded: Veterans, Gold Star families, 5th graders to get free entry to national parks

California

An article in the San Francisco Chronicle: Yosemite gets new superintendent in bid for stability at the national park. Cicely Muldoon was the superintendent at Pt. Reyes National Seashore before being appointed as acting superintendent at Yosemite, her position now being made permanent.

Alaska

An article in the Los Angeles Times: Pebble Mine developer promised riches, but expects $1.5-billion subsidy from Alaskans. Ronald Thiessen, chief executive of Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd., said in recordings made by environmentalists posing as potential investors that the $5.5 billion project would need money from the state.

A Washington Post story: Trump to strip protections from Tongass National Forest, one of the biggest intact temperate rainforests

 
 
 

Support CalUWild!

Membership is free, but your support is both needed and appreciated. Dues payable to CalUWild are not tax-deductible, as they may be used for lobbying. If you’d like to make a tax-deductible contribution, please make your check payable to Resource Renewal Institute, CalUWild’s fiscal sponsor. If your address is not on the check, please print out and enclose a membership form. Dues levels are:

$20 Limited
$30 Regular
$60 Supporting
$120 Outstanding
Other

Either way, mail it to:

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

 

As always, if you ever have questions, suggestions, critiques, or wish to change your e-mail address or unsubscribe, all you have to do is send an email. For membership information, click here.

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2020 September

October 22nd, 2020


In the Needles District, Canyonlands National Park, Utah                                                                            (Mike Painter)

 
September 30, 2020

Dear CalUWild friends and supporters—

The political world has been focused on the upcoming presidential and congressional elections and now the Supreme Court, too, with the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The importance of voting has never been more critical. Here’s voter information from our July Update:

California does a good job running and monitoring elections. 2020, however, has been a strange year, and it is a good idea to check one’s voter registration status in advance. The California Secretary of State has a website set up where you can do just that:

https://voterstatus.sos.ca.gov/

Residents of California and other states can check also their status here:

Indivisible/Turbovote.org
Vote.org

Turbovote will also send you notifications about any election changes in your community (and you can unsubscribe at any time. It’s FREE.)

If you do vote by mail, please make sure you give yourself adequate time both to receive and return your ballot. (And let your Representatives and Senators in Congress know that they need to support the U.S. Postal Service.)

 
It’s not all bleak news, though, as you’ll see in ITEM 1. And we had good news some weeks ago: Radius Gold, the company proposing exploratory drilling on the California side of the Bodie Hills, is abandoning its plans for now. That doesn’t mean the threat is completely gone, but it gives us time to focus more on education and other issues in the Hills.

 
As always, thanks for your interest and support,
Mike

 
IN GENERAL
1.    BLM Acting Director Pendley Removed
          From Position by Court Order
2.    3 New California Cosponsors for 30×30 Resolution
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
3.    Point Reyes National Seashore
          Plan Supports Continued Ranching
          (ACTION ITEM)
4.    7th Annual Visions of the Wild Festival
          (ONLINE)

IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
5.    Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest

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

IN GENERAL
1.    BLM Acting Director Pendley Removed
          From Position by Court Order

Last Friday, a Federal District judge in Montana ruled that William Perry Pendley, Acting Director of the Bureau of Land Management, has been holding his position illegally, in violation of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act. The court ordered him removed immediately, and the ruling was not stayed pending appeal.

This is the result of a lawsuit filed in July by Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) in response to actions taken by BLM in Montana. (At least two other lawsuits have filed against Mr. Pendley and his tenure.)

As we wrote in ITEM 2b of last month’s Update, Mr. Pendley was a controversial figure even before he was appointed. He had a history of opposing the concept of federal public lands—claiming that the Founders intended for all federal lands to be sold—and had made disparaging remarks about Indigenous peoples, among other things.

He was appointed first as Acting Director, then nominated to be the permanent Director. However, that nomination was withdrawn when it became clear that the Senate was not likely to confirm him in the face of opposition from the public and conservation groups. He then signed a “succession order” for BLM giving himself a position with all the duties and powers of the Director, without actually being the director, to last indefinitely. The judge dismissed this arrangement, saying it:

represents a distinction without a difference. Such arguments prove evasive and undermine the constitutional system of checks and balances. … The President cannot shelter unconstitutional “temporary” appointments for the duration of his presidency through a matryoshka doll of delegated authorities.”

(Matryoshka dolls are Russian nesting dolls.)

Mr. Pendley had been at the head of BLM for 424 days, far longer than the 210 days allowed by the law for “acting” appointments. Interior Secretary Bernhardt extended Mr. Pendley’s appointment four times, despite the fact that the president is the one who is supposed to make the appointment and Senate confirmation is required. In addition, once nominated for a position, a person is not allowed to be in an “acting” capacity, which he also did while the formal nomination was still pending. The judge wrote that Mr. Pendley’s “tenure did not follow any permissible paths for appointment to the office.”

The judge has asked for a listing of actions BLM that has taken might be invalidated, and of course, those outside Montana would be invalid, as well. Possibilities include oil & gas leasing plans, the move of BLM headquarters to Grand Junction Colorado, and more.

You may read the judge’s ruling here.

The administration has used this type of appointment in other agencies as well.

We’ll keep you posted on developments.

 
Other BLM issues in the press: An article in The Hill: Interior watchdog: top officials misled Congress on BLM relocation out West

 
2.    3 New California Cosponsors for 30×30 Resolution
          (ACTION ITEM)

We wrote in last month’s Update about H. Res. 835, the 30×30 Resolution introduced in Congress, expressing support for the protection of 30% of the U.S. land base by the year 2030. Three more California representatives signed on as cosponsors this month:

Barbara Lee (D-13)
Jackie Speier (D-14)
Anna Eshoo (D-18)

That brings the California total to seven out of our 53 representatives. (There are 24 cosponsors nationally, meaning that there’s lots of work ahead!) Please call your representative to thank them or ask them to sign on as cosponsors. A list of California representatives and their DC office phone numbers is on our Congressional Information page.

Our friends at the Center for Western Priorities have put together a website with information about the campaign and various strategies to achieve the goal.

 
IN CALIFORNIA
3.    Point Reyes National Seashore
          Plan Supports Continued Ranching
          (ACTION ITEM)

This month, Point Reyes National Seashore released its long-awaited General Management Plan Amendment for ranching. Despite the fact that more than 90% of the comments received from the public opposed continued ranching in the Seashore, the Park Service unsurprisingly chose its Preferred Alternative.

As we wrote in our August 2019 Update:

The … Preferred Alternative proposes to protect cattle ranching at the expense of wildlife, specifically Tule Elk, and the overall landscape. While much of the press reaction has centered around the killing Tule Elk when they come in conflict with cattle, equally (if not more) important is the proposal to allow ranchers to remain permanently and actually increase their commercial operations at the Seashore to include the raising of other animals, such as turkeys and pigs, to allow growing vegetables and row crops, and to allow paying overnight guests at ranches.

In short, this is not a balanced plan. The Park Service is offering the ranchers almost everything they asked for during the scoping process, as set forth in a letter from the Ranchers Association, which you can read here. The environment and the general public get little or nothing out of the Plan.

Restore Point Reyes National Seashore, a project of Resource Renewal Institute in Marin County (and CalUWild’s fiscal sponsor), has an eight-minute film on its website about the Tule Elk and a list of possible actions to take, including writing to Rep. Jared Huffman (D-2), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D), the House Natural Resources and Senate Energy and Natural Resources committees, and Park Service officials. They also have talking points and a sign-on petition—all too much to include here.

So please go to their page for the film and suggested actions. (You can also sign up for a newsletter.) As always, when writing letters use the talking points but put them in your own words—and include your own personal experiences, for even greater impact.

Ken Brower, son of David Brower, Executive Director of the Sierra Club when Pres. John F. Kennedy signed the 1962 legislation creating Point Reyes NS (and Founding Member of CalUWild’s Advisory Board) wrote an essay recently: Reflections on the 58th Anniversary of the Point Reyes National Seashore. It’s worth reading to get a good perspective on the Seashore’s history and present situation.

 
4.    7th Annual Visions of the Wild Festival
          (ONLINE)

Since 2014, the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, CalUWild has helped plan the Visions of the Wild Festival, featuring films and art, with Region 5 of the U.S. Forest Service and the Vallejo Community Arts Foundation. This year, the annual event focuses on 38° North, the latitude on which Vallejo lies, but which also turns out to be a significant marker around the world.

In years past events took place over a weekend in Vallejo, but circumstances have forced us into the virtual world. This has the obvious disadvantage of not gathering in person, but it’s also allowed for greater flexibility in scheduling events, arranging for speakers, showing films, and archiving events for later viewing. We are, however, hoping to have a scaled-down in-person event next spring, with art exhibitions and a possible concert, as in years past.

Future events include:

Thursday, October 1
Global Recycled Plastic Art Challenge – Launch Event

with Richard Lang and Judith Selby Lang, One Beach Plastic
Shannon & Kathy O’Hare, Obtainium Works

The “challenge” is for young people to rescue plastic trash of any shape or size and make art from it.

Wednesday, October 21
The 38th Parallel and the Silk Road

with Valerie Hansen, Ph.D.
Stanley Woodward Professor of History, Yale University

This talk will focus on the experiences of Buddhist monk-pilgrims who visited the oases of Niya and Khotan between AD 300 and 1000 and of Sir Aurel Stein, the British-Hungarian explorer and archeologist who excavated multiple sites on the Southern Silk Road in the early twentieth century.

Wednesday, November 18
Film: Carvalho’s Journey

with Steve Rivo, filmmaker
Robert Shlaer, daguerreotypist & author
Stephen Trimble, author & photographer (and CalUWild Advisory Board Member)

The film tells the story of Solomon Carvalho, the daguerreotypist who accompanied John C. Frémont’s fifth expedition along the 38th Parallel.

