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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.

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

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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.’

 
 
 
 
 

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.

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2020 January

February 3rd, 2020


Dry Lakes Plateau, Bodie Hills, California                                                                                     (Mike Painter)

 
January 30, 2020

Dear CalUWild friends—

I hope the new year is off to a good start for you. It’s been slow on the public lands front (though Congress has been plenty busy with other matters). That makes the Update this month relatively brief.

As anticipated last month, California Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-50) has resigned his seat in Congress, following conviction on campaign finance violations. The seat will remain vacant for now.

Many thanks again to everyone who has responded to CalUWild’s recent Annual Membership Appeal. Your support means a lot! If you haven’t gotten around to sending in a contribution, please consider it. Contributions are voluntary but appreciated. Information is at the end of the Update.

Most importantly, thank you for your interest in wilderness and public lands.

 
Best wishes,
Mike

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

IN CALIFORNIA
2.   Cosponsors Added to Three California Wilderness Bills
          (ACTION ITEM)
3.   Job Opportunities:

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

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

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

America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act (S. 3056) picked up three more cosponsors in the Senate this month, though neither California senator, Dianne Feinstein (D) nor Kamala Harris (D), was among them. There are now 13 cosponsors, and a full list of them nationwide may be found here. As in the past, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) is the chief sponsor.

California Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-47) has not reintroduced the companion bill in the House yet, giving us the opportunity to continue to line up original cosponsors beforehand. Previous cosponsors are the most likely to become original cosponsors this time around. A complete list of California offices, DC phone numbers, and previous cosponsorship status may be found on CalUWild’s website here.

As we reported last month, the bill in this Congress reflects the changes brought about by the designation of large areas of wilderness in Emery County in the Dingell Public Lands bill passed last February. Other lands, claimed by the Ute Indian Tribe in the Uncompahgre area and currently the subject of litigation brought by the tribe have been left out at their request. With those exceptions, the bill remains the same as previous versions.

 
IN CALIFORNIA
2.   Cosponsors Added to Three California Wilderness Bills
          (ACTION ITEM)

Since our last Update, a few more representatives have added their names as cosponsors to the following bills:

H.R. 2250, Northwest CA: John Garamendi (D-3), Mike Thompson (D-5), Karen Bass (D-37)

H.R. 2199, Central Coast: Ami Bera (D-7), Eric Swalwell (D-15), Karen Bass (D-37), Maxine Waters (D-43), J. Luis Correa (D-46), Juan Vargas (D-51)

H.R. 2215: San Gabriel Mountains: Brad Sherman (D-30), Norma Torres (D-35), Karen Bass (D-37)

Please thank them. A full list of cosponsors for these (and other) bills may be found here on CalUWild’s website. If your representative is not on the list for a particular bill, please ask them to sign on!

 
3.   Job Opportunities: National Parks Conservation Association

Our friends at NPCA are looking for a California Desert Program Manager. Their description of the position:

The Program Manager of the California Desert is a trusted leader in the region who protects national parks and public lands, such as Joshua Tree National Park and Mojave Trails National Monument. The work includes building community and political support for park issues, managing and serving as lead staff on multiple campaigns, serving within a team environment as a community leader, media voice and community organizer on behalf of desert park issues, building and managing relationships with decision makers, and supporting NPCA efforts in the desert and at a national level.

For more details and to apply, follow the links here.

 
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: Coalition of 91 groups asks for resignation or removal of BLM chief. CalUWild signed the letter.

An article in The Conversation: Moving Bureau of Land Management headquarters to Colorado won’t be good for public lands

An op-ed in The Guardian by Jon Jarvis, former director of the National Park Service, and his brother Destry Jarvis, who’s also worked on national park issues: The great dismantling of America’s national parks is under way. In the last couple of years, The Guardian has done excellent reporting on US public lands, and it has announced plans to expand its coverage in 2020. You might consider supporting the effort.

Utah

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune, looking at an ultra-conservative think tank in Utah: Sutherland Institute’s campaign against Bears Ears was relentless, effective and mostly funded by a tight circle of activists

An article published by KSL.com: Helicopters might be weakening Utah’s arches and towers, U. study finds

A list compiled by CalUWild friend and writer Amy Brunvand in the Utah magazine, Catalyst: Notable Utah-Related Books Published in 2019

California

An article in The New Yorker on bristlecone pines in the White Mountains: The Past and the Future of the Earth’s Oldest Trees

Colorado

Good news, from The Coloradoan: Colorado Parks and Wildlife: Pack of wolves spotted in Colorado

Nevada

An article in The Nevada Independent about proposed public lands legislation in Clark County, where Las Vegas is located: Climate change, conservation and development: Reshuffling the deck on the Las Vegas lands bill

In General

CalUWild has always said citizen involvement in the democratic process is as important as wilderness protection in our work. If you’re looking for something to watch instead of (or in addition to) the Superbowl this weekend, here’s an important documentary on efforts around the country to counteract various anti-democratic maneuvers. The Democracy Rebellion: A Reporter’s Notebook with Hedrick Smith. Unfortunately, it looks like streaming on PBS will expire February 3, so catch it while you can!

An op-ed in the Los Angeles Times: Pinyon and juniper woodlands define the West. Why is the BLM turning them to mulch?

An article from Reuters: Investors urge drillers, miners not to take advantage of Trump environmental rollbacks. These investors control some $113 billion in assets.

A discouraging study from the Outdoor Foundation: Half of the US Population Does Not Participate in Outdoor Recreation At All

An article in Scientific American, unfortunately behind a paywall: Indigenous Lands Ace Biodiversity Measurements: Across the board, indigenous-managed regions equal or surpass conventional conservation areas

 
 
 
 

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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2019 December

January 8th, 2020


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

 
December 31, 2019

Dear CalUWild friends—

As another year comes to a close today, we’re grateful for our public lands here in the U.S. And we look to another year of being able to enjoy them and to work to protect them.

Last month CalUWild celebrated its 22nd anniversary, bringing citizens the information and the tools they need to engage effectively with the various levels of decision makers in the administration, in Congress, as well as other important players. In our Monthly Updates we have also included many more press articles and other items, bringing other public lands topics to your attention, even if there’s no action to be taken on them. Coverage of public lands has increased dramatically these last few years, no doubt in response to the administration’s attempts to roll back protections. Thank you for your efforts!

And a special Thank You to everyone who has supported CalUWild with contributions over the years, especially responding to our latest Membership Appeal. It’s never too late to make a contribution, though; information is at the bottom of this Update.

