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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

 
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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.

 
 
 
 
 

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Either way, mail it to:

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

 
 
 
 
 

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2018 March

April 3rd, 2018


Looking over Cedar Mesa, “Former” Bears Ears National Monument, Utah                              (Mike Painter)

 
March 30, 2018

Dear CalUWild friends—

With Congress’s focus on the spending bill, there’s not much to report from Capitol Hill this month. Likewise, the administration has not made any further announcements on the fate of other national monuments. So this month’s Update is relatively short (especially if you’ve already submitted comments on the management plans for the shrunken monuments in Utah—see ITEM 1).

This was a very busy month for the press, however, examining Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on many different issues. It seemed that every day some new controversy reared it head. Thus there is quite a large collection of news articles in ITEM 3, IN THE PRESS. It is encouraging to see the press covering these issues in detail, though the sheer number of different problems they report is discouraging. Please read the articles to bring yourself up to date on those topics. When you’re done reading, share your thoughts with your elected officials in Washington and with the editors of your newspapers!

 
National Parks Week is April 21-29. This year, there is free admission to all Park Service fee sites on April 21. (Secretary Zinke blames too many fee-free days for some of the budget woes of the Park Service, but enjoy it if you can.)

 
As always, your enthusiasm and efforts to protect our wilderness and public lands are much appreciated!

 
Best wishes,
Mike

 
IN UTAH
1.   National Monuments Planning Update
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINES: April 11 for Bears Ears
          April 13 for Grand Staircase-Escalante NM
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
2.   Early Kickoff for the Fifth Annual
          Visions of the Wild Festival
          Downtown Vallejo: April 12

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

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

IN UTAH
1.    National Monuments Planning Update
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINES: April 11 for Bears Ears
          April 13 for Grand Staircase-Escalante NM
          (ACTION ITEM)

As we mentioned in our last two Updates (January and February), the BLM is currently undertaking planning processes for the replacements for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah.

BLM held four public meetings this week in Southern Utah and the deadlines for comments were extended 15 days beyond the last meetings for each. If you haven’t submitted comments yet, please do so. Detailed talking points are below. They are verbatim what we included last month.

(If you have submitted comments, you may skip to the press articles on the Utah monuments at the end of this section.)

 
According to High Country News, the BLM offices have been instructed to ignore comments demanding that they put off planning until litigation is finished. You should include that point, regardless. It lets BLM know that people are paying attention, and it gets the illegality and waste of planning resources into the public record, which may be useful publicity in the likely case that the administration loses in court.

Please use your own words, and if you have been to any of the areas under discussion, please say so and explain why they are important to you.

 
For both Bear Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments

— The proclamations issued to shrink the original monuments are illegal. The president has no authority under law to reduce monuments once they have been designated. Only Congress has that authority. Most legal commentators agree with that position.

— These rollbacks have been challenged in federal court. It is not appropriate to be undertaking large-scale planning because of this ongoing litigation. Should the plaintiffs win their cases, there will be a large waste of time and money. In times of reduced budgets, that is doubly inexcusable.

— Citizens do not support these rollbacks. See the overwhelming support for all our monuments shown by the 2.7 million comments submitted during last summer’s review. 97% recommended that all monuments remain intact.

 
Bears Ears National Monument — April 11

— Any interim actions planned within the original and legitimate Bears Ears National Monument boundary should only be done for the purpose of protecting Monument resources as set out in President Obama’s proclamation, Proclamation 9558 (December 28, 2016). This includes vegetation removal projects for supposed grazing range enhancements.

— In developing a management plan for the Shash Jáa and Indian Creek management units—and in order to ensure protection of cultural and natural resources—BLM must consider alternatives that permanently close Arch Canyon, Lavender Canyon, and Davis Canyon to motorized vehicle use.

— In order to ensure adequate public review and comment, the public comment period should be extended to 90 days after the last BLM or Forest Service public hearing.

— In addition to Bears Ears National Monument gateway communities, public hearings should also be held in Salt Lake City, Utah; Flagstaff, Arizona; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Denver, Colorado; and Washington, D.C.

The planning homepage is here and the direct link to the online comment form is here.

By Email: blm_ut_monticello_monuments [at] blm [dot] gov

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

Attn: Field Office Manager
Monticello Field Office
Bureau of Land Management
P.O. Box 7
Monticello, UT 84535

 
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument — April 13

— Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was designated in 1996, with its primary purpose to protect the incredible scientific, ecological, and paleontological resources within its 1.9 million acres. Any interim actions within the original and legitimate Monument boundary should only be done for the purpose of protecting Monument resources as set out in the original proclamation.

— BLM’s 1999 Monument management plan was the result of a deliberate and collaborative process that involved scientific scrutiny and intense public participation. Any interim actions within the original and legitimate Monument boundary must comply with the 1999 management plan.

— All motorized travel routes within the original Monument boundary that were closed or limited under the 1999 Monument management must continue to be managed pursuant to the management plan. For example, the Paria River—a fragile riparian corridor within a Wilderness Study Area that was purposely excluded from President Trump’s monument boundaries in order to facilitate ATV use—must remain closed to all motorized vehicles.

— Contrary to what some have said, the designation of GSENM has been important for local communities, which have grown economically more than other rural counties in this region. The monument as is, is a critical factor in the local community. There are proposals to allow coal mining in original GSENM. However, coal is dead in this region, as demonstrated by the upcoming closing of the nearest coal-fired power plant and the fact that other states, such as California, are not interested in providing a market for it, or even providing shipping facilities for export, as is the case in Oakland, California. No coal mining in the area should be considered. The future is in taking care of these remarkable lands and bringing renewable energy to local communities.

— Do not allow current and future vegetation removal projects, in particular “chaining,” within the original Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. This practice negates BLM’s obligation to protect natural resources and wilderness values from irreversible human-caused harm.

The homepage for the project is here, and comments may be submitted here.

By Email: BLM_UT_CCD_monuments [at] blm [dot] gov

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

Attn: Monument Manager
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Bureau of Land Management
669 S Hwy. 89A
Kanab, UT 84741

 
Utah monument press

The New York Times filed a Freedom of Information Act request and then had to sue the Department of the Interior to obtain release of documents relating to the national monuments in Utah. It received some 25,000 pages of emails and other correspondence. 20,000 were from the Obama administration regarding the creation of the monuments, and the remainder from the current administration’s attempts to roll them back. The Times analyzed them and on March 2 published the following report: Oil Was Central in Decision to Shrink Bears Ears Monument, Emails Show.

This confirmed what many suspected. It also showed that the office of Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) had approached the administration in March 2017 about reducing the size of the Bears Ears, more than a month before the executive order authorizing the review of the monuments. The documents also show that a major reason for the attempt at splitting up the Grand Staircase-Escalante monument was the presence of the large coal reserves in the Kaiparowits Plateau.

You may download the complete document trove (all 38.6 MB of it) here. A selection of documents relating only to the Bears Ears may be found here.

High Country News had an article looking behind the scenes at other issues related to the monuments in Utah: The danger of local hands on public lands: When it comes to monuments, Utah lawmakers have conflicts of interest

 
IN CALIFORNIA
2.   Early Kickoff for the Fifth Annual
          Visions of the Wild Festival
          Downtown Vallejo: April 12

CalUWild is working with the U.S. Forest Service and the Vallejo Community Arts Foundation for the fifth year, planning and hosting the Visions of the Wild Festival in downtown Vallejo. It began in 2014 as a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act and has turned into an annual event, each with a different theme and focus. This year we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Wild & Scenic Rivers and National Trails System acts.

The main part of the festival will be September 21 – 23, but a few extra events are planned between now and then. The first will be the screening of two films, one on the Noatak River in Alaska and the second on Nevada City in California, by CalUWild friend and filmmaker John de Graaf.

The April 12 event has two segments:

First will be a presentation by Heather Bartlett and colleagues about the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge. They will talk how their Alaska preserve connects with our local San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge. We’ll show a short film about Wild & Scenic River in Alaska called the Noatak.

Explore the Noatak, one of Alaska’s wildest rivers, through the eyes of the people whose lives and livelihoods have long depended on its waters and wildlife, and discover the national conservation program that ensures that this and many other wild rivers will provide these values forever.