A previous event was scheduled after our August Update, went out, so we couldn’t announce it in advance, but the program is available on the Visions of the Wild website:

Online at Visions of the Wild
Traveling the 38th Parallel: A Water Line Around the World

with David & Janet Carle, authors of the book of that title

Fascinated with the ways in which we are all connected, especially by water, the authors set out on an around-the-world journey in search of water-related environmental and cultural intersections along the 38th parallel.

Registration is required for each event, separately, but all are FREE (though donations are appreciated). Follow the links for each at the Visions of the Wild homepage.

 
IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
5.    Links to Articles and Other Items of
Interest

If a link is broken or otherwise inaccessible, please send me an email, and I’ll fix it or send you a PDF copy. As always, inclusion of an item in this section does not imply agreement with the viewpoint expressed.

In Utah

An op-ed in the Deseret News: The current federal leasing binge is damaging Utah’s economy

An article in the St. George News: ‘It’s just becoming awful’: Zion park officials try to deal with unprecedented amounts of graffiti

In California

An op-ed in The Guardian: Our land was taken. But we still hold the knowledge of how to stop mega-fires

An op-ed in the Los Angeles Times: Don’t believe self-serving messengers. Logging will not prevent destructive wildfires

A review of Exploring the Berryessa Region: A Geology, Nature and History Tour, a new guide book to the Berryessa region, part of the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument. One of the authors is CalUWild friend Bob Schneider.

In Alaska

An article in the New York Times about the Pebble Mine: An Alaska Mine Project Might Be Bigger Than Acknowledged

A follow-up article in the Washington Post: Alaska mining executive resigns a day after being caught on tape boasting of his ties to GOP politicians

An article in the New York Times: Trump Administration Releases Plan to Open Tongass Forest to Logging

In Nevada

An article in E&E News: BLM mum as Bundy continues to send cattle to market

In Wyoming

An article in the Billings Gazette: FOIA documents reveal Interior’s 2018 push to manage Yellowstone bison like cattle

In General

In the New York Times a review of the excellent film: ‘Public Trust’ Review: Saving National Lands. The film is being screened online by various conservation and film organizations and is also now available for public viewing on Patagonia’s YouTube page. (Search for “Public Trust Feature Film” if it’s no longer near the top of the listings.) The filmmaker, David Garrett Byars, also made the film No Man’s Land, dealing with the takeover of the Malheur Nation Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

On the environmental news site Mongabay: Can public lands unify divided Americans? An interview with John Leshy. We’ve included article and op-eds by Mr. Leshy in the past. He was General Counsel at the Department of the Interior during Pres. Bill Clinton’s terms.

An article in Hatch Magazine: The end of dispersed camping?

An article in the Washington Post: This Thai national park was tired of visitors leaving trash, so the government mailed it back to them. (It might be worth a try here!)

 
 
 

Support CalUWild!

Membership is free, but your support is both needed and appreciated. Dues payable to CalUWild are not tax-deductible, as they may be used for lobbying. If you’d like to make a tax-deductible contribution, please make your check payable to Resource Renewal Institute, CalUWild’s fiscal sponsor. If your address is not on the check please print out and enclose a membership form.

Either way, mail it to:

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

 
 

As always, if you ever have questions, suggestions, critiques, or wish to change your e-mail address or unsubscribe, all you have to do is send an email. For membership information, click here.

Please “Like” and “Follow” CalUWild on Facebook.

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2020 August

September 1st, 2020


Delaney Creek, Yosemite Wilderness, California                                                                                          (Mike Painter)

 
August 31, 2020

Dear CalUWild friends—

Summer is almost over, at least as far as schoolkids are concerned, but we’re still faced with major public health and wildlands fire concerns here in California and other areas around the West and country. But amid all that bad news, there was some good news in August, too.

The Great American Outdoors Act, which Congress had previously passed (see our July Update) was signed, providing full funding for the Land & Water Conservation Fund and other funding for public lands. In the face of a massive outpouring of opposition from conservation groups and citizens, the Bureau of Land Management removed many parcels from a large oil & gas lease sale in Utah, scheduled for September. Most of the land would have been close to Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef national parks.

The administration announced its opposition to the Pebble Mine in Alaska, at least as currently proposed. Several high-ranking Republicans (including the president’s own son) opposed the project, and this likely tipped the balance, though the project is not completely dead.

See IN THE PRESS, below, for articles dealing with these in more detail, and other items as well.

The White House also withdrew the nomination of William Perry Pendley to be Director of the Bureau of Land Management. Again, this was done in the face of massive opposition by conservation groups and others. 390 groups, including CalUWild, signed a letter to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee asking it to reject his nomination. Interior Secretary Bernhardt also faced mounting pressure to withdraw Mr. Pendley’s name. But like the Pebble Mine, this isn’t the end of the story; Mr. Pendley still remains in charge of the Bureau. See ITEM 2 for further details about this and other questionable Interior Department goings-on.

 
But even if summer is almost over, it’s never too late to read a good book! Two of CalUWild’s Advisory Board members have published books recently that are worth reading:

A Surfer in the White House, and other salty yarns, by Rob Caughlan, who’s long been active in political circles and is one of the founders of the Surfrider Foundation.

The Capitol Reef Reader, edited by Stephen Trimble, who’s a long-time Utah writer and photographer.

The links are to their Amazon descriptions, but please order from your local bookstore if possible.

 
Please stay safe from the fires, don’t inhale too much smoke, and stay otherwise healthy!

 
Best wishes,
Mike

 
IN GENERAL
1.   30×30 Resolutions in Congress
          Cosponsors Needed
          (ACTION ITEM)
2.   Interior Department Activities
          a.   Secretary of the Interior
          b.   Bureau of Land Management
          c.   National Park Service
3.   Job Listings
          a.   Congressional Hispanic Caucus Resume Bank
          b.   Wilderness Workshop
          c.   Grand Canyon Trust
          d.   WildEarth Guardians

IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
4.   Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest

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

IN GENERAL
1.   30×30 Resolutions in Congress
          Cosponsors Needed
          (ACTION ITEM)

Some years ago, the great biologist E.O. Wilson proposed setting aside 50% of the Earth as natural areas, an amount he felt is needed to preserve the biodiversity of the planet. Other organizations have picked up on the idea, such as the WILD Foundation, with its Nature Needs Half coalition. This year, Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) and Rep. Debra Haaland (D-NM) introduced resolutions in both the Senate and the House that would make significant progress toward this goal. Though not enforceable as law, the resolutions express “the sense of the [Senate and the House of Representatives] that the Federal Government should establish a national goal of conserving at least 30 percent of the land and ocean of the United States by 2030.”

Shorthand for this campaign is thus “30×30.”

S. Res. 372 in the Senate has 12 cosponsors so far, and I’m happy to report that both California Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D) and Kamala Harris (D) have signed on. Please thank them.

However, H. Res. 835 in the House has only 17 cosponsors, four of which are from California:

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-17)
Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-32)
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-33)
Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-47)

Please thank them, too.

If your representative is not one of them, please call their offices and ask them to add their names as cosponsors. CalUWild co-founder Vicky Hoover, who is coordinating the Sierra Club’s volunteer efforts for the 30×30 effort, suggests something along these lines:

As a citizen concerned about the loss of biodiversity in our country and throughout the world, and knowing that Nature conservation can help combat the climate crisis, I am asking your boss please to sign on as a cosponsor of H. Res. 835, which expresses the “sense of the House that the Federal Government should establish a national goal of conserving at least 30 percent of the land and ocean of the United States by 2030.”

I hope that he/she will be willing to help this visionary new campaign by signing on to H. Res. 835, with Rep. Haaland’s office.

Contact information for all Senators and Representatives may be found on CalUWild’s online California Congressional Information Sheet.

Former Interior Secretaries Sally Jewell and Ken Salazar penned an op-ed in The Guardian that included support for the 30×30 proposal: Congress wants to fix public lands. It’s just a bandage on the wounds Trump caused

 
2.   Interior Department Activities

Our friends at the Center for Western Priorities do an excellent job of keeping track of what goes on in the various agencies in Washington, DC. Here are two reports from them, dealing with the Secretary of the Interior and the Directorship of the Bureau of Land Management.

 
          a.   Secretary of the Interior

The Interior Department’s internal watchdog released a report on Tuesday [Aug. 11] finding that political appointees at the department withheld public documents mentioning Interior Secretary David Bernhardt ahead of his confirmation hearing. The report was released approximately one year after Interior’s Office of Inspector General began investigating the department’s controversial Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) policy that gives political appointees the ability to review public information requests prior to their release, and in some cases withhold material altogether.

According to the report, Interior withheld over 250 pages of records it was required to produce under the terms of a lawsuit. Hubble Relat, an appointee in the Secretary’s office, directed attorneys in the Solicitor’s Office to “withhold any documents that were sent to or from Bernhardt, or that referenced him in any way, from upcoming FOIA releases related to the litigation,” the report states.

The report also bolsters lawmakers’ claim that Interior Solicitor Daniel Jorjani lied to members of Congress when asked about the FOIA awareness review process for political appointees during his own confirmation hearing, stating, “I, myself, don’t review FOIAs or make determinations.” He followed this claim with a subsequent written response to Senator Ron Wyden in which he said he “typically did not review records prior to their release under the FOIA” and also flatly denied the existence of a separate FOIA review process for top political officials at the department. However, documents released as part of the investigation into the FOIA review process indicate that not only was Jorjani aware of the “awareness review” policy at Interior, but often examined FOIA material before it was released himself.