 
Best wishes for a Happy New Year and on into 2020!
Mike

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

IN CALIFORNIA
2.   Cosponsors Added to Three California Wilderness Bills
          (ACTION ITEM)
3.   Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-50) to Resign
4.   Job Opportunities: California Native Plant Society

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

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

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

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) reintroduced America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act on December 16. We expect California Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-47) to reintroduce the House companion bill soon. So our cosponsor campaign is heating up.

The bill in this Congress reflects the changes brought about by the designation of large areas of wilderness in Emery County in the Dingell Public Lands bill of last February. And other lands, claimed by the Ute Indian Tribe in the Uncompahgre area and currently the subject of litigation brought by the tribe have been left out, at their request. Otherwise, the bill remains the same as previously.

Please ask your Senators and Representatives to become cosponsors. There are already 10 in the Senate, though neither senator from California is yet. In the House, representatives should contact Rep. Lowenthal’s office requesting to be original cosponsors before reintroduction.

A complete list of California offices, with DC phone numbers, may be found here on CalUWild’s website. Previous cosponsors are listed there and are the most likely offices to become original cosponsors this time around.

 
IN CALIFORNIA
2.   Cosponsors Added to Three California Wilderness Bills
          (ACTION ITEM)

As we reported in ITEM 2 last month, the House Natural Resources Committee passed three California wilderness bills. Since that Update, a few representatives have added their names to the cosponsor lists.

H.R. 2250, Northwest CA: Ro Khanna (D-17), Adam Schiff (D-28), Pete Aguilar (D-31) & Harley Rouda (D-48)

H.R. 2199, Central Coast: Ro Khanna (D-17) & Harley Rouda (D-48)

H.R. 2215: San Gabriel Mountains: Harley Rouda (D-48)

Please thank them. A full list of cosponsors for these (and other) bills may be found here on CalUWild’s website. If your representative is not on the list for a particular bill, please ask them to sign on!

 
3.   Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-50) to Resign

Rep. Duncan Hunter, Jr. (R-50) announced he would resign from the House of Representatives “after the holidays,” following his plea of guilty to campaign financing violations. No firm resignation date was set, however. Gov. Newsom has not announced any decision regarding a special election, since Mr. Hunter is still officially in office, but because Rep. Hunter did not resign before the deadline for a mandatory special election, the delay makes it possible that his district will have no representative in Congress for all of 2020.

[NOTE: Mr. Hunter submitted his resignation January 7, 2020, effective January 13, 2020.]

 
4.   Job Opportunities: California Native Plant Society

Our friends at CNPS have a few positions open around the state. Click here for details.

 
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 in National Parks Traveler: NPS To Develop List Of Lands With Significantly Restricted Or No Public Access

An op-ed in Politico by Bob Abbey and Jim Caswell, former directors of the BLM: The Stealth Plan to Erode Public Control of Public Lands

An op-ed in the Las Vegas Review-Journal by CalUWild friend Erik Molvar, Executive Director of Western Watersheds Project: BLM interim director sympathetic to Sagebrush Rebellion crowd

An article in the New York Times: Interior Official Broke Ethics Rules, Government Watchdog Concludes. It’s getting repetitious.

California

An article in the Los Angeles Times: Amid the wasteland of the Salton Sea, a miraculous but challenging oasis is born

Alaska

An op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, by CalUWild friend Jacques Leslie, on a topic about which we’ve written before, the proposed Pebble Mine: Will pristine Bristol Bay be the Trump administration’s next sacrifice?

Oregon

An article in Courthouse News: No Grazing Permits for Trump-Pardoned Arsonists, Judge Rules. It was these ranchers’ jail sentences that precipitated the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016. The lawsuit was brought by our friends at Western Watersheds Project, the Center for Biological Diversity, and WildEarth Guardians.

In General

An article in Courthouse News with good news about the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument off Cape Cod: Atlantic Ocean’s First Marine Monument Survives Court Challenge

An article in the New York Times: Fractured Forests Are Endangering Wildlife, Scientists Find

 
 
 
 
 

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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2019 November

December 7th, 2019


On Cedar Mesa, Utah                                                                                                                                             (Mike Painter)

 
December 4, 2019

Dear CalUWild friends—

I decided to delay publication of the November Update until today for a couple of reasons: First was last week’s Thanksgiving holiday weekend falling exactly at the end of the month; and second, I didn’t want to add to the tsunami of emails sent out for Giving Tuesday (or Cyber Monday).

Regarding membership, though: Many thanks to those who have sent in contributions in advance of our Annual Appeal. We will be sending that out in the next week or so, so please watch your U.S. Mail or email. (Or see the blurb at the bottom of this email.) We run CalUWild on a shoestring, but your support is needed and much appreciated.

 
Best wishes for the upcoming holiday season!
Mike

 
IN UTAH
1.   General Update
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
2.   House Natural Resources Committee Passes
          3 California Wilderness Bills
          (ACTION ITEM)
3.   Rep. Katie Hill Resigns

IN ALASKA
4.   Tongass National Forest Roadless Rule Exemption
          Proposed by Administration
          Comments Needed
          Deadline: December 17
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN GENERAL
5.   Park Service News

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

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

 
IN UTAH
1.   General Update
          (ACTION ITEM)

America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act
We continue to wait for a firm date for the re-introduction of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and California Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-47) will still be the principal sponsors, and we hope there will be a large number of original cosponsors when it is re-introduced. We will let you know when the bill will be reintroduced, just as soon as we know!

In the meantime, if you haven’t already contacted your representative, asking them to be an original cosponsor, please do so. Please also contact Sen. Kamala Harris’s office. Phone numbers for all DC offices and a list of past cosponsors for the bill are included in CalUWild’s California Congressional Information Sheet on our website.

R.S. 2477 & Roads
We’ve written over the years about efforts by states to defeat wilderness designations by claiming old routes (sometimes no more than washes or cattle trails) as highways, under the repealed law R.S. 2477. Though most attempts have been unsuccessful, Utah continues to be a leader in this effort. The state recently requested the Interior Department to administratively give up its interest in the Manganese Road in Washington County, in the southwest corner of the state, by filing a “Recordable Disclaimer of Interest.” The Department has indicated it’s willingness to consider doing so.

In response, Sen. Durbin, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich (D-NM), and Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) sent a letter to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt pointing out that in 1996 Congress had prohibited the federal government from taking any action “pertaining to the recognition, management, or validity of a right-of-way … unless expressly authorized by … Congress.” (You can read the letter here.)

Sen. Feinstein has a long history of working for wilderness protection for desert areas, and R.S. 2477 issues arise on California’s public lands from time to time as well, so we are happy to see her sign the letter. Please call her DC office at 202-224-3841 with your thanks.

While you’re at it, a call to Sen. Durbin’s office, thanking him for all of his various efforts on behalf of Utah’s public lands, would be appreciated. His office phone number in DC is 202-224-2152.

