2019 October

November 5th, 2019

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

October 31, 2019

Dear CalUWild friends—

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

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

Toward year-end, we send out our membership appeal, and we’ll be doing that again in November and December. Dues have never been required to receive CalUWild’s Monthly Update, but we do rely on support from our readers. If you’d like to help us save on printing and postage expenses for our mailing, you can send in a contribution ahead of time, mailing it to:

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

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

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

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

Best wishes,

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

2.   Legislative Update
          (ACTION ITEM)

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

4.   Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest


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

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

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

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

          B.   National Monuments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2.   Legislative Update
          (ACTION ITEM)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Email form here

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

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

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

4.   Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest

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

The Administration

An article in The Hill: BLM move would split apart key public lands team

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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


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

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

In General

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

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

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


Support CalUWild!

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

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

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

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

Either way, mail it to:

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


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