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2017 July

August 5th, 2017

Henry David Thoreau, whose birth bicentennial was celebrated July 12th               (U.S. Postal Service)

 
August 2, 2017

Dear CalUWild friends —

It’s summertime, so everything has slowed down a bit, including the writing of the Update for July. As you’ll see from the several items that just came in today, things are moving fast and furiously these days. Fortunately, though there is much to report on, there is nothing with too much deadline pressure.

As anyone who follows things knows, the political situation in Washington is getting more complicated and worrisome by the day, including on the environmental front. In addition to the ongoing national monument review we been writing about the last few months, there are rollbacks and budget cuts both planned and underway. But as we just saw last week with the health care debate, not everything proposed by either the administration or Congress gets through.

The reason is simple: Endless pressure, endlessly applied. That is the secret to effective citizen involvement.

We will need to keep the pressure up going forward if we want to protect our wilderness, national monuments, and other public lands. The best ways to do this are: Write or call your elected representatives; submit comments to agencies; and write letters to the editors of your local papers and comment to online articles.

But, don’t forget to take some time to get out and enjoy some of these places we’re working so hard to protect.

 
We’re happy to announce that Dan Gluesenkamp, Ph.D., Executive Director of the California Native Pant Society (CNPS), has joined CalUWild’s Advisory Board. We’ve known Dan and worked with him for many years as he worked with several conservation organizations. He brings a lot of knowledge, fresh ideas, and enthusiasm to everything he does. We look forward to having his further involvement with CalUWild, and us with CNPS. Welcome, Dan!

 
And as always, thank you for your continued interest and support,
Mike

 
IN GENERAL
1.   National Monuments & Marine Sanctuaries Review and More;
          Volunteers Needed to Help Tabulate Comments
          Comment Deadline Extended: August 15
          (ACTION ITEM)
2.    Public Lands Senior Pass: Huge Price Increase
          Deadline: August 27
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
3.   State Legislation
          a.   The Public Lands Protection Act
          b.   Off-Highway Vehicle Modernization & Reform
                 (ACTION ITEMS)
4.   Visions of the Wild Festival: Changing Landscapes
          Downtown Vallejo & Beyond
          September 6-10
5.   Bodie Stewardship Day
          Saturday, August 5

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

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

IN GENERAL
1.   National Monuments & Marine Sanctuaries Review and More;
          Volunteers Needed to Help Tabulate Comments
          Comment Deadline Extended: August 15
          (ACTION ITEM)

The comment period for the land-based national monuments review has closed. Conservation groups are reporting that people submitted nearly 2.7 million individual comments through the regulations.gov website. The Department of the Interior said there were far fewer (1.4 million) because it counted multiple comments as one, if they were submitted in a bundle with other comments by an organization or for other reasons.

Regardless of the count, preliminary analysis by the Center for Western Priorities indicates that 98% of the commenters supported leaving all monuments as they were designated. Only 1% favored shrinking any. 88% of the commenters identified as being from Utah supported leaving the Bears Ears National Monument alone.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has not announced any final decision with regard to the Bears Ears. He has, however, announced that he will not recommend any changes to Canyons of the Ancients in Colorado, Craters of the Moon in Idaho, and Hanford Reach in Washington would not be modified. And just today, he announced that he will not recommend modifying Upper Missouri Breaks in his home state of Montana.

Mr. Zinke has visited the Cascade-Siskiyou in Oregon and California and the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and Rio Grande del Norte in New Mexico. Last weekend, he visited Gold Butte and Basin & Range monuments in Nevada. As with his visit to Utah, Mr. Zinke’s Nevada visit was criticized for consisting of meetings mostly with monument opponents, though rancher Cliven Bundy’s wife complained that she wasn’t allowed to meet with him, either, though their ranch is adjacent to Gold Butte, which is where their cattle are trespassing.

August 24 is the date on which final recommendations are due, though they may come earlier, and we’re gearing up for any possible result. If the Administration follows the overwhelming sentiment of the comments submitted, it will simply say: “We’re leaving everything alone. The public has spoken.” From what we’ve seen so far, though, this is unlikely to happen.