Oil & Gas Development
In a bit of good news, it came to light in November that the BLM had suspended oil & gas production on 117 sites previously leased and restricted lease sales of a further 130 sites. This was done in response to a lawsuit filed by the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Living Rivers. BLM’s decision was based on an adverse ruling it received in a Wyoming case, where the judge said that BLM’s failure to take energy production’s contribution to climate change into account invalidated its environmental analysis. The Utah lawsuit alleged the same facts, so BLM decided not to proceed with the projects.

Most of the proposed leases were in areas with wilderness characteristics, including the Bitter Creek, Desolation Canyon, Dragon Canyon, and White River areas in the Book Cliffs, and Eagle Canyon in the San Rafael Swell.

 
IN CALIFORNIA
2.   House Natural Resources Committee Passes
          3 California Wilderness Bills
          (ACTION ITEM)

We’ve written about three California wilderness bills frequently over the years. The good news is that they all passed the House Natural Resources Committee in November and will now go to the full House for a vote. They can still use cosponsors, even at this stage of the process. Our online California Congressional Information Sheet lists them all (current through December 2), along with phone numbers. Please call to request their cosponsorship or to thank them.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D) is the principal sponsor of companion bills in the Senate for each, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) is a cosponsor of all, as well.

Click on the links below for the California Wilderness Coalition’s detailed description of each bill.

H.R. 2250, the Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act, Rep. Jared Huffman (D-2).

H.R. 2199, the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act. Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-24). New cosponsor: Pete Aguilar (D-31)

H.R. 2215, the San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act. Rep. Judy Chu (D-27). New cosponsor: Rep. Ro Khanna (D-17)

 
While we’re on the subject of cosponsorships, Reps.Jerry McNerney (D-9) and Barbara Lee (D-13) are longtime cosponsors of H.R. 1225, the Restore Parks Act. They were inadvertently not listed on our Information Sheet. They are among the strongest supporters of our public lands, and we apologize for any confusion.

 
3.   Rep. Katie Hill Resigns

As was widely reported in the news, Rep. Katie Hill (D-25) resigned from the House last month. She was a strong supporter of public lands. A special election will be held on March 3, 2020, which is the Primary Election date for California. Former Republican Rep. Pete Knight, whom Ms. Hill defeated in 2018, has announced his candidacy for the seat, as has George Papadopoulos, a 2016 Republican presidential campaign advisor who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in the Russia investigation.

 
IN ALASKA
4.   Tongass National Forest Roadless Rule Exemption
          Proposed by Administration
          Comments Needed
          Deadline: December 17
          (ACTION ITEM)

The administration is launching a major attack on Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, at 16.7 million acres in size, the largest national forest in the U.S. Following a meeting with Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy (R), the president ordered the Forest Service to roll back protections on the 9.2 million acres of inventoried roadless areas in the forest, accepting the state’s petition to exempt the forest from the Clinton administration’s 2001 Roadless Rule. The Forest Service reportedly had proposed less far-reaching changes to the management of the forest, and this is another example of the president directly interfering in his agencies’ work.

A public comment period is open until midnight (Alaska time), December 17. Please use the information below, compiled and slightly edited and condensed, from our friends at the Sierra Club, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, and Save Our Roadless Forests to urge the Forest Service to adopt Alternative 1, the No Action Alternative. This would leave the Tongass National Forest completely under the present Roadless Rule, which has worked well since being adopted in 2001.

As always, please use your own words, and if you have visited the Tongass (or plan to) please describe your personal experiences and why the area is important to you.

The Tongass stretches over the 500-mile-long Southeast Alaska Panhandle and covers 80 percent of the land. It is rich in natural resources and cultural heritage. Developed areas cover about 8 percent of the land. There are 32 communities, including the state capitol of Juneau, in Southeast Alaska.

This action opens pristine roadless areas of our largest national forest (an old-growth temperate rain forest) to logging and road development. Not only does this threaten habitat for wildlife, including grizzly bears, moose, and salmon, it also sets a bad precedent that could open up roadless areas in wild forests across the nation.

The Tongass forest’s role in the global carbon cycle is significant—storing more carbon than any forest in the nation. It is the most productive carbon-trapping forest on Earth. The Tongass is among one of the world’s few remaining relatively intact temperate rainforests.

Alternative 6, the Preferred Alternative, would exempt the Tongass National Forest from the 2001 Roadless Rule and is fully responsive to the State of Alaska’s petition. This alternative would remove all 9.2 million acres of inventoried roadless acres and would convert 165,000 old-growth acres and 20,000 young-growth acres previously identified as unsuitable timberlands to suitable timberlands. Conservation of roadless values would be achieved through other means, including the Tongass Land Management Plan.

Talking Points
•   The Roadless Area Conservation Rule (Roadless Rule) safeguards roughly 15 million acres of roadless forest lands across both the Tongass and Chugach National Forests of Alaska. These publicly owned and managed areas in our national forests have been protected to conserve watersheds, wildlife habitat and recreational values for the last twenty years.

•   Changing the Roadless Rule for Alaska could irreversibly threaten national forest lands across the state, from ancient forests including thousand-year-old Sitka spruce, western hemlock, and western red cedar. The Tongass is also home to species including brown bear, wolf, eagles, black-tailed deer, and world-class salmon habitat that support commercial and recreational fisheries. Once our roadless areas are gone, they’re gone forever.

•   The proposed action in U.S. Forest Service’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement of the Alaska roadless rule would open vast tracts of America’s remaining ancient forest to logging and road building.

•   The Tongass National Forest contains nearly 10 million acres of Intact Forest Landscape (IFL)—the unbroken natural landscape of a forest ecosystem and its habitat. That amount is equivalent to more than half of the IFL in the lower 48 states and represents nearly 40 percent of the Intact Forest Landscape managed by the U.S. Forest Service that is left in this country.

•   The Tongass produces on average 28% of Alaska’s annual commercial salmon catch and 25% of the entire west coast annual harvest! The Forest Service estimates that the salmon industry generates $986 million annually.

•   In an August 2019 letter, Southeast Alaska fishermen and fisherwomen urged the Forest Service to select an alternative that broadly protects fish habitat, continues the phase-out of industrial-scale old-growth clear-cutting, and prioritizes the restoration of degraded watersheds and streams. Instead, the Department of Agriculture and the Forest Service have proposed to renew large-scale logging that would adversely impact the tourism and commercial fishing industries of Southeast Alaska.

•   Additionally, not only is the Tongass National Forest at risk if USDA moves forward with the proposed Alaska specific Roadless Rule, the Chugach National Forest in Alaska is also targeted. This plan gives one federal bureaucrat the ability to arbitrarily remove Roadless Rule protections from any of the currently protected 5.4 million acres in the Chugach, with no analysis of impacts and extremely limited public comment. This late-breaking addition underscores how the Alaska Specific Roadless Rule is yet another process designed to hand over Alaska public lands to clearcutting and other resource extraction companies.