This will be followed by a screening of the film Redefining Prosperity: The Gold Rushes of Nevada City, followed by an in person discussion with the film’s director John de Graaf. This film features a segment on the Yuba River, a Wild & Scenic River in California.

Born in the California Gold Rush, Nevada City was once the scene of some of the most destructive environmental practices on earth. By the 1960s, the town was a backwater, its extractive industries dying. Then it was discovered by the “back to the land movement.” It was a second gold rush but with a different idea of gold based on nature, community and a sense of place. The Yuba River brought conflicting factions of the community together while different ideas about the meaning of wealth have led to changes in local food production, education, arts, music and a commitment to building community. Redefining Prosperity: The Gold Rushes of Nevada City includes two dozen of Nevada City’s most active citizens and their stories.

Details:

Empress Theatre
330 Virginia St.
Vallejo, CA 94590

Date: Thursday, April 12
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Tickets: $10

Online tickets are available here.

The film will also be shown in Nevada City the following weekend:

Nevada Theatre
401 Broad St.
Nevada City, CA 95959

Date: Sunday, April 15
Time: 7:00 p.m.

 
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.

California national monuments

The San Francisco Chronicle on the potential shrinking of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument: Along California-Oregon border, debate over protected lands is clash of values

The Los Angeles Times on the Sand to Snow National Monument: Feral cattle terrorize hikers and devour native plants in a California national monument

The Interior Department and other politics

Good news first: Zinke Cancels Chaco Canyon lease sale in the Albuquerque Journal. You may read the BLM press release here.

Unfortunately, this was followed by a lease sale in Southeastern Utah on lands containing many archeological sites and close to Hovenweep and Canyons of the Ancients national monuments. The Washington Post wrote this article: National Park Service warned lease sale Tuesday could harm national monument in Utah

Washington Post opinion columnist Dana Millbank wrote: All hail Ryan Zinke, our imperial viceroy

An article in The Hill: Zinke signed order in January making ‘acting’ directors official

An article in the Washington Post: A mining firm executive griped to Zinke about federal pollution rules. The secretary apologized.

CNN reported: White House scolds Cabinet officials after embarrassing ethics reports. Secretary Zinke was included among them.

A Washington Post article: Oversight panel seeks details on Interior’s pricey doors. The Interior Department plans to spend $139,000 to replace double doors in the Secretary’s office.

Our friends at the Center for Western Priorities report: Documents reveal Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke uses a private email address for official business

The Democrats on the House Natural Resource Committee released a statement stating that a letter held up by Secty. Zinke in a hearing was not what he claimed it to be, nor had such a letter ever been sent. Secretary Zinke Testified Falsely Today – Said Letter to Chairman Bishop Responded to Rep. Barragan’s Ethics Concerns

An article in The Hill: Zinke and his wife took security detail on vacation to Turkey, Greece: report

From CNN: Sources: Zinke tells employees diversity isn’t important

A Washington Post article: Zinke creates new outdoor recreation panel made up almost entirely of industry advisers

From CNN: Zinke says ‘Konnichiwa’ after hearing story about WWII Japanese internment

An article in Outside: Congress Just Ignored Trump’s Public-Land Cuts

An op-ed in The Hill by Peter Metcalf of Black Diamond: Secretary Zinke, you’re no Teddy Roosevelt

In Nevada

From Reuters: States’ rights rancher Ryan Bundy to run for Nevada governor

General

An op-ed in the San Jose Mercury News, by our friend Ryan Henson of the California Wilderness Coalition: Opinion: Trump’s ruthless attack on California’s desert lands

An essay in High Country News reflecting on Edward Abbey and the 50th Anniversary of the publication of Desert Solitaire: Balancing the pulls of domesticity and wilderness

 
 
 
 
 

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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2018 February

March 3rd, 2018


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

February 28, 2018

Dear CalUWild friends—

The administration continues its thinly-disguised reviews of monuments, plans, and regulations in the hopes of overturning many of the decisions enacted over the last few years. (See ITEMS 1 & 3.) Almost all of these had been made with substantial public input, and there is no rational reason for them to be revisited. The only explanation is that opponents of public land protection (and many other environmental issues) have the ears of the current administration and Congress.

We’re confident that they won’t be successful in all their attempts to roll back the clock, but it will require many people to be vigilant and active.

CalUWild remains committed to providing the information people need to speak out effectively in defense of our public lands, whether to Congress, the administration, or the press.

Thank you for your interest and efforts!
 

Best wishes,
Mike
 

IN UTAH
1. National Monuments Update
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINE: March 19
          (ACTION ITEM)
2. Central Wasatch National Conservation
          & Recreation Area Act
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
3. Desert Renewable Energy Plan Under Attack
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINE: March 22
          (ACTION ITEM)
4. 4 Wheel Bob — Film Showing in:
          San Rafael (March 18)
          Albany (March 21)

IN GENERAL
5. Job Listings
          a. Friends of Nevada Wilderness
          b. Mono Lake Committee

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

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

IN UTAH
1. National Monuments Update
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINE: March 19
          (ACTION ITEM)

As we mentioned in last month’s Update, the BLM is currently undertaking planning processes for the replacement national monuments in Utah. We have some more detailed talking points below. The deadline for comments is currently March 19, though if additional public meetings are scheduled, the deadline will be extended at least 15 days after the last meeting. But it’s better not to take any chances.

According to High Country News, the BLM offices have been instructed to ignore comments demanding that they put off planning until litigation is finished. You should include that point, regardless. It lets BLM know that people are paying attention, and it gets the illegality and waste of planning resources into the public record, which may be useful publicity in the likely case that the administration loses in court.

Please use your own words, and if you have been to any of the areas under discussion, please say so and explain why they are important to you.

For both Bear Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments

— The proclamations issued to shrink the original monuments are illegal. The president has no authority under law to reduce monuments once they have been designated. Only Congress has that authority. Most legal commentators agree with that position.

— These rollbacks have been challenged in federal court. It is not appropriate to be undertaking large-scale planning because of this ongoing litigation. Should the plaintiffs win their cases, there will be a large waste of time and money. In times of reduced budgets, that is doubly inexcusable.

— Citizens do not support these rollbacks. See the overwhelming support for all our monuments shown by the 2.7 million comments submitted during last summer’s review. 97% recommended that all monuments remain intact.

Bears Ears National Monument

— Any interim actions planned within the original and legitimate Bears Ears National Monument boundary should only be done for the purpose of protecting Monument resources as set out in President Obama’s proclamation, Proclamation 9558 (December 28, 2016). This includes vegetation removal projects for supposed grazing range enhancements.

— In developing a management plan for the Shash Jáa and Indian Creek management units—and in order to ensure protection of cultural and natural resources—BLM must consider alternatives that permanently close Arch Canyon, Lavender Canyon, and Davis Canyon to motorized vehicle use.

— In order to ensure adequate public review and comment, the public comment period should be extended to 90 days after the last BLM or Forest Service public hearing.

— In addition to Bears Ears National Monument gateway communities, public hearings should also be held in Salt Lake City, Utah; Flagstaff, Arizona; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Denver, Colorado; and Washington, D.C.

The planning homepage is here and the direct link to the online comment form is here.

By Email: blm_ut_monticello_monuments@blm.gov

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

Attn: Field Office Manager
Monticello Field Office
Bureau of Land Management
P.O. Box 7
Monticello, UT 84535

An ironically-timed article appeared in the Washington Post: Spectacular fossils found at Bears Ears — right where Trump removed protections

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

— Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was designated in 1996, with its primary purpose to protect the incredible scientific, ecological, and paleontological resources within its 1.9 million acres. Any interim actions within the original and legitimate Monument boundary should only be done for the purpose of protecting Monument resources as set out in the original proclamation.

— BLM’s 1999 Monument management plan was the result of a deliberate and collaborative process that involved scientific scrutiny and intense public participation. Any interim actions within the original and legitimate Monument boundary must comply with the 1999 management plan.

— All motorized travel routes within the original Monument boundary that were closed or limited under the 1999 Monument management must continue to be managed pursuant to the management plan. For example, the Paria River—a fragile riparian corridor within a Wilderness Study Area that was purposely excluded from President Trump’s monument boundaries in order to facilitate ATV use—must remain closed to all motorized vehicles.

