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2018 November

November 28th, 2018


Light in Kolob Canyon                                                                                                                          (Patrick Dengate)

 
November 28, 2018

Dear CalUWild friends—

We hope you had a nice Thanksgiving holiday, remembering our good fortune to have such a wide variety and expanses of federal public lands, including Wilderness, here in the West.

CalUWild celebrates its 21st Anniversary this month. We are thankful for the support of all our members, some since the very beginning!

 
Was your INBOX filled with funding appeals yesterday for Giving Tuesday? We decided to hold off a day sending out this Update, so it wouldn’t get lost in the pile. Though dues are not required, we still need member contributions as well. We are in the process of sending out our annual member appeal over the next couple weeks, either by US Mail or email. Please contribute if you can.

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

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

Thanks to everyone who has already sent in gifts; it saves on printing and postage.

 
As we’ve mentioned before, you can also support CalUWild by buying art! Patrick Dengate, whose painting appears above, is generously contributing 50% of the proceeds from paintings he sells to CalUWild. You can see some of the ones he’s offered here. Check out his website for more and to contact him.

Another CalUWild friend, Margie Lopez Read, contributes the proceeds from sales of her art to worthy organizations, and she’s including CalUWild on her list. For more information, visit her website.

 
Thanks again for all your interest and support. We’re looking forward to the years and challenges ahead!

 
Best wishes,
Mike

 
IN UTAH
1.   Emery County Bill Update
          (ACTION ITEM)
2.    Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
          Management Planning Comments Due
          DEADLINE: Friday, Nov. 30
          (ACTION ITEM)
3.   Congressional Amicus Brief Filed
          In National Monuments Lawsuits
          Thank You Calls Needed
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
4.   Point Reyes National Seashore
          Ranch Management Planning
          Scoping Comments Due
          DEADLINE: Friday, Nov. 30
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN GENERAL
5.   Brief Election Summary
6.   Park Service Fee-Free Days Announced for 2019

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

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

IN UTAH
1.   Emery County Bill Update
          (ACTION ITEM)

We’ve written in detail previously (in our September Update and May Update) about H.R. 5727, Rep. Curtis’s (R-UT) “Not-So-Swell” bill for Emery County and its companion bill in the Senate, Sen. Hatch’s (R-UT) S. 2809.

With the election over, there is concern that the Utah delegation will try to get the bill passed in the lame duck session. The main objections to this bill are:

•   The bill protects only 1/3 of the lands eligible for wilderness designation, with important areas such as Muddy Creek, parts of Labyrinth Canyon, and the San Rafael Badlands left out.

•   It conveys management authority over federal land to the State of Utah for recreational uses around Goblin Valley, including the popular Crack and Chute canyons.

•   The House version contains a land exchange provision in the Ute Reservation that the Ute Tribe itself opposes.

So it’s important, once again, to let your representatives know that it’s a controversial bill and should not be passed in its present form. And unfortunately, Rep. Curtis has shown little interest in incorporating changes suggested by the conservation community. He has frozen us out just about every step of the way.

Contact information for the House may be found by following the links here and for the Senate, here.

When you call, please include the Thank You discussed in Item 3 if your representative is on the list there.

 
2.   Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
          Management Planning Comments Due
          DEADLINE: Friday, Nov. 30
          (ACTION ITEM)

The comment period for the shrunken Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument ends this Friday,   November 30. Please submit your comments! They are especially pertinent if you have visited either area or hope to some day.

Item 1 in our August-September Update contains detailed talking points and the links and addresses for commenting on the plan. Please refer to it.

As we reported last month, an additional, important issue came to light recently—the Bureau of Land Management is proposing to re-open the Escalante River corridor to cattle grazing. There are two equally important reasons for opposing this proposal. The first is ecological: the corridor has undergone a tremendous amount of habitat restoration, removing non-native invasive plants such as Russian olive and tamarisk. Allowing renewed grazing would cause irreparable damage to the restored landscape. The second reason is both economic and equity-based: Years ago the Grand Canyon Trust purchased grazing permits from willing ranchers in order to remove cattle and retire the allotments permanently. BLM should not be allowed to circumvent those buyouts now. If you’ve already submitted a comment, please submit a supplemental comment on this issue. It’s important.

To comment online, it’s best to create a text file first and then PASTE it into the comment box here. Follow the process through the next three pages, filling in the information in the required boxes with red asterisks.

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

U.S. Bureau of Land Management
Attn: Matt Betenson
669 S Hwy. 89A
Kanab, UT   84741

 
3.   Congressional Amicus Brief Filed
          In National Monuments Lawsuits
          Thank You Calls Needed
          (ACTION ITEM)

There’s not much we can do to support the litigation over the reductions in the Utah national monuments, but this month 118 Representatives and Senators took the unusual step of signing their names to amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs, circulated by Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM).

