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2017 January

January 17th, 2017


Factory Butte at Sunrise, Utah                                                                                                       (Mike Painter)

 
January 17, 2016

Dear CalUWild friends-

I hope your new year is off to a good start. 2017 started well on the public lands front, which is why this Update is coming out sooner than usual after the last one. Last week, Pres. Obama designated or expanded five new national monuments, two of them in California. (See Item 1.) Since his administration ends on Friday, we have a very limited timeframe to thank him. Please do so right away! (It will likely be your last chance to thank the White House for quite some time, unfortunately.)

2017 is going to be an interesting year, to say the least, as we see what the new administration and Congress have in store on the environment (and other issues, as well). It’s almost certain that there will be very few pieces of protective legislation passed by Congress, and we’ll be mostly engaged in defensive battles instead. Already Congress has passed rule changes that make it easier to transfer land to states by saying such transfers are “budget neutral” (meaning that, by definition, the value received doesn’t have to be equal to the value of the land given over) and further, saying that their value is zero. The New York Times features a “Room for Debate” on public lands transfers today. Please add your thoughts in the comments after the various opinions (though you need a username to do so).

It is critical that people not burn out by trying to fight too many things at once. Not everyone has to be involved in every issue, every time; it will be important to conserve our mental energy and plan on being “in it” for the long haul. CalUWild will do its best to bring you information on the most important issues as they arise, without being overwhelming. As always if you have questions, suggestions or critiques, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

 
Best wishes,
Mike

 
IN CALIFORNIA
1.   Pres. Obama Expands the Coastal National Monument and
          Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument and Designates
          Three Other National Monuments
          (ACTION ITEM)
2.   Job Listing: Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance
          Northern California Field Organizer

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IN CALIFORNIA
1.   Pres. Obama Expands the Coastal National Monument and
          Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument and Designates
          Three Other National Monuments
          (ACTION ITEM)

Last Thursday, Pres. Obama enlarged the California Coastal National Monument with six additions and brought Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument into California, as well. Both of these monuments are part of the National Landscape Conservation System. He also designated three new monuments, historic sites related to the Reconstruction Era and the Civil Rights Movement.

Click on these links to read the proclamations for the historic monuments.

•   Reconstruction Era National Monument in Beaufort County, South Carolina
•   Freedom Riders National Monument in Anniston, Alabama
•   Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument in Birmingham, Alabama.

 
California Coastal NM
Pres. Bill Clinton established the California Coastal National Monument in 2000. It stretches the entire length of the California coast and consists of all the islands, rocks, and reefs along the coast. In 2014 Pres. Obama added the Stornetta Public Lands in Mendocino County, the first onshore section of the monument. In 2015 Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein and Reps. Jared Huffman (D-2), Ann Eshoo (D-18), and Lois Capps (D-24) introduced legislation expanding the monument further. Unsurprisingly, the legislation never progressed in Congress, so Pres. Obama used his authority under the Antiquities Act of 1906 to expand the monument.

Here are the descriptions of the new units from the Interior Department press release:

•   Trinidad Head, a promontory jutting off the coast of Humboldt County, a historic lighthouse sits atop sheer cliffs overlooking crashing waves and rugged sea stacks.

•   Waluplh-Lighthouse Ranch, just south of Trinidad Head, has spectacular panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, Eel River Delta, and the south spit of Humboldt Bay.

•   Thirteen miles south, the Lost Coast Headlands include rolling hills and dramatically eroding bluffs, punctuated by freshwater creeks, ponds, and pockets of forest.

•   Cotoni-Coast Dairies in Santa Cruz County extends from the steep slopes of the Santa Cruz Mountains to marine terraces overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Approximately 5,800 acres, it encompasses ancient archaeological sites, riparian and wetland habitats, coastal prairie grasslands, and woodlands that include stands of coast redwood.

•   Piedras Blancas in San Luis Obispo County provides visitors the opportunity to tour a historic lighthouse overlooking the site’s namesake white coastal rocks, and observe a colony of massive elephant seals loafing in the sun.

•   Orange County Rocks and Islands just off the coast of Orange County treat visitors to dramatic crashing waves, unique geology, and an abundance of marine-dependent wildlife including pelicans and seals.

The Lost Coast Headlands were not included in the original legislation.

You may read the proclamation here.

A fact sheet on the California Coastal National Monument expansion can be found here.

 
Cascade-Siskiyou NM
Pres. Obama also expanded the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument by about 47,000 acres, of which 5,000 are in California (the Horseshoe Ranch and Jenny Creek areas in Siskiyou County). The expansion significantly increased the size of the monument that Pres. Bill Clinton designated in 2000. Again, the monument expansion was originally proposed in legislation introduced by Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden (D) and Jeff Merkley (D), with support from Sen. Barbara Boxer (D).

The monument was designated to protect the biodiversity of the area, which is especially rich as it lies at the intersection of the Cascade, Sikiyou, and Klamath mountains.

The presidential proclamation may be found here.

A map showing the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument expansion can be found here.

A fact sheet on the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument expansion can be found here.

 
Please thank Pres. Obama and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell for these latest designations. Phone calls are best, as it’s too late for letters to get to the White House and Interior Departments, but I’m including the addresses for future reference.

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

Comment line:   202-456-1111
Online comments here
Via Facebook message

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

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

 
2.   Job Listing: Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance
          Northern California Field Organizer

The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) is looking for a Field Organizer to work in Northern California, organizing grassroots events and other activities in support of its work to protect Utah’s wildlands. The position is for a part-time independent contractor. Click here for a full description of the position. Interested persons should submit their applications to travis [at] suwa [dot] org. Include a resume, cover letter, writing sample, and three professional references. The contract is open until filled.

Please share this listing with anyone you know who might be interested or with any other relevant networks you’re part of. Thanks!

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

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2016 January

February 2nd, 2016

Can_Riv_Bend_CaluWild_3a
Canyon River Bend                                                                            (Patrick Dengate, oil on canvas, 20″ x 24″)

 
January 2016

Dear CalUWild friends-

January was a busy month, trying to keep up with the serious developments in Oregon and in Utah. The standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and the release of Rep. Rob Bishop’s (R-UT) draft Public Lands Initiative (PLI) both highlight the many philosophical, ecological, and economic issues tied up with public lands, especially in the West. There was a lot written all across the country, and I’ve provided links to quite a few representative articles and columns, below in Item 2. We hope that these events cause more citizens to take notice and speak up for their birthright as owners of public lands, which the federal government manages in trust for all of us.

 
In California, there appears to be movement toward Pres. Obama designating new national monuments in the Mojave Desert, in response to Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D) request, made last August. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that a designation might be coming soon, and the Los Angeles Times ran an editorial supporting it. Though a presidential proclamation couldn’t do everything that her legislation would, such as designate wilderness areas and add to Death Valley National Park, it would be a huge step forward. We’ll keep you posted.

 
It’s been a while since we included one of Pat Dengate’s paintings in the Update, but with the PLI being released and Pat completing a new painting, the timing was appropriate. Pat is a long-time supporter of Utah’s Redrock country and is one of the founders of Michigan Friends of Redrock Wilderness. You can see more of his work on his website.

 
Once more, many thanks to everyone who contributed to our Membership Appeal the last two months. If you haven’t, it’s never too late. Full information is here.

 
Many thanks, as always, for your interest and enthusiasm,
Mike

 
IN UTAH
1. Rep. Rob Bishop Releases a
          Draft Public Lands Initiative
          Comments Needed
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN OREGON
2. Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Occupation
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN MEMORIAM
3. Sylvia McLaughlin

IN GENERAL
4. Job Listing: Great Old Broads for Wilderness

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

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IN UTAH
1. Rep. Rob Bishop Releases a
          Draft Public Lands Initiative
          Comments Needed
          (ACTION ITEM)

Several years ago, Utah Rep. Rob Bishop (R) inaugurated his Public Lands Initiative (PLI), which he initially termed a “grand bargain” to resolve the wilderness and other public lands issues in much of Eastern Utah. We haven’t written much about it because the process was only open to Utahns-despite the fact that the land in question is federal, belonging to all Americans-so there wasn’t really anything anyone outside the state could do to influence it. As it turned out, there wasn’t much that anyone who cared about public land protection inside the state could do to influence it either, as shown by the Discussion Draft unveiled by Mr. Bishop and his colleague Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R) in Salt Lake City on January 20th.

However, the conservation community in Utah felt it was important to take part in the process to show its good faith and to test whether a solution was truly possible. The draft PLI, however, is a grave disappointment. The Salt Lake Tribune published a list of many of the PLI’s provisions. Here is a brief discussion about just some of its aspects:

Although the proposal would set designate new wilderness of about 2.3 million acres and about 300 miles of Wild & Scenic rivers, it includes almost 400,000 acres already inside national parks and monuments and the total is about 75,000 acres less than already-existing wilderness study areas on BLM land. In addition, it would stop future inventories of BLM lands for wilderness and make ineligible for future designation WSAs not included in the bill.

Additionally, the new wilderness areas would be subject to motorized access for ranchers and others to repair or install future water supply projects, and to the use of aircraft for wildlife or game management activities by state agencies. The draft bill removes air quality protections for wilderness lands designated inside national parks. (That’s important because it would allow oil & gas operations to exist much closer to park boundaries without concern for the air pollution they generate.)

The proposal would also confer the right of way to thousands of miles of “routes” claimed over the years by the counties under R.S. 2477, the Civil War-era law encouraging westward expansion, but repealed in 1976. (The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Rep. Chaffetz had told its editorial board in 2014 that the road claims would not be a part of the PLI.) Rep. Bishop would also like to see land exchanges, whereby the state would take over lands of much higher value than the federal government would receive in return. There are outright giveaways of federal lands as well.

The PLI leaves out the Native American tribes’ proposal for a Bears Ear National Monument, substituting a national conservation area in its stead. That would cover only about 2/3 of the monument proposal, leaving out areas such as White Canyon and would set up a joint management council with San Juan County, leaving out the public at large.

Even before the draft was released, the tribes had become so disillusioned with the process that on December 31 they withdrew their support for the entire PLI, sending a blunt letter to Reps. Bishop and Chaffetz. The tribes said that both congressmen and the San Juan County Council completely ignored their proposal, not even seeing fit to comment on it. They said they would pursue their protection campaign directly with the Obama Administration.

The proposal also bars future use of the Antiquities Act by the president to designate new national monuments in Utah.

The PLI draft also mandates that grazing in protected areas be continued at present levels, regardless of future conditions. Those areas not having some protected status are opened to energy exploration and other extractive uses as “energy zones,” with expedited timelines for permitting.

Reps. Bishop and Chaffetz termed their proposal a “discussion draft,” and they have set up a webpage for interested citizens to read the proposal (follow the links) for themselves.

The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance is collecting comments here, which it will deliver to Rep. Bishop. You can also use the comment space provided on the PLI webpage.

Either way, please comment in your own words, using the following as talking points.

– Designate more real wilderness using the 1964 Wilderness Act as a guide, not wilderness that has all sorts of exceptions built into it.

– Protect the Bears Ears, following the Indian tribes’ proposal.

– The proposal is really a land grab, with its road giveaways, land transfers to the counties, and support for state ownership of federal lands.

– Remove the provisions for fossil fuel zones. We need to move away from dependence on those sources, especially given climate change.

Also, PLEASE SIGN the online petition that the Bears Ears Intertribal Coalition will deliver to Pres. Obama, supporting its monument proposal.

In addition, you can write letters to the editors of your hometown newspapers. You can use the Oregon refuge occupation and standoff as a lead-in and say that legislators in Utah are trying to accomplish some of the same goals through this proposal.