 
The Interior Department also announced that the review of the marine national monuments originally begun along with the land-based monuments would be combined with another, similar review of expansions to national marine sanctuaries undertaken by the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The comment deadline for the monuments now coincides with that for the sanctuaries and has also been extended to August 15. Many people fear that the administration is looking to open the coasts to further oil & gas drilling.

Included in that list are four along the California coast:

Channel Islands
Cordell Bank
Greater Farallones
Monterey Bay

We strongly oppose any modification to any of these. All protect areas of great biodiversity and enjoy great local support. They were all approved with substantial opportunities for public input and comment.

Please submit comments via the Regulations website.

As always, including personal thoughts and experiences is best.

Again, the deadline for comments is August 15.

 
This came in from the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance as I was finishing the Update:

 
Here is a terrific hands-on way to help defend Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante and many more monuments across the country — volunteer to help analyze public input on Trump’s monument review.

The goal here is to ensure that the Trump administration does not misrepresent the truth about the overwhelming level of public support for protecting national monuments. The analysis that you would be part of will produce a report that honestly reviews the 2.7 million public comments submitted in response to Trump’s monument review, accurately summarizing things like the total number of comments, the percent supportive, geographic and issue breakdowns and other relevant information. This report is crucial to holding Trump and Zinke accountable.

Here are the two ways you can help.

FIRST: Volunteer to help a third party firm (Key-Log Economics) hired by the Wilderness Society conduct the review of the 2.7 million comments.  Much of the firm’s review will be accomplished with computer algorithms, etc., but the firm needs additional human power to complete some tasks.
•         To help out :    General Volunteer Registration
•         After you sign up, you will receive an email with instructions.
•         The email will come from team@keylogeconomics.com. If you don’t receive the email within 5 minutes of signing up, please check your spam filters.
•         The email will include a link to a brief video with step-by-step instructions. You can view the video here
•         In the email, it will include a link to the “Comment Review form from this link” — this is the form where you will submit your response. The email will also include a link to the comment for you to review.
•         Once you complete your first comment you will receive a link to review a second and so on. You can stop and restart at any time by following the instructions in your email.

SECOND: In addition, there is a need to review technical comments and those with attachments.
•         To learn more and register to help with this task, go to Expert Reviewer Registration

Thanks everyone!  And thanks to the Wilderness Society who has initiated this review and who will be sharing it with all of us working to defend monuments across the country.

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

Please help out if you can!

 
Interior Secretary Zinke found himself in hot water this last week over a phone conversation he had with Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) during the run-up to the health care votes last week. He threatened that the Administration might go against some of her proposals for road construction and oil & gas exploration in Alaska if she didn’t support the efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The threats didn’t work, because as everyone knows by now, she was one of three GOP senators to vote against the repeal.

What Mr. Zinke didn’t seem to take into account is that Sen. Murkowski is the chair of the Senate Energy and Environment Committee, as well as chair of its Appropriations Subcommittee. In other words, she oversees his department. Ms. Murkowski immediately delayed confirmation hearings on three Interior Department appointments, though she denied that was retaliatory.

There are calls for investigation into Mr. Zinke’s call, as the law prohibits Administration officials from lobbying Congress, particularly in areas outside their purview. While in Nevada last weekend, when a reporter said that his comments had been characterized as threats, Mr. Zinke said: “Uh, you know, the moon has been characterized as those things, too. So, I think it’s laughable.”

The moon … ?

 
There has been a lot of coverage in the press on the national monuments review and other public lands issues. Here is a heavy sampling:

The New York Times had three articles in its Travel section:

At Bears Ears in Utah, Heated Politics and Precious Ruins

At Berryessa National Monument, Wildflowers and Rebirth

In Gold Butte in Nevada, Ancient Rock Art and Rugged Beauty

An article in the Washington Post: Why Americans are fighting over a gorgeous monument called Bears Ears

The Salt Lake Tribune reports on former Interior Secretary Jewell jumping into the fray at the Outdoor Retailers show: Ex-Interior Secretary calls move to shrink Bears Ears illegal, on “the wrong side of history’

A New York Times article: A Call to Activism for Outdoor Apparel Makers

More from the Times: As Interior Secretary Swaggers Through Parks, His Staff Rolls Back Regulations

An article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal: Zinke caps review of Nevada monuments with Bunkerville visit

An article in High Country News regarding a speech by Secty. Zinke: The Interior secretary gave a closed-door speech to ALEC

This has to be a “first” for Utah’s governor, an article in the Salt Lake Tribune: Herbert asking BLM to ‘re-evaluate’ oil and gas leasing near Dinosaur National Monument.