The briefs were in support of the Plaintiffs’ main legal argument—one with which most legal scholars seem to agree: Only Congress has the authority to reduce national monuments. The language of the Antiquities Act itself only grants the president authority to designate monuments, not reduce them. Additionally, the Federal Lands Policy Management Act specifically says that the power is reserved to Congress.

Given the Constitution’s grant of authority to Congress to “make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory … belonging to the United States,” these cases have a strong separation of powers component. It is important that Congress is standing up for its rightful authority, especially when the Executive Branch attempts to usurp any of it.

The following Representatives from California signed on:

Jared Huffman (D-2)
John Garamendi (D-3)
Mike Thompson (D-5)
Jerry McNerney (D-9)
Mark DeSaulnier (D-11)
Nancy Pelosi (D-12)
Barbara Lee (D-13)
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-14)
Anna Eshoo (D-18)
Zoe Lofgren (D-19)
Jimmy Panetta (D-20)
Salud Carbajal (D-24)
Judy Chu (D-27)
Ted Lieu (D-33)
Grace Napolitano (D-32)
Jimmy Gomez (D-34)
Raul Ruiz (D-36)
Karen Bass (D-37)
Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-40)
Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-44)
Alan Lowenthal (D-47)
Susan Davis (D-53)

If you live in one of their districts, please contact their offices to say Thank You!

Both Senators Dianne Feinstein (D) and Kamala Harris (D) signed on, as well and deserve a Thank You, too.

Contact information for the House may be found by following the links here and for the Senate, here.

A full list of signers may be found at the end of Sen. Udall’s press release, which also contains further details about the briefs, including links to their full texts.

Though not directly related to the litigation, National Parks Traveler ran an editorial: Bears Ears And Grand Staircase-Escalante Are Today’s Hetch Hetchy.

 
IN CALIFORNIA
4.   Point Reyes National Seashore
          Ranch Management Planning
          Scoping Comments Due
          DEADLINE: Friday, Nov. 30
          (ACTION ITEM)

This month, Point Reyes National Seashore announced a 30-day scoping period on an amendment to its General Management Plan, covering ranch and Tule Elk management.

The timing is very short on this, and we have not been able to develop a comprehensive set of talking points, so this item may only be relevant to people who already have some knowledge of the issues involved. We discussed some of this in our August-September Update. There will be an opportunity to comment on the Draft Plan when it’s released, and we will try to have more specific suggestions then.

Dairy and beef cattle ranching has a long history at Pt. Reyes, dating back to the 1800s. When the Seashore was established in the 1960s, there was opposition from the ranching families, but in the end they agreed to a buyout-leaseback arrangement with the National Park Service. It was never the intent that ranching would continue indefinitely, though some people are claiming that now. In fact, there is no mention of ranching as being a purpose for the establishment of the Seashore in its enabling legislation:

In order to save and preserve, for purposes of public recreation, benefit, and inspiration, a portion of the diminishing seashore of the United States that remains undeveloped, the Secretary of the Interior (hereinafter referred to as the “Secretary”) is authorized to take appropriate action in the public interest toward the establishment of the national seashore.

Legislation was later passed giving the ranchers leases for 25 years or for the life of the rancher, whichever was longer. Rep. Jared Huffman’s (D-2) bill,   H.R. 6687, which we discussed in our August-September Update, is attempting to codify the revised intent.

In the 1970s, Tule Elk were released into areas of the Seashore, and there are now conflicts with the cattle operations. So the management plan will be addressing this as well.

The Park Service has released a proposal for scoping that includes six different alternatives (one of which is   “No Action,” meaning things would stay as they are). You can read about them here. The Park Service describes them as ranging from

twenty-year agricultural lease/permits with diversification and increased operational flexibility, to reduced ranching, no dairy ranching, and no ranching alternatives. The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will also include a range of alternatives for the management of tule elk in the planning area, from elimination to active management to expansion of the Drakes Beach herd.

A couple of suggestions for comments:

•   Regarding Alternative B, “Continued Ranching and Management of the Drakes Beach Tule Elk Herd (NPS Proposed Action):” No expansion of commercial activities should be allowed. Ranchers have proposed having overnight stays, growing different kinds of crops and introducing other types of animals to their farms. These should not be allowed in the name of “ranch operational flexibility and diversification.”

•   Alternative C, “Continued Ranching and Removal of the Drakes Beach Tule Elk Herd,” should not be considered at all. It’s antithetical to the purpose of a national park.