There have been quite a few news articles and op-ed pieces regarding the PLI, but I’ll link to just two. The first is by David Jenkins of Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship: Rep. Bishop waging war on legacy of Theodore Roosevelt. Mary O’Brien’s op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune is a good segue into Item 2, dealing with the Bundy takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge: Public Lands Initiative takes an Oregon-standoff approach to grazing.

 
IN OREGON
2. Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Occupation
          (ACTION ITEM)

By now, everyone probably knows the general situation of the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge by members of the Bundy family and their cohorts, so I won’t go through it all here. If you’re interested, Oregon Public Broadcasting has a page archiving its news stories since the beginning of the occupation (in reverse chronological order). Amazingly, a number of politicians actually visited the armed occupiers at the Refuge and expressed sympathy for their demands.

Tragically, one person has been killed, though 11 others were arrested peacefully. There are still four holdouts at the Refuge, refusing to leave despite pleas from Ammon Bundy, the main organizer of the takeover. We’re thankful that there wasn’t been more violence.

The country has been paying close attention to the standoff, and though the situation is very serious, it is gratifying to see the high level of interest in public lands and the high level of support for their proper management.

This is, therefore, an excellent opportunity to write to your congressional representatives, senators, and local newspapers to express your support for public lands-lands that should stay under federal management rather than being given to states, and that should be managed in the interest of the public at large, not for private interests.

Contact information for your representative may be found here and for senators here.

Many, many column-inches have been written across the country, reporting on events and analyzing their implications. Here are links to many of the more interesting pieces that have appeared since January 2. There are too many to read all at once, but they give a comprehensive picture of the different aspects of the many issues involved. It is complex!

In the New York Times

Article: Protesters in Oregon Seek to End Policy That Shaped West

Op-ed: Bird-Watching, Patriotism and the Oregon Standoff

Article: Fervor in Oregon Compound and Fear Outside It

Article: Family Gospel Band Provided Soundtrack for Oregon Refuge Standoff (This is one of the more bizarre elements in the affair, and the 18-year old daughter was a passenger in the truck that the deceased Mr. Finicum was driving.)

Article: Rural Oregon’s Lost Prosperity Gives Standoff a Distressed Backdrop

Opinion-Room for Debate: Who Should Control the West

Article: The Larger, but Quieter Than Bundy, Push to Take Over Federal Land

Op-ed piece: In Oregon, Myth Mixes With Anger The author also had a piece: Beyond the Oregon Protests:The Search for Common Ground published in the Yale Environment 360 blog.

Article: Oregon Town Torn Apart by Protest at Wildlife Refuge

 
Novelist Ursula K. Le Guin wrote a letter to the editor of The Oregonian

An article in the Seattle Times: Occupied Oregon wildlife refuge known for listening to ranchers and similar reporting from Energy & Environment News: Belying militants’ claims, Ore. ranchers and feds get along

An op-ed in The Hill: Time to speak out against elected officials who share goals with Oregon militants

Also in The Hill: 4 lessons from the Bundys’ Oregon Misadventure by Erik Molvar of WildEarth Guardians

A High Country News piece, The BLM’s inconsistent approach toward rule breakers

An article in the New Yorker, Bundynomics pointing out that “the West has flourished because of the federal government’s help, not in spite of it.”

An article in Pacific Standard: Beyond the Bundys: The Far Right and the Future of Conservation

An op-ed in Time Magazine by former Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest Supervisor Gloria Flora: Why I Resigned Over a Public Land Dispute

An article in Scientific American: Malheur Standoff Puts Science in the Crosshairs

An article in The Nation: Freedom From Ammon Bundy

An article in The Oregonian: Law cited against Oregon occupation was created to corral Civil War secessionists

And last but not least, this deserves special mention: Great Old Broads for Wilderness organized a counter-demonstration in Bend, Oregon, in mid-January.

 
IN MEMORIAM
3. Sylvia McLaughlin

The San Francisco Bay Area lost an environmental leader last month with the death of Sylvia McLaughlin, at the age of 99. Sylvia was the founder of the Save San Francisco Bay Association (now Save the Bay) in the early 60s, which in many ways was the kick-off to the local conservation movement. Sylvia and two other women were appalled by plans to fill in San Francisco Bay, leaving not much more than a shipping channel. So they decided to do something about it. They didn’t completely stop everything, but the pace slowed down considerably, and people came to recognize the value of keeping it natural. Eventually the state Bay Conservation & Development Commission was formed to oversee the management of the entire shoreline.

In later years, Sylvia remained involved. In 2007 she famously occupied an oak tree at UC Berkeley to protest the removal of a grove of trees in the way of a new football stadium complex. She also devoted her efforts to creating parks along the east shore of the Bay, and in 2012 one of them was named for her, as we reported at the time.

The Resource Renewal Institute (CalUWild’s fiscal sponsor) filmed a brief interview with Sylvia, which can be viewed here. Save the Bay posted a longer biography and appreciation. And the San Francisco Chronicle published an editorial noting her death.

I knew Sylvia for the last 25 years; she was a good friend to many organizations and people in the conservation community. We are going to miss her greatly.

 
IN GENERAL
4. Job Listing: Great Old Broads for Wilderness

Our sister organization, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, is looking for a full-time associate director to direct the planning and implementation of their advocacy, stewardship, and educational goals. The person will be responsible for building collaborations with partners, agencies, and legislators, and overseeing membership development, operations, and finances. And they must be passionate about public lands advocacy with a desire to work as part of a small, dedicated and fun-loving team. For more information click here.

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

There are enough other items linked to this month, so I’ll keep this section very brief.

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.

 
CalUWild friend Jacques Leslie has an op-ed in the New York Times on Nevada’s solar energy program: Nevada’s Solar Bait-and-Switch.

A National Park Service report on problems facing Zion National Park

 
Video link

Another in the National Park Service series, America’s Wilderness. This time: Wilderness Stewardship: Shenandoah

 
 
 
 
 
 

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

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2015 January

January 22nd, 2015

DSC_0666b3aCrystal Peak, North Wah Wah Mountains WSA, Utah                                                             (Mike Painter)

January 15, 2015

Dear CalUWild Friends-

I hope the new year is off to a good start for you. With the holidays, civic duty (jury), and items that just kept rolling in, this delayed Update is a bit longer than usual, so I’ve tried to keep the individual items as short as possible.

2014 was a successful year on many fronts, with Pres Obama’s designation of several new national monuments, including the Stornetta additions to the California Coastal Monument and the San Gabriel Mountains. There were also numerous events around the country celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act of 1964. Last month, CalUWild and other members of the steering committee received the Regional Forester’s Honor Award for our efforts organizing September’s Visions of the Wild Festival in Vallejo. We appreciate the recognition and note what an honor it also was to work with such a dedicated group of people.

Now it’s time to look ahead. A new Congress has started, and though we’ll be working on wilderness legislation in Utah (see Item 1), we may be kept busier fighting against bad legislation. Pres. Obama has said repeatedly that he’ll act if Congress doesn’t, so more of our efforts may be directed toward the administration and the agencies responsible for managing our public lands. We’ll continue advocating for Greater Canyonlands and Berryessa Snow Mountain monument designations. We’re also always looking for ways to further our outreach via slideshows, tabling, and other events-so if you have suggestions for any, please let me know.

Many thanks to everyone who responded so generously to CalUWild’s recent annual membership appeal. Your support is gratifying. If you haven’t contributed yet and would like to, please send in the yellow card if you received one or print out this form and send it in with your contribution. Although contributions are accepted year-round, we don’t send out numerous reminders throughout the year. As has always been our policy, contributions are voluntary, but they are appreciated. (REMINDER: Our only membership requirement is to write at least one letter a month to somebody about something.)

Speaking of support, the Wilderness Act 50th Anniversary poster created by California artist Tom Killion last year was popular, and we still have a few left. They measure 18″ x 24″ and are printed on heavy stock. The price is $10 each plus postage and shipping ($5 for 1 or 2, $5.50 for 3). All proceeds benefit CalUWild. So if you’re interested, send a check for the proper amount, along with your name and address, to:

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

If you have any questions, click here to send an email. Also, see Item 12 for a link to a preview of a book due out this summer by Tom Killion and poet Gary Snyder on the California coast.

We look forward to working with you to protect our Western wild places in the year to come. Thanks for your interest!

Best wishes,
Mike

IN UTAH
1.   Quick Rundown on Issues and News

IN CALIFORNIA
2.   National Forest Wilderness Recommendations
          (ACTION ITEM)
3.   Sally Jewell Visits Berryessa-Snow Mountain
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN ALASKA
4.   Rep. Jared Huffman Introduces Bill to
          Protect Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
          (ACTION ITEM)
5.    Pres. Obama Protects Bristol Bay
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN ARIZONA
6.    Oppose a Grand Canyon Tramway
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN NEVADA
7.   Urge BLM to Protect Wild Places around Las Vegas
          DEADLINE: February 6
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN GENERAL
8.    Defense Bill Passes with Good and Bad Lands Provisions
9.   Fee-Free Days in the National Parks Announced for 2015
10.   Job Listings
          a.   Western Environmental Law Center
          b.   Mono Lake Committee

IN MEMORIAM
11.   Martin Litton

IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
12.   Links to Items of Interest

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IN UTAH
1.   Quick Rundown on Issues and News

America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act will be reintroduced in the 114th Congress, so 2015 will be the start of a new cosponsor campaign for the bill. Cosponsorship serves various purposes: It is a direct sign of support for the legislation itself; it publicly shows that legislators have an extra measure of concern about the subject and will likely provide support on associated issues; and it signals to government agencies and officials that Congress and citizens will be looking over their shoulders at their management decisions.

The Utah Wilderness Coalition will be sponsoring a Wilderness Week in Washington, DC, February 21-25, giving citizens an opportunity to meet with congressional representatives or their staff, to seek cosponsorship of the Red Rock Bill and bring them up to date on other issues. With California being such a big state, we’re looking for someone from Southern California, preferably the Long Beach area, to join us. If you or someone you know might be interested, please send me an email, and I’d be happy to give you more details about it.

___________________

Last week the BLM announced a two-year ban on activities involving ropes at Corona Arch, near the Colorado River outside of Moab. The arch had become the focus of thrill-seeking activities in the last few years, such as jumping off with ropes attached. At least one person died when he mismeasured the rope. (It was too long, and 70 people witnessed the accident.) Other visitors had complained about the noise that jumpers and others made. A similar closure was instituted at nearby Gemini Bridges, also the scene of accidents and fatalities. BLM says the closure will give it the opportunity to develop an appropriate recreation plan. The two sites reportedly receive a total of 90,000 visitors a year.

___________________

We reported in November’s Update that a wolf sighting at the north rim of the Grand Canyon had been confirmed. Reports from Utah came in last month that a collared female wolf had been shot in the Tushar Mountains in southwest Utah. It is feared that the dead wolf is the one seen at the Grand Canyon, and genetic tests are being conducted. The hunter involved said he thought he was shooting a coyote …

___________________

December 31 was the State of Utah’s legislative deadline for the U.S. government to turn over our federal public lands (except national parks and military bases) for the State to manage. The date passed without the federal government complying (unsurprisingly). The state has not decided whether to pursue a lawsuit. We’ll keep you posted as the saga continues.

IN CALIFORNIA
2.   National Forest Wilderness Recommendations
(ACTION ITEM)

The Inyo, Sierra, and Sequoia national forests are updating their forest management plans. Part of the process is making recommendations for wilderness and other management designations. The California Wilderness Coalition, Sierra Club, Friends of the Inyo, and other conservation organizations have compiled a list of areas in each forest that qualify and that they support for each designation.

Please send an email or a letter to the Forest Supervisor of each forest saying you support the following recommendations. If you’ve been to any of the areas, please mention it and your experience there.

