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2016 December

January 7th, 2017


Cartoon by Pat Bagley The Salt Lake Tribune, December 29, 2016

 
New Year’s Eve 2016

Dear CalUWild friends —

2016 is ending on a celebratory note, with the designation this week of two new national monuments: the Bears Ears in Utah and Gold Butte in Nevada. (See Item 1.) The cartoon above was simply too good to pass up to accompany this month’s Update. (If you don’t get the reference, click here.) Take the opportunity to enjoy a nice success. The best way? Go for a hike or walk this New Year’s holiday weekend.

What 2017 will bring remains to be seen, but it will be upon us soon. CalUWild will continue to bring you useful information and the tools needed to be effective advocates for wilderness and other public lands. We can’t do it alone, however, and to be successful, it’s going to take the efforts of many people. Everyone who cares about the environment and our land will need to be involved in some way. So please, spread the word, and get your family and friends involved!

Our friends at Sonoma Birding still have some Bird Count for Kids and other events coming up. Check out their schedule here and read the Nature Conservancy’s profile of the program here.

Many thanks to everyone who has contributed to CalUWild’s Annual Membership Appeal. Your support is much appreciated. If you haven’t sent in a contribution, please consider still doing so. Complete information may be found on this form, which you may print and send in along with your gift.

 
Happy New Year,
Mike

 
IN UTAH & NEVADA
1.   Pres. Obama Designates 2 National Monuments
          (ACTION ITEM)
          a.   Bears Ears in Utah
          b.   Gold Butte in Nevada
IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
2.   Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest

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IN UTAH & NEVADA
1.   Pres. Obama Designates 2 National Monuments

          (ACTION ITEM)

On Wednesday President Obama designated the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah and Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada, bringing to a successful conclusion (at least for now) two campaigns we’ve supported for a long time.

Mr. Obama had these words to say:

Today, I am designating two new national monuments in the desert landscapes of southeastern Utah and southern Nevada to protect some of our country’s most important cultural treasures, including abundant rock art, archeological sites, and lands considered sacred by Native American tribes. Today’s actions will help protect this cultural legacy and will ensure that future generations are able to enjoy and appreciate these scenic and historic landscapes. Importantly, today I have also established a Bears Ears Commission to ensure that tribal expertise and traditional knowledge help inform the management of the Bears Ears National Monument and help us to best care for its remarkable national treasures.

Following years of public input and various proposals to protect both of these areas, including legislation and a proposal from tribal governments in and around Utah, these monuments will protect places that a wide range of stakeholders all agree are worthy of protection. We also have worked to ensure that tribes and local communities can continue to access and benefit from these lands for generations to come.

You can read the joint announcement from Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack here.

Articles appeared in the New York Times, Obama Designates Two New National Monuments, Protecting 1.65 Million Acres,

and in the Washington Post, With new monuments in Nevada, Utah, Obama adds to his environmental legacy.

Because of the very negative signals that went out before the election and continue regarding the environment, it is critical that people speak out as forcefully as possible now. Both designations require the same three actions, so I’m putting that information first, with some details about each monument in the following sections. You can use some of that information in your letters, emails, and/or phone calls.

First: Say “Thank You” to Pres. Obama and the Cabinet secretaries for the designations. Both monuments are primarily on Bureau of Land Management land (BLM in the Interior Dept. headed by Sally Jewell), but the Bear Ears contains some National Forest acreage, so Secty. Tom Vilsack (Agriculture Dept.) needs to be thanked there as well.

In addition, ask Pres. Obama and Secty. Sally Jewell, in their time remaining in office, to continue to protect landscapes and important sites around the country. Two of particular interest to Californians are the proposed expansions of the California Coastal NM and the Klamath-Siskiyou NM just across the border in Oregon. Both of these were the subjects of legislation introduced in this last Congress, but neither progressed.

Here is the relevant contact information:

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

Comment line:   202-456-1111
Online comments here
Messages via WH Facebook page

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

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

Bears Ears only:
Hon. Tom Vilsack
Secretary
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, DC 20250

Comment line:   No phone number found
Email address:   Tom.Vilsack [at] usda [dot] gov

Second: There is a high likelihood of backlash to these two designations, and the best defense will be a good offense, as they say. With that in mind, it is critical that everyone contact their U.S. Senators and Congressional Representatives to support these designations and insist that they oppose any attempts to overturn or modify them in the new Congress. While you’re at it, restate your support for federal public lands in general, stressing their importance to you and the nation, for whatever reasons you find compelling.

Third: Please write a letter to the editor of your local paper making two points: 1) supporting the designations; and 2) expressing dismay that Utah politicians have already said they want to undo them. Politicians follow their local press closely, and it’s an excellent way to educate fellow citizens about the issues, as well.

Now on to some of the specifics …

 
          a.   Bears Ears in Utah

The Bears Ears Monument covers 1.3 million acres of both BLM and Forest Service lands, only about 2/3 of the proposal originally put forth by Native American tribes. However, it does cover Cedar Mesa, the Bears Ears themselves, and Indian Creek, areas with numerous sacred and archaeological sites.

The boundaries roughly follow those of the national conservation areas included in Rep. Rob Bishop’s (R-UT) Public Lands Initiative (PLI). BLM posted a map comparing the final boundaries with both the PLI and the Bears Ears Coalition proposals. The large area left out in the southwest includes the uranium mine that is hoping to expand, and which we mentioned in the July 2016 Update. Click here for a map of the monument alone.

Importantly, the proclamation specifies that the tribes will have a role in the management of the new monument, with a commission made up of officers from each of the five tribes in the Bears Ears Coalition providing “guidance and recommendations,” according to the proclamation. The managing agencies, in turn, are to “carefully and fully consider integrating the traditional and historical knowledge” of the tribes into their decision-making. The proclamation specifically allows for the continued “collection of medicines, berries and other vegetation, forest products, and firewood for personal noncommercial use” by Indian tribes. (This provision was expected, as prior designations have included it, but opponents of the Bear Ears consistently spread fear among the various tribes by insisting that these uses would not be allowed.)

You may read the complete proclamation here.

As expected, reaction to the monument’s designation from Utah politicians was fierce and negative. Even before the designation, members of the state’s congressional delegation threatened to try to overturn it, calling on the president-elect to revoke any designations and threatening lawsuits. There has never been a monument designation overturned by a subsequent president, and many legal authorities think any revocation would not hold up in court. Congress, however, does have the power to pass a law undoing a monument-thus the importance of contacting your representatives, mentioned above.

BLM has a webpage for the monument.

There were a couple of noteworthy items in the Salt Lake Tribune in the month leading up to the designation:

An editorial: Bishop is wrong to call for national monuments to be undone

An op-ed by Terry Tempest Williams and Bill Hedden rebutting Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s assertions (which he continues to make): ‘Midnight monument’? No, Utah leaders had years to make a Bears Ears deal. Terry is on CalUWild’s Advisory Board, and Bill Hedden is Executive Director of the Grand Canyon Trust.

Utah’s two major papers published editorials with varying degrees of support for the designation:

Salt Lake Tribune: Utah should accept Bears Ears Monument and work to make it a success

Deseret News: In our opinion: Make the best of the Bears Ears Monument

 
          b.   Gold Butte in Nevada

Gold Butte, northeast of Las Vegas, has been the subject of a longstanding protection campaign by our friends in Nevada, including Friends of Nevada Wilderness and the Sierra Club. Legislation was introduced in 2008 to establish a national conservation in the area, but like so much important legislation in the last eight years, it went nowhere, despite Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV, Senate Democratic Leader) being a supporter of protection. He’s retiring now, so the timing of the designation is perfect. The legislation and other protection efforts had broad support from local tribes, conservationists, and stakeholders.

The monument is almost 300,000 acres in size and protects significant Native American cultural sites, rock art, and paleontological resources. There are also more recent historic structures in the area as well. It sits between Lake Mead National Recreation Area and the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument in Arizona. There had been a lot of vandalism and damage from off-road vehicles in recent years, especially after the BLM pulled its employees out of the area following the 2014 armed standoff at the nearby Cliven Bundy ranch.

You may read the Presidential Proclamation here.

Click here for the Gold Butte National Monument map.

The Gold Butte National Monument webpage is here.

 
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.

There’s just one link this month, and though it’s about more than just parks, privatization of public resources is an important issue. This New York Times piece is worth reading: Mother Nature Is Brought to You By …

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

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2015 December

January 7th, 2016

DSC_0261b3a
Stornetta Public Lands, California Coastal National Monument                                               (Mike Painter)

 
December 31, 2015

Dear CalUWild friends-

It’s the last day of the year, and there is not much news to report, nor are there any Action Items this month. A few issues from 2015 will carry over into the new year: cosponsorship of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, Utah Rep. Rob Bishop’s Public Lands Initiative and, with it being the last year of Pres. Obama’s term, a continued push for new national monument designations in Utah, California, and elsewhere. We will also continue to work for permanent reauthorization of the Land & Water Conservation Fund, although Congress did pass a three-year extension in the closing days of the session earlier in the month.

As always, in the year ahead we’ll keep you informed about the latest developments and the ways in which you can help support wilderness and public lands in the West.

 
Many thanks again to our many members who have given their financial support during our Membership Appeal. If you haven’t already sent in a contribution, please consider doing do. We can’t keep on top of things without you. Our membership information and contribution form can be found here.

 
Best wishes for a good start to 2016,
Mike

 
IN UTAH
1.   Brief Issue Update

IN GENERAL
2.   National Park Service Fee-Free Days in 2016
3.   Job Announcement: Sierra Club Mother Lode Chapter

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

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IN UTAH
1.   Brief Issue Update

There were a couple of developments on issues we’ve been following in Utah.

San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman, who organized the 2014 Off-Highway Vehicle protest ride into Recapture Canyon outside of Blanding, was sentenced to ten days in jail and three years probation, and ordered to pay a fine of $1,000, in addition to the $96,000 in restitution to the BLM for expenses.

The Salt Lake Tribune wrote an editorial comparing Mr. Lyman’s case to that of Tim DeChristopher, who protested oil & gas leases by placing bids on them, Lyman’s sentence just; DeChristopher’s was not.

Mr. Lyman is considering appealing the sentence.

We reported in our September Update that Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch’s (R) proposal to expand the Utah Test & Training Range (UTTR) was not attached as a rider to the Defense Appropriations bill. It also was not attached to the end-of-the-year spending bill. However, now he and Utah’s other senator Mike Lee (R) have introduced a stand-alone bill, the Utah Test & Training Range Encroachment Prevention and Temporary Closure Act, S. 2383. The bill would grant rights of way to countless routes claimed by Box Elder, Juab, and Tooele counties under defunct R.S. 2477. The bill would also exchange school trust land within the UTTR land for lands outside, some of which are in proposed wilderness areas.

The Salt Lake Tribune published an op-ed by Jen Ujifusa, the Legislative Director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

We’ll keep you posted as things progress.