Sources:

Office of Inspector General Report: Alleged Interference in FOIA Litigation Process. There is a link to a PDF of the full report on that page.

Article in The Hill: Watchdog report raises new questions for top Interior lawyer

Article in the Huffington Post: Interior Department Withheld Trump Nominee Docs Ahead Of Confirmation, Watchdog Finds

Mr. Jorjani’s response to the Senate Energy & Natural Resource Committee

 
          b.   Bureau of Land Management

A new document acquired by the Associated Press shows that acting Bureau of Land Management (BLM) head and anti-public lands extremist William Perry Pendley signed the succession order that made his own position the agency’s default leadership post, a method of keeping him in power that legal experts have concluded is very likely illegal. Pendley, who has effectively led the BLM for far longer than the 210 days allowed under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, was recently nominated to head the agency by President Trump. It was the administration’s first nomination to the agency in 4 years, and Interior faces two lawsuits from Pendley’s extended stint. However, within weeks of the announcement, his nomination was withdrawn after it became clear that the Senate would have overwhelmingly rejected him due to his history of calling for the sale of public lands and overt racism. Nevertheless, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt intends to rely on a highly questionable succession order to keep Pendley in place as de facto director of the agency.

Legal experts from around the country have confirmed that the recently uncovered succession order is dubious and may violate the Constitution. Pendley was the one who wrote and signed the order that gives himself the authority to act as director indefinitely. “It is the ultimate in bootstrapping because Pendley, who is in my view not serving legally in this job, is naming himself at the top in the order of succession,” said Nina Mendelson, a professor of law at the University of Michigan and an expert on administrative law.

Difficulties in acquiring succession orders also raise questions about the orders even existing in the first place: the National Park Service FOIA office stated that they had no responsive records for a similar succession order, and a FOIA request for Pendley’s succession order is still pending. “I find it highly unlikely that the National Park Service wouldn’t just have those documents,” said Anne Weismann, chief FOIA council with Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “It’s just not credible.” The order now shows that it was signed just days before Bernhardt announced that a department succession order allowed Pendley to remain in charge indefinitely.

Sources:

BLM Succession Order

Article from the AP: Public lands chief hangs on despite nomination getting nixed

Article in The Hill: Lawyers question public lands chief move leaving himself in power

Article in the Missoulian: Bullock sues to block Pendley from BLM job

Op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune: William Perry Pendley is not fit to lead the BLM

Article in The Intercept: Trump’s Pick To Manage Public Lands Has Four-Decade History of “Overt Racism” toward Native People

Article in the Anchorage Daily News: Trump to withdraw Pendley’s nomination as public lands chief

Article in E&E News: BLM chief signed an order to keep himself in power

 
          c.   National Park Service

The administration has largely sidestepped the Constitutional requirements for many Executive Branch officials to receive Senate confirmation by appointing acting directors for many agencies. The Bureau of Land Management (discussed above) and the National Park Service are just two. Earlier this month, David Vela announced he was retiring from the Park Service, where he had worked for 30 years. Secretary David Bernhardt announced that Margaret Everson would serve as Acting Director. She has no experience working for the Park Service, though she has served as Principle Deputy Director of the Fish & Wildlife Service since 2018 and as counselor to Mr. Bernhardt. Prior to that, she worked for Ducks Unlimited and as legal counselor to various state and federal agencies.

Soon after her appointment, she caused controversy by stating that any shortage of rangers caused by the Coronavirus pandemic should not be used as an excuse to limit access to outdoor areas of national parks, including campgrounds, picnic areas, overlooks, open areas at forts, and other spaces. Phil Francis, chair of the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks responded:

This directive from Acting Director Everson demonstrates her complete lack of understanding regarding how parks operate and what National Park Service employees actually do. Her comment should disqualify her from serving as the acting director, as it demonstrates her lack of experience and support for NPS staff and the protection of park resources. Her suggestion that all outdoor facilities, including campgrounds and picnic areas, should be open despite staff shortages suggests she thinks these facilities run themselves. They do not.

Ms. Everson now faces the same problem as William Pendley at the BLM. She’s an “acting director” at an agency that hasn’t had a full director since the beginning of this administration. Under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, positions requiring Senate confirmation may only be filled on a temporary basis by: 1) a qualified official appointed directly by the president; or 2) the “first assistant” to the former director. Ms. Everson is neither, not having been appointed by the president, nor being Mr. Vela’s “first assistant.”

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and Western Watersheds Project amended a lawsuit they had previously filed, substituting Ms. Everson for the contested appointment of Mr. Vela as “Acting” Director.

Under the law, actions taken by officials not complying with the law’s requirements are “without force or effect,” nor may they be ratified subsequently. This throws any and all actions Ms. Everson may take under legal suspicion.

We’ll keep you posted on developments.

 
3.   Job Listings

We’re always happy to post listings from organizations that we work with or that might be of interest to our members. Please feel free to apply or to pass these along to anyone you know who might be interested.

 
          a.   Congressional Hispanic Caucus Resume Bank

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus has re-launched the resume bank again this year. They are planning to make resumes from the bank available to any Members and Committees seeking to diversify their teams!!!

If you are aware of anyone who is interested in being included in the resume bank, please encourage them to fill out this questionnaire and upload their resume.

 
          b.   Wilderness Workshop

Wilderness Workshop is excited to announce that we have two opportunities for people to join our highly effective team fighting to protect western Colorado’s public lands and wildlife! We’re looking for a Director of Community Organizing and a Communications Director, and detailed information about the positions and application process can be found on our website.

Both positions are incredibly rewarding, interesting, fun and occasionally challenging. The issues we work on are pressing and directly impact our communities. Wilderness Workshop is a vibrant and collaborative organization, and our team is passionate about the work we do.

Briefly, for the Director of Community Organizing, we are looking for someone who can create a culture of activism in our local community and energize the public in support of our public lands conservation efforts. For the Communications Director, we are searching for a media professional with excellent writing and editing skills, social media-savvy, and a keen ability to effectively communicate our multi-faceted work through a variety of channels.

 
          c.   Grand Canyon Trust

Standing up for Utah’s public lands is more than just a job. We’re looking for a new Utah Public Lands director who is passionate about conservation, Indigenous traditional knowledge, and ensuring the public has a voice in decisions that affect Utah’s public lands.

If this sounds like you, please apply: https://www.grandcanyontrust.org/utah-public-lands-program-director

 
          d.   WildEarth Guardians

WildEarth Guardians is hiring a Climate and Energy Program Attorney. Here’s the job announcement with more details: https://wildearthguardians.org/about-us/careers/#CEattorney. DEADLINE: September 4

 
IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
4.   Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest

If a link is broken or otherwise inaccessible, please send me an email, and I’ll fix it or send you a PDF copy. As always, inclusion of an item in this section does not imply agreement with the viewpoint expressed.

In Utah

An article in the Los Angeles Times: Trump administration backs off plans to open land near Utah national parks to drilling

In California

National Geographic had an article on the history and potential renaming of the Alabama Hills, which we mentioned in our Fourth of July Update: This famous California landscape has a complicated history—and a promising future

An article in ProPublica: They Know How to Prevent Megafires. Why Won’t Anybody Listen?

A book review in the Los Angeles Times: Griffith Park finally gets the book it deserves. Take a hike with its author

An op-ed by CalUWild friend Jacques Leslie in the Los Angeles Times: Warren Buffett can save the Klamath River Basin. Will he?

Yosemite National Park has put its Parsons Memorial Lodge Summer 2020 Series Virtual Celebration online.

In Alaska

Two articles in the Washington Post regarding the Pebble Mine:

Republican push to block controversial Alaskan gold mine gains the White House’s attention

Trump administration says Alaska’s Pebble Mine can’t be permitted ‘as currently proposed’

An article in Politico: The Man Determined to Deliver Trump’s Alaskan Oil Promise: A political appointee at the Department of Interior has played a key, and sometimes controversial, role in opening a pristine wildlife refuge to drilling.

In Arizona

An article in High Country News, dealing with the border wall: A wildlife refuge under siege at the border

An article in The Guardian: ‘This land is all we have left’: tribes on edge over giant dam proposal near Grand Canyon

In Idaho

An article in the Washington Post: Anti-government activist Ammon Bundy arrested after maskless protesters storm Idaho capitol. Bundy was arrested a second time the very next day, and carried off in a wheelchair.

In General

An article in the New York Times: Trump Signs Landmark Land Conservation Bill

An article in the Washington Post: Quoting ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ judge strikes down Trump administration rollback of historic law protecting birds

An op-ed in The Hill: Monumental: Why public lands are still worth fighting for. The writer, David Gessner, is the author of All the Wild That Remains: Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner and the American West.

In the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof’s annual column on hiking, wilderness, and public lands: Fleeing the Trolls for the Grizzly Bears

An essay: Andrew McIntosh: Wilderness, Fear, and Creativity

An article in the New York Times about old WPA National Parks posters: Meet the National Parks’ ‘Ranger of the Lost Art’

An article in the Wall Street Journal: The Scariest Part of the Great Outdoors? The Brand New Camper. (The article may be behind the paywall, but if you click on the X at the upper right of the blue box covering the article, it should become visible.)

A lengthy article in The Nation, looking at efforts at “rewilding” in the Netherlands: When Humans Make the Wilderness

 
 
 
 

Support CalUWild!

Membership is free, but your support is both needed and appreciated. Dues payable to CalUWild are not tax-deductible, as they may be used for lobbying. If you’d like to make a tax-deductible contribution, please make your check payable to Resource Renewal Institute, CalUWild’s fiscal sponsor. If your address is not on the check please print out and enclose a membership form.

Either way, mail it to:

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

 
 

As always, if you ever have questions, suggestions, critiques, or wish to change your e-mail address or unsubscribe, all you have to do is send an email. For membership information, click here.