Inyo National Forest

Wilderness: Blanco; Dexter Canyon; Excelsior; Horse Meadows; South Sierra

Backcountry Management: Paiute; Benton Range; Black Canyon

Zoological or Botanical Area: Soldier Canyon

Special Management Areas: Coyote Plateau; Mono Craters; Mt. Olsen; Glass Mountain

Ed Armenta
Supervisor
Inyo National Forest
351 Pacu Lane, Suite 200
Bishop, CA 93514-3101

earmenta [at] fs [dot] fed [dot] us

Sierra National Forest

Wilderness: Ansel Adams Additions; Cat’s Head Mountain; Devils Gulch; Dinkey Lakes Additions; Graham Mountain; John Muir Additions; Kaiser Additions; Monarch Additions; Mt. Raymond; Shuteye; Snaproot; Sycamore Springs

Backcountry Management: Chiquito Creek; North Fork Kings River; Peckinpah Creek; San Joaquin River

Dean Gould
Supervisor
Sierra National Forest
1600 Tollhouse Rd.
Clovis, CA 93611

dagould [at] fs [dot] fed [dot] us

Sequoia National Forest

Wilderness: Lucas Creek; Lightner Peak; Mill Creek; Oat Mountain; Cannell; Chico; Bright Star Additions; South Sierra Additions; Golden Trout Additions; Domeland Addition

Backcountry Management: Saturday Peak; Sunday Peak; Lumreau Creek

Kevin Elliot
Supervisor
Sequoia National Forest
1839 South Newcomb Street
Porterville, CA 93257

kbelliott [at] fs [dot] fed [dot] us

3.   Sally Jewell Visits Berryessa Snow Mountain
          (ACTION ITEM)

The campaign to protect the Berryessa Snow Mountain region of the Inner Coast Range, north of the Bay Area, continues to make progress. Last month, Reps. Mike Thompson (D-5) and John Garamendi (D-3) hosted Interior Secretary Sally Jewell for a visit to the proposed monument, followed by a town hall meeting in Napa that was attended by over 300 people (who turned out despite bad weather). Most speakers at the meeting were in favor of the proposal, which is good, because the Administration views strong local support as being critical to designations.

The Los Angeles Times just ran an article about the campaign.

To add your voice in support of a national monument, please send Pres. Obama and Secty. Jewell an email, a postcard, or a letter. Their contact information is:

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

Comment line:   202-456-1111
Online comment here

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

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

IN ALASKA
4.   Rep. Jared Huffman Introduces Bill
          To Protect Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
          (ACTION ITEM)

Last week, Rep. Jared Huffman (D-2) announced that he and Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA) had introduced the Udall-Eisenhower Wilderness Act (H.R. 239) to designate the 1.5 million acre Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as wilderness. The bill is named after Pres. Dwight Eisenhower, who established the Arctic National Wildlife Range in 1960 and Congressman Mo Udall, who sponsored legislation in 1980 that enlarged the area and made it a “Refuge.” The campaign to protect the Coastal Plain has been going on for a long time, and CalUWild has supported it all along.

Please send Rep. Huffman and Rep. Fitzpatrick your thanks. Representatives do not answer correspondence from people outside their districts, so access to online comment forms is restricted. A quick phone call is best.

Rep. Jared Huffman
1630 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone:   202-225-5161
Website comments here (constituents only)

Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick
2400 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone:   202-225-4276

5.   Pres. Obama Protects Bristol Bay
          (ACTION ITEM)

Last month, Pres. Obama continued to use his executive powers to protect sensitive ecosystems when he put a stop to energy exploration in Bristol Bay in Alaska. In 2010 Mr. Obama had ordered the bay off limits, but that order was due to expire in 2017, after he leaves office. The new order makes the withdrawal indefinitely permanent, meaning that another president must actively rescind it for oil and gas exploration to resume.

Many kinds of wildlife live in Bristol Bay, north of the Alaska Peninsula, and a large fishing industry is located there, one that reportedly produces 40% of US wild-caught fish.

Please thank Pres. Obama. Contact information is in Item 3 above.

IN ARIZONA
6.   Oppose a Grand Canyon Tramway
          (ACTION ITEM)

A proposal has surfaced over the last couple of years to build a tramway to the bottom of the Grand Canyon at the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers. In addition, a huge resort development is proposed for the rim. Though the land in question is on the Navajo Reservation and not in the national park, it’s generating a lot of controversy. The New York Times published an article about the controversy last month.

Our friends at River Runners for Wilderness sent out the following alert (somewhat edited). Please let Interior Secretary Sally Jewell know your thoughts. Thanks!

Tramway-Free Grand Canyon Comments Needed

The proposed development of a huge resort and tramway at the confluence of the Little Colorado and main Colorado Rivers in Grand Canyon, first proposed in February of 2012, has taken an ominous new turn.

A group of Phoenix developers, known as Confluence Partners LLC, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with some representatives of the Navajo Nation to move the project forward. The LLC has no prior company experience in any type of construction.

Named the Grand Canyon Escalade, the tramway and resort has generated a groundswell of opposition from members of the Navajo Nation, neighboring tribes and citizens from around the world.

Despite this, draft legislation prepared for the Navajo Nation Tribal Council’s vote has been released, outlining development of a destination resort on the rim of the Grand Canyon. The legislation calls for between 800,000 to over 2,000,000 annual visitors per year at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

The Escalade would be built on Navajo Nation land perched above the main Colorado River, with a long, fully visible tramway down to the river’s edge and would include 4,000 square feet of restroom facilities at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

The development would also include an RV park, airport, restaurant, five star hotels, a boutique and a Discovery Center on the rim, 4,000 feet above the confluence, along with boat and helicopter tours.

The Navajo Nation draft legislation spells out the duties of the partners, and requires the Navajo Nation to expend a minimum of $65 million for a 20-mile all-weather road to the development location, as well as power, water, and telecommunications. The Navajo Nation would also be required to construct a wastewater treatment facility able to accommodate over 2 million visitors annually.

A glaring omission from the draft legislation and tribal consideration is that legislation passed in 1975 by the United States Congress recognized that the entire Grand Canyon has many managers, including the National Park Service, the Navajo and other tribes and agencies. The law requires the Secretary of Interior to work with all the Grand Canyon’s many managers in providing “protection and interpretation of the Grand Canyon in its entirety.” The legislation, known as the Grand Canyon Enlargement Act, required the Secretary of Interior to work with all the managers of Grand Canyon, including the Navajo Nation, to protect the resource.

The draft legislation also makes no mention of two existing Tribal Parks, the Navajo Nation Marble Canyon and Little Colorado River Tribal parks. These parks were created by tribal agreement in the 1960’s and 1970’s to preserve this area of Grand Canyon.

With $65 million in Navajo funds to be spent in supporting this Phoenix developers’ scheme, grassroots Navajo groups are working on a list of needs that are more relevant, more helpful, and not destructive of Navajo values and the Grand Canyon.

River Runners for Wilderness encourages you to write Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell. Tell her:

– You support a tramway-free Grand Canyon.

– That the two Navajo Tribal Parks, Marble Canyon and Little Colorado, in the eastern Grand Canyon, would be excellent areas for Interior to work with the Navajo Nation as the 1975 Act encourages her to do, with federal funds, to make these Parks, under Navajo Nation direction, known and available to the public in an appropriate way that does not desecrate the area;

– That the Department of Interior should be supportive of Navajo residents in the Grand Canyon area of Western Navajo by working with the Navajo Nation on a Navajo-generated list of regional needs such as housing, sanitation, telecommunication and water supply projects.

– Remind the Secretary of her duty to work with the Navajo to protect and preserve the Grand Canyon as the 1975 Grand Canyon Enlargement Act required.

You can see the draft Navajo Nation legislation (16 Mb) here.

Additional information is also available here.

Contact information for Secretary Jewell is in Item 3 above.

IN NEVADA
7.   Comments to BLM Needed to Protect Wild Places around Las Vegas
          DEADLINE: February 6
          (ACTION ITEM)

The BLM is revising its Resource Management Plan for southern Nevada. It includes some recommendations for wilderness designations, but it also leaves areas out that Friends of Nevada Wilderness have identified as worthy of designation. Please write to the BLM thanking the planners for their work and for recommending the areas they did. Also request that they include those additional areas. Please use the following information that comes from an alert that FoNW sent out last week. If you’ve been to any of these areas, please mention that in your comments. Also, FoNW asks that when submitting comments you use the titles and identifiers below to assure your comments address the proper part of the plan.

3.2.14 Lands with Wilderness Characteristics

The following areas evaluated by the BLM have high wilderness values and we support their inclusion as additional lands that meet the BLM Lands with Wilderness Characteristics criteria:

Bitter Ridge (NV-SN-52-015)
Virgin Mountain Addition (NV-SN-52-012)
Eldorado Addition (NV-SN-52-021 A&B)
Buffington Pockets (NV-SN-52-011)
Last Chance Range (NV-SN-30-002 A&B)
Specter Range (NV-SN-30-004 A&B)

The following areas, which were overlooked by the BLM Lands with Wilderness Characteristic inventory, also meet the criteria for wilderness and should be inventoried, evaluated, and included with the Lands with Wilderness Characteristics for the district:

St. Thomas Gap (NV-050-02R-12)
Summit Springs (NV-050-0440)

2.5.2.13 Lands with Wilderness Characteristics

Strongly encourage the district to adopt Alternative 2 for wilderness characteristics with the above listed lands included and also managed to protect, preserve, and maintain their wilderness characteristics.

3.4.6 Wilderness Study Areas

Support the strongest management actions to prevent OHV usage from damaging the wilderness resources of these areas and compromising the non-impairment standards set by BLM Manual 6330 for Wilderness Study Areas.

2.5.3.5 Travel and Transportation

Support the Alternative 2 for OHV Designation with the inclusion of all district WSAs and the above listed additional Lands with Wilderness Characteristics into the “Closed to All Motorized or Mechanized Vehicles” category.

The BLM will accept Draft Resource Management Plan comments by e-mail to sndo_rmp_revision [at] blm [dot] gov. (Please include name and address with email comments.)

or U.S. Mail:

BLM Southern Nevada District Office
Las Vegas/Pahrump Field Offices Draft RMP/Draft EIS
4701 N. Torrey Pines Drive
Las Vegas, NV 89130

Again, the deadline for comments is February 6. Thanks!

IN GENERAL
8.    Defense Bill Passes with Good and Bad Lands Provisions

In mid-December, Congress passed, and Pres. Obama signed, the National Defense Authorization Act. This “must-pass” legislation contained a public lands amendment made up of a large number of provisions. There was a split in opinion among many conservation groups, however, as to whether these should be included or not. CalUWild joined about 50 groups in a request that they be removed from the bill, but we were unsuccessful.

We opposed the legislation for two reasons: First, we believed that the bad aspects of the legislation included far outweighed the good ones. Wilderness is important, of course, but while compromise may be necessary at times, designations should not be achieved at any cost. Second, we don’t believe that legislation should be passed this way, attached to bills funding the Defense or any other department, which the President has no other choice than to sign. It chains bills with no chance of passing on their own to popular ones, ensuring passage. Legislation is frequently included that had no hearing before a congressional committee, so there is no discussion about the merits of the individual bills. In the end, it circumvents democracy.

Here’s a quick run-down of some of the incorporated bills and other provisions, plus references if we’ve reported on them or linked to articles about them.

In Alaska: Tongass National Forest-Transfer of 70,000 acres to the Sealaska Corp for logging.

In Arizona: Resolution Copper Mine-Transfer of 2,000 acres to the Rio Tinto mining company in exchange for 5,000 acres elsewhere. However, the land in question is sacred to the San Carlos Apache tribe. The original bill was defeated twice in the Senate.

In Colorado: Hermosa Creek Wilderness-Designated 37,000+ acres. (September 2014 and November 2013)

In Montana: Bob Marshall Wilderness-Added 50,000 acres, but removed completely unrelated Wilderness Study Areas on BLM land in eastern Montana. Also required that ATV use be permitted in adjacent roadless areas that might be considered for future wilderness designation.

