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2005 February

February 17th, 2005

February 17, 2005

Dear CalUWild friends-

With the 109th Congress having started there’s a LOT to report on this month in many states around the West, so we won’t spend time on lengthy introduction and get right to it. A few of this month’s UPDATE items concern legislation that has been re-introduced in Congress and other topics in the news. But agency planning as important impacts on the ground, and the public has the opportunity to participate in the process. So please take the time to comment on at least one or two of the following items.

Thanks,
Mike

IN UTAH
1. 10th Circuit Court Dismisses Wilderness Appeal
2. R.S. 2477 Appeal Heard in 10th Circuit

IN CALIFORNIA
3. North Coast Wilderness Bill Reintroduced
Passes First Senate Test Governor Supports It
(ACTION ITEM)
4. John Muir – Ansel Adams Wilderness Planning
Comments Needed
DEADLINE: February 23
(ACTION ITEM)
5. Anza Borrego State Park Wilderness Protected
(ACTION ITEM)

IN ARIZONA
6. Grand Canyon National Park Cut Off Comments Prematurely
(ACTION ITEM)

IN COLORADO
7. Roan Plateau Draft Plan
Comments Needed
DEADLINE: March 4
(ACTION ITEM)

IN NEW MEXICO
8. Ojito Wilderness Bill Reintroduced

IN WASHINGTON (STATE)
9. Wild Sky Wilderness Bill Reintroduced

IN WYOMING
10. Great Divide Resource Management Plan
Comments Needed
DEADLINE: March 17
(ACTION ITEM)

IN GENERAL
11. Wilderness Job Opportunities
A. California Wild Heritage Campaign (3 positions)
B. The Wilderness Society/Nevada
C. Idaho Conservation League

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

IN UTAH
1. 10th Circuit Court Dismisses
Wilderness Appeal

Two years ago Utah’s then-governor Mike Leavitt (also former head of the U.S. EPA and now Secretary of Health & Human Services) and the Department of the Interior attempted to reach a settlement of the state’s lawsuit against the BLM regarding creation of new wilderness study areas. They agreed that many WSAs that BLM had created were illegal and that BLM did not have the authority to do any more wilderness inventories on lands under its jurisdiction. Conservation o organizations filed to intervene and appealed the settlement to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

On February 8, the court dismissed the appeal on the technical ground that the appeal was premature since the trial court had not issued a final order. So for the time being, the case is back in the lower court.

The 10th Circuit had previously overruled the trial judge on seven out of eight of the original claims. Because the eighth claim was still alive when the Bush administration came in, it gave the BLM (under new management) the opportunity to settle and basically validate all of the state’s claims.

The BLM has been issuing oil and gas leases in areas previously inventoried and found to possess wilderness character. This leasing will now be free to continue.

2. R.S. 2477 Appeal Heard in 10th Circuit

San Juan, Kane and Garfield counties in Southern Utah have claimed for years that many routes in their counties are “highways,” objecting to the BLM’s attempts to control development and use of those routes. These claims have been made under Revised Statute 2477, an 1866 law which states in full: “The right of way for the construction of highways over public lands, not reserved for public uses, is hereby granted.” This law was repealed in 1976 with the passage of the Federal Land Policy Management Act, but rights of way established before that date are still valid.

So, in order to assert local control over federal lands, jurisdictions all over the West have been claiming rights of way on all sorts of routes: mining roads, game paths, wash bottoms, etc. Many times this has been done to defeat potential wilderness claims.

In Utah, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and the Sierra Club went to court in effort to stop the BLM from acknowledging these claims. The trial court judge ruled clearly and forcefully in favor of the conservation groups.

The counties appealed, and arguments were heard last week in the appeal. We’ll let you know the appellate court’s decision when it comes out.

The State of Utah recently filed applications with the BLM for disclaimers of interest for 6 alleged R.S. 2477 rights-of-way. If granted, the federal
government would be stating that it has no interest in the route any more and that the state and county could use the route as a highway. You can view the applications on-line at BLM’s Utah web page:

http://www.ut.blm.gov/rs2477/claims.htm

IN CALIFORNIA
3. North Coast Wilderness Bill
Reintroduced, Passes First Senate Test,
Governor Supports It
(ACTION ITEM)

The Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Act was re-introduced by its principal sponsor Mike Thompson (D-1) in the House and by Sen. Barbara Boxer in the Senate last month. The bills would designate over 300,000 acres of land as wilderness and some 21 miles of rivers as “wild and scenic” in the counties in Rep. Thompson’s district (Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, and Napa). The bill was passed by the U.S. Senate in the closing days of the 108th Congress, but the House of Representatives never took it up.

On Tuesday of this week, the Senate Energy and Resources Committee held a hearing on the bill, numbered S. 128, and passed it on to the full Senate for consideration. Sen. Dianne Feinstein is an influential member of the Committee and her support was vital to the bill’s passage at the hearing.

House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (R-11) has again promised to hold a hearing on the bill. It is not clear whether that hearing will be in Washington, DC or in Northern California. If it is held in Rep. Thompson’s district, we will notify you and hope you can attend. The Wild Heritage Campaign is planning to arrange for several vans to transport interested people from the Bay Area to the hearing.

In another development, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has announced his support for the bill. California Resources Secretary Mike Chrisman sent a letter to House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo, expressing the administration’s support for Rep. Thompson’s bill. If you sent the governor a letter, e-mail, or fax or made a phone call to him last year asking for his support, your efforts are showing results. Thank you!

It’s always good to have an opportunity to thank our officials for their efforts, so now is the time to thank the governor.

Send a letter to:

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814

Fax:

916-445-4633

The Governor’s website:

http://www.govmail.ca.gov/

(Be sure to choose Federal Wilderness for the subject line.)

Or phone:

916-445-2841

The California Wild Heritage Campaign mentions the following points to include in your comments:

* Thank you for formally supporting the Northern California Wild Heritage Wilderness Act (HR 233/S 128)!
* Your support, as our state’s highest elected official, demonstrates to Members of Congress that protecting California’s wild legacy is a top
priority for all Californians.
* Although I live in [add your county], I/my family greatly enjoy
traveling throughout California and visiting its many areas of natural
beauty, such as California’s magnificent Lost Coast.
* By supporting Congressman Thompson’s wilderness bill, you have helpedto ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy our state’s wild
places, just as I do now.

4. John Muir – Ansel Adams Wilderness Planning
Comments Needed
DEADLINE: February 23
(ACTION ITEM)

The following alert comes from the High Sierra Hikers Association.

Background: The Inyo and Sierra national forests are developing a plan that will guide the management of nearly one million acres of High Sierra wilderness for the next 2-3 decades. The Forest Service was ordered to prepare the plan by a federal court, in response to a lawsuit filed by three conservation groups (High Sierra Hikers Association, Wilderness Watch, Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics). While the court order specified some key issues that must be addressed (see High Sierra Hikers v. Powell), the Forest Service is now asking for comments on any additional issues that should be included.

It is important for concerned citizens to weigh in at this time, because the district court only required the Forest Service to “consider” several issues. However, a federal appeals court recently ordered the Forest Service to follow the mandates of the Wilderness Act in its final decision (see High Sierra Hikers v. Blackwell). So we need the agency to hear, in a loud and clear voice, what actions it must take to comply with the Wilderness Act. For more background information, you can view the court decisions at these links:

HSHA v. Powell: http://www.highsierrahikers.org/MuirAdamsDecision.pdf

HSHA v. Blackwell: http://www.highsierrahikers.org/MuirAdams9th.pdf

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

Begin by saying that you are commenting on the plan titled “Trail and Commercial Pack Stock Management in the Ansel Adams and John Muir Wildernesses.” (If you have visited these areas, say so, and describe (briefly) why these areas are important to you.) Then, list the following issues:

* The Forest Service has illegally allowed commercial outfits to expand their activities in the John Muir and Ansel Adams. The time has come to reduce the activities of commercial packstock outfits to protect wilderness resources for future generations.
* The proposed comment period (45 days) is too short. Because the Forest Service has had more than three years to develop this plan, it should allow 150 days, or longer, for public review and comment.
* The Forest Service’s 2001 Needs Assessment for commercial enterprises needs to be re-written to acknowledge the reduced need for packstock enterprises given all of the modern advances in lightweight gear and equipment. The Needs Assessment also needs to acknowledge the many significant impacts of packstock use, limit commercial uses accordingly.
* The proposal to eliminate trailhead quotas and “service day” limits for commercial pack outfits would be a radical give-away to commercial enterprises. It would be unfair to everyone else that is subject to daily quotas in these popular areas, and it would result in overcrowding and harmful spikes in use.
* “Day rides” by commercial stock is NOT a wilderness-dependent activity. The Forest Service should decrease the amount of “day rides” by commercial stock in these wildernesses, not increase them (as proposed). The agency should find areas OUTSIDE of these wildernesses where folks who so desire can take a horseback ride.
* Commercial stock animals should be required to remain on designated, maintained trails, with NO exceptions. Commercial stock should not be allowed to travel “off-trail” or “cross-country.”
* The plan must not lump “suitable” and “non-suitable” grazing areas together as open to grazing. If stock would be likely to drift from a non-suitable area into a suitable area, then both areas should remain closed. Areas should ONLY be open to grazing if there is no likelihood that stock will drift into non-suitable, closed, or sensitive areas.
* The current range readiness “grazing start dates” are inadequate to protect sensitive mountain meadows. The Forest Service needs to adopt site-specific start dates that are fully protective of each meadow, or else change the current elevational start dates to prohibit grazing until much later in the season (when meadows have sufficiently dried to withstand grazing impacts).
* The proposal to allow commercial packstock outfits to haul firewood into areas closed to campfires is ridiculous. Commercial packers cannot be trusted to follow the rules, they will burn local wood after their packed-in supply is exhausted, they will leave fire scars and create smoke that will encourage other wilderness visitors to have campfires, and the increased stock use to haul firewood will cause more damage to trails, camps, and meadows. This crazy proposal must be dropped.
* The court-ordered (temporary) group size limits of 12 persons and 20 stock animals are too large. The Forest Service needs to fully analyze and consider in its EIS alternatives for lower group size limits.

Send an email message by Wednesday February 23 to:

comments-pacificsouthwest-inyo@fs.fed.us

Also, send a cc: of your message to

mhennessy@fs.fed.us

Comments may also be sent to:

John Muir/Ansel Adams Wildernesses
Commercial Pack Stock CEA EIS
Inyo National Forest
351 Pacu Lane, Suite 200
Bishop, CA 93514

For more information, call the Forest Service at:

760-873-2400

5. Anza Borrego State Park Wilderness Protected

The following came from the California Wilderness Coalition:

Last Friday, the State Parks and Recreation Commission received a huge round of applause when they unanimously approved the Anza Borrego Desert State Park General Plan. In doing so, they designated nearly 56,000 acres in the Park as wilderness and 440 acres as a cultural preserve, which will go far in protecting the sensitive natural and cultural resources of this international jewel. State parks are receiving increasing pressure from off-road vehicle groups and anti-conservation forces to open lands up to destructive activities. By approving the plan, the Commissioners sent a clear message that State Parks are places that deserve strong measures of protection and set a good precedent for plans not yet approved, like Red Rock Canyon State Park.