— Contrary to what some have said, the designation of GSENM has been important for local communities, which have grown economically more than other rural counties in this region. The monument as is, is a critical factor in the local community. There are proposals to allow coal mining in original GSENM. However, coal is dead in this region, as demonstrated by the upcoming closing of the nearest coal-fired power plant and the fact that other states, such as California, are not interested in providing a market for it, or even providing shipping facilities for export, as is the case in Oakland, California. No coal mining in the area should be considered. The future is in taking care of these remarkable lands and bringing renewable energy to local communities.

— Do not allow current and future vegetation removal projects, in particular “chaining,” within the original Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. This practice negates BLM’s obligation to protect natural resources and wilderness values from irreversible human-caused harm.

The homepage for the project is here, and comments may be submitted here.

By Email: BLM_UT_CCD_monuments@blm.gov

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

Attn: Monument Manager
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Bureau of Land Management
669 S Hwy. 89A
Kanab, UT 84741

 
In ITEM 2 of last month’s Update we mentioned The ANTIQUITIES Act of 2108, S. 2354. Unnoticed in the information provided by Sen. Tom Udall and omitted from our discussion is a provision in the bill that would congressionally designate all 1.9 million acres of the original Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition proposal, rather than the 1.3 million that was designated by Pres. Obama. That’s even more reason to support it!
 

2. Central Wasatch National Conservation
          & Recreation Area Act
          (ACTION ITEM)

Much of CalUWild’s work in Utah has focused on areas managed by the Bureau of Land Management. But Utah has significant national forest lands, as well, and some of it is even wilderness! One important area is the Wasatch Front, the mountains behind Salt Lake City and stretching south from there.

A Utah organization, Save Our Canyons, has put forward a proposal that would, in their words

protect 80,000 acres of public land through the designation of the “Central Wasatch National Conservation & Recreation Area.” Once passed, this legislation will connect fragmented land with areas currently under federal protection, designate additional wilderness areas, and limit future development in the Wasatch, all while protecting our shared values of natural places.

More information on the proposal may be found here, and a series of maps detailing various aspects of the proposal may be found here.

Finally, there is an online petition in support of the proposal. Please sign it here.

We’ll keep you posted as the proposal develops further, including any legislation.
 

3. Desert Renewable Energy Plan Under Attack
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINE: March 22
          (ACTION ITEM)

The Bureau of Land Management last month announced plans to review the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP), put into place after years of discussion and compromise among many interested parties. The administration said it would like to allow more renewable energy installations, off-road vehicle use, and mining and grazing. The DRECP covers almost 11 million acres of BLM lands in seven California counties: Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego. See below for more background on the DRECP.

BLM is holding scoping meetings at the following locations over the next week.

Friday, March 2, 2018
3pm – 5pm
Fairfield Inn & Suites
503 E Danenberg Dr., El Centro, CA 92243

Monday, March 5, 2018
1pm – 3pm
DoubleTree Hotel
2001 Point West Way, Sacramento, CA 95815

Tuesday, March 6, 2018
5pm – 7pm
Bakersfield Field Office
3801 Pegasus Drive, Bakersfield, CA 93308

Wednesday, March 7, 2018
5pm – 7pm
UC Riverside, Palm Desert Center, Auditorium
75080 Frank Sinatra Dr., Palm Desert, CA 92211

Please attend if you can!

The following comes from our friends at the California Wilderness Coalition:

ACTION ALERT: 4.2 million acres of protected desert lands under attack

Defending the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan

The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) is a visionary blueprint for balancing conservation, energy development, and recreation on our priceless desert public lands. While protecting desert lands for recreation and wildlife, the DRECP dedicates an area larger than the city of Los Angeles for renewable energy projects – which California energy regulators say is ample for meeting the state’s renewable energy goals. Despite this, the Trump administration claims that even more land may be required for development.

Re-opening the DRECP puts at risk over four million acres of protected conservation lands, including Silurian Valley, Chuckwalla Bench, Conglomerate Mesa, and Panamint Valley, and will undoubtedly harm the scenic vistas, dark skies, wildflower displays, and the myriad recreational opportunities these lands provide. Revising the DRECP could also greatly harm many iconic species such as desert bighorn sheep and desert tortoise.

During the more than eight-year planning process, federal, state and local governments, conservationists, energy producers, recreationists, and desert residents participated in about a dozen public meetings to help create the DRECP. In addition, BLM took into consideration more than 16,000 public comments when it finalized the plan. The fact that the DRECP was never challenged in court is a testament to the buy-in that was achieved as a result of this careful listening process. Please join our coalition members in declaring this process unnecessary, counter-productive, and ultimately detrimental to California’s precious desert lands and state efforts to grow renewable energy.

Talking points adapted from CWC:

— Oppose any attempt to re-open the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP). The DRECP should be implemented as is.

— There is no justification for re-opening this Plan that was only finalized about 17 months ago. Re-opening the DRECP to years of arguing, uncertainty, and litigation is a waste of taxpayer dollars and valuable government resources. I strongly urge the Department of the Interior to leave it alone.

— There was broad public support for the plan and more than eight years of collaboration between federal, local, and state government, energy producers, conservationists, and recreationists helped produce it.

— The Department of Interior must maintain protections for the special lands that were designated as California Desert National Conservation Lands and Areas of Critical Environmental Concern. These wild lands encompass many spectacular and outstanding values such as colorful wildflower displays, endangered wildlife habitat, and opportunities for recreation and solitude that should be preserved for future generations. The DRECP’s conservation and recreation aspects not only protect special places but also bring significant tourism dollars into California, which drives local economies.

Submit comments on issues and planning criteria

via Email to BLM_CA_DRECP@blm.gov

or by U.S. Mail to:

Mr. Jerry Perez
BLM-California State Director
2800 Cottage Way, Rm W–1623
Sacramento, CA 95825

 
In related news, the administration is also opening up 1.3 million acres of desert lands to mining, reversing a withdrawal that the Obama administration put in place in 2016. You may read details in this San Bernardino Desert Sun article: Trump administration opens millions of acres of California desert to mining
 

4. 4 Wheel Bob — Film Showing in:
          San Rafael (March 18)
          Albany (March 21)

One frequently hears from opponents of wilderness that its designation shuts out people who can’t hike. However, people are able to explore in various other ways, whether on horseback, canoes, rafts, or kayaks, or even wheelchairs (which are allowed, despite a general prohibition on mechanical transport). Here’s a film about one man’s adventure:

At the Smith Rafael Film Center:

Bay Area filmmaker Tal Skloot will present his film portrait of Bob Coomber, who will join him for discussion. 4 Wheel Bob follows Coomber, an intrepid adventurer who sets out to be the first wheelchair hiker to cross the 11,845-foot Kearsarge Pass in the Sierra Nevada. Bob had grown up in Piedmont in a family of avid backpackers and, while hiking in his early 20s, shattered his leg in a struggle related to juvenile diabetes and subsequent osteoporosis. After a period of depression, Bob adopted a philosophy of “no excuses” and, confined to his wheelchair, took increasingly strenuous hikes, using only his arms to get around. And as you will see, the Kearsarge Pass can be a dangerous climb. (2017) 72 min. plus discussion.

Click here to purchase tickets.

Sunday, March 18
1118 Fourth St, San Rafael, CA 94901
4:15 p.m.

The film will also be shown at the Albany Film Fest on

Wednesday March 21
Albany Twin Theatre
1115 Solano Ave, Albany, CA 94706
7:30 p.m.

Go to the film’s website to view a trailer. There are no other screening listed, but there is a mailing list you can join.
 

IN GENERAL
5. Job Listings

          a. Friends of Nevada Wilderness

From our friends to the east:

Friends of Nevada Wilderness is hiring for the 2018 summer field season! We are happy to announce that we currently have 13 seasonal positions available. If you or someone you know would be interested in spending the summer in living and working in some of Nevada’s most wild areas, please consider applying for one of the positions listed here.

          b. Mono Lake Committee

From our friends at the Mono Lake Committee:

Mono Lake Committee seasonal jobs available

If you’ve always wanted to spend a summer at Mono Lake, now is your chance—we still have open seasonal staff positions for summer 2018, including Mono Lake Intern, Canoe Program Coordinator, Outdoor Education Instructor, and Information Center & Bookstore Assistant. Summer at Mono Lake is… the busiest and most activity-filled season, and seasonal staff jobs include leading interpretive tours, helping visitors in the bookstore, and canoeing on Mono Lake, among many other varied tasks. We accept applications from people of all ages, whether you’re looking for an internship between college semesters, or you’re interested in a post-retirement summer of work.