In Nevada: Pine Forest Range & Wovoka wildernesses-Designated about 75,000 acres, but allowed for helicopter and motorized vehicle access. Also transferred land to the town of Yerington for a copper mine. (January 2014 and June 2013)

In New Mexico: Columbine-Hondo Wilderness-Designated 45,000 acres but de-designated part of the Wheeler Peak Wilderness for a mountain bike trail. (November 2013)

In Washington State: Alpine Lakes Wilderness-Designated 22,000 acres. North Cascades National Park and its Mather Wilderness-Permits a park and wilderness boundary adjustment for the realignment/reconstruction of the Upper Stehekin Road. The road itself starts at the north Lake Chelan and is not reachable by any other road.

In General: Livestock grazing-Increased the term of grazing permits from 10 to 20 years and allows permits to be renewed without undergoing any environmental review.

9.   Fee-Free Days in the National Parks Announced for 2015

The National Park Service just announced the 2015 calendar of fee-free days, when its parks and sites that charge entrance fees will allow people in at no cost:

January 19: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
February 14-16: Presidents Day weekend
April 18-19: opening weekend of National Park Week
August 25: National Park Service Birthday
September 26: National Public Lands Day
November 11: Veterans Day

10.   Job Listings
          a.   Western Environmental Law Center

Our friends at the Western Environmental Law Center, one of the premier groups of environmental lawyers, are looking for a Communications Director to, in their words, “leverage our conservation advocacy campaigns with our supporters and the broader public. This exciting full-time position will be located in Eugene, Oregon or Taos, New Mexico and will be filled as soon as possible.”

If you are interested, check out the full job listing here.

          b.   Mono Lake Committee

The Mono Lake Committee has two seasonal positions open-for an Intern and an Information Center & Bookstore Assistant-as well as volunteer opportunities. Follow the links here for more information.

IN MEMORIAM
11.   Martin Litton

Longtime conservation leader and CalUWild Advisory Board member Martin Litton died November 30 at the age of 97.

Martin was best known as a leader in the fight to keep dams out of Dinosaur National Monument and the Grand Canyon. His last campaign was for the protection of Giant Sequoias in the national monument in California designated by Pres. Clinton in 2000. Martin was an inveterate river runner, too, rowing through Grand Canyon numerous times, and in fact became the oldest person to run it at age 87.

Ken Brower wrote an appreciation on National Geographic‘s website. Other major stories about Martin appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and the San Jose Mercury News. An excerpt about Martin from a documentary on Grand Canyon river runners is on Vimeo.

Martin believed fiercely in protecting wild places and was not someone who believed in keeping quiet when something needed saying. It’s an example we could all learn from.

He will be missed.

IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
12.   Links to Items of Interest

As always, if a link is broken or otherwise inaccessible, please send me an email, and I’ll fix it or send you a PDF copy.

Reaction to an article in the Los Angeles Times, John Muir’s legacy questioned as centennial of his death nears, to which we linked in our November Update

From the LA Times op-ed page itself, a report on letters received: 56 in support of Muir to 0 in support of Jon Christensen, the professor who questioned Muir’s legacy

Letters to the editor of the LA Times, the first being from CalUWild friend George Wuerthner

Christensen’s own follow-up, I, Jackass, published in LA Observed

The Sierra Club’s John Muir Exhibit had a response, too. The Exhibit is a comprehensive source of information about John Muir, his work, and his writings.

This same Jon Christensen is also the editor of Boom: A Journal of California, published by UCLA. It has articles and interviews on many topics regarding the Golden State. In the latest issue is a preview of a new book of prints and poetry- California’s Wild Edge: The Coast in Prints, Poetry, and History-by Tom Killion and Gary Snyder, to be published by Heyday Books. You can also read a lengthy and interesting interview with Heyday publisher and founder, Malcolm Margolin.

A Robert Redford essay in Outside, supporting a Greater Canyonlands monument designation

A National Park Service website on UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the U.S.

Video Links

Episode 8 in the Forest Service Restore series: Indian Valley Meadow Restoration

Grand Canyon in Depth #1: More Than a View

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

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2014 January

February 6th, 2014

DSC_0929a3a
Boundary Peak, White Mountains, Nevada                                                                                        (Mike Painter)

January 31, 2014

Dear CalUWild friends—

Most of this Update was written last week, so we’ll still call it January’s. It contains a couple of action items. I’ve also included quite a bit of detail about some of the legislation and policy, particularly in Items 1 and 3, because I think it is important for advocates to be reminded once in a while about the many considerations involved. I don’t think it should be too overwhelming, though.

Two California congressmen, George Miller (D-11) and Henry Waxman (D-33), announced this month that they will retire at the end of their current terms. Rep. Miller represents the Martinez area and first came to Congress in 1975. He served as chairman of the Natural Resources Committee from 1991-94. Rep. Waxman also came to Congress in 1975, representing parts of Los Angeles. He was chairman of both the House Energy & Commerce and the Oversight and Government Reform committees. Both representatives have been long and stalwart supporters of wilderness, public lands, and the environment in general. They will both be missed, and we wish them well.

Many thanks to everyone who sent in their annual contributions during our recent membership appeal. If you didn’t, though, it’s not too late! Full details may be found here.

As always, thanks for your interest and support,
Mike

IN WASHINGTON, DC
1.   State of the Union, the Administration & Congress
          (ACTION ITEMS)

IN CALIFORNIA
2.   Annual SF Bay Pacific Flyway Festival
          Returns to Vallejo
          February 7-9
          (ACTION ITEM: Attend!)

IN NEVADA (& ELSEWHERE)
3.   Wilderness Bills Pass Natural Resources Committee
          (Some with Controversial Amendments)
4.   Lake Mead NRA Preparing Wilderness Plan
          COMMENT DEADLINE: March 23, 2014
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN GENERAL
5.   Conservation Alliance Job Listing

IN THE PRESS
6.   Links of Interest

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

IN WASHINGTON, DC
1.   State of the Union, the Administration & Congress
          (ACTION ITEMS)

Pres. Obama finally mentioned public lands in a speech!

In his State of the Union Address on Tuesday he said: “I’ll use my authority to protect more of our pristine federal lands for future generations.” He provided no further details, but coupled with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell’s comment last October-that if Congress wouldn’t act, the administration would (see CalUWild’s November Update)-it is a sign that some monument designations might be forthcoming under the Antiquities Act.

Possibilities include Greater Canyonlands in Utah, the Organ Mountains in New Mexico, as well as several in the Mojave Desert that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has promoted. In fact, Secty. Jewell visited the Organ Mountains, outside Las Cruces, New Mexico, the week before last. An Organ Mountains National Monument has been the subject of an extended citizens campaign and legislation introduced in both the House and Senate (currently H.R.995 and S.1805, respectively).

Please contact the White House to thank the President for mentioning land protection in his State of the Union Address, and urge him to follow through on his words.

You may comment at:

          phone:   202-456-1111;   or on the
          White House Online Comment Form

Or you might consider sending a wilderness postcard to him at:

          The White House
          1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
          Washington, DC 20500

The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance posted an online petition to the President, asking for protection for Greater Canyonlands, which I encourage you to sign in addition.

That single sentence in the speech, however, set off alarm bells for Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Public Lands & Environmental Regulation. He was quoted as saying:

We need to look no further than Kane and Garfield County, Utah to see how damaging it can be to communities when the President comes in and locks up land as a national monument. Communities across the West live in constant fear of unilateral monument declarations. This is unfair and undemocratic, and I urge the President to abandon these scare tactics and work collaboratively with Congress. Just today it was Democrats who voted against creating new land protections, specifically new wilderness areas, so we see that this has nothing to do with bipartisan policies about public lands, and everything to do with capitulating to the pressures from special interest groups to lock up land by executive order.

The facts, however, paint a different picture. The economy of those counties has generally received a boost from the designation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante monument, though it has been slow in coming. (See How the West Was Reinvented in Item 6 below).) And while communities may live in fear of monuments, the incessant railing against the federal government by some conservative politicians is the contributing factor to it. Finally, the Democrats good reason to vote against the bills, because they had objectionable amendments added to them that would have set bad precedents (see Item 2, below). A preference for executive orders entered nowhere into the picture.

The week before the State of the Union address, 109 House Democrats sent a letter to Secty. Jewell urging her to use the Antiquities Act to protect worthy public lands. The letter pointed out:

1)   the number of land protection bills introduced in the House (37);
2)   the small number of bills discussed in hearings (8);
3)   only one of which has passed the House -the California Stornetta Public Lands bill introduced by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-2); and
4)   the impossibility of bills moving through Congress, especially with the limited number of working days scheduled (as it’s an election year).

You may read the letter here.

The following California representatives signed the letter:

Jared Huffman (D-2)
Mike Thompson (D-5)
Doris Matsui (D-6)
Jerry McNerney (D-9)
George Miller (D-11)
Barbara Lee (D-13)
Jackie Speier (D-14)
Jim Costa (D-16)
Mike Honda (D-17)
Anna Eshoo (D-18)
Zoe Lofgren (D-19)
Sam Farr (D-20)
Lois Capps (D-24)
Julia Brownley (D-26)
Judy Chu (D-27)
Adam Schiff (D-28)
Tony Cardenas (D-29)
Grace F. Napolitano (D-32)
Henry A. Waxman (D-33)
Lucille Royball-Allard (D-40)
Maxine Waters (D-43)
Alan Lowenthal (D-47)
Scott Peters (D-52)

If you live in one of their districts, please call their office and thank them for signing. Contact information may be found on the House website.

The Center for Western Priorities also called on Secty. Jewell to turn her “words into action” when it released a paper this month outlining some of the notable initiatives undertaken by previous secretaries (of both parties-conservation used to be a non-partisan endeavor) and making recommendations for 2014 in the following areas:

          • Protect Land with High Recreational, Cultural, and Ecological Values
          • Ensure Oil and Gas Development is Done Responsibly
          • Address Climate Change
          • Mitigate Development Impacts and Manage Public Lands at a Landscape Scale
          • Harness America’s Great Outdoors as an Economic Engine

The paper is short (8 pages, not including references) and is worth reading to see some of the current proposals that the broader conservation community is working on, as well as the many issues over which the Interior Department has jurisdiction. You may read it here.

Finally, for thoughts on what Pres. Obama’s speech might mean for energy and public lands, there was this post by Chris Clarke.

IN CALIFORNIA
2.   Annual SF Bay Pacific Flyway Festival
          Returns to Vallejo
          February 7-9
          (ACTION ITEM: Attend!)

The 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act gets an early kickoff in the Bay Area next weekend with the 18th Annual San Francisco Bay Pacific Flyway Festival, a celebration of the importance of the Bay and its protected areas to our communities and to our wildlife.

Birdwatching is one of America’s most popular outdoor activities, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) is one of the four agencies with jurisdiction over designated wilderness. Although there is no FWS wilderness in the Bay Area (other than the Farallon Islands, which are closed to the public), the organizers of the festival are highlighting the Wilderness Act’s 50th Anniversary in this year’s celebration. Exposure to nature in one’s own backyard is an excellent precursor to a love of wilderness, so events and organizations such as this are worth supporting.

Festival events include walks at various wildlife refuges around the North Bay, as well as outings and events at Mare Island, an old naval shipyard, that explore its natural areas and history.

For more information, including a full schedule, go to the Festival website.

IN NEVADA (& ELSEWHERE)
3.   Wilderness Bills Pass Natural Resources Committee
          (Some with Controversial Amendments)

On January 28, the House Natural Resources approved several wilderness bills.

One passed unanimously: H.R.163, which would designate approximately 32,500 acres of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan as wilderness. (We included a photo in our July 2013 Update). The bill was introduced by Rep. Dan Benishek (R-MI), who is a member of the Natural Resources Committee.