You may submit comments in any of the following ways:

By Forest Service Online Comment Form

By email:   akroadlessrule@usda.gov

By U.S. Mail
USDA Forest Service
Attn: Alaska Roadless Rule
P.O. Box 21628
Juneau, Alaska  99802

 
The Anchorage Daily News published an op-ed opposing the plan: Exempting the Tongass from the Roadless Rule would be a mistake.

 
IN GENERAL
5.   Park Service News

Campground Planning Committee Disbanded
In ITEM 3 of last month’s Update we reported on the Park Service’s “Made in America Committee” that had recommended “improvements”—such as more private concessions, mobile camp stores, increased Wi-Fi, even food trucks—to campgrounds in the national parks. The committee also proposed other changes like limiting the use of Senior Passes for a 50% camping discount during certain time periods. Needless to say, public reaction to the recommendations was negative.

In mid-November, it was reported that Interior Secretary Bernhardt had disbanded the committee at the beginning of the month, without making any public announcement. It’s unknown whether this was because of the backlash; Secty. Bernhardt said it was simply because the committee’s work was done. However, he cannot have failed to note the public’s opinions on the matter. He said that nothing had been implemented and that he would be studying the recommendations. It will be important for the public to stay informed and be vocal. We’ll keep you posted.

5 Fee-Free Days for 2020
There will be five days next year on which you won’t be charged for entering a national park site that normally charges entrance fees.

The dates for 2020 are:

Monday, January 20—Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Saturday, April 18—First Day of National Park Week/
       National Junior Ranger Day
Tuesday, August 25—National Park Service Birthday
Saturday, September 26—National Public Lands Day
Wednesday, November 11—Veterans Day

 
ALSO: The annual $80 America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass allows unlimited entrance to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas, including all national parks. There are also free or discounted passes available for senior citizens, current members of the U.S. military, families of fourth grade students, and disabled citizens.

 
IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
6.   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

Good news in an article in this Associated Press article on the closure of the Navajo Generating Station near Page, Arizona, which contributes to much of the haze over the Colorado Plateau, to say nothing of producing greenhouse gases: Long-Running Coal Plant on Navajo Nation Stops Production

California

An article with an interesting viewpoint about Hetch Hetchy Valley in Sierra by Jeremy Miller: Yosemite’s Accidental Wilderness\

An article in the Los Angeles Times: Fed up with Forest Service cuts, Mammoth Lakes and other towns are plotting a recreation takeover

An article in Courthouse News: Water Supplier Temporarily Backs Out of Contentious Shasta Dam Deal

An article in The Guardian: ‘Fire is medicine’: the tribes burning California forests to save them

Our friends at Friends of the River have produced a map and information page showing all the Wild & Scenic Rivers in California (and elsewhere).

Oregon/California

An article in Courthouse News: Judge Finds Obama Expansion of Oregon Monument Invalid. This case was heard in Washington, DC. However, another federal court in Oregon previously found that the expansion was valid, setting up a conflict between the two. We’ll see how things play out as appeals progress, and we’ll keep you informed.

The Administration

An article in the New York Times: Interior Chief’s Lobbying Past Has Challenged the Agency’s Ethics Referees

More on the BLM’s move to Grand Junction, Colorado, in this article in The Hill: Relocated BLM staff face salary cuts and in this article in Greenwire (unfortunately behind a paywall): BLM to suffer major staff losses in move West. (Summary: The Bureau of Land Management appears poised to lose the majority of its Washington, D.C.-based staff as part of its plans to relocate out West next year. That could include dozens of employees in the departments that handle public lands planning, environmental compliance, management of hazardous materials, and oil and gas development on the 245 million acres BLM manages.)

Public Lands in General

Our friends at Headwaters Economics have been issuing a series of reports on State Trust Lands. Their latest looks at the economics of proposal to transfer federal lands to states. You can read about the report and download it here: State Trust Lands: Implications for Federal Land Transfer

An article in The Hill: Full funding of Land Water Conservation Fund passes key Senate hurdle

An op-ed in the New York Times: Our National Parks Are in Trouble

 
 
 
 
 
 

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.

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2019 October

November 5th, 2019


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

 
October 31, 2019

Dear CalUWild friends—

First of all, I want to express concern for everyone who has been affected by the fires in Northern and Southern California. Please stay safe.

There are a few Action Items this month, all involving Congress. Feel free to combine any or all of them in one call or message posted to your representative’s and senators’ comment forms on their websites.

 
Toward year-end, we send out our membership appeal, and we’ll be doing that again in November and December. Dues have never been required to receive CalUWild’s Monthly Update, but we do rely on support from 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, mailing it to:

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

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, and mail it to the address above. Please print out and enclose a membership form if your address is not on the check.

Your support is more critical than ever, but even more important is for people to take action to protect our wild places and public lands. Our goal has always been to make that as easy for you as possible.

 
Finally, as Thanksgiving comes around, please don’t forget to give thanks for our public lands—our birthright as Americans— and all the other gifts we enjoy here.

 
Best wishes,
Mike

 
IN UTAH
1.   State Update
          A.   America’s Redrock Wilderness Act
                    (ACTION ITEM)
          B.   National Monuments Litigation
          C.   Off-Highway Vehicle Use in Utah’s National Parks

IN CONGRESS
2.   Legislative Update
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN GENERAL
3.   Park Service Committee Proposes to “Improve” Camping
          And Reduce Senior Pass Discounts
          (ACTION ITEM)

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

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

IN UTAH
1.   State Update
          A.   America’s Redrock Wilderness Act
                    (ACTION ITEM)

There is no firm date yet for the reintroduction of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act. However, the chief sponsors in the House and Senate, California Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-47) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) respectively, are committed to the legislation.

If you haven’t contacted your Senators or Congressional representative, now would be a good time to do so, with a request that they become original cosponsors of the bills. That means they are listed as cosponsors on the day the bills are introduced. High numbers of cosponsors indicate that members think a bill is important, sending a political signal to Congressional leadership, as well as to federal land management officials that Congress is paying attention to their actions.

Full contact information may be found on CalUWild’s Online California Congressional Information Sheet.

          B.   National Monuments

The litigation over the reduction of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments continues in Washington, DC. Supporters of the monuments won a victory when Judge Tanya Chutkan ruled against the government’s motion to dismiss the case. At the same time, Judge Chutkan asked the plaintiff tribes and conservation groups to clarify their standing (right to sue) in the case. We’ll keep you posted at things proceed.

