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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.

 
 
 
 
 
 
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 July

August 2nd, 2019


Mountain Juniper, Yosemite National Park                                                                                                         (Mike Painter)

 
August 1, 2019

Dear CalUWild friends—

There are a few important Action Items this month, but it shouldn’t take a lot of effort to complete any them. Remember, you can combine messages to Congress in one phone call or email. A letter to the editor or comment on a proposal might take a little more time, but neither needs to be too complicated.

Again, as a reminder, we have an online California Congressional Information Sheet where we are keeping track of the cosponsorship status of the California delegation on some important bills. It is easier (and less cluttered) than listing the information for each bill in the Update every month. It also lists phone numbers for the Washington, DC offices of the delegation.

 
2019 is the 75th Birthday of Smokey Bear, the Forest Service’s wildfire mascot. To commemorate the event, the theme of the 6th Annual Visions of the Wild Festival is “Transforming Fire,” in recognition of the change in understanding about fire’s role in the ecosystem over Smokey’s lifetime.

CalUWild has been a partner in planning the Festival every year. Please join us September 12–15 in downtown Vallejo for films, art exhibitions, information tables, and other events. The Festival schedule and other information may be found on the Festival website.

 
Hope you’re having a good summer, with a chance to enjoy some of your public lands, and maybe time to read a book mentioned in ITEM 6.

 
Thanks for your interest and support
Mike

 
IN UTAH
1.   Bears Ears National Monument
          Management Plan Released
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN GENERAL
2.   Bureau of Land Management News:
          Controversial Relocation Plans
          And New Acting Director
          (ACTION ITEM)
3.   Forest Service Proposes New
          Public Comment Regulations
          DEADLINE: August 12
          (ACTION ITEM)
4.   Two Other Federal Public Lands Bills:
          Land & Water Conservation Fund and National Parks
          (ACTION ITEM)
5.   Job Listings
          The California Native Plant Society

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

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

 
IN UTAH
1.   Bears Ears National Monument
          Management Plan Released
          (ACTION ITEM)

At the end of last week, the BLM released its final plan for the Bears Ears National Monument. No one expected it to be a good one, and that suspicion was confirmed. The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance sent out the following response:

Last Friday, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released the final version of its rushed management plan for what remains of Bears Ears National Monument—and it’s a bad one.

As if illegally gutting 85% of the monument wasn’t enough, the BLM’s plan for the remaining 200,000-acre monument treats the Shash Jça and Indian Creek units of Bears Ears as garden variety BLM-managed lands, subject to the sort of damage and degradation that is all too common across our state.

That’s right. In many respects the Shash Jça and Indian Creek units of Bears Ears will be subject to the same aggressive mismanagement as millions of acres of other federal public lands in Utah, despite their national monument status. It’s nothing short of outrageous.

During former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s sham “review” of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, which President Trump ordered the secretary to conduct in 2017, Zinke argued that a reduced Bears Ears boundary would allow the agency to “concentrate preservation resources.”

But this final management plan proves that Trump’s illegal actions were never about protecting fragile cultural and paleontological resources; they were about a concerted effort to remove protections at every opportunity.

In fact, the management plan:

• Delays implementing a cultural resources plan in Bears Ears for at least two years—which means easily damaged artifacts and fragile petroglyphs and pictographs will have no protection in the interim.Ñ Increases the allowed group size at cultural sites to as many as 50 people, from the current group size limit of 12.

• Calls for increased chaining and other vegetation removal projects within the monument—projects that can destroy cultural artifacts along with vegetation.

• Allows for the development of new off-road vehicle trails in culturally sensitive areas, and in scenic areas like Indian Creek.

 
Please write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper to draw attention to the objectionable plan. If you’ve been to the Bears Ears, make sure to mention that.

You can also send a message, letter, or make a phone call to the Department of the Interior objecting to the plan as a whole.

Email: feedback [at] ios [dot] doi [dot] gov

Online form

Phone: 202-208-7351

U.S. Mail:

U.S. Department of the Interior
Bureau of Land Management
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20240

 
Press regarding the management plan and other monument news:

In the Salt Lake Tribune: Trump team releases Bears Ears management plan to outcry from environmental groups

In the Washington Post: Trump officials say a new plan will protect Bears Ears. Others call it ‘salt in an open wound.’

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune: San Juan County paid nearly $500K to Louisiana law firm to lobby for Bears Ears reductions (San Juan County is reportedly the poorest county in the state.)

 
IN GENERAL
2.   Bureau of Land Management News:
          Controversial Relocation Plans
          And New Acting Director
          (ACTION ITEM)

There were two major developments regarding the Bureau of Land Management in July.

The Department of the Interior announced plans, after long speculation, to move the BLM headquarters from Washington, DC to Grand Junction, Colorado. The rationale was that a location in the West would bring officials closer to the lands they manage. Of course, that reasoning is faulty, as something like only 4% of BLM employees actually work in Washington. The vast majority already work in state and local field offices all over the West. It may or may not be coincidence that Interior Secretary David Bernhardt is from Rifle, Colorado, 60 miles away from Grand Junction.

Reaction to the proposal has been almost unanimously negative among conservationists. (See below for several articles.) Residents of Colorado are likely to be disappointed, as only 27 employees will actually go to Grand Junction, and another 54 to the Colorado State Office. It’s hardly the boon to Colorado that its elected officials, particularly Sen. Cory Gardner (R), had been expecting. More than 200 employees will move to other Western State Offices, totaling about 84% of the BLM’s DC employees.

Many people see the BLM proposal as a step along the way toward eventually dismantling the agency altogether, given the strong antipathy to public lands by many conservative and reactionary members of Congress and the public (and now the Acting Director—see below).

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Ra£l Grijalva has promised hearings in September, after Congress returns from its current recess. He was quoted in an excellent article in Outside, The Turmoil at the BLM Is Threatening Public Lands:

Putting BLM headquarters down the road from Secretary Bernhardt’s home town just makes it easier for special interests to walk in the door demanding favors without congressional oversight or accountability. The BLM officials based in Washington are here to work directly with Congress and their federal colleagues, and that function is going to take a permanent hit if this move goes forward. The agency will lose a lot of good people because of this move, and I suspect that’s the administration’s real goal here.

Other press samples:

More details of the move and employee reaction may be found in this article in the Washington Post: Top Trump officials tell Bureau of Land Management staff most of them must leave D.C. by end of next year

and this one in the Denver Post: Grand Junction included in plans to move part of Bureau of Land Management’s Washington staff out West

An article in Bloomberg Environment: Former BLM chiefs say moving the BLM headquarters is the first step to turning over public lands to the states

An op-ed in the Los Angeles Times regarding BLM’s move by CalUWild Advisory Board member Stephen Trimble: Pushing the BLM out of Washington puts our public lands in peril

The second important piece of news is that this week Interior Secretary David Bernhardt signed an order appointing William Perry Pendley as Acting Director of the BLM. This is a disturbing development for at least two reasons.

First, until just a few weeks ago, Mr. Pendley was the head of the Mountain States Legal Foundation, the conservative anti-environmental law firm set up by James Watt, Ronald Reagan’s disastrous Secretary of the Interior. Mid-month he was appointed policy director at BLM. But what really raises a red flag is that he wrote an article in 2016 titled The Federal Government Should Follow the Constitution and Sell Its Western Lands. This viewpoint has been rejected by the Supreme Court, but that doesn’t seem to stop opponents from bringing it up repeatedly. The appointment of people to agencies whose missions they are opposed to is unfortunately a hallmark of this administration.

The second issue is that he’s being appointed “Acting” Director. This means that he’s not subject to Senate confirmation, whereas a permanent director would be. The administration is thus free to pursue its policies without any initial questioning from the Senate. Again, these kinds of appointments are very common, and many observers feel it is a deliberate strategy.

There were quite a few articles in the press. A representative one was in the Washington Post: Trump’s pick for managing federal lands doesn’t believe the government should have any.

An in-depth article examining these issues and more was published by Westword: Swamped! The Forty-Year War on Public Lands Comes to a Head.

 
Please contact your senators and representatives objecting to both the BLM move out of Washington and to the appointment of Mr. Pendley as Acting BLM Director. Contact information may be found on CalUWild’s Online California Congressional Information Sheet. This is especially important if your representative is a member of the House Natural Resources Committee, marked with ” ** ” on the sheet.

 
3.   Forest Service Proposes New
          Public Comment Regulations
          DEADLINE: August 12
          (ACTION ITEM)

The Forest Service recently announced proposed regulations that would severely undercut the public’s ability to be informed and comment on projects in our national forests. It’s an important issue for CalUWild, since citizen involvement at many levels is one of our main focuses. Please submit a comment before August 12 using your own words. The following talking points come from our friends at The Wilderness Society:

 
Reject the roll-back of protections for our national forests
Proposed Rule would eliminate public input while expanding clearcutting, mining, road building

On June 13, the U.S. Forest Service published a proposed rule that would eliminate Public participation and the role of science in the vast majority of land management decisions for the nation’s 193 million acres of national forest lands.

The rule would gut one of the essential bedrock laws that protects the right of the general public to know about and participate in decisions that affect federal public land, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Specifically, these changes would create loopholes to increase the speed and scale of resource extraction including logging and mining — while eliminating public awareness and input on up to 93% of proposed projects. The Forest Service has proposed several new “categorical exclusions” that would allow the agency to move project planning behind closed doors by cutting out the public from the decision-making process and eliminating any science-based review of impacts to water, wildlife, and recreation.

Why the proposed rule should be rejected

Shuts the public out of decisions about public lands. This rule would favor corporate interests in the extractive industries over the public interest by creating back-room deals with little or no public involvement. The owners of these national forests are the American people, and they must have a voice in how our shared public lands are used.

Puts clean drinking water at risk of pollution. Millions of people in the U.S. depend on clean water that originates in our national forests. These forests serve as natural purifiers. Logging, mining, road building and related activities degrade streams and waterways and pollute water. To safeguard the nation’s supply of clean drinking water, the Forest Service should reject this rule.

Gives extractive industries supremacy on public lands. The primary beneficiaries of the new rule are logging, mining and oil and gas companies who would directly benefit from broad discretion the forest service would now have to approve massive extractive projects with no public or scientific involvement.

Reduces Backcountry Recreation Opportunities. The new provisions of this rule could result in thousands of miles of new roads being built into our last remaining wild places, with no public involvement or notification. Once these roads are built, they will forever change opportunities for backcountry recreation into our last remaining wild places.

Wildlife and Pristine Forest Land. This rule will result in dramatic increases in mining, oil and gas leasing and clear-cut logging that will have irreparable consequences on wildlife and carve up our public lands turning them into industrial parks.

 
You can submit comments through the Forest Service’s online page at

https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=FS-2019-0010-0001

though there have been some problems reported with the portal. It’s probably easier to simply email them to:

nepa-procedures-revision [at] fs [dot] fed [dot] us

When emailing your comment, be sure to include your name, address, city, state, zip code, and phone number.

You may also submit your comment via U.S. Mail to:

NEPA Services Group, c/o Amy Barker
USDA Forest Service
125 South State Street, Suite 1705
Salt Lake City, UT 84138

Again, the deadline is August 12.

 
4.   Two Other Federal Public Lands Bills:
          Land & Water Conservation Fund and National Parks
           (ACTION ITEM)

We are starting to keep track of cosponsorships of two other public lands funding bills in Congress, one for the Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and the other a special National Parks funding bill.

The LWCF is a program that provides funding for purchases of private land from willing sellers for various public uses: urban parks and recreation areas, inholdings in national parks and forests, and sensitive wildlife habitat, among others. It is funded by royalties from offshore oil and gas development, but the full funding of $900 million annually has only rarely been appropriated. S. 1081 and H.R. 3195 would mandate funding at the full level every year.

The second bill, “Restore Our Parks” (S. 500 and H.R. 1225) 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 295 bipartisan cosponsors—more than 2/3 of the House and 40 Senators on board. Both Senators Feinstein and Harris are cosponsors, and most of the House delegation.

Calls are needed to those House members on both bills who have not cosponsored yet. And please thank those who have! See the right-most two columns on the Congressional Information Sheet for status information.

 
5.   Job Listings
          The California Native Plant Society

Our friends at CNPS have two positions open. From their announcement:

The Director of Plant Science will be involved in some of the most exciting work going on anywhere, leading a great team that is accomplishing big things.

Then, the Publications Editor will get to share all the good news and inspiring success stories coming out of the work our community is doing.

Job descriptions are available by clicking on the linked positions or at https://www.cnps.org/about/jobs

 
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

NPR’s Morning Edition: When Everybody Wants A Piece Of ‘God’s Country’

And on PBS’s NewsHour: Utah restaurateurs fight Trump cuts to national monument

An article from utahpolicy.com: Bishop makes it official. He won’t run for a 10th term in 2020

California

An article in the SF Chronicle about a resolution to the controversy over trademarks of traditional names in Yosemite Valley: The Ahwahnee is coming back: Yosemite settles lawsuits to regain trademarks

Jon Mooallem has an excellent article in the New York Times Magazine looking at last year’s Paradise fire and some of its implications for California’s fire future.

Alaska

An op-ed in the New York Times on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: A Rush to Drill, Just Because We Can

Alaska Public Media reported: Feds withdraw appeal of Izembek Refuge road decision. Two days later the report came out, but unannounced by the Interior Department: It’s back: Interior signs new land swap for King Cove road

Arizona

A lengthy article in AZ Central reflecting on Bruce Babbitt’s long career: He took down dams, freed wolves and preserved wildlands. Bruce Babbitt is still at work

New Mexico

An article in High Country News: Staffers allege misconduct at BLM’s busiest oil and gas office

Department of the Interior

An article in the New York Times: Ethics Office Investigates Whether Interior Dept. Officials Violated Transparency Laws

An article in The Hill: Democratic senator vows to fight Trump Interior nominee after requesting perjury investigation

Public Lands In General

An article in National Parks Traveler: How Secure Is Wilderness In The National Park System?