To apply, please send a cover letter and résumé to Office Director Jessica Horn, either by email or by mail to PO Box 29, Lee Vining, CA 93541.
 

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.

To see how deep the anti-public lands sentiment runs among Utah’s politicians, read this Salt Lake Tribune article: Bill seeks to limit how Utah city and local officials speak up in favor of public-lands protections

In response to one argument made by the federal pubic lands opponents, John Leshy, Professor Emeritus at UC Hastings and former Interior Department Solicitor has written this comprehensive law review article: Are U.S. Public Lands Unconstitutional. Follow the link on the page to see the full article. It’s long but the pages are short with lots of footnotes. It’s very readable.

An op-ed in the NY Times: Protecting America’s Last Great Animal Migrations

New national parks in Chile: Protecting Wilderness as an Act of Democracy

 
 
 
 
 

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 January

February 2nd, 2018

The Waterpocket Fold, Capitol Reef NP, Utah, from the air                                                (Mike Painter)

 
February 1, 2018

Dear CalUWild friends and supporters—

As 2018 begins, we’re looking ahead to continuing the fight to protect our national monuments, wilderness, and other public lands, as we have for the last 20 years.

But 2018 also gives us the opportunity to look back at a few notable achievements. This year we will be celebrating the 50th Anniversary of both the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act and the National Trails System Act—which authorized National Scenic Trails & National Recreation Trails. It’s also the 40th Anniversary of the National Parks & Recreation Act—which authorized the National Historic Trails.

Finally 2018 marks the 50th Anniversary of the publication of Edward Abbey’s “Desert Solitaire,” a book that has introduced many people to the wonders of the redrock country of the Southwest and the need to preserve and protect all of our remaining wild places. The New York Times published an op-ed by Douglas Brinkley commemorating the anniversary: President Trump, Please Read ‘Desert Solitaire’. Abbey’s book is still in print in various editions, often quite inexpensive at used bookstores. I encourage you to have an extra copy always on hand to give to some unsuspecting soul. You never know who might be inspired reading it.

 
A note about coverage in the Monthly Update: Almost every day now there is some new controversy within the Interior Department, with regard to either policies (national monuments, offshore oil, sage grouse, methane and fracking, you name it) or the Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke.

It is impossible to go into detail on every single one—I could write an item a day for the Update, but that would be overwhelming for all of us. However, these issues are critically important. Rather than ignore them, they will be included in our IN THE PRESS section, organized by topic, with links to items and brief descriptions of the issue if needed. We’ll see how this works for everyone …

 
As our Annual Membership Appeal draws to a close, a big “Thank You” once again to everyone who has contributed so generously to make CalUWild’s continued work possible. And if you haven’t contributed yet, please consider doing so at any time. It’s always appreciated. Click here for details.

 
Thanks for your ongoing enthusiasm,
Mike

 
 
IN UTAH (& IN GENERAL)
1.   National Monument Developments
          (ACTION ITEM)
2.   18 Senators Introduce The ANTIQUITIES Act of 2018
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
3.   Offshore Oil Drilling Hearing & Rally
          In Sacramento
          Thursday, February 8
          ALSO: Comments Needed
          DEADLINE: March 9, 2018
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN ALASKA
4.   Secty. Zinke Signs a Land Swap for Izembek Road
          Through Wilderness Wildlife Refuge—
          Lawsuit Filed

IN COLORADO
5.   Wilderness Bill Introduced

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

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

IN UTAH (& IN GENERAL)
1.   National Monument Developments
          (ACTION ITEM)

There are three developments of note regarding the national monuments in Utah.

A.)   As we reported last month, the administration issued two new proclamations severely shrinking the Bears Ears and the Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. Native American tribes and conservation groups immediately filed suit in Washington, DC, and the administration has filed motions to transfer the cases to Utah, where they would hope to get a more sympathetic court. The tribes argue that they are sovereign nations and the conservation groups argue that the decisions were made in Washington and their legality has a broader impact than just Utah; therefore, the District of Columbia is the appropriate venue.

And this just in: The federal judge in DC has decided to consolidate the five separate lawsuits into just two: one dealing with Bears Ears, and the other wit Grand Staircase-Escalante. She has yet to rule on the change of venue.

B.)   While that was going on, two Utah Congressmen introduced bills that would codify the changes made in the new proclamations. (This indicates that they recognize some doubt that the administration’s unilateral moves will hold up in court.)

Rep. John Curtis (R) introduced H.R. 4532, the “Shash Jaa and Indian Creek National Monument Act.” It sets up a management council appointed, not by the local tribes, but by the president in consultation with the Utah congressional delegation—who have never supported the monument from the outset. This shifts management to interests who rarely, if ever, take broader, national interests into account, and represents one more step toward state and local control of lands belonging to all Americans.

The bill had a quick hearing before the Subcommittee on Public Lands, but the witness list so was so skewed against supporters of the existing monument that the Democrats on the subcommittee forced a second hearing that included five representatives of the Inter-Tribal Coalition.

Rep. Chris Stewart (R) introduced H.R. 4558, the disingenuously-named “Grand Staircase-Escalante Enhancement Act.” It contains the odd feature of establishing a national park in the Escalante Canyons portion of the monument, but one open to hunting and grazing, which are generally not allowed in parks. It also sets up a locally-dominated management council, and the federal managers would be obligated to follow its directions. Lands outside the new park, but inside the three monuments would be open to mineral development.

Neither bill has companion legislation in the Senate, and the only cosponsors so far are other members of the Utah congressional delegation.

C.)   In a third development, the Bureau of Land Management announced that it would initiate management plans for the new monuments. This seems to be a cynical ploy, given that the proclamations are the subject of litigation, and there is no guarantee that the outcome will favor the administration. (Most scholars feel the law is against the administration here.) So it could turn out to be a complete waste of taxpayer money, especially when the agencies already have budget shortages.

The initial deadline for scoping comments is March 19. We will have more substantive suggestions for comments in the next Update, but for a start, it would be good to put the BLM on notice that citizens do not support these rollbacks, especially given the overwhelming support for all our monuments to remain intact during last summer’s review. Additionally, it is not appropriate to be undertaking planning because of the litigation and potential waste of time and money involved.

For Bears Ears National Monument, the planning homepage is here and the direct link to the online comment form is here.

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

365 North Main
P.O. Box 7
Monticello, UT 84535

For the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, the homepage for the project is here, and comments may be submitted here.

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

669 S Hwy. 89A
Kanab, UT 84741

ALSO: Keep up the pressure on your Members of Congress and Senators and by writing letters to the editor of your local papers.

The press continues to cover the monuments issue thoroughly. Here is a sampling:

Despite administration denials that the Bears Ears was shrunk in response to uranium mining interests, the New York Times published this: Uranium Miners Pushed Hard for a Comeback. They Got Their Wish.

An op-ed in the Times on H.R. 4558: A Trojan Horse Threatens the Nation’s Parks

An article in The Guardian: How Trump’s cuts to public lands threaten future dinosaur discoveries

This Salt Lake Tribune article gives more background on the tribes’ opposition to the Curtis bill: Tribal leaders slam Utah Rep. Curtis’ bill to redraw Bears Ears, say management plan is tribal ‘in name only’.

The Salt Lake Tribune also published an editorial: Opposition to Bears Ears monument isn’t about money — it’s about race

Even the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples issued a statement condemning the monument rollback.

 
2.   18 Senators Introduce The ANTIQUITIES Act of 2018
          (ACTION ITEM)

It takes real imagination to create the names of some the laws introduced in Congress, but this one is among the best: The America’s Natural Treasures of Immeasurable Quality Unite, Inspire, and Together Improve the Economies of States (ANTIQUITIES) Act of 2018, S. 2354.

Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), joined by 17 other senators, introduced this important response to the administration’s recent actions against our national monuments.