Please “Like” and “Follow” CalUWild on Facebook.

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2020 July

August 6th, 2020


Detail, Mortar and Wall, Former Bears Ears National Monument, Utah                                                        (Mike Painter)

 
July 31, 2020

Dear CalUWild friends—

Many thanks to everyone who sent in comments responding to the July 4th Update. The unanimously positive response has been gratifying. The conversation continued last week as the Sierra Club attracted national attention when its executive director wrote a blog post distancing the organization from comments John Muir made and examining some of its history. See ITEM 3 for links to it and a few responses.

 
Though CalUWild doesn’t endorse candidates for office, we have always emphasized the importance of voting. In general, California does a good job running and monitoring elections. 2020, however, has been a strange year, and it is a good idea to check one’s voter registration status in advance. The California Secretary of State has a website set up where you can do just that:

https://voterstatus.sos.ca.gov/

Residents of California and other states can also check their status here:

Indivisible.Turbovote.org
Vote.org

Turbovote will also send you notifications about any election changes in your community (and you can unsubscribe at any time. It’s FREE.)

The White House has been attacking the U.S. Postal Service for months now, and there are fears that cutbacks and policy changes will interfere with Vote-by-Mail efforts. The Washington Post published a story yesterday Postal Service backlog sparks worries that ballot delivery could be delayed in November

So if you do vote by mail, please make sure you give yourself adequate time both to receive and return your ballot. (And let your Representatives and Senators in Congress know that they need to support the U.S. Postal Service.)

 
Best wishes,
Mike

 
IN CONGRESS
1. Public Lands Legislation Moves Forward

IN MEMORIAM
2. Huey Johnson

IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
3. Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest

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

 
IN CONGRESS
1. Public Lands Legislation Moves Forward
Great American Outdoors Act

Last week the House of Representatives passed the Great American Outdoors Act, by a vote of 310–107. The Senate had passed the bill, 73–25, in June, as we reported last month, so now it goes to the White House for the president’s signature. He had promised to sign it, but no date has been set yet.

The bill is significant because it finally accomplishes the longtime goal of providing full and permanent annual funding for the Land & Water Conservation Fund. This fund, in the amount of $900 million per year from offshore oil royalties, is used to purchase inholdings in national parks and forests, connect already protected areas, establish trail networks, protect wildlife habitat, and even to create urban parks and build playgrounds. The LWCF also supports conservation efforts on privately held lands. There is probably not a congressional district in the country that has not benefited in some way from the LWCF.

Retiring Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) temporarily blocked passage of the bill early in the month because he has been a longtime opponent of the LWCF, particularly fully finding it, and especially now permanently (though his district has received money for projects over the years). He failed, however, in his attempt to prevent the bill’s passage.

The Outdoors Act also established the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund, meant to address the huge backlog of deferred maintenance projects on federal lands. It’s estimated that up to $9.5 billion will be available over the next 5 years for various projects under the fund, also coming from oil & gas royalties on public lands.

After the bill’s passage, former Secretaries of the Interior Sally Jewell and Ken Salazar wrote an op-ed in The Guardian: Congress wants to fix public lands. It’s just a bandage on the wounds Trump caused.

National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)

Three items are of interest here: Various public lands bills which had already passed the House as H.R. 2546 were added to the House version of the NDAA, including four from California: Northwest Forests, Central Coast, San Gabriel Mountains, and the Rim of the Valley proposal. Also included were the Colorado Wilderness Act and the Wild Olympics Act. There had been no action in the Senate on that combined bill, so these were added to the NDAA in the hopes that they could be kept in the final version, to be worked out in conference between the Senate and House.

In other good news regarding the NDAA, neither House nor Senate version contains language authorizing for the expansion of the Nevada Test and Training Range into the Desert National Wildlife Refuge. Rep. Rob Bishop’s (R-UT) amendment that he sneaked into the bill was removed after vocal opposition from the Nevada congressional delegation and many others. Friends of Nevada Wilderness reports that the White House has threatened to veto the NDAA if the expansion is not included in the bill.

The House also attached the Colorado Outdoor Recreation & Economy (CORE) Act, which we discussed in our January 2019 Update, to the NDAA.

The White House has previously said it’s not happy with any amendments to the NDAA in general, particularly concerning the renaming of military installations named after Confederate military personnel. We’ll see how this plays out.

 
IN MEMORIAM
2. Huey Johnson

We are very sorry to report that CalUWild Advisory Board member Huey Johnson died at home this month, after sustaining injuries in a fall. Huey was 87 years old.

I had the privilege of working with Huey while working for Resource Renewal Institute (CalUWild’s fiscal sponsor) in the 1990s, several of those years as his assistant, and then afterward. He introduced me to many interesting ideas and people. It was sometimes a challenge, because Huey’s mind was free-ranging, and he was a font of ideas, so you never knew what particular day might bring.

Huey had a penchant for starting organizations, and he always said: “If there isn’t an organization doing what you want, start one of your own.” That was the inspiration for starting CalUWild after leaving RRI. A couple of years later, Huey generously took us on as a fiscally sponsored project. Huey was always available to talk about things.

Huey had a remarkable career , which spanned many years. He was the first employee of The Nature Conservancy west of the Mississippi and eventually became Acting Executive Director. He founded The Trust for Public Land, which was followed by a stint as California’s Secretary for Natural Resources in the first Jerry Brown Administration. After leaving government he founded the Resource Renewal Institute. While at RRI, he worked to found Green Belt Movement International, supporting the work of Wangari Maathai’s women’s tree planting organization in Kenya. The Grand Canyon Trust also started under his auspices at RRI, and various other projects continue there as well. In 2001, he was awarded the Sasakawa Prize, the United Nations’ highest environmental honor.

CalUWild friend, filmmaker John de Graaf, made a documentary about some of Huey’s work at RRI, examining environmental planning ideas—known as Green Plans—from the Netherlands and New Zealand, with the hope of establishing similar plans here in the U.S. You can watch it online on Vimeo, entering “Resource Renewal Institute: Green Plans” (with the quotation marks) in the search box. (I’m not providing the exact link because emails containing video links have frequently bounced back, rejected as SPAM. If you can’t find it, send me an email.)

We will miss Huey’s energy and inspiration.

Bay Nature published an interview with Huey several years ago: Huey Johnson takes the long road. The San Francisco Chronicle published a lengthy obituary, which you can read here. The Marin Independent Journal‘s obituary is here.

 
IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
3. Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest

If a link is broken or otherwise inaccessible, please send me an email, and I’ll fix it or send you a PDF copy. As always, inclusion of an item in this section does not imply agreement with the viewpoint expressed.

In Utah

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune: Donald Trump Jr. touts the shrinking of Utah’s Bears Ears as opening land to public

An article in the Deseret News: Critics say now is not the time for oil and gas leases in Grand County

In Alaska

Last week, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a final EIS for the Pebble Mine, the subject of controversy over many years and several items in past Updates. The New York Times published and article about the project: Gold vs. Salmon: An Alaska Mine Project Just Got a Boost. California Rep. Jared Huffman (D-2) immediately introduced an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2021 spending bill to prohibit the Army Corps from spending any funds to issue a final decision approving the project. An article in The Hill: House-passed spending bill would block Pebble Mine construction

And in other good news on a subject we’ve followed for many years, a federal court has once again ruled against the Interior Department’s plans to build a road through Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt negotiated a behind-the-scenes lands exchange. The court found that the Secretary failed to provide a reasoned explanation for reversing an Obama Administration finding that the road would cause significant environmental damage.

The National Parks

An article in the New York Times: Western Outbreaks Threaten Tourist Season at National Parks.

An essay in National Parks Traveler: National Parks As An Impediment To The Sixth Mass Extinction

In General

Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune’s blog post (mentioned above) on the Club’s founding and history. In response the California Sun published an essay He was no white supremacist by Muir biographer Prof. Donald Worster and an interview with him: John Muir and race: Biographer argues for nuanced view of the environmentalist.

Muir’s great-great grandson, Robert Hanna, had a conversation with Black author and educator Carolyn Finney about the Muir controversy and the question of history, social justice, and inclusion. You can watch it on YouTube, entering The Robert Hanna Show #4 in the search box. (If you can’t find it, send me an email.)

The Center for American Progress issued a report: The Nature Gap: Confronting Racial and Economic Disparities in the Destruction and Protection of Nature in America

An article in Bloomberg Law: White House Mum on Land Projects Sped Up for Virus Recovery

An op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle: Investment in the outdoors can bring jobs, health, conservation

 
 
 
 

Support CalUWild!

Membership is free, but your support is both needed and appreciated. Dues payable to CalUWild are not tax-deductible, as they may be used for lobbying. If you’d like to make a tax-deductible contribution, please make your check payable to Resource Renewal Institute, CalUWild’s fiscal sponsor. if your address is not on the check please print out and enclose a membership form.

Either way, mail it to:

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

 
 

As always, if you ever have questions, suggestions, critiques, or wish to change your e-mail address or unsubscribe, all you have to do is send an email. For membership information, click here.

Please “Like” and “Follow” CalUWild on Facebook.

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2020 July 4th

July 12th, 2020


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

 
July 4, 2020

Dear CalUWild Friend & Supporters—

The last few months have been a difficult and trying time here in the United States (and the world as a whole). Covid-19 has had profound effects on the country and the world, affecting many people on a personal level, dealing with their own health or that of family and friends. It has forced profound shifts in social behavior, employment, and the economy, and many people are finding it difficult to adapt to them.

At the same time there is political and social unrest brought about by our society’s failure to address longstanding problems of policing and other social injustices, as well as an administration that seems to delight in disregarding every norm of good governance.