The General Plan is visionary in many ways. It appropriately focuses on management of Park resources within natural boundaries, such as watersheds and air basins, rather than solely within property lines. The plan encourages Park staff to be a voice in planning processes outside the boundaries of the Park when a proposal may impact resources within the boundaries. It also encourages the acquisition of lands outside the Park from willing sellers to foster habitat connectivity and landscape linkages and minimize negative effects and conflicts from adjacent land uses.

State Park and Recreation Commissioners should be thanked for approving a solid general plan that will provide long-awaited guidance to Anza Borrego
Desert State Park management in balancing the needs of people and protection of desert resources. State Park staff should also be commended for the years of study and public input that was put into creating this plan.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

Please send a letter to the members of the State Parks and Recreation Commission thanking them for their good decision. You can send it to:

Louis Nastro
State Park and Recreation Commission
Box 942896
Sacramento, CA 94296-0001

E-mail: LNastro@parks.ca.gov
FAX: 916-653-4458

Please also send copies to:

Ruth Coleman
Director of California State Parks
P.O. Box 942896
Sacramento CA 94296-0001

Fax: 916-654-6374

and

Mark Jorgensen
Superintendent
Anza Borrego Desert State Park
200 Palm Canyon Drive
Borrego Springs, CA 92004

Fax: 760-767-3427.

For more information, please contact:

Bryn Jones
Desert Program Director
California Wilderness Coalition
951-781-1336

E-mail: bjones@calwild.org

IN ARIZONA
6. Grand Canyon National Park
Cut Off Comments Prematurely
(ACTION ITEM)

The deadline for comments on the Draft Colorado River Management Plan in Grand Canyon National Park was February 1, 2005. Normally, this means that
comments should have been postmarked by that date. Faxes, e-mails, or submissions to the Park’s comment web site should have been accepted until midnight on Feb. 1.

However, the Grand Canyon Wilderness Alliance, of which CalUWild is a member, has received reports that some people who tried to submit comments via the web site the evening of Feb. 1 received a message on their screens saying that the deadline had passed and the Park Service was no longer accepting comments.

I haven’t heard from any CalUWild members who were affected, but if you were, please e-mail your comments to and state that you
were denied access to the web site on February 1, even though it was before the deadline.

The law requires agencies to base decisions on all information available to them pretty much up to the time a decision is made, regardless of any deadline. Therefore, you should always submit comments on an issue, even if the deadline is past. For the Park to close down its web site, especially on the day of the deadline, gives the public the distinct impression that it doesn’t really care what the public has to say about the issue. And that is too bad, because as we state over and over, the public is the owner of these lands and the agencies who manage them are our employees, not the bosses.

IN COLORADO
7. Roan Plateau Draft Plan
Comments Needed
DEADLINE: March 4
(ACTION ITEM)

The following information comes from the Colorado Environmental Coalition and is slightly edited.

The BLM has released a draft management plan for Western Colorado’s Roan Plateau, which lies about 30 miles west of the City of Glenwood Springs. The plan has long been controversial because of the important natural resources in the area at stake from the Bush Administration’s push to open the area to massive energy development.

Roan Plateau is one of Colorado’s most biologically rich places with pure strains of native trout and sensitive plants that occur nowhere else on earth. In the region around Roan Plateau and even at its base, inside the Planning Area, natural gas drilling is proceeding at record rates. But the undeveloped lands on top and the scenic cliffs that frame Roan Plateau remain as some of the last undeveloped public land in the area, creating an important natural island in a rapidly growing sea of industrial development.

Locals love the area for its unique recreational offerings and undeveloped backcountry, and nearby communities depend upon the Plateau and the business it attracts from hunting, recreation and an open, Western landscape. That is why citizens and local governments have called for a compromise plan that would allow oil and gas development in about 2/3 of the Planning Area and protect about 1/3 for other public uses.

But although energy development is happening all around, and will continue on most of the lands inside the Planning Area under this compromise plan, the oil and gas industry and its friends in the Bush Administration have their eyes set on all of the Plateau.

And, unless citizens rally to protect this public land treasure, the BLM is moving to turn the area into a giant natural gas industrial zone, jeopardizing or eliminating its wilderness-quality areas, sensitive habitats, and best recreational lands.

In spite of the BLM’s apparent reluctance to consider a real community-supported plan, a diverse alliance of citizens, local communities, and conservation groups is working hard to win just such a solution: the Community Alternative for Roan Plateau. And against long odds, these citizens’ efforts are making a difference! Please help in this effort by submitting comments today.

Talking points for comments (please use your own words):

* The Roan Plateau is very important to me and I am writing to urge that the BLM select a final plan that keeps drilling off the top of the Plateau.
* BLM should adopt the elements of the Community Alternative, fulfilling the pledge it made at the onset of the planning process to adopt a community-supported plan. Unlike any of the alternatives presented in the draft, this plan would honor public input, protect natural resources, promote responsible recreation, and respect local communities.
* The Roan Plateau is a unique national landscape and a treasure of ecological and biological importance. The BLM should make the protection and safeguarding of the Roan Plateau’s undeveloped, roadless and natural landscapes, and its sensitive species, wildlife habitat and public recreation opportunities its top management priority.
* BLM should select a final plan that either defers all leasing on top during the life of the management plan or defers all leasing on top unless and until gas resources can be extracted from under the Plateau without disturbing the surface. The public land on top of the Plateau be free from the industrial development that is rapidly spreading for miles all around the Plateau’s base. According to analysis of the BLM’s draft plan, the majority (between 85% and 99%) of the natural gas likely to be developed under this plan would come from drilling at the base. The BLM has failed to document a need to drill the public lands on top of Roan Plateau, particularly given the strong sentiment against this drilling.
* If the top were leased under any of the alternatives and drilling begun, many resources would likely be irreparably harmed. This is particularly the case under the three total lease alternatives (III, IV and V), which emphasize energy development over all other public uses and most other resource including wildlife, sensitive species, native trout, recreation, quality-of-life, and scenic landscapes. Management under any of the three total-lease alternatives, for example, is likely to reduce the deer herd by between a third and a half.
* Instead of opening the entire area to oil and gas leasing, as contemplated in three of the alternatives, the BLM should concentrate oil and gas development in the existing production area at the base, taking advantage of existing roads and infrastructure and of the better access to the gas fields for continued large-volume gas production.
* BLM should strengthen stipulations to safeguard Roan Plateau’s ecological values, and to protect the area’s impressive and popular backcountry and primitive recreation opportunities. The final plan should expand the permanent protective stipulations contemplated in the draft management plan (in Alternative II) — including the provision that no ground disturbing activities be allowed on certain lands such as sensitive and critical wildlife habitats, roadless and proposed wilderness areas, and quality backcountry lands in the Planning Area. The final plan should include Watershed Management Areas (from Alternative III) for many purposes, including protection against damage from oil and gas and other development.
* The final plan should promote recreational opportunities and designate two Special Recreation Management Areas (SRMA), one above and one below the rim, offering both backcountry and developed recreation opportunities.
* The BLM should protect the Hubbard Mesa SRMA with No Surface-Occupancy stipulations for any oil and gas development that may occur there, and should immediately develop a community supported stewardship group to develop an implementation plan and to prioritize funding for appropriate signage and facilities.
* The BLM should add back into the plan, a 32,639 acre Special Recreation Management Area atop the Plateau to protect the Plateau’s backcountry opportunities, including hunting, outfitting, backpacking, hiking and horseback riding. This SRMA was presented in a popularly supported preliminary alternative, supported by local governments and over 11,000 citizens, but it is not included in any of the BLM’s current draft alternatives. This change seems to contradict the agency’s oft-stated promise that it would include all the elements of this popularly supported preliminary alternative within its draft document.
* Travel management prescriptions (from Alternative II) that limit motorized and mechanized travel to designated routes should be included in the final plan.
* The BLM should require that industry always use Best Management Practices and technologies in future development on any of the area’s public lands.

Comments may be submitted in several ways:

Through the BLM’s web site at:

http://www.roanplateau.ene.com/comments_add.asp?varaction=1

Through the Roan Plateau Coalition’s web site at:

http://www.saveroanplateau.org/commentform.htm

In writing, to:

ROAN PLATEAU DRAFT COMMENTS
Attn: Greg Goodenow
BLM Glenwood Springs Field Office
P.O. Box 1009
Glenwood Springs, CO 81602

By fax, to the BLM at:

Fax 970-947-2829

For more information contact:

Pete Kolbenschlag, Colorado Environmental Coalition, 970-527-7502
Steve Smith, The Wilderness Society, 303-650-5818 x 106
http://www.saveroanplateau.org
BLM: 970-947-2800

IN NEW MEXICO
8. Ojito Wilderness Bill Reintroduced

Our 2004 March UPDATE and October Interim UPDATE briefly discussed the Ojito Wilderness Bill for New Mexico. The bill passed both the House and Senate, although in slightly different versions. There was not time to reconcile the two bills before adjournment, and so the bills died.

Now the bill has been reintroduced with bipartisan support as the Ojito Wilderness Act of 2005, In the House it is numbered H.R. 362, and in the Senate, S. 156

The bill, which would designate over 11,000 acres of wilderness, has broad support in New Mexico from the Zia Pueblo, citizens, Governor Bill Richardson, county commissioners, and business leaders. For more information on the Ojito area please visit:

http://www.ojito.org

IN WASHINGTON (STATE)
9. Wild Sky Wilderness Bill Reintroduced

Washington’s Sen. Patty Murray has introduced the Wild Sky Wilderness Act, S. 152, for the third time. It has passed the Senate in each of the two previous Congresses, but never the House.

The bill would protect 106,000 acres in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, an area rich in forests, river valleys, lakes, and mountains. The area is close to Seattle and very popular with recreationists from the area.

The bill was passed out of the Senate Environment and Resources Committee this week along with the California North Coast bill.