Two bills for Nevada, establishing the Wovoka and the Pine Forest Range wildernesses (H.R.696 & H.R.433, respectively), were combined and subject to highly objectionable amendments by subcommittee chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT). The bills passed by a vote of 29-14, with five Democrats voting with the majority. Three of them were from California: Jim Costa (D-16), Tony Cardenas (D-29), and Raul Ruiz (D-36).

The original bills were the result of processes undertaken by local communities and had strong local support, so it is ironic that Rep. Bishop felt it necessary to introduce the amendments that he did, because he claims to be a supporter of such locally developed proposals. (The same thing happened with the Pinnacles National Monument-to-Park upgrade legislation, which had its wilderness component stripped out despite widespread local support and no opposition.)

The Wilderness Society sent a letter to the Committee outlining the amendments and its objections to them. It’s worth including extended excerpts here to give some background on what considerations go into crafting wilderness legislation and also to show how far wilderness opponents will go to stop wilderness protections. Among the amendments were ones that would:

prohibit the closure of any road that is “adjacent to, in or near” the proposed wilderness unless another road is simultaneously opened. This provision could threaten public safety or natural resources by placing arbitrary and unjustifiable restrictions on the Secretary of the Interior’s ability to manage public roads.
prohibit the United States from acquiring inholdings from willing sellers within the proposed wilderness areas. Instead, unlike all other inholders within public lands, owners of private inholdings in these two wilderness areas could only convey their land to the United States by donation or exchange. This provision unfairly and unconstitutionally limits the property rights of private landowners by inhibiting their ability to willingly sell their land to a willing buyer. Such a limitation will make it more difficult to acquire inholdings from willing sellers within wilderness areas.
exempt all wildfire management activities, including forest thinning and other presuppression activities, from the Wilderness Act in the proposed Pine Forest Range wilderness. The Wilderness Act already provides authority to address wildfires, insects, and disease in section 4(d)(1) and wildfire management, including presuppression where appropriate, are permissible in accordance with The Wilderness Act. However, these activities are to be carried out within the Wilderness Act’s overall framework of wilderness management, which includes requirements that wilderness areas be managed to preserve their wilderness character.
prohibit the Secretary of the Interior from ever studying specified lands adjacent to the proposed Pine Forest Range Wilderness for its values as wilderness or an area of critical environmental concern. Such a provision, never before included in wilderness legislation, would unduly limit the Secretary’s [discretion] to conserve important natural resources after considering public input. Standard release language, as was included in the introduced version of H.R. 433, is adequate to release the lands adjacent to the proposed Pine Forest Range Wilderness for multiple use activities in accordance with the Federal Land Management and Policy Act, while preserving Secretarial discretion to make informed decisions about the management of these lands.
prohibit emergency hunting closures that are necessary for national security, public safety, or resource conservation from lasting longer than one year. Such an arbitrary limitation may prevent land managers from effectively protecting national security, public safety, or natural resources in the event that a longer closure period is necessary.
prohibit the Secretary of Agriculture (sic) from prohibiting motorized vehicles where they are allowed as of the date of enactment, and prohibit the Secretary from closing any road “in or near” the proposed Wovoka Wilderness and withdrawal area without simultaneously opening another road. … [T]his section unduly limits the Secretary’s discretion to manage roads, thus jeopardizing public safety and natural resources.

The letter concluded by stating:

None of these egregious provisions are included in the introduced versions of the Pine Forest or Lyon County legislation and their inclusion in the amendment in a nature of a substitute are unnecessary and deleterious. In order to fulfill the agreement supported by the local communities, stakeholders and members of Congress who introduced the legislation, preserve the integrity of the National Wilderness Preservation System, protect public safety and safeguard natural resources, The Wilderness Society urges the Committee to revise these provisions prior to final consideration of H.R. 433.

These amendments can only be classified as poison pills, and we hope that Sen. Harry Reid (D), who is from Nevada, will remove them when the Senate takes up the legislation.

4.   Lake Mead NRA Preparing Wilderness Plan
          COMMENT DEADLINE: March 23, 2014
          (ACTION ITEM)

The National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management have issued a joint draft Wilderness Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the eight wilderness areas in and around Lake Mead National Recreation Area, east of Las Vegas. We haven’t reviewed the draft or received any talking points regarding it, so this is simply an announcement of its availability and the schedule of upcoming public meetings. We’ll share any information in our next Update.

Click on the links here to download (18 MB PDF) a copy of the plan and EIS, or to comment on it.

The following comes from the agencies’ announcement:

The interagency planning team has developed a set of three management alternatives that describe how each wilderness area will be managed for its resources, visitor experience and operations. Alternative B is the NPS and BLM preferred alternative, focusing on providing opportunities for access into the areas and guidance for climbing, while still protecting the character of the wilderness areas. The comments and suggestions that many of you have provided earlier were considered when developing the preferred alternative presented in this plan.

Please look at this draft and provide us your comments by March 23, 2014. You can submit your comments by any one of the following ways:

1)   Attend one of our public meetings:

          Tuesday, February 11th
          4:00 – 6:00 PM (PST)
          James Gibson Library
          100 W Lake Mead Pkwy
          Henderson, Nevada

          Wednesday, February 12th
          4:00 – 6:00 PM (PST)
          Boulder City Library
          701 Adams Blvd
          Boulder City, Nevada

          Thursday, February 13th
          4:00 – 6:00 PM (MST) 3:00-5:00 (PST)
          Mohave Community College
          Room 210
          3400 Highway 95
          Bullhead City, Arizona

2)   Mail comments to:

          Greg Jarvis, Planning
          Denver Service Center – National Park Service
          12795 W. Alameda Parkway
          Lakewood, CO 80228

3)   Submit comments on the Internet at the NPS planning website: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/lake [The link mentioned above is more direct-Mike]

We welcome your continued participation in this important effort, and look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
William K. Dickinson, Superintendent Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Timothy Smith, District Manager Southern Nevada District Office

Contact Information

Greg Jarvis, Project Manager, National Park Service, 12795 W Alameda Parkway, Denver, CO 80225 (303-969-2263)

and

Randy Kyes, Wilderness Planner, Bureau of Land Management, 4701 North Torrey Pines, Las Vegas, NV 89130 (702-515-5287)

IN GENERAL
5.   Conservation Alliance Job Listing

We just received the following from the Conservation Alliance:

The Conservation Alliance is hiring a full-time Program Manager to add to our existing team. We are a group of 185+ outdoor industry companies that work together to support conservation efforts throughout North America.

Our new Program Manager will focus on managing our grant program, engaging our member companies in conservation efforts, and handling much of our communications and outreach.

We’re looking for someone with a strong conservation background who has some experience with outdoor industry and/or has a passion for outdoor recreation. The position will be based in Bend, Oregon.

Please see the job description here.

Feel free to forward this announcement to anyone you think might be interested.

IN THE PRESS
6.   Links of Interest

If a link is broken or otherwise inaccessible, please send me an email.

Redrock Storyscapes, a High Country News review of Utah’s Canyon Country Place Names by Steve Allen, noted guidebook author and CalUWild Advisory Board Member. It was a mammoth undertaking, and according to its Amazon.com description, the two-volume set “documents more than 4,000 place name derivations and place name changes over time. It also includes stories and early descriptions about those places, often told by the first explorers or the early pioneers who settled there.” Order it from your local bookseller or Amazon.

New York Times

Sapped Colorado River Forces Reckoning
A Symbol of the Range Returns Home, looking at bighorn sheep population restoration
Followup on a recent case of vandalism by Boy Scout leaders at Utah’s Goblin Valley State Park

Washington Monthly

How the West Was Reinvented

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

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2013 January

February 6th, 2013

DSC_0247a2
Sunset across Greater Canyonlands, Utah                                                                                            (Mike Painter)

January 31, 2013

Dear CalUWild friends and supporters-

There’s not much news to report this month on the wilderness and public lands front, though a couple of items worth mentioning came in at the last minute, so we’re a bit later with the Update than originally planned.

Pres. Obama began his second term with his public inauguration on January 21. We’re hoping that he will be more aggressive in protecting public lands this term. He won’t be doing that, however, unless he knows he has the support of citizens across the country. So it’s important to continue to let him and the officials in his administration know that protection is important to you and that you will give them the political support needed to protect the lands that are our birthright as Americans.

Thank you again to everyone who has made a contribution during CalUWild’s membership drive. We do still need the support of more of our members to meet our anticipated expenses for the year. So if you find the information CalUWild provides useful (and we are the only grassroots citizens group focusing on all aspects of wilderness from the Rockies to the Pacific), please contribute what you can. Just print out the form here containing full information, and mail it in with your gift. Thanks!

Also: If you haven’t let us know who your new congressional representative is, please do so-it’s helpful for those rare times when we need to target information for specific districts. Click here to send an email. If you live in any of the following cities, there’s no need to respond:

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

Thanks for your cooperation.

Finally: As thing get underway for the national celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act next year, CalUWild has started a Western Wilderness Group on Flickr, the photography sharing web site. If you have photography, drawings, or paintings you’d like to contribute, please do. You will have to set up a Flickr account (free at the basic level) if you don’t have one. Details are here, or send me an email with any questions.

This Update is coming out close to the birthday of the writer Edward Abbey (born January 29, 1927), so I’ll close with a couple of quotes from him.

We have always needed and always will need, so long as we are human, a big rugged expanse of country beyond the back door, beyond the city limits, where a man can get lost if he wants to, where a woman can get lost, where each and all can exercise the most elementary and essential of all freedoms: the freedom to move one’s body through three-dimensional space without obstruction by fences, walls, traffic, steel.

-—Desert Solitaire

Here yet you may find the elemental freedom to breathe deep of unpoisoned air, to experiment with solitude and stillness, to gaze through a hundred miles of untrammeled atmosphere, across redrock canyons, beyond blue mesas, toward the snow-covered peaks of the most distant mountains-to make the discovery of the self in its proud sufficiency which is not isolation but an irreplaceable part of the mystery of the whole.

-—The Journey Home

Thank you, as always, for your interest and support as we move into 2013!

Mike

IN CALIFORNIA
1.   Pinnacles National Monument Becomes a National Park
          (ACTION ITEM)
2.   Judge Denies Immediate Relief to Pt. Reyes Oyster Farm

IN WASHINGTON, DC
3.   Political Shuffling in the Nation’s Capital
4.   Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility
          Publicizes Park Service’s Plans to “Wire” Our National Parks
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
5.   Articles & Links of Interest

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

IN CALIFORNIA
1.   Pinnacles National Monument Becomes a National Park
          (ACTION ITEM)

On January 10, Pres. Obama signed a bill by Reps. Sam Farr (D-20) and Jeff Denham (R-10) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) that changed the designation of Pinnacles National Monument to a national park. The bill passed the U.S. Senate at the very end of the last Congress after having been passed by the House last summer.

Pinnacles became the 59th national park, but it was under the jurisdiction of the Park Service before the bill’s passage, so nothing about its management is expected to change. The change was made to raise the profile of the monument in the hope of attracting more visitors to the area.

Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), Chairman of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks and Public Lands, insisted on stripping out wilderness designation proposed for almost 3,000 acres of the park in order to allow the bill to proceed. It’s ironic, since Rep. Bishop has often said that local support should be the deciding factor in wilderness designations. The wilderness proposal for Pinnacles had local and statewide support and no significant (if any) opposition, yet he still refused to permit it. This just confirms that Rep. Bishop is simply opposed to wilderness, period, everywhere-not just in Utah.

Pres. Teddy Roosevelt established Pinnacles National Monument in 1908. It is very interesting geologically and is home to many species of wildlife, including being a release area for the California condor breeding program.

Please send a message of thanks to Pres. Obama for signing the bill and to Reps. Farr, Denham, and Sen. Boxer, too.