Last week, the Senate confirmed David Bernhardt as Deputy Interior Secretary by a vote of 53-43. The Washington Post reported that he was confirmed

despite recent claims that he continued to represent a client as a lobbyist after his registration was deactivated. … Democrats called Bernhardt a “walking conflict of interest” for his previous lobbying work for energy interests, but Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) called the choice “excellent” because of his “extensive experience and knowledge of issues that are important to Alaskans and western states.”

Full story here.

High Country News had an article looking at the management history of Grand Staircase-Escalante NM: How Grand Staircase-Escalante was set up to fail.

And this just in today: Backcountry Hunters & Anglers has started an ad campaign aimed at the national monuments review and Mr. Zinke. First up, a 30-second TV spot wondering “What happened to Ryan Zinke?”. It’s a question many people are asking.

 
2.    Public Lands Senior Pass: Huge Price Increase
          Deadline: August 27
          (ACTION ITEM)

The price for the lifetime Senior Pass, covering entrance fees to federal lands, will jump from $10 to $80 on August 28. The pass is available to all US citizens and permanent residents age 62 and over, with proof of age and residency. Passes may be purchased in person, online, or by mail.

Click here for a listing by state of the numerous sites around the country selling the pass.

For online purchases, click here. USGS is reporting a 12-week backlog issuing passes (a good sign that demand is high), and they recommend buying in person. However, purchase confirmations will be honored until your pass arrives.

By mail, click here for a form. Your application must be postmarked August 27 or before.

NOTE: Online and “by mail” applications are subject to an additional $10 processing fee, bringing the total to $20.

A new $20 Senior Annual Pass will also be available. Buy four in a row and you can turn them in for a lifetime pass.

For more information on the various passes issued by the land management agencies, click here.

 
IN CALIFORNIA
3.   State Legislation
       (ACTION ITEMS)

CalUWild doesn’t often get involved in state legislative issues—the myriad federal issues keep us more than busy enough—but there are a couple of current bills that you should know about and support. Both of the following are headed to the Assembly, first to the Appropriations Committee and then the full chamber. Please contact the Committee members and your own representative to support both bills. You can do it with one phone call or message on their website.

          a.   The Public Lands Protection Act

After the last presidential election, California was quick to strongly assert its leadership on many environmental and other social and economic issues. In February, a trio of bills under the mantle of “Preserve California” was introduced in the California State Senate.

Because it deals with potential federal land transfers or sales, CalUWild has an interest in SB 50, The Public Lands Protection Act, introduced by Sen. Ben Allen (D-26). This measure establishes a new state policy to discourage conveyances of federal lands to private developers for resource extraction and directs the state Lands Commission to establish a right of first refusal by the state of any federal lands proposed for sale or conveyance to other parties.

In doing so, this measure would ensure (a) that the state reviews any transactions involving federal lands here in California to ensure those lands are protected, and (b) where feasible, important lands are protected via state action.

CalUWild joins Forests Forever and the California Wilderness Coalition (CWC) in supporting SB 50.

High Country News published an article on S.B. 50, extensively quoting our good friend Ryan Henson at CWC: A California counter-attack would ward off land transgfers.

 
The first of the three bills is SB 49, The California Environmental Defense Act, introduced by Sens. Kevin de Leùn (D-24) and Henry Stern (D-27). It makes current federal clean air, climate, clean water, worker safety, and endangered species standards enforceable under state law, even if the federal government rolls back and weakens those standards; Directs state environmental, public health, and worker safety agencies to take all actions within their authorities to ensure standards in effect and being enforced today continue to remain in effect; Federal laws in these areas set “baselines”, but allow states to adopt more stringent standards. This bill simply ensures California does not backslide as a result of rollbacks and damage done by the new regime in Washington DC.