An op-ed in the New York Times: This Land Was Your Land

An article in the New York Times on public lands that are sometimes overlooked: Rich in Surprises and Secrets, There’s a State Park Waiting for You

Books

CalUWild Advisory Board member Stephen Trimble has edited a book of essays, The Capitol Reef Reader, about the national park, one of the more (undeservedly) overlooked national parks in the country. National Parks Traveler has a review of it here.

The New York Times has a review of Escalante’s Dream: On the Trail of the Spanish Discovery of the Southwest.

A review by New York Times columnist Timothy Egan, of a book about George Grinnell, The Forgotten Man Responsible for Our Most Iconic National Parks.

The Los Angeles Times has a review of Christopher Ketcham’s book This Land: How Cowboys, Capitalism, and Corruption are Ruining the American 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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2019 June

July 3rd, 2019


The Bears Ears (right), Utah                                                                                                                                  (Mike Painter)

 
July 2, 2019

Dear CalUWild friends—

There has not been much recent public lands activity in Congress. There will be a recess for August, though, giving people a good opportunity to attend public events with members. You can also set up in-district meetings to discuss issues, as offices will remain staffed for phone calls and meetings.

There were a lot of articles and other resources that came along last month, on a wide variety of topics, They’re included in ITEM 4—not exactly summer reading and too many to read all at once. But please read some of them to keep current on events.

I hope you are able to get out and enjoy some of our wonderful public lands in the West this summer, while at the same time helping to protect them.

 
Have a happy Fourth of July,
Mike

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

IN CALIFORNIA
2.    Bodie Hills Campout
          July 20-21

IN GENERAL
3.    Mining Reform Bill Introduced in Congress
          (ACTION ITEM)

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

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

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

We are still waiting for a firm reintroduction date for America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act. It should happen sometime soon. The various interested parties are still working out boundary adjustments resulting from the passage of the public lands package in February, which included major legislation for Emery County.

There is still time to get your representative and senators signed on as original cosponsors, an important signal of support for the bill itself and for the protection of Utah’s BLM wilderness lands in general.

So please call your House representative and senators, requesting that they sign on. They should contact the bills’ chief sponsors in both the House and the Senate: Rep. Alan Lowenthal and Sen. Dick Durbin, respectively.

Telephone numbers for California’s congressional delegation Washington, DC offices may be found on CalUWild’s Online California Congressional Information Sheet.

 
IN CALIFORNIA
2.    Bodie Hills Campout
          July 20-21

Here’s a chance to explore a bit of the Bodie Hills, sponsored by the Bodie Hills Conservation Partnership, of which CalUWild is a member, though a scheduling conflict will prevent me from participating.

 
SAVE THE DATE: Bodie Hills Bonanza and Campout
July 20-21st 2019

Join us in July for this new first-time volunteer stewardship event at the new East Walker State Recreation Area. We will be based and camping at the “Elbow.”

Participants will meet Saturday morning for a volunteer cleanup project at the East Walker River: the Elbow campground.

After the stewardship project we will have various workshops and talks including a fly-fishing demo, wildlife tracking and viewing with optics, and cultural resources. More details coming soon. Meals will be provided and reservations and rsvp required for meals and camping.

Contact April at april [at] bodiehills [dot] org or Russell at California [at] backcountryhunters [dot] org for more information and questions.

 
IN GENERAL
3.    Mining Reform Bill Introduced in Congress
          (ACTION ITEM)

In last month’s Update, we included a link to an op-ed in The Hill by John Leshy, discussing pending legislation to reform the Mining Act of 1872. The bill has been introduced, so please join CalUWild, Wilderness Watch, and other organizations in calling for an end to hardrock mining in Wilderness. Ask your representative in Congress to cosponsor and support the Hardrock Leasing and Reclamation Act of 2019 (H.R.2579). The following information and talking points come from Wilderness Watch.

 
The 1872 Mining Act — one of the most outdated and obsolete pieces of legislation on the books — still allows countless acres of America’s public lands, Wilderness areas, and pristine waters to be polluted by toxic mining every year. Believe it or not, this 147 year-old law still governs mining on public lands, including within Wilderness!

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the mining industry is America’s largest toxic polluter—40 percent of the West’s headwater streams have been polluted by mining.

Adding insult to environmental injury, the 1872 Mining Law allows mining companies — including foreign-owned companies — to use and abuse American public lands for free. That’s right! Mining companies pay no royalties whatsoever. More than 300 billion dollars-worth of minerals have been mined from our public lands, including within Wilderness, without paying taxpayers a dime.

Fortunately, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-NM) has introduced the Hardrock Leasing and Reclamation Act of 2019 (HR 2579) that would reform and replace the 1872 Mining Act. The bill prohibits new mining activity within the National Conservation System, which includes Wilderness and Wilderness Study Areas. The bill also makes existing mining claims in Wilderness invalid and void after 10 years if no plan of operation has been approved.

You may not think hardrock mining is currently a threat to Wilderness, but it is. In a recent case, Wilderness Watch scored an important legal victory for the famed Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho when a judge ordered the Forest Service to conduct further analysis of proposed mining exploration and evaluate less invasive alternatives for activities in the Wilderness. In response to this ruling, in May 2018 the Forest Service released a recommendation to limit mining-related activities (including disallowing and limiting much of the drilling and trenching) at the Golden Hand Mine, which originally proposed extensive drilling, bulldozing, and road construction.

Talking points:

• As your constituent, I urge you to co-sponsor and support the “Hardrock Leasing and Reclamation Act of 2019” (HR 2579).

• This bill would reform and replace the 1872 Mining Act—one of the most outdated and obsolete pieces of legislation still on the books in America. The 147 year-old law still governs mining on public lands, including within Wilderness. Currently, the 1872 Mining Act allows countless acres of America’s public lands, Wilderness areas, and pristine waters to be polluted by toxic mining every year.

• According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the mining industry is America’s largest toxic polluter—40 percent of the West’s headwater streams have been polluted by mining.

• Adding insult to environmental injury, the 1872 Mining Law allows mining companies— including foreign-owned companies—to use and abuse American public lands for free. To date, more than 300 billion dollars-worth of minerals have been mined from our public lands, including within Wilderness, without paying taxpayers a dime.

• Fortunately, HR 2579 would reform and replace this outdated system. The bill would prohibit new mining activity within the National Conservation System, which includes Wilderness and Wilderness Study Areas. The bill also makes existing mining claims in Wilderness invalid and void after 10 years if no plan of operation has been approved.

 
California cosponsors so far are:

Jared Huffman (D-2)
John Garamendi (D-3)
Grace F. Napolitano (D-32)
Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-40)
Alan S. Lowenthal (D-47)
Mike Levin (D-49)

Contact information for all offices may be found on CalUWild’s Online California Congressional Information Sheet.

 
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 Department of the Interior & Other Administration News

A column from the Washington Post Energy 202: Congress wants to know when Trump will fill all the vacant positions at Interior.

An article in The Hill: Trump directs agencies to cut advisory boards by ‘at least’ one-third.

An article in Roll Call about Interior Department practices regarding Freedom of Information Act requests: Interior held back FOIA’d documents after political screenings. The Hill requested documents and found them incomplete: Exclusive: Trump administration delayed releasing documents related to Yellowstone superintendent’s firing.

An article in the Washington Post: Trump administration backtracks on closure of Job Corps program after bipartisan opposition from Congress. We reported on the original plan to shutter the program last month.

An analysis by CNN News: Interior has 5 versions of the secretary’s schedule — but they don’t always match.

In our January Update we linked to an article concerning the use of recreation fees to keep the national parks open during the government shutdown. National Parks Traveler reports that Rep. Raúl Grijalva, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee has written a letter to Secty. Bernhardt asking for an explanation of the money’s use. You can read the letter here.

A post at the Environmental Law Institute‘s blog, responding to Secty. Bernhardt’s assertion (reported last month) that he is under no obligation to do anything about climate change (and blaming Congress for his inaction, too!): Secretary Bernhardt Says He Doesn’t Have a Duty to Fight Climate Change. He’s Wrong.

Just made public, a letter from last December, reported in The Hill: Federal investigators concluded Ryan Zinke’s MAGA socks violated Hatch Act.

Utah

From the Washington Post Energy 202: A federal watchdog is investigating Trump administration’s decisions on Utah monument.

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune: Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase remain in limbo as lawsuits move slowly and legislation stalls.

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune: Trump could revive Utah’s uranium mines any day now, but activists worry about the industry’s toxic legacy.

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune: Endangered condor may have hatched in Zion National Park.

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune: How the actions of Utah’s rural officials connect to an increase in violence toward federal employees.

An article in the Los Angeles Times: Life on Mars gets a test run in the Utah desert. Factory Butte, which we mentioned and pictured last month, can be seen in the upper right corner of the fifth picture.

California

An article in the Los Angeles Times: Court throws out federal approval of Cadiz water pipeline. Secretary of the Interior, David Bernhardt, headed up the natural resources division at the law firm which had the Cadiz Company as a lobbying client before his appointment. He has denied personally lobbying for them.

An article in the Palm Springs Desert Sun: Nestlé is still taking national forest water for its Arrowhead label, with feds’ help.

An op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle by CalUWild friend Dan Gluesenkamp, Executive Director of the California Native Plant Society, and former governor Jerry Brown: Finding hope in the face of extinction.

An article in the San Francisco Chronicle about potential tribal public land: PG&E owns land across California. What will happen to it?

Colorado

An op-ed in the Grand Junction Sentinel about a Colorado wilderness bill in Congress: CORE Act will protect wildlife across the state. It passed its first legislative test last week: CORE Act, which would preserve land in Eagle County, passes House committee in this article from the Vail Daily.

Minnesota

Not in the West, but still an important national issue: An article in the New York Times about a mining proposal bordering the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota: A Plan to Mine the Minnesota Wilderness Hit a Dead End. Then Trump Became President.

Nevada

An article in the New York Times about the Air Force’s proposal to expand into the Desert National Wildlife Refuge, north of Las Vegas: Bombing Range or Nature Preserve? A Battle for Control of the Nevada Desert.

New Mexico

In the Albuquerque Journal, an article on Chaco Culture National Park: BLM reverses position on Chaco protection bill. The bill discussedwould create a 10-mile buffer around Chaco, in which no energy production would be allowed. This is a step beyond Secty. Bernhardt’s 1-year moratorium on energy leases announced previously.

Oregon

An article in Courthouse News on the Hammonds’ ranching lawsuit in Oregon, which we mentioned in our May Update: Judge Blocks Grazing Permits for Pardoned Arsonists.

Public Lands in General

Our friends at Headwater Economics have assembled a page with an interactive map from the U.S. Geological Survey data on public lands and their protective status. The page also contains links to reports that Headwater Economics has prepared on public lands.

The BLM has published a series of online maps of popular climbing areas on lands that it manages. Click here.

An article in the New York Times: Who Gets to Own the West—A new group of billionaires is shaking up the landscape.

 
 
 
 
 

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 May

June 4th, 2019


Factory Butte at Sunrise, Utah                                                                                                                           (Mike Painter)

 
May 31, 2019

Dear CalUWild friends—

Summer is just about here, so many people will be visiting our public lands. National parks especially have been experiencing greatly increased visitation, but you can still get away from the crowds if you try. Regardless, it’s important to continue working to protect special places of all kinds, especially those that remain wild.

Many people have been focused on investigations in Washington, but there has been a lot going on in other areas requiring attention, too. It’s important not to let those things slip by. Below are a few where you can have an impact.

And this month, as always, there are articles—a few more than usual—to keep you up to date on all sorts of topics. You’ll find links to them in ITEM 6. (You’re not expected to read them all!)

 
As always, thanks for your interest and support,
Mike

 
IN UTAH
1.   Red Rock Bill Cosponsor Update
         (ACTION ITEM)
2.   BLM Opens Factory Butte Area to Off-Road Vehicles
         (ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
3.   BLM Proposes Fracking in California
          COMMENTS NEEDED
          DEADLINE: June 10
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN GENERAL
4.   Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act Introduced
          (ACTION ITEM)
5.   Job Listings: California League of Conservation Voters

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

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

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

We originally though that America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act would be introduced in May. So far that hasn’t happened though we do expect it soon. That gives us a bit more time to line up original cosponsors for the bill.

Please call your representative and senators and request that they become original cosponsors. They should contact the principal sponsors, Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-47) of California or Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) to be added to the list.

We don’t have a list of those who have committed to cosponsoring the legislation when it is introduced, but a call now can’t hurt. Either it requests or reminds them to do so, or it acts as support for the decision they’ve already made.

Contact information for all of California’s representatives and both senators may be found on our online California Congressional Information Sheet.

 
2.   BLM Opens Factory Butte Area to Off-Road Vehicles
          (ACTION ITEM)

The Bureau of Land Management unexpectedly decided to open the area around Factory Butte, one of Southern Utah’s geological landmarks, to off-road vehicle use, reversing a decision made in 2006. Our friends at the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance sent out the following Action Alert. Please email or call the Richfield office to object. And if you’ve visited the area, mention that also.

 
BLM OPENS SCENIC FACTORY BUTTE AREA TO OFF-ROAD VEHICLE DESTRUCTION

Without prior notice or opportunity for public input, the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Richfield Field Office announced on Wednesday, May 22, 2019—just before Memorial Day weekend—that it is has opened 5,400 acres of public lands surrounding Utah’s iconic Factory Butte to unfettered cross-country off-road vehicle (ORV) use.

The BLM’s decision reverses the agency’s 2006 closure of the area to ORV use and will allow unrestricted motorized travel throughout the designated “play area.” At the time BLM implemented the 2006 closure it explained that “Factory Butte itself is an iconic formation, highly visible from Highway 24 and is often photographed.”