Comments may be submitted online at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/poregmpa   or by mailing or hand delivering comments to:

GMP Amendment c/o Superintendent
Point Reyes National Seashore
1 Bear Valley Road
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956

For more information, please see the GMP Amendment Frequently Asked Questions, the GMP Amendment website, or Point Reyes National Seashore’s website: www.nps.gov/pore.

More general information may be found at https://restoreptreyesseashore.org.

 
IN GENERAL
5.   Brief Election Summary

After this month’s election, we have hope that the next Congress will be friendlier to land protection and oversight of the administration. It’s likely that Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) will be chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee. He’s a stalwart defender of America’s public lands and will be a welcome change from Utah’s Rep. Rob Bishop (R). (The Salt Lake Tribune ran an article on Mr. Bishop’s new status.)

In other welcome news, there is now a Diné (Navajo) majority on the San Juan County Commission, home to the Bears Ears National Monument. This was due to a court redrawing districts in the county. Diné are a slight majority of residents in the county and now hold two of the three seats on the Commission

Finally, in California, long-time senator Dianne Feinstein (D) was re-elected. She’s been a champion of the Mojave Desert (among other places) for many years. In the House, it looks like 45 of California’s 53 seats will be held by Democrats, who have been far more supportive of public lands protection than the GOP in recent years. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-12, San Francisco) will likely be the next Speaker of the House, and Kevin McCarthy (R-23, Bakersfield) will be House Minority Leader—so two Californians in the highest positions.

As we’ve said before, though, CalUWild is not a partisan organization. Party affiliations are included for identification purposes only. However, we do regret that land conservation has become such a highly partisan issue in Congress.

Here are links to some articles discussing the elections, Native American representation, and public lands:

In The Guardian: ‘They’re playing dirty’: Can Navajos win power after racial exclusion?

In High Country News: In southern Utah, Navajo voters rise to be heard

An article in Outside: In New Mexico, Public Lands Turned an Election Blue

 
6.   Park Service Fee-Free Days Announced for 2019

The Park Service announced that there will be five days in 2019 when entrance fees to all sites in the system will be waived. They are:

Monday, January 21 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Saturday, April 20 – First Day of National Park Week/
National Junior Ranger Day
Sunday, August 25 – National Park Service Anniversary
Saturday, September 28 – National Public Lands Day
Monday, November 11 – Veterans Day

The annual $80 America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass allows unlimited entrance to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas, including all national parks. There are also free or discounted passes available for senior citizens, current members of the U.S. military, families of fourth grade students, and disabled citizens.

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

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

The Interior Department & Secty. Zinke

An   article in The Guardian: The Zinke effect: how the US interior department became a tool of big business, with an op-ed the same day by Joel Clements, the scientist who resigned in protest, rather than be transferred to a position he was unqualified for: Interior department whistleblower: Ryan Zinke hollowed out the agency

From the Washington Post: Newly released emails suggest Zinke contradicted ethics pledge

A letter to the editor in the Washington Post from the Managing Director of the Vet Voice Foundation. Vet Voice has a been a strong supporter of the national monuments campaigns and public lands in general. It’s good to have them on our side! Zinke doesn’t represent the values of military veterans

The Washington Post reports: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke remains defiant amid ethics probes

An article/interview in the Washington Post about David Bernhardt, the Assistant Secretary of the Interior, considered the likely secretary should Ryan Zinke leave at some point: ‘The man behind the curtain’: Interior’s No. 2 helps drive Trump’s agenda

An article in the New York Times: Energy Speculators Jump on Chance to Lease Public Land at Bargain Rates

Public Lands in General

An article in the New York Times: Scientists Warn That World’s Wilderness Areas Are Disappearing

An in-depth report by The Guardian: Crisis in our national parks: how tourists are loving nature to death. The statistics on the number of visitors are astounding.

An article in the New York Times: ‘Entering Burn Area’: Yosemite After the Fire

An article in the Sacramento Bee about SB 50, one of the laws passed to protect public lands in California from sales by the federal government: Trump scores victory over California in latest court battle over land

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

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

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2018 October

October 31st, 2018


Grandstaff Canyon, Utah                                                                                                                                        (Mike Painter)

 
October 31, 2018

Dear CalUWild friends—

Everyone is anticipating the midterm elections next week. Remember: Please vote, and if there are people you know who need reminding, be the person to remind them. Not voting is not a protest; it’s surrender …

For a fun video, go to Voter RX, the same people who brought us Nature RX back in 2015.

 
Last week the administration designated its first national monument, Camp Nelson, a Civil War-era site in Kentucky. It began as a Union Army supply depot but later became a recruitment center for African American soldiers and a place of refuge for escaped slaves. You may read the monument proclamation here. The irony is that the administration is, at the same time, diminishing protection for the Bears Ears, a landscape sacred to Native Americans.