The Bears Ears National Monument was added to the 2020 World Monuments Watch List (along with Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris) in recognition of the threats to its cultural and archaeological significance by the administration’s attempts to reduce its size. You can read an article about that in the New York Times: Bears Ears and Notre-Dame Named to 2020 World Monuments Watch.

          C.   Off-Highway Vehicle Use in Utah’s National Parks

As we reported last month, the Park Service made a proposal to allow off-road vehicles in the national parks in Utah. The proposal aroused the opposition of many citizens, conservation groups, local governments, and employees and officials within the Park Service itself. Doing an about-face, the Park Service reversed its decision.

The proposal received a lot of press, some of which are included here:

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune, Park managers balk at plan to let ORVs in Utah national parks.

An editorial in the Tribune: The Mighty Five are not for your noisy toys, boys.

And another article in the Tribune: Grand County, Moab unite against plan to allow ORVs in Utah’s national parks

 
IN CONGRESS
2.   Legislative Update
          (ACTION ITEM)

In ITEM 1 of last month’s Update we gave descriptions of bills that we are tracking and that could use cosponsors, too. A few of them have added cosponsors, and we’ve updated our Online California Congressional Information Sheet. Please check the table for your representative and senators and either thank them for cosponsoring or ask them to become a cosponsor the bills listed, if you haven’t already. You can call the number listed for their DC office or contact them with your comments via their websites at house.gov or senate.gov.

Please note that Rep. Katie Hill (D-25) is resigning. It’s not yet clear exactly when a special election might be called for her district. She was a cosponsor of all of the bills except H.R. 2250, Rep. Huffman’s Northwest California bill.

 
In other news, we’re happy to report that the House passed three public lands protection bills this week. The CORE Act for Colorado passed 227-182. Our friends at the Wilderness Workshop in Carbondale describe it as follows:

It will create new and sustainable recreation opportunities, expand Wilderness in the White River and San Juan National Forests, permanently close the Thompson Divide to new oil and gas leasing, honor veterans and founding-members of the modern ski industry by establishing the nation’s first National Historic Landscape at Camp Hale, and increase public access to, and management of, fishing areas in the Curecanti National Recreation Area.

The Grand Canyon Centennial Act passed by a vote of 236-185. It would permanently withdraw more than 1 million acres around the park from mining, particularly of uranium. The White House has issued a veto threat, saying that it opposes “such a large, permanent withdrawal, which would prohibit environmentally responsible development.” There is no companion bill in the Senate.

The Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act, H.R. 2181, sets up a 10-mile wide buffer around Chaco Canyon in which oil and gas development would be permanently prohibited. That bill passed on a 245-174 vote. It has a companion bill, S. 1079, in the Senate.

We’ll keep you posted on these bills as they progress.

 
IN GENERAL
3.   Park Service Committee Proposes to “Improve” Camping
          And Reduce Senior Pass Discounts
          (ACTION ITEM)

An Interior Department advisory committee, made up almost solely of recreation industry representatives, has sent a letter to Interior Secretary Bernhardt making recommendations regarding the future of camping in our national parks. Not surprisingly, given the make-up of the “Made in America Committee” (which can be found toward the bottom of the page here), it proposes increased use of public–private partnerships, allowing concessionaires to run campgrounds, increased WiFi availability, equipment rentals, mobile food services including food trucks, and more.

The committee also recommends the introduction of blackout periods during peak seasons when the 50% Senior Pass discounts would not apply.

These recommendations fundamentally change the traditional notion of camping in out national parks. And all of them would push camping fees even higher than they already are by forcing people to pay for the site and cover both the concessionaires’ fees to the Park Service and their profit on top of that. While the Forest Service has turned some campsite management over to concessionaires, the Park Service has generally not, except for a few specialized campgrounds. The BLM manages all of its own campgrounds. There is well-founded concern that this is a push to privatize campgrounds across the board.

The Committee is recommending that the Park Service begin implementing parts of its recommendations by December 1, 2019, with no formal opportunity for public or congressional input.

The committee’s page has an email link and a U.S. Mail address at the very bottom where you can make your opinions known:

Email form here

U.S. Mail
Joshua Winchell, Designated Federal Officer
Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee
MS-2659, Office of Policy
National Park Service
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20240

Please also call your Congressional representative and Senators to let them know about this proposal, being undertaken without consulting either the public or Congress. Click here for DC phone numbers or go to their websites at house.gov or senate.gov.

 
You can read the full letter here. National Parks Traveler offered a comprehensive look at the recommendations, and the comments following the article may give you ideas for your own comments to make to the committee and Congress.

 
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: BLM move would split apart key public lands team

An article in Bloomberg Environment: Public Lands Decisions Best Made in D.C., Acting BLM Chief Says. This directly contradicts the rationale for moving the BLM headquarters to Grand Junction, Colorado, which claimed that officials should be closer to the lands about which they are making management decisions.

An article in Westwise from our friends at the Center for Western Priorities, analyzing the administration’s deregulation agenda in response to industry input: Scoring the Trump Interior Department’s deregulatory hit list

An article by ProPublica (formerly the Center for Investigative Reporting): The Trump Administration Says It Has Violated Its Own Ethics Pledge

Utah

An article in The Atlantic: The Forest Service Is About to Set a Giant Forest Fire—On Purpose

California

An op-ed in the Los Angeles Times by Terry Tempest Williams, who is on CalUWild’s Advisory Board: Yosemite’s Sequoias have a vital message. Listen to them, urges Terry Tempest Williams. Terry also has a new book out, Erosion: Essays of Undoing, reviewed by Diane Ackerman in the New York Times: One Environmentalist’s Warning: Think Globally, Act Accordingly

A press release from the California BLM: Community of Lone Pine Celebrates Alabama Hills National Scenic Area

An article in the Marin Independent Journal: Trump criticizes Drakes Bay Oyster Co. closure before signing transparency orders

An article in Courthouse News: Chinook Salmon Flocking to Revitalized San Joaquin River. At the same time: Trump Administration Moves to Lift Protections for Fish and Divert Water to Farms, as the New York Times reports. Unfortunately, Gov. Gavin Newsom just vetoed SB 1, which would have authorized state protections for endangered species in just this kind of circumstance.

Alaska

An article in Courthouse News about the proposed Pebble Mine: Lawsuits Pile Up Over EPA’s Green Light for Mine Near Pristine Alaskan Bay. We’ve written about this mine several times before, most recently in August and May of this year.

An article in the Washington Post: Critics gear up for response to lease sale in Arctic refuge

In General

An article by Roger Kaye, long-time Alaska U.S. Forest Service staffer, including state wilderness director, in Rewilding: Wilderness in the Anthropocene: What Future for its Untrammeled Wildness?