Take Action!

Call or email Joelle McCarthy, the BLM’s Richfield Field Office Manager:

435-896-1501
email: jmccarth [at] blm [dot] gov

Tell her what you think of the BLM’s decision to open Factory Butte to unrestricted off-road vehicle abuse!

Talking points:

•   It’s ridiculous that the agency re-opened Factory Butte to motorized use after being closed for nearly 13 years without seeking public input beforehand and without giving any advance notice. The BLM manages places like Factory Butte on behalf of the public and is accountable for its decisions.

•   Fence them in! ORV riders—even those that are well intentioned—won’t stay in the newly designated “open area” if that area is not easy to distinguish on the ground. The BLM has placed no signs on the inside of the “play area,” meaning there is nothing to keep riders off the butte itself.

•   The BLM is destroying an iconic landscape! The BLM’s decision ensures that one of Utah’s most recognizable landscapes will be defaced and damaged for years to come. Contrary to popular myth, these tracks don’t simply disappear after the next rain!

Longtime SUWA members will recall that protecting Factory Butte was a major fight in the late 90s and early 2000s. The closure of the area to ORV abuse in 2006 gave the land a much-needed chance to recover.

The BLM’s decision is further proof that the Trump administration has found its legs, and that no previous environmental victory is safe from those who would destroy Utah’s wildlands.

 
More information can be found on SUWA’s Factory Butte page.

Click here for a video of a rider parachuting off a motorcycle near Factory Butte, which you can see as he takes off and flies through the air. (WARNING: One bit of coarse language at the end!)

 
IN CALIFORNIA
3.   BLM Proposes Fracking in California
          COMMENTS NEEDED
          DEADLINE: June 10
          (ACTION ITEM)

In late April, the administration announced plans to begin allowing fracking on land, both public and private, in central California. (Private land could be included because of what is known as a “split estate,” where a private party owns the surface rights, but the federal government has retained subsurface mineral rights.) The area affected is more than one million acres in Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare, and Ventura counties.

A court-ordered five-year moratorium on fracking was in effect while the government supposedly evaluated environmental risks associated with fracking. The administration lost no time in proposing fracking once the court order expired.

Our friends at the California Wilderness Coalition suggest writing to BLM State Acting Director Joe Stout to make your opposition known. Here are CWC’s talking points (but please use your own words):

•   Fracking presents unacceptable risks to our health and safety. A 2015 report from the California Council on Science and Technology concluded that fracking in California happens at unusually shallow depths, dangerously close to underground drinking water supplies, with unusually high concentrations of toxic chemicals that are harmful to human health and the environment.

•   Moreover, new drilling and fracking would do even further damage to air quality in Central California, particularly in the San Joaquin air basin, where communities of color and low-income communities are already harmed daily by toxic air pollution.

•   To prevent the worst effects of climate change, we cannot afford to sell off any more public lands to oil companies. Like a household budget, the planet has a carbon budget and it is entirely spent. Now more than ever, we must keep fossil fuels in the ground.

•   California has some of the most diverse public lands in the country and oil and gas drilling will permanently damage our natural heritage and an important driver of sustainable economic opportunity.

You may reach Mr. Stout by email at:

castatedirector [at] blm [dot] gov

or U.S. Mail at:

Mr. Joe Stout
Acting State Director
U.S. Bureau of Land Management
2800 Cottage Way, Suite W-1623
Sacramento, CA 95825-1886

 
The fracking proposal is included in a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement prepared by the BLM’s Bakersfield Field Office. The comment period on the plan is open until June 10. Please also submit your comments to Mr. Stout to the Bakersfield office, so they can be incorporated into the formal legal record.

You could also add a specific request that BLM adopt Alternative C or D. Alt. C “emphasizes conserving cultural and natural resources, maintaining functioning natural systems, and restoring natural systems that are degraded,” and Alt. D goes further and “eliminates livestock grazing for the life of the plan from the public lands where the 2014 RMP provides administrative direction for the livestock-grazing program.” Neither of these was selected in the previous Draft Plan, but it’s good to let BLM know that resource protection is important to many people regardless. Either of these is preferable to BLM’s preferred Alternative B.

To submit comments electronically, follow the directions here.

(The window stays open for 60 minutes, but if have your comments ready to COPY and PASTE, that should not be a problem.)

You may also submit comments by U.S. Mail to:

Bureau of Land Management
Bakersfield Field Office
Attn: Bakersfield Hydraulic Fracturing Analysis
3801 Pegasus Drive
Bakersfield, CA 93308

 
IN GENERAL
4.   Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act Introduced
          (ACTION ITEM)

In mid-May, Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) introduced Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act of 2019 (S.1499) in the Senate, with nine cosponsors. Both California senators, Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, are original cosponsors of the bill. Please thank them! A companion bill was introduced in the House (H.R.2795) by Reps. Don Beyer (D-VA) and Vern Buchanan (R-FL), with no additional cosponsors.

The Act would:

•   Grant authority to key federal agencies to designate wildlife corridors managed for the persistence, resilience, and adaptability of native species.

•    Mitigate harm to wildlife and threats to public safety where wildlife corridors cross roadways by implementing wildlife overpasses and underpasses and other strategies.

•   Establish the Wildlife Corridors Stewardship and Protection Fund to support the management and protection of wildlife corridors.

•   Provide incentives for private landowners to protect wildlife corridors using funds from Department of Agriculture conservation programs.

•   Create a Wildlife Connectivity Database that will be freely available to states, tribes, federal agencies, and the public to support decisions about wildlife corridors.

 
More information about the bill maybe found on the Wildlands Network webpage, from which the above description comes.

222 organizations, including CalUWild, supported the introduction of the bills. You can read our group letter here.

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

 
5.   Job Listings: California League of Conservation Voters

Our friends at CLCVhave three positions open:

Communications Director
Director of Philanthropy
Major Gifts Officer

The jobs are based in either Oakland or Los Angeles. For full descriptions, click here.

 
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.

Interior Secretary Bernhardt and the Administration

In the Washington Post: The Energy 202: Interior secretary blames Congress for lack of action on climate change. The Energy 202 is an excellent daily newsletter on environmental matters, especially public lands and energy.

An article in the Washington Post based on an interview with Interior Secretary David Bernhardt: Facing Democratic resistance, Interior secretary promotes oil and gas drilling

An article in Politico on the Interior Department’s failures to provide information requested by Congress: Rep. Grijalva: House panel considering subpoenas for Interior information

California’s Rep. Jared Huffman (D-2) is the “Dem” referred to in the headline of this article in The Hill: Dem criticizes newest calendars for Trump Interior chief as ‘fake’

An article from our friends at the Center for Western Priorities: How Interior’s top lawyer is paving the way to drain California’s desert and deliver millions to Secretary Bernhardt’s former law firm

An article from Associated Press: Interior boss: No monument changes planned, but up to Trump

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune: Did Interior break the law in eyeing oil, gas leases in the former Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument? Dems want new probe.

An article in the Washington Post: Trump administration to pull out of rural Job Corps program, laying off 1,100 federal workers

California

An article in the San Francisco Chronicle: New dam proposal in Sierra Nevada stirs debate over California energy policy

An article in the Los Angeles Times: A war is brewing over lithium mining at the edge of Death Valley

An article in CityLab on Bodie: What It’s Like to Live in a California Ghost Town. CalUWild is a member of the Bodie Hills Conservation Partnership, working to develop a protective scheme for the Bodie Hills, which surround the old town.

Alaska

An op-ed in the New York Times on the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska: ‘The Wrong Mine for the Wrong Place’. We linked to an op-ed in The Guardian on the Pebble Mine in last month’s Update.

Colorado

An article in the Denver Post: “This may be the year”: Colorado legislators push to protect 1 million acres of wilderness through 2 bills in Congress

Nevada

An article on Las Vegas and water in eastern Nevada, an issue that has been around for a long time—we last wrote about it in 2013: Measure feared to boost LV water grab dies in Carson City

New Mexico

“Interior Secretary David Bernhardt expressed amazement” at Chaco Canyon, as reported in this article from the Farmington (NM) Daily Times: Interior Secretary David Bernhardt visits Chaco Canyon amid oil, gas development debate. After his visit, Secty. Bernhardt announced a one-year moratorium on leasing in a 10-mile buffer zone around Chaco Canyon while the BLM updates its Resource Management Plan and to allow a bill protecting the Chao area to move Congress. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) hosted Mr. Bernhardt at Chaco and is a cosponsor of the Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act, S.1079, introduced by his colleague Tom Udall (D-NM). Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) has introduced a companion bill, H.R.2181, in the House.

An article in The Guardian about Rep. Deb Haaland of New Mexico: ‘It’s my homeland’: the trailblazing Native lawmaker fighting fossil fuels

Oregon

An article from The Oregonian, following up on the story mentioned in our April Update: Environmental groups sue BLM to block renewal of grazing permit for Hammond Ranches and an op-ed in the Seattle Times by CalUWild friend Erik Molvar, Executive Director of Western Watersheds, explaining the lawsuit: Why we filed suit to overturn Zinke’s last act of malfeasance

Utah

An article in High Country News: Bears Ears’ only visitor center isn’t run by the feds

An op-ed in the New York Times by Mike Dombeck, former chief of the U.S. Forest Service, looking at Utah’s attempt to roll back the Roadless Rule there: Utah Continues Its Assault on Federal Lands

From the Editorial Page editor of the Salt Lake Tribune: The free market wants a beautiful Utah. Not a coal mine.

Public Lands in General

An op-ed in the Washington Post: National parks are both a treasure and challenge. There’s a solution.

An article in The Guardian: US rollback of protected areas risks emboldening others, scientists warn

In Pacific Standard, an excerpt from a new book about the ongoing war on America’s public lands: Campsites Among The Stumps: The Unmaking of the Great American Commons

An article in the Los Angeles Times: The West has many wildfires, but too few prescribed burns, study finds

An op-ed by John Leshy in The Hill on the possibility of changes to the Mining Law of 1872: Outdated mining law lets industry use and abuse public lands for free

 
 
 
 
 

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 April

May 2nd, 2019


Wild & Scenic River System stamps                                                                                                               (U.S. Postal Service)

 
April 30, 2019

Dear CalUWild friends—

There is only one main item this month, with three easy ACTION SUB-ITEMS dealing with Congress. We previewed these briefly in our January Update, and the time has come to act in support of them. They can all be done in the same phone call.

The second item is our regular IN THE PRESS section. Some of the articles in it are about issues we’ve covered in the past but which don’t require a separate item in the Update. Included are articles about the new Secretary of the Interior, David Bernhardt. His tenure is already as filled with controversy as Ryan Zinke’s, who was forced to resign last year. We’ll keep you posted on developments.

Public lands have been increasingly in the news with this administration, and there are often too many topics to cover in great detail. In response, we’ve been increasing the number of articles we link to. I hope you’ll read them to keep up-to-date on developments and to stay generally informed about public lands.

 
Last year was the 50th Anniversary of the National Wild & Scenic Rivers System. This year, the U.S. Postal Service is issuing First Class commemorative (Forever) stamps in honor of the system. Several are photos taken by friends of CalUWild, and we’re featuring them this month as the (slightly fuzzy) illustration for the Update. The stamps are being released May 21.

 
Best wishes,
Mike

 
IN CONGRESS
1.   Legislative Update
          (3 ACTION ITEMS)
          a.   Utah’s Red Rock Wilderness Act Reintroduction Expected in May
          b.   3 California Wilderness Bills Introduced in April
          c.   ANTIQUITIES Act of 2019

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

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

 
IN CONGRESS
1.   Legislative Update
          (ACTION ITEMS)
          a.   Utah’s Red Rock Wilderness Act Reintroduction Expected in May

America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act (ARRWA) has consistently been CalUWild’s major legislative focus since our founding in 1997. It would designate land in Utah managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management as wilderness. The bill was first introduced in 1989 by Utah Rep. Wayne Owens (D), and when he left Congress, he asked Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) to take it on. It was later championed by Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), and now the lead sponsor is California’s Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-47). Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) has been the Senate champion for many years.

You can see a map of the proposal as introduced in the last Congress here. (Some portions in Emery County—north and south of I-70—were designated as wilderness in the large public lands package that became law in March of this year, and they will be omitted when the bill is reintroduced.)

The bill is important for two reasons. The first, obviously, is to designate deserving areas as wilderness. The second, however, is equally important: It sets a standard against which all other proposals, either legislative or on-the-ground projects by the BLM, must be measured. By cosponsoring the bill, representatives indicate their strong support for it and its underlying protections. We can then usually count on cosponsors to actively oppose bad legislation when it is introduced.

Rep. Lowenthal and Sen. Durbin will most likely reintroduce ARRWA in May. We would like to see as many California representatives as possible, and both senators, sign on as cosponsors before reintroduction. Nicole Brown, the founder of Women Who Hike, and I spent a few days in Washington earlier this month visiting California congressional offices, informing them of the upcoming reintroduction of the bill. But they need to hear from constituents as well, so please call your representatives and senators and ask that they sign on as original cosponsors.

A list of previous ARRWA cosponsors from California and contact information for all California congressional offices in Washington may be found on our online California Congressional Information Sheet.

 
          b.   3 California Wilderness Bills Introduced in April

April 10 saw the reintroduction of three public lands bills for California, north, central, and south, in the House. Sens. Kamala Harris (D) and Dianne Feinstein (D) also introduced companion legislation in the Senate for each of the bills.

Rep. Jared Huffman (D-2) reintroduced his Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act (H.R.2250). The proposal would protect local wild lands, expand recreational opportunities, improve fire management, and restore impacted watersheds. The bill number in the Senate is S.1110.

Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-24) reintroduced his Central Coast Heritage Protection Act (H.R.2199). The bill would protect 244,909 acres of wilderness, create two scenic areas encompassing 34,882 acres, and safeguard 159 miles of wild and scenic rivers in the Los Padres National Forest and the Carrizo Plain National Monument. The bill number in the Senate is S.1111.