The Fourth of July seems like a good time to take a break from our regular activities and reflect a bit. (Though please note there are two Action Items in the Press listings, which can be accomplished quickly with one phone call.)

At first glance these various social issues might seem to have little or no relevance to wilderness and public lands. But a closer look uncovers myriad connections to be aware of and which can guide our work.

The most fundamental connection is the fact that all of our public (and private) land in the U.S. was taken from Indigenous peoples, one way or another. There is no controverting that fact. Indigenous people have been completely shut out of management and decision-making regarding the land where they once lived.

This is why the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah is so significant. It’s the first time that Native American tribes came together successfully with a proposal to the federal government to protect a landscape of great significance to them. The conservation community supported their efforts wholeheartedly, and purposely allowed the tribes to take the lead. We are learning now that Indigenous knowledge can contribute to proper land management. A co-management scheme between the tribes and the federal government was supposed to have been implemented, but this administration nixed that when it shrank the Bears Ears by 85%. Our hope is that changes will be made in the future, allowing the tribes a real voice in the management of a restored monument.

Working with the tribes has made many people more aware of other situations affecting them. Political representation in San Juan County, Utah, where a majority of citizens are Navajo, has shifted following redistricting cases fought in the courts. Navajos now have two out of the three seats on the County Council. Their votes will affect public land policy in the county going forward.

The killing of George Floyd and others has sparked an intense look at policing here in the U.S. It has also initiated a movement to hopefully once and for all come to grips with the continuing reminders in present-day America of slavery, the Confederacy, and exploitation of Indigenous peoples. Statues of prominent Confederate officials and others dominate the news, but there are other examples, too.

Here in California, it turns out that Southern sympathizers decided to commemorate the 1863 sinking of a Union ship by a Confederate warship, naming the Alabama Hills after the Confederate ship. The Hills are in the Owens Valley, at the foot of the Eastern Sierra and are an important cultural area for local Indigenous peoples. They have no relationship to Alabama other than their name. Although Congress recently designated the Hills a national scenic area, a campaign is getting underway to rename them now.

(A footnote to that story: The Alabama continued destroying Union trading ships in oceans around the world. In 1864 in Cherbourg, France, it met up with an American warship, the Kearsarge, which in turn sank it. Union supporters got their revenge by naming Kearsarge Peak, some miles north of the Alabama Hills.)

However, there are also day-to-day, personal challenges facing Black Americans and other underrepresented groups on our public lands. Many don’t feel safe or particularly welcome. They look around and don’t see many people who look like them. They are sometimes threatened by White people whose dogs are off-leash or for other unjustified reasons. Some lack the economic means to travel, while others don’t have the family history of camping, hiking, or visiting our National Parks and other special places. There is an unfortunate view among many that conservation is a “Whites-only” endeavor. Conservation organizations have only relatively recently started to correct this through outreach to underserved communities, both in their hiring and in their programs. (The Sierra Club has had an Inner City Outings program—since renamed—since 1976.)

In recent years, groups such as Outdoor Afro and Latino Outdoors have started up to bring members of their communities in contact with the outdoors and public lands. We support their efforts and encourage you to learn more about them.

But concern for these issues stretches up to the highest levels of our government, too. The Department of the Interior oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs. And as we just saw in the photo-op incident at Lafayette Square in Washington, DC, the National Park Police have an urban law enforcement presence, which they aren’t afraid to turn against generally peaceful protestors, for political ends.

Finally, as demographics in the U.S. change, and proportions of non-White citizens grow, they will have increasing political clout. Our public lands will continue to require a constituency to defend them. We need to bring as many different communities into the discussion as possible.

CalUWild from the beginning has encouraged our members to be engaged personally and actively, saying we are as much pro-democracy as we are pro-wilderness. It is our hope that our members will use the tools we provide to influence decision makers on these other matters, as well. But despite all these other important issues, our work continues to be relevant, too, because when the public health situation gets somewhat back to normal and we make progress on the social justice front, we will still need wild places. But regardless of any public lands connections, we simply owe it to all our fellow citizens—and all inhabitants of the Earth—to see that they are treated fairly and with respect by those in power and by society at large.

 
This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive listing or discussion of all the possible issues. Rather these are simply thoughts that have accumulated over the last weeks and months, providing some ideas for our consideration.

There have been quite a few articles in the press expounding on or illustrating some of these issues. As always, if a link is broken or otherwise inaccessible, please send me an email, and I’ll fix it or send you a PDF copy. Inclusion of an item in this section does not imply agreement with the viewpoint expressed.

An article in Scientific American: Black Birders Call Out Racism, Say Nature Should Be for Everyone

An article in Hatch Magazine: Thoughts on the killing of George Floyd: Systemic racism is everywhere. Even in the great outdoors.

An op-ed by Jeremy Miller in Sierra: Why Does the National Park Service Have a SWAT Force?

An article in The Hill: Interior secretary: Park Police faced ‘state of siege’ at Lafayette protests

More from The Hill: Internal watchdog probing Park Police actions toward Lafayette Square protesters

An article in the Washington Post: Congress begins probe into federal officers’ use of force to clear protesters near Lafayette Square

ABC News had an article: America’s national parks face existential crisis over race. CalUWild friend Audrey Peterman and her husband are interviewed.

An op-ed in the Los Angeles Times: Could the racist past of Mt. Rushmore’s creator bring down the monument?

An article in National Parks Traveler: Blackfeet Nation Closes Glacier National Park Border Over Covid Concerns

 
Press articles on other issues of note appearing in the last month:

The Administration

An article in The Hill: ‘Gutted’ Interior agency moves out West with top posts unfilled

An article in The Hill: Interior move keeping controversial acting leaders in office faces legal scrutiny

The administration has officially nominated William Perry Pendley to head the Bureau of Land Management. He’s been in an unconfirmed acting capacity for many months now. The Washington Post’s Energy 202 blog takes a look at his upcoming confirmation: Trump’s nomination of public lands manager tees up tough vote in the Senate. Mr. Pendley has said he doesn’t believe the federal government should be owning any land, though he claims his personal view won’t influence his job as BLM head. He’s also been quoted making dismissive comments about the Black Lives Matter movement (the “other” BLM).

An op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune: Energy dominance agenda threatens our Western way of life. One of the authors is CalUWild friend Nada Culver at the National Audubon Society.

In Utah

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune: Regulations finally coming for scenic air tours over Utah’s national parks, but not all pilots like the idea

A piece by Bill McKibben in The New Yorker: A Guy Named Craig May Soon Have Control Over a Large Swath of Utah

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune: Utah gave group $400,000 to sue the feds on public lands issues. It never did. What happened?

In California

An article in the Los Angeles Times: Federal approval of oil well at Carrizo Plain National Monument sparks outrage

In Nevada (ACTION ITEM)

An article in the Nevada Appeal: U.S. Senate committee drops plans to expand Fallon, Nellis training ranges. This week, Utah Congressman Rob Bishop (R) introduced an amendment to the House version of the Defense Authorization Act supporting the expansion. Please call your House representative and urge them to vote NO on this provision. California contact information may be found here.

In Oregon

An article from Reuters: Trump pardons Oregon ranchers who inspired refuge standoff

The West

An article in the New York Times on the writer Wallace Stegner: Wallace Stegner and the Conflicted Soul of the West

National Monuments & Parks

An article in the Washington Post: Trump lifts limits on commercial fishing at ocean sanctuary off New England. The boundaries of the monument were not affected.

An article in Outside Online: The 8 Most Endangered National Parks

In General (ACTION ITEM)

The Senate passed the Great American Outdoors Act, which contains a provision for permanent and full annual funding of the Land & Water Conservation Fund. This has been one of CalUWild’s longest-running issues. The House is considering a companion bill. An article from Courthouse News: Senate Passes Public Lands Bill in Rare Show of Bipartisanship. Please call your House representative and urge them to vote YES on this bill. California contact information may be found here.

An op-ed in the New York Times: The Misunderstood, Maligned Rattlesnake

A blog post on Legal Planet: Jefferson’s Bridge: Anticipating modern environmental views, Jefferson viewed nature as a public trust.

 
 
 

Support CalUWild!

Membership is free, but your support is both needed and appreciated. Dues payable to CalUWild are not tax-deductible, as they may be used for lobbying. If you’d like to make a tax-deductible contribution, please make your check payable to Resource Renewal Institute, CalUWild’s fiscal sponsor. if your address is not on the check please print out and enclose a membership form.

Either way, mail it to:

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

 
 

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2020 May

June 3rd, 2020


Near Lunar Crater, Nevada                                                                                                                                     (Mike Painter)

 
May 31, 2020

Dear CalUWild friends—

In this time of public health challenges, political uncertainty, and social unrest, it is especially critical to let our representatives know that there are other concerns that must be addressed at the same time. The administration continues its attacks on our environment, and Congress is the main shield available to citizens, though many organizations are resorting to action in the courts (and successfully, too!).

Please take a few minutes to call your representatives and senators, letting them know your concerns in general and also regarding the two specific issues below, in ITEMS 1 & 2. Contact information may be found on our online California Congressional Information Sheet. In District 25, Santa Clarita, Mike Garcia (R) was elected to fill the term of Rep. Katie Hill (D), who had previously resigned. It remains to be seen what happens with her various cosponsorships.

 
In the meantime get outdoors as much as you can. While parks and other public lands are beginning to open up again, there are concerns that it might be too soon, exposing employees and the public to increased health risks. So please observe any social distancing and mask requirements.