 
IN GENERAL
2.   National Park Service Fee-Free Days in 2016

2016 is the centennial of the founding of the National Park Service. Though the parks aren’t the only federal public lands we’re able to enjoy (not by a long shot!), they are the most visible and widely known. We need to support their wise management, recognizing that preservation of their resources is on an equal management footing with public enjoyment. This is important to remember at a time when visitation in many parks is hitting record levels.

So it’s a mixed blessing that as part of the commemoration, the Park Service announced 16 entrance fee-free days for 2016:

January 18 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
April 16 through 24 – National Park Week
August 25 through 28 – National Park Service Birthday (and following weekend)
September 24 – National Public Lands Day
November 11 – Veterans Day

Our hope is that people who have not been exposed to the parks will take advantage of these opportunities to discover them.

 
3.   Job Announcement: Sierra Club Mother Lode Chapter

The Sierra Club’s Mother Lode Chapter in Sacramento is looking for a Chapter Director, beginning March 1, 2016. Full information may be found 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.

National Parks and other Public Lands

A report from National Parks Conservation Association on the funding problems at Olympic National Park, representative of the issues facing national parks across the country. Click on the DOWNLOADS link here for format options.

A look at disturbing trends in visitor behavior: “It Is Obvious We Need To Educate The Visitors”

An op-ed in the New York Times on new models of land conservation, The Yellowstone of the Future

An op-ed in the San Diego Union-Tribune, Preserving public lands a matter of patriotism, by Oscar Franquez Jr., a San Diego-based staff sergeant in the Marines.

An op-ed in Indian Country Today, 9 Tips for Preserving Important Sacred Sites, discussing vandalism of sacred sites and rock art, with important reminders.

An op-ed in the Los Angeles Times by CalUWild friend Jacques Leslie: How a stunning Klamath Basin water agreement has been doomed by lawmakers

Children & Nature

Preschool Without Walls Who would have thought that the section of the New York Times titled “Fashion & Style” would have an article like this?

Book

CalUWild friend Jason Mark, who’s recently become editor of Sierra Magazine after editing the Earth Island Journal for many years, published a book of essays recently, Satellites in the High Country. The book takes a fresh look at the relationship between humans and wild nature in an era when it seems everything has been touched by human activity. The book has been widely reviewed, and two good reviews are by CalUWild co-founder Vicky Hoover on the last page of the December Words of the Wild, which she edits. The second is on PBS station KQED’s website. (Available from your local bookseller or Amazon.com.)

Video Links

Yosemite Nature Notes: Bighorn Sheep

Wild Earth Guardians has produced a series of documentary short films on sage grouse. The third focuses on the efforts of Rahul Mukherjee, a Salt Lake City high school student, to successfully block a subdivision that otherwise would have wiped out the Henefer sage grouse lek, one of the most popular birding sites in the Salt Lake area. We’ll link to others in the series in future editions of the 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. “Like” and “Follow” CalUWild on Facebook.

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2013 December

January 8th, 2014

DSC_1881a3aDana Fork, Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park                                                                      (Mike Painter)

December 31, 2013

Dear CalUWild friends—

If your email INBOX is anything like mine, you’re probably being inundated with last minute request for end-of-the-year contributions. Well, we’ve already sent out our appeal, and we don’t send out constant reminders thereafter. So a big Thank You goes to all who have sent contributions in. If you haven’t gotten to it yet, your gift will be appreciated whenever it arrives. If for some reason you didn’t receive information via US Mail or email, click here for details on making a contribution.

We’re looking forward to 2014, which is the 50th Anniversary of the U.S. Wilderness Act. We’re hoping to use the opportunity to celebrate our accomplishments, push for more protected areas, and further educate the public about wilderness and public lands. If you’d like to get involved, please send me an email.

There is not much to report on this month, so this Update is brief, though there are a few articles that you might enjoy reading.

As always, thank you for all your interest in the wilderness of the West and your efforts to protect it.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2014!
Mike

IN GENERAL
1. Free Admission Days in 2014
          Announced for National Parks
2.   Job Announcements
          a.   Arizona Wilderness Coalition
                    Partnerships and Communications Manager
                    DEADLINE: January 15, 2014
          b.   Conservation Lands Foundation
                    Associate Director for Communications
                    DEADLINE: January 15, 2014

IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
3.   Links of Interest

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IN GENERAL
1.   Free Admission Days in 2014
          Announced for National Parks

As an expression of thanks for Americans’ support of the national parks, and as an incentive for people to visit them, the National Park Service this month announced that entrance fees would be waived on nine days in 2014:

January 20: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
February 15-17: Presidents Day weekend
April 19-20: National Park Week’s opening weekend
August 25: National Park Service’s 98th birthday
September 27: National Public Lands Day
November 11: Veterans Day

Mark your calendars.

2.   Job Announcements

Below are summaries from two of our colleague organizations that are hiring communications staffers. The complete job descriptions are too long to be posted here, but if you’re interested, send me an email, and I’ll forward them to you.

          a.   Arizona Wilderness Coalition
                    Partnerships and Communications Manager
                    DEADLINE: January 15, 2014

POSITION SUMMARY
The Partnerships and Communications Manager (PCM) serves as a key liaison between Arizona Wilderness Coalition and external partners and media. The PCM will cultivate and maintain relations with community leaders, business interests, military representatives, conservation groups and media to advance working relationships to preserve wilderness areas in Arizona. The PCM would be expected to devote considerable time meeting with diverse interests, identifying common goals, and developing strategies for collaborative action with diverse interests. Additionally, the PCM will lead communications management for AWC and conservation coalitions. This position requires a high degree of professionalism and sensitivity to engage diverse interests while representing the wilderness preservation goals of AWC. The PCM will serve as a primary presence for AWC in the Phoenix metro region.

To apply, please email a cover letter, resume and 3 references to: Barbara [at] azwild [dot] org by no later than January 15, 2014.

          b.   Conservation Lands Foundation
                    Associate Director for Communications
                    DEADLINE: January 15, 2014

Conservation Lands Foundation is hiring an Associate Director for Communications to be located in our Durango office.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION
The Conservation Lands Foundation is a national non-profit organization headquartered in Durango, Colorado with offices in San Francisco, Albuquerque, Reno, Seattle and Washington, DC. The Conservation Lands Foundation was established in 2007 to protect the premier lands and waters under the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) jurisdiction – specifically the 28 million acres of National Monuments and National Conservation Areas, Wilderness and Wilderness Study Areas, National Scenic and Historic Trails and 2,400 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers that make up our National Conservation Lands.

The Associate Director for Communications will work with staff to develop a communications platform for the Conservation Lands Foundation, inform targeted audiences about the National Conservation Lands, conduct communications trainings and engage the public through traditional and non-traditional media.

Interested applicants should send a cover letter and resume with the subject line “Associate Director for Communications” to Danielle [at] conservationlands [dot] org.

IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
3.   Links of Interest

Utah & the Southwest

A Salt Lake Tribune article about a court decision rejecting Las Vegas’s water plan that would impact Utah and eastern Nevada. (Most recently discussed in the June 2013 Update)
An article in Earth Island Journal about Desolation Canyon and the threats facing it
New York Times op-ed: Leave These Southwest Ruins Alone


California

A San Francisco Chronicle article discussing two websites that contain maps and other information about parks and public open space in California


National Parks

An op-ed in the Marin Independent Journal regarding the future of the Drakes Bay Oyster Company at Point Reyes National Seashore
Op-ed pieces on restoring Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park:
By former California Attorneys General van de Kamp and Lungren, in the Los Angeles Times
By three former Yosemite Superintendents, in the San Jose Mercury News
Park Service Draft Wildland Fire Strategic Plan, open for comment


General

Marin Indepent Journal interview with CalUWild Advisory Board member Huey Johnson
A report by the Center for Western Priorities, Landlocked, showing that some 4 million acres of federal lands are off-limits to the public because there is no legal access to them

As always, if you ever have questions, suggestions, critiques, or wish to unsubscribe, all you have to do is send an email. For information on making a contribution to CalUWild, click here.

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2012 December

January 4th, 2013

DSC_0284a1a.jpgRock Detail, Pt. Reyes National Seashore, California                                                              (Mike Painter)

New Year’s Eve, 2012

Dear CalUWild friends and supporters—

Between the holidays and Congress in a lame-duck session focusing on the so-called Fiscal Cliff, there’s not much happening right now, so this month’s Update will be short.

We’ll start with two administrative items.

1.)   CalUWild depends on the financial support of its members. Funding from all sources has dropped in the last couple of years, and we’ve adjusted as best we can. But our expenses continue, for telephone, Internet, travel to meetings and slideshows, a few news subscriptions, postage, small salary, and more. Please help CalUWild with a contribution as the year ends, if you haven’t already.

Regular dues are not tax-deductible, as they may support lobbying activities; however, a tax-deductible contribution may be made to Resource Renewal Institute, our fiscal sponsor. For full details, click here and print out the page to send in with your contribution. Thanks.

Many thanks again to everyone who has already contributed for 2012-2013.

2.)   As you know, every 10 years, congressional district boundaries are re-drawn and go into effect with the next Congress. Although we try not to send out extra alerts, it is sometime necessary to send out targeted announcements, so it’s necessary to know the districts in which our members live. We’ve already updated our database for the following cities:

   District 1: Chico, Mt. Shasta, Redding, Weed
   District 2: Arcata, Eureka, Fairfax, Mill Valley, Novato, Petaluma, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Sebastopol
   District 4: Lake Tahoe
   District 5: Santa Rosa
   District 12: San Francisco
   District 13: Berkeley, Oakland, Piedmont

To assist in our recordkeeping, all you have to do is click here to send an email. Simply write in the name of your representative for the next Congress. (We’ll know the district number.) Thanks for your help and cooperation!

As we begin a new year with a new Congress and a returning administration, we’ll continue to provide you with the information and tools to protect our wild public lands. As always, thank you for your interest and support.

Happy New Year,
Mike

IN CALIFORNIA
1.   Interior Secretary Salazar Denies
          Oyster Farm Permit Extension
          In Pt. Reyes Seashore Wilderness
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN GENERAL
2.   Free Days on Public Lands
3.   Wilderness Volunteers Schedule for 2013

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

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IN CALIFORNIA
1.   Interior Secretary Salazar Denies
          Oyster Farm Permit Extension
          In Pt. Reyes Seashore Wilderness
          (ACTION ITEM)

On November 29, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that he would not grant a 10-year extension to the Drakes Bay Oyster Company to continue its commercial oyster farming operations in Drakes Estero. The Secretary gave the company 90 days to remove its racks and equipmen.

The Secretary based his decision only on the wilderness intent of Congress and not on any of the other issues involved in the controversy, which include environmental damage caused by the farm, irregularities in Park Service scientific studies, and local sustainable agriculture, among others.

The decision is another step in the protracted and controversial process of fulfilling Congress’s intent when it passed the 1976 Pt. Reyes Wilderness Act.

Whether this is truly the final step remains to be seen, however. Within a few days, the oyster company, assisted by a land-rights organization, responded with a suit against the Secretary and the Park Service, charging that the decision was improperly made because it didn’t comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), among other things. The company reached an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department allowing it to continue operations for 90 days, and in a filing with the court said that given weather and tide conditions, it could take up to 285 work days stretching over 665 calendar days to completely remove all the racks.