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

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

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

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

Thanks in advance!

 
Best wishes,
Mike

 
IN UTAH
1.   National Monument Comments Due
          DEADLINES: November 15 & 30
          (ACTION ITEM)
2.   Emery County Bill Update
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
3.   Wildland Volunteer Network: First Annual Meeting
          Saturday, November 3

IN GENERAL
4.   Great Old Broads Annual Auction
5.   Job Listings
   a.   Western Environmental Law Center
   b.   Southwest Environmental Center

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

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

IN UTAH
1.   National Monument Comments Due
          DEADLINES: November 15 & 30
          (ACTION ITEM)

We are reaching the end of the comment periods for the shrunken Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. The deadline for Bears Ears is November 15, and for Grand Staircase-Escalante (GSENM), it’s November 30. Please submit your comments. They are especially pertinent if you have visited either area or hope to some day.

Item 1 in our August Update contains detailed talking points and the links and addresses for commenting on the plans. Please refer to it.

For GSENM, an additional, important issue has come to light recently—the Bureau of Land Management is proposing to re-open the Escalante River corridor to cattle grazing. There are two equally important reasons for opposing this proposal. The first is ecological: the corridor has undergone a tremendous amount of habitat restoration, removing non-native invasive plants such as Russian olive and tamarisk. Allowing renewed grazing would cause irreparable damage to the restored landscape. The second reason is both economic and equity-based: Years ago the Grand Canyon Trust purchased grazing permits from willing ranchers in order to remove cattle and retire the allotments permanently. BLM should not be allowed to circumvent those buyouts now.

If you’ve already submitted a comment, please submit a supplemental comment on this issue. It’s important.

The Utah national monument controversy continues to attract the attention of the press:

A feature story in National Geographic: Inside the New Battle for the American West (sign up for free access may be required)

The Salt Lake Tribune reports on one of the more bizarre comments ever made about public lands: ‘National monuments kill people’ — S. Utah commissioner’s comments draw criticism after park ranger shot a Navajo

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune: House Dems want to stop new management plans for Utah’s shrunken Bears Ears, Grand Staircase monuments, citing lawsuits

An op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune: While courts deliberate the future of national monuments, development must wait

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune: 115 arches were left out of the reduced Bears Ears and Grand Staircase national monuments. A University of Utah team is creating a digital archive to ‘preserve’ them.

An article in a new (to us) publication, Roads and Kingdoms, about Mark Maryboy, a Navajo leader in the struggle to preserve Bears Ears and other ancestral lands: Meet the Man Fighting To Preserve Rural Utah Lands

An article in Pacific Standard: Inside Utah’s Anti-Public Lands Agenda

 
2.   Emery County Bill Update
          URGENT
          (ACTION ITEM)

The Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources gave its approval to S. 2809, in its current House version. Unfortunately, the bill remains unacceptable. The only good news is that its supporters are now on notice that the bill is controversial.

For details on its provisions, please see Item 1 in last month’s Update.

Our best chance to stop it is in the Senate, so please call Sens. Feinstein & Harris. Not only should they oppose the bill itself, they should also oppose including it in any package of bills or attaching it to any other bill. Should that happen, they should then oppose the package, too. It’s that serious.

The main point to stress is that the bill is extremely one-sided, having not been negotiated in good faith with the conservation community. In fact conservationists were ignored at every turn.

Contact information for California’s senators:

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

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

Contact information for senators from other states may be found here.

Since there is the possibility that Sen. Hatch might try to include the Emery County bill in a larger package, it’s important that our friends in the House be aware of it and work to keep the bill out of any such package. So please also contact Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi with that message.

DC office: 202-225-4965
San Francisco office: 415-556-4862
   Online here

 
IN CALIFORNIA
3.   California Invasive Plant Council
          Wildland Volunteer Network: First Annual Meeting
          Saturday, November 3

From our friends at Cal-IPC:

Join fellow volunteer stewards on Saturday, November 3, beginning at 9 a.m., in beautiful Redwood Regional Park for the first Annual Meeting of the Wildland Volunteer Network. Part expert training, part planning session, part celebration – don’t miss this fun opportunity to strengthen volunteer weed management in the Bay Area and beyond! Featuring:

• Presentations from Bay Area Open Space Council, American River Parkway Foundation, EarthTeam, and East Bay Regional Parks
• Strategic planning for the WVN, with discussions on recruiting more volunteers and developing local weed lists
• Catered lunch with time to explore

Full program online
Register

The Wildland Volunteer Network helps strengthen volunteer connections in the Bay Area and beyond. Learn more about WVN.