Contact information:

          White House Comment Line:   202-454-1111
          White House Online Comment Form

          Sen. Barbara Boxer webpage
          Rep. Sam Farr webpage
          Rep. Jeff Denham webpage

Note that Members of the House do not respond to correspondence from people outside their districts, so phone calls to their offices are best.

2.   Judge Denies Immediate Relief to Pt. Reyes Oyster Farm

A brief update on the ongoing legal battle over the fate of the Drakes Bay Oyster Company: Last Friday, a federal judge expressed doubts over the company’s claim against the Secretary of the Interior and the Park Service. The San Francisco Chronicle reported:

U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers said federal law appears to leave renewal of the lease up to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

“It seems to me it’s much more in the realm of executive, political or legislative functions, as opposed to a judicial function,” Gonzalez Rogers said. “Where’s the role of the federal judiciary on that policy decision?”

She did not issue an immediate ruling.

We’ll keep you posted as things develop.

IN WASHINGTON, DC
3.   Political Shuffling in the Nation’s Capital

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar this month announced his intention to retire after serving for four years in Pres. Obama’s cabinet. Prior to that, he was Attorney General of Colorado and then a U.S. Senator from that state. Pres. Obama has not nominated anyone to replace him, though many in the conservation community are supporting Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D) of Arizona, a strong supporter of public lands who currently sits on the House Natural Resources Committee.

The Dept. of Interior’s announcement is here. Pres. Obama expressed his thanks for Secty. Salazar’s service in a statement that you can read here.

The confirmation of Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts as Secretary of State may impact the House Natural Resources Committee. Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass) is the senior Democrat on the committee (the “Ranking Member”), and he has announced his candidacy for Sen. Kerry’s seat, to be filled by a special election in June. Should he win, the Ranking Member position will be vacant. Reps. Grijalva and Peter DeFazio of Oregon have expressed interest in the position. Other names mentioned as possibilities are Rush Holt of New Jersey (who has signaled his intention to reintroduce America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, the comprehensive Utah Wilderness bill, now that Rep. Maurice Hinchey of New York has retired) and Grace Napolitano of California.

Given the generally anti-wilderness and anti-conservation stance of the Republicans in the House, the minority leadership position on the committee is an important one.

4.   Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility
          Publicizes Park Service’s Plans to “Wire” Our National Parks
          (ACTION ITEM)

The press release below came in this morning from our friends at Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). It’s a threat that needs to be taken seriously, for two reasons: 1) It flies in the face of the fundamental concept of the national parks as a place to experience Nature on its own terms (at least to a large degree) and as a respite from modern contraptions; and 2) It greatly expands the role of private enterprise in the national parks. It’s one thing for a private company to provide lodging, but it’s completely different to be providing interpretive content and other information out in a park. That is the job of the Park Service. Additionally, that information should be provided free of charge to all visitors, who are already paying an entrance fee in most cases.

If allowed to proceed might make it that much easier to go forward with more projects elsewhere (including wilderness areas) because people will have become increasingly accustomed to electronic encroachment.

Please let the Park Service and the Secretary of the Interior your thoughts! Contact information follows PEER’s press release.

PLANS TO WIRE ENTIRE NATIONAL PARK SYSTEM
Concessionaires Would Control Visitor Cell and Internet Access and Content

Washington, DC – The National Park Service (NPS) appears deeply committed to an industry-sponsored initiative which would change the way many visitors experience national parks, according to documents posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Plans to significantly expand cellular and internet “connectivity” inside parks have advanced without public notice.

The National Park Hospitality Association (NPHA), which represents concessionaires who operate lodges, stores and other commercial outlets inside national parks, is leading the effort to dramatically hike visitor access to cell and internet signals inside parks – signals from the concessionaires, that is. NPHA laments that “in many of America’s national parks, prized smartphones are little more than cameras because cell and data service, even at visitor centers and lodges and other developed sites, is poor – or worse.”

The organization has the ear of Park Service leadership, which is working with NPHA to –

•   Provide internet access “at all major, developed visitor areas in the national park system” and “basic cell phone service at all major visitor areas in national park units, as well as along most roads and at major sites such as trailheads;”

•   “Deliver timely, park-focused information within national parks through smart phones, tablets and computers to deliver interpretation and other important information to park visitors;” and

•   In order be “financially sustainable,” NPHA wants “the opportunity to develop and operate these systems” in which they charge fees for services beyond free “landing pages.” NPHA envisions a capacity “which could reduce the need for handing out printed materials and even facilitate fee collection through electronic devices.”

“This is a disturbing stealth scheme to wire our national park system,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting the utter absence of any analysis of impacts or public input. “Experiencing the natural wonders of our national parks should not require a smartphone.”

NPS Deputy Director Peggy O’Dell has invited NPHA to nominate the first five parks to be wired, with the final “winners” selected sometime in January. NPS Director Jon Jarvis is reviewing an NPHA-drafted system-wide policy promoting connectivity and a joint “strategy session” is slated for February.

“This would be a giant step toward ‘Disney-fying’ park interpretation, replacing rangers with corporate icons as your guides,” Ruch added. “Solitude values of parks will go by the board, as lodges, tents, trailheads and other park locations become just another place to fiddle with electronic devices.”

Read the NPHA plans

View NPHA effort to set national park policy

Look at spread of cell towers through the national park system

Compare the planning process at Yellowstone National Park

Please contact the Park Service and the Secretary of the Interior, preferably by email or phone, since postal envelopes are still irradiated and delayed.

          Email to Peggy O’Dell, Deputy Director, Operations
          Email to Jon Jarvis, Director
          National Park Service main phone:   202-208-3818

          Email to Ken Salazar, Secretary
          Secretary’s phone:   202-208-7351

          Online Feedback Form here

U.S. Mail address for both National Park Service and U.S. Department of the Interior:

          1849 C Street, NW
          Washington, DC  20240

IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
5.   Articles & Links of Interest

As always, if you’re unable to open a link, it’s expired, or otherwise not working, please let me know.

YouTube video, a 15-second ad in support of protecting Greater Canyonlands, playing in New York’s Times Square on the CBS Superscreen and produced by the Grand Canyon Trust. It’s nice to see our messages go big time!

Salt Lake Tribune

          Private land in Grand Staircase trickling to BLM: Counties oppose more
          federal ownership of land, but feds also looking to sell

Article in Science on Canyonlands & chocolate

Deseret News

          BLM Colorado pulls leases next to Dinosaur National Monument

Our friend Brooke Williams writes in the Moab Sun News on The Wilderness Within

The National Wildlife Federation issued a new report today, Wildlife in a Warming World: Confronting the Climate Crisis.

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2012 January – February

February 9th, 2012

DSC_815b1d Pictographs, San Rafael Swell, Utah                                                                                            Mike Painter

February 8, 2012

Dear CalUWild Friends—

The Update is a bit late because we’ve been finishing work on CalUWild’s revamped website. The new site has the same emphasis on making useful information easily accessible , but also contains photography and a new section on the homepage for current events and issues. There is also a complete archive of Monthly Updates, though the formatting on older ones isn’t always consistent and internal links referring to individual Updates may still need to be corrected. But we are happy enough with it that we’ve decided to “go live” with it. Please check it out at caluwild.org and let us know what you think. If you have corrections, let us know those, too. There’s a page for submitting your thoughts here.

Many thanks to Michael Kane for his design and technical work on the new site. And many thanks also to Phillip Loughlin, our previous webmaster, for his years of dedication developing and keeping the old site running.

We would also like to thank everyone who made contributions to CalUWild during our membership appeal over the holidays. Your support is much appreciated. If you haven’t contributed yet, it’s never too late. Dues information may be found here. We’re not set up for electronic contributions yet, so please print out the information there and include it with your check.

We can’t continue our work without the strong support of our members. Thanks!

Best wishes,
Mike

IN UTAH
1.   Red Rock Champion Rep. Maurice Hinchey to Retire
          (ACTION ITEM)
2.   Help Protect the Greater Canyonlands Region
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
3.   Support the Designation of
          Fort Ord as a National Monument
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN ARIZONA
4.   Interior Department Closes Grand Canyon Area
          To Further Uranium Mining
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN OREGON
5.   Public Interest Environmental Law Conference
          University of Oregon School of Law
          Eugene, March 1-4

IN GENERAL
6.   Coming Up:
          The 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act
          (ACTION ITEM)
7.   Job Posting: The Wilderness Society
          California Wilderness Campaign Coordinator

IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
8.   Links of Interest

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

IN UTAH
1.   Red Rock Champion Rep. Maurice Hinchey to Retire
          (ACTION ITEM)

Last month, Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), who took over the sponsorship of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act from Utah’s Rep. Wayne Owens, announced that he would be retiring at the end of this term, his tenth. Rep. Hinchey has been an ardent champion of protection for Utah’s wildlands, and he’s been an outspoken supporter of other conservation issues across America, as well. We will miss his leadership in Congress and wish him well as he steps away from Capitol Hill.

Please take a moment to send Rep. Hinchey a letter or postcard of appreciation.

Hon. Maurice Hinchey
2431 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC  20515

Phone:   202-225-6335
Fax:   202-226-0774

Correspondence to Congress sent in envelopes is still irradiated and delayed, so it’s better to fax a letter than to mail it. An alternative is to send it to a district office rather than to DC. You can find addresses for Rep. Hinchey’s district offices here. His website only accepts email from constituents.

2.   Help Protect the Greater Canyonlands Region
          (ACTION ITEM)

CalUWild and other organizations have been developing a campaign to protect the Greater Canyonlands region in southeastern Utah. Originally, the focused was on a petition by the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance to the Department of the Interior to close ORV routes and otherwise work to protect the area. The Department turned down the petition and continues to defend the Bush-era resource management plans developed by the Bureau of Land Management.

So now we’re working on a different strategy: Going directly to the White House to ask Pres. Obama to use his executive power to protect the area, whether by designating a national monument or through other means. He has shown that he will use the Antiquities Act to designate a site of historical importance (Ft. Monroe in Virginia), so maybe he will now designate an area that is ecologically (as well as culturally and scenically) significant, while providing additional protections to Canyonlands National Park, which lies at its center.

The Coalition has set up a website, greatercanyonlands.org, hosted on SUWA’s server, with various actions you can take to make your opinions known to the White House. Some use traditional means of advocacy, such as phoning the White House or collecting postcards. Or you can send an automated email. Social media like Facebook and Twitter are becoming increasingly popular, so they are part of the equation now, too. Check the website out!

A final option is to fax your own letter to Pres. Obama, explaining the importance of the Canyonlands landscape to you and asking that he act to protect it.

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

Phone:   202-456-1111
Fax:   202-456-2461
Webform

It’s not just the politicians in Washington who need to hear from you, though. The governor of Utah is constantly making comments that show his lack of concern, and even disdain, for the federal public lands of Utah. So while you’re at it, remind Gov. Gary Herbert of the importance of tourism to Utah (and why you spend your dollars there) and why you go there.

Gov. Gary R. Herbert
Utah State Capitol Complex
PO Box 142220
Salt Lake City, Utah 84114-2220

Though not as effective as a letter, you can send a message to the governor via his webpage or call him at
800-705-2464.

IN CALIFORNIA
3.   Support the Designation of
Fort Ord as a National Monument
          (ACTION ITEM)

A campaign is gathering steam to have Ft. Ord in Monterey designated a national monument. As mentioned above, Pres. Obama designated Ft. Monroe in Virgina a national monument late last year, his first use of the 1906 Antiquities Act. Ft. Ord in Monterey has a different history and is much larger. It also has natural values that are worth preserving. Because large military bases are often not fully developed, original populations of plants and animals often survive, even when they have been extirpated in the surrounding areas. Ft. Ord is one excellent example.