It appears we have not seen the end of the saga.

You may read the memo outlining Secty. Salazar’s decision here.

You may send the Secretary a message of thanks by clicking here.

Coverage in the press was widespread:

SF Chronicle

          U.S. evicting Point Reyes oyster farmer

          Drakes Bay Oyster Co. sues feds in fight over farm

New York Times Green Blog

High Country News

          Wilderness trumps sustainable agriculture in Point Reyes

          And a column on Pt. Reyes at 50 by CalUWild friend Susan Ives.

IN GENERAL
2.   Free Days on Public Lands

As part of the administration’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, the Park Service, BLM, Forest Service, Fish & Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Reclamation have announced the days in 2013 when entrance fees for public lands will be waived:

All agencies will waive fees:
      September 28 for National Public Lands Day;
      November 9-11 for Veterans Day weekend.

The National Park Service will also waive entrance fees:
      January 21 for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day;
      from April 22 to 26 during National Park Week;
      August 25 to celebrate the agency’s 97th birthday.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service will also waive entrance fees:
      January 21 for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day;
      from October 13 to 19 for National Wildlife Refuge Week.

The Bureau of Land Management will also waive standard amenity fees:
      January 21 for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

The U.S. Forest Service will also waive standard amenity fees:
      January 21 for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day;
      June 8 for Get Outdoors Day.

Mark your calendars!

In other news from the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, you may read its most recent progress report here. The administration plans to continue the Initiative in the second term and focus on urban recreational issues.

3.   Wilderness Volunteers Schedule for 2013

Wilderness Volunteers schedule for 2013 is now on its website. So if you’re interested in a way to explore an area while “giving something back,” we encourage you to take a trip with them!

Check out their full list of service trips here.

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

As always, if you’re unable to access an article, send me an email, and I’ll send you a copy.

          New York Times

                Wild Horses Are Running Out of Room, On and Off Range

                ‘Famous’ Wolf Is Killed Outside Yellowstone

                The Child’s Menagerie, looking at the extinction crisis and its effects on the imagination of childhood

          Los Angeles Times

                Report finds it pays-literally-to live near wilderness

                          Direct link to Headwaters Economics report mentioned in the story

                California’s marine reserve network now complete

          National Parks Traveler

                Science, Open Space, and the Future of our National Parks, an interesting essay discussing some of
                the currently ignored or forgotten aspects of the philosophy behind national parks

          NPR blog post

                Ah, Wilderness! Nature Hike Could Unlock Your Imagination, (but we already knew that!)

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2011 December

January 19th, 2012


Abajo Mountains, Utah                                                                                                            Mike Painter


New Year’s Eve, 2011

Dear CalUWild friends —

Another year is past, and it’s a natural time to reflect on the past and to look forward as well. Since there are not many news or action items this month, I thought I would offer a few thoughts about wilderness, our work, and our organizational needs.

The writer Edward Abbey said: “The idea of wilderness needs no defense. It only needs more defenders.” That may have been true when he said it first, but the truth is that the idea of wilderness needs some defense these days. There are those who have always seen the public domain as a resource to be exploited for economic gain. I suppose we will always have people whose vision is so limited. On the other hand there are people who are generally concerned about environmental issues in general, but see wilderness as merely a human construct or an elitist concept and, therefore, not something to be strongly protected.

It doesn’t matter that wilderness is a human designation; what is important is whether it serves a purpose. I don’t think there is any denying that it does. Two items came across my desk this month that I think are worth sharing. The first concerns wildlife; the second, the realm of the human spirit.

For the first time since 1924, there is a wild gray wolf in California. Earlier this week he crossed into Sikiyou County from Oregon, where he has been wandering since leaving his pack in Oregon (which in turn had migrated there from Idaho). Without wild places across the West, it is much less likely that he would have made it to California. It remains to be seen whether he stays or not, and of course he needs a mate if a population is to establish itself in the state. But the importance of wilderness as a place where natural processes can be re-established or continue without human interference cannot be overstated.

Here is an article from the San Francisco Chronicle about the wolf’s return as well as the announcement from the Department of Fish & Game.

On the human front, I’ve occasionally written about Tim DeChristopher, the young man who disrupted the BLM’s oil & gas lease sale in December of 2008 to protest the destruction of wilderness and the contribution of those energy sources to climate change. He’s now in a prison in California, serving a two-year term. The writer Terry Tempest Williams, who is also a member of CalUWild’s Advisory Board, talked with him recently, and their conversation was published in Orion Magazine. In this excerpt, DeChristopher talks about wilderness:

I spent eight days alone there. And it was a really powerful experience that led to my formation as an individual. I mean, it was the first time that I ever experienced myself without any other influences. Without any cultural influences, any influences from other people. And it was terrifying to experience that—I mean I really thought I was actually going crazy at that point. But it allowed me to develop that individual identity of who I was without anyone else around.

You know, when you spend all your time in a little room, you feel very big and very important, and everything that happens to you is a big deal. And when you’re out in the desert, you see that you’re really small. And that’s a very liberating sense—of being very small. Every little thing that happens to you isn’t that big a deal. Going to prison for a few years—it’s not that big a deal. …

[Wilderness is] a place where people can think freely. Tyranny can never be complete as long as there’s wilderness.

You can read the complete conversation here.

As we move forward into 2012, it’s worth reflecting a bit on how we got here. CalUWild was founded in 1997 in response to the designation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. It was a volunteer organization at first, but it soon became clear that there was much more that needed to be done at the grassroots level in California to protect wilderness in the West than could be done on a part-time, volunteer basis. So we formalized the organization a bit and expanded our scope, becoming a clearinghouse for information for interested and concerned citizens on issues all around the West, not just in Utah.

Membership has been open to anyone, from any state, interested in wilderness and public lands. From the beginning, the only membership requirement has been to write one letter a month to someone about something. Individual letters carry the most weight, especially with elected officials, so our philosophy has always been that we want people to have accurate and relevant information that they can use. Our Monthly Update goes out to close to 800 people on our own list, including Congressional and various agency staff people. In addition, it gets forwarded to a couple of other lists, bring the total number of recipients to over 1,200. We’ve come a long way.

From the beginning we’ve run a personalized organization, where every member counts, where every email is responded to (though not always immediately), where everyone is encouraged to ask questions and to offer critiques and suggestions. And we incorporate that feedback as appropriate.

Unlike other organizations, dues have never been mandatory. Because we do most of our communications via email, it costs virtually nothing to add names to the distribution list. We have always felt it was more important to have people involved, whether they contributed financially or not. So we’ve operated with the hope that finances would take care of themselves. Lately that has not been the case, especially since foundation support has dropped substantially.

Unfortunately, expenses have not dropped. We still need to pay the monthly phone bill, web-hosting and email expenses, toner cartridges and paper, postage, occasional travel, health insurance, and a modest salary for me. We are careful stewards of the funding we receive, not wasting it on direct mail appeals or unnecessary expenses. We have volunteers who help with research and website development. We run a pretty tight ship.

Though we are looking at other sources funding support, if we are to continue at this same level, we will need much more support from our members in the future. Many people have been faithful contributors, and we appreciate their ongoing support. If you haven’t contributed yet, please do consider a gift. Any size is welcome. We promise not to waste it. A form is appended to the end of this Update to send in with your donation.

One specific item that needs to be funded is access to the New York Times. In 2011, the Times instituted a subscription fee for online reading. We were given a complimentary subscription by one of the Times’s advertisers, but that expired today. An online subscription costs $15 every 4 weeks, but is free to print subscribers. If anyone would be willing to help figure out a way that we could continue access, please send me an email.

CalUWild has a strong and dedicated membership. You continue to make a difference with your advocacy for the wild places of the West. We look forward to working with you in 2012.

Happy New Year!
Mike

IN UTAH
1.   BLM Issues EIS for Coal Mine Expansion
          Near Bryce Canyon National Park
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINE: January 6, 2012
           (ACTION ITEM)
2.   Utah to Sue Federal Government Over More Roads

IN CALIFORNIA
3.   State Park Closure Update

IN GENERAL
4.   BLM Removes Grazing from Western Ecosystem Studies
5.   Wilderness Volunteers Service Trips for 2012

IN THE PRESS
6.   Links to Articles of Interest

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

IN UTAH
1.   BLM Issues EIS for Coal Mine Expansion
          Near Bryce Canyon National Park
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINE: January 6, 2012
           (ACTION ITEM)

The Kanab Field Office of the BLM is considering a proposal to enlarge the Alton coal strip mine on the outskirts of Bryce Canyon National Park in southwestern Utah. The original mine is on private land, but the company is now asking to lease public land so it can expand its operations.

BLM released a Draft EIS for the project, and the comment deadline is the close of business on Friday, January 6. Sorry for the short notice.

The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and the Sierra Club are leading the fight against this expansion. Please write the BLM and ask them to approve the No Action Alternative (Alt. A).

Here are some talking points for comments. Please use your own words. And if you have visited the area, please be sure to include comments about your experiences. Also: Please include “Alton Coal Lease Environmental Impact Statement” in your correspondence.

— Bryce Canyon has unique and special characteristics: very dark night skies and very clean air. Both are threatened by the proposal. The mining operations would produce light pollution, interfering with the unique opportunities the park affords for stargazing. The mine would also produce dust, further diminishing visibility and polluting the air.

— 50 trucks daily would transport coal on U.S. Highway 89, which is a designated scenic by-way. This is the road that most visitors to Bryce Canyon travel to get there, and it leads to Zion National Park as well. This amount of truck traffic will ruin this experience for visitors to the parks.

— Tourism is the driving force now behind the local economy. Industrial operations of scale no longer have a place.

— BLM should not be promoting coal any more as a power source because of its contribution to greenhouse gases. And mercury emissions from coal-fired plants are a serious problem.

You may read or download a copy of the  DEIS here.

Written comments may be submitted by e-mail to UT_Kanab_Altoncoal@blm.gov

or by U.S. Mail to:

          Attention: Keith Rigtrup
          Bureau of Land Management
          Kanab Field Office
          319 North 100 East
          Kanab, UT  84741

About half of the power produced by the generating plant receiving the Alton coal is sent to Los Angeles. Residents of LA should also contact their City Council members and the LA Department of Water & Power opposing the use of coal-generated power in the city.

2.   Utah to Sue Federal Government Over More Roads

Last month we reported on efforts by Kane and Garfield Counties to claim more roads. This month, Governor Gary Herbert of Utah announced that the state would sue the United States to gain title to nearly 19,000 roads all across federal lands in the state. The state is claiming them under the defunct R.S. 2477, a Civil War-era statue granting the right of way for the construction of highways across public land. The law was repealed in 1976, but existing rights-of-way were grandfathered in.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported that of 18,784 routes named, 16,594 are considered Class D roads, meaning that they are dirt tracks that exist because of repeated use, rather than being purposely constructed. So it remains to be seen whether a court would recognize them as being “highways.”