 
IN GENERAL
4.   Great Old Broads Annual Auction
          Through November 11

From our friends at Great Old Broads for Wilderness:

Great Old Broads for Wilderness announces the 15th Annual Wild for Wilderness Online Auction, planned for October 28–November 11, 2018. You’ll find an ocean of auction pearls—from outdoor gear, vacation getaways and adventures to books, art, jewelry, and more.

As the organization’s largest fundraiser, proceeds support Broads’ work to train and inspire advocates (like us!) to protect wild lands and waters for future generations.

Start surfing now at auction.greatoldbroads.org.

 
5.   Job Listings
   a.   Western Environmental Law Center

Our friends at the Western Environmental Law Center are looking for an Administrative & Technology Coordinator

The Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) is a nonprofit public interest environmental law firm with a 25-year legacy of success using the power of the law to safeguard the public lands, wildlife, and communities of the American West in the face of a changing climate. We seek a dynamic and energetic Administrative/Technology Coordinator to join our team. This position provides administrative, finance, and IT support to ensure the effective operation of all WELC offices. This full-time position will be located in Eugene, Oregon and will be filled as soon as possible.

Full listing here.

 
   b.   Southwest Environmental Center

Our friends at SWEC sent this out last week:

We are looking for a full-time Membership Coordinator/Office Manager. The role of this position is to grow our membership, serve as a liaison to our members, and manage the daily operations of our facility. Click here for more details.

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

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

The Department of the Interior & Secty. Zinke

A series of four articles in four days in the Washington Post:

1) HUD appointee abruptly moved to lead Interior Dept.’s watchdog unit amid Zinke probe

2) The following day, the Post reported: Trump administration does about-face on announcement that top HUD aide would lead Interior watchdog, (overwritten by the following)

3) The next day, that story was replaced with yet a third article in the Post: Interior Secretary Zinke’s approach to wife’s travels raised red flags, report finds. (The Inspector General’s report may be read here.)

4) Finally: Trump appointee tapped days ago to run Interior Department’s watchdog office resigns amid controversy

Then yesterday the Washington Post published this story: Zinke’s own agency watchdog just referred him to the Justice Department, followed by a story just this morning in The Hill, providing even more background: Interior watchdog referred Zinke probe to Justice days before move to replace agency IG.

An article in the Missoula Current: Montana group sues DOI for Zinke emails in search of unethical, illegal acts

An article in Outside describing the many instances that the Interior Department is trying to cut the public out of decision-making: Zinke and Trump Are Ignoring the Public

Public lands in general

Two pieces in The Hill on the Land & Water Conservation Fund—An op-ed: 9.52 million acres of public lands are entirely inaccessible to Americans and an article: Senate panel moves to renew expired park conservation fund

Good news, reported in The Guardian: Grand Canyon uranium mining ban upheld as supreme court declines to hear challenge

An article in Outside: Has Vandalism in Our National Monuments Gotten Worse?

An article in the New York Times: ‘Lifeboats’ Amid the World’s Wildfires. One important aspect of wilderness is that it also acts as a refuge in the wider landscape.

A New York Times article on aspens in Utah: Pando, the Most Massive Organism on Earth, Is Shrinking.

An article in the Casper, Wyoming Star Tribune: Federal judge rules against Wyoming’s ‘data trespass’ laws on First Amendment grounds

Outreach

We’re always looking for ways to reach new audiences for public lands protection, and sometimes they come to us. This month a camping enthusiast contacted CalUWild. She had recently written The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Camping and thought people might find it useful. It and other articles she’s written for the website Hobby Help provide good basic information on a variety of topics related to camping. Please share the page with people who might appreciate it! We’ll work with her to get more people involved in public lands protection. (Otherwise they may find themselves at some time in the future without many places to actually go camping.)

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

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

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2017 September

October 3rd, 2017


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

 
October 3, 2017

Dear CalUWild friends —

Mid-September saw the leak of a draft memo from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to the president, setting out his thoughts and recommendations on the review of 27 national monuments he had been ordered to undertake in April. Last week, Secty. Zinke stirred up further controversy (see Item 2), so I decided to wait before sending out this edition of the Monthly Update, if there were further news to report.

The discussion of the memo and other happenings at Interior is pretty lengthy and detailed, and there are links to press items dealing with them as well. The “In the Press” section contains some articles updating issues we’ve written about before.

 
We don’t often comment on issues unrelated to public lands, but it turns out that the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act, the draft of which we wrote about in last month’s Update, also contains provisions to loosen restrictions on the sale of silencers for guns and armor-piercing ammunition, in addition to deleterious provisions affecting wilderness and public lands.