IN WYOMING
10. Great Divide Resource Management Plan
Comments Needed
DEADLINE: March 17
(ACTION ITEM)

Wyoming is one state that CalUWild has covered infrequently, mostly in regard to the snowmobile controversy in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. But there are large desert areas of the state under the jurisdiction of the BLM. As you know, the Bush administration continues its efforts to open many of our last remaining wild places to energy exploration, and Wyoming is no exception. BLM is preparing a new Resource Management Plan for the Rawlins area, and it proposes to open upwards of 90% of the land to leasing. We need to help protect these areas, by letting the BLM know that citizens outside of Wyoming are watching what is going on. If you’ve been to the Red Desert, plan to go, or have any special interest in the area, please mention that in your comments.

To help you write your comments, we include the following from the Biodiversity Conservation Alliance and Friends of the Red Desert, a coalition to which CalUWild belongs.

Help Protect Wyoming’s Great Divide from Excessive Drilling!

Desert wildlands with sculpted badlands, island mountain ranges, and important habitats for wild horses, ferruginous hawks, mountain plovers, elk, and black-footed ferrets can all be found in the Great Divide region of south-central Wyoming. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) currently manages 4.7 million acres of public lands and minerals in this area under the Great Divide Plan. It includes spectacular wilderness like the pillars and battlements of Adobe Town and the uplands and canyons of Wild Cow Creek. Over the past decade, the BLM has managed these lands almost exclusively for oil, gas, and coal extraction, and has done little
to protect its natural wonders.

But the Rawlins office of the BLM is now revising its Resource Management Plan for the area, which includes the eastern half of the fabled Red Desert. This long-term zoning plan will designate lands to be protected for recreation and wildlife, and will also determine where oil and gas development is allowed to continue to dominate land use in the area. Furthermore, the revised Plan will determine what kinds of protective measures the BLM will require of the oil and gas industry in the future to protect wildlife and wild places, as well as air and water quality.

In its preferred alternative, the BLM proposes to open over 90% of these public lands to industrial-scale oil and gas drilling, and drill over six times as many wells under the new plan as are allowed under the existing one, when drilling is already proceeding at a record pace. Sensitive big game winter ranges and migration corridors, as well as important habitats for rare wildlife would continue to get only the token protection of seasonal restrictions, which allow industrialization of the most fragile areas as long as construction occurs during less sensitive times of year.

And under the agency’s preferred alternative, important parts of Adobe Town would be opened to drilling, while potential wilderness in the Pedro Mountains and Wild Cow Creek would not even be considered for protection. The plan also fails to protect almost 3,000 identified respected places that are important to Native Americans, archeologists, and trails enthusiasts, hundreds of which are eligible for designation on the National Register of Historic Places. Additionally, air pollution in the Great Divide area would double, threatening air quality in protected areas and increasing levels of acid rain. Water quality would be degraded in many areas due to surface discharge of toxic coalbed methane wastewater, and many of the wide open spaces that characterize this heart of the Wild West would be industrialized. In essence, the agency proposes to endorse the same heavy-handed drilling methods as always, with six times as much drilling.

The plan revision offers the public a great opportunity. It provides you (as American citizens and owners of these wildlands) the chance to demand sensitive lands and wildlife receive the protection they deserve while permitting oil and gas development to proceed in a balanced and responsible way.

Write a letter, and ask the BLM to adopt the Western Heritage Alternative, which protects sensitive landscapes in the Great Divide and ensures that development is managed in an environmentally responsible manner. Comment letters must be postmarked by March 17th.

Talking Points

* Adopt the Western Heritage Alternative for a revised Great Divide Plan that will balance industrial uses of my public lands with the needs of public recreation, clean air and water, and desert wildlife.
* Protect the Pedro Mountains, Wild Cow Creek, and all of the Citizens’ Proposed Adobe Town Wilderness from future drilling. The Pedro Mountains are a craggy and completely trackless range with wilderness qualities that have never been adequately protected. The Wild Cow Creek roadless area is a rare desert wildland along the Atlantic Rim and is one of the last remnants of open country in a landscape that is rapidly being overrun by the oil and gas industry. The adobe Town Citizens’ Proposed Wilderness covers thousands of unprotected acres, landscapes of such spectacular scenic value that they are worthy of National Park status. The Ferris Mountains Addition covers rugged hogbacks in the foothills of the range. Please give strong protection to these beautiful and ecologically sensitive lands, as well as other citizens’ proposed wilderness, withdrawing them from future oil and gas leasing.
* Move drilling away from sensitive wildlife habitats. Require “No Surface Occupancy” for oil and gas drilling on crucial big game winter ranges, prairie dog colonies, mountain plover habitat, floodplains, and within three miles of sage grouse leks or one mile of raptor nests. This will allow the mineral resources to be produced with directional drilling while protecting the sensitive lands on the surface.
* Mandate lower-impact types of drilling. President Bush and the Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton have long promised us new drilling technologies and environmentally sensitive methods of oil and gas exploration. The time has come to translate these promises into action. Require directional drilling to cluster wells and facilities in a few spots instead of sprawling them across the landscape.
* Manage livestock grazing at ecologically sustainable levels. Some parts of the Great Divide area have suffered from overgrazing, particularly the sensitive streamside habitats in the valleys that descend from the slopes of the Sierra Madres. Please reduce stocking levels for lands showing “fair” or “poor” range quality.
* Give extra protection to important wildlife habitats, like the Powder Rim, the entire Ferris Dunes, the Chain Lakes, and mountain plover nesting areas deserve extra protection as Areas of Critical Environmental Concern. These lands should enjoy “No Surface Occupancy” protection from industrial developments, as should Native American sacred sites and historic sites like the Overland and Cherokee Trails.
* Protect air quality by regulating development that contributes to acid rain and smog in nearby mountains and wilderness areas.
* Ensure clean water by prohibiting surface discharge of wastewater produced from coalbed methane drilling in the North Platte River drainage and the Red Desert (instead, require underground injection of wastewater), carefully regulating coalbed methane development, and ensuring that “Best Management Practices” for the control of water pollution are mandatory.

Please send comments by March 17th to:

Rawlins Bureau of Land Management
Attn: John Spehar
P.O. Box 2407
Rawlins, WY 82301

By e-mail to:

comments@rawlinsrmp.com

For more information, visit:

http://www.voiceforthewild.org/greatdivide

http://www.reddesert.org/

http://www.wyomingoutdoorcouncil.org/news/newsletter/docs/2004e/index.php

IN GENERAL
11. Wilderness Job Opportunities (3 positions)
A. California Wild Heritage Campaign
B. The Wilderness Society/Nevada
C. Idaho Conservation League

A. California Wild Heritage Campaign (3 positions)

Job Titles: Executive Assistant, CWHC
Southern California Regional Outreach Organizer, CWHC
Communications Director, CWHC

Organizational Background: Friends of the River (FOR) is California’s statewide river conservation organization, with more than 5,000 members dedicated to the preservation and restoration of free flowing rivers, streams, and watersheds. Friends of the River is an active member of the California Wild Heritage Campaign (see below).

Campaign Background: The California Wild Heritage Campaign (CWHC) seeks to permanently protect California’s remaining public wild lands and rivers through an outreach, education, and community activism campaign designed to raise awareness and build public support of Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers in California. The Campaign is a coalition of more than 400 local, regional, state, and national conservation organizations, businesses, faith groups, and civic leaders committed to this goal. A 7-member Governing Board and Campaign Director guide the work of the Campaign.

Job Positions:
Communications Director
The California Wild Heritage Campaign seeks an experienced Communications and Media Director to lead and guide the work of our Campaign. The Director will develop and execute and effective communications and media plan to raise public awareness about the Campaign’s mission and objectives. The ideal candidate will have a minimum of four years of experience in a public relations capacity and experience in communications and media work for fast-moving campaigns. A working knowledge of conservation issues in California is desired. Position location could include Sacramento, San Francisco, or Los Angeles. Open until filled.

Southern California Regional Outreach Organizer
Under the direction of FOR Conservation Director, the Campaign Director and Statewide Outreach Director, the Southern California Regional Outreach Organizer will help build public understanding and support for wilderness and wild river protection in Los Angeles County, including Santa Clarita Canyons, Condor Peak and Pleasant View Potential Wilderness Areas in the Angeles National Forest, as well as Piru Creek. Candidate should have 1-3 years of campaign organizing experience including grassroots education, coalition building, and media outreach. Position based in Santa Clarita, CA or vicinity. Application deadline 2/28/05.

Executive Assistant
The Executive Assistant provides administrative support to the Campaign Director and senior staff of the campaign. The position responsibilities include data base management, event coordination, and development of proposals. Candidate should have 1-3 years of experience in supporting and Executive or as an Administrative Director; be highly proficient with Word, Excel, and integrated databases; and have the ability to take initiative and deal with short timelines and changing priorities. Position located in Sacramento, CA. Application deadline 2/28/05.

(Detailed position descriptions are available at www.californiawild.org)

Application: Send cover letter and resume to:

CWHC Positions Search
915 – 20th Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

E-mail: tsheehan@californiawild.org

Fax: 916-442-3396

No phone inquiries please.

B. The Wilderness Society

Position Title: Nevada Wilderness Campaign Director
Location: Reno, Nevada
Application Deadline: March 4, 2005
Start Date: Immediately

General Description
The purpose of the Nevada Wilderness Campaign Director position is to play a leadership role in developing and advancing federal legislation that designates new wilderness areas in Nevada.

The Wilderness Society (TWS), a national non-profit membership organization devoted to the conservation of wilderness and public lands, is seeking a highly creative and skilled campaign director to lead our wilderness campaign efforts in Nevada. This person will serve as a key member of a dynamic, creative, and skilled team of TWS staff, as well as coalition partners, working to designate wilderness in Nevada.

The ideal candidate has significant experience in environmental advocacy, grassroots campaigns, and legislative work, outstanding communication skills and the ability to work well with diverse interests, a proven track record of leadership, and a love of the land. Knowledge of legislative process/public affairs is essential; experience with conservation, public lands and/or wilderness issues is desirable. The ability to lead initiatives, juggle competing priorities and work effectively within teams and coalitions is important.

Submit résumé, cover letter, writing samples and references to:

The Wilderness Society
Attn: Nevada Wilderness Position
Presidio Building #1016
P.O. Box 29241
San Francisco, CA 94129

Fax: 415-561-6640

E-mail: sara_barth@tws.org

No phone calls please.

C. Idaho Conservation League

Conservation Assistant – Sun Valley, Idaho office.

Idaho’s oldest and largest statewide conservation organization is seeking a Conservation Assistant to coordinate public outreach for active wilderness campaign, hiking program, and events. Monitor public land projects. Various administrative duties. 2 years conservation or non-profit experience helpful.

Please send resume and cover letter by March 4 to:

E-mail: lkincannon@wildidaho.org

Fax: 208-726-1821

Tags: ,
Posted in Newsletters | Comments Off on 2005 February

2004 February

February 4th, 2004

February 4, 2004

Dear CalUWild members and supporters —

The presidential primary season is in full swing, and one topic that is missing from almost everyone’s agenda is the environment. George W. Bush didn’t mention the word once in his State of the Union address.