 
Best wishes,
Mike

 
IN UTAH
1.   Red Rock Bill Gets 2 New California Cosponsors
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN NEVADA
2.   Desert National Wildlife Refuge Protection Bill
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN GENERAL
3.   Oppose E-Bikes on Public Lands
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINE: June 9
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
4.   Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest

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

IN UTAH
1.   Red Rock Bill Gets 2 New California Cosponsors
          (ACTION ITEM)

America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act (H.R. 5775) gained two new cosponsors from California this month: Reps. Mike Thompson (D-5) and Tony Cárdenas (D-29). They joined 14 other California representatives and lead sponsor Alan Lowenthal (D-47) on the bill. Sen. Kamala Harris (D) is not on the bill yet, despite her otherwise strong public land credentials. There are now 81 House cosponsors and 19 in the Senate.

Please contact their offices to say thank you. And if your representative is not on the bill yet, urge them to become a cosponsor. With everything else that’s going on, they often need an extra push from their constituents.

A full list of current and former California cosponsors may be found on our online California Congressional Information Sheet.

A full list of cosponsors nationwide may be found here.

 
IN NEVADA
2.   Desert National Wildlife Refuge Protection Bill
          (ACTION ITEM)

The Air Force is proposing to expand its operations in the Desert National Wildlife Refuge north of Las Vegas. Bills have been introduced in the House and Senate that would preserve the Refuge for wildlife: H.R. 5606 and S. 3145, the Desert National Wildlife Refuge and Nevada Test and Training Range Withdrawal and Management Act.

Our colleagues at Friends of Nevada Wilderness sent out the following alert requesting people to call their representatives in support of the legislation:

May 20th marked the 84th anniversary of the creation of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge, located in southern Nevada. The 1.6 million acre refuge was established by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1936 to protect the iconic desert bighorn sheep, Nevada’s official state animal. Located just north of Las Vegas, the Desert Refuge is the largest wildlife refuge outside of Alaska. This pristine, wild landscape must be preserved not only for the sake of the wildlife who depend on it, but also for the public who recreates there, and to protect and honor the incomparable historic and cultural resources present throughout the refuge. Currently the Air Force shares jurisdiction with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of over 800,000 acres of the western portion of Refuge. The military’s use is intended solely for training purposes and these areas are closed to the public. Now the Air Force is asking Congress to expand their reach in this rich desert landscape.

The US Fish & Wildlife Service needs to retain full management of the entire refuge and no more land in the refuge should be given over to the military. Opening up more land for the potential bombing of critical bighorn sheep habitat and sacred Native American sites is not acceptable. Please don’t lock the American people out of the remainder of this incredible wildlife refuge.

While national defense is important to all of us, a balance must be established that includes cultural and historical preservation and conservation of wildlife habitat and public access. The Nellis Test and Training Range already has 2.9 million acres that are off limits to the public. We ask that when the time comes, please vote in the interest of Nevada’s wildlife and the public. Protect the Desert National Wildlife Refuge.

Contact information may be found on our online California Congressional Information Sheet.

 
IN GENERAL
3.   Oppose E-Bikes on Public Lands
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINE: June 9
          (ACTION ITEM)

The Bureau of Land Management has an open comment period on a proposal to allow electric bikes (e-bikes) to be classified as ordinary bicycles under some circumstances. Please submit comments. Our friends at Wilderness Watch sent out the following alert and talking points:

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is undergoing rule-making to open up our federal public lands to electric bikes, or e-bikes. This means that all trails open to bikes will now be open to motorized bikes, and although individual managers can close individual trails to e-bike use, most will be loathe to do so. This rule-making effort is being made to implement Secretary of Interior David Bernhardt’s Secretarial Order from August 2019 to do so.

E-bikes are bicycles turned into motorbikes. They use an electric motor, rather than a gas-powered one, to propel the bike forward. On some bikes, the electric motor provides an assist while peddling, on others the electric motor alone can power the bike. E-bike use has taken off in recent years, and new technologies are now being developed to manufacture e-bikes that can drive up to 55 miles per hour.

For far too long conservationists have ignored the threat that mountain biking poses to wildlands, wildlife and Wilderness. Modern bikes employ technological advances in suspensions, materials, drivetrains, brakes, and even tires that allow mountain bikers to access backcountry areas that would have been unheard of a decade or two ago. Even today, many conservationists err in promoting mountain biking as a benign “human-powered” activity, even though the human power is enhanced with a great deal of high-tech machinery that allows even average riders to reach places unreachable not long ago. Motorized, electric-powered bikes—e-bikes—are becoming the norm and will greatly exacerbate the ecological and political problems created by mountain bikes.

Like all recreation, mountain bikes displace wildlife. Because they travel farther and faster than hikers or equestrians, then can impact a much greater area in the same amount of time. They also have a very asymmetrical impact on foot travelers, who are seeking a quiet, contemplative, non-motorized and non-mechanized experience and are disrupted by a machine racing by. But beyond these direct impacts to nature, a significant segment of the mountain biking community has become one of the most ardent opponents of Wilderness designation and, more significantly, is pushing to open existing Wildernesses to bikes. This push will presumably include e-bikes if they’re treated like non-motorized bikes on public lands.

The new rule-making efforts pose significant problems for wildlife, other trail users, and protected areas like Wilderness. Please submit comments to the Bureau of Land Management expressing your opposition to opening up non-motorized trails on federal public lands to motorized e-bikes.

 
1. E-bikes should be treated as motorbikes, not bicycles. New e-bikes are being developed now that will drive up to 55 mph. E-bikes should instead travel only where motor vehicles are allowed.

2. Because of their speed and quiet nature, e-bikes can travel much farther into the backcountry, and startle and disturb wildlife over far greater distances.

3. Because of their speed and quiet nature, e-bikes also conflict with other non-motorized trail users like hikers, horseback riders, and bicyclists.

4. Because there is almost no enforcement now for trespass, illegal off-trail riding, and illegal trail development by some bikers, e-bikes will increasingly trespass into Wilderness and other protected areas with no consequences. This illegal use will degrade the wild character of these lands and should not be permitted.

Please submit comments to the BLM by June 9. Use your own words and identify your comments with this code:

RIN 1004-AE72

You may submit your comments by clicking on the Comment Now! button here as well as finding more information about the proposed rule on that page.

You may also comment by U.S. Mail at this address:

U.S. Department of the Interior
Director (630), Bureau of Land Management
Mail Stop 2134 LM
1849 C St. NW, Attention: RIN 1004-AE72
Washington, DC 20240

 
IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
4.   Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest

If a link is broken or otherwise inaccessible, please send me an email, and I’ll fix it or send you a PDF copy. As always, inclusion of an item in this section does not imply agreement with the viewpoint expressed.

The Administration

An article in The Hill: Interior sued over temporary appointments of top officials. National Parks Traveler posted a copy of the complaint on its website.

An article in The Hill: Court sides with California, blocking Trump’s water diversion

An article in The Guardian, from its “This Land is Your Land” project: He opposed public lands and wildlife protections. Trump gave him a top environment job

An op-ed in High Country News by former California BLM State Director Jim Kenna: Bureau of Land Management leaders have lost their way

In Alaska

An article in the Washington Post: EPA opts not to delay controversial Alaska mine for now.

In Arizona

An article in the Arizona Daily Sun: Feds approve initial Little Colorado River dam permits; developer eyes third permit

In Nevada

An article in E&E News about the Bundy family and Gold Butte National Monument: Bundy’s trenches may force confrontation with BLM

In Oregon

An article in the San Francisco Chronicle: Hammonds drop appeal to compete for lost grazing allotments The Hammonds are the ranchers whose jail sentences kicked off the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016.

National Parks

An article in National Parks Traveler: Court Orders National Park Service, Federal Aviation Administration To Develop Air Tour Guidelines

An article by Jeremy Miller in The Guardian, from its “This Land is Your Land” project: ‘We’ve never seen this’: wildlife thrives in closed US national parks

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune: Crowds cause Arches National Park to shut gates just three hours after opening

Wildlife

An article in the Los Angeles Times: Desert mystery: Why have pronghorn antelope returned to Death Valley?

An article in Courthouse News about a lawsuit filed by Defenders of Wildlife, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Animal Legal Defense Fund: Endangered Jaguar at Crux of New Border-Wall Fight

 
 
 
 

Support CalUWild!

Membership is free, but your support is both needed and appreciated. Dues payable to CalUWild are not tax-deductible, as they may be used for lobbying. If you’d like to make a tax-deductible contribution, please make your check payable to Resource Renewal Institute, CalUWild’s fiscal sponsor. If your address is not on the check, please print out and enclose a membership form.

Either way, mail it to:

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

 
 

As always, if you ever have questions, suggestions, critiques, or wish to change your e-mail address or unsubscribe, all you have to do is send an email. For membership information, click here.

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2020 April

May 2nd, 2020


Bears Ears National Monument, Utah                                                                                                                   (Mike Painter)

 
May 1, 2020

Dear CalUWild friends—

I hope you and your families and friends have been able to stay healthy with the coronavirus situation continuing.

There has not been a lot of activity in Congress or elsewhere on public lands issues and no new cosponsors on any bills to thank, so there are no formal ACTION ITEMS this month. There is concern that the administration is continuing its rollbacks of other environmental regulations, so if you wanted to call your congressional representatives to express general opposition, it wouldn’t hurt. (Many staff people are working from home, though, so don’t be surprised if there is no immediate personal answer.) Contact information is on our online California Congressional Information Sheet.

This month’s Update will just consist of some articles that have appeared in the press over the last month.

There continue to be many streaming and other online resources to keep you occupied when you want to take a break from your routine. We listed some in Item 4 of last month’s Update.

 
Best wishes,
Mike

 
IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
1. Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest

If a link is broken or otherwise inaccessible, please send me an email, and I’ll fix it or send you a PDF copy. As always, inclusion of an item in this section does not imply agreement with the viewpoint expressed.