Rep. Judy Chu (D-27) reintroduced her San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act (H.R.2215). The bill would designate wilderness in the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument and enlarge the monument, as well as creating a national recreation area. The bill number in the Senate is S.1109.

More detailed descriptions of the bills may be found in this press release from the California Wilderness Coalition.

Please thank the House sponsors and both senators for their championship of each of these bills. (ALSO: If you haven’t thanked Sen. Feinstein for her California Desert Protection and Recreation Act, passed with the large public lands package in March, please do so as well!)

Contact information for all California congressional offices in Washington may be found on our online California Congressional Information Sheet.

 
          c.   ANTIQUITIES Act of 2019

As we have reported over the years, the Antiquities Act of 1906, signed into law by Pres. Theodore Roosevelt, has been under attack from anti-public land forces. The law authorizes the president to declare as monuments “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest” that are on federally-managed land, “the limits of which in all cases shall be confined to the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.”

The Antiquities Act has since been used by presidents of both parties to create more than 130 national monuments.

The law has created controversy since its inception. A lawsuit was filed against Pres. Roosevelt, arguing that his designation of the Grand Canyon was an abuse of authority because of the monument’s size. However, the Supreme Court ruled that it was appropriate, given the canyon’s size. In more recent times, presidents have recognized the need to preserve larger landscapes for their scientific and ecological value. Beginning with Bill Clinton and his designation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah, the Bureau of Land Management has had landscape-scale monuments under its jurisdiction. These monuments continue to arouse opposition from some in the West—hence the sham review that the administration undertook at then-Sen. Orrin Hatch’s (R-UT) instigation, resulting the reduction of both Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears national monuments. Other monuments designated since 1996 remain at risk, although Interior Secretary David Bernhardt has said further review is not on his priority list. (We’ll see about that …)

To rectify this situation, the ANTIQUITIES Act was introduced in the last Congress and has been reintroduced in this one. The bill states unambiguously that “a national monument may only be reduced, diminished, or revoked by an Act of Congress.” It also gives congressional recognition to the 52 national monuments as originally designated since 1996, preventing the administration from tampering with their boundaries. Furthermore, it enlarges the Bears Ear National Monument to reflect the proposal originally made by the Native American Inter-Tribal Coalition. (Pres. Obama’s designation was somewhat smaller.) The bill also establishes a “National Monument Enhancement Fund” to be used for management planning and acquisition of needed land. (One questionable aspect, however, is that the fund is also to be used for development of recreational infrastructure, even though recreation is not one of the purposes for which monuments are to be designated.)

In the House the bill number is H.R.1050, and in the Senate, it’s S.367.

At present, there are 98 cosponsors in the House and 24 in the Senate. We would like to see more cosponsors in both chambers, especially among freshman representatives in the House. There are 29 California representatives currently cosponsoring. Freshmen California House members missing from the list are Josh Harder (D-10), TJ Cox (D-21), Gilbert Cisneros (D-39), and Harley Rouda (D-48). Both Sens. Harris and Feinstein are cosponsors.

Please call your representatives and both senators as appropriate to either thank them or ask them to become cosponsors of these bills.

A list of current ANTIQUITIES Act cosponsors from California and contact information for all California congressional offices in Washington may be found on our online California Congressional Information Sheet.

 
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.

Department of the Interior and the administration

An article in the Washington Post on then-nominee/Acting Interior Secretary Bernhardt: Interior Dept. watchdog reviewing allegations that acting secretary violated Trump ethics pledge

From our friends at the Center for Western Priorities, in Westwise: Hidden calendars show Trump’s pick for Interior Secretary met repeatedly with drilling, mining industries

In the New York Times: Senate Confirms Bernhardt as Interior Secretary Amid Calls for Investigations Into His Conduct. It’s disappointing that three Democrats, particularly Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) who is a strong defender of public lands, voted to confirm Mr. Bernhardt.

An article in Politico: National Archives joins investigation into Interior chief’s missing calendars

His first day on the job, and the New York Times had this article: Interior Dept. Opens Ethics Investigation of Its New Chief, David Bernhardt

And the Interior Secretary isn’t the only one with ethics problems, as you can read in this article from The Hill: EPA administrator failed to disclose former lobbying client

We’ve reported for years on the proposal to build a road in Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, much of which is designated wilderness, most recently in our January 2018 Update, when then-Secretary Zinke signed a land exchange agreement. Our friends at Wilderness Watch, the Sierra Club, and The Wilderness Society sued to overturn the agreement and were successful. The same day, the judge ruled that the administration’s decision to open Arctic and Atlantic waters to drilling was also illegal. You can read about both decisions in the Washington Post: Federal judge declares Trump’s push to open up Arctic and Atlantic oceans to oil and gas drilling illegal. You can read the Izembek ruling here. The ruling in the drilling case is similar to the one hoped for in the national monument rollbacks cases—that the president doesn’t have the authority to diminish protections put in place by a predecessor.

Another judge ruled that the Interior Department is barred from overturning the Obama Administration’s moratorium on coal mining on public lands without undertaking a NEPA analysis. An article in the New York Times: Judge Delivers Major Setback to Trump Policy to Increase Coal Mining on Federal Land

An article in the Harvard Law Review: The Trump Administration and Lessons Not Learned from Prior National Monument Modifications

An article in High Country News about the Hammond family in Oregon, whose prison sentences set off the Bundy occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge: Fire-starting ranchers get a new blessing from BLM. A bizarre turn of events …

An op-ed in The Guardian: Trump’s EPA wants to put a toxic mine in pristine Alaska. What could go wrong? We’ve written about the Pebble Mine several times, most recently in May 2017.

Bears Ears National Monument

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune: Democrat-controlled San Juan County formally withdraws from Bears Ears court case

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune: Feds stack Bears Ears advisory group with critics of southern Utah monument

An editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune: Bears Ears committee is a monument to bad intentions

An excellent graphical representation in the Washington Post: What Remains of Bears Ears

In the Salt Lake Tribune: Southern Utah environmental group sues feds over public lands leased for oil and gas development in Alkali Ridge. The area is adjacent to the Bears Ears National Monument.

Public Lands in General

An op-ed in The Guardian: We must ensure US public lands stay public, or risk ‘demolition of society’

A judge says: “It is simply delusional to maintain that all public land within the boundaries of Nevada belongs to the State of Nevada.” Cliven Bundy’s public lands claim is ‘simply delusional,’ judge rules

An op-ed in the Los Angeles Times: I was a national parks slacker. It took a foreigner to open my eyes.

An article in The New Republic: How Instagram Ruined the Great Outdoors. And on a related note, an article in the Salt Lake Tribune: Moab is drowning in tourists, and Utah is making Grand County spend millions a year to invite more

An op-ed in the New York Times: Why Are We Still Slaughtering the American Bison?

The Arts

The Los Angeles Times recently gave Terry Tempest Williams its Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement, for writing about the West. The paper published an interview with her: Terry Tempest Williams on nature writing: ‘My heart is very deep in these wild lands’. Terry is on CalUWild’s Advisory Board.

 
 
 
 
 
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 formif 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 March

March 30th, 2019


Lithium solar evaporation ponds (see Item 3), Silver Peak, Nevada                                                                      (Mike Painter)

 
March 30, 2019

Dear CalUWild friends—

The big news this month, though not unexpected, was that the public lands bill passed in February was signed into law. That means a large swath of new wilderness in Utah, California, and other states; more miles of Wild & Scenic Rivers; and permanent authorization for the Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), among other things. Of course, with this administration, nothing is ever simple. Interior Secretary-nominee David Bernhardt tried to take credit for parts of the bill that the department had opposed, and just the day before, the administration’s budget was released. They proposed absolutely no funding for the LWCF and actually tried to take back funds that Congress has already appropriated. Funding for many aspects of the Park Service was cut, some of which would result in laying off more than 300 rangers.

Fortunately, the response from Congress was that the budget was DOA—dead on arrival. This just shows again how important it is for us who value our public lands to establish good relationships with our elected representatives in Washington and to let them know that we want our natural inheritance protected.

Other good news came this month when a federal judge blocked BLM oil & gas leases in Wyoming for failure to consider their effect on greenhouse gases when preparing its environmental analyses. We hope this will set a precedent for other areas around the West. Also, last month we mentioned an article regarding a bill to protect the Ruby Mountains in Nevada. This month, the Forest Service as decided not to allow leasing there. Here’s an article in the Las Vegas Sun: Forest Service: Mountains around Elko not suitable for oil, gas leasing.

 
As announced last month, we’ve started an online California Congressional Information Sheet, with DC office phone numbers for all California senators and representatives, as well as updated information on their cosponsorship status on important bills. Please bookmark it!

 
Best wishes,
Mike

 
IN CONGRESS
1.   House Natural Resources Oversight Hearing
           (ACTION ITEM)
2.   Cosponsorship Update
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
3.   BLM Releases Environmental Assessment on Proposed
          Lithium Mining Exploration in Panamint Valley
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINE: April 15
          (ACTION ITEM)
4.   California Native Plant Society Announces 2 Internships

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

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

IN CONGRESS
1.   House Natural Resources Oversight Hearing
          (ACTION ITEM)

In the middle of the month, the House Committee on Natural Resources held an oversight hearing, investigating the process behind the monument review that the administration undertook in 2017. Much of the testimony exposed the review for the sham that was suspected all along.

Witnesses at the hearing included the Utah State BLM Director and several representatives from the Inter-Tribal Coalition, as well as local government officials, business owners, and conservation organizations.

Three California members of the Committee asked very forceful questions on various topics.

Rep. Jared Huffman (D-2) questioned BLM State Director Ed Roberson about statements made during a review by the Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG). A mapping specialist told the OIG that he had been ordered to draw new boundaries for the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to specifically exclude areas with significant coal deposits, as well as areas with paleontological resources. In addition, he was told that the resulting monument could be no larger than 1 million acres.

Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-47) questioned Mr. Roberson on planning for fossil fuels in the monuments. Mr. Robeson said there is no planning for fossil fuels within the new monument boundaries, though there may be planning for areas removed from the monuments that aren’t wilderness study areas or that have other special designations. He also asked questions about the planned protections for tribal cultural resources on lands eliminated from the monuments, and costs associated with the various plans.

Rep. Mike Levin (D-40), freshman representative from Orange and San Diego Counties, asked Mr. Roberson about reports that Energy Fuels Resources, a uranium mining and milling company, lobbied the department before the monuments review publicly began. The lobbyist for the company at the time was Andrew Wheeler, who now heads the EPA. “So much for draining the swamp,” said Mr. Levin. Mr. Roberson answered that he was unaware of those reports.

Rep. Levin contrasted that with the actions of the Interior Department regarding Native American members of the Inter-Tribal Coalition, whose interests were directly impacted by the review and shrinkage. They were offered a meeting on short notice with the Department, but not before the review started. (The tribal representative then pointed out that was the same thing that happened in the original version of Utah Rep. John Curtis’s Emery County bill—no one bothered to contact the Ute Tribe before land exchange provisions for their own reservation were included in the bill.)

 
Please call their offices to say Thank You. Phone numbers for their Washington, DC offices may be found on CalUWild’s online California Congressional Information Sheet.

The Committee posted a video of the hearing online.

There were some monument-related articles in the press this month:

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune: BLM staffers touted the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument before Trump shrunk it

An article in Roll Call, lending support to the contention that the results of the monument review were preordained: Seeking to shrink Bears Ears, uranium firm met with Interior before review

A long article in Outside: The theft of Grand Staircase-Escalante

 
2.   Cosponsorship Update
           (ACTION ITEM)

In our February Update we discussed the upcoming April reintroduction of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act in the House and Senate as well as two national monuments-related bills.The Utah Wilderness Coalition will be sponsoring meetings on Capitol Hill April 8-10 with congressional offices from across the country to educate them about the Red Rock Wilderness Act. Please help that effort by calling your representatives and senators. Ask them to become “original cosponsors” (meaning that their names will be included on the bill when it is introduced).

Cosponsorship shows a strong level of support for the bill and its underlying protections. Cosponsors can generally be relied upon to oppose legislation undercutting the Red Rock Wilderness Act. California Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-47) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) will be reintroducing the bill. (Bill numbers will be assigned after re-introduction.)

Since our last Update, the following California representatives have signed on as cosponsors to the ANTIQUITIES Act of 2019 (H.R. 1050 / S.367)

Mike Thompson (D-5)
Barbara Lee (D-13)
Anna Eshoo (D-18)
Zoe Lofgren (D-19)
Mike Levin (D-49)

and the BEARS Act (H.R. 871)

Mark DeSaulnier (D-11)
Barbara Lee (D-13)
Anna Eshoo (D-18)
Zoe Lofgren (D-19)
Scott Peters (D-52)

A list of California cosponsors for each bill may be found on our Congressional Information Sheet. Please call your representatives and Sens. Feinstein and Harris to thank them for cosponsoring or ask them to cosponsor, whichever is appropriate.

 
IN CALIFORNIA
3. BLM Releases Environmental Assessment on Proposed
          Lithium Mining Exploration in Panamint Valley
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINE: April 15
          (ACTION ITEM)

Our friends at Friends of the Inyo sent out the following action alert just as we were finishing putting this month’s Update together. The current deadline is April 15, but conservation groups are requesting that the comment period be extended 45 days. However, there is no guarantee that BLM will grant the request, so it’s best to get your comments in before then (which is also Income Tax Day). Use the talking points below and as Friends of the Inyo suggests, too, if you’ve been there, talk about your experiences.

 
Proposed Lithium Mine in Panamint Valley

Please submit a comment to help us stop the industrialization of beautiful and remote Panamint Valley!