However, that doesn’t mean things aren’t happening on the environmental front. Two weeks ago, Jim Walters, the Intermountain Region Wilderness Program Coordinator for the National Park Service resigned over the lack of support for and progress in the Park Service’s wilderness programs. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) has a copy of Walters’s letter to Park Service Director Fran Mainella on its web site at:

http://peer.org/PARK_SERVICE/walters.html

I encourage you to read it. PEER also has a page with links to information regarding other Park Service actions which neglect its responsibilities to wilderness areas under its jurisdiction:

http://peer.org/press/426.html

It, too, makes interesting reading.

This neglect in some areas — to say nothing of the outright attacks in others, which are the hallmarks of the Bush Administration — mean that citizens need to redouble their efforts to influence agency employees, legislators, newspaper editors, and their fellow citizens through comments, letters, and phone calls.

There are other ways to get involved as well, including inventorying wilderness areas and road claims. Habitat restoration projects are also an important tool, which help people feel connected to the areas they are trying to preserve. See Item 3 for a volunteer possibility, and other projects abound in the West.

Finally, slide shows are a great tool for people to learn more about various issues. CalUWild has put together a slide show highlighting Utah’s wilderness, using it as a prime example of the issues facing wilderness all over the West. in 2004 we would like to increase the number of shows we present, especially in Southern California. If you’d be interested in helping organize a show to a group (Sierra Club chapter, high school or college environmental club, Rotary Club, etc.) anywhere in the state, please contact me at .

And speaking of slide shows, the next 2 weeks will see a series of slide shows in California, Oregon, and Washington about wilderness and the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park. See Item 2 for details.

As always, CalUWild is here to help you be more effective advocates for wildlands. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact us by e-mail, snail mail, or phone. Contact information is at the end of this UPDATE.

Thank you for your support of our wild heritage!

Mike

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

IN CALIFORNIA

1. Los Padres Oil & Gas Drilling Proposal (ACTION ITEM)

IN & FROM ARIZONA

2. Grand Canyon Slide Show Tour

3. Tamarisk Restoration Projects in Grand Canyon National Park

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

IN CALIFORNIA

1. Los Padres Oil & Gas Drilling Proposal February 18 Event in Santa Barbara and Letters Needed (ACTION ITEM)

For the last 2 years, CalUWild has been working with a coalition of groups to stop a proposal to open sensitive areas in Los Padres National Forest to oil and gas leasing. These areas are in proposed wilderness and immediately adjacent to release areas for the endangered California Condor restoration program.

After numerous delays, the Forest Service is preparing to release its Environmental Impact Statement in April. Therefore it is CRITICAL that people let the local congressman, Elton Gallegly, know of their opposition to these plans. So far he has not taken a stand against them.

Erin Duffy, the Santa Barbara representative for the California Wild Heritage Campaign, has organized an event for February 18 in Santa Barbara and sent out the following announcement:

Demonstrate your opposition to further oil and gas drilling in Los Padres National Forest!!

Please join Congresswoman Lois Capps and local elected officials WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 2004 10:45am Santa Barbara County Court House at the entrance to the sunken gardens.

WHY?

The Forest Service is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement that will determine where they will open up our forest to oil and gas development. The people of the south central coast know all too well the catastrophes associated with this type of extraction. This month marks the 35 anniversary of the 1969 oil spill off the coast, and we need to tell the Forest Service, “NO MORE OIL!”

For further information on how to get involved: please contact Erin Duffy of the California Wild Heritage Campaign at 805-564-2460 or calwild_sb@yahoo.com

Please take a moment to write a short letter to Elton Gallegly regarding this short-minded energy plan!

Representative Elton Gallegly
US House of Representatives
2829 Townsgate Road, Suite 315
Thousand Oaks, CA 91361

Talking points to include in your letter:

* Twenty federally listed threatened or endangered species are at risk from expanded oil and gas activities, including the California condor and San Joaquin kit fox. So far, $35 million has been spent on the Condor Recovery Program, an investment not worth risking for a few days of oil.
* If the current drilling expansion proposal is successful, 66 percent of the oak woodland within the Los Padres National Forest could be destroyed.
* New oil and gas development would hinder recreational opportunities to fish, hunt, hike, and backpack in serene, safe surroundings as streams and trails are contaminated by runoff and sedimentation and air pollution is increased.
* Unexplored archeological sites that contain Native American history, including a permanent village and temporary habitation sites, cemeteries, rock art and places of religious significance, could be damaged or destroyed by expanded oil and gas development.
* New drilling in Los Padres National Forest will not lead to U.S. energy independence. While drilling in these areas poses significant risk, it offers no real solution – providing, at most, a five-day supply of energy for the nation.
* Los Padres National Forest contains less than one percent of the gas and oil thought to exist in federal lands throughout the United States according to the Forest Service.
* By promoting conservation and efficiency and investing in renewable energy like wind and solar, we can maintain our quality of life, meet our energy needs, and preserve our remaining wild lands.

THANK YOU!!

FROM & IN ARIZONA

2. Grand Canyon Slide Show Tour

CalUWild has been working with another coalition of groups to secure wilderness status for Grand Canyon National Park, especially for the Colorado River corridor in the Park. A planning process has been going on for the river, and a draft plan is expected in a few months. There have been proposals to circumvent the planning process, but so far they have been beaten back. A big issue for wilderness advocates is the presence of motorized rafts and helicopter flights in the Canyon, since mechanical means of transport are banned by the Wilderness Act (except under certain circumstances).

Tom Martin, Co-Director of River Runners for Wilderness, one of the coalition partners, and guidebook author (“Day Hikes From The River: A Guide to 100 Hikes from Camps on the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park.”), will be presenting 8 slide shows on wilderness in Grand Canyon, beginning next week. I urge you to attend one of them if possible!

Here is the schedule:

Tuesday, February 10 – 7:00 PM
Fresno, CA
Library
Viking Elementary School
NW corner of Ashlan and Winery Avenues
Fresno, CA
Local contact: Paul Martzen 559-441-1383
Wednesday, February 11 – 7:00 PM
Oakland, CA
California Canoe and Kayak
409 Water St.
Jack London Square
Oakland, CA 94607
510-893-7833, 800-366-9804
www.calkayak.com
Thursday, February 12 – 7:00 PM
Rancho Cordova, CA
California Canoe and Kayak
12401 Folsom Blvd. Suite 205
Nimbus Winery Mall
Exit off Highway 50 on Hazel Avenue South.
Rancho Cordova, CA
916-353-1880
www.calkayak.com
Friday, February 13 – 7:00 PM
Roseburg, OR
Walt and Jody Bammann Home
251 Woodberry Ln
Roseburg, OR 97470
541-673-8309
Saturday, February 14 – 7:00 PM
Seattle, WA
University of Washington Campus
Hub Auditorium
Seattle, WA
http://depts.washington.edu/hubres/auditorium.php
Sponsored by the University Kayak Club and RRFW
Monday, February 16 – 7:00 PM
Tacoma, WA
Backpackers Supply
5206 S. Tacoma Way
Tacoma, WA 98409
253-472-4402
http://www.marmotmountain.com/store-tacoma.htm
Tuesday, February 17 – 7:00 PM
Portland, OR
Templeton Student Center’s Council Chambers
Lewis & Clark College
0615 SW Palatine Hill Road, just off I-5 via
Terwilliger Boulevard
Portland, OR
Sponsored by North West Rafters Association, Lewis & Clark College and RRFW
Wednesday, February 18 – 6:30 PM
Bend, OR
Alder Creek Kayak and Canoe
805 SW Industrial Way
(The Old Mill District)
Bend, OR
541-317-9407

River Runners for Wilderness publishes an e-mail newsletter “Riverwire” about Colorado River issues and can be found on the Web at:
http://www.rrfw.org

3. Tamarisk Restoration Projects in Grand Canyon National Park

Starting the weekend of February 13 and running through the weekend of March 26, Grand Canyon National Park will be conducting tamarisk eradication expeditions into the Canyon. The four-day trips will take place every Friday through Monday (with a few exceptions) and will involve hiking down from various points on the South Rim and camping in the backcountry. Your days will be filled with cutting tamarisk trees and hauling cut brush to designated areas. The Revegetation staff with your group will also be applying herbicide to assist in the eradication effort. The work will be hard, but definitely rewarding! Fortunately, the inner canyon won’t be too hot at this time of year (it will probably even be chilly).

Some of you may not live nearby, but this is a great excuse for a weekend getaway! This opportunity is open to anyone who would like to help.

Tamarisk is an invasive tree from the Mediterranean that has been gaining quite a stronghold in waterways throughout the Southwest. In the Grand Canyon, this plant was introduced by settlers as a bank stabilizer along streams and the Colorado River. Unfortunately, it has adapted too well to our unique riparian environments and is crowding out native vegetation and sucking up precious water that other plants need!! We have recently begun a fairly aggressive campaign along the River to eradicate this plant, but we need more help in order to control the spread of tamarisk into side canyons.

For more information or to schedule your sweaty, tiring, fun-filled trip, please contact Kim Fawcett at:

kimberlyfawcett@hotmail.com.

Thanks in advance for all of your work to preserve Grand Canyon’s natural environment! If you are interested in doing other volunteer projects, please contact Deb Shannon, volunteer coordinator, Grand Canyon Revegetation Crew:

Deb_Shannon@nps.gov

Tags: ,
Posted in Newsletters | Comments Off on 2004 February

2003 February

February 16th, 2003

February 16, 2003

Dear Friends of Western Wilderness —

Every day it seems one reads about new threats to our Western lands. Perhaps the administration is hoping that it can get away with its plans while the world is focused on questions of war and peace in Iraq. However, we cannot allow our protective vigilance to wane. If we do, a lot of damage to the landscape will occur, including: new roads will be built, new oil and gas wells will be drilled, new coal mines will be excavated, old forests will be felled.

The good news is that by writing a couple of letters or making a couple of phone calls, you can let your representatives know that some issues are important to you. Amazingly, they seem to be listening! Some bad items did slip through the big budget bill last week concerning Alaskan forests, but drilling in the Arctic Refuge was dropped — yet again! And when it comes to legislation moving on the “normal” track (in other words, not riders to appropriations bills), we have an excellent record.

For example, for all of the power that retired Rep. Jim Hansen of Utah supposedly wielded, we have been unable to find one important piece of legislation (environmental or other) that he managed to shepherd through Congress in his 22 years there. And we managed to defeat all the legislation he introduced that was adverse to Utah wilderness interests: the West Desert and Pilot Range bills, Title XIV of the Military Appropriations Bill. The list goes on. We can be proud of the work we’ve done.