The final bill is SB 51, The Whistleblower and Public Data Protection Act, introduced by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-19). Attorneys, engineers, scientists and other professionals working for federal agencies are often licensed to practice in California. US EPA attorneys and scientists who report cover ups, destruction of information, or other wrongdoing may have federal whistleblower protection but could still lose their professional certifications under California law.

This measure would ensure federal employees do not lose state licensure for revealing violations of law, unethical actions or dangers to public health and safety. It also would direct state environmental and public health agencies to protect any information or data under state law, even if parties in Washington DC order their censorship or destruction. In 2003, the Legislature passed a similar law to provide state whistleblower protections (see AB 2713 of 2002).  That bill was vetoed by then-Governor Schwarzenegger.

For more background about these and other state efforts to “preserve California,” please read the press release from Sen. de Leùn, from which the above descriptions are taken.

CalUWild supports both of these bills as well.

          b.   Off-Highway Vehicle Modernization & Reform

Off-highway vehicle (OHV) abuse has long been a problem on public lands, causing soil erosion, injuring or killing wildlife like the Desert Tortoise, raising dust, and intruding into wilderness. OHV use in California has been exploding, and the state has been unable to keep pace with regulation and restoration. California has an Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission, part of the State Parks Department, which oversees policy and grant funding for managing OHV recreation and restoration programs. The Commission has accumulated a $145 million surplus over the years but has not enforced habitat protection plans or monitored the resources under it jurisdiction.

Sen. Ben Allen (D-26), author of SB 50 (above), with the support of our friends at the California Native Plant Society (CNPS), introduced SB 249 to provide important OHV reform, focusing on three key areas:

1)    Greater Environmental Protection – SB 249 creates improved transparency and implementation of commonsense measures to protect our sensitive cultural and natural resources;

2)   Better Value for Our Dollars — Ensures OHMVR grant funding for federal lands goes toward improved enforcement and restoration; and

3)    Accountable Management – SB 249 clarifies State Parks organizational structure and guarantees transparency.

CalUWild joins CNPS and CWC in supporting S.B. 249.

 
Take action

The Assembly is currently on recess, but will return August 21. The bills will be voted on in committee between then and September 1 before going to the full Assembly. If passed, they go back to the Senate for concurrence and then to the Governor for his signature by September 14.

Members of the Appropriations Committee are:

Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (Chair, D-80)
Frank Bigelow (Vice Chair, R-5)

James Gallagher   (R-3)
Susan Talamantes Eggman   (D-13)
Rob Bonta   (D-18)
Adam Gray   (D-21)
Jay Obernolte   (R-33)
Vince Fong   (R-34)
Raul Bocanegra   (D-39)
Laura Friedman   (D-43)
Eloise Gùmez Reyes   (D-47)
Ed Chau   (D-49)
Richard Bloom   (D-50)
Eduardo Garcia   (D-56)
Ian Calderon   (D-57)
Reginald Jones-Sawyer   (D-59)
William Brough   (R-73)

Contact links for each may be found by clicking on the link in each member’s entry on the main Assemblymembers page. If you’re not sure who your Assmeblymember is, click here.

 
4.   Visions of the Wild Festival: Changing Landscapes
          Downtown Vallejo & Beyond
          September 6-10

What began three years ago as a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act has become an annual event in Vallejo every fall since. CalUWild has continued to work with the U.S. Forest Service Region 5 Office, the Vallejo Community Arts Foundation, and other environment and arts groups to plan this year’s festival. The theme for this year’s festival is “Changing Landscapes” with a look at how various natural and manmade forces affect the world around us.

Events include art exhibitions at several Vallejo galleries, lectures, films, a chalk art festival, field trips, information tables (including CalUWild—please stop by!) and two river cruises, one up the Napa River on Saturday, the other up Carquinez Strait on Sunday, as far as the “Mothball Fleet” in Suisun Bay.

All events are FREE, with the exception of the river cruises. Seating on those is limited to about 33 passengers, and tickets ($45 plus service fee) are sure to sell out quickly. Details for all activities and events may be found on the events page.