The fort was founded in 1917 and when the Army left in 1996, it transferred management of about half of Fort Ord to the BLM. About 7,000 acres are still under military jurisdiction while the Army cleans up unexploded ordnance, and the BLM is expected take over management of that portion in 2019.

Last month, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar visited Ft. Ord, along with BLM Director Bob Abbey. They were shown around by Rep. Sam Farr (D-17) and other local officials. Secty. Salazar was impressed with the local community support he found for monument designation and commented that such support is critical in making a decision to designate a new monument. Given the anti-monument sentiment among many in Washington, its military history might soften some of the opposition to a presidential designation. Secty. Salazar recommended letters to Sens. Boxer and Feinstein expressing support.

It would also be a good idea to write Secty. Salazar and thank him for his advocacy on behalf of Ft. Ord.

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

Phone:   202-208-3100
Email:   feedback [at] ios [dot] doi [dot] gov
Webform

DC contact information for Sens. Boxer and Feinstein:

Hon. Barbara Boxer
United States Senate
112 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC  20510

Phone:   202-224-3553
Webform

Other contact information for Sen. Boxer may be found here.

Hon. Dianne Feinstein
United States Senate
331 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC  20510

Phone:   202-224-3841
Webform

Other contact information for Sen. Feinstein may be found here.

For more information about Ft. Ord, visit the BLM’s website.

IN ARIZONA
4.   Interior Department Closes Grand Canyon Area
          To Further Uranium Mining
          (ACTION ITEM)

Last month, in a move opposed by the mining industry and Republicans in Congress, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar instituted a 20-year ban on new mining claims for uranium on about 1 million acres around the Grand Canyon. Existing claims will be honored.

President George Bush had opened the area to claims, but in 2009, Secty. Salazar instituted a two-year withdrawal that he then extended by six months. In making his decision, Mr. Salazar cited the importance of the landscape to visitors from around America and the world, its sacredness to many Indian tribes, and the fact that the Colorado River provides drinking water for 26 million residents of the Southwest.

Reaction from Congress was predictable. Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee, was quoted in the Washington Post as saying: “When families travel to see the Grand Canyon, they have a right to expect that the only glow they will see will come from the sun setting over the rim of this natural wonder, and not from the radioactive contamination that comes from uranium mining.” On the other hand, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said the ban was a “devastating blow to job creation in northern Arizona.”

It’s estimated that the ban might cost 465 jobs and maybe $16.6 million in annual tax revenue. The economy of northern Arizona is becoming increasingly tourist-based (estimated at $687 million annually), so pollution or other problems from uranium mining would likely have a major impact on that industry in addition to the environment.

Please send Secty. Salazar thanks for his protection of the Grand Canyon.

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

Phone:   202-208-3100
Email:   feedback [at] ios [dot] doi [dot] gov
Webform

IN OREGON
5.   Public Interest Environmental Law Conference
          University of Oregon School of Law
          Eugene, March 1-4

The 30th Annual Public Interest Environmental Law Conference will be held early next month at the law school of the University of Oregon in Eugene. The conference this year is titled “New Frontier: The Political Crossroads of Our Environmental Future.”

PIELC is one of the largest gatherings of environmental activists, academics, and citizens anywhere, with panels and speeches on almost any topic imaginable. It’s also organized by the environmental law students (volunteering their time), and they do a fantastic job! Click here for the conference homepage and here for a tentative schedule (scroll down the page).

IN GENERAL
6.   Coming Up:
          The 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act
          (ACTION ITEM)

On September 3, 1964, Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Wilderness Act into law. It was and continues to be a landmark piece of legislation, emulated in states and in countries around the world. In two years, we will be celebrating the 50th Anniversary of this historic event. CalUWild is part of a national committee comprised of representatives from the federal land agencies and other nonprofit groups.

One of our most important goals is to get wilderness enthusiasts and supporters involved in planning events at the local level, to both celebrate wilderness and to spread the message about it. Among the ideas that have come forward already are hikes, photo and other art exhibitions, slideshows, and outreach to other types of groups, particularly in underserved communities.

If you would like to be part of the celebration by organizing an activity or if you have an idea that you think the committee should consider, send me an email.

Thanks!

7.   Job Posting: The Wilderness Society
          California Wilderness Campaign

The Wilderness Society in San Francisco is looking for someone to coordinate the California Wilderness Campaign, of which TWS, Sierra Club, California Wilderness Coalition, and CalUWild (among others) are members.  Here’s a link to the job listing. The position is open until filled.

Submit resume, cover letter, writing samples and references to cawilderness [at] tws [dot] org with “California Wilderness Coordinator” in the subject line.

IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
8.   Links of Interest

There is a lot to read this month … If a link is expired, please check the archives for the publication or send me an email, and I’ll see what I can do to get you the article.

Followup in the press on the Alton coal mine proposal in Utah, discussed in CalUWild’s December 2011 Update.

The Salt Lake Tribune: Park Service, wildlife biologists against Alton mine expansion

The Los Angeles Times: Proposed Utah mine expansion reflects politics of coal

 
=-=-=

California Rep. Dan Lungren (R-3), someone not known for his pro-conservation views, ignited a controversy when he called for an investigation into how San Francisco is using its water from Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park and how much it’s paying for that right.

2 news articles from the Bay Citizen:

Congressman: San Francisco’s Water Practices Are Illegal

Congressman Wants to Raise Hetch Hetchy Rent a Thousandfold

The San Francisco Chronicle ran pro & con op-ed pieces on the topic in its Sunday Insight section
on January 22:

Dan Lungren: Hetch Hetchy should be restored to natural state

Jim Wunderman: Hetch Hetchy an invaluable source of water, power

 
=-=-=

The Los Angeles Times looks at conflicts over solar energy development in the desert:

Sacrificing the desert to save the Earth

 
=-=-=

The New York Times on the continuing travels of California’s lone wolf

 
=-=-=

From National Parks Traveler:

Sale of Plastic Water Bottles Banned At Grand Canyon National Park

 
=-=-=

High Country News looks at the conflict over rebuilding a fire lookout in a designated wilderness area

 
=-=-=

The National Archives has digitized a portion of the Documerica Project, undertaken by the newly-created Environmental Protection Agency in 1971 – 1977, where photographers took pictures of environmental problems around the country. Click here for the homepage. It’s an interesting record of the state of our environment around the time of the first Earth Day. The Archives website is discussed in this New York Times Green Blog post.

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2011 January

October 25th, 2011

In the Bodie Hills                                                                                                                                   Mike Painter

January 31, 2011

Dear CalUWild friends —

There’s a long list of items this month, so we’ll get right to them. Please note that some have relatively short deadlines!

Thanks for your efforts and interest!
Mike

IN CALIFORNIA
1.   Help Protect the
          Bodie Hills in Mono County
          Letters Needed Before January 15
          (ACTION ITEM)
2.   New Wilderness in California
3.   California Public Lands Bills Introduced
          In Both U.S. Senate and House
          Thank You Letters
          (ACTION ITEM)
4.   California State Parks Advocacy Day
          March 22, 2011
          REGISTRATION DEADLINE: February 12
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN ARIZONA
5.   Kofa Wildlife Refuge Guzzlers Ruled Illegal

IN GENERAL
6.   Reaction to BLM’s New Wilderness Policy
          Thank You Letters Needed
          (ACTION ITEM)
7.   Wilderness Volunteers Service Trips
8.   Job Listing: Environmental Protection Information Center

IN THE PRESS
9.   Death by GPS

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

IN CALIFORNIA
1.   Help Protect the
          Bodie Hills in Mono County
          Letters Needed Before January 15
          (ACTION ITEM)

We wrote about the Bodie Hills last September when the local Congressman, Buck McKeon (R-25), introduced last-minute legislation to de-designate the Bodie Hills Wilderness Study Area, east of Yosemite and north of Mono Lake, on the border with Nevada. The purpose was to make it easier for a gold mining company to conduct exploration work in the area. The Mono County Board of Supervisors voted to take “No Action” on a resolution in support of the bill. The issue is once again up for discussion, although Rep. McKeon has not introduced a new bill in this Congress.

The Mono County Supervisors will be having a hearing in Bridgeport on February 15, so if you’d like a mid-winter trip to the Eastern Sierra, please attend!

CalUWild is part of a coalition of organizations working to gain protections for the Bodie Hills. Here’s the alert prepared by Sally Miller of The Wilderness Society for the coalition:

The Bodie Hills: More Precious Than Gold
Ask Mono County Supervisors to Protect the Bodie Hills!

The Bodie Hills, one of the nation’s treasures located in the Eastern Sierra’s backyard, contain outstanding natural and cultural values that deserve special protection. A gold mining company wants to open the Bodie Hills to mining.

PLEASE TAKE ACTION TO PRESERVE THE BODIE HILLS!

The remote and spectacular Bodie Hills are tucked between the Sierra Nevada and the Great Basin, and comprise some 200,000 acres of mostly public land, managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Bodie State Historic Park, California’s official ghost town and one of our most popular state parks, lies in the center of the Bodie Hills. The area contains an amazingly high level of biological diversity and one of the highest concentrations of archaeological sites in the Great Basin. The Bodie Hills are wild and largely pristine and contain three BLM Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs).

Mining companies have for years been interested in mining gold in the Bodie Hills, particularly in the Bodie WSA, located northeast of Bodie State Park. Mining in this area would irrevocably destroy the heart of the Bodie Hills and threaten the integrity of the entire region. The rising price of gold makes mining here a very real threat.

Cougar Gold (and its parent company, Electrum) will be at the Mono County Board of Supervisors on February 15 to present its case for mining to the Board. The Board will discuss Cougar’s information and decide next steps. Last fall, area Congressman Buck McKeon sponsored legislation for Cougar to “open up” the WSA to facilitate mining, and the Mono Board voted 3-2 to take no action based in part on the fact they had not heard directly from the mining company. Now the Board, with two new members, will again be confronted with whether or not to support mining and whether or not to lift the WSA protection. Rep. McKeon’s legislation has not yet been reintroduced, likely pending the outcome of this Board meeting.

Even though the issue has been portrayed as jobs vs. the environment, it’s not. Cougar has “grandfathered rights” which allow it to conduct mineral exploration in a WSA. More importantly, people come to Mono County and the Bodie Hills from all over the world to experience the area’s vast open spaces and clean air, its scenic beauty, birds and wildlife, small historic towns and the feeling of isolation and wildness that the Eastern Sierra and Bodie Hills convey. Cultural and eco-tourism, while it should be better developed especially in northern Mono County, is the area’s lifeblood, and we believe will ultimately be more sustainable than boom and bust mining.

Permanent protection of the spectacular Bodie Hills is critical to ensure that the historic, cultural, biological and scenic values of this area will be available for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations.

PLEASE SEND A LETTER TO THE MONO COUNTY SUPERVISORS TODAY!
Please email or FAX a letter to the Mono County Board of Supervisors, using the talking points below. Urge the Supervisors to support permanent protection of the Bodie Hills.

Talking points for your letter (use what works for you):

•     The Bodie Hills and the Bodie WSA contain outstanding natural and cultural values that deserve special protection, including antelope, sage grouse, Rough Creek, and extensive archaeological and historical resources.
•     The Bodie Hills provide important recreation and tourism opportunities including hiking, birdwatching, hunting, mountain biking, and exploration of the area’s extensive cultural and natural history.
•     Explain why the Bodie Hills are important to you and mention any experiences you have had there, be it hiking, mountain biking, hunting, auto-touring, photography, birdwatching, or enjoying the area’s spectacular summer wildflowers. If you are from out of the area, please tell the Board why you visit Mono County and especially Bridgeport or the Bodie Hills, and what is important to you as a visitor.
•     Ask to be part of a public discussion involving the broad community of local, regional and national stakeholders to determine a vision and appropriate future land uses for the publicly-owned lands in the Bodie Hills.