But we can’t afford to rest on our past successes. There is always more to do, as you’ll see from this month’s items (below).

Speaking of Jim Hansen, the Deseret News, Utah’s second-largest newspaper, reported in January that he is setting up a consulting/lobbying firm in Washington. It will be a consulting firm at first, because by law, Mr. Hansen cannot lobby his former colleagues for one year. “We’re zeroing in on military and resources (public lands) issues. That is what I know best,” Mr. Hansen is quoted as saying. So we may not have seen the last of him yet!

In other disturbing news, the Los Angeles Times reported on Jan. 26 that the National Park Service is looking at about 70% of its full-time jobs and considering turning them to private contractors to fill. The article said “Interior Secretary Gayle [sic] A. Norton, ” has earmarked 11,807 of 16,470 full-time positions for possible privatization. They range from maintenance and secretarial jobs to archeologists and biologists.” This proposal could have disastrous consequences, because commercial interests often conflict with resource protection. Other Interior officials said that few current workers would lose their jobs; rather, retiring employees might be replaced by contractors. “This is a way to capture the benefits of competition to produce better performance and better value,” Deputy Assistant Secretary Scott Cameron said. “Competition makes for a much more exciting Lakers game than if only one team were on the court.”

However, Frank Buono, former assistant superintendent of Joshua Tree NP and former manager of the Mojave National Preserve said: “The Park Service is not a business enterprise. There is a fundamental ideological binge that the free-enterprise system will heal all wounds and solve all problems. Ask Enron about the efficiency of the unregulated private marketplace.” Park Service Director Fran Mainella, in a letter to the Times, said that only 1,700 positions would be studied in 2003 and 2004 for privatizing, and none of those would include rangers. We’ll keep you posted.

An intrepid CalUWild volunteer is currently updating contact information for the California delegation to the 108th Congress, and we’ll have that information for you soon. We’ll send it out as part of “How and to Whom: The CalUWild Guide to Effective Advocacy.” Once you’ve received that, you will have current addresses and phone numbers to make your voice heard in Washington.

When we send “The Guide” out, we’ll also remind you to write to your representatives asking them to cosponsor America’s Redrock Wilderness Act. We had hoped to hand-deliver a large number of support letters next week in Washington, however, the response to the request in the January Update was underwhelming, to say the least. Admittedly, there is a lot going on that is claiming our attention, but America’s Redrock Wilderness Act is CalUWild’s major annual legislative campaign. After all, support for Utah’s wilderness was the reason CalUWild was founded, since Utah’s delegation has no interest in the legislation moving forward. It’s not a topic we’re going to give up on. So please, be prepared to send a letter. You’ll be helping a lot.

Finally, in the face of all that the administration has planned for the West, we need to dramatically boost the number of Californians willing to actively support wildlands. Satisfied members are CalUWild’s best recommendation. The Update currently is sent out to more than 515 people. Please forward this Update to three people you know who might be interested–particularly if they live in Southern California. If you send us their name and email address, we’ll send them the information they need to join up. Tell them we don’t send out numerous alerts (generally once a month), dues are voluntary (but appreciated), and we do NOT share personal information with ANYone for ANY reason, so they won’t be receiving unsolicited email. It won’t be hard to double or triple our membership. We need to do it!

Thanks as always for all your support,

Mike Painter

IN UTAH/ARIZONA

1. Park Service Considers Blowing Up Red Rocks at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

(ACTION ITEM)

2. BLM Releases San Rafael Swell Travel Plan

IN CALIFORNIA

3. Emigrant Wilderness Dams Comments

(ACTION ITEM)

DEADLINE: March 3

4. Giant Sequoia National Monument Planning

(ACTION ITEM)

DEADLINE: March 17

IN WASHINGTON STATE

5. Wild Sky Wilderness Campaign Gets into Gear

IN COLORADO

6. Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness Bill

(ACTION ITEM)

IN GENERAL

7. Fee Demonstration Program Update

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

IN UTAH/ARIZONA

1. Park Service Considers Blowing Up Red Rocks

at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

(ACTION ITEM)

The Southwest has had several years of drought, leaving Lake Powell about 50% full at present (and dropping daily). This means that rocks submerged by the reservoir (it’s not a lake!) are now in the open, and some serpentine canyon walls are above the water line. Thus, boaters cannot speed across the surface of the reservoir, but must follow the contours of exposed geological formations. The Denver Post reported today that the National Park Service is considering blasting or using earth moving equipment to deepen the Castle Rock cut near Wahweap Marina to save boaters 7 miles to get to the other side of it.

Please send a letter to the superintendent pointing out that the drought is a natural phenomenon, and since the government currently has no plans to drain the reservoir, the rocks blocking boaters’ way will presumably be submerged again some day. This kind of proposal is an outrage for the Park Service to consider in a national recreation area.

Send your letter to:

Ms. Kitty Roberts
Superintendent
P.O. Box 1507
Page, AZ 86040-1507
fax: 928-608-6283

The full text of the story, discussing the Lake Powell situation and the drought’s effects across the Southwest can be found at:

http://www.denverpost.com/Stories/0,1413,36%257E23447%257E1183305%257E,00.html

2. BLM Releases San Rafael Swell Travel Plan

On February 3, the BLM in Utah released it off-highway vehicle (OHV) travel plan. It was only 11 years late. The plan allows 677 miles of OHV trails to remain open, but closes another 468 miles.

Among the important closures are Muddy Creek which cuts through the San Rafael Reef. BLM said that OHV use was a threat to the riparian environment and that continued use might disqualify the creek from Wild and Scenic River designation. (Muddy Creek is also a road claim under the Mining Act of 1866 — RS 2477. But that’s a different issue.)

Temporarily closed, until vegetation recovers, is Little Wild Horse Canyon.

Steve Bloch, attorney for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) was quoted in the Salt Lake Tribune as saying: “We’re not thrilled with all aspects of it. Still, we think this is a good first step to try and bring balance back to the San Rafael Swell.” But Bloch said: “It is 11 years late. Some of the routes included in this plan are ones that in all likelihood would have never shown up in a travel plan had the BLM gotten the job done when it was supposed to.” Steve also said: “We will be watching closely to see if BLM follows through on-the-ground and implements the travel plan. We will continue to work with the BLM on service trips that build fence, post closure signs, etc.”

Brian Hawthorne, of the Utah Shared Access Alliance, an OHV group, said BLM “ma[de] an honest attempt to consider all the stakeholders. We credit the BLM for making a good-faith effort to bring all the voices into the plan, from the wilderness advocates to us.”

The Tribune article listed other areas of contention:

* Routes through Sids Mountain Wilderness Study Area will remain “conditionally open.”

* The route to Junes Bottom, downstream from the confluence of the San Rafael and Green Rivers, will be closed to protect desert soils and the Green River’s candidacy for Wild and Scenic Rivers designation.

The plan calls for increased signs, increased enforcement, and widely distributed maps of which trails are open and closed.

You can find the plan at:

http://www.ut.blm.gov/sanrafaelohv

IN CALIFORNIA

3. Emigrant Wilderness Dams Comments

(ACTION ITEM)

DEADLINE: March 3

We’ve written about this issue before, in the context of Rep. John Doolittle (R-04) introducing legislation in every Congress, mandating the permanent maintenance of these dams. His legislation has never made it through Congress. It seems now the Forest Service has decided to do administratively what Mr. Doolittle was unable to do legislatively.

This alert came from Jeff Kane of the Sierra Club Bay Chapter Wilderness Subcommittee:

On January 31, 2003, the Stanislaus National Forest announced its intent to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) to support its recent proposal to re-construct and maintain 12 old dams in the Emigrant Wilderness (located in California’s Sierra Nevada, north of Yosemite National Park).

The scoping notice does not discuss “why” the agency wants to re-construct and maintain 12 of the 18 old dams deep in a high-elevation wilderness area. The truth is that the dams are not needed or used for water supply or any other consumptive purpose. The real reason is that the USFS is under intense pressure from local politicians and sportspersons (such as fishing groups and Backcountry Horsemen) that want to do everything in their power to maintain the artificial trout fishery and the history of human dominance over natural processes in the Emigrant Wilderness.

Wilderness advocates have long argued that allowing all 18 of the decades-old dams to deteriorate naturally would be more in keeping with wilderness values, as well as provide improved habitat for severely threatened amphibians (such as Yosemite toads and mountain yellow-legged frogs).

The scoping notice provides details on the location of the dams and proposed projects:

http://www.r5.fs.fed.us/stanislaus/projects/emigrant/index.htm

Please send a letter by March 3, 2003 and remind the USFS that:

1) these dams do not serve any useful purpose;

2) their presence only serves to degrade wilderness values;

3) the artificial reservoirs created by the dams are degrading habitat for threatened amphibians (e.g., Yosemite toad and mountain yellow-legged frog); and

4) all eighteen dams should be allowed to deteriorate naturally, and the trash should be packed out.

Comments should be sent to:

ATTN: Emigrant Dams

Stanislaus National Forest
19777 Greenly Road
Sonora, CA 95370

or emailed to:

jmaschi@fs.fed.us

More information is available from John Maschi at:

209-532-3671 x 317

4. Giant Sequoia National Monument Planning

(ACTION ITEM)

DEADLINE: March 17

The Forest Service has released its Draft Management Plan for Giant Sequoia National Monument on the western slopes of the southern Sierra Nevada. Alternative 6, selected as the “preferred alternative” could hardly be worse. The California Wilderness Coalition sent out the following alert:

WRITE FOREST SERVICE BY MARCH 17: GIANT SEQUOIA NATIONAL MONUMENT SHOULD PROTECT, NOT LOG, ANCIENT TREES

In April 2000, President Clinton established by presidential proclamation the Giant Sequoia National Monument, to ensure that 329,000 acres of giant sequoia groves would be protected from logging and bulldozing. However, the U.S. Forest Service has released its draft management plan for the monument, which abandons the agency’s duty to protect and restore forest ecosystems, wildlife, geologic formations, paleontological resources, and archaeological sites. The Forest Service also ignores the clear language of the proclamation that says monument lands are not to be opened for commercial logging operations, and proposes instead to “protect” this monument with extensive logging disguised as “fuels reduction” or “restoration” — even in groves of the ancient giants.

The draft management plan tosses aside the Forest Service’s own science, which finds that logging activities are the main cause of fire risk and severity. The monument proclamation requires a science advisory board to guide the Forest Service in developing this plan, but thus far this board has been merely commenting on superficial queries but giving no substantial guidance.