Please visit the Visions of the Wild webpage for more information.

 
5.   Bodie Stewardship Day
          Saturday, August 5
          Bodie State Historic Park
          Bridgeport, CA

If you need to make a quick getaway this weekend, consider going to the Eastern Sierra (or if you will be there anyway), where the Bodie Hills Conservation Partnership (BHCP), Friends of the Inyo, Bodie State Park, the BLM Bishop Field Office, and the Bodie Foundation are sponsoring a stewardship day. CalUWild is a member of the BHCP. Here is the announcement:

Join us August 5, 2017 at Bodie State Historic Park to help us steward these amazing public lands and spend a day in the Bodie Hills. We will help care for this unique and special place by removing unnecessary fences that disrupt wildlife movement. Please wear work appropriate clothing including long pants, hat, and closed toed shoes. Tools and gloves will be provided.

Volunteers will get a light breakfast, lunch, raffle prizes and a free entrance day to the park along with a free interpretive tour after lunch.

Meet at the Red Barn at Bodie State Historic Park at 8:30 am on Saturday August 5th.

For more information email: info@friendsoftheinyo.org or april@bodiehills.org or call (760) 873-6500

 
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.

Washington Post articles

An op-ed in the Washington Post: I’m a scientist. I’m blowing the whistle on the Trump administration.

Homeland Security will waive laws to build US border wall

National Parks

An article in the Los Angeles Times: Dark Sky designation puts Joshua Tree National Park in a new light

An article in Yale Environment360: How A Surge in Visitors Is Overwhelming America’s National Parks

Henry David Thoreau

At Walden, Thoreau Wasn’t Really Alone With Nature

An essay in the Book Review section of the New York Times by historian Douglas Brinkley: Thoreau’s Wilderness Legacy, Beyond the Shores of Walden Pond

A book review in the New York Times of a new biography of Henry David Thoreau. Buy from your local bookseller (or available on Amazon).

And yet another angle in the Los Angeles Times: Happy birthday to Henry David Thoreau, a great sleep scholar

The U.S. Postal Service issued a Forever stamp in Thoreau’s honor. (It never showed up at our local post office, but you can buy it online).

An article in High Country News: Bundy supporter gets 68 years

Video link

Episode 24 in the U.S. Forest Service’s Restore series: Culvert and Road Restoration

 
 
 
 
 
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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2016 August

September 2nd, 2016

DSC_0094a3aBelow Bishop Pass, John Muir Wilderness, Inyo National Forest                                             (Mike Painter)
 

August 2016

Dear CalUWild friends & supporters-

NOTE: This month’s Update on our website combines the full contents of the two separate parts that were sent out by email to our members, now re-ordered and re-numbered.

School is starting for many students, taking some of the visitation pressure off our public lands and making September and October a good time for exploration of new or favorite places in the West.

Public lands have been in the news recently, since August 25th was the 100th Anniversary of the signing of the National Parks Organic Act, creating the National Park Service. However, Congress is on recess until after Labor Day, meaning that there is not much to discuss on the legislative front, so the Update this month will be short, with links to articles which will bring you up to date on various topics we’ve covered in the past, as well as ones of general interest.

Scheduling in September will likely delay publication of the next Update, and it’s likely to show up in your INBOX early in October. Until then, thanks for your continued efforts and interest!
 

Best wishes,
Mike


IN UTAH
1.   The Bears Ears Campaign Continues
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
2.   Planning Begins for the Berryessa
          Snow Mountain National Monument
          Meetings Scheduled
3.   Visions of the Wild 3: Wild in the City
          September 15-18
          Downtown Vallejo
4.   Wine Country Optics & Nature Festival
          Sunday, September 11
          Downtown Sonoma
          10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

IN ARIZONA
5.   Grand Canyon Tramway Bill
          Introduced in the Navajo Tribal Council
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINE: September 3, 2016
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN GENERAL
6.   Two National Monuments-
          In Maine & Hawaii
          (ACTION ITEM)

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

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

IN UTAH
1.   The Bears Ears Campaign Continues
          (ACTION ITEM)

The Bears Ears continues to garner good mentions in the press around the country

Douglas Brinkley, the author of books on the conservation legacies of Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt, wrote an op-ed in the New York Times, Obama the Monument Maker. He specifically mentioned the Bears Ears as one of four monuments that he thinks Pres. Obama should still designate. (We linked to a review of Mr. Brinkley’s book of FDR in our March 2016 Update.) On the same day, the Times published an editorial specifically mentioning the need to protect the Bears Ears, as well as the areas around Utah’s Canyonlands and Arches national parks.