Bears Ears National Monument

An article in the San Juan Record: San Juan County won’t participate in Bears Ears travel planning effort

The Administration

An Earth Day op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle by CalUWild Advisory Board member and longtime friend Rob Caughlan: An Earth Day thought for our ‘wartime president’ during coronavirus crisis

An article in The Guardian by Jeremy Miller: Trump seizes on pandemic to speed up opening of public lands to industry

An article in The Hill: Groups threaten suit as Interior repeatedly fills top posts with ‘temporary’ leaders

Public Lands in General

From early in April, an article in The Guardian: ‘Please don’t come’: calls to close US national parks over virus fears. From later in the month: An article in National Parks Traveler: Coping With Coronavirus: Phased Openings Coming To National Parks

From the Washington Post’s Energy 202 blog: Trump’s plan to reopen national parks sparks worry about coronavirus spread

An op-ed in the New York Times: Nowhere Is Remote Anymore

An article in the New York Times: National Parks Balancing Demands for Cell Service, Silence. It’s from the Associated Press, so there’s no telling how long it will remain on the Times website.

An article in the Washington Post: The western U.S. is locked in the grips of the first human-caused megadrought, study finds

Wildlife

Wolf OR-7 seems to have died of old age in Oregon: California’s celebrated gray wolf, OR-7, presumed dead

An article in Nevada Current, mentioning the 30×30 resolution in Congress which proposes to set aside 30% of U.S. land and coastal waters as protected by 2030: Can more conservation, less wildlife trade help prevent the next pandemic?

An op-ed in the New York Times: Now We Know How Quickly Our Trashed Planet Can Heal

 
 
 
 
 

Support CalUWild!

Membership is free, but your support is both needed and appreciated. Dues payable to CalUWild are not tax-deductible, as they may be used for lobbying. If you’d like to make a tax-deductible contribution, please make your check payable to Resource Renewal Institute, CalUWild’s fiscal sponsor. Please print out and enclose a membership form if your address is not on the check.

Either way, mail it to:

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

 

As always, if you ever have questions, suggestions, critiques, or wish to change your e-mail address or unsubscribe, all you have to do is send an email. For membership information, click here.

Please “Like” and “Follow” CalUWild on Facebook.

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2020 March

April 1st, 2020

Globe Mallow, Cedar Mesa, Utah                                                                                                              (Mike Painter)

 
March 31, 2020

Dear CalUWild friends—

Welcome to the strange new world of coronavirus. I hope everyone and their families are able to stay healthy and safe. That needs to be the first priority.

However, we still need to pay attention to what’s going on in Washington, DC and elsewhere. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and the rest of the administration are insisting on pushing full steam ahead with their anti-environmental agenda of NEPA rollbacks, oil and gas leases, and more. This comes despite pleas from employees who need to take time off and from Congress and citizens who need to be attending to other matters. Meanwhile the oil and gas industry is requesting leniency on enforcement, since many of them are now short of workers because of the virus. We’ll see what the response is to those requests.

So while we’re in for rough times ahead on many fronts, we all will need to do our best to get through. See ITEM 4 for ideas for things to do to that provide for some balance and relaxation.

 
Best wishes,
Mike

 
IN UTAH
1.   Red Rock Bill Cosponsor Update
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN COLORADO
2.   Wilderness Bill Introduced for Southern Colorado

IN IDAHO
3.   Job Opportunity: Western Watersheds Project

IN GENERAL
4.   The Pandemic and Public Lands

IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
5.   Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest

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

IN UTAH
1.   Red Rock Bill Cosponsor Update
          (ACTION ITEM)

There is only one new cosponsor for America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act this month from California: Rep. Katie Porter (D-45). (Many of you may have seen video of Rep. Porter, in a Congressional hearing, forcing the head of the Centers for Disease Control to agree to free testing for the coronavirus.)

Please call her office to say thank you: 202-225-5611

We hope to get most of California’s representatives signed on soon as cosponsors, so please look at the California Congressional Information Sheet on our website and see where your representatives stand. And then call to thank or ask them, as appropriate.

A full list of cosponsors nationwide (74 in the House and 17 in the Senate) may be found here.

 
IN COLORADO
2.   Wilderness Bill Introduced for Southern Colorado

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R) has introduced the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness Additions Act (S. 3320), which would add some 40,000 acres to the existing wilderness area (of the same name) in the Rio Grande National Forest.

Sen. Gardner has faced criticism because he has not been a supporter of wilderness and public lands since being elected in 2015. Sen. Gardner has not spoken in favor of the CORE Act, introduced by Sen. Michael Bennet (D), which we wrote about in our January 2019 Update. The League of Conservation Voters says that in 64 out of 75 votes, Sen. Gardner voted against conservation interests. Conservation Colorado published an analysis of Sen. Gardner’s environmental record, which you can read here. Sen. Gardner is, however, credited with having changed White House thinking on funding for the Land & Water Conservation Fund.

Conservation and outdoor recreation are important issues in Colorado, and Sen. Gardner is facing a tough re-election campaign this year. Therefore, many people there feel that this bill is merely a way to shore up his credentials, risk-free, since its acreage is a large proportion of the recommendation (58,000+ acres) already made by the Forest Service in its preferred alternative of the management plan for the forest.

We’ll see how it all plays out and keep you posted.

 
IN IDAHO
3.   Job Opportunity: Western Watersheds Project

Our friends at Western Watersheds Project are looking for …

… an Idaho Director to continue and expand WWP’s campaign to protect and restore public lands and wildlife in Idaho, with an emphasis on livestock grazing and related environmental problems. The position will entail administrative and legal oversight of federal decisions, fieldwork, data collection and analysis, participation in agency planning processes, media outreach and legislative advocacy. The ideal candidate will be highly organized, self-motivated, be able to synthesize and understand ecological and biological concepts, and have strong written and oral communication skills.

Full details are on WWP’s website here.

 
IN GENERAL
4.   The Pandemic and Public Lands

With the coronavirus spreading around the U.S. and the world, many states, including California, issued orders restricting people’s activities to those considered “essential.” Fortunately, this included getting out for exercise. Unfortunately, many people decided this was reason to visit our public lands, near and far from their homes. The Park Service encouraged this by waiving entrance fees at all national parks and monuments.

Many areas found themselves overrun with visitors, defeating the purpose of stay-at-home orders for reducing transmission. Local roads were overwhelmed, severely restricting the ability of emergency agencies to function. Local officials put shutdowns into effect at some places immediately. Eventually, many national parks and monuments were closed to prevent public transmission of the virus but also to protect the employees of the sites.

However, the Park Service so far has refused to close Grand Canyon National Park, despite calls from its superintendent, park employees, and local and national officials. It’s unclear what the reasoning might be.

So in short, this is not the time to plan a trip to Moab or the Bears Ears. Neither place has the capacity to handle any problems that visitors might have on top of expected coronavirus patients. (Moab’s hospital has a total of 17 beds.) The Navajo Nation needs its facilities for its own citizens. In recognition of this, the SE Utah Health Department issued an order closing all restaurants, bars, and movie theaters for 30 days. In addition, it directed that all lodging be rented only to only “essential” or primary residents of Carbon, Emery, and Grand counties.

In California, all National Forest and State Park campgrounds are closed, though hiking trails are open. However, long-distance driving for hiking is not considered “essential.”

So what to do instead? Use your local parks and open spaces for exercise, obeying all travel and parking restrictions. Maintain your distance and awareness when you’re out. Wash your hands when you get home!

And afterward there’s no need to be bored at home.

Many national parks and other places have webcams, which you can watch over the Internet, so you can check in on some of your favorite places. (No webcams in wilderness, however!) A CalUWild friend sent in a link to a page from which you can take virtual tours of some of the most well-known national parks. (Google Earth is required.)

Many arts organizations, museums, and other institutions are making their archives available free of charge.

For example, the Metropolitan Opera will be streaming CalUWild Advisory Board Member John Adams’s opera Nixon in China on Wednesday, April 1, beginning at 7:30 p.m. EDT. The MET is streaming one opera every night from its Live in HD movie theater screenings, and they are available for the following 23 hours. Details may be found by following the links here.

The Smithsonian announced Smithsonian Open Access—“where you can download, share, and reuse millions of the Smithsonian’s images—right now, without asking.”

The California Academy of Sciences has Academy @ Home

The Internet Archive announced this week it was making a “National Emergency Library” available with over 1.4 million volumes, free of charge.

Google Arts & Culture has virtual tours of reportedly 2,500 museums!

For the younger folks in your life: Open Culture has an archive of 6,000 historical children’s books and coloring books from 113 museums available for free download. They have lots of other free materials of interest, too.

Please support your local arts organizations and businesses as much as you can during the time ahead!

 
IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
5.   Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest

If a link is broken or otherwise inaccessible, please send me an email, and I’ll fix it or send you a PDF copy. As always, inclusion of an item in this section does not imply agreement with the viewpoint expressed.

The Administration

An article from the New York Times: Coronavirus Doesn’t Slow Trump’s Regulatory Rollbacks, as mentioned in the introduction.

Specifically related to the BLM headquarters move:

An article in The Hill: BLM exodus: Agency loses half of DC staff slated for relocation

An article in the Washington Post: Trump’s bid to move hundreds of jobs from D.C., possibly separating families, was based on unsupported assumptions, report says

An article in The Hill: Natural Resources chair threatens to subpoena Interior Department

Utah

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune: Cattle could return to Escalante tributaries under new Grand Staircase monument plan. This is on the same topic as the op-ed by John Leshy in the New York Times that we linked to last month.

The Atlantic published a photo essay on Utah.

Nevada

An article in the Reno Gazette Journal: District court judge deals blow to Las Vegas pipeline plan. We’ve written on the proposed pipeline and its potential effects on Spring Valley in Nevada and Snake Valley on the Utah-Nevada border previously.