We have reported previously on the attempt by San Juan County to open up Salt Creek in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. The effort has been unsuccessful so far because the county has been unable to prove that the route there was constructed and maintained for long enough to qualify as a road under Utah law.

The state would have to show the same for each of the routes it is claiming, likely costing millions of dollars.

We’ll keep you posted as the cases develop.

IN CALIFORNIA
3.   State Park Closure Update

Here are a couple of quick items relating to the State Park crisis in California:

1.   Mono Lake State Tufa Reserve was removed from the closure list when the Bodie Foundation stepped in to help with funding and operations of some of the sites in the Reserve. Congratulations to all who helped create the solution!

2.   Tom Stienstra, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Outdoors columnist, reported that even if facilities at state parks are closed, most of the parks will still be accessible to hikers and bikers. They just might have to climb over a locked gate.

That is a big step in assuring that the public won’t be completely shut out from public lands in the state. Visitors will have to be aware beforehand, though, that they won’t find visitor centers, restrooms, and other facilities that they might otherwise expect to be open. They will need to be more responsible about carrying out their own trash and otherwise being good stewards of their public parks.

You can read the full column here.

IN GENERAL
4.   BLM Removes Grazing from Western Ecosystem Studies

The Bureau of Land Management is undertaking studies of the forces that are causing changes in Western ecosystems. Strangely (or not, given the Bureau’s history), it decided to eliminate grazing as one of the factors influencing change. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) has filed a scientific integrity complaint with the BLM over the issue, claiming that political pressure was behind the decision.

It is widely accepted that grazing on public lands in the West has had large impacts on the environment, affecting soils, vegetation, water quality, and wildlife populations. One wonders how grazing could be purposely left out of any such large-scale study of the West. This action by BLM is extremely disappointing—doubly so because this administration promised to base decisions on science rather than ideology and politics.

For more details, read the New York Times report on the controversy in its Green Blog, The Impact of Grazing? Don’t Ask. You can also read the press release from PEER here. That page also contains links to PEER’s complaint, as well as other documents and information.

5.   Wilderness Volunteers Service Trips for 2012

Every year we include at least one item for service trips run by our friends at Wilderness Volunteers, a 15 year-old national wilderness stewardship organization providing opportunities to spend a week in a favorite place “Giving Something Back.” In cooperation with public land managers, Wilderness Volunteers actively promotes one-week service projects that would otherwise go undone (trail maintenance, invasive plant control, rehabilitation & restoration) requiring groups of volunteers. In 2012, Wilderness Volunteers is hosting 51 low-cost service projects in 19 states across the country. Check out their project list and take advantage of this fun and worthy wilderness experience!

IN THE PRESS
6.   Links to Articles of Interest

National Parks Traveler

          National Park Visits Help Grow Utah’s Tourism Industry By Nearly 5 Percent In 2010

          Economists, Academics Urge President Obama To Protect Public Lands, Create New National Parks

San Francisco Chronicle

          Hiking in grizzly country – or not, by John Flinn, former Travel Editor

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

MEMBERSHIP FORM

We share as much information as possible with our members via e-mail, but it may sometimes be necessary to contact you by mail or phone. This information will NOT be given out to ANYone for ANY reason.

Mr./Ms.:
Name:
Address:
City:
State:
Zip:
Phone:
Fax:
E-mail:
Congressional Representative:

DUES

Dues are used to help offset some of CalUWild’s lobbying and other expenses. Dues are not tax deductible, and checks should be made out to CalUWild.

A tax-deductible contribution may be made payable to Resource Renewal Institute and write CalUWild on the memo line.

          __  $15  Limited
          __  $25  Regular
          __  $50  Supporting
          __  $100  Outstanding
          __  Other  ________

Either way, please mail your check with membership information to:

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

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2009 December

April 23rd, 2010

December 31, 2009

Dear CalUWild Friends —

A few things have come across my screen since the last Update, but there’s nothing that can’t wait, since it’s the holidays and a long weekend, too. So we’ll send out the January Update with a list of action items next week, when people will have more time to focus on them.

Instead, I’ll just take the opportunity to thank all of you for your interest in the West’s wild places and public lands. It is the participation of citizens who know and love these lands that makes all the difference in efforts to protect them. CalUWild couldn’t be the organization it is without you to back it up. Your involvement is critical.

Of course, financial support is important as well, so special thanks go to everyone who has contributed so generously over the years. We’ve never had mandatory dues and won’t be changing that, but if you haven’t responded yet to our annual appeal, please consider making a year-end gift. No matter what the size, it will be appreciated and put to good use in advancing our joint efforts.

Regular dues, payable to CalUWild, may support our lobbying efforts and are therefore not tax-deductible. If you wish to make a tax-deductible contribution, your check must be made payable to Resource Renewal Institute.

Either way, mail it to:

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

Thank you!

Best wishes for a Happy New Year and for 2010 as well,
Mike

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2008 December

December 31st, 2008

New Year’s Eve, 2008

Dear Friends of CalUWild —

The old year ends and a new one begins with the hope that we might soon be able to make progress on some of the conservation and other issues that we all care about.

But these things can only happen when individual citizens stand up and make their voices heard in various ways: letters and phone calls to editors, congressional representatives, and agency officials. Stronger means of protest are also occasionally called for. It’s all part of the tangled mess that democracy sometimes is.

Thanks for playing an important part in it all!

And best wishes to you, your families, and friends in 2009,
Mike

IN UTAH
1. Latest on the December 19 Lease Sale
2. GSENM Grazing Plan Needs Comments
(ACTION ITEM)
DEADLINE: Jan 8
3. Utah Supreme Court Orders Release of RS 2477 Road Claim Data

IN CALIFORNIA
4. Pt. Reyes National Seashore:
Commercial Oysters vs. Wilderness
(ACTION ITEM)

IN GENERAL
5. Sen. Ken Salazar Nominated as Interior Secretary
6. Economic Stimulus Package and “Green” Jobs
(ACTION ITEM)

BOOKS & MUSIC OF INTEREST
7. The American West at Risk — Howard Wilshire, et al.
Finding Beauty in a Broken World — Terry Tempest Williams
A Flowering Tree & Hallelujah Junction: Composing an
American Life — John Adams

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

IN UTAH
1. Latest on the December 19 Lease Sale

Last month we reported that the BLM was going to hold an energy lease sale in Utah on more than 360,000 acres, much of it still wild and natural. BLM pulled some parcels from the sale in response to concerns expressed by the Park Service. At the last minute, the parcels on the floor of Nine Mile Canyon were also pulled, although parcels on the rim and Tavaputs Plateau were included. The sale totaled 148,598, less than half of what was originally planned.

The most interesting aspect of the lease sale was that a 27 year-old student from the University of Utah, Tim DeChristopher placed winning bids on 10 parcels, totaling $1.8 million, without any intention to pay (or ability to do so). Thus many of the bids have been called into question. It’s not clear at this point what charges he may face, but two attorneys, one of whom is Pat Shea, former head of the BLM under Pres. Clinton, have said they’d be willing to defend him. The Center for Water Advocacy has set up a legal defense fund for Mr. DeChristopher. The Salt Lake Tribune ran an editorial on the topic worth reading.

Immediately following the lease sale, 58 members of the House of Representatives sent the Obama Transition Team a letter asking that the new administration reverse the six BLM Resource Management Plans that were rushed through, making this end-of-term lease sale possible. At the same time, the signers requested that the lease sale be cancelled and the high bids returned.

You can read the Transition Team letter here.

We’ll keep you posted on further developments as they occur.

2. GSENM Grazing Plan Needs Comments
(ACTION ITEM)
DEADLINE: Jan 8

CalUWild got its start in 1997 working on the general management plan for the then-newly-created Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Issues surrounding the Monument’s management have remained important to us.

The following alert comes from our friends at the Wild Utah Project.

BLM in Utah has released for public comment a draft environmental impact statement for the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument grazing program. The preferred alternative will mostly continue grazing at past levels. This is online at http://www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/fo/grand_staircase-escalante/planning/draft_eis_plan_amendment.html

In BLM’s proposal (preferred alternative), future management would emphasize agricultural use of the monument over ecological protection. BLM would renew grazing permits on 83 allotments. In addition the plan would amend the land use plan to allow vehicle use on nearly 1,000 miles more of routes within the monument! (What has vehicle use to do with grazing you may well ask: — well, nothing, but BLM is trying to slip this and a number of other unrelated things into this DEIS.)

A number of conservation organizations have assembled a solution, consistent with BLM’s management requirements, that addresses the problems caused by past grazing use.

Called the Conservation Alternative, this alternative recommends a major change in grazing management in order to address habitat damage. Primarily because of past livestock grazing, today the water in most Monument streams is unsafe to drink. The conservation alternative recommends restoration as the focus in order to bring resilience into the habitat of streams and uplands, a critical need as we face climate change.

The conservation alternative proposes grazing management that aims to restore and maintain the health of the Monument’s ecosystems. In keeping with the purpose of the Monument to protect natural values, this alternative focuses first on the health of streams, protection of cultural sites, wildlife needs and plant community health.

The conservation alternative is in stark contrast to BLM’s proposal. The Conservation alternative proposes for most allotments to reduce grazing utilization from 50% of available forage to much less and to change grazing from most of the year to only two weeks or less for riparian areas. Details about what this means for each of the 83 allotments in this premier National Monument can be found at the Wild Utah Project website.

Please submit a short comment to BLM supporting the conservation alternative. Give a reason why you support it — the need for clean water, habitat restoration, resilience in face of climate change, wildlife needs, etc.

Comments are due by the 8th of January 2009; e-mail your comments to Ut_GSENM_NEPA@blm.gov or mail to:

BLM
190 E. Center Street
Kanab, UT 84741

3. Utah Supreme Court Orders Release of RS 2477 Road Claim Data

Last week the Utah State Supreme Court ruled that the Attorney General, Governor, and other state agencies were required to release records regarding the state’s claims to rights-of-way over public lands. The ruling came in a case filed by the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, which had argued that the records were public. A lower court had agreed with the state’s contention that the records were compiled for litigation purposes and, therefore, were not public.

The Supreme Court ruled that the records were not exempt from Utah’s public records disclosure laws. The ruling was unanimous and a victory for open government.

IN CALIFORNIA
4. Pt. Reyes National Seashore:
Commercial Oysters vs. Wilderness
(ACTION ITEM)

The federally designated wilderness area closest to the Bay Area is the Philip Burton Wilderness in Pt. Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, designated in 1976. The wilderness provides important habitat for the restoration of Tule Elk populations, as well as for sea- and shorebirds and marine mammals in Drake’s Estero. When the Burton Wilderness Act was passed, a portion of the estero was designated as “potential wilderness,” because of the presence there of the Johnson Oyster Company.

The oyster company operates under a 40-year lease with the National Park Service. The law specifies that the oyster company lands shall become part of the designated wilderness when the lease expires in 2012. The present owner bought the company in 2004 knowing of the impending expiration date, and now he wishes to extend it.

Presumably his purchase price four years ago reflected the limited term of the lease. There are reportedly leases available at nearby Tomales Bay to which the operations could be relocated.