Utah State Sen. Jim Dabakis wrote an excellent and perceptive op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune examining the politics behind the Bears Ears proposal and Rep. Rob Bishop’s (R-UT) Public Lands Initiative process.

Please continue to let Pres. Obama and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell know that they support the Administration’s efforts to protects landscapes and important sites around the country and that they should continue to proceed with designations for other important areas, particularly the Bears Ears in Utah.

Pres. Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500

Comment line:   202-456-1111
Online comments here

NOTE: The White House announced this month that it would accept messages to the President via its Facebook page<https://www.facebook.com/WhiteHouse>, so that is another way to get through. (It’s nice to see that the picture on the page shows the President standing in front of Yosemite Falls.)

Hon. Sally Jewell
Secretary
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20240

Comment line:   202-208-3100
Email address:   feedback [at] ios [dot] doi [dot] gov

 
IN CALIFORNIA
2.   Planning Begins for the Berryessa
          Snow Mountain National Monument
          Meetings Scheduled

Community Conversations on Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument

The U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management are in the early stages of developing a management plan for the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument (BSMNM) and invite the public to participate in Community Conversations about the monument. The conversations are an opportunity for the public to express what they value in the management of the BSMNM. Your interests and concerns are important. The conversations are designed in an open format with resource specialists at individual stations to talk one-on-one with interested individuals.

The BSMNM was established in July 2015 to preserve the objects of scientific and historic interest on the lands of the Berryessa Snow Mountain area. The 330,000-acre area is bounded on the north by the Snow Mountain Wilderness and on the south by Berryessa Mountain in north-central California. Approximately 197,000 acres are administered by US Forest Service and 133,000 acres by the BLM.

Community Conversations locations, all workshops will be from 5:30-7:00 pm:

Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Grange Community Center
9355 Government St
Upper Lake, CA

Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Winters Community Center
201 Railroad Ave
Winters, CA

Wednesday, October 5, 2016
Holiday Inn Express
545 N. Humboldt. Ave
Willows, CA

For further information, contact Sharen Parker, Forest Planner, at 530-934-1141, Jonna Hildenbrand, BLM Planner, at 707-468-4024, or visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/mendocino/home/?cid=FSEPRD506559.

 
3.   Visions of the Wild 3: Wild in the City
          September 15-18
          Downtown Vallejo

The third annual Visions of the Wild Festival will take place September 15-18 in Vallejo. First held in 2014 to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the Wilderness Act, the festival has continued as a collaborative effort among the US Forest Service (whose Region 5 headquarters are in Vallejo), the Vallejo arts community, the City of Vallejo, and various regional agencies, organizations, and non-profit groups, including CalUWild.

The theme this year is “Wild in the City,” emphasizing the connections between our urban environments and the wildlife that can be found there, either returning or that never totally left. Events include art exhibitions, films, Coastal Cleanup Day, and more. All events are free, except for two boat tours up the Napa River and up Carquinez Straits. (The latter sold out before we could announce it.)

The Festival will actually kick off on Friday, September 9, when the art exhibitions will open. Another special event will take place on Saturday, September 10: A bike ride around Skaggs Island, a former top-secret military communications area now being restored to wetlands as part of San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The area is currently closed to the public while the restoration work is underway.

Full scheduling details may be found on the Events Page, while general information may be found at the Festival Website.

 
4.   Wine Country Optics & Nature Festival
          Downtown Sonoma
          Sunday, September 11
          10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Our friends at Sonoma Birding are hosting the 5th Annual Wine Country Optics & Nature Festival, Sunday, September 11, at the Sonoma Plaza Barracks and Casa Grande Plaza in Downtown Sonoma. Ten optics companies (such as Nikon, Celestron, Zeiss, and others) and many nonprofit organizations will have information tables, and various artists will be exhibiting, too. California State Parks is co-hosting the festival.