An article in the Washington Post: Americans would rather reduce oil and gas exploration than ‘drill, baby, drill’

An article in The Nation: The Once Common Republican Environmentalist Is Virtually Extinct

 
 
 
 
 

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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2019 September

September 30th, 2019


Sevier Dry Lakebed, Utah from the Air                                                                                                                    (Mike Painter)

 
September 30, 2019

Dear CalUWild friends—

The administration continues to undercut public lands protection in many ways. Given that it is impervious to citizen input, about the only option is for people to contact their Congressional representatives with their concerns. Despite everyone’s attention on other topics lately, representatives and senators’ offices are still focused on other issues, too, even if legislation is not moving quickly.

Cosponsorship is an important way of showing support for bills. There are quite a few bills for which cosponsors are actively being sought. We’ll cover those in ITEM 1.

There’s a lot going on in the administration, but to go into detail on each important issue would just about fill a book. Fortunately the press has been covering public lands with increased attention, so we’ve grouped the topics together in ITEM 2. The headlines pretty much tell the story. You can then read more detail if you’re interested.

Finally, thank you to everyone who submitted comments to the Park Service on the Pt. Reyes National Seashore General Plan Amendment for Ranching. We’ll keep you posted on the outcome. And we’ve just learned that the film “The Shame of Point Reyes,” to which we linked in last month’s Update, was awarded “Best Environmental Documentary” at The World Independent Film Festival, held in San Francisco this last weekend.

 
Best wishes,
Mike

 
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
1. Cosponsorships Needed
          (ACTION ITEM)

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

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

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
1. Cosponsorships Needed
          (ACTION ITEM)

Some months ago we developed an online California Congressional Information Sheet to track cosponsorships on public lands bills, rather than list all the cosponsors for each one individually. This month we’ve added the three California bills for the North Coast, Central Coast, and the San Bernardino Mountains.

Please look at your congressional representative and both senators and ask him or her to become a cosponsor of the each of the various bills. If they are already a cosponsor, make sure to thank them. (They need to hear appreciation from their constituents as well as requests.)

Please also make sure to let them know your thoughts about the administration’s policies, reflected in the topics covered in ITEM 2. Phone numbers for Washington, DC offices are included on our sheet, but you can also use the online contact forms on individual members’ webpages at House.gov and Senate.gov.

Utah

America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act—This bill has long been CalUWild’s legislative priority. It would designate qualifying lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management as Wilderness. Parts of the original bill have already been designated, most notably in Washington and Emery counties. There is no firm date for reintroduction in the 116th Congress yet, but cosponsors are lining up behind the bill in both the House and Senate. Rep. Alan Lowenthal of California (D-47) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) are the chief sponsors. Sen. Kamala Harris (D) is the main California focus for cosponsorship, though it wouldn’t hurt to contact Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D), as well.

H.R. 871 – BEARS Act—This bill would reverse the administration’s reduction of the Bears Ears National Monument, and in fact would enlarge the monument to the original proposal put forth by the Native American Inter-Tribal Coalition. (Pres. Obama’s designation covered only 2/3 of the proposal.) There is only a House version of this bill, but it is incorporated into the ANTIQUITIES Act of 2019, which has both House and Senate versions. (See below.)

California

H.R. 2250 / S. 1110 – Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act—Rep. Jared Huffman (D-2) is the chief sponsor. The bill would designate almost 262,000 acres as Wilderness, set aside 379 miles of Wild & Scenic Rivers, and promote fuel reduction and restoration on 729,000 acres of forestland.

H.R. 2199 / S. 1111 – Central Coast Heritage Protection Act—Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-24) is the chief sponsor. The bill would designate almost 245,000 acres as Wilderness, set aside 159 miles of Wild & Scenic Rivers, and create two scenic areas.

H.R. 2215 / S. 1109 – San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act—Rep. Judy Chu (D-27) is the chief sponsor. The bill would enlarge two existing Wilderness areas by about 16,000 acres and designate more than 15,000 acres of new Wilderness. The bill would also set aside 45 miles of Wild & Scenic Rivers of the San Gabriel River and Little Rock Creek.

Sen. Harris is the chief sponsor of these three bills in the Senate, and Sen. Feinstein is an original cosponsor of each. They both deserve thanks.

National

H.R. 1050 / S. 367 – ANTIQUITIES Act of 2019—The bill states clearly that a national monument, once designated, can only be reduced by Congress (and therefore not by a subsequent president). It gives Congressional ratification to all the national monuments designated by Pres. Clinton, Bush, and Obama since 1996, in other words, all those subject to this administration’s sham review. It also creates new Wilderness areas in New Mexico and Nevada.

H.R. 3195 / S. 1081 – Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act—The bill authorizes the use of all the money in the LWCF every year, $900 million, without Congress needing to reauthorize the spending. The LWCF is used to buy inholdings in national parks and monuments and to buy other land from willing sellers for recreational uses, including urban parks. It is funded by royalties from offshore oil and gas development, so is not a taxpayer-funded program.

H.R. 1225 / S. 500 – Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act—The bill, whose chief sponsor is retiring Utah Rep. Rob Bishop (R), would put $1.3 billion per year for four years into a new fund created from federal energy revenues to reduce the maintenance backlog for our national parks. This is a very popular bill with 313 bipartisan House cosponsors and 42 Senators on board. Both Senators Feinstein and Harris are cosponsors, and most of California House delegation, too.

 
IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
2. 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.

Please mention any of these topics in your calls to Congress. Thanks!

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah

The Interior Board of Land Appeals rejected a proposal by the BLM to remove native juniper and pinyon forest from a huge area of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The appeal was brought by our friends at the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Western Watersheds, The Wilderness Society, and the Grand Canyon Trust. The original proposal was the subject of this article in National Geographic: Forests on Utah’s public lands may soon be torn out. Here’s why.

An op-ed in The Hill by CalUWild Advisory Board member Stephen Trimble: What happened to shielding iconic landscapes from greed and destruction?

An op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune: Monument plan could be kiss of death for Death Hollow

Potash Mining in Sevier Lake in the West Desert, Utah

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune on the controversial potash mining development planned for Sevier Lake (pictured above) in the West Desert of Utah: Feds approve massive potash mine on dry Utah lakebed; could bring hundreds of jobs, millions in sales. We wrote about this project when it was first proposed in 2010.

All-Terrain Vehicles in Utah’s National Parks

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune: Feds to open Utah’s national parks to ATVs; advocates fear damage, noise they may bring

California

An article in the New York Times regarding raising Shasta Dam: The Interior Secretary Wants to Enlarge a Dam. An Old Lobbying Client Would Benefit.