The only alternative in the draft plan which does *not* call for major logging is Alternative 4. It calls for tree cutting only in the near vicinity of structures and in areas of high human use, as recommended in recent fire behavior studies. In the general forest, Alternative 4 relies primarily on hand thinning and prescribed fire to restore the forest. It increases compatible recreation such as camping, hiking, riding, and cross-country skiing, while it restricts off-road vehicle use to forest roads.

What You Can Do:

Please write to the Forest Service by March 17 and ask them to protect the Giant Sequoia National Monument from logging. To view a copy of the draft plan online, visit the monument’s website at:

http://www.r5.fs.fed.us/giant_sequoia/

Four public meetings will be held from February 10th through the 18th in Porterville, Bakersfield, Fresno, and Los Angeles; see the website for details.

Please send your letter to:

Jim Whitfield, Team Leader
Giant Sequoia National Monument
900 West Grand Avenue
Porterville, CA 93257
Email: GSNM_Public@fs.fed.us

Please send copies of your letter to:

Senator Barbara Boxer
1700 Montgomery St. # 240
San Francisco, CA 94111
Fax: (415) 956-6701

Senator Dianne Feinstein
One Post St. # 2450
San Francisco, CA 94104
Fax: (415) 393-0710

Jason Swartz
California Wilderness Coalition
2655 Portage Bay East # 5
Davis, CA 95616
Phone: (530) 758-0380

Points to make in your letter:

1. The preferred alternative, Alternative 6, is completely unacceptable. It fails to value these unique natural wonders — the last remaining giant sequoia trees — and is blinded by the Forest Service’s allegiance to the timber industry. It would open the monument to commercial logging, ignoring the most basic requirements of the monument proclamation. This alternative gives the administration the power to do anything it wants with the least amount of accountability. We suggest you adamantly oppose Alternatives 2, 3, 5, and especially Alternative 6.

2. Alternative 4 most closely follows the original proclamation. We suggest you propose adopting Alternative 4 because it:

a) Has two sensible management zones, one for those areas of high human use and another with an integrated ecosystem approach;

b) It allows tree removal only for fuels reduction in areas near structures and where human safety is a key concern;

c) It relies on hand thinning and prescribed and natural burning as primary management tools; and

d) It allows increased non-motorized recreation and keeps the historic trail network intact.

Your letter must be postmarked no later than March 17, 2003. Thank you for your help!

=============

This JUST came in:

The Sierra Club and other concerned citizens will rally before and speak out at the US Forest Service public meeting being held in Glendale, CA.

When:

Tuesday, February 18th

5:30 pm

The rally will be from 5:30-6. The Forest Service meeting is from 6-8 pm.

Where:

The Hilton Los Angeles North/Glendale Hotel
100 West Glenoaks Boulevard
Glendale, CA 91202

For directions, go to Mapquest.com or follow these: from I-5, take Hwy 134 East. Take the Brand Blvd./Central Ave. exit and turn left on Central Ave. Go north on Central Ave. for 4 lights to W. Glenoaks Blvd. Turn right on W. Glenoaks Blvd. The hotel is on the right.

If you take Brand Blvd. turn left on W. Glenoaks Ave. There will be reduced rate parking at the hotel for $4. Just tell the attendant you are there for the Forest Service meeting.

IN WASHINGTON STATE

5. Wild Sky Wilderness Campaign Gets into Gear

This information comes from the Wilderness Support Center.

NEW TV AD KICKS OFF NEW YEAR FOR WILD SKY WILDERNESS CAMPAIGN

Background:

The Wild Sky Wilderness Act, which was introduced in May of 2002 by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Congressman Rick Larsen (D-WA) would permanently protect 106,000 acres in the heart of Washington State’s Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Sen. Murray and Rep. Larsen met with local stakeholders over two years and the lawmakers built broad consensus for their proposal to create the new Washington wilderness area.

The proposal steadily worked its way through Congress last year, unanimously passing the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee as well as the House Resources Committee with bi-partisan support. The full Senate passed the proposal by unanimous consent in November. Unfortunately, the House failed to give final approval to the measure after it got caught up with a series of unrelated bills in a legislative logjam last fall.

A little more than an hour from downtown Seattle, the Wild Sky is a rugged landscape with thousand foot cliffs, high alpine peaks, breathtaking waterfalls, lush old-growth forests, crystal clear rivers, and substantial tracts of low elevation forest land. Low elevation forests have not typically been protected as part of existing Wilderness areas in the west. Only 6.6 percent of Washington Wilderness areas are under 3,000 feet in elevation – making the areas included in the Wild Sky bill unique and valuable additions to state’s wilderness legacy.

Update:

In a new wave of momentum to create Washington’s first Wilderness area in nearly twenty years, the Wild Washington Campaign, a statewide alliance of conservation and recreation groups, released a 30-second TV spot last week that showcases the natural beauty of the Wild Sky wilderness and urges quick action by Congress to protect it. This ad is airing in conjunction with continued efforts by supporters to permanently protect the Wild Sky Wilderness early in 2003.

“This television ad builds on the overwhelming public demand to protect the Wild Sky,” said John Leary, Campaign Director for the Wild Washington Campaign. “It reminds our members of Congress of the importance of protecting our natural heritage and urges them to act now to save this special place right in our own backyard,” said Leary.

“Congress almost permanently protected the Wild Sky last year – they need to finish the job in 2003,” said Amy Schlachtenhaufen, Assistant Director for the Northwest Office of the Wilderness Society.

Senator Murray and Congressman Larsen have both pledged to continue their effort to protect the Wild Sky early this year. Representative Jennifer Dunn, a key supporter, especially in the Republican-held House of Representatives, has also said she will join Murray and Larsen again in 2003.

On February 13, Representative Rick Larsen (D-WA) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) reintroduced the Wild Sky Wilderness Act H.R. 822/S. 391 to designate wilderness in the Skykomish River Valley in Washington’s Mt. Baker/Snoqualmie National Forest.

IN COLORADO

6. Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness Bill

(ACTION ITEM)

On February 5, Congressman Mark Udall (D-CO) reintroduced a bill (H.R. 640) to designate wilderness within Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. We wrote about this bill in May 2001 when it was first introduced. Here’s what we said:

Folks in Colorado are hoping to have eligible areas of Rocky Mountain National Park declared Wilderness under the 1964 Act. According to the National Park Service, 93% of the park qualifies as Wilderness. Sen. Wayne Allard (R-CO) has indicated that he might introduce legislation if he hears from enough constituents.

Even though we aren’t his constituents, Rocky Mountain NP belongs to all Americans, and we have as much at stake as the citizens of Colorado.

Take a moment to write Sen. Allard supporting wilderness designation for Rocky Mountain NP. Send copies of your letter to Sens. Boxer and Feinstein.

Hon. Wayne Allard
U.S. Senate
7340 E. Caley, Suite 215
Englewood, CO 80111

Hon. Barbara Boxer
U.S. Senate
1700 Montgomery St. # 240
San Francisco, CA 94111

Hon. Dianne Feinstein

U.S. Senate
One Post St. # 2450
San Francisco, CA 94104

IN GENERAL

7. Fee Demonstration Program Update

The following, slightly edited, comes from the Keep Sespe Wild Committee, one of CalUWild’s Fee Demo Coalition partners:

We’ve held back our usual year-end update on Fee Demo’s status in Washington, DC until the new Committee Chairs were announced.

Right now, things are looking more encouraging than at any point since Fee Demo was foisted on us here in Southern California nearly six years ago. The end of 2002 brought the retirement of some strong fee proponents in powerful places – Rep. James Hansen (R-UT), House Resources Committee Chair and Rep. Joe Skeen (R-NM), Chair of Interior Appropriations. They will be replaced by Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA), Chair of House Resources and Rep. Charles Taylor (R-NC) Chair of Interior Appropriations.

Even these retiring Fee Demo champions wouldn’t touch the Administration’s 2002 permanent fee bill for the four public lands agencies (currently under Fee Demo) plus the Bureau of Reclamation. That’s right, the word we have from behind the scenes in DC is that the Administration couldn’t find a Senator or Representative to sponsor their permanent fee bill last year.

We first saw a copy of this bill a few weeks ago; it represents a truly disheartening commercialization of America’s public lands, with “basic recreation fees,” “expanded recreation fees and special recreation fees,” to be levied on motorists, cyclists, pedestrians, equestrians. Naturally, it exempts National Park Service sites in DC itself. Can you imagine how long public lands access fees would last if they were levied on those who crossed the Capitol Mall, for example (an NPS site)? It would create a new multi-agency pass called “America the Beautiful;” the bill itself is titled the “Visitor Recreation Enjoyment Act.”

But there’s even better news to come – this just in two days ago. The Administration seems uncertain if they’ll even ask Congress to make Fee Demo permanent in 2003; we’ll know for sure when the President’s budget is announced on Feb. 3rd. Either way, the recreation corporations which CREATED Fee Demo, members of the American Recreation Coalition (ARC), are feeling the heat from the enraged American public. “At this point ARC is not actively pursuing legislation,” ARC’s President Derrick Crandall said recently. “We’re in a wait and see mood.” It’s the first time they’ve said anything close to that in six years of Fee Demo! They usually push hard for permanent fees, ASAP.

You may recall that back in June, Rep. Jim Hansen was about to introduce HIS permanent fee bill, when it was quietly shelved with no explanation. And Senator Bingaman (D-NM and Chair of the Senate Energy Committee last year) introduced his permanent fee bill (S. 2607) to considerable flak and not enough support for it to move forward.

In other words, it looks as if all the major players in DC are backing away from permanent fee bills. The suspicious among us wonder what else they – any of the above players – may be up to as an alternative. We’ll keep you posted. Meanwhile, let’s try to end Fee Demo this year!

Thanks, as ever, for your continued interest and support.
Yours,
Sincerely,
Alasdair Coyne

Keep Sespe Wild Committee
805-921-0618
PO Box 715,
Ojai, CA 93024

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2002 February – Interim

February 21st, 2002

February 21, 2002

Dear CalUWild Members and Friends —

More and more of our time in the last year has been taken up dealing with the enormous increase in oil and gas leasing, exploration, and drilling on our public lands, Many of the affected areas are potential wilderness. In fact, the Administration has made it a priority to encourage this activity in pristine areas instead of in areas that already have impacts.

In an op-ed piece in today’s New York Times, Utah author (and CalUWild Advisory Board member) Terry Tempest Williams offers a first-hand account of activities near Arches National Park. I thought it was worth sharing today, rather than waiting until the next UPDATE.

I hope it will encourage you to make your voice heard: to the Administration, your newspaper, your representative and senators, and most of all, your friends, so that they can speak up as well.

Thanks,

Mike

Chewing Up a Fragile Land

By TERRY TEMPEST WILLIAMS

CASTLE VALLEY, Utah — For many Americans, the Bush administration energy plan, developed by Vice President Dick Cheney with the help of a task force whose deliberations he will not reveal, is an abstraction at best, and at worst a secret. Here in the redrock desert of southern Utah, it is literally an earth-shaking reality.