The other cosponsors are:

Richard Durbin (D-IL)
Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)
Ron Wyden (D-OR
Martin Heinrich (D-NM)
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
Brian Schatz (D-HI)
Kamala Harris (D-CA)
Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV)
Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)
Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Mazie Hirono (D-HI)
Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
Ben Cardin (D-MD)
Cory Booker (D-NJ)
Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)
Tina Smith (D-MN)
Michael Bennet (D-CO)

In addition, the five Bears Ears Coalition Tribes (Hopi, Navajo, Ute, Ute Mountain Ute, and Zuni) support the bill.

According to the announcement put out by Sen. Udall’s office, the bill protects and enhances national monuments in three main provisions:

— It officially declares Congress’ support for the 51 national monuments established by presidents in both parties between January 1996 and April 2017 under their authority established by the Antiquities Act of 1906. [It’s no coincidence that these are the dates of the monuments “under review” by the current administration—Mike]

— It reinforces that existing law clearly states that presidential proclamations designating national monuments are valid and cannot be reduced or diminished, except by an act of Congress.

— It further enhances protections for the presidentially designated national monuments by 1) requiring that they be surveyed, mapped and that management plans be completed in two years—in the same manner as congressionally designated national monuments—and 2) that they receive additional resources to ensure that they will continue to meet their full potential of providing unmatched economic, recreational, and cultural benefits to their states and to the nation.

Please contact Sens. Feinstein and Harris to thank them for their cosponsorship of this legislation. And remind Sen. Harris that this would be a good opportunity for her to become a cosponsor of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, too.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein:   202-224-3841
Online here

Sen. Kamala Harris:   202-224-3553
Online here

Feel free to call senators from states other than California to say thank you as well. Full contact information may be found here.

 
IN CALIFORNIA
3.   Offshore Oil Drilling Hearing & Rally
          In Sacramento
          Thursday, February 8
          ALSO: Comments Needed
          DEADLINE: March 9, 2018
          (ACTION ITEM)

Another of the many controversies enveloping the administration is the recent announcement that almost the entire coastline of the United States will be open again for oil & gas leasing. Interior Secty. Ryan Zinke caused further controversy when—in what appeared to be a political favor to Florida’s Gov. Rick Scott, who is considering running for the U.S. Senate—he announced that Florida would be exempt because the state is “unique and its coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver.”

Of course the same can be said for every state along the country’s coastline, and politicians from those states immediately said they deserved exemptions for precisely the same reasons.

Offshore drilling has long been a particular concern in California, ever since the disastrous Santa Barbara oil spill of 1969. (Of course, there have been other oil spills in the meantime, including the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico.) All of the rocks, reefs, and islands along California’s coastline are part of the California Coastal National Monument, so there is an additional “public lands” aspect to the issue here.

As part of the planning, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced a series of public hearings and the opening of a public comment period. The only hearing in California will be in Sacramento on Thursday, February 8. It will take place at the

Tsakopoulos Library Galleria
828 I Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
from 3 p.m. – 7 p.m.

A rally with speakers will take place preceding the hearing at 1:30 p.m. on the North Steps of the State Capitol, followed by a march to the hearing venue.

Turnout is critical!

CalUWild is supporting the efforts of partner organizations such as the Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, and others to ensure that interested people can attend. There are buses to the event in Sacramento leaving from the following cities. Tickets are free or at nominal cost ($5-$15 RT). Click on the city for more information and to make a reservation.

San Francisco
Oakland
Santa Rosa/Petaluma
Ventura

Seats are limited, so please sign up quickly!

More information on the rally may be found on its Facebook Event page.

Regarding the public comment period, the main page for the proposal is here.

BOEM says:

Helpful Comments:

— Are fact-based;
— Include links to data or research;
— Provide specifics regarding impacts to the ocean and coasts, the plants and animals, to people, and how people use the ocean; and
— Where and when the ocean is utilized.

For most citizens, the third and fourth categories are likely most relevant, though obviously, individuals may have information pertaining to the other two.

Online comment submission is preferred.

You can click on the Comment Now! button on the main page or go directly here.

Comments may be also be mailed (or hand delivered) to:

Comments for the 2019-2024 Draft Proposed National Oil and Gas Leasing Program
ATTN: Ms. Kelly Hammerle
National OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program Manager
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (VAM-LD)
45600 Woodland Road
Sterling, VA 20166-9216

Phone: 703-787-1613

 
IN ALASKA
4.   Secty. Zinke Signs a Land Swap for Izembek Road
          Through Wilderness Wildlife Refuge—
          Lawsuit Filed

Interior Secretary Zinke took advantage of last week’s three-day government shutdown to sign an agreement transferring land from the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, much of which is designated wilderness, to a Native Alaskan corporation, in order to build a road connecting the town of King Cove to Cold Bay.

The shutdown meant that reporters weren’t allowed at the signing. When questioned by reporters afterward, Mr. Zinke refused to release any documents but told them they were free to submit Freedom of Information Act requests. There was no public involvement in this decision.

The town and Alaska politicians claim that the road is needed for medical emergency evacuations, to reach an airstrip at Cold Bay, but as this op-ed, published last year in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (and posted by our friends at Wilderness Watch), demonstrates commercial considerations were the only ones mentioned when the road was first proposed, in order to link a fish cannery in King Cove to that airstrip.

Yesterday, a coalition of groups (including Wilderness Watch) filed suit against Mr. Zinke and the land exchange proposal. The claim is that it violates both the Wilderness Act (which gives authority over wilderness boundaries to Congress only) and the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, which designated Izembek as wilderness.

If you would like more detailed information, the Washington Post has run these two stories:

Zinke signs land-swap deal allowing road through Alaska’s Izembek wilderness

Environmental groups sue to block road through Alaska refuge

 
IN COLORADO
5.   Wilderness Bill Introduced

Last week, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D) and Rep. Jared Polis (D) introduced the Continental Divide Recreation, Wilderness and Camp Hale Legacy Act (S. 2337 in the Senate and H.R. 4883 in the House).

The bills would designate three new wilderness areas at Hoosier Ridge, in the Tenmile Range, and in the Williams Fork Mountains. It expands three existing wildernesses: Eagles Nest, Holy Cross, and Ptarmigan Peak.

A novel aspect of the bill is the creation the Camp Hale National Historic Landscape, which would be the first in the country. Camp Hale was the training ground for the storied 10th Mountain Division, which fought in the Italian Alps during World War II. David Brower, former Executive Director of the Sierra Club and founding member of CalUWild’s Advisory Board was a veteran of the division, as were other notable outdoor recreationists and leaders.

The Denver Post has run two articles examining the proposal:

Michael Bennet, Jared Polis put forth bill to bolster protection for more than 98,000 acres of federal land in Colorado

and an article back in 2016 giving more background on Camp Hale and the 10th Mountain Division.

We’re happy to see another real wilderness bill introduced, and we support their efforts.

 
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 Department & Secty. Zinke

An op-ed on Secty. Zinke by Timothy Egan of the New York Times: The Mad King Flies His Flag

The Washington Post published an editorial: Is Ryan Zinke cynical or incompetent?

A look at the legal procedural issues surrounding many of the recent Interior Department decisions in the New York Times: Trump’s Environmental Rollbacks Were Fast. It Could Get Messy in Court.

During the shutdown, Secty. Zinke said that national parks would stay open, even without staff. Fears of potential resource damage were confirmed. An article in the Washington Post: While Yellowstone’s staff was furloughed, a snowmobiler got way too close to Old Faithful

Mid-month, nine out of the twelve members of the National Park Advisory Board resigned. The New York Times ran this article: Citing ‘Inexcusable’ Treatment, Advisers Quit National Parks Panel

and High Country News did a follow-up article and interview with Board chairman Tony Knowles: Why the National Park advisory board imploded.

The Bundy Case in Nevada

An article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal: Congress expected to hold hearings on dismissal of Bundy case

Public Lands in General

The Guardian announces “a major expansion of [its] series This Land is Your Land, which will provide coverage of these unique and threatened places” with a grant from the Society for Environmental Journalism: The threat to America’s public lands is increasing – and so is our coverage

Wilderness Philosophy

In the NY Times ongoing philosophy series “The Stone:” Keep Our Mountains Free. And Dangerous.