What’s Happening?
The BLM is now accepting comments on a proposed exploratory drilling project for lithium in Panamint Valley. Battery Mineral Resources, headquartered in Toronto, Canada proposes to drill four holes 2,000 feet deep on Panamint Lake just outside of the Surprise Canyon Wilderness.

What Is Lithium?
Lithium is used in a variety of renewable energy technologies such as the batteries that power electric vehicles. As the country begins to transition towards a more renewable and green economy, we need lithium to power the batteries that power our tech. Currently, the majority of the world’s lithium is produced in Australia and South America. There is only one lithium mine in the United States and it is located in Silver Peak, Nevada. [CalUWild note: See photo above]

While we undoubtedly need lithium to power a renewable future, lithium mines should be sited in the appropriate places–not in places like Panamint Valley which is adjacent to Death Valley National Park, heavily used by a variety of recreationists, and home to rare plant species and wildlife.

Why Should We Protect Panamint Valley?
Panamint Valley is a unique and special treasure. It is as deep as Death Valley and even more narrow. Surrounded by striking mountains, such as Telescope Peak, there are a number of recreational opportunities for those seeking adventure and solitude. Panamint Valley is the only remaining valley managed by the BLM Ridgecrest Field Office that is not developed. It was designated as California Desert National Conservation Land and is to be managed to protect its conservation and recreation values. Imagine seeing from a high peak in the Panamint Range neon colored pools of toxic solutions…

What Can I Do? Send a comment letter today!
The BLM closes their 30-day public comment period on April 15th. Tell the BLM they must protect the resources and values for which Panamint Valley was designated. If you spend any time in Panamint Valley be sure to mention your personal experiences in your comment letter. You can also use any of these points:

The proposed project fails to analyze the full extent of water impacts. Over 2,000 gallons of water will be trucked in and used daily for exploratory drilling. In full production, the Silver Peak lithium mine uses 1.7 to 3 billions gallons of water a year. A Panamint Valley mine would require billions of gallons as well. Cumulative impacts to local water resources have not been addressed.

Surprise Canyon Creek, only a few miles away from drill locations, was designated a Wild & Scenic River in March 2019. Water resources in the canyon could be negatively impacted.

The proposed project location contains unique desert wetland communities, including mesquite bosques and fragile marshes. Endemic fairy shrimp occur in the lake. Lithium exploration will directly contradict the management goals of this Area of Critical Environmental Concern.

The springs, desert marshes, and mesquite groves of Panamint Lake are of paramount importance to the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe. Warm Sulfur Spring, just north of the project site, is a Tribal Cooperative Activity/Special Use area for traditional practices within the Timbisha Shoshone Homeland.

Panamint Valley is the final remaining undeveloped valley managed by the Ridgecrest BLM field office. The BLM needs to manage the California Desert National Conservation Lands to conserve their cultural, biological, and recreational values.

The BLM’s review of recreation and visual resources falls short and does not adequately consider impacts to the nearby Surprise Canyon Wilderness and Death Valley National Park. Visitors will clearly be able to see the drilling from a variety of high points, as well as have to navigate drill locations, truck traffic noise, and dust while exploring the valley.

How do I Submit a Comment?

Follow these steps to submit your comments to the BLM by April 15, 2019.

Online

a. Click here to open the BLM Eplanning website.

b. Scroll down to view the project documents, then select the “Comment on Document” button at the bottom right of the page. You will be directed to a page where you can attach a file of your comments or directly type your comments in. Note: There is no need to fill out the chapter or section reference boxes.

Email the BLM directly

Carl Symons – Ridgecrest Field Manager
csymons [at] blm [dot] gov

Randall Porter – Ridgecrest Field Office Geologist
rporter [at] blm [dot] gov

Submit comments via U.S. Mail

Bureau of Land Management Ridgecrest Field Office
Attn: Randy Porter & Carl Symons
300 South Richmond Road
Ridgecrest, CA 93555

 
4.   California Native Plant Society Announces 2 Internships

Our friends at the California Native Plant Societyhave announced the creation of two new paid internships. One will be “dedicated to advancing conservation of California wildlands, as well as the species and natural communities they support.” The second “will work with CNPS rare plant and vegetation scientists to explore and understand California’s plants and plant communities.”

For full details, click here.

 
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 the Washington Post: Trump officially nominates David Bernhardt, a veteran lobbyist, to run Interior

An article in the New York Times: Interior Nominee Intervened to Block Report on Endangered Species

An article in Westwise, from our friends at the Center for Western Priorities: Six reasons why David Bernhardt is not fit to be the next Interior Secretary

An article in the Washington Post: Acting interior chief’s method of documenting meetings attracts Democrats’ scrutiny

An article from The Center for Investigative Reporting in its publication Reveal: Recording reveals oil industry execs laughing at Trump access

An article in Outside on the president’s proposed budget: Trump’s Proposed Budget Would Devastate National Parks: A close reading of the President’s 2020 Department of the Interior budget reveals massive funding cuts for everything public-lands related—except for oil and gas

An op-ed in the NY Times: Forget Trump’s Border Wall. Let’s Build F.D.R.’s International Park.

Other Public Lands

A long article in Pacific Standard: The hidden battle threatening the future of America’s wild places

A perceptive op-ed by Timothy Egan of the New York Times: Your Public Lands Are Killing You

An op-ed in the New York Times: A Landscape Lewis and Clark Would Recognize Is Now Under Threat

An article in the Albuquerque Journal: Navajo Nation’s new energy policy could see shift from coal This is good news, since the Navajo Generating Station has been one of the major contributors to haze on the Colorado Plateau, to say nothing of the shift away from coal as an energy source.

Rob Bishop

An article in the Washington Post on Utah’s Rep. Rob Bishop’s comments: ‘I’m an ethnic. I’m a Westerner’: Rep. Rob Bishop says Green New Deal is ‘tantamount to genocide’

Closing on a Positive Note

An article by Bay Area writer Jeremy Miller: Bird Savant: John Robinson has 20/15 vision and perfect auditory recall. But he’s dedicated his life to the idea that anyone can learn to bird.

 
 
 
 
 
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 February

March 4th, 2019


On Cedar Mesa, in the former Bears Ears National Monument                                                                            (Mike Painter)

 
March 1, 2019

Dear CalUWild friends —

The 116th Congress is underway, with a significant public lands bill passed and on its way to the White House (ITEMS 1 & 4), new legislation introduced or waiting to be introduced (ITEMS 2 & 3), and promised oversight hearing in the House Natural Resources Committee on March 13, delving into the administration’s monument review. The landscape in Washington, DC has decidedly changed.

Good news in Utah: The Canadian mining firm that had staked claims in the rescinded areas of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument announced it would not develop those claims.

The League of Conservation Voters just released its Scorecard for the 115th Congress. It provides good information, ranking all members based on key environmental votes. Follow the links here to access it.

 
ADMINISTRATIVE NOTES: With the efforts to recruit cosponsors for the new bills mentioned below, it became clear while putting the Update together that listing each one for each bill would take up a lot of space, so I’ve posted a Congressional Information Sheet on the CalUWild website. It includes the phone number for the DC office of each California senator and representative, as well as cosponsorship status. In the future we’ll keep it updated and use it as our main reference, adding new and important information where relevant. Bookmark it if you wish for future reference.

As for the number of ACTION ITEMS this month, it may look like a lot, but they can all be accomplished by a single phone call. You should be able to tailor your message to your representatives based on the Information Sheet.

Thanks for your interest and your efforts, as always!

 
Best wishes,
Mike

 
IN UTAH
1.   Emery County Bill Passes Both Senate & House,
          Heads to White House for Signature
          (ACTION ITEM)
2.   Red Rock Wilderness Bill Introduction in April
          (ACTION ITEM)
3.   Bears Ears Expansion Act
          And ANTIQUITIES Act
          Introduced in the House
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN GENERAL
4.   Big Public Lands Package Passes Both Senate & House,
          Heads to White House for Signature
          And Information on 2 Other Bills
          (ACTION ITEM)
5.   Job Announcement: Conservation Alliance
          DEADLINE: March 8

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

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

IN UTAH
1.   Emery County Bill Passes Both Senate & House,
          Heads to White House for Signature
          (ACTION ITEM)

Utah wilderness was handed its biggest victory ever in February when the Emery County bill, protecting large parts of the San Rafael Swell and other areas, passed both the Senate and the House of Representatives. It was part of the larger public lands package. (See ITEM 4, below for more details about the larger bill.) The bill now moves to the White House, where indications are that it will be signed (though who can predict? However, the legislation passed with veto-proof margins.).

The bill designates nearly 663,000 acres in the San Rafael Swell and other areas of Emery County as wilderness and incorporates some 60 miles of the Green River into the National Wild & Scenic Rivers System. It also establishes the John Wesley Powell National Conservation Area in the Swell and a Jurassic National Monument, protecting a fossil field. The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance has an excellent overview of the Emery County legislation. Click here to see it.

The Utah Wilderness Coalition initially opposed the bill through several iterations, but Illinois’s Sen. Dick Durbin (D), the Senate champion on Utah wilderness issues, negotiated with Utah interests and stayed strong , thereby securing significant wilderness additions. In the end, the UWC finally supported the bill, and it was included in the package put together at the end of the last (115th) Congress. This shows the degree to which strong and widespread public support can lend credibility and strength to a legislator’s bargaining position. Thank you for constantly speaking out over the years.

Though Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) held up consideration of the bill, because it contained no exemption for Utah from future national monuments designated under the Antiquities Act, it was reintroduced immediately in the new (116th) Congress.

The final vote in the Senate was 92-8. As expected, Sen. Lee voted against the bill. However, Utah’s new senator, Mitt Romney (R), voted for the bill. In the House the vote was 363-62.

All the Democratic members of the House voted in favor of the bill. Three Republican members of the California delegation also voted in its favor and deserve thanks from their constituents:

Tom McClintock (R-4)
Paul Cook (R-8)
Ken Calvert (R-42)

The other four GOP representatives from California voted against the bill:

Doug LaMalfa (R-2)
Devin Nunes (R-22)
Kevin McCarthy (R-23)
Duncan Hunter (R-50)

Both California Senators, Feinstein and Harris, voted for the bill.

Please call your representatives and senators to thank them for voting in favor of the bill. Phone numbers are listed on CalUWild’s Congressional Information Sheet.

 
2.   Red Rock Wilderness Bill Introduction in April
          (ACTION ITEM)

Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-47) of Long Beach is planning to reintroduce America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act (ARRWA) sometime in April. This has been CalUWild’s #1 legislative priority since we were founded in 1997. As introduced in the last Congress, the bill would designate over 9 million acres of BLM land in Utah as wilderness. With the Emery County bill expected to become law, that number will be reduced by the acreage designated, but otherwise the fundamentals of the bill will remain the same.

When the bill is introduced, it is important that there be a large number of original cosponsors—other members publicly show their strong support for it. This signals that it’s an important piece of legislation. Cosponsors also can usually be counted on to defend the areas in question when threats to their integrity arise. California, with its 53 House members, has always been an important part of that support network, and that’s true even more so now that ARRWA’s chief sponsor is from California.

We would like to see the all the likely House Members from California sign on as cosponsors.

As we’ve said before, though wilderness has long been a non-partisan issue, in recent years designations have received little support from GOP officeholders, especially here in the West. Therefore, we are not expecting any Republican representatives to sign on as cosponsors. However, if you are represented by a Republican it is a good idea to contact the office with the message that you support wilderness, public lands, and national monuments. They need to hear that from as many of their constituents as possible.

A list of those representatives who have cosponsored in the past is included on our Congressional Information Sheet.

When contacting new members of the delegation (marked in yellow on the Information Sheet), it may be helpful and necessary to give them more details about the bill. For information on the history of ARRWA, click here. A 4-page fact sheet is available here. You may find a map of the various areas proposed for designation, click here. Feel free to pass any of this information along to the staff people you talk with.

Offices should contact Rep. Lowenthal’s office to be added as cosponsors.

In the U.S. Senate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D) has been an author and champion of California conservation bills, but she has not signed on as a cosponsor to the Red Rocks Bill as of yet, so it is important that she hear from many Californians in support of the bill. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) will once more be the chief Senate sponsor, so her office should contact him.

 
3.   Bears Ears Expansion Act
          And ANTIQUITIES Act
          Introduced in the House
          (ACTION ITEM)

Two other bills we’ve discussed in the past have been introduced in the House and have attracted nice-sized lists of cosponsors.

— The Bears Ears Expansion And Respect for Sovereignty (BEARS) Act (H.R. 871) would expand the Bears Ears National Monument to 1.9 million acres, reflecting the original proposal by the Native American Inter-Tribal Coalition. This is larger than the 1.6 million acres designated by Pres. Obama in 2016. The bill also directs the Interior and Agriculture Secretaries to “promptly carry out the provisions of the [original Obama] Proclamation, including the provisions requiring the Secretaries to meaningfully engage the Bears Ears Commission.” The chief sponsor of the bill is Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ).

As an aside, with the new majority of the San Juan County Commission being Navajo, it recently passed a resolution supporting the Bears Ears National Monument (reversing the Commission’s previous position) and asking the federal government to restore the monument to its previous boundaries. The resolution also told the county attorney to withdraw his motion in federal court, requesting to intervene in the litigation over the administration’s reduction of the monument.

Another result of the election is that some of the now-minority Anglo politicians are proposing to split San Juan County into 2 parts. The headline on this article in the Salt Lake Tribune says it all: A state lawmaker says a San Juan County split should be on the table, after a court-ordered redistricting that ‘disenfranchised’ his voters.