Oil and gas exploration is going on in the form of seismic tests conducted with what are called thumper trucks in sensitive wildlands adjacent to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Last Sunday, with a group of friends all deeply concerned about the fate of this landscape, one of America’s most treasured, I witnessed the destructive power of the thumper trucks on the fragile desert.

We had a Bureau of Land Management map showing the territory leased by Eclipse Exploration of Denver 23,000 acres elevated in priority for exploration and drilling under the Bush energy plan. We oriented ourselves from atop the sandstone cliffs above the Colorado River that overlook this pristine country of Entrada sandstone formations, pinyon and juniper forests, and fragile alkaline desert. It is one of the proposed preserves in America’s Redrock Wilderness bill now before Congress and with significant support. If this bill were law, it would protect these lands from new leases for oil drilling and exploration.

Lines drawn on the map marked the physical corridors where four 50,000-pound trucks would crawl cross-country, tamping the desert for clues as to where oil might be found. As we set out to look for the trucks, our task was simplified by a helicopter flying overhead with a long cable carrying what appeared to be an enormous doughnut. It was a tire. We watched where it was dropped and hiked to the work site.

A thumper truck was stuck, tilted on its side, lodged precariously in the steep banks of a wash. Its rear left tire, as tall as the man staring at it, was not only flat but torn off its axle by an unseen boulder. Parked nearby was a white truck the “smart box” where WesternGeco, the company contracted to do this preliminary work, records and compiles all the seismic information.

Three other thumper trucks were at work about half a mile ahead. Behind them was pulverized earth: a 15-foot swath of beaten down and broken junipers, blackbrush, rabbitbrush, squawbush and cliffrose. The delicate desert crust that holds the red sand in place from wind and erosion, known as cryptobiotic soil, was obliterated. Replacing it, in effect, was a newly crushed road.

In January Jayne Belnap, a United States Geological Survey expert on soil damage, submitted an official comment letter to the Bureau of Land Management about the fragility of desert crusts, warning it could take from 50 to 300 years for the dry soil to recover from the damage incurred by heavy equipment.

Up close, the thumper trucks creeping across the desert, following a path of fluorescent pink ribbons, looked like gigantic insects, gnawing and clawing, articulating right and left as they balanced themselves across the rugged terrain. Fumes from hydraulic fluid stung our eyes, and the noise threatened to blow out human eardrums. The men in the trucks were reading newspapers as the operation proceeded, computerized and routine.

At the designated stops, each truck in the convoy lowered a steel plate onto the desert, clamped tight, applied some 64,000 pounds of pressure against the sand and then sent a jolt of seismic waves below to record density. The ground went into a seizure. Sand flew and smoke obscured the horizon where Skyline Arch and Sand Dune Arch the Windows section of Arches National Park stand. We were only four miles from Delicate Arch, the redrock icon where a few weeks ago a Ute elder uttered prayers and passed the Winter Olympics torch to his granddaughter in the name of good will and peace. When the steel plate lifted, the once supple red sand had turned to concrete.

The trucks moved forward, post to post, now scraping sandstone with the chains around their tires, heading straight for a spring where 100-year-old cottonwood trees provided a rare canopy of shade alongside a creek. We ran ahead, not believing the trucks would force a road into this fragile desert oasis, but they did, gunning the gas, breaking down stands of squawbush and willows and ripping right on through the cottonwood shoots. There was nothing we could do but watch. This was our country’s new energy plan, translated into action.

A manager from the Bureau of Land Management suddenly appeared, and I felt a flash of relief, thinking he had come to stop this sacrifice of wild country that might at best yield a tiny fraction of the supply of fuel this oil-hungry nation uses every year. He was perturbed, but not by the trucks plowing through the cottonwood wash. He had come to monitor us the public, walking on public lands. The bureau had received a call, he told us, saying that we might be harassing the operation, putting the project at risk.

I should not have been surprised. I knew that a memorandum sent by the Bureau of Land Management to field offices on Jan. 4 had said that when an oil and gas parcel is leased for exploration and drilling, or when an application for permission to drill comes in the door, this work must be the No. 1 priority.

We asked the land manager as politely as possible if he had the jurisdiction to redirect the thumper trucks from this riverbed to an already established seismic road to the south. “We’ve got the discretion to make them do that,” he said. “But, in the end, it’s all a trade-off. We’ve chosen to just accept the project as they give it to us.” He paused. “You can see the pink ribbons on the trees,” he said. “They’ve had it all staked out since September.”

Terry Tempest Williams is the author of “Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert.”

Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company

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2002 February

February 13th, 2002

February 13, 2002

Dear CalUWild Friends and Supporters —

As you must be aware, the Olympics are in Utah this week and next, bringing national and international attention to the state. This is a perfect time for a letter to the editor of your newspaper pointing out that Utah is much more than just snow sports in the mountains; there are large, spectacular, wild areas of the state that deserve to be kept as they are, free from oil and gas exploration and off-road vehicle travel. Write a letter today!

The California Wild Heritage Campaign is proceeding with plans for new wilderness in the Golden State. For a complete schedule of hikes to proposed areas and meetings around the state, take a look online at:

www.californiawild.org/calendar.html

or contact Ilysia Shattuck at 510-622-0290 x220 or ilysia.shattuck@sierraclub.org.

There are quite a few items of interest this month. Among them: A new national monument has been proposed for Utah (Item 1); The Bush Administration’s drive to open more and more public lands to oil and gas exploration has come to California (Item 3); the Administration is proposing to weaken the Roadless Rule — sorry for the short deadline on this one: Feb. 19! (Item 7); and the Administration’s budget proposes a new way of managing some of our national forests (Item 8).

Without further ado:

IN UTAH

1. Gov. Mike Leavitt Proposes San Rafael Swell National Monument

2. Seismic Exploration Approved Near Arches National Park

IN CALIFORNIA

3. Oil & Gas Leases Proposed in Los Padres National Forest

Deadline: April 19, 2002

(Action Item)

4. Sequoia National Monument Planning Open Houses

5. California Wilderness Coalition Has a Job Opening

6. Wilderness Backpacking Permit Information Online

IN WASHINGTON, DC

7. Proposal to Weaken Roadless Rule

Deadline: February 19, 2002

(Immediate-Action Item)

8. Charter — Coming to a Forest Near You?

(Action Item)

IN UTAH

1. GOV. MIKE LEAVITT PROPOSES SAN RAFAEL SWELL NATIONAL MONUMENT

In his State of the State address on January 28, Utah Governor, Republican Mike Leavitt, dropped a bombshell of sorts when he proposed that George W. Bush designate 620,000 acres of the San Rafael Swell in Eastern Utah a national monument. The proposal garnered nationwide attention because of the contradiction it presented: many conservative politicians and members of the public remain outraged by former Pres. Bill Clinton’s use of the 1906 Antiquities Act to designate 12 national monuments.

They have objected to what they see as a lack of local consultation before the designations and to the setting aside of areas larger than necessary to protect monument resources. The administration in Washington and Gov. Leavitt both worked quickly to distinguish this proposal from those of the Clinton era, saying that since the proposal came from the state itself, it was a grass roots proposal. “We’re going to do this by process and not ambush,” said Gov. Leavitt.

Motorized recreation users, however, did compare Gov. Leavitt’s announcement to the proclamation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Brian Hawthorne, director of the Utah Shared Access Alliance (USA-ALL), a wise-use group, said that the major users of the land in the Swell — ORVs and environmentalists — were left out of preliminary discussions with the governor, making the proposal in fact top-down. The Salt Lake Tribune quoted Mr. Hawthorne as saying further that monument would be too big because all that’s worth protecting is a few cabins and some rock art. … The [governor’s] proposal is no less an abuse of the letter and intent of the law than when Clinton stood at the rim of the Grand Canyon on that fateful day” in 1996 designating 1.7 million-acre GSENM.

Reaction within the environmental community was cautious. The Los Angeles Times quoted Heidi McIntosh, conservation director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA): “I think it will be a real litmus test for the Bush administration. If the administration really uses this as an opportunity to do something positive and visionary, we will support them on it.” The same article quoted Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club as saying: “This may be the real thing. But given our previous history of bait-and-switch with the San Rafael Swell, the devil is in the details.”

Those details include especially how a monument management plan will address the issue of off-road vehicle use in the proposed monument. ORVs have been the most contentious issue in legislative proposals affecting the San Rafael Swell, leading to the defeat of numerous proposals in Congress that environmentalists argued didn’t offer meaningful protection.

Retiring Utah Rep. Jim Hansen (R) supports the proposal, saying it “follows the letter and the spirit of the Antiquities Act, which requires the identification of a specific scenic, scientific or historic site and the use of the smallest amount of acreage available to protect that site. We’re doing precisely that and not an iota more.”

His colleague, Rep. Chris Cannon (R), in whose district the San Rafael Swell is located, is against the proposal. The Salt Lake Tribune yesterday reported Mr. Cannon as saying it would be an abuse of the 1906 Antiquities Act: “I’ve been pretty clear on what I think the law is. The law is that you can only name a monument large enough to protect the scientific and historical objects — and that is small.” Cannon prefers that the proposal be dealt with legislatively, rather than by proclamation. He said: “I just think that our process is more important than the outcome. I’d rather see the process be appropriate.”

We’ll keep you posted of future developments.

2. SEISMIC EXPLORATION APPROVED NEAR ARCHES NATIONAL PARK

The Salt Lake Tribune reported February 5 that the BLM has approved the use of giant thumper trucks for seismic exploration in the Dome Plateau region, 23,000 acres of public lands just east of Arches National Park and northeast of Moab. Included are areas proposed for wilderness designation in America’s Redrock Wilderness Act (H.R. 1613 and S. 786). The New York Times reported the story on Feb. 8, giving the issue national exposure.

The BLM in Utah found that the exploration will not have a “significant or long-term effect” on the landscape. Wilderness advocates and others are concerned that the heavy trucks will cause soil damage and subsequent erosion, as well as encourage ORV use in the tracks set sown by the machinery.

The Times article quotes BLM Moab office deputy field manager Bill Stringer as saying “You won’t see it looking like West Texas with oil pumps everywhere. The drilling will be spread out, and in some cases we’ll get them to turn the drills sideways so you can barely see them from the parks.”

Interestingly, the article also quotes Beth McBride, president of Legacy Oil, which owns a lease to drill in the Lockhart Basin (next to Canyonlands National Park): “We’re all just sort of shaking our head because this area is so controversial.” Referring to a lawsuit filed by the SUWA and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), she continued: “I’m kind of with them [the environmentalists]. They [the BLM] shouldn’t tell us we can come in and drill if they haven’t cleared up all the environmental issues.”