 
 
 
 
 
 
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2017 June

July 3rd, 2017


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

June 29, 2017

Dear CalUWild friends and supporters—

Our last couple of Monthly Updates have focused heavily on the national monument review that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was ordered to undertake. The situation has become extremely complex, so please bear with us as we try to untangle the mess a bit. It will be the only topic addressed in this Update.

The review and recommendations already resulting from it are the broadest and most serious attacks on public lands we’ve seen in many years—an attack on one monument is an attack on them all. So if you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

It being the season for summertime reading, we’ve included many links, in both Items 1 & 2.
 

Thanks for your interest and involvement,
Mike
 

IN UTAH & ELSEWHERE
1.   Interior Secretary Zinke Issues Preliminary Bears Ears Report;
          Recommends Shrinking the Monument and
          Extends Comment Period.
          Comments Needed on All Monuments
          DEADLINE: July 10
          (ACTION ITEM)

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

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

IN UTAH
1.   Interior Secretary Zinke Issues Preliminary Bears Ears Report;
          Recommends Shrinking the Monument and
          Extends Comment Period.
          Comments Needed on All Monuments
          DEADLINE: July 10
          (ACTION ITEM)

As we reported in our last two Updates (April, May), the administration issued an executive order instructing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to undertake a review of more than 25 national monuments designated since 1996. He was given 45 days to issue recommendations regarding the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah and 120 days for the others. The Interior Department then opened a public comment period for all of them. The Department, however, is not undertaking the review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which has procedural guidelines for how comments are to be tabulated and analyzed. As you’ll see below, it is becoming more and more difficult to believe that the public comment period is anything other than just for show.

Two weeks ago Mr. Zinke issued a preliminary report on Bears Ears, and other information has come out from the Interior Department that is causing us to have to change our approach to the review. Yet it is important to keep the pressure up, by submitting comments to the department, as the public is able to read them online. This will provide support for the litigation that is sure to follow any formal attempt at revocation or boundary change. (Although presidents have the authority to designate monuments, the Antiquities Act does not give them the power to modify or de-designate them. This has not been tested in court, though … yet. If you are interested in a readable paper by four law professors from the U of Colorado, UC Berkeley, and UCLA, discussing the applicable law, click here.)

Some of the larger conservation groups have analyzed the comments submitted online, finding that over 90% support leaving all the monuments alone.

Secty. Zinke’s report recommends shrinking the monument, though he stopped short of outright de-designating it.

The report made four major points, listed below, along with responses to each, in italics. (The report can be read and/or downloaded here, free registration or sign-in required.)

1.) The boundaries of Bears Ears should be adjusted to be consistent with the intent of the Antiquities Act (i.e., the smallest area necessary to protect the objects of interest);

The interim report seems to imply that only some archaeological sites are worthy of protection and that these can be easily identified and given isolated protection. The truth is that there are many thousands of archaeological sites, large and small, as well as numerous historic sites, geological features, paleontological resources, as well as plants and animals worthy of protection. The original proclamation spells out these many values in detail. It is the landscape itself—viewed as sacred by numerous Native American tribes as their homeland—that is being protected, not just separate sites.

2.) Congress should authorize tribal co-management of designated cultural areas;

The tribes view this as an insult, given the recommendation that the monument be shrunk. Furthermore, Mr. Zinke said that the tribes were happy with his recommendations. They responded that this was a slap in the face. Minnesota Sen. Al Franken (D) questioned Secty. Zinke about this comment in a hearing. For a short video clip of their exchange, click here. Again, it is the landscape as a whole that they proposed to have protected and which Pres. Obama designated as a monument.

3.) Congress should designate selected areas within the current monument as national conservation or recreation areas;

That will never happen. Rep. Bishop’s Public Lands Initiative was widely recognized as being proposed solely to forestall a monument designation. The Utah congressional delegation has little, if any, interest in actually protecting the land. Congress is too busy with other things right now, anyway.

4.) Congress should clarify the intent of management practices of wilderness or wilderness study areas (WSAs) within a monument.

This one is a mind-boggler: There has never been any question that wilderness and WSAs are to be managed according to one standard: to preserve their wilderness character, as defined by the Wilderness Act. It makes no difference whether the area is in a national park, national monument, national forest, national wildlife refuge, national conservation area, or under BLM management. The secretary displays a total lack of understanding of the law with this “recommendation.”

Mr. Zinke announced he would wait before issuing final recommendations on Bears Ears until after the comment period for the other monuments on the list closes on July 10. Further comments on Bears Ears will now be accepted until that date.

As mentioned above, other aspects of the commenting process have also come to light, calling into question the administration’s interest in broad public participation or accountability. For example:

— Last month, we passed along the recommendation from the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, the Sierra Club, and other organizations that people submit comments directly to them to be printed out, tabulated, and delivered to the Interior Department. They did so and were told that the comments would be counted as one single comment, rather than the number actually received, and regardless of how many unique comments there might be from each organization. (SUWA estimated handing in over 4,000 printed comments alone.)

The Interior Department says that 396,000 comments have been submitted as of June 26. Conservation organizations estimate that over 1,000,000 have been submitted.

— Department officials also said that in order to count, each monument under consideration must actually be named in a comment. Therefore, saying you think that all the monument designations should be left as they are, is useless. Also, comments that name more than one monument will likely be lumped together and not necessarily counted with comments pertaining to a particular monument.

 

SO, WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

If you previously submitted a comment specific to Bears Ears on the regulations.gov website …

… there is no need to resubmit it.

It would be a good idea, however, to submit an additional comment in response to one or more of the four recommendations above, following the instructions on the page. Then, click on the button requesting that they send you a confirmation email. You will also receive a confirmation number, which you may use to check on the status of your comment. Please forward the entire email you receive to SUWA at issues-action@suwa.org, so they can keep an accurate count.

The first point to make in any comment is that the administration has no authority under the law to make any modification to a monument designated by a president. Only Congress may do that.

If you submit multiple comments from the same email address, please be sure you receive a separate confirmation number for each comment. (There were reports that the site was not accepting such multiple comments, but when I tried, things functioned properly.)
 

If you previously submitted a comment via another organization’s website (SUWA, Sierra Club, Bears Ears Coalition, Monuments for All, etc.) …

… please resubmit it via the regulations.gov website.

Again, click on the button requesting a confirmation email, and forward that entire email to SUWA at issues-action@suwa.org.
 

If you have NOT previously submitted any comment on Bears Ears …

… please submit one via the regulations.gov website. Use the four talking points above as well as those discussed in Item 1 of the May Update.

Please note: There is a 5,000-character limit for comments pasted into the text window on the webpage. You may upload attachments, so maybe send a picture (or a document with more characters?).
 

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

The other monument squarely in the crosshairs of Mr. Zinke and his Utah delegation allies is the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM). Utah politicians have considered it a thorn in their side since the day it was designated by Pres. Bill Clinton in 1996. CalUWild has a special connection to GSENM, as we founded the organization in response to the development of the monument’s general management plan in 1997, 20 years ago.

Please submit a separate comment regarding GSENM to the regulations.gov website with a follow-up copy to SUWA, using the procedure outlined above.

The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance has sent out the following message, with some suggested talking points:

The Trump administration appears serious about eviscerating Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument. The Utah delegation is pressing the president to carve out a huge chunk of the 1.7 million acre monument for potential coal mining. And Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke seems to be listening! His visit to the monument in May focused on a driving tour to a coal seam!

It is important that your comments be in your own words. The Department of Interior will count them individually that way. What is most useful is your own statement about why Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is special to you and why ALL OF IT deserves to be protected. It’s fine if you keep it simple and from the heart.

To help you gather your thoughts, here are a few points of information (you can also click here to view our story map):

•    Grand Staircase-Escalante was designated in 1996. Since then, it has come to be known as the “Science Monument”—yielding several new species of dinosaur and other paleontological finds and providing habitat for 650 bee species, many that are endemic to the area.

•    Grand Staircase-Escalante has incredible camping, hiking and other recreational opportunities. Places like Calf Creek, Peekaboo and Spooky Canyon, Coyote Gulch, and the Hole in the Rock Road are known the world over. If you have your own favorites, be sure to mention them!

•    Polling shows more than half of Utahns want Grand Staircase-Escalante left alone. That’s added to the more than 80 percent of Westerners that the Colorado College Conservation in the West poll showed want existing national monuments left intact.