Given the horrific killings in Las Vegas two days ago, where policemen said that they were able to locate the gunman’s position quickly from the sound of the shooting, there is an even stronger reason to oppose the bill, though opinions seem to differ on whether the silencer provision would really matter in this case. Here’s an op-ed on the issue in Utah’s Deseret News, published before this last weekend’s events: The SHARE Act shares the potential for more gun violence.

Just before this Update was being sent out, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) announced that the SHARE Act is not being brought to the House floor any time soon. Regardless, PLEASE, call your Senators and Representatives in Washington to oppose the SHARE Act, H.R. 3668. Early opposition is the best defense.

 
Thanks for being interested and staying involved!
Mike

 
IN GENERAL
1. Interior Secty. Ryan Zinke’s National Monuments Memo Leaked—
          Proposes To Modify Ten Monuments
          (ACTION ITEM)
2. Secty. Zinke Causes More Controversy
          With Comments about Interior Department Employees
          And Disclosures over Taxpayer-Funded Travel
3. Brief Federal Legislative Cosponsorship Review
          (ACTION ITEM)

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

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

1. Interior Secty. Ryan Zinke’s National Monuments Memo Leaked—
          Proposes To Modify Ten Monuments
          (ACTION ITEM)

After not learning anything about the Interior Department’s plans for the 27 national monuments under review since April, details finally emerged mid-month in the form of a 19-page memo leaked to the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. The memo was marked “Draft Deliberative—Not for Distribution.” There has been no formal response from the White House (which was reportedly unhappy with the leak, naturally). The reaction from the press and most other quarters has been almost unanimously strongly negative. (Some examples follow the discussion of the memo.) The scanned memo may be read here.

For all its length and the preparation time involved, the memo was remarkably short on details. The Salt Lake Tribune’s Robert Gehrke characterized it as “read[ing] like a term paper a D-plus high schooler would have slapped together the night before it was due.” It recommended unspecified changes in boundaries for four monuments, changes in use or management for another four, and changes in use and/or boundary changes for an additional two.

The memo acknowledged: “Comments received were overwhelmingly in favor of maintain existing monuments and demonstrated a well-orchestrated national campaign organized by multiple organizations.”

Nowhere did the memo say that there would be no further recommendations forthcoming regarding other monuments, nor did it mention anywhere the six that had been completely “cleared” previously. Again, the memo was labeled “Draft,” so we cannot treat this as the final word on anything.

However, in total, the memo signals the largest-ever reduction in public lands protection, and if the administration or Congress makes changes to any monuments, it would open a Pandora’s Box.

Therefore, the critical message remains: An attack on one monument is an attack on all.

We’ll repeat our action call from last month: The best thing to do is to inundate the White House and Congress with comments supporting leaving the national monuments as they are—no changes!

White House Online comment page here.
Comments by phone: 202-456-1111
By U.S. Mail:

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Follow the links here for contact information for the Senate and here for the House.

 
Memo Details
The four monuments recommended for unspecified boundary changes are:

Bears Ears (Utah)
Cascade-Siskiyou (California & Oregon)
Gold Butte (Nevada)
Grand Staircase-Escalante (Utah)

The four monuments recommended for use or management changes are:

Katahdin Woods & Waters (Maine)
Northeast Canyon & Seamounts (North Atlantic)
Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks (New Mexico)
Rio Grade Del Norte (New Mexico)

The monuments with proposed management and/or boundary changes are:

Pacific Remote Islands
Rose Atoll (Pacific)

 
Mr. Zinke wrote many of the same objections for most of the monuments in the review. The most frequent misstatements, with respective rebuttals were:

MEMO: The proclamation should be amended, … or The boundary should be revised through the use of appropriate authority, including lawful exercise of the President’s discretion granted by the [Antiquities] Act …

FACT: These statements shows a fundamental lack of understanding of how presidential proclamations work—once published, they can’t be subsequently “amended.” Most scholars believe that the president has no discretion to reduce boundaries; only Congress has that power, as stated in the Federal Lands Policy & Management Act of 1976.

MEMO: The proclamation should be amended…to protect objects and prioritize…hunting and fishing rights.

FACT: Every proclamation states clearly the objects of interest to be protected and that that the particular designation does nothing to change the individual states’ management of wildlife. (States generally set their own hunting and fishing regulations; these aren’t matters of federal jurisdiction.)

MEMO: The management plan should be revised to continue to protect objects and prioritize public access…; traditional use; tribal cultural use; and hunting and fishing rights.

FACT: Most of these monuments were designated so recently that they have no management plans. Regardless, their respective proclamations already protect these things explicitly, so there is no need to revise anything.

 
Space doesn’t permit listing every problem or inconsistency regarding the specific monuments in the review, so I’ll just mention a few of the more blatant ones.