SUWA has posted a series of photos on its web site showing some of the damage done near Canyonlands NP and the potential for damage near Arches NP. You’ll find the photos at:

http://www.suwa.org/seismic/

IN CALIFORNIA

3. OIL & GAS LEASES PROPOSED IN LOS PADRES NATIONAL FOREST

DEADLINE: APRIL 19, 2002

(ACTION ITEM)

The Bush-Cheney Energy Plan is coming to California.

Over the holidays, the Forest Service announced it was releasing a draft environmental impact statement on oil and gas leases in Los Padres National Forest, above Santa Barbara. The comment period was brief, with a deadline of February 15. Coincidentally (or not), this was the same deadline as for the revisions of the forest plans for all four Southern California national forests.

A group of organizations — CalUWild, California Wild Heritage Campaign, California Wilderness Coalition (CWC), Bluewater Network, the Center for Biological Diversity, NRDC, Oil & Gas Accountability Project, Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society — obtained a 60-day extension until April 19, 2002.

The CWC prepared an alert with the following background information:

<<<<< Potential new wilderness areas in the Los Padres National Forest are threatened by oil and gas development, which could ruin some of California's most spectacular scenery and recreational places. WHAT'S AT RISK The Los Padres National Forest is offering oil and gas leases on approximately 140,000 acres. Over 100000 of these acres are in roadless areas, including the Sespe Frazier, Nordhoff, White Ledge, Sawmill-Badlands, Madulce-Buckhorn, Fox Mountain, Cuyama, Spoor Canyon, Tapusquet Peak, La Brea, Horseshoe Springs, and De La Guerra Roadless Areas. This project is currently the largest threat to roadless areas in California. Between 1979 and 1998, the Los Padres National Forest lost 130,067 acres of roadless land to development, the largest loss of roadless resources of any national forest in California. The Los Padres is part of California's central coast region, and a higher percentage of the central coast region's public lands are unprotected wilderness than any other region of the state. Within the areas that could be developed for oil and gas, 20 threatened and endangered species make their home, including the California condor and San Joaquin kit fox. According to the Forest Service, the species most at risk from oil drilling are the hybrid blunt-nosed leopard lizard, as well as the California condor. The mountain plover, Swainson's hawk, southern rubber boa, mule deer, brush rabbit, and California spotted owl are all at risk from habitat loss, human disturbance, and noise disturbance. Two critical habitat areas could be harmed, including Lion Canyon, the original release point for re-introduction of the condor into the wilderness. Also at risk are fragile areas adjacent to the Condor Sanctuary. Introducing new oil and gas development could also damage unexplored archaeological sites that contain a wide variety of Native American history, including permanent village and temporary habitation sites, cemeteries, rock art and places of religious significance. NO REAL SOLUTION While drilling in these areas poses significant risk, it offers no real solution to our energy needs. The potential oil reserves within the Los Padres National Forest add up to only a FIVE DAY SUPPLY for the nation. By fast-tracking the pursuit of oil and gas, the Forest Service is subverting a process intended to protect the public interest, and the forest. Seventy-two percent of California voters support government protection of more of our remaining wild lands and free-flowing rivers, according to a recent statewide public opinion survey. The survey, conducted by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin and Associates, interviewed 900 likely voters during August 25 to 30, 2001. >>>>>

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Write the Forest Service and tell them that:

There should be no oil or gas leases in potential wilderness areas in the Los Padres National Forest.

Decisions regarding oil and gas leasing should be included in the new forest management plan revision process. It makes no sense to propose a program with such potentially serious consequences as leasing under a management plan that is out of date and being revised.

Send your letter to:

USDA Forest Service

Attn: Al Hess, Project Manager

1190 East Ojai Avenue

Ojai, CA 93023.

For more information on how you can help protect the Los Padres National Forest, please contact Carrie Sandstedt at 530-758-0380 or .

A summary of what the Forest Service is considering can be found on the Los Padres National Forest website at:

http://www.r5.fs.fed.us/lospadres

4. SEQUOIA NATIONAL MONUMENT PLANNING OPEN HOUSES

Sequoia National Forest has announced 2 Open Houses to inform the public on progress in developing a management plan for the monument. Each will begin at 4:30 p.m. with an opportunity to look at draft alternative maps and meet with the planning team. At 5:30 there will be a presentation on the planning process and a review of the working draft alternatives. 6:30 will be time for questions and answers, followed by breakout sessions.

The National Forest expects the Draft Environmental Impact Statement to be released in the Spring. The alternatives are on the monument web site at:

http://www.r5.fs.fed.us/giant_sequoia

The Open Houses will be held:

Monday, March 11

Porterville Veterans Memorial Auditorium

1900 West Olive Avenue

Porterville, CA 93257

559-781-7963

Tuesday, March 12

Holiday Inn Select (Baxter Room)

801 Truxtun Avenue

Bakersfield, CA 93301

661-323-1900

If you have any questions, contact Jim Whitfield, team leader, at 559-784-1500 or by writing to him at:

900 West Grand Avenue

Porterville, CA 93257

5. CALIFORNIA WILDERNESS COALITION HAS A JOB OPENING

If the name Keith Hammond in the following announcement looks familiar to you, it’s because he was one of the co-founders of CalUWild 4 years ago. Keith went to work for SUWA for 3 years, and is now back working for CWC. Welcome back to California, Keith!

CONSERVATION ASSOCIATE

The California Wilderness Coalition (CWC), a nonprofit environmental organization based in Davis, California, seeks a Conservation Associate to develop new wilderness supporters throughout the California desert region.

Significant threats to cultural, recreational, and biological resources on both private and public lands in the California desert remain and new ones arise every day. We seek to conduct public outreach and education within desert communities in order to recruit and train new wildlands guardians, and to integrate these new advocates and partners into ongoing desert conservation work.

Responsibilities will include:

* Facilitating communication among organizations/community partners on key issues.
* Identifying and conducting outreach to potential partner organizations.
* Identifying potential volunteers and facilitating their recruitment and involvement in ongoing conservation work.
* Preparing for a desert symposium in spring 2003.
* Identifying needs for educational materials and assisting in their development.

Desired qualifications include:

* Familiarity with conservation and the California desert.
* Background in grassroots organizing or public outreach.
* Willingness to relocate to the California desert region.
* Ability to work with citizens from a wide array of perspectives on land management.
* Solid communication skills.

This is a full-time, permanent position. Overtime required, including travel, evenings, and weekends. Salary $30-36k DOE. Full benefits included. Available immediately. Open until filled. Location flexible, but strongly preferred within desert communities.

For more information about California Wilderness Coalition, see http://www.calwild.org. For information about the position, or to apply, contact Keith Hammond at:

California Wilderness Coalition

2655 Portage Bay East, Suite 5

Davis, CA 95616

(530)-758-0380/fax (530)-758-0382

Keith@calwild.org

Please include cover letter, resume, writing sample, and references with application. Applications should be received by Friday, March 1.

6. WILDERNESS BACKPACKING PERMIT INFORMATION ONLINE

If you’re planning a trip to the wilderness areas of the High Sierra this Summer, Tom Stienstra, outdoors writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, had a recent column discussing the hiking permit system. You can find it online at:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2002/02/03/TR94314.DTL

IN WASHINGTON, DC

7. PROPOSAL TO WEAKEN ROADLESS RULE

DEADLINE: FEB. 19, 2002

(IMMEDIATE-ACTION ITEM)

The Roadless Plan saga continues. Sorry for the short notice, but please write a short letter (preferred: fax or email); it need not take much time.

Information for the following came from the Oregon Natural Resources Council:

In yet another stealth attempt to erode protections for our National Forest roadless areas, the Bush Administration has opened two new proposed interim directives on roadless area management for public comment. These interim directives – issued as amendments to the Forest Service Manual – went into effect on December 14, 2001 and will continue to be in affect for at least 18 months.

The new Forest Service directives significantly reduce administrative protection for national forest roadless areas.

The directives essentially allow logging and road building in roadless areas, subject to the approval of the Forest Service Chief or Regional Foresters. These directives continue the agency’s policy of turning over all roadless area management decisions to the forest planning process, which has historically favored logging and other development in roadless areas.

In your comments, please be sure to state at the beginning that you want to see the Roadless Rule and Roads Policy fully implemented, not weakened by the Forest Service or the Bush Administration.

Further, please state that the Forest Service should retain, rather than eliminate, the following:

* the requirement that there must be a “compelling need” for road construction in roadless areas;
* the existing requirement to prepare an environmental impact statement prior to building roads in roadless areas;
* special protection for uninventoried roadless areas greater than 1,000 acres that are adjacent to inventoried roadless areas or wilderness areas;
* roadless protections for Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, the country’s largest old-growth forest.

Please send comments by February 19, 2002 to:

USFS CAT, Attention: Road Policy,

P.O. Box 221150,

Salt Lake City, UT 84122;

Via e-mail to: roads_id@fs.fed.us

Via fax to: USFS CAT, Attention: Road Policy, at 801-517-1021.

The USFS would prefer e-mail and faxes due to the current uncertainties surrounding U.S. mail delivery. If you send an e-mail, please cc: your comments to info@onrc.org. They are keeping track of comments.

8. CHARTER — COMING TO A FOREST NEAR YOU?

(ACTION ITEM)

“To overcome inertia and an excessive decision-making structure, USDA will develop legislation to establish Charter Forests certain forests or portions of forests administered outside the Forest Service structure and reporting to a local trust entity for oversight. The structure would eliminate inefficiencies and focus upon specific strengths. Pilot forests would establish and address land management objectives; comply with all Federal and State environmental laws; include a diverse and balanced group of stakeholders as well as appropriate Federal, tribal, state, county, and municipal government representatives in the design, implementation, and monitoring of the project; incorporate current scientific forest restoration information; and include a multiparty assessment to identify both the existing ecological condition of the proposed project area and the desired future condition.”

That’s a description of the latest privatization scheme for our public lands cooked up by the Bush Administration. Please write to George W. Bush objecting to this concept. Remind him that federal public lands belong to all Americans, and must, therefore, be managed for the benefit of all Americans. (That’s why they’re called national forests!) Also send copies of your letter to Undersecretary of Agriculture Mark Rey as well as to your congressional representative and both senators.

Mr. Rey’s address is:

Mr. Mark Rey

Undersecretary

US Department of Agriculture

14th & Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, DC 20250

The other addresses can be found at:

https://www.caluwild.org/contacts.html

The Administration’s complete budget can be found online at:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2003

That ought to be enough to keep you busy for a while. Thanks for taking the time to write on one (or more!) of the above issues.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact me at:

mike@caluwild.org.

Best wishes,

Mike

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