The owner has appealed to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) for assistance, and there is now grave concern that she will insert a rider to extend the lease in an upcoming appropriations bill or continuing funding resolution.

It’s a process that CalUWild strenuously objects to, even when we might favor the underlying legislation. The problem with using riders is that they completely bypass the open discussion in committee that normal legislation goes through, with its opportunity for public input and amendments by other members of Congress.

CalUWild has no objection to the present operations of the oyster farm. We simply believe that the terms of the law creating the Burton Wilderness should be complied with.

We need to let Sen. Feinstein know that a rider is completely inappropriate in this instance. The issue should be subject to a full public debate at minimum. But just as importantly, the requirements of the original Philip Burton Wilderness Act of 1976 should be implemented.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) has not taken a position on the matter, but as California’s other senator and chairman of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, it is important that she know your views.

Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (D-6), in whose district Pt. Reyes lies, has not yet taken a position on the extension of the oyster farm lease. But she has said that the issue is too important to be handled through a rider. She should be thanked for taking at least this position, while being encouraged further to support the full inclusion of the oyster farm lands when the lease expires.

Please let these three representatives know that this is not the time to sacrifice wilderness values for commercial interests. Full contact information for California’s delegation is available on our website.

IN GENERAL
5. Sen. Ken Salazar Nominated as Interior Secretary

President-Elect Barack Obama nominated Colorado Senator Ken Salazar (D) to be Secretary of the Interior in his administration. Many of the Western conservation organizations, including CalUWild, had endorsed Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) for the post, and it remains to be seen what policies Sen. Salzar will pursue.

Overall, Sen. Salazar has been a voice for more sensible leasing of public lands for energy development, in contrast to the Bush administration’s wanton sale of every available acre. He is opposed to opening the Arctic Wildlife Refuge to energy development (he’s a cosponsor of the Artic Wilderness bill), as well as opposed to oil shale development in Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado. He also has worked to protect Colorado’s Roan Plateau from natural gas exploration. And he has supported efforts to protect national monuments, rivers, and wilderness areas.

On the other hand, he supported Gale Norton’s nomination as Pres. Bush’s first Secretary of the Interior and reportedly opposed endangered species listing of the black-tailed prairie dog while he was Colorado’s attorney general, because it might have interfered with agricultural interests in that state.

So the nomination appears to be a mixed bag. Public lands are not really Mr. Obama’s strong suit, either, although he is quite sympathetic to conservation concerns. This means that we will have to be on our toes and ready to speak up when necessary. Fortunately, it looks like there will be someone in Washington who is at least willing to give our concerns a fair hearing, in contrast to the last eight years.

6. Economic Stimulus Package and “Green” Jobs
(ACTION ITEM)

We hear a lot these days about the sad state of the American economy and the need for reinvestment in our communities. Our environment needs a lot of work as well. CalUWild has joined an effort spearheaded by Wildlands CPR to create a watershed restoration program as part of the larger economic recovery program.

California’s Sen. Dianne Feinstein is chairman of the Senate Interior Appropriations Committee, so it is important for her to hear from Californians and others in support of proposals to improve both the economy and the environment.

Sen. Feinstein’s office can be reached at:
DC: 202-224-3841
SF: 415-393-0707
LA: 310-914-7300

or via her website.

Other California offices are listed on CalUWild’s website.

Background information & talking points:

The proposal requests $500 million for the Forest Service Legacy Roads and Trails Remediation Program, a program under the Forest Service’s Capital Maintenance and Improvement budgetary line item. The funding would be spread over two years, and would specifically be used to fund a “Forest Watershed Restoration Corps” of rural, high-wage, high-skill workers to restore fish passage and perform critical maintenance on needed roads while also reclaiming unneeded, ecologically damaging forest roads. This proposal is timely and should be seriously considered for the economic stimulus package for the following reasons:

— This proposal would provide 3500 jobs per year, including 500-600 agency jobs to restore capacity in the Forest Service for effectively managing this program and ~3000 jobs for heavy equipment operators. Such job creation will also have a related multiplier effect in those communities where the work occurs.

— Watershed restoration through road reclamation and remediation requires skilled workers, the same heavy equipment as road construction. Therefore the program would provide high-wage, high-skill work to local workers in resource-dependent communities. It is too expensive to transport excavators or bulldozers long distances, ensuring these skilled jobs will go to local people. There are also opportunities to use less-skilled youth corps or other conservation corps workers to conduct revegetation, but that is only possible after the complex earth-moving work has been completed by local, skilled workers.

— The Forest Service has a maintenance backlog of approximately $10 billion, and there is work that can be done immediately to begin reducing this backlog. But this is also an opportunity to invest in a program that could provide resource-dependent communities with jobs for several decades. Watershed restoration will protect and restore ecosystem resilience and ensure adaptability to the unknown consequences of climate change, providing additional protection for clean air, clean water and wildlife resources that Americans depend on.

— It fits in well with desires to invest in America’s infrastructure, especially transportation infrastructure. However, we must be sure to invest wisely in that infrastructure and that includes also identifying unneeded infrastructure and removing it. By reducing the national forest road system, for example, to a “minimum road system,” we can restore clean water and wildlife habitat, provide local jobs, create a fiscally responsible and manageable forest road system, and save millions, if not billions, in long-term maintenance costs over time.

— It provides an excellent rural companion to the current urban-focused green jobs proposals focused on increasing energy-efficiency and alternative energy.

I appreciate this opportunity to submit these ideas to you. A healthy, well-funding Legacy Roads and Trails Remediation Initiative, designed to provide jobs for local skilled laborers, should be a critical component of any large-scale natural lands economic stimulus package. Such an investment will pay off ecologically, economically and politically.

BOOKS & MUSIC OF INTEREST
7. The American West at Risk — Howard Wilshire, et al.
Finding Beauty in a Broken World — Terry Tempest Williams
Hallelujah Junction: Composing an American Life;
A Flowering Tree — John Adams

CalUWild is fortunate to have a diverse Advisory Board and Steering Committee, with congressional representatives, conservationists, writers, and a composer, all of whom support the preservation of the wild areas of the West. Several of them have come out with books (and a recording) recently. If you’re looking for good reading or listening for someone special or for yourself, here’s the latest from three of them. All should be available from your local retailer (or you can order through Amazon.com, as well as find more specific reviews there).

The American West at Risk — Howard Wilshire, et al.

Geologist Dr. Howard Wilshire is one of the acknowledged experts on the effects of off-road vehicles in the West, among other things. He is also the chairman of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. The American West at Risk was chosen as one of Amazon’s Editors Best Books of 2008 for the Outdoors and Nature category.

Finding Beauty in a Broken World — Terry Tempest Williams

Utah writer Terry Tempest Williams needs no introduction to friends of the wildlands of that state. She has the wonderful ability to draw connections between seemingly disparate subjects –, personal, environmental, societal — and weave them into a complex tapestry. In her latest book, she looks at prairie dogs, mosaics, and genocide and healing in Rwanda.

Hallelujah Junction: Composing an American Life;
A Flowering Tree — John Adams

Composer John Adams is a longtime friend of redrock country. He’s also one of the most well-known and the most-often performed contemporary American composer. He recently wrote an autobiography that has received good reviews. A recording of his most recent opera A Flowering Tree, based on a Southern Indian folk tale, was also recently released on Nonesuch. (The story can be read and very short clip heard here.) Other works by Mr. Adams include Harmonium, Nixon in China, and The Death of Klinghoffer. Mr. Adams won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize in Music.

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2006 December

December 18th, 2006

December 18, 2006

Dear CalUWild supporters—

There is a lot to report on this month. The 109th Congress has finished its work, with generally favorable results. (See Item 6 for a quick wrap-up.) I was out of the country for most of November, so there was no Update last month. Of course, by now everyone knows the outcome of the election, and there’s no need to repeat it all now. But the news that Rep. Richard Pombo (R-11) lost his re-election bid, and consequently his chairmanship of the House Resources Committee, came as especially welcome news to many. San Francisco’s Nancy Pelosi will be sworn in as Speaker on January 4. She’s never been a cosponsor of much of the legislation we’ve championed, but she has been supportive of our concerns. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV), another supporter, will assume the chairmanship of the “Natural Resources” Committee, its name reverting to the time before the Republican majority.

Rep. Pelosi’s speakership and the changeover in committee assignments, at the very least, will increase the likelihood that the voices of the conservation community are heard on Capitol Hill.

A word about dues: Membership in CalUWild is free; our only membership requirement is that each member write one letter a month on some wilderness or public lands issue. However, we do rely on our members for financial support. Even though we run CalUWild on a very tight budget where every penny counts, funding from outside sources has never been abundant or sufficient.

We’re making some changes in the way dues are being handled. Rather than try to keep track of what month members joined, from now on we’re going to send out reminders in November each year for the following year. In an effort to save funds, we’re only sending out written reminders and cards to people who have contributed in the past. CalUWild does not send out any direct mail solicitations, nor do we sell our members’ names addresses to other organizations for any reason.

General dues paid to CalUWild may be used to support lobbying activities and are therefore not tax-deductible. If you wish to make a tax-deductible contribution, it needs to be made payable to Resource Renewal Institute. Please see Item 7 for a more detailed discussion.

Many thanks to those who have already so generously responded to our appeal. If you haven’t sent in a contribution, please consider doing so soon. We appreciate all the support we receive.

All the best to you and your families for the holiday season and in 2007!

Mike

IN UTAH
1. Washington County Bill Goes Nowhere
2. Wilderness Week in Washington, DC
March 17-21, 2007
Volunteers Needed
(ACTION ITEM)
3. Announcing Utah Backcountry Volunteers:
Service Projects on Your Public Lands

IN CALIFORNIA
4. Truckee City Council Votes Down
Contract with Utah Coal-Fired Plant
Thank You Letters/Faxes Needed
(ACTION ITEM)
5. Medicine Lake Victory

IN GENERAL
6. Congressional Roundup
a. California
b. Nevada
c. New Mexico
d. Montana
e. Idaho

ADMINISTRATIVE
7. CalUWild Annual Membership Appeal

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IN UTAH
1. Washington County Bill Goes Nowhere

Much of CalUWild’s legislative energy in 2007 went into opposing the Washington County Growth and Conservation Act, a bill that would have encouraged growth and the sale of public lands in the southwest corner of Utah. The bill was introduced by Sen. Bob Bennett (R) and Rep. Jim Matheson, both of Utah. The conservation community unanimously opposed the proposal in both the Senate and House.

In November, a subcommittee of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee held a hearing on the bill, but they did not vote to send it to the full committee. Sen. Bennett did not attach it to any other pending legislation, as had been feared. Thus the bill died.

Sen. Bennett has said he will re-introduce the bill in the 110th Congress. If he does, we will again oppose it unless he makes major modifications to it. Whether he will remains to be seen.

2. Wilderness Week in Washington, DC
March 17-21, 2007
Volunteers Needed
(ACTION ITEM)

Every year the Utah Wilderness Coalition brings citizens to Washington, DC to meet with senators and congressional representatives (or their staffs) to educate them about the deep love that people have for the wildlands of Utah and the need to protect it permanently through legislation, specifically America’s Redrock Wilderness Act. It’s also a wonderful opportunity for volunteers to see government up close.