An article in Courthouse News about Medicine Lake in northeastern California: Ninth Circuit Voids Geothermal Leases on Sacred Tribal Land

An article in the Los Angeles Times: Forest thinning projects won’t stop the worst wildfires. So why is California spending millions on them?

An article in the Los Angeles Times: Illegal cannabis farms still scarring public lands, two years after Prop. 64

An article in the San Francisco Chronicle: Yosemite rangers battle trash buildup from rock climbers

Colorado

An article on a Wilderness bill, in Colorado Public Radio’s CPR News: In A Sudden Bounty Of Public Land Bills, There’s Hope One Of Them Will Help The Thompson Divide

The Bureau of Land Management’s Acting Director

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune on the newly-appointed acting director of the BLM : Feds’ top land manager remains the attorney for two Utah counties in a Grand-Staircase monument lawsuit. It was just reported this afternoon that he’s been reappointed to another term as acting director. That’s how the administration gets around having appointees being subject to confirmation by the Senate.

An article in The Hill: Federal land agency chief releases 17-page recusal list

The Bureau of Land Management and its Move Out of Washington, DC

An article in The Hill: Documents show extent of Interior plan to decentralize BLM. The Congressional Affairs office would move to Reno, Nevada. That is a pretty clear indication that they’re interested in dismantling the agency.

An op-ed in the Washington Post: This is how the Trump administration quietly incapacitates the government

An article in the Los Angeles Times: If you want to neuter a crucial federal agency, this is how you do it

An article in the Reno Gazette Journal: Trump Administration is moving 49 BLM staffers to Reno. Nevada lawmakers don’t know why

An article in High Country News: How BLM employees really feel about moving West

An article in ProPublica: Inside the Trump Administration’s Chaotic Dismantling of the Federal Land Agency

An article in the Washington Post: New BLM headquarters share a building with a Chevron corporate office

An op-ed in the Denver Post by Ann Morgan, former Colorado BLM Director: As Colorado’s former BLM director, let me explain why the Grand Junction move makes no sense

More Interior Department Topics

An article in the Energy 202 Blog in the Washington Post: Trump administration wants to vet worries about development near parks from regional offices

An article in The Hill on a House Natural Resources Committee hearing: Lawmakers show bipartisan irritation with Interior over withheld documents

An article in the Washington Post: Trump officials broke law by using entrance fees to keep parks open, watchdog says

An editorial in The New York Times: Trump to Miners, Loggers and Drillers: This Land Is Your Land

An article in the Washington Post: Top Interior official who pushed to expand drilling in Alaska to join oil company there

In General

An article on the New York Times, looking at a conflict between scientific research and the Wilderness Act: We’re Barely Listening to the U.S.’s Most Dangerous Volcanoes

An article in the Washington Post: The battle over wild horses

An op-ed in the New York Times: Lost in Alaskan Wilderness, I Found My Anti-Home

 
 
 
 
 

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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2019 August

August 24th, 2019


Fog at Drakes Bay, Point Reyes National Seashore, California                                                                             (Mike Painter)

 
August 24, 2019

Dear CalUWild friends—

This Update for August is coming out earlier in the month than usual so people who are able can attend one of the Park Service Open Houses on August 27 and 28 for the Point Reyes National Seashore Draft Management Plan. We have serious reservations about the plan and urge people to attend an open house if possible and to submit comments, regardless of whether they can attend or not. Full details are below in ITEM 2.

 
There are a few events in September to mention. Click on the links for more information:

The 6th Annual Visions of the Wild Festival, a film and arts festival in Vallejo that CalUWild has helped plan with the Forest Service and the Vallejo Community Arts Foundation since 2014. The theme this year is Transforming Fire, in recognition of Smokey Bear’s 75th anniversary.
September 12–15 in Downtown Vallejo

The 9th Annual Wine Country Optics & Nature Festival, featuring many conservation organizations and leading manufacturers of optical gear like binoculars for birding and wildlife viewing. (We won’t be there this year, unfortunately, because of the conflict with the Visions Festival.)
September 14 at the Sonoma Barracks on the Plaza, Sonoma.

35th California Coastal Cleanup Day. Not just the coast, but also other waterways in the state!
September 21

National Public Lands Day. Many organizations sponsor stewardship projects and most federal lands are admission-free.
September 28

 
As always, thank you for your support of America’s public lands!

 
Best wishes,
Mike

 

IN UTAH
1 .    Final Management Plans Released for the Areas
          Covered by the Original Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
2.    Draft Management Plan Amendment Released for
          Point Reyes National Seashore
          Open Houses Aug. 27 & 28
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINE: September 23
          (ACTION ITEM)

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

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

IN UTAH
1.   Final Management Plans Released for the Areas
          Covered by the Original Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
          (ACTION ITEM)

The Bureau of Land Management yesterday released its Final Management Plans for the shrunken Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and the areas removed from it by the administration in December 2017. Since it is a final document, they will not be open for general public comment, although organizations that filed earlier comments will most certainly file formal protests. The best thing for citizens to do now is to contact their representatives in Congress—more on that below.

The Salt Lake Tribune published an article answering some questions about the plans. We await a more detailed analysis, but the coalition of organizations working on national monuments named their major flaws:

The plan opens up hundreds of thousands of acres of the original Monument (designated in 1996) to drilling and mining, while the administration’s illegal reduction of the Monument (decreasing it by nearly half) is still being actively litigated and while the Government Accountability Office is investigating whether the planning process itself is in violation of long-standing spending law.

It is the result of a rushed and closed-door process, opening up land for inappropriate development with little input from the public.

The plan changes standards for the management of all national monuments—affecting treasured places across the country—and doesn’t even protect what remains of Grand Staircase-Escalante.

You can read the entire press release here.

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) said: “This is a dangerous precedent for all our national monuments, and everyone who supports our public lands should be concerned about this shameless giveaway campaign.” You can read his entire statement here.

If you wish, you can read and download the following BLM Plan documents:

Executive Summary

Volume 1 (Chapters 1–4)

Volume 2 (Appendices A–W)

We’ll continue to keep you up to date as more information becomes available. In the meantime, please call your Congressional Representative and Senators and let them know you object to these plans and then either thank them for their cosponsorship of the two bills below, which we have discussed in the past, or ask them to cosponsor the bills of they haven’t already.

S. 367/H.R. 1050, the ANTIQUITIES Act of 2019, reaffirms that presidents lack the authority to rescind or diminish national monuments. It also codifies the 52 existing national monuments established or expanded under the Antiquities Act since January 1996 and expands protections for the Bears Ears, Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks, Rio Grande del Norte, and Gold Butte National Monuments. The bill would also create a $100 million fund to improvement the management and conservation of national monuments.

