2018 January

February 2nd, 2018

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

February 1, 2018

Dear CalUWild friends and supporters—

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for your ongoing enthusiasm,

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

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

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

5.   Wilderness Bill Introduced

6.   Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest


1.   National Monument Developments
          (ACTION ITEM)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

669 S Hwy. 89A
Kanab, UT 84741

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The other cosponsors are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Turnout is critical!

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

San Francisco
Santa Rosa/Petaluma

Seats are limited, so please sign up quickly!

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

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

BOEM says:

Helpful Comments:

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

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

Online comment submission is preferred.

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

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

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

Phone: 703-787-1613

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Environmental groups sue to block road through Alaska refuge

5.   Wilderness Bill Introduced

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

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

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

The Denver Post has run two articles examining the proposal:

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

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

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

6.   Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest

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

Interior Department & Secty. Zinke

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Bundy Case in Nevada

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

Public Lands in General

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

Wilderness Philosophy

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

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