No special knowledge or experience is necessary, except for a willingness to share your enthusiasm. A full training session will be held on Sunday, March 18 to bring participants up to date on issues and meeting strategies. UWC will cover airfare, but participants are expected to cover their own lodging. (Information on lower cost accommodations will be provided—or stay with a friend.)

Since our congressional delegation is the largest, Californians always make up a large group at Wilderness Week. And since it’s a brand new Congress, we’ll be visiting every office. So if you’re interested in being a part of this fun event, or for more information, please send e-mail to info@caluwild.org or give me a call at 415-752-3911.

We look forward to hearing from you!

3. Announcing Utah Backcountry Volunteers:
Service Projects on Your Public Lands

CalUWild put most of its effort into helping people effectively exercise their responsibilities as citizens in the political and administrative arenas. But there are other efforts just as worthy of your support. When we become aware of them, we also inform our members of opportunities to work on the ground to protect and restore our public lands.

This Summer a couple of longtime Utah wilderness enthusiasts founded a new organization to work with federal land management agencies setting up volunteer service trips in the state. Last week Utah Backcountry Volunteers sent out the schedule for 2007. Below is their announcement.

CalUWild is happy to work with and support UBV in any way it can, and we encourage you to sign up for a trip!

Utah Backcountry Volunteers – Our Program

Utah Backcountry Volunteers is Utah’s newest nonprofit service organization. Our mission is to partner with public land management agencies in Utah by leading volunteers on work service trips. We partner with agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management, National Forest Service, and National Park Service to identify on-the-ground projects and needs, then actively recruit, organize, and lead volunteers on service trips that restore, repair and maintain our public lands.

We are very excited to announce the 2007 service trip schedule for our inaugural season in the field. Reserve your place on a trip today to plan a week next year out enjoying Utah’s spectacular public lands, and contribute some muscle to keep it that way!

We limit trip size to 12: our director Dave Pacheco, an agency staffer, and 10 participants (you). Work is with hand tools provided by agencies and is generally active and at times strenuous. Being in good physical condition is important. All trips begin at 8:00am Sunday morning with an orientation by our agency partner, then travel to and make camp. We’ll work 8 hour days Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday with Wednesday as a free day, breaking down camp Saturday morning and heading home. The participant fee for each trip is $175, which includes food for the week. Travel to and from the worksite is your responsibility. Participants must be at least 18 years old and have health insurance.

2007 Service Trip Schedule

April 15-21, Price BLM, San Rafael Swell, Sid’s Mountain, Trail work
On our very first service trip, you’ll conduct a trail maintenance project on the “Boy Scout trail” up the eastern side of Sid’s Mountain, with one day of work on the loop trail between Crack and Chute canyons. Work consists of remarking trail signs and maintenance from the trailhead to the top. We’ll car and tent camp at the trailhead in a remote location. Area hike options: Sid’s Mountain, San Rafael River, San Rafael Reef, canyons of the San Rafael Swell.

April 29-May 5, Glen Canyon NRA, Lower Escalante River, Russian olive removal work
You’ll join backcountry ranger Bill Wolverton, removing non-native Russian olive trees from the Escalante River. This trip begins and ends as a strenuous 7 mile backpack across mostly slickrock to and from the river to a camp near the mouth of Twenty-Five Mile Wash. After cutting, the herbicide Garlon4 will be applied to the tree stump. You will need goggles, work boots and leather gloves. This is a remote tent camping opportunity in one of southern Utah’s most spectacular redrock canyons. Area hike options: Escalante River, Twenty-Five Mile Wash, Baker Canyon.

May 13-19, Grand Staircase-Escalante NM, Upper Escalante River, Russian olive and tamarisk removal work
In partnership with federal public land agencies, state, and private landowners, you’ll remove non-native Russian olive trees from the Escalante River, and Russian olive and tamarisk from North Creek. After cutting trees, the herbicide Garlon4 will be applied to the stump. All personal protective equipment is provided by GSENM, except work boots. Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, located 1.5 miles from the town of Escalante, is providing car and tent camping sites complete with vault toilets and showers. Area hike options are numerous: The Box Death Hollow, Calf Creek, and the Escalante River.

June 10-16, Manti-LaSal NF, Ferron, 12 Mile Canyon Twin Lakes, ORV damage control work
You’ll conduct ORV damage control in the 12 Mile Canyon area around Twin Lakes in the Manti-LaSal NF, Ferron Ranger District. Access to the worksite is from the Sanpete county town of Mayfield, on the west side of the Manti Mountains. The project addresses ORV damage by erecting log & block and other fencing, as well as rehabilitation and reclamation. Area hike options: Mary’s Nipple, many forest & stream hikes.

June 24-30, Manti-LaSal NF, Moab/Monticello, Trail work and campsite inventory
You’ll trail maintenance and campsite inventory in the Dark Canyon Wilderness. The project will clear down trees blocking the trail, install water bars, and marking where appropriate. The campsite inventory will provide baseline data to rangers to help manage the Wilderness more effectively. Area hike options: Dark Canyon Wilderness, Beef Basin, Abajo Mountains.

September 9-15, Grand Staircase-Escalante NM, Paria River ORV damage control work
You’ll conduct ORV damage control in the upper Paria River tributaries. The worksite is south of the town of Cannonville where you’ll rehabilitate intrusions, place natural barricades and bollards, and install signage. We’ll backpack into the worksite a short distance and set up camp nearby. Area hike options are numerous: Paria River, Kodachrome Basin State Park, Bull Valley Gorge.

September 23-29, Monticello BLM, Beef Basin, Archaeological site protection work
You’ll join BLM archaeologists & rangers from the Kane Gulch Ranger Station in their continuing efforts to protect the invaluable resources of the Cedar Mesa/Grand Gulch complex in southeastern Utah. Work consists of erecting fencing to protect middens, defining foot paths around ruins, and general trail work. We’ll car camp in a remote location, just south of Canyonlands NP and hike to worksites daily. Area hike options: Beef Basin, Dark Canyon Wilderness and Primitive Areas, Abajo Mountains.

October 14-20, Capitol Reef NP, Trail and non-native vegetation removal work
You’ll conduct a variety of work projects around the park backcountry ranging from maintenance and marking of foot trails to removal of non-native plants, shrubs & trees mostly along waterways. Car and tent camp at a group camp site with running water and toilets in the central zone of the park with daily ventures to our worksites in the north and south. Capitol Reef is loaded with area hike options, mostly along the slickrock domes and sinuous canyons of its namesake.

Make Your Reservation Today

Because we’re not sophisticated enough yet to receive credit card payment, reservations will be held upon payment of participant fee with check or money order to Utah Backcountry Volunteers, PO Box 526197, Salt Lake City, UT 84152. You will receive immediate confirmation by email, and by letter confirming your reservation, with more details. Portions of your trip and fee are tax deductible. For more information about trips or reservations call (435) 785-8955 or email dave@utahbackcountry.org.

Membership

Can’t make a trip this year, but still want to help out? Utah Backcountry Volunteers is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Membership is $30 for one year, please be as generous as you can. Member benefits include a discounted participant fee of $145 for any trip. Membership donations are tax deductible, should be mailed to the above and below noted PO Box, and are greatly appreciated.

Email List

Please forward this message to your friends who you think would be interested in our mission. Service trips are a great chance to get friends together for some quality away time. The organization is still an infant and we encourage you to spread this message far and wide. If you receive this message and wish to join our list, inform dave@utahbackcountry.org.

Thanks!

Dave Pacheco
Utah Backcountry Volunteers
PO Box 526197
Salt Lake City, UT 84152-6197
(435) 785-8955 voice
(435) 785-8956 fax
dave@utahbackcountry.org

IN CALIFORNIA
4. Truckee City Council Votes Down
Contract with Utah Coal-Fired Plant
Thank You Letters/Faxes Needed
(ACTION ITEM)

As we all know, actions taken in one state can affect another. Last week, the Board of the Truckee, CA Public Utilities District voted down a proposal Truckee, CA to buy coal-fired power from a plant in Delta Utah. Letters saying “thank you” are needed.

One of the least known areas of Utah is its West Desert, not redrock canyons but Great Basin topography. It’s an area just as wild however, and no less beautiful and important. Much of it is included in America’s Redrock Wilderness Act, the comprehensive wilderness bill for Utah.

If you have traveled through Delta on U.S. 50 & 6, you no doubt have noticed a brown layer in the air coming from the smokestacks of the power plant north of town. Plans have been proposed to expand it, and Truckee was one of the cities looked to help secure funding. The following information comes from the Sierra Club’s office in Salt Lake City.

The Truckee, CA Public Utility District Board was being asked to approve a 50-yr contract with Intermountain Power (IPP) in Delta, UT to purchase electricity from its proposed 900-megawatt dirty coal-fired power plant. This action would have further enabled IPP to secure the financing needed to build this $2.1 billion dollar west desert dinosaur and would also send hundreds of thousands of tons of more nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxides, and mercury into Utah’s air for another 50+ years, not to mention nearly 8 million tons of CO2 annually. When added to IPP’s current CO2 emissions, this would make it the nation’s 2nd largest CO2 emitting coal plant in the nation. In essence, Truckee would get the power and Utahns would get even more crud.

A few more details:

— The plant would continue to spew hundreds of thousands of tons of pollutants into Utah’s skies, and directly downwind towards approximately 1.5 million people along the Wasatch Front. The Front already suffers from terrible wintertime inversions and very dirty air. It needs help in cleaning it up, not making it dirtier.

— Global warming is a major issue. Truckee should be looking at ways to decrease its carbon footprint, NOT INCREASE IT. At 15 million tons of CO2 annually, IPP is already the nation’s 24th largest CO2 emitting coal plant in the nation. If a third unit is built, that will increase to 22 million tons, making it the nation’s second largest emitter.

— Other California cities are trying to respect the spirit of California’s new greenhouse gas restriction laws by not buying into new contracts with IPP. Truckee should follow suit.

Write, call, or fax a letter to:

Truckee Donner P.U.D.
P.O. Box 309
Truckee, CA 96160

530-587-3896 (phone)
530-587-5056 (fax)

5. Medicine Lake Victory

Over the years we’ve reported on efforts to preserve Medicine Lake, a spot sacred to Native American tribes near Mt. Shasta, from energy development.

In November, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that federal agencies did not adequately consider the environmental consequences of their decision to extend the leases of Calpine, an alternative energy company that had sought for many years to build a geothermal plant at Medicine Lake. The Pit River Tribe filed suit in 2002, and Calpine filed for bankruptcy in 2006.