•    Reviewing any monument is a political act, but especially when it involves one that is more than two decades old and flourishing. No president has ever taken this needless step, and neither should President Trump.

Secty. Zinke commented, regarding Upper Missouri Breaks in Montana, another of the monuments under review, that he’d rather not “open up a wound” there (see next section). This same logic applies just as forcefully to GSENM. Although there was widespread opposition to GSENM initially, much of that has disappeared as the local economies in Kane and Garfield counties have by all measures improved greatly. Most people there, and in Utah as a whole, now favor the monument, despite what some of their politicians are saying. There is no need to open a wound that is healed (or healing).

The Deseret News reported that the Interior Department requested Kane and Garfield counties to draw maps with revised boundaries for Secty. Zinke’s recommendation. There was no mention made of public input to that process.
 

Other Monuments

The Billings (Montana) Gazette reports: Upper Missouri Breaks will keep its national monument status, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says. Mr. Zinke commented after speaking at the Western Governors’ Association meeting: “’My likely recommendation will be to leave the Missouri Breaks as is,’ Zinke said. ‘I think it’s settled to a degree that I would rather not open up a wound that has been healed.’”

Mr. Zinke has also indicated that Canyons of the Ancients in Colorado is likely not to be subject to changes, as is Katahdin Woods and Waters in Maine, despite some political opposition there. See, for example, this article: ‘Spiteful and petty’: Maine governor bans signs to Obama-designated monument.

If you have a specific interest in any of these three monuments, by all means, submit a comment in support anyway.

In California, we are especially concerned with the Mojave Trails, Giant Sequoia, and Berryessa Snow Mountain monuments, so please consider submitting separate comments on those.

Mr. Zinke has also just announced that he will visit Gold Butte and Basin & Range national monuments in Nevada in July. Gold Butte is of special concern because it is adjacent to the Cliven Bundy ranch, site of the armed standoff in 2014, and there has been vocal opposition from people to whom Secty. Zinke might be sympathetic.

Space limitations here prevent providing detailed information regarding all the monuments on the “hit list.” However, most of them have “Friends Groups” that support them in various ways. Look for information on their websites regarding comments specific to their monument. Our friends at The Wilderness Society’s BLM Action Center provided us with a list of the monuments and links to their associated Friends Groups.

   Basin and Range, Nevada: Friends of Basin and Range National Monument
   Bears Ears, Utah: Friends of Cedar Mesa
   Berryessa Snow Mountain, California: Tuleyome
   Canyons of the Ancients, Colorado: San Juan Citizens Alliance
   Carrizo Plain, California: Los Padres ForestWatch
   Cascade Siskiyou, Oregon: Friends of Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument
   Craters of the Moon, Idaho: Idaho Conservation League
   Giant Sequoia, California: Sequoia Forest Keeper
   Gold Butte, Nevada: Friends of Gold Butte
   Grand Canyon-Parashant, Arizona: ???
   Grand Staircase-Escalante, Utah: Grand Staircase Escalante Partners
   Hanford Reach, Washington: ???
   Ironwood Forest, Arizona: Friends of Ironwood Forest
   Mojave Trails, California: Mojave Desert Land Trust
   Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks, New Mexico: Friends of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks
   Rio Grande del Norte, New Mexico: Rio Grande del Norte Coalition
   Sand to Snow, California: Mojave Desert Land Trust
   San Gabriel Mountains, California: San Gabriel Mountains Forever
   Sonoran Desert, Arizona: Friends of the Sonoran Desert National Monument
   Upper Missouri River Breaks, Montana: Friends of the Missouri Breaks Monument
   Vermilion Cliffs, Arizona: Friends of the Cliffs

You can also find more information at monumentsforall.org.
 

What else?

Encourage your family and friends to submit comments.

Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.

Post your thoughts and relevant articles on Facebook or Twitter—these are increasingly important means of communication.

Contact your senators and congressmen/women, letting them know your concerns about the monuments review. Encourage them to cosponsor America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act if they haven’t, and thank them if they have. (Cosponsorship creates a pool of people who are willing to publicly defend areas in the bill against threats that might arise, such as bad legislation, threatened oil leases by the BLM, bad land exchanges, etc.)

House cosponsors from California in addition to chief sponsor Rep. Alan Lowenthal are:

Rep. Jared Huffman (D-2)
John Garamendi (D-3)
Doris O. Matsui (D-6)
Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-9)
Mark DeSaulnier (D-11)
Barbara Lee (D-13)
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-14)
Eric Swalwell (D-15)
Ro Khanna (D-17)
Anna Eshoo (D-18)
Zoe Lofgren (D-19)
Julia Brownley (D-26)
Adam Schiff (D-28)
Grace Napolitano (D-32)
Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-40)
Nanette Barragán (D-44)

Since our last Update, John Garamendi (D-3) has signed on. If you live in his district, please contact his office to say Thank You!

Congress will be on recess for the week of the 4th of July, as well as the month of August. These are not vacations, but times to be working in-district, directly with constituents. Get office meetings set up or attend townhall meetings (with those reps brave enough to still hold them).
 

Press Coverage

There has been an incredible amount written about the monument review. Here is just a sampling.

Utah Monuments

The New York Times: Interior Secretary Recommends Shrinking Borders of Bears Ears Monument

An op-ed in the Los Angeles Times by Utah writer and photographer Stephen Trimble. Steve has joined CalUWild’s Advisory Board. Shrinking Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument would be one more broken promise to Native Americans

An article in the Pacific Standard: The Unprecedented Dismantling of a National Monument: After recommending that Bears Ears National Monument be reduced in size, one thing is clear: Ryan Zinke is nothing like Teddy Roosevelt.

An article in Astronomy about a site in the Bears Ears: Is The Moon House an American Stonehenge?

An article in Inside Science: Contested National Monuments in Utah House Treasure Troves of Fossils

An op-ed in the Deseret News: The fossils from Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument have made Utah world-renowned

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune on vandalism in the Bears Ears NM: BLM guard station burns in Bears Ears

In General

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra stated his support for the existing national monuments in California and other states. He sent Secty. Zinke this letter.

SUWA took out a full-page ad in the NY Times and Washington Post.

An op-ed in the New York Times: Keep America Wild

 

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.

Public Lands & Politicians

An article in Outside about Utah Rep. Rob Bishop: Environmentalists’ Public-Lands Enemy Number One

Just as the previous Update came out, Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R) announced he would retire at the end of June. The Washington Post published this article at the time. The Post published this piece in response to Fox News’s announcement yesterday that Mr. Chaffetz would be a contributor for the network: Jason Chaffetz won’t need a housing stipend after new Fox News gig.

The Center for Western Priorities takes a look at a potential nominee for Director of the BLM: Three reasons Karen Budd-Falen is unfit to lead the Bureau of Land Management.

In the last couple of years, The Guardian, one of Britain’s major newspapers, has ramped up its coverage in the United States. They now publish an online US edition. They recently announced they are devoting an entire section to coverage of public lands issues in this country: This Land is Your Land, prominently displayed on the homepage.

High Country News is always good reading: Why the next generation needs public lands and Archaeologists are the last line of defense against destruction

Another Loss for the Land-Grab Campaign

Other News

Our friends at WildEarth Guardians write about a BLM report on increased protections for the Chaco Canyon region. The Final Scoping Report my be downloaded here.

A Salt Lake Tribune article: FBI agent charged with lying about LaVoy Finicum’s death in Oregon public-lands standoff

Two articles on the Colorado River: Calls to Rethink the Colorado River’s Iconic Dams Grow Louder and from The Conversation: Climate change is shrinking the Colorado River

Video Links

Episodes 22 & 23 in the US Forest Service’s Restore series:

Pika and Restoration

Meadows and Restoration, Sierra Nevada

Another in Resource Renewal Institute’s Forces of Nature: Environmental Elders Speak series: Jacques Leslie: Hell or High Water. We frequently include Jacques’s writings in the Monthly Update.

 
 
 
 
 

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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2017 February

March 11th, 2017

The Bears Ears, from White Canyon, Utah                                                                                 (Mike Painter)

 
March 1, 2017

Dear CalUWild friends-

The new administration has come in with a bang, and every day seems to bring something new to be alert to. People are speaking out on a broad spectrum of topics that they feel strongly about, exhibiting a level of civic interest and involvement we haven’t seen for a while. We hope this level of energy can be sustained over the long haul.