Wyoming

An article in the Washington Post on wildlife crossing for animals encountering freeways: Safe Passages

Related to Coronavirus and Public Lands

An op-ed in National Parks Traveler: The National Park Service’s Battle With Politics And Common Sense

An article in the Los Angeles Times: This Trump agency downplayed coronavirus. Two days later, it praised his ‘decisive’ response

CalUWild friend writer Jon Mooallem had an op-ed in the New York Times adapted from his new book on the 1964 Alaska Earthquake: This Is How You Live When the World Falls Apart. Jon’s book “This Is Chance! The Shaking of an All-American City, a Voice That Held It Together,” was published this month and is available from your local bookseller or Amazon.

Public Lands in General

An article in Courthouse News: National Monuments Shown to Boost Economy of American West

An article in the New York Times: A Mustang Crisis Looms in the West

 
 
 
 
 

Support CalUWild!

Membership is free, but your support is both needed and appreciated.

Dues payable to CalUWild are not tax-deductible, as they may be used for lobbying.

If you’d like to make a tax-deductible contribution, please make your check payable to Resource Renewal Institute, CalUWild’s fiscal sponsor.

Please print out and enclose a membership form if your address is not on the check.

Either way, mail it to:

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

 
 
 

As always, if you ever have questions, suggestions, critiques, or wish to change your e-mail address or unsubscribe, all you have to do is send an email. For membership information, click here.

Please “Like” and “Follow” CalUWild on Facebook.

 

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2020 February

March 4th, 2020


On Cedar Mesa, Bears Ears National Monument, Utah                                                                (Mike Painter)

 
March 3, 2020

Dear CalUWild friends—

There’s a lot going on these days with the presidential primaries and public health concerns. The public lands front is no less busy. Here is some of the latest news, with a few ways for you to make your voices heard.

Thanks as always for your interest and support!

 
Best wishes,
Mike

 
IN UTAH
1.   Red Rock Bill Reintroduced in the House
          (ACTION ITEM)
2.   New Management Plans Released for Shrunken
          Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments

IN CALIFORNIA
3.   Four California Bills Included in Public Lands Package
          That Passed the House
          (ACTION ITEM)
4.   Friends of the Inyo Is Hiring

IN NEVADA
5.   Friends of Nevada Wilderness Is Hiring

IN GENERAL
6.   Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act Introduced

IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
7.   Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest

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

IN UTAH
1.   Red Rock Bill Reintroduced in the House
          (ACTION ITEM)

Last month Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-47) of Long Beach reintroduced the House version of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act. The bill number is H.R. 5775.

It already has 63 cosponsors, with 14 from California, including Rep. Lowenthal. Cosponsorship from California representatives is especially important to show home-state support for Rep. Lowenthal and his bill.

Please see CalUWild’s online California Congressional Information Sheet for a current list of cosponsors. They are marked with an “X” in the left-most column under UTAH. If your representative has cosponsored, please call them to say Thank You. If they haven’t, call them asking them to become cosponsors. (The next column indicates whether they have cosponsored previously. If they have, there is a good chance they will do so again.)

The Senate version of the bill, S. 3056, was introduced by longtime champion Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL). Please call Sen. Kamala Harris (D) asking her to become a cosponsor.

Contact information for the Washington, DC offices of all California representatives and senators may be found here.

A list of both House and Senate cosponsors nationwide may be found on the website of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance here. A detailed factsheet about H.R. 5775/S. 3056 may be found on their website here. Scott Groene, Executive Director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance wrote an op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune about the overall importance of the bill: Red Rock Wilderness Act drives Utah’s wilderness debate.

 
2.   New Management Plans Released for Shrunken
          Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments

Despite the fact that the administration’s reductions of both Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments are being litigated in federal court, the Bureau of Land Management released its management plans for the monuments in February. As expected, they offer no real protection for the landscapes or those objects and values for which the monuments were designated. Here are some of the major issues in each.

Bears Ears

There is no inventory of cultural resources, and most decisions regarding activities in the monument will be put off for at least two years. Target shooting is allowed, except at “all rock writing sites.” The plan designates 14 sites for public use and development, including sites that are already subject to heavy use. In the draft plan, “human waste” was to have been carried out, but that provision was changed to requiring burial 4-6” deep, away from water, and outside developed recreation facilities. The recreation plan is to be developed three years after the cultural plan, i.e., at least five years from now. Mechanical vegetation treatment, often known as “chaining,” to remove piñon and juniper forests for cattle grazing, is allowed throughout the monument. Lands with wilderness characteristics will henceforth be managed as multiple-use areas.

Grand Staircase-Escalante

Areas removed from the monument are known as the Kanab-Escalante Planning Area (KEPA). All areas in KEPA are open for mineral and energy development. Vegetation management (see above) is allowed everywhere, and the planting of non-native species is allowed for “range health.” (BLM has, however, in recent months withdrawn four very large chaining proposals in the monument in response to public outcry.) Casual collection of fossils is allowed everywhere in KEPA, though not in the remaining monument. Again, lands with wilderness characteristics will be managed as multiple-use areas. Areas previously closed to cattle grazing are reopened, although one improvement from the draft plan is that grazing will not be allowed in the Escalante River corridor, with the exception of some river access points, where cattle can drink.

 
All in all, the plans are not good for resource protection, though many projects will require further planning and opportunities for public input. Also, energy prices are low currently, so there is not much interest in exploration at this point. Our hope is that the litigation against the rollbacks of the monuments is successful, which would nullify these plans. The New York Times and the Associated Press ran articles about the new plans:

From the Times: Trump Opens National Monument Land to Energy Exploration

And from the AP: Trump administration moves ahead on shrinking Utah monuments

A literally last-minute addition to this Update is this op-ed in the New York Times by John Leshy, former General Counsel at the Department of the Interior when the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was designated: A Trump Plan Breaks a Great Deal for Ranchers and Park Lovers. Mr. Leshy discusses the monument plan and its relationship to the legislation discussed in ITEM 6, below.

We’ll keep you informed as things develop further.

 
IN CALIFORNIA
3.   Four California Bills Included in Public Lands Package
          That Passed the House of Representatives
          (ACTION ITEM)

The last few months we’ve written about three California public lands bills for Northwest California (Huffman, D-2), the Central Coast (Carbajal, D-24), and the San Gabriel Mountains (Chu, D-27). They had all passed the House Natural Resources Committee. In March, they were combined into one package, along with a fourth California bill, the Rim of the Valley proposal from Rep. Adam Schiff (D-28); the Colorado Wilderness Act, sponsored by Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO); and the Wild Olympics (Washington) bill. The overall bill, H.R. 2546, was sponsored by Rep. DeGette, and the vote in the House was 231-183. Six Republicans (though none from California) joined all the Democrats in voting “yea.” The “nay” votes all came from Republicans.

Altogether some 1.3 million acres would be designated as wilderness, and more than 1,000 miles of rivers would be designated Wild & Scenic.

California Sen. Kamala Harris (D) immediately introduced a companion bill in the Senate, S. 3288, for the four California bills, with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) as an original cosponsor. The original bills and the combined one (brown column) are listed on our website here under the California heading. Please call both senators and your representatives to say Thank You.

 
4.   Friends of the Inyo Is Hiring

This just came in today: Friends of the Inyo is hiring seasonal “Trail Ambassadors” for summer work in the Eastern Sierra—Inyo, Humboldt-Toiyabe, and Sierra National Forests. The application deadline is March 16. Follow the link here for the job description and more information.

 
IN NEVADA
5.   Friends of Nevada Wilderness Is Hiring

Our friends at Friends of Nevada Wilderness have several positions open: full-time, part-time, and seasonal. Click here for more details.

 
IN GENERAL
6.   Bill Introduced to Allow Buyouts of Grazing Allotments

Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) has introduced a bill in the House to make it easier to permanently retire grazing allotments on public lands. The Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act, H.R. 5737, would allow permit holders to sell those permits for market value to private parties. The buyers could then direct the appropriate federal agency to retire the allotment permanently. Present law requires congressional authorization for the retirement of any permits that have been bought.

 
IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
7.   Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest

If a link is broken or otherwise inaccessible, please send me an email, and I’ll fix it or send you a PDF copy. As always, inclusion of an item in this section does not imply agreement with the viewpoint expressed.

Utah

An article in the Washington Post: The Energy 202: Trump administration decides against drilling for oil under popular Utah bike trail

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune: Recapture Canyon case costs San Juan County $440,000

An op-ed in The Hill by Stephen Trimble, who is on CalUWild’s Advisory Board: Trump thinks wildland resources serve only as cash generators. Steve is also the editor of the recently-published The Capitol Reef Reader, available through your local bookseller or from Amazon.

California

An interesting article in the Los Angeles Times: It’s words, not bullets, for the ‘bear whisperer’ of the Eastern Sierra

Arizona

An article in the New York Times: Tribal Nation Condemns ‘Desecration’ to Build Border Wall

Colorado

An article in Colorado Politics: Report: Interior Department leased nearly 1 million acres prioritized for big game to oil, gas

An article in The Hill: BLM leadership expanded oil drilling in Colorado over local staff objections

In General

An article in the Washington Post: Judge voids nearly 1 million acres of oil and gas leases, saying Trump policy undercut public input

An article in The Guardian: Trump ‘turns back the clock’ by luring drilling companies to pristine lands

Colorado College’s 10th Annual Conservation in the West survey, showing continued majority support among Westerners for conservation and protection of public lands.

An op-ed in the New York Times: I Had a Gloriously Wild Childhood. That’s Why I Wrote ‘How to Train Your Dragon.’

 
 
 
 
 

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