— The America’s Natural Treasures of Immeasurable Quality Unite, Inspire, and Together Improve the Economies of States (ANTIQUITIES) Act (S. 367 in the Senate and H.R. 1050 in the House) gets the “Most Original Title to Fit the Acronym” Award. More importantly, though, it confirms legislatively all 52 national monuments designated by proclamation since 1996, many of which were the subject of the Interior Department’s review in 2017 and 2018. The bill restates the principle that only Congress has the authority to shrink or revoke national monuments. It also creates a “National Monument Enhancement Fund” for the various agencies to prepare management plans, to acquire land, and to develop and enhance recreation opportunities (although monuments are not supposed to be managed for recreation, rather for their historic, scientific, or landscape qualities). Finally, it designates wilderness in Clark County, Nevada. The chief sponsors of the bills are Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) and Rep. Debra Haaland (D-NM).

A list of California cosponsors for each bill may be found on our Congressional Information Sheet. Please call your representative and Sens. Feinstein and Harris to thank them for cosponsoring or ask them to cosponsor, whichever is appropriate.

 
IN GENERAL
4.   Big Public Lands Package Passes Both Senate & House,
          Heads to White House for Signature
          And Information on 2 Other Bills
          (ACTION ITEM)

As mentioned above, both the Senate and House voted overwhelmingly to pass the large public lands package that originated at the end of the last Congress. The bill contains several important sections that CalUWild has supported over the years, including the Emery County bill mentioned in ITEM 1.

— The Land and Water Conservation Fund would be permanently reauthorized. Another of CalUWild’s priorities over the years, this fund has never had permanent authorization, and although it has been one of the most popular conservation programs in Congress, Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) let it expire last year. The Fund provides money to buy lands for recreation and conservation purposes in both urban (city parks and playing fields, river walks, etc.) and rural areas (private inholdings in or lands adjacent to national parks, forests and wilderness areas). Unfortunately the bill does not provide for permanent funding levels, but other legislation to do that will hopefully be introduced soon.

— The California Desert Bill was included. It designates 375,500 acres of wilderness in the desert, both new and additions to existing areas, as well as designating more than 70 miles of Wild & Scenic Rivers. It enlarges Death Valley and Joshua Tree national parks and Mojave National Preserve by almost 40,000 acres. It also creates the 18,600-acre Alabama Hills National Scenic Area. A separate bill in the package establishes the St. Francis Dam Disaster Memorial Monument near Santa Clarita in southern California, commemorating the collapse of that dam in 1928, killing more than 400 people.

— Every Kid in a Park, a program begun by Pres. Obama to give fourth-graders and their families free admission to national parks, would be extended for another seven years.

— Other wilderness areas would be designated in the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and Rio Grande del Norte national monuments, as well as enlarging the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness, all in New Mexico. In Oregon, the bill would designate the 30,000-acre Devil’s Staircase Wilderness, designate more than 140 miles of the Rogue River’s tributaries as Wild & Scenic, as well as expand Wild & Scenic protection for tributaries and the main stem of the Elk River and the Molalla River.

Please thank Sens. Feinstein and Harris and your representative for their YES votes on the bill.

It’s an unfortunate fact that bills this large almost invariably contain provisions that aren’t so favorable to conservation, and this bill is no exception. It extends a program granting federal land to Vietnam-era Native Alaskans, which has the potential to be a privatization scheme. Another section open to potential abuse declares it U.S. policy to “facilitate the expansion and enhancement of hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting opportunities on Federal land.” The concern is that the language will give federal land managers license to manage those as priority uses when not appropriate.

An editorial appeared in the Los Angeles Times on the Public Lands Bill: A moment of bipartisanship in Congress could mean good news for conservation

 
5.   Job Announcement: Conservation Alliance
          DEADLINE: March 8

The Conservation Alliance, the public lands protection arm of the outdoor industry, is looking for a Membership and Development Program Manager. We received the following job announcement (slightly edited) from them.

 
The Conservation Alliance is Hiring!

The Conservation Alliance is excited to announce that we are looking to add a new member to our team. We are looking to hire a full-time Membership and Development Program Manager, based in Bend, Oregon. The Program Manager will oversee a comprehensive program to grow The Conservation Alliance membership in the outdoor and sister industries, focusing on: 1) membership recruitment and retention; 2) membership-driven fundraising promotions; 3) all membership-related communications; and 4) managing our events contractor. We’re looking for someone is excited to build our membership in the outdoor industry, and expand our membership in other business sectors. We are a small, mission-driven team of four staff that works in partnership with a board of directors comprised of leaders of the outdoor and craft brew industries.

If you are interested, or know someone who might be, please check out the job description, and note that the application deadline is Friday, March 8, 2019.

 
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.

The Department of the Interior

David Bernhardt, who has been Acting Secretary of the Interior, was nominated this month to take the place of departed Secretary Ryan Zinke. The press is staying on top of the story, with many articles being published. Here are a few.

Before the nomination was announced, the Salt Lake Tribune published an op-ed: Next interior secretary must show more respect for public lands

An article in Westwise: Everything you need to know about Trump’s new pick for Interior Secretary. The Washington Post reported last Fall that Mr. Bernhardt has so many conflicts of interest that “he has to carry a small card listing them all.”

An article in The Hill: New Interior chief nominee calls agency’s ‘ethics challenges’ an ‘inherited’ mess. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, Mr. Bernhardt made no mention of former Secretary Ryan Zinke as part of that “inheritance.”

An article in The Hill regarding apparent discrepancies between published and official calendars: Top Dem demands schedule details from Interior nominee

An article in the Los Angeles Times: Elizabeth Warren demands investigation of Interior nominee’s alleged conflicts

An article in Outside Online: The David Bernhardt Scandal Tracker: Trump’s nominee for Interior secretary hasn’t even been confirmed, but he’s already mired in at least 12 scandals

And the press continues to follow developments concerning former Secretary Zinke, as this article in the Washington Post demonstrates: Grand jury is examining whether former interior secretary Ryan Zinke lied to federal investigators

An article in the Washington Post: ‘It’s way too many’: As vacancies pile up in Trump administration, senators grow concerned. 41% of the Interior Department positions needing Senate confirmation remain unfilled.

Oil, Gas, and Coal

An article by the Associated Press in the Durango Herald about lands between Bears Ears and Canyons of the Ancients national monuments: Conservation group sues over federal oil, gas leases in Utah

An article by the Associated Press about Chaco Canyon: US delays oil-and-gas lease sale near sacred tribal land

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune about the Alton coal mine near Bryce Canyon National Park: Trump administration approves 2 coal mining projects in Utah. We wrote about the proposed mine in our December 2011 and July 2012 Updates.

An article in the NY Times: Tests for Oil in Arctic Refuge Won’t Happen This Winter, Officials Say

An article in the Reno Gazette Journal on a bill introduced in the U.S. Senate to ban oil & gas leasing in Nevada’s Ruby Mountains

Public Lands in General

An op-ed in the Los Angeles Times: Trump’s stance on national monuments is straight out of the 19th century

April Sall, director of the Bodie Hills Conservation Partnership, of which CalUWild is a member, wrote an op-ed in the Palm Springs Desert Sun:
Government shutdown made clear a new deal is needed for America’s public lands

An article in The Hill: Agencies reduce grazing fees for federal land. At $1.35 per “animal unit month” (a cow and her calf), that’s the lowest fee the law allows.

An article in the Los Angeles Times, with some background on the woman who pushed for the establishment of what is now Joshua Tree National Park:
Behind the story: Uncovering the history of Minerva Hamilton Hoyt

From The Guardian’s “This Land Is Your Land” section: ‘Yanked from the ground’: cactus theft is ravaging the American desert

Two op-ed pieces by CalUWild friend Jacques Leslie on watershed restoration, the first in YaleEnvironment360: For a Warming World, A New Strategy for Protecting Watersheds

 

 

 

 

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 information on making a contribution to CalUWild, click here.

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

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2019 January

January 31st, 2019


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

 

January 30, 2019

Dear CalUWild friends—

With a new Congress and a bad start to the year with the recent government shutdown, there is not a lot to report on this month, so this Update does not contain any Action Items.

The shutdown turned out to be very bad for public lands. The Department of the Interior left some national parks open, unstaffed, but that turned into a disaster, when trash piled up, restrooms went uncleaned, and people camped illegally. There has been a lot of reporting the last few days about Joshua Tree National Park, where Joshua trees, some reportedly 300 years old, were vandalized and even cut down and people drove off-road. See Item 4, IN THE PRESS, for more coverage of the issues, including the feared effects of “the wall” on wildlife.

 
CalUWild is pleased and honored to welcome Berkeley photographer and videographer Deborah O’Grady to our Advisory Board. For 30 years, Deborah has captured the landscapes and people of the West. Among her significant projects are video projections to accompany performances by the Saint Louis Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and others of the French composer Olivier Messiaen’s From the Canyons to the Stars, a large orchestral work inspired by his visits to Zion and Bryce national parks in Utah. Deborah also photographed World War II Navajo Marine veterans for Code Talker Stories, a book documenting their oral histories and the use of the Diné language to help the war effort. You can see portfolios of Deborah’s work on her website at deborahogrady.com.

 
We’re looking forward to the year ahead, working with all of you to protect our wild areas and other special places. Thanks for all your interest and support!

 
Best wishes,
Mike

 
IN GENERAL
1.   Legislative Preview

IN CALIFORNIA
2.   Bears Ears Book Events
          In Berkeley and Point Reyes Station
          January 31 & February 2
3.   Bodie Hills Winter Outing
          February 23

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

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

 
IN GENERAL
1.   Legislative Preview

The 116th Congress began at the beginning of the month. As everyone knows, the Congress is now divided between the Republican-majority Senate and the Democratic House. That puts us in a better position to block unfavorable legislation, but it still doesn’t guarantee getting protective legislation though.

The biggest change from the previous Congress will be the oversight that the House Natural Resources Committee will be able to exercise over the administration, particularly the Department of the Interior. Arizona Congressman Raúl Grijalva is the chairman, and he has stated that the committee will investigate the actions taken by the White House to shrink monuments as well as former-Secretary Zinke’s many scandals and ethics investigations.

We expect a variety of bills to be reintroduced in Congress, and look forward to new proposals as well. Here are the most significant ones, most of which we’ve mentioned in the past.

National

Public Lands Package: A large bill containing many smaller ones was being considered at the end of the last Congress, but failed to pass because of the objections of Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), who refused to let it proceed because there was no exemption for the state of Utah from the Antiquities Act of 1906, which authorizes the president to designate national monuments. The entire bill, or parts of it, will likely be reintroduced, but it’s unlikely there will be any such exemption, so its prospects are unknown.

The ANTIQUITIES Act of 2019: This bill would codify all the national monuments designated since 1996 and restates the principle that only Congress has the authority to shrink monuments once they are designated. It also expands the Bears Ears National Monument to the original proposal of 1.9 million acres made by the Inter-Tribal Coalition, to include lands left out by Pres. Obama. It is expected to be introduced next week.

Utah

America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act: This bill would designate as wilderness 9 million acres of qualifying lands that are managed by the Bureau of Land Management. It’s the “gold standard” against which all other proposals must be measured. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) and California Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-47) are the lead sponsors in the Senate and House, respectively.

Emery County Bill: The bill was included in the big public lands package and had been changed to reflect some conservation community concerns, to the point where the Utah Wilderness Coalition supported it. It may be introduced as a stand-alone bill.

The Bears Ears Expansion Act: This is a stand-alone bill to enlarge the Bears Ears monument to its original proposed size. It was introduced today with 71 original cosponsors.

The Protect Utah’s Rural Economy (PURE) Act: Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) are joining forces to exempt Utah from the original Antiquities Act. It would prevent a president from designating a monument or expand an existing one, without the approval of Congress or the state Legislature. It’s Sen. Romney’s first bill and does not bode well for his approach to public lands.

California

Northern California Conservation and Recreation Act: Sponsored by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-2), the proposal would protect local wild lands, expand recreational opportunities, improve fire management, and restore impacted watersheds.

Central Coast Heritage Protection Act: Sponsored by Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-24), Rep. Julia Brownley (D-26), and Sen. Kamala Harris (D), the bill would protect 244,909 acres of wilderness, create two scenic areas encompassing 34,882 acres, and safeguard 159 miles of wild and scenic rivers in the Los Padres National Forest and the Carrizo Plain National Monument.

San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act: Rep. Judy Chu (D-27) introduced two bills in the last Congress to designate wilderness in the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument and to enlarge the monument, as well as creating a national recreation area. Sen. Kamala Harris (D) introduced a bill in the Senate combining these two bills.

California Desert Protection and Recreation Act: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) has long been a champion of protecting the Mojave Desert, a task she took on when Sen. Alan Cranston retired. Her latest legislation is designed to build on her initial Desert Protection Act of 1994 and would protect additional land and help manage California’s desert resources by balancing conservation, recreation, and renewable energy development.

Colorado

Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act: The bill would protect wild places throughout Colorado, each of which have been a part of individual legislative proposals in the past: create new and sustainable recreational opportunities and expand Wilderness in the White River and San Juan National Forests, permanently withdraw the Thompson Divide from new oil and gas leasing, and formally establish three reservoirs along the Gunnison River as the Curecanti National Recreation Area.

CalUWild looks forward to working with our coalition partners across the West to educate the public about these bills and others as they come along. We will keep you informed as they progress.

 
IN CALIFORNIA
2.   Bears Ears Book Events
          In Berkeley and Point Reyes Station
          January 31 & February 2

Journalist Rebecca Robinson and photographer Stephen E. Strom have collaborated on a new book, Voices from Bears Ears: Seeking Common Ground on Sacred Land. The book tells the stories of 20 people on both sides of the national monument controversy: those working to protect ancestral homelands and those who feel their way of life threatened. Yet both feel a deep attachment to and reverence for the landscape, which might provide the common ground.

Both author and photographer will discuss the book at events in the Bay Area this week.

Thursday, January 31

Books Inc.
1491 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley
7:00 p.m.