There’s a lot of history in Sonoma, and it’s a nice day trip from many places in Northern California. A scheduling conflict will prevent CalUWild from setting up a table this year, but I hope you’ll attend!

 
IN ARIZONA
5.   Grand Canyon Tramway Bill
          Introduced in the Navajo Tribal Council
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINE: September 3, 2016
          (ACTION ITEM)

We wrote about the proposed Grand Canyon Tramway in our January 2015 Update (Item 6), and the issue has taken an extremely serious turn.

Please note the very short deadline for comments: September 3. If you receive the Update in print, please write a letter (even before thanking Pres. Obama for his monument designations of last week), regardless of whether you can comply with the formal deadline (which may be a postmark deadline, but I don’t know the intricacies of Navajo legislative procedure). In any event, there is no deadline for writing to Secty. Sally Jewell, especially if you send a separate letter.

If you’ve been to the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, please say so and mention your experience and then state how a project like this would have impacted it.

 
Grand Canyon Tramway Legislation Introduced, Comments Needed

Late in the day on Monday, August 29, 2016, legislation was introduced in the Navajo Nation Tribal Council to build a tramway in the Grand Canyon. Under Navajo Nation Law, the public the world over now has just five days to comment on this legislation.

Sponsored by Fort Defiance Councilman Ben Bennett, the legislation gives the green light to a massive development on the rim of the Grand Canyon. The project would include a huge resort, airport, helicopter tours and tramway to the Canyon bottom at the confluence of the Little Colorado and main Colorado Rivers.

The project anticipates between 800,000 to over 2,000,000 annual visitors per year at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

A group of Phoenix developers, known as Confluence Partners LLC, would receive from 92% to 88% of revenues generated. The LLC has no prior company experience in any type of construction.

The Navajo Nation legislation spells out the duties of the partners, and requires the Navajo Nation to expend at a minimum of $65 million for a 20 mile all-weather road to the development location, as well as provide power, water, and telecommunications. A loan to the Navajo Nation to cover these costs would be repaid out of any royalties received.

Legislation passed in 1975 by Congress recognized that the entire Grand Canyon has many managers, including the National Park Service, the Navajo Nation and other tribes and agencies. The law requires the Secretary of Interior to work with all the Grand Canyon’s many managers in providing “protection and interpretation of the Grand Canyon in its entirety.” The legislation, known as the Grand Canyon Enlargement Act, required the Secretary of Interior to work with the Navajo Nation to protect the Grand Canyon, designated a World Heritage Site.

River Runners for Wilderness encourages its members to write to the Navajo Nation and Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell. Tell the Nation and Secretary Jewell:

– You support a tramway-free Grand Canyon.

– Ask that Navajo tribal funds be spent on vital needs such as housing, sanitation, telecommunication and water supply projects across the entire Western Navajo lands.

– Remind the Navajo Nation and Secretary Jewell of her duty to work with the Navajo to protect and preserve the Grand Canyon as the 1975 Grand Canyon Enlargement Act required.

You can contact the Navajo Nation here:

comments [at] navajo-nsn [dot] gov

Or in writing, mailed to:

Executive Director, Office of Legislative Services
P.O. Box 3390
Window Rock, AZ 86515
(928) 871-7590

Navajo Nation law requires that all comments, either in the form of letters and or e-mails must include your name, position title, address for written comments and a valid e-mail address. Anonymous comments will not be included in the Legislation packet.

Please cc Secretary Jewell here

Secretary of the Interior
The Honorable Sally Jewell
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20240

[You may also cc Secty Jewell via email at feedback [at] ios [dot] doi [dot] gov – Mike]

The nine page short version of the over 200 page bill is available for review here:

http://www.navajonationcouncil.org/Legislations/2016/AUG/0293-16.pdf

For further information, please contact Tom Martin at River Runners For Wilderness, tommartin [at] rrfw [dot] org

Additional information is also available here:

http://savetheconfluence.com/

 
IN GENERAL
6.   Two New National Monuments-
          In Maine & Hawaii
          (ACTION ITEM)

Pres. Obama designated two new monuments last week, one in Maine (the proposal for which we mentioned in Item 2 of our May Update) and one in Hawaii.