Bears Ears (Utah)

MEMO: [T]here is evidence that an unintended consequence of monument designation is an increased threat of damage or looting of objects due to higher visitation.

FACT: There is no evidence in the memo that there is in fact a connection. Looting has been going on for many, many years in the region. This is what led to the passage of the Antiquities Act of 1906 in the first place.

MEMO: The boundary should be revised … to … ensure the size is conducive to effective protection of the objects.

FACT:
There are many thousands of known archaeological sites in the Bears Ears monument, and many more have likely not been discovered yet. Shrinking the boundaries would leave many unprotected. (In fact, the designated monument was only about 2/3 the size proposed by the Inter-Tribal Coalition.)

 
Grand Staircase-Escalante (Utah)

MEMO: The boundary should be revised …

FACT: Congress already slightly modified the boundaries as part of a huge 1998 land exchange bill, wherein all the state school trust lands within the monument were exchanged for other lands in the state. Those lands reportedly have returned hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue to the state’s schools. The federal government also paid Utah $50 million as part of the deal and paid the Andalex coal company an additional $14 million.

MEMO: [T]he actual amount[sic] of cattle runs has decreased due to restrictions on activities that facilitate grazing, including moving water lines, vegetative management, erosion control measures, and maintenance of infrastructure such as fences and roads.

FACT: This is misleading, as the number of cattle grazing now is substantially the same as when the monument was designated in 1986.

 
Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks (New Mexico)

MEMO: [O]ne part … abuts the U.S.-Mexico border. Border security is a concern resulting from the designation.

FACT: The monument’s boundary was specifically drawn 5 miles north of the border, and on the north side of a state highway, to boot, precisely in order not to interfere with border enforcement. The Border Patrol has stated that there has been no interference with its operations, nor has it noticed any increase in unusual activity in the area.

MEMO: Legislation introduced in the 116th Congress would designate parts of the current boundaries … as wilderness and release other areas

FACT: First, the current Congress is the 115th, not the 116th. Secondly, in a preliminary report, Mr. Zinke said that one thing he wanted to investigate was how wilderness designation affected monument designation. He should know that wilderness is an overlay on any land management category and has absolutely no bearing on whether an area is designated a monument or not.

 
Rio Grade Del Norte (New Mexico)

MEMO: [R]oad closures due to monument restrictions have left many grazing permittees choosing not to renew permits.

FACT: No one has been able to find a single road that’s been closed.

When New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich (D) asked a BLM official about some of these errors at a Senate hearing, the official replied that BLM wasn’t asked to check any of the facts in the memo and the agency had little input overall. You may see a clip of that Q&A here.

 
Gold Butte (Nevada)

MEMO: The boundary should be revised…to protect historic water rights.

FACT: The proclamation states that “the monument is subject to valid existing rights, including valid existing water rights.”

 
Cascade-Siskiyou (Oregon & California)

MEMO: Motorized transportation was prohibited in the original CSNM designation.

FACT: The original proclamation allowed motorized us on existing roads, though off-road use was prohibited.

The list goes on and on, and it makes one wonder how and by whom this report was assembled and written.

 
Press Reaction (news articles and op-eds)

In the Los Angeles Times: Trump may strip protections from 10 national monuments

In The Guardian:

More national monuments should be opened for exploitation, Zinke says

Bears Ears is sacred to Native Americans. But heritage isn’t all equal for Trump

An op-ed in the Deseret News: Why does our country keep erasing history?

An op-ed in the Durango Herald: Zinke’s monument review betrays Roosevelt’s legacy

A story from the Associated Press: US Interior chief wants smaller monuments, but not at home, pointing out that Montana’s Upper Missouri Breaks was spared in the review, and Secty. Zinke actually proposed a new monument for his home state. There is speculation that Mr. Zinke may run for a U.S. Senate seat from Montana.

The Conservation for Economic Growth Coalition, a group of venture capitalists and entrepreneurs wrote a letter to Secty. Zinke, concluding with these words: Simply put, your recommendations to remove protections for our national monuments and the uncertainty created by those recommendations are bad for business. We urge the Administration to end the review process and announce as soon as possible that no public lands will lose their protection.

This long op-ed in Mountain Journal is well worth reading for the clarity with which it sets out the relevant issues. The Lords Of Yesterday Are Back And They Want America’s Public Land: Barry Reiswig—A Backcountry Horseman, Hunter, Angler and Civil Servant —Pushes Back Against “The Radical Agenda” of Ryan Zinke

 
2. Secty. Zinke Causes More Controversy
          With Comments about Interior Department Employees
          And Disclosures over Taxpayer-Funded Travel

In a speech last week to the National Petroleum Council, a federal advisory board, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke made the claim that almost one-third of the Department’s employees were not loyal to the administration. He based this on their perceived opposition to increasing leasing for oil, gas, and coal on public lands. “I got 30 percent of the crew that’s not loyal to the flag,” Mr. Zinke was quoted as saying. (He is using military jargon by referring to “the flag.” He’s referring to the president.)