Saturday, February 2

Point Reyes Presbyterian Church
11445 Highway 1
Point Reyes Station
Tickets: $10 suggested donation, benefiting Friends of Cedar Mesa
7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

 
3.   Bodie Hills Winter Outing
          February 23

CalUWild is a member of the Bodie Hill Conservation Partnership, working to achieve permanent protection for the Bodie Hills, which lie north of Mono Lake and east of Yosemite. The following announcement comes from our friends at Friends of the Inyo.

 
Bodie Hills Winter Outing
Saturday, February 23rd
9AM—3PM

Please join us for a winter outing to explore the Bodie Hills. The Bodies are beautiful in the winter!

When: Saturday February 23, 2019 from 9AM-3PM.
Where: Meet at the High Sierra Bakery in Bridgeport at 9AM.

What to Bring: Water, lunch, snacks, camera, and skis or snowshoes. If you don’t have any, we will have snowshoes for you to borrow. Dress in warm clothing. We will provide details on conditions on February 21st. Please let us know if you need guidance on gear or what to bring.

RSVP to wendy [at] friendsoftheinyo [dot] org with the number in your party and any questions you may have.

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

There were many articles in the past month regarding politics and public lands.

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 Government Shutdown

An op-ed in The Guardian’s This Land is Your Land section, by Jon Jarvis, former head of the National Park Service: Keeping US national parks open during the shutdown is a terrible mistake. It was republished in High Country News.

An article in National Parks Traveler: Groups Request Investigation Into Legality Of Keeping National Parks Open

An article about Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, in The Hill: Group asks watchdog to investigate recall of furloughed Interior workers. This request was made to the Government Accountability Office, which is open. The Interior Inspector General’s Office, the subject of the previous article is closed for the shutdown.

California Reps. Jackie Speier and Jared Huffman: Dems deliver trash from national parks to White House, reported in The Hill.

An editorial in National Parks Traveler: Gagging The National Park Service, The Information Blackout In The Parks

An article in Outside: Interior Remains Open for Business—for Oil Companies

The Washington Post reports: Court: No new offshore drilling work during federal shutdown

An article in the New York Times on the economic effects of the shutdown: Next to National Parks, a Winter of Worry

An article in the New York Times: Joshua Trees Destroyed in National Park During Shutdown May Take Centuries to Regrow

Department of the Interior

An article in the Washington Post: Justice Dept. investigating whether Zinke lied to inspector general. Another article about former Secretary Zinke, from the Associated Press: Former US Interior boss takes job at investment company

The administration has not nominated anyone to be the next Secretary of the Interior, and speculation continues over who it might be. An article in The Hill: Grijalva backs Bishop over current acting Interior Secretary

Public Lands in General

A lengthy article in the Washington Post on the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument: A DIMINISHED MONUMENT: Trump cut Grand Staircase-Escalante nearly in half to spur a mining boom. But those lost protections may not yield big profits.

An article in the New York Times: Why a Border Wall Could Mean Trouble for Wildlife

An article in the Washington Post: Trump’s executive order will cut more forest trees — and some of the public’s tools to stop it

An article in The Guardian’s This Land is Your Land section: ‘It’s tough sleeping at night’: ranchers seek to protect herds as wolves move in

An essay in National Parks Traveler by Alfred Runte: Ancient Wrongs And Public Rights Reconsidered

A new study from Headwaters Economics showing that recreation counties, especially in non-metro places, draw new residents and have higher incomes and faster earnings growth than places without recreation.

 
 
 
 
Support CalUWild!

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 information on making a contribution to CalUWild, click here.

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

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2018 December

January 3rd, 2019


The Big Dipper, outside Capitol Reef National Park, Utah                                                                                       (Mike Painter)

 
New Year’s Eve, 2018

Dear CalUWild friends—

A tumultuous 2018 is coming to a close, and a new year is beginning, which we can only hope will be a little bit more stable with the flip of control of the House of Representatives. We shall see!

A big thank you to everyone who has contributed to CalUWild’s Annual Membership Appeal. Your support is invaluable. If you’d still like to contribute, please see the information following ITEM 4. As always, contributions are voluntary but appreciated.

Thank you for efforts and interest in protecting our Western Wilderness!

 
Wishing you a Happy New Year,
Mike

 
IN UTAH
1.     BLM Proposes Increases in Cedar Mesa Hiking Fees (and Others)
          COMMENTS NEEDED
          DEADLINE: January 6, 2019
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN GENERAL
2.     Looking Back, Looking Ahead
3.     Job Announcement: California Native Plant Society

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

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

IN UTAH
1.     BLM Proposes Increases in Cedar Mesa Hiking and Other Fees
          COMMENTS NEEDED
          DEADLINE: January 6, 2019
          ACTION ITEM)

The new year gets off to a quick start with a short-deadline comment period, right over the holidays. Earlier this month, the BLM offices in Monticello and Richfield, Utah, announced that they’re looking at proposals to increase various recreation fees. Our friends at the Western Slope No-Fee Coalition sent out the following alert. As it mentions, commenting on the process by which these are being announced and implemented is as important as on the proposals themselves, since the BLM did not widely publicize them, and they are being proposed in the dead of winter, when few people are thinking about visiting the areas, And the comment period spans the holidays, on top of it all.

 
BLM UTAH MOVES TO EXPAND FEES AND REDUCE DISPERSED CAMPING WITH MINIMUM PUBLIC INPUT

The areas affected get little visitation in the winter, yet public comments are only being accepted from now until early January!

The Bureau of Land Management in Utah has quietly announced plans to make sweeping changes to fees at two popular recreation areas. The changes would result in higher prices for existing fee sites, many new fee sites, and fewer opportunities for free dispersed camping.

The Monticello Field Office wants to:

  • raise Cedar Mesa overnight hiking permit fees by 188% in peak season and 300% in the off season.
  • raise Cedar Mesa day use fees by 250%
  • impose a new fee for Butler Wash, a long-time dispersed (undeveloped) camping and day hiking area
  • impose new fees for two roadside interpretive sites/rest areas along Highway 95 at Mule Canyon ruins and Butler Wash ruins

The Richfield Field Office wants to:

  • expand a small existing free campground and begin charging a fee there for the first time
  • build four new individual and group campgrounds in places that are now used as free dispersed (undeveloped ) camping areas and as ATV and equestrian trailheads
  • ban dispersed camping within 1/2 mile of those newly constructed campgrounds
  • get approval for fees at the newly constructed campgrounds before they are even built

BLM is required to allow the public an opportunity to comment and participate in the decision – but they are doing the absolute minimum notification they think they can get away with. Since hardly anyone knows this is happening, land managers anticipate getting little feedback and will then say that the public supports their plans since they didn’t hear much back. None of the areas affected receives much visitation in the winter, although visitors from around the country and the world arrive in the spring and summer.

By this spring and summer, if the BLM gets its way, visitors will find these changes are a Done Deal.

The only thing that can stop this runaway train is significant outcry from the public – right now – about this rigged process while the brief comment period is underway. We are not asking you to interrupt your holiday festivities to read the lengthy and complicated proposals. (Although if you would like to they can be accessed at THIS LINK.)

We are asking you to insist that a meaningful opportunity for public input be provided. It would be best if you put your comment into your own words, but it’s a busy time of year so here is some suggested language. Please modify and personalize this to fit your personal concerns.

 
Dear BLM Utah Recreation Manager:

I object to the stealthy and rigged process by which sweeping changes to recreation fees in the Monticello and Richfield Districts is being conducted.

  • The process is stealthy because comments are only being accepted in the middle of winter and over the busy year-end holidays although the areas affected receive little winter visitation and most visitors are completely unaware this is happening.
  • The process is rigged because BLM has already decided to go ahead with the proposals regardless of public input. For example, the cover letter of the Monticello proposal refers to the public comment period in the past tense and has an approval date of January 15, 2019 already filled in – even though the comment period is currently open. For another example, both proposals will be submitted on January 11, 2019 to the statewide Resource Advisory Council for their approval. That’s only five days (or four or one depending on which deadline you believe – there are three different dates specified in the documents) after the comment period closes. Clearly no honest analysis can be accomplished in such a short time.

I oppose these fee increases of as much as 300%. I oppose reducing opportunities for free dispersed (undeveloped) camping. I oppose approving new fee sites before they are even constructed.

Include your name and address and send your comment to BOTH the Monticello and Richfield Districts at these addresses:

BLM_UT_MT_Comments [at] blm [dot] gov
with the subject line “Cedar Mesa Business Plan Comment”

BLM_UT_RF_Comments [at] blm [dot] gov
with the subject line “Richfield Campground Business Plan”

Even if you are not familiar with these particular areas, please comment anyway because it’s the process that needs to be protested. If they get away with this in Utah, your favorite area will benext!

 
IN GENERAL
2.     Looking Back, Looking Ahead

The big news this month was the announced resignation of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Reportedly, Mr. Zinke was told to leave by the end of the year or be fired. His tenure was marked from the beginning by an exaggerated-sense of self importance, riding a horse (on an English saddle, not Western, no less!) to the office on his first day and having an employee run a secretarial banner up the flagpole whenever he got to the office. He had a remarkably thin skin, unable to take the slightest criticism, and was downright nasty and personal at times when responding to critics. The worst example came in late November when Rep. Raúl Grijalva’s (D-AZ) called for his resignation, and Mr. Zinke replied: “It’s hard for him to think straight from the bottom of the bottle,” a reference to Mr. Grijalva’s former problems with alcohol. (See the first article in ITEM 4, below.)

But most serious were the many scandals, large and small, that Mr. Zinke was involved in. By some counts, there were 17 investigations of his activities spanning the two years he was in office. At least one has been referred to the Justice Department for further investigation. (Although the subject matter wasn’t announced publicly, it is widely thought to involve conflict of interest surrounding a development deal in Whitefish, Montana, involving the chairman of the Halliburton Company, whose activities are subject to regulation by the Interior Department.) Other scandals involved abuse of official travel and the failure to record meetings with industry officials and lobbyists on his official calendar. Several investigations had to be terminated due to lack of cooperation by Mr. Zinke’s office.

The White House announced in mid-December that it would nominate a new secretary, but so far nothing has happened. Though Mr. Zinke is leaving, the policies he espoused will almost certainly stay firmly in place. Names reportedly under consideration for his replacement include David Bernhardt, currently deputy secretary, and Utah Rep. Rob Bishop (R), outgoing chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee. We will have to wait and see.

 
Good news came this month as Congress prepared to close out its work. Discussions between Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), the Senate sponsor of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) produced a compromise on the Emery County bill that we have been writing about these last few months. The Utah Wilderness Coalition lent its support to this version of the bill, and it was included in a public lands package to be attached to the government funding bill. However, Utah Sen. Mike Lee (R) was the sole opponent of the package, refusing to allow it to move forward because it did not contain a prohibition on new national monuments in Utah. So the entire package failed, and the government shut down anyway.

The other major bill included in the package was for the permanent reauthorization of the Land & Water Conservation Fund. It is a major disappointment that Congress was not able to accomplish this, despite extremely widespread support for the program in Congress and in the public. However, a major impediment will be removed when Rep, Rob Bishop, a fierce opponent of LWCF, is no longer chairman of the Natural Resources Committee in the next Congress. Rather, Rep. Grijalva is expected to take over the chairmanship, and he is the principal author of the bill reauthorizing the Fund.

We expect both the Emery county and LWCF bills to be reintroduced in the next Congress.

We also expect the following legislation to be reintroduced in 2019, as well. They will be our main priorities, although other bills will certainly require attention:

—    America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, to protect the remaining wilderness areas on BLM-managed land in Utah, with the chief sponsors being California Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-47) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL).

—    A bill similar to The Antiquities Act of 2018, which restated clearly the proposition that a president does not have the authority to shrink monuments or de-designate them. It also restored the Grand Staircase-Escalante NM to its original size, and actually enlarged the Bears Ears NM to the boundaries originally proposed by the Native American tribes (50% larger than what Pres. Obama designated).

—    The Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act, Rep. Jared Huffman’s (D-2) public lands bill for his district, stretching from Marin County to the Oregon border. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) has introduced a companion bill in the Senate.

—    The San Gabriel Mountains, Foothills, and River Protection Act, introduced by Rep. Judy Chu (D-27), to designate wilderness, Wild & Scenic Rivers, and enlarge the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. Sen. Harris has again introduced a companion bill in the Senate.

—    The California Central Coast Heritage Protection Act will designate wilderness, create two scenic areas encompassing, and designate Wild & Scenic Rivers in the Los Padres National Forest and the Carrizo Plain NM. Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-24) was the main House sponsor, and Sen. Harris introduced the Senate version.

 
Other issues CalUWild will continue to work on include:

—    Advancing the campaign to achieve permanent protection of the Bodie Hills in California, as part of the Bodie Hills Conservation Partnership.

—    Supporting the efforts to reinstate the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah and defend other national monuments that may still come under attack administratively or legislatively.

—    Working with other conservation organizations to develop a citizen-proposed management plan for the Mojave Trails National Monument.

—    Continue publishing the Monthly Update, bringing you accurate and useful information, so that you can be effective advocates for our wild and other public lands

 
3.     Job Announcement: California Native Plant Society

The Vegetation Program at the California Native Plant Society will be hiring 2-3 Assistant Vegetation Ecologists / Botanists for the coming field season or longer. The position will be based in Sacramento with regular travel to field sites across the state.

Read the full announcement 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.

Secretary Ryan Zinke & the Department of the Interior

An article in the Washington Post, in which Secty. Zinke goes very low: Raúl Grijalva called on Ryan Zinke to resign. Zinke tweeted back about the congressman’s history of alcoholism.

An editorial in USA Today: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke takes the low road: Trump’s ‘best people’ aren’t draining the swamp. They’re creating whole new wetlands. The reader poll at the end showed 91% “Strongly agree” or “Agree” with the opinions expressed.

An article in the Washington Post: Zinke was a rising star in Washington. Then he joined the Trump administration.