IN GENERAL
6. Congressional Roundup

Despite the generally unfavorable conditions existing in Congress and Washington, DC, wilderness issues did not fare too poorly in the last Congress. There has been quite a bit of controversy over the types of bills that wilderness designations have been included in. Few bills have only dealt with wilderness designations, and many bills have contained provisions that some conservationists have objected to. It’s been impossible to reach consensus on just about any of them. Politics is never easy!

a. California

The big news was the passage and signing into law in October of the North Coast Wild Heritage Act. Congress adjourned without considering the two other bills for California that had been introduced: Rep. Buck McKeon’s (R-25) Eastern Sierra wilderness bill (H.R. 5149) and Rep. Mary Bono’s (R-45) H.R. 6270, which would designate areas in the southern desert.

b. Nevada

In the closing hours of the 109th Congress, the White Pine Conservation, Recreation, and Development Act of 2006 passed the Senate and House and was signed by the president. At the last minute, some additional acreage was included, mainly for Mt. Grafton and the South Egan Range. Thus more than the original 545,000 acres was designated, in 13 new Wilderness areas. Other objectionable provisions, including funding for a sewage pipe into Lake Mead, were removed. Some conservation groups are unhappy with language regarding the sale of public lands for development.

c. New Mexico

Last week the president signed the Valle Vidal Protection Act, protecting one of the most important wildlife habitats in New Mexico by making it off limits to energy exploration. In the end, the bill was supported by the entire New Mexico delegation, although Sen. Pete Domenici’s (R) support only came when it was clear that the bill’s passage was pretty much inevitable. Valle Vidal is home to the largest elk herd in the state and is adjacent to the Philmont Boy Scout Ranch, visited by numerous scouts every year. Valle Vidal was donated to the Forest Service by Pennzoil to be protected for its outstanding natural values.

d. Montana

The final tax package signed by the president also included provisions removing the Rocky Mountain Front from energy exploration. The Front is a 100-mile stretch where the mountains meet the Great Plains and is home to an amazing variety of wildlife. Gloria Flora, the former Forest Supervisor had closed the area previously, but the Bush administration reversed her decision. The legislation overturns that decision.

e. Idaho

Neither the Boulder-White Clouds bill (CIEDRA—Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act) nor the Owyhee Initiative bill made it through Congress this time around. Both bills contain extremely controversial language that numerous conservation groups (including CalUWild) oppose. CIEDRA would give away lands in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area to local towns for development as well as allow objectionable activities in designated wilderness areas. The Owyhee bill provides for oversight of public lands by an unaccountable committee, among other things. Both bills set bad precedents for future legislation. We hope that many of these provisions will be improved before they are reintroduced.

ADMINISTRATIVE
7. CalUWild Annual Membership Appeal

I was fortunate enough to spend much of November traveling in Southeast Asia with friends, visiting Hong Kong, Thailand, and Cambodia. Although there are many wonderful things to see there, it struck me how little undeveloped land exists any more in those countries. How fortunate we in Western United States are to still have vast expanses of landscape where a person can go and not see another soul for days! Another major difference is that in the U.S. it is possible for an ordinary citizen to have an impact on government, despite the widespread cynicism of many in this country.

That’s why Californians for Western Wilderness is still going strong after nine years. We have found a niche in which we can both be effective advocates for wildlands and educate our members and the public about citizenship. We’ve become an effective and respected voice in the conservation community.

In 2006 we continued to expand the scope of our activities. We joined three other organizations as plaintiffs in our first lawsuit, against the Forest Service over its lack of proper planning for horsepacking operations in the John Muir and Ansel Adams Wildernesses in the Sierra. We continued to upgrade our technology with the purchase of a digital projector for slideshows. We are working with San Francisco State University to develop an internship program. Finally, we are helping to plan a wilderness conference at SFSU next Spring.

As ever, the Monthly Update continues to provide current news and action items for our members and the public, going out to over 715 people.

Unfortunately, fundraising continues to be difficult. Two grants we counted on did not come through this year, and consequently we’ve had to cut back on our slideshow scheduling. We continue to explore new avenues for funding, but they have not begun to pay off. However, we’re not giving up; CalUWild’s work is too important, and we’re looking forward to 2007.

To support our efforts, please print and fill out the coupon below and mail it with your contribution to:

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

Again: We will not share any member information with anyone for any reason.

Thanks!

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Mr./Ms.:
First Name:
Last Name:
Address:
City:
State:
Zip:
Phone:
Fax:
E-mail:
Congressional Representative:

PLEASE NOTE:
Dues payable to CalUWild support lobbying efforts and are not tax deductible.

To make a tax-deductible contribution, make check payable to Resource Renewal Institute.

__ $15 Student
__ $25 Regular
__ $50 Supporting
__ $100 Outstanding
__ Other ________

Mail to: CalUWild – P.O. Box 210474 – San Francisco, CA 94121-0474

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Posted in Newsletters | Comments Off on 2006 December

2004 December

December 1st, 2004

December 1, 2004

Dear Friends of CalUWild:

Two VERY URGENT items have arisen since the last UPDATE two weeks ago. Both require immediate attention if we are to have a positive impact on the officials involved. Please see items 1 and 2.

A reminder if you live in the Bay Area: As we announced in our last 2 UPDATES, Grand Canyon National Park will be holding an Open House Thursday, December 2, 2004 in San Francisco, at The Presidio Officers’ Club 50 Moraga Avenue. CalUWild will be setting up an information table there, and we encourage all to attend!

The holidays are upon us, it’s not clear whether we’ll be sending out another UPDATE later in December, so I’ll take this opportunity to wish you and your families a happy holiday season! A big thank you for all the letters and faxes you’ve written, the phone calls you’ve made, and the meetings you’ve attended. Thank you also to everyone who has given us financial support this year; it’s been very gratifying and helpful. (If you would like to make an end-of-the-year contribution, please print out the coupon at the end of this UPDATE and enclose it with your check.)

We look forward to the new year working with you to protect our wild places.

Mike
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IN California
1. Gov. Schwarzenegger Endorses the Bush Roadless Rule
Calls Needed —
URGENT (ACTION ITEM)

IN California
2. Anti-Wilderness / Fee Demonstration Riders In the Omnibus Budget Bill
Calls Needed —
VERY URGENT DEADLINE: December 6, 2004
(ACTION ITEM)

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IN California
1. Gov. Schwarzenegger Endorses the Bush Roadless Rule
Calls Needed — URGENT
(ACTION ITEM)

Last month, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wrote a letter to the Bush Administration supporting its proposed changes to the roadless rule. An instant outcry ensued, and many people have called his office objecting to his stand. You can add your voice by calling or faxing his office, telling him that you support the original rule, as do the millions of Americans who submitted comments 4 years ago when it was first proposed. The Bush Administration’s attempts to leave up to the states how to manage our national forests is bad policy — for our forests and for our citizens.

For more details about the proposal, see CalUWild’s August UPDATE on-line at: https://www.caluwild.org/docs/August_UPDATE_web.htm

There are reports the governor may be re-considering his position, and you can encourage him in that process. Contact him at:

Phone: 916-445-2841
Fax: 916-445-4633

IN General
2. Anti-Wilderness / Fee Demonstration Riders In the Omnibus Budget Bill
Calls Needed — VERY URGENT
DEADLINE: December 6, 2004
(ACTION ITEM)

Much of the information in this item comes from our friends at Wilderness Watch and Keep Sespe Wild.

The House of Representatives will be considering a mammoth Omnibus Appropriations Bill early next week. As is often the case when “must-pass” legislation is considered, numerous “riders” get attached. These are bills that often would have no chance of passing as stand-alone legislation, have never had hearings, and often are tucked into obscure places in the bill so as to escape detection.

This year is no exception. Below is a list of some of the more egregious riders, including one making the Fee Demonstration Program permanent. (Fee Demo is one issue that we have urged our members to oppose for a long time.) When you read these, you will see why the situation is very serious and requires quick and strong action on our part.

Normally, we wouldn’t have an opportunity to do much about this situation, but we have a chance to fight these riders. You may have heard in the news that a clause allowing certain members of Congress and their staffs to view previously off-limits IRS tax returns was discovered in the spending bill. The bill, with the offending clause, had already received House approval. The Senate deleted the IRS clause before they voted. The House and Senate versions are therefore different, and so final approval has not yet been achieved and the bill has not yet been sent to the President for signature.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi also objected to the fact that House members were not given time to read the bill in its entirety before being asked to vote on it, so she forced a delay in the vote. Thus, the Congress has been called back for a second lame duck session beginning December 6 to settle the issue, giving the House leadership an opportunity to make changes in the bill.

CalUWild and other wilderness organizations around the country are working together to organize a flood of phone calls to Capitol Hill in the next few days, objecting both to the content of the various riders and asking that they be removed, and also objecting to the stealthy way in which this legislation has been crafted.

Because there are several actions needed on this issue, we’re going to try something new and split some of them up among our members, by last name. PLEASE do make a couple of phone calls — it won’t take more than a few minutes !!

EVERYONE:

1. Call or fax your representative telling them that you object to this type of lawmaking and that you want the anti-wilderness and Fee Demo riders removed before the House votes on the spending bill.
Your Representative’s contact information may be found on CalUWild’s web site at: https://www.caluwild.org/advocacy02.htm
2. Please call or fax the House Leadership with the same message. Here is whom to contact:

LAST NAMES A-C:
Dennis Hastert, Speaker of the House
Phone: 202-225-2976
Fax: 202-225-0697
LAST NAMES D-H:
Tom DeLay, House Majority Leader
Phone: 202-225-5951
Fax: 202-225-5241
LAST NAMES I-M:
Rep. Ralph Regula
Phone: 202-225-3876
Fax: 202-225-3059
LAST NAMES N-S:
Bill Young, Chair, House Appropriation Committee
Phone: 202-225-5961
Fax: 202-225-9764

3. If your last name begins with T through Z:
Call or fax Rep. Nancy Pelosi thanking her for taking a strong stand against stealth legislation and forcing a delay in the vote.
Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader
Phone: 202-225-4965
Fax: 202-225-8259

More detailed information on various anti-environmental riders in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill:

* Strips wilderness protection from much of the Cumberland Island Wilderness in Georgia by de-designating the existing wilderness, then re-designating certain disconnected parcels as wilderness, carved up by roads. Will remove wilderness protections from the wildest part of the island, the north end, which NPS has long coveted for development of a dock and visitor’s center. Will nullify an 11th circuit ruling finding that NPS must manage the wilderness as wilderness, and cease driving tourists through the wilderness. The only proponents for this rider are the NPS and the Greyfield Inn, which wants to run commercial jeep tours to the north end of the island.
* Authorizes three illegal outfitter lodges to remain on public lands within the designated Wild Salmon River corridor within the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, our largest contiguous wilderness in the lower 48. Four other outfitters complied and removed their developed camps when the USFS found them to be illegal, now this rider will reward the 3 lawbreakers who refused to comply — one has a seller waiting to pay $ 1 million for his lodge as soon as the rider passes. This rider will nullify a district court ruling that the lodges must be removed because permanent structures are prohibited by the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act.
* Places a 30-day limitation on bringing legal challenges for timber sales on the Tongass National Forest, pressuring judges to rule on any timber lawsuits within 180 days.
* End environmental review of grazing permit renewals on national forest lands — no NEPA analysis or public input would be needed to renew a permit.
* Expedite a land exchange of 100,000 acres of the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge to the Doyon Corporation, so that the Native corporation can drill for oil on the land that currently is protected as critical wildlife habitat.
* Shield new regulations allowing snowmobiles in Yellowstone from legal challenges.
* Permanent authorization for the fee-demo program, which currently is only a demonstration program in certain select locations. This rider would make fee-demo applicable to all national forest lands and establish criminal penalties for those who don’t pay the public lands access fees (6 months in prison and/or $5,000 fine). This bill has never been passed by the full House and has never been introduced, had hearings, or been voted on by the Senate. Instead, this rider establishes broad public lands policy by rider.
* MAY still be in the bill: rider that would nullify recent 9th circuit unanimous en banc ruling that found that commercial fish stocking is a prohibited commercial enterprise within wilderness in Alaska. This rider would make commercial hatchery activities and developments allowable on all national wildlife refuges in Alaska, including within wilderness.