Negative reaction to his comments was swift, as exemplified by this letter to the editor in the Washington Post: The civil service pledges loyalty to the Constitution, not the president and an op-ed in the Post yesterday.

Mr. Zinke was already under fire because of his efforts to reorganize staffing at the Interior Department. He had previously announced plans to cut nearly 4,000 employees and had reassigned 50 members of the Senior Executive Service (SES)—a classification of high-level employees who can take on important positions as needed in the Department. One of those SES employees was the director of the Office of Policy Analysis, who was advising Native Alaskan communities on climate change. He was abruptly transferred to an accounting position, for which he had no expertise. (You can read his account in an op-ed he wrote in the Washington Post.) The Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) has initiated an investigation into whether these reassignments were retaliatory and whether they complied with proper notice and other regulatory requirements.

Yet another OIG investigation into Mr. Zinke was begun this week, after news broke that he had billed taxpayers $12,000 to charter a flight from Las Vegas to Montana. He was giving speeches in both places, and he claimed that commercial flight schedules didn’t accommodate the two events.

The problem is that the Las Vegas event was not an official speech, but rather a political one, given to a sports team owned by one of his major contributors. If he had not been speaking there, he could have taken a commercial flight and arrived in time for the speech to the Western Governors’ Association, meeting in Whitefish, Montana. The OIG will also look at other questionable travel arrangements that Mr. Zinke has made.

Travel expenses are a recurring problem for Secty. Zinke, who ran into trouble in the military as a SEAL for charging personal travel expenses to the military. Mr. Zinke dismissed the current flap as “a little BS over travel.”

The travel issue is currently a sensitive one for the administration, and at least three other cabinet secretaries are under fire for travel expenses. One of them, Tom Price at Health & Human Services, resigned last week in the wake of the controversy.

 
3. Brief Federal Legislative Cosponsorship Review
          (ACTION ITEM)

Since our last Update, California Rep. Ted Lieu (D-33) has signed on as a cosponsor of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act (H.R. 2044). Please call his office to say “Thank You.”

DC Office: 202-225-3976

 
Another important priority is the reauthorization of the Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) is the Ranking Member (senior Democrat) on the House Natural Resources Committee. He has introduced a bill, H.R. 502, to permanently reauthorize the LWCF.

Unfortunately, not a single Republican member of California’s House delegation has signed on as cosponsor, though there are 24 GOP cosponsors nationwide, out of 197 total. All of California’s Democratic representatives except two are currently cosponsors of the bill: Karen Bass (D-37) and Juan Vargas (D-51). Both were cosponsors in the last Congress, and both have signed on to LWCF Appropriations letters in each of the past four years. It shouldn’t take much to get them signed on again.

Neither is a cosponsor of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act.

Please call their offices and ask them to cosponsor both H.R. 502, the Land & Conservation Act Reauthorization bill and H.R. 2044, America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act.

Rep. Karen Bass DC Office: 202-225-7084

Rep. Juan Vargas DC Office: 202-225-8045

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

New York Times articles

The Interior Department seems to have an incessant need to review everything undertaken by the Obama Administration. The sage grouse plan was the end result of a concerted effort among many interested parties and was specifically designed to keep the bird from being listed under the Endangered Species Act. It’s unlikely that this administration wants to see that happen, unless they also gut the requirements of the Act. Interior Department to Overhaul Obama’s Sage Grouse Protection Plan

Traditions Revived at a Tribal Culture Camp

The Mind of John McPhee: A deeply private writer reveals his obsessive process.

National Parks Struggle With a Mounting Crisis: Too Many Visitors

Related to the overcrowding article: A new organization forms, Hikers for an 8th Leave No Trace Principle

An article in High Country News: Sally Jewell defends Interior Department legacy

An article in the Washington Post: The National Park Service showed that its bottled water ban worked — then lifted it

An article in Pacific Standard: The Oil and Gas Industry’s Latest Scheme Would All But Privatize Public Lands

An article in the Albuquerque Journal: Archaeologists: More protections needed for Chaco region

An article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal: Ranchers criticize Southern Nevada water agency’s pipeline plan. We’ve written about this water grab before in March 2012, August 2012, and June 2013

An op-ed in the Los Angeles Times: What the Trump administration doesn’t understand about wildfires

 
 
 
 
 
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