Next month, we hope to have information about the planned reintroduction in Congress of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act.

Please get your family and friends involved at whatever level is possible. We can never have too many friends of public lands. And if they join CalUWild, so much the better. Membership information may be found on our website here.

Thank you, as always, for your interest and support!

 
Best wishes,
Mike

 
IN UTAH
1.   Bears Ears and General Update
          CALLS NEEDED
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN GENERAL
2.   Rep. Ryan Zinke Confirmed as new Secretary of the Interior

IN IDAHO
3.   Court Rules against Forest Service in Wilderness Case

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

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

IN UTAH
1.   Bears Ears and General Update
          CALLS NEEDED
          (ACTION ITEM)

The Utah legislature passed a resolution calling for the Bears Ears National Monument to be rescinded and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to be shrunk (in order that coal reserves on the Kaiparowits Plateau be made available for mining). Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch (R), leaving a meeting at the White House, said that he thought the president would comply.

Today, Ryan Zinke was confirmed as the new Secretary of the Interior (see ITEM 2). Mr. Zinke said one of the first things he would do if confirmed would be to go to Utah to talk to the various stakeholders. It is important to remember that the Interior Department also oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and that Native Tribes were the originators of the Bear Ears monument proposal.

It is, therefore, critical that people let him know from the start that they oppose these unacceptable proposals. Please call his office right away to let him know that. Be sure to mention where you’re calling from, so Mr. Zinke knows that it’s not just Utahns who support the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments. Urge him to work to protect ALL our public lands, as well.

          Phone:   202-208-7351 and if you get a recording, press 0 to leave a message.

The lack of support for public lands shown by Utah’s elected officials-congressional representatives, senators, the legislature, and the governor-has led the Outdoor Retailers to cancel their twice-yearly show in Salt Lake City when the current contract runs out in 2018. Several companies had already said they would boycott the show if it continued to be held there, which added to the pressure. The Outdoor Industry Association finally made good on the threat that had been proposed for years; Utah officials cannot say it came as a surprise to them.

 
Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R) introduced two bills in the House impacting federal public lands. The first, H.R. 621, would pave the way to disposing of more than 3 million acres of federal lands that out-of-date Bureau of Land Management studies had categorized as suitable for disposal. The outcry in opposition from many quarters, especially hunters and anglers was immediate and loud. It was so fierce that Rep. Chaffetz almost immediately said he would pull the bill.

This shows the power of citizen involvement when properly and forcefully targeted.

The second bill, H.R. 622, would strip the BLM and Forest Service of law enforcement authority on federal lands. It also is the target of opposition from conservationists, hunters and anglers, and some local law enforcement agencies. We hope it will meet the same fate, and we’ll keep you posted.

 
Rep. Chaffetz held a town hall meeting on February 9 at a high school in his district. More than 1,000 people attended and 1,500 more stood outside, as the auditorium was filled to capacity. The meeting drew national attention because attendees regularly interrupted him with shouts of “Do your job!” and “Explain yourself!” Attendees were angry that Mr. Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, has refused to investigate the President’s potential conflicts of interest with Russia, among other things, after being such a harsh critic of Hillary Clinton during the presidential campaign. Mr. Chaffetz claimed that paid, out-of-state agitators were to blame, calling it an “attempt to bully and intimidate.” Press sources were unable to find a single paid person there.

Some attendees sent his office mock invoices for “paid protest hours.”

There is a complete video of town hall meeting here.

The Atlantic published an article about the meeting: A Utah Congressman Faces the ‘Resistance’ in his Home State.

 
IN GENERAL
2.   Rep. Ryan Zinke Confirmed as new Secretary of the Interior

As mentioned above, the Senate as Secretary of the Interior confirmed Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) today. The vote was 68-31. Both of California’s senators, Dianne Feinstein (D) and Kamala Harris (D), voted to oppose the nomination. CalUWild joined 167 other conservation organizations in also opposing his nomination.

Though Mr. Zinke has publicly stated that he opposes the transfer of federal lands to the states, and he supports the Land & Water Conservation Fund, his attitudes toward management of those lands is suspect. The League of Conservation Voters gave him a score of 4 (out of 100) for the two years he has served in Congress, meaning he voted against the environment 96% of the time. These include votes to limit the authority of the President to designate national monuments, to block Bureau of Land Management regulation of hydraulic fracking, at least 21 votes against various Endangered Species Act protections, stricter regulation of the ivory trade, and more. Mr. Zinke would be in charge of all federal leasing of lands for oil, gas, and coal, but he introduced legislation to overturn Pres. Obama’s moratorium on coal leasing on federal lands. He also stopped a review of the impacts of leasing on climate change and local communities. The New York Times published a substantial article on Mr. Zinke today.

The White House announced it would seek a 10% budget cut for the Interior Department, though Congress still needs to approve any budget. Challenging times are ahead, so, as always, we’ll need to follow the Interior Secretary’s actions closely.

Again, please call him to voice your support for the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah (see ITEM 1).

 
The nominee for Agriculture Secretary, who oversees the U.S. Forest Service, is the former governor of Georgia, Sonny Perdue. Not much has been written about him. He was a farmer and veterinarian before being governor from 2003 – 2011. He is a climate change denier and made headlines when, as governor, he led a prayer service for rain during a drought.

 
IN IDAHO
3.   Court Rules against Forest Service in Wilderness Case

Our friends at Wilderness Watch won a major case against the Forest Service involving helicopters and wildlife collaring. In an unusually strong ruling, the judge ordered the Idaho Department of Fish & Game to destroy the data that was collected. Here is Wilderness Watch’s announcement:

In a major victory for Wilderness and wildlife, federal Judge B. Lynn Winmill has just ruled that the Forest Service’s approval of Idaho Fish and Game’s helicopter-assisted elk-collaring project in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness (FC-RONRW) was unlawful, that Idaho Fish and Game illegally collared four wolves, and that Idaho Fish and Game must destroy data gathered from the illegally placed elk and wolf collars. Rejecting the State of Idaho’s argument that it does not need Federal approval to conduct these activities in Wilderness, Judge Winmill was clear-“[t]he ‘overarching purpose’ of Congress in passing the Wilderness Act was to preserve the ‘wilderness character’ of that land[,]” and the State of Idaho “must obtain approval from the Forest Service before undertaking a project in the Wilderness Area.”

On January 7, 2016, Earthjustice, on behalf of Wilderness Watch, Friends of the Clearwater, and Western Watersheds Project, filed a complaint in federal court to stop the Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game from conducting a major helicopter-supported elk capturing and collaring project (of up to 120 helicopter landings) as part of Idaho’s egregious plans to eventually kill more than half of the wolves in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness in central Idaho. The FC-RONRW is the largest contiguous Wilderness in the lower 48 states.

Just days after we filed the lawsuit, Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game admitted they captured and collared wolves in the Wilderness “by mistake,” a clear violation of the law and their Forest Service permit. Then in February 2016, Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game also admitted the radio collars would “assist with control actions.”

Fortunately, Judge Winmill’s ruling will force both the State of Idaho and the Forest Service to comply with the Wilderness Act in the future.

You may read the ruling 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.

Public Lands in General

Release from the offices of Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA47, and House author of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act) and Rep. Dave Reichert (D-WA8): Congressmen Lowenthal and Reichert Resolution Affirms America’s Federal Lands Are National Treasures Belonging To All Americans

This land is our land: The bitter debate over America’s public spaces

Helena (MT) Independent Record: More than 1,000 rally against transferring or selling federal lands

Wyoming Senate president kills public lands transfer bill

Bundy Trials in Oregon & Nevada

Oregon Public Broadcasting: misdemeanors added to original charges: 4 Of 7 Refuge Occupiers Set To Appear In Second Trial Will Plead Guilty

Oregon Public Broadcasting: Ammon Bundy Contradicts Previous Testimony On Refuge Takeover

An article in The Guardian: FBI posed as journalists to get evidence on Bundys. Now it could hurt their case

An article in High Country News: Why a scientist cut down ‘the oldest living tree:’ The Prometheus Tree in Nevada was nearly 5,000 years old when it was cut down. It could have lived a lot longer.

 
We’ll continue with video links next month.

 
 
 
 
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