An article in the New York Times: Ryan Zinke’s Legal Troubles Are Far From Over

An article in the Washington Post: Trump administration swaps academics for business executives on National Park Service advisory panel

An article in the Washington Post: Interior Dept. officials downplayed federal wildlife experts’ concerns about Trump’s border wall, documents show

The Upcoming 116th Congress

An article in Pacific Standard: How Raúl Grijalva Could Transform the House Committee on Natural Resources

National Monument Lawsuit

An op-ed in the Denver Post by Sen. Tom Udall and Rep. Raúl Grijalva regarding the amicus brief they filed: It’s clear Trump illegally shrunk Bears Ears; the Department of Justice doesn’t want to hear our legal opinion

Public Lands in General

From The Guardian’s This Land is Your Land project: Lost lands? The American wilderness at risk in the Trump era

An op-ed in the Washington Post: The sage grouse’s future was starting to look bright, but then along came Trump

An op-ed in the New York Times: To Help Prevent the Next Big Wildfire, Let the Forest Burn

An article in the Travel section of the New York Times: Is Geotagging on Instagram Ruining Natural Wonders? Some Say Yes

An article in The New Yorker: People Are Stacking Too Many Stones

Two Washington Post articles about the Bundys in Nevada:

Report: FBI suggested waiving fees for Cliven Bundy before ranch standoff, did not consider him a threat

Ammon Bundy spoke kindly about the migrant caravans. The backlash has him reevaluating his supporters.

 
 
 
 
 
 
Support CalUWild!

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.

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

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2018 November

November 28th, 2018


Light in Kolob Canyon                                                                                                                          (Patrick Dengate)

 
November 28, 2018

Dear CalUWild friends—

We hope you had a nice Thanksgiving holiday, remembering our good fortune to have such a wide variety and expanses of federal public lands, including Wilderness, here in the West.

CalUWild celebrates its 21st Anniversary this month. We are thankful for the support of all our members, some since the very beginning!

 
Was your INBOX filled with funding appeals yesterday for Giving Tuesday? We decided to hold off a day sending out this Update, so it wouldn’t get lost in the pile. Though dues are not required, we still need member contributions as well. We are in the process of sending out our annual member appeal over the next couple weeks, either by US Mail or email. Please contribute if you can.

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

Thanks to everyone who has already sent in gifts; it saves on printing and postage.

 
As we’ve mentioned before, you can also support CalUWild by buying art! Patrick Dengate, whose painting appears above, is generously contributing 50% of the proceeds from paintings he sells to CalUWild. You can see some of the ones he’s offered here. Check out his website for more and to contact him.

Another CalUWild friend, Margie Lopez Read, contributes the proceeds from sales of her art to worthy organizations, and she’s including CalUWild on her list. For more information, visit her website.

 
Thanks again for all your interest and support. We’re looking forward to the years and challenges ahead!

 
Best wishes,
Mike

 
IN UTAH
1.   Emery County Bill Update
          (ACTION ITEM)
2.    Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
          Management Planning Comments Due
          DEADLINE: Friday, Nov. 30
          (ACTION ITEM)
3.   Congressional Amicus Brief Filed
          In National Monuments Lawsuits
          Thank You Calls Needed
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
4.   Point Reyes National Seashore
          Ranch Management Planning
          Scoping Comments Due
          DEADLINE: Friday, Nov. 30
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN GENERAL
5.   Brief Election Summary
6.   Park Service Fee-Free Days Announced for 2019

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

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

IN UTAH
1.   Emery County Bill Update
          (ACTION ITEM)

We’ve written in detail previously (in our September Update and May Update) about H.R. 5727, Rep. Curtis’s (R-UT) “Not-So-Swell” bill for Emery County and its companion bill in the Senate, Sen. Hatch’s (R-UT) S. 2809.

With the election over, there is concern that the Utah delegation will try to get the bill passed in the lame duck session. The main objections to this bill are:

•   The bill protects only 1/3 of the lands eligible for wilderness designation, with important areas such as Muddy Creek, parts of Labyrinth Canyon, and the San Rafael Badlands left out.

•   It conveys management authority over federal land to the State of Utah for recreational uses around Goblin Valley, including the popular Crack and Chute canyons.

•   The House version contains a land exchange provision in the Ute Reservation that the Ute Tribe itself opposes.

So it’s important, once again, to let your representatives know that it’s a controversial bill and should not be passed in its present form. And unfortunately, Rep. Curtis has shown little interest in incorporating changes suggested by the conservation community. He has frozen us out just about every step of the way.

Contact information for the House may be found by following the links here and for the Senate, here.

When you call, please include the Thank You discussed in Item 3 if your representative is on the list there.

 
2.   Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
          Management Planning Comments Due
          DEADLINE: Friday, Nov. 30
          (ACTION ITEM)

The comment period for the shrunken Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument ends this Friday,   November 30. Please submit your comments! They are especially pertinent if you have visited either area or hope to some day.

Item 1 in our August-September Update contains detailed talking points and the links and addresses for commenting on the plan. Please refer to it.

As we reported last month, an additional, important issue came to light recently—the Bureau of Land Management is proposing to re-open the Escalante River corridor to cattle grazing. There are two equally important reasons for opposing this proposal. The first is ecological: the corridor has undergone a tremendous amount of habitat restoration, removing non-native invasive plants such as Russian olive and tamarisk. Allowing renewed grazing would cause irreparable damage to the restored landscape. The second reason is both economic and equity-based: Years ago the Grand Canyon Trust purchased grazing permits from willing ranchers in order to remove cattle and retire the allotments permanently. BLM should not be allowed to circumvent those buyouts now. If you’ve already submitted a comment, please submit a supplemental comment on this issue. It’s important.

To comment online, it’s best to create a text file first and then PASTE it into the comment box here. Follow the process through the next three pages, filling in the information in the required boxes with red asterisks.

Comments may also be submitted by U.S. Mail to:

U.S. Bureau of Land Management
Attn: Matt Betenson
669 S Hwy. 89A
Kanab, UT   84741

 
3.   Congressional Amicus Brief Filed
          In National Monuments Lawsuits
          Thank You Calls Needed
          (ACTION ITEM)

There’s not much we can do to support the litigation over the reductions in the Utah national monuments, but this month 118 Representatives and Senators took the unusual step of signing their names to amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs, circulated by Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM).

The briefs were in support of the Plaintiffs’ main legal argument—one with which most legal scholars seem to agree: Only Congress has the authority to reduce national monuments. The language of the Antiquities Act itself only grants the president authority to designate monuments, not reduce them. Additionally, the Federal Lands Policy Management Act specifically says that the power is reserved to Congress.

Given the Constitution’s grant of authority to Congress to “make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory … belonging to the United States,” these cases have a strong separation of powers component. It is important that Congress is standing up for its rightful authority, especially when the Executive Branch attempts to usurp any of it.

The following Representatives from California signed on:

Jared Huffman (D-2)
John Garamendi (D-3)
Mike Thompson (D-5)
Jerry McNerney (D-9)
Mark DeSaulnier (D-11)
Nancy Pelosi (D-12)
Barbara Lee (D-13)
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-14)
Anna Eshoo (D-18)
Zoe Lofgren (D-19)
Jimmy Panetta (D-20)
Salud Carbajal (D-24)
Judy Chu (D-27)
Ted Lieu (D-33)
Grace Napolitano (D-32)
Jimmy Gomez (D-34)
Raul Ruiz (D-36)
Karen Bass (D-37)
Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-40)
Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-44)
Alan Lowenthal (D-47)
Susan Davis (D-53)

If you live in one of their districts, please contact their offices to say Thank You!

Both Senators Dianne Feinstein (D) and Kamala Harris (D) signed on, as well and deserve a Thank You, too.

Contact information for the House may be found by following the links here and for the Senate, here.

A full list of signers may be found at the end of Sen. Udall’s press release, which also contains further details about the briefs, including links to their full texts.

Though not directly related to the litigation, National Parks Traveler ran an editorial: Bears Ears And Grand Staircase-Escalante Are Today’s Hetch Hetchy.

 
IN CALIFORNIA
4.   Point Reyes National Seashore
          Ranch Management Planning
          Scoping Comments Due
          DEADLINE: Friday, Nov. 30
          (ACTION ITEM)

This month, Point Reyes National Seashore announced a 30-day scoping period on an amendment to its General Management Plan, covering ranch and Tule Elk management.

The timing is very short on this, and we have not been able to develop a comprehensive set of talking points, so this item may only be relevant to people who already have some knowledge of the issues involved. We discussed some of this in our August-September Update. There will be an opportunity to comment on the Draft Plan when it’s released, and we will try to have more specific suggestions then.

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 in the end they agreed to a buyout-leaseback arrangement with the National Park Service. It was never the intent that ranching would continue indefinitely, though some people are claiming that now. In fact, 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 (hereinafter referred to as the “Secretary”) is authorized to take appropriate action in the public interest toward the establishment of the national seashore.

Legislation was later passed giving the ranchers leases for 25 years or for the life of the rancher, whichever was longer. Rep. Jared Huffman’s (D-2) bill,   H.R. 6687, which we discussed in our August-September Update, is attempting to codify the revised intent.

In the 1970s, Tule Elk were released into areas of the Seashore, and there are now conflicts with the cattle operations. So the management plan will be addressing this as well.

The Park Service has released a proposal for scoping that includes six different alternatives (one of which is   “No Action,” meaning things would stay as they are). You can read about them here. The Park Service describes them as ranging from

twenty-year agricultural lease/permits with diversification and increased operational flexibility, to reduced ranching, no dairy ranching, and no ranching alternatives. The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will also include a range of alternatives for the management of tule elk in the planning area, from elimination to active management to expansion of the Drakes Beach herd.

A couple of suggestions for comments:

•   Regarding Alternative B, “Continued Ranching and Management of the Drakes Beach Tule Elk Herd (NPS Proposed Action):” No expansion of commercial activities should be allowed. Ranchers have proposed having overnight stays, growing different kinds of crops and introducing other types of animals to their farms. These should not be allowed in the name of “ranch operational flexibility and diversification.”

•   Alternative C, “Continued Ranching and Removal of the Drakes Beach Tule Elk Herd,” should not be considered at all. It’s antithetical to the purpose of a national park.

Comments may be submitted online at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/poregmpa   or by mailing or hand delivering comments to:

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

For more information, please see the GMP Amendment Frequently Asked Questions, the GMP Amendment website, or Point Reyes National Seashore’s website: www.nps.gov/pore.

More general information may be found at https://restoreptreyesseashore.org.

 
IN GENERAL
5.   Brief Election Summary

After this month’s election, we have hope that the next Congress will be friendlier to land protection and oversight of the administration. It’s likely that Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) will be chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee. He’s a stalwart defender of America’s public lands and will be a welcome change from Utah’s Rep. Rob Bishop (R). (The Salt Lake Tribune ran an article on Mr. Bishop’s new status.)

In other welcome news, there is now a Diné (Navajo) majority on the San Juan County Commission, home to the Bears Ears National Monument. This was due to a court redrawing districts in the county. Diné are a slight majority of residents in the county and now hold two of the three seats on the Commission

Finally, in California, long-time senator Dianne Feinstein (D) was re-elected. She’s been a champion of the Mojave Desert (among other places) for many years. In the House, it looks like 45 of California’s 53 seats will be held by Democrats, who have been far more supportive of public lands protection than the GOP in recent years. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-12, San Francisco) will likely be the next Speaker of the House, and Kevin McCarthy (R-23, Bakersfield) will be House Minority Leader—so two Californians in the highest positions.

As we’ve said before, though, CalUWild is not a partisan organization. Party affiliations are included for identification purposes only. However, we do regret that land conservation has become such a highly partisan issue in Congress.

Here are links to some articles discussing the elections, Native American representation, and public lands:

In The Guardian: ‘They’re playing dirty’: Can Navajos win power after racial exclusion?

In High Country News: In southern Utah, Navajo voters rise to be heard

An article in Outside: In New Mexico, Public Lands Turned an Election Blue

 
6.   Park Service Fee-Free Days Announced for 2019

The Park Service announced that there will be five days in 2019 when entrance fees to all sites in the system will be waived. They are:

Monday, January 21 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Saturday, April 20 – First Day of National Park Week/
National Junior Ranger Day
Sunday, August 25 – National Park Service Anniversary
Saturday, September 28 – National Public Lands Day
Monday, November 11 – Veterans Day

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
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.

The Interior Department & Secty. Zinke

An   article in The Guardian: The Zinke effect: how the US interior department became a tool of big business, with an op-ed the same day by Joel Clements, the scientist who resigned in protest, rather than be transferred to a position he was unqualified for: Interior department whistleblower: Ryan Zinke hollowed out the agency

From the Washington Post: Newly released emails suggest Zinke contradicted ethics pledge

A letter to the editor in the Washington Post from the Managing Director of the Vet Voice Foundation. Vet Voice has a been a strong supporter of the national monuments campaigns and public lands in general. It’s good to have them on our side! Zinke doesn’t represent the values of military veterans

The Washington Post reports: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke remains defiant amid ethics probes

An article/interview in the Washington Post about David Bernhardt, the Assistant Secretary of the Interior, considered the likely secretary should Ryan Zinke leave at some point: ‘The man behind the curtain’: Interior’s No. 2 helps drive Trump’s agenda

An article in the New York Times: Energy Speculators Jump on Chance to Lease Public Land at Bargain Rates

Public Lands in General

An article in the New York Times: Scientists Warn That World’s Wilderness Areas Are Disappearing

An in-depth report by The Guardian: Crisis in our national parks: how tourists are loving nature to death. The statistics on the number of visitors are astounding.

An article in the New York Times: ‘Entering Burn Area’: Yosemite After the Fire

An article in the Sacramento Bee about SB 50, one of the laws passed to protect public lands in California from sales by the federal government: Trump scores victory over California in latest court battle over land

 
 
 
 
 
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 information on making a contribution to CalUWild, click here.

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