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MEMBERSHIP INFORMATION:
We share as much information as possible with our members via e-mail, but it may sometimes be necessary to contact you by mail or phone. This information will NOT be given out to ANYone for ANY reason.

Mr./Ms.:
Name:
Address:
City:
State:
Zip:
Phone:
Fax:
E-mail:
Congressional Representative:

DUES:
Dues are voluntary and may help offset some of CalUWild’s lobbying and other expenses. Dues checks should be made out to “CalUWild” and are NOT tax deductible.

Tax-deductible contributions should be made payable to “Resource Renewal Institute.”
Checks should be mailed with membership information to:

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

__ $15 Student
__ $25 Regular
__ $50 Supporting
__ $100 Outstanding
__ Other ________
__ I can’t contribute at this time, but please keep me on your list.

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God bless America. Let’s save some of it.
–Edward Abbey

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Posted in Newsletters | Comments Off on 2004 December

2003 December

December 29th, 2003

December 29, 2003

Dear CalUWild friends —

It’s the middle of the holiday season, and 2003 is drawing to a close. I hope you have been able to get some time away from your everyday activities to reflect on the gifts we Americans have of our public wilderness lands. Better yet, and weather permitting, I hope you have had a chance to get out and enjoy some of them.

Yet the task of safeguarding these treasures is never finished. As you make your New Year’s resolutions, please recommit to work for their proper management and protection in the new year.

CalUWild will be doing the same, working to make the most helpful and useable information available to you so your advocacy work can be most effective.

In 2004 we will have additional assistance in our efforts. Berkeley composer John Adams has graciously agreed to join CalUWild’s Advisory Board. John is probably the most frequently-played living composer these days, and is well-known for his operas Nixon in China and The Death of Klinghoffer, which was made into a film earlier this year. He was awarded the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Music for his piece On the Transmigration of Souls, commemorating the victims of the attacks of September 11, 2001. An avid hiker, John has been a longtime admirer of Utah’s wild scenery, and we extend a warm welcome to him.

There was other good news in December when Federal Judge Emmett Sullivan blocked a decision by the Bush Administration to continue snowmobile use in Yellowstone National Park. Despite thousands of public comments supporting a ban and its own research which concluded that even the latest model snowmobiles would cause air and noise pollution, they sided with the snowmobile industry over public health. There was no word yet whether the administration would appeal the ruling, but we’ll keep you posted on further developments.

With the election coming up next year, it could be a tricky time for wilderness advocates. The administration may not proceed as forcefully with some of its plans. Or it may just be sneakier about them. Either way, we look forward to having you as part of an active and engaged membership working on the issues. And we thank you for your past support as well.

Best wishes for 2004,

Mike

IN CALIFORNIA

1. Forest Service to Release Environmental Assessment on Mt. Whitney Toilets

Deadline: February 4, 2004

(ACTION ITEM)

IN OREGON

2. Huge Logging Project proposed in the Siskiyou National Forest

Deadline: January 5, 2004

(ACTION ITEM)

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IN CALIFORNIA

1. Forest Service to Release Environmental Assessment on Mt. Whitney Toilets

Deadline: February 4, 2004

(ACTION ITEM)

In our July 2001 Update, CalUWild reported the following: “Inyo National Forest is starting an Environmental Analysis for replacing the toilet buildings on the Mt. Whitney trail in the John Muir Wilderness. The proposed action is to replace the two existing toilets at Outpost and Trail Camp with buildings with a 500 square foot ‘footprint’.” (That’s the area of earth each would cover.)

* These buildings, on poured concrete slabs, would be two stories tall!
* The process for waste removal would involve depositing it into large bins, draining the liquid from the waste, and evaporating it. The remaining waste would then be dehydrated and flown out by helicopter.

CalUWild submitted comments adamantly opposing the proposed scale of this project, arguing instead that a solution needed to be found which respected wilderness values, even if it meant limiting the number of hikers using the area, something we would not normally like to support. Last week, the announcement below arrived in the mail, and I am happy to report that the Forest Service has decided to take a completely different approach to the problem. This shows that public input can have an effect!

Please read the EA when it is available and send in comments supporting the new preferred alternative.

From Inyo NF:

The Inyo National Forest is preparing to release an Environmental Assessment in early January regarding the future of the toilet facilities on Mt. Whitney. The Environmental Assessment, or EA, analyzes various alternatives to the existing toilets along the Mt. Whitney Trail. The Forest Service preferred alternative is to remove the toilets and institute a mandatory “Pack-It-Out” program. The Forest will be soliciting comments on the EA throughout the month of January.

Two public meetings will be held to explain the contents of the EA, including details of the preferred alternative. Public comments will also be taken at these meetings. The first meeting will be held in Lone Pine at Lone Pine High School on Thursday January 8, from 7:00 to 9:00 PM. The second meeting will be held in Mammoth Lakes at the Mammoth Lakes Ranger Station and Visitor Center on Monday January 12, from 4:00 to 5:00 PM.

Starting January 5th, a copy of the documents will be available on the Inyo National Forest website . Hard copies are available by contacting Brian Spitek at the Mt. Whitney Ranger Station at 760-876-6217 or by email at bjspitek@fs.fed.us.

Public comments on the Mt. Whitney Toilet EA must be postmarked no later than February 4, 2004. They should be submitted to:

Garry Oye

District Ranger

White Mountain Ranger Station

798 N. Main Street

Bishop, CA 93514

They may also be submitted by FAX to:

760-873-2563

or e-mail at:

comments-pacificsouthwest-inyo@fs.fed.us

For more information regarding the Environmental Assessment, or if you have specific questions, please contact Deputy District Ranger Mary DeAguero at 760-876-6227

IN OREGON

2. Huge Logging Project proposed in the Siskiyou National Forest

Deadline: January 5, 2004

(ACTION ITEM)

Information in this section comes from The Wilderness Society and the Siskiyou Project. Apologies for the short time frame. Please submit your comments even if you can’t do it by the deadline. Thanks!

Save Siskiyou Wild Rivers from Extreme Post-Fire Logging

The Siskiyou National Forest in southern Oregon is internationally renowned for its wilderness, wild rivers, and biological diversity. The rugged area has the most complex soils, geology, landscape, and plant communities in the Pacific Northwest. At the heart of this fabulous wildland treasure is the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area. Several large roadless areas surround the Kalmiopsis. Conservationists have sought designation of a Siskiyou Wild Rivers National Conservation Area to recognize and protect the area’s unique qualities.

During the summer of 2002, the Biscuit Fire burned much of the Siskiyou National Forest, fulfilling a crucial natural role in this wilderness ecosystem. The Biscuit fire was a natural, weather-driven event that burned in a mixed mosaic pattern, helping to maintain the area’s phenomenal ecological diversity. Natural rejuvenation is taking place already, with many fire-adapted plants and trees reemerging.

The Bush Forest Service has unleashed plans for massive logging of sensitive Biscuit Fire affected forests in the Siskiyou Wild Rivers area. The “preferred alternative” in the recently released Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) proposes 518 million board feet of logging across 29,090 acres – including 12,179 acres of logging in Inventoried Roadless Areas.

The preferred alternative is greater than the combined logging of all National Forests in the Pacific Northwest last year. The most extreme proposal in the DEIS includes 1.02 billion board feet of logging – enough to create a line of logging trucks 2,700 miles long reaching from Portland, Oregon to the East Coast.

This is the most extreme, massive logging operation in the modern history of our National Forests.

Talking Points: Pick several that are most interest to you and discuss them in your own words. If you are familiar with any areas in the proposal, please write about your experiences there.

1. Please choose the Siskiyou Wild Rivers Conservation Alternative, which is fairly similar to the existing Alternative 4 without the “Learning Opportunities” research logging component.
2. The Siskiyou Wild Rivers area in which the Biscuit fire burned is extremely important for its giant roadless areas, beautiful rivers, wild salmon and its famed biological diversity. These outstanding values and the recreation they support should be protected as a National Conservation Area, not subjected to massive post-fire logging,.
3. The Preferred Alternative in the DEIS proposes extreme logging that would hurt recovery and drive chainsaws into two of Oregon’s largest unprotected roadless forests – the North and South Kalmiopsis Roadless Areas. Another huge flaw in the DEIS is the so-called logging “research” component. It serves no real scientific purpose and should be abandoned.
4. The proposal would destroy 88 square miles of potential wilderness
5. Large burned trees aid natural recovery and serve critical roles in forest ecosystems for hundreds of years. Logging these trees will damage sensitive soils, cause erosion, increase fire risk and hurt recovery. There should be absolutely no post-fire logging of large trees or trees of any size on steep slopes, severely burned sites and areas with rocky, erosive or fragile soils.
6. Areas scarred by fire fighting and other human impacts should be rehabilitated
7. All fire lines should be closed to motorized use. In addition, old mining tracks and spur roads in the fire area should be closed and decommissioned to protect watersheds and prevent the spread of noxious weeds and Port-Orford-cedar root disease. These roads include the Chetco Pass road, McGrew Trail and all tracts in inventoried roadless areas.
8. The proposed logging will cost taxpayers millions of dollars. Most job will be short-lived and given to people outside the local community. It is unlikely new jobs will be created – most likely, the jobs will simply shift from other logging work elsewhere. This logging would also drastically lower timber prices – hurting companies not receiving this taxpayer-subsidized logging binge.
9. Of particular concern are Roadless Areas, Botanical Areas, Late Successional Reserves and Wild & Scenic River corridors – these special places must not be logged. In addition, nursery trees hsould be planted only in existing tree plantation areas. The extraordinary botanical diversity of the Siskiyou should not be corrupted by the creation of unnatural, fire-prone conifer tree plantations.
10. Fuels Management Zones should be developed in the wildland urban interface, not in roadless areas, botanical areas or other sensitive places.
11. The Hoover Gulch Research Natural Area should be expanded to include the Babyfoot Lake area and the watersheds of Dailey, Rancherie, Fall, Days and Fiddler Creeks. This area is botanically rich and important for recreation and tourism.

SEND COMMENTS TO:

Mr. Scott Conroy, Forest Supervisor

c/o ACT2

PO Box 377

Happy Camp, CA 96039-0377

Fax: 530-493-1775 or 530-493-1776

Email: r6_biscuit@fs.fed.us

DEADLINE: January 5, 2004

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