H.R. 871, the Bears Ears Expansion and Respect for Sovereignty Act (BEARS Act—in the House only), proposes to expand the boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument to 1.9-million-acre boundary proposed by the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition. Its language is also incorporated into H.R. 1050.

There are a few new California cosponsors for these bills since our last Update, so please check our online California Congressional Information Sheet, where you can find contact information for all California offices and cosponsorship information on two other bills, as well.

 
IN CALIFORNIA
2.   Draft Management Plan Amendment Released for
          Point Reyes National Seashore
          Open Houses Aug. 27 & 28
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINE: September 23
          (ACTION ITEM)

The National Park Service this month released its Draft Management Plan Amendment for Point Reyes National Seashore. The current general management plan dates back to 1980. The present amendment is the result of a settlement reached after the Park Service was sued by the Resource Renewal Institute, the Western Watersheds Project, and the Center for Biological Diversity. You can read some of the details of the suit here. (Full disclosure: Resource Renewal Institute is CalUWild’s fiscal sponsor, handling tax-deductible contributions and grants, but CalUWild was not involved in the Pt. Reyes litigation, nor have we been involved with RRI’s project Restore Point Reyes National Seashore, to which we link below.)

Dairy and beef cattle ranching has a long history at Pt. Reyes, dating back to the 1800s. When the Seashore was established in the 1960s, there was opposition from the ranching families, but they eventually agreed to a buyout-leaseback arrangement with the National Park Service. It was never the intent that ranching would continue indefinitely. The fact is that there is no mention of ranching as being a purpose for the establishment of the Seashore in its enabling legislation:

In order to save and preserve, for purposes of public recreation, benefit, and inspiration, a portion of the diminishing seashore of the United States that remains undeveloped, the Secretary of the Interior ╔ is authorized to take appropriate action in the public interest toward the establishment of the national seashore.

Some people, however, are now claiming that it was Congress’s original intent that ranching continue, but note the quote in this article: “╘We just want to change the founding legislation ╔ so that ranchers are guaranteed they’ll always be able to farm out there. [emphasis added]'”

Legislation was later passed giving the ranchers leases for 25 years or for the life of the rancher, whichever was longer, with the possibility of lease extensions. The general expectation at the time was that ranching would be phased out. In the 1970s, Tule Elk were released into areas of the Seashore, and the cattle operations now cause conflicts with the expanding herds.

The Draft Plan’s 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.

Restore Point Reyes National Seashore provides more details as to what this means.

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.

Therefore, CalUWild opposes all of these proposals.

The question comes down to this: What is a National Seashore for?

Is it “to save and preserve, for purposes of public recreation, benefit, and inspiration, a portion of the diminishing seashore of the United States that remains undeveloped” as its establishing legislation states?

Or is it to foster private businesses even after they’ve been bought out, especially when they have been shown to be damaging to the resources the Seashore was established to protect?

Two informational meetings on the proposal are planned in Marin County. You may submit comments at them.

Tuesday, Aug. 27
5–7 p.m.
West Marin School Gym, Point Reyes Station

Wednesday, Aug. 28
5–7 p.m.

Bay Model Visitor Center, Sausalito

CalUWild suggests the following talking points for your comments:

• Point Reyes National Seashore should be managed for those values it was originally created to protect: the landscape and its wildlife.

• Dairy and beef ranching should be phased out as was originally intended.

• There should absolutely be no increase in the level of commercial activity allowed to leaseholders in the Seashore.

• Wildlife should always take priority over livestock.

In addition, Restore Point Reyes National Seashore suggests the following talking points:

• Restore the Seashore’s Pastoral Zone for wildlife habitat, native plant communities, scientific research and education.

• Repurpose historic ranch buildings for scientific research, interpretation and public education.

As always, when writing comments it is best to use your own words, to give your personal perspective on the issue, and to incorporate any experiences you have had that are noteworthy or influence your thinking.

You may also comment on the plan through September 23, by following the links here. You may also mail or hand deliver comments to:

GMP Amendment c/o Superintendent
Point Reyes National Seashore
1 Bear Valley Road
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956

For more information, check out these resources:

Restore Point Reyes National Seashore, mentioned above

The Center for Biological Diversity has a fact sheet contrasting the impacts of Tule Elk with cattle at Point Reyes.

An independent filmmaker investigated the conflict over Tule Elk, cattle ranching, and environmental impacts at Point Reyes. He produced a film about it, titled The Shame of Point Reyes. You can view it on the filmmaker’s website, which also has lots of information about Point Reyes, or on YouTube. You’ll see things you likely never knew anything about.

The Point Reyes Rewilding Network

 
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.

The Interior Department & Administration

An article in Pacific Standard about yet another Interior Department official meeting with former employers: New Documents Reveal More About Alleged Ethics Violations at the Department of the Interior. In an unfortunate development, it was announced the day after this article appeared that Pacific Standard would be ceasing publication, after it major funder pulled the plug on it without warning. The Los Angeles Times had an article about it: Pacific Standard magazine is shutting down after losing its main financial backer

An editorial in the Washington Post on Acting BLM Director Pendley: William Perry Pendley did not have Senate approval. Congress should not stand for it.

An op-ed in The Hill on the Acting BLM Director: New Bureau of Land Management leader is not only unfit to serve, he’s a threat to Western values

An op-ed by NY Times writer Timothy Egan: The Great Western Public Land Robbery

An article in The Hill: Bureau of Land Management retirees fight plan to relocate agency out west

The PBS NewsHour had a segment: How Trump is shaping the future of America’s public lands

Utah

More on the Factory Butte situation that we’ve reported on recently, from the Deseret News: Environmental groups sue BLM over opening southern Utah area to off-road vehicles

California

An article in The New Yorker: A Trailblazing Plan to Fight California Wildfires

Alaska

An article in Courthouse News about the latest Izembek Wildlife Refuge land exchange promoted by the Interior Department: New Alaskan Land Swap Called Just as Illegal as the First One

Regarding the proposed Pebble Gold Mine, CNN reported: EPA dropped salmon protection after Trump met with Alaska governor. An article also appeared in Courthouse News: Commercial Fishermen, Indigenous People Unite to Fight Mine in Alaska

Nevada

An op-ed in Nevada Current: Public lands: It’s who we are as Nevadans

Public Lands in General

An article in Outside: The Controversial Plan to Protect America’s Trails

An article from The Guardian‘s “This Land is Your Land” project: Trump administration authorizes ‘cyanide bombs’ to kill wild animals. Five days later, the EPA reversed the decision after a huge public outcry, as reported here by the New York Times: E.P.A. Backtracks on Use of ╘Cyanide Bombs’ to Kill Wild Animals.

 
 
 
 
 
 
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CalUWild
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