The federal government accepted the donation of more than 87,000 acres of Maine forestland to create the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. The gift was made by Roxanne Quimby, one of the founders of the Burt’s Bees company, and was accompanied by a gift of $20 million plus another $20 million endowment for the future management of the monument.

The monument grew out of a campaign that has been going on for at least 12 years to create a Maine Woods National Park. Local opposition changed its focus, resulting in the private donation of the land. More details about the new monument and the politics surrounding it may be found in this New York Times article.

A columnist at the Salt Lake Tribune wrote about Utah Rep. Rob Bishop’s role in the designation.

Pres. Obama also made an enormous addition to the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in Hawaii, the marine reserve established by Pres. George W. Bush in 2006. It protects a large zone surrounding the original designation and is now the largest protected marine area in the world. The Washington Post published a comprehensive article about the new monument.

Pres. Obama has made it clear when announcing his recent designations that he is not simply acting unilaterally. All the monuments have been the focus of campaigns, local and national, and most have had support from members of Congress. In fact, he has repeatedly stated that he much prefers signing legislation to designating them administratively, but he won’t hesitate to act when Congress doesn’t or won’t.

And I’m guessing that anyone reading this already knows that the federal government already manages these lands and that they’re already owned by all of us Americans (unless they’re donated, as in Maine). And when it comes to state trying to have lands “returned” to them, those lands can’t be returned, since the states never owned them. Most of the lands in the West were bought with U.S. Treasury funds-from France in the Louisiana Purchase and from Mexico in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Thus they belong to all Americans. (If they are to be returned to anyone, the Native tribes would have first claim, anyway.) Please, whenever someone refers to these designations as “federal land grabs” or to the need to “return” federal land to the states, do not hesitate to point these facts out immediately.

As mentioned in Item 1, above, the New York Times published an editorial supporting the latest monument designations.

Please thank Pres. Obama and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell (contact information above in Item 1) for making the designations, and encourage them to continue protecting our significant public lands, especially the Bears Ears in southeastern Utah.

 
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.

In the New York Times

An article analyzing the legislation introduced by Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee (both R-UT): Bill Opening Wilderness Areas to Bikes Also Opens Debate. We discussed the bill in Item 6 of last month’s Update.

An editorial page blog post regarding the Republican Party platform’s support for turning over federal land to the states: This Land Is Whose Land?

An op-ed by Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society, opposing congressional attempts to dispose of national wildlife refuge lands

Public Lands in General

A Wisconsinite calls on House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) to protect lands from Rob Bishop: Protecting public lands reflects our values

A Salt Lake Tribune editorial about the Utah governor: Herbert discounts local input when it doesn’t favor drilling

CalUWild friend Jacques Leslie’s Los Angeles Times op-ed piece: Can America’s National Parks defeat the developers at their gates?. A week after Jacques’s piece appeared, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors denied the necessary permits for the construction of the Soda Mountain solar facility, also reported by the Los Angeles Times.

A Sacramento Bee op-ed on the 30th anniversary of the publication of one of the 20th Century’s most important books, by Marc Reisner, about the West: Legacy of ‘Cadillac Desert’ highlights severity of West’s water crisis

The Bundy Cases in Oregon and Nevada

2 men in Nevada standoff case plead guilty in federal court

Ryan Bundy Placed In Disciplinary Housing

Legal Teams Begin Putting Together Jury For Malheur Trial

Federal judge to Ryan Bundy: ‘Open defiance’ of court authority shows he’s unfit to serve as own lawyer

Lavoy Finicum’s widow announces plans to sue feds, state cops over husband’s death

Ryan Bundy to keep metal fragments in arm to ‘preserve evidence’

Video Link

The latest in the Forest Service’s series on restoration: Meadow and Stream Restoration in the Tahoe Basin

 
 
 
 
 
 

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