•     Ask the Board of Supervisors to oppose any proposals such as WSA release or mining in the Bodie Hills until the public and BLM have had a chance to assess the mining company’s plans. The first time anyone including BLM will be seeing this information will be on February 15.

Email or FAX your letter, with your full name and address, to:

          Mono County Board of Supervisors
          P.O. Box 715
          Bridgeport, CA  93517

          email:   lroberts@mono.ca.gov
          FAX:   760-932-5531

Please cc Rep. McKeon and send it to him at:

          26650 The Old Road, Suite 203
          Santa Clarita, CA  91381

          FAX:   661-254-2380

For more information please call Drew Foster in Lee Vining at 805-405-7577 or email drew@friendsoftheinyo.org.

2.   New Wilderness in California

Earlier this month, the Elkhorn Ridge Potential Wilderness Area in Mendocino County became a formal part of the National Wilderness Preservation System.

The 11,000-plus-acre parcel was included in Rep. Mike Thompson’s 2006 Northcoast Wild Heritage Act, but was designated “potential” because portions of it had been previously logged over.

This is an interesting example, showing that contrary to popular belief, land does not have to be in a pristine or untouched state to be designated as wilderness. The land was included in the 2006 bill due to the persuasive efforts of one local advocate, who argued that natural restoration was already underway. BLM just gave its certification that the recovery process was far enough along that the land qualified under the 1964 Wilderness Act.

Elkhorn Ridge is located about 60 miles north of Ukiah, west of US 101, an area of Douglas fir and redwood forest. The Wild and Scenic Eel River, home to endangered salmon and steelhead, flows through it. Our thanks go to Rep. Thompson!

3.   California Public Lands Bills Introduced
          In Both U.S. Senate and House
          Thank You Letters/Calls Needed
          (ACTION ITEM)

Wilderness and public lands legislation for California got off to a fast start in the 112th Congress. Here are brief summaries of the four bills that were introduced. All of these legislators deserve our thanks. Contact information is at the end of each section

Sen. Feinstein Reintroduces Desert Protection Act

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) has a long history of being interested in protecting California’s southern deserts. She championed the original California Desert Protection Act when Sen. Alan Cranston retired in 1993, and it passed in 1994. In the last Congress, she introduced a follow-up Desert Protection Act, which got bogged down in lame duck session politics and the energy and climate change debates. She lost no time, though, in the new Congress with S.138, the California Desert Protection Act of 2011.

Some of the energy provisions have been removed, but much of the original bill remains. It would enlarge Joshua Tree and Death Valley National Parks as well as the Mojave National Preserve. In addition, it would create 2 new national monuments: the Sand to Snow NM (134,000-acres) and Mojave Trails NM (941,000-acres). The bill creates 5 new wilderness areas, including one of nearly 250,000 acres near Ft. Irwin. Several river segments would be added to the Wild & Scenic Rivers System, and four existing off-road vehicle areas would be given permanent status.

          DC phone:   202-224-3841
          Other contact information here.

Sen. Boxer Reintroduces Pinnacles National Park Bill

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) reintroduced her bill to make Pinnacles National Monument a national park, S.161. The bill had been introduced in last Congress, but it never passed. In addition to the new status, the bill enlarges the park and designates more wilderness.

Sen. Feinstein is a cosponsor of the bill. Rep Sam Farr (D-17) has not reintroduced companion legislation in the House.

          DC phone:   202-224-3553
                    Other contact information here.

Rep. David Dreier (R-36) Introduces the Angeles and San Bernardino National Forests Protection Act

Among other things, H.R.113 will add about 18,000 acres to the Sheep Mountain and Cucamonga wilderness areas in the San Gabriel Mountains. Rep. Judy Chu (D-32) is a cosponsor.

          DC phone:   202-225-2305
          Other contact info here.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-49) Introduces the Beauty Mountain and Agua Tibia Wilderness Act of 2011

H.R.41 adds 13,500+ acres to the Beauty Mountain Wilderness and 7,000 acres to the Agua Tibia Wilderness in the northern part of San Diego County.

          DC phone:   202-225-3906
          Other contact info here. (bottom of page, or click on CONTACT ME)

4.   California State Parks Advocacy Day
          March 22, 2011
          REGISTRATION DEADLINE: February 12
          (ACTION ITEM)

No permanent solution has been found to the funding issues facing California’s state park system. The State Parks Foundation is having a lobby day in Sacramento on March 22. Here is the announcement:

Dear Park Advocate,

I am pleased to announce that registration for the 9th annual Park Advocacy Day is now open! This year’s event will be held on Tuesday, March 22, 2011. I hope you will make an effort to join us this year to help CSPF continue our efforts to keep California’s state parks open, protected and funded!

This year is sure to be another difficult year for state parks—but it is also a year of opportunity. With a new Governor and 40 newly elected legislators, this year will be an important year to build new relationships with legislators. We need participation from strong advocates like you who will speak up and help us deliver a strong message of support for California’s 278 state parks.

The work of Park Advocacy Day participants over the past 8 years has been critical in raising legislators’ awareness of the issues facing state parks and the benefits that state parks provide the people of California. With the help of you and the hundreds of other park supporters who have participated in Park Advocacy Day since 2003, we have been able to harness the political “muscle” of state park advocates and make a positive difference for the future of California’s 278 state parks!

Please register today to join us for Park Advocacy Day 2011.

Registration and event information is available online at:

http://www.calparks.org/takeaction/pad.html

(Please register before February 12).

We look forward to seeing you in Sacramento on March 22!

Sincerely,
Traci Verardo-Torres
Vice President, Government Affairs

IN ARIZONA
5.   Kofa Wildlife Refuge Guzzlers Ruled Illegal

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overruled an Arizona District Court’s approval of water projects for bighorn sheep (guzzlers) in the wilderness portion of the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona. FWS had constructed two 13,000 gallon tanks with no public notice or comment. Wilderness Watch, Arizona Wilderness Coalition, Grand Canyon Wildlands Council, Western Watersheds Project, and Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club stepped in and filed suit. The appeals court ruled that the Fish & Wildlife Service had failed to show that the tanks met the requirements of the Wilderness Act and were necessary for the management of the wilderness.

Our friend Pete Frost of the Western Environmental Law Center in Eugene represented the plaintiffs. Wilderness Watch has posted a link to the decision on its website.

IN GENERAL
6.   Reaction to BLM’s New Wilderness Policy
          Thank You Letters Needed
          (ACTION ITEM)

The announcement by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar last month that BLM would once again take wilderness character into account in its planning and management efforts has created quite a stir across the West, especially among Sagebrush Rebellion supporters.

The new chairman of the House Natural Resource Committee, Doc Hasting (R-WA), blasted the Wild Lands policy as an end-run around Congress. Utah Rep. Rob Bishop, chairman of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests & Public Lands, said he was fuming, concerned that the new policy would put lands off limits to oil and gas drilling. He was quoted: “I don’t know anywhere else where an administration has been brazen enough to think they can establish policy without the legislative authority to do so. It does violate, if not the letter of [the Federal Land Policy and Management Act] and [National Environmental Policy Act], it certainly violates the spirit of it.”

There have been threats by House appropriators to ban funding of any implementation of the new policy, which doesn’t even afford the same level of legal protection as BLM exercised before the Norton Leavitt agreement of 2003, since it doesn’t formally designate areas as Wilderness Study Areas, only “Wild Lands.”

On the other hand, Massachusetts Congressman Ed Markey (D) circulated a letter of thanks in the House, and 4 members signed on, including the following from California:

          Mike Thompson (D-01)
          George Miller (D-07)
          Barbara Lee (D-09)
          Jerry McNerney(D-11)
          Pete Stark (D-13)
          Sam Farr (D-17)
          Lois Capps (D-23)
          Howard Berman (D-28)
          Maxine Waters (D-35)
          Laura Richardson (D-37)
          Linda Sanchez (D-39)
          Bob Filner (D-51)

A full list of signers from all states may be found here. If your representative is on either list, please call his or her office to quickly say “Thanks!” Contact information may be found on members’ individual websites at www.house.gov.

Secty. Salazar is standing strong so far, but it wouldn’t hurt to send along thanks and encouragement. If you haven’t thanked him already, send a note or email, with a copy to BLM Director Bob Abbey.

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

          Email:   KenSalazar@ios.doi.gov
          Fax:   202-208-6950

          Mr. Bob Abbey
          Director
          US Bureau of Land Management
          1849 C Street NW, Rm. 5665
          Washington DC 20240

          Email:   RVAbbey@blm.gov
          Fax:   202-208-5242

7.   Wilderness Volunteers Service Trips

Every year we include at least one item for service trips run by our friends at Wilderness Volunteers, a 14 year-old national wilderness service organization providing opportunities to spend a week in a favorite place “Giving Something Back.” In cooperation with public land managers, Wilderness Volunteers actively promotes one-week service projects that would otherwise go undone (trail maintenance, invasive plant control, rehabilitation & restoration) requiring groups of volunteers. In 2011, Wilderness Volunteers is hosting 54 low-cost service projects in 18 states across the country. Check out their project list and take advantage of this fun and worthy wilderness experience!

The Marin Independent Journal recently ran an article featuring a Wilderness Volunteers project in the Escalante area. Read it here.

8.   Job Listing: Environmental Protection Information Center

PROGRAM DIRECTOR (FULL-TIME)
Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC), Arcata, California
Closes: February 11, 2011

The Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) is a nonprofit environmental advocacy group, based in Arcata, California, that focuses on the protection and restoration of forests, watersheds, fish and wildlife in northern California. EPIC seeks an energetic, focused, and experienced conservation advocate to join our team as Program Director. The Program Director is principally responsible for developing, implementing and managing the policy agenda for EPIC’s four intersecting Program areas: Public Lands, Industrial Forest Lands, Biodiversity, and Clean Water. The Program Director is part of the EPIC leadership team, and serves as the anchor for EPIC’s conservation advocacy for the North Coast and Klamath-Siskiyou bioregions in northwestern California.

The successful candidate will have several years experience in environmental advocacy and litigation, and substantial knowledge of both federal and California natural resource law and policy, in particular NEPA, CEQA, the Northwest Forest Plan, ESA, and clean water law. Excellent written and oral communication skills, and public speaking skills are a must. The ability to dialogue and work effectively with a variety of stakeholders is critical. Tolerance, flexibility, and humor are also vital qualities.

A complete position description is available at www.wildcalifornia.org.

To apply please send cover letter, resume, references and a writing sample by February 11th to: Search Committee at heather@wildcalifornia.org. No phone calls please.

IN THE PRESS
9.   Death by GPS

One of the issues facing wilderness advocates and managers is the intrusion of technology into wild areas. The proliferation of cell phones, GPS, and locator beacons can give people a false sense of security, allowing them to get in over their heads, thinking they can simply call for a rescue. Sometimes GPS directions are simply inaccurate or out of date. A push for safety can then put pressure on wilderness managers to approve installation of cell phone towers in areas where they don’t belong. Not that projects are necessarily approved, but proposals and thinking like this violate the spirit and letter of the Wilderness Act.

The Sacramento Bee just published a story, “‘Death by GPS’ in Desert” about over-reliance on technology and the need to be prepared. While the main part of the story deals with its use in vehicles, the principle is the same for people traveling on foot. It’s worth reading, here.

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2010 January

April 26th, 2010

January 15, 2010

Dear CalUWild Friends —

We’re already at the end of the second week of 2010, but I hope that the holidays were a time for some relaxation and a chance to get out and enjoy the outdoors.

On the public lands front, the year got off to a good start last week when Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a series of leasing reforms. He acted in response to the cancellation of leases in Utah last year and a subsequent Interior Department study that resulted in a set of recommendations. Among the most important points that the Secretary made were:

• Energy companies will no longer be “king of the world” as they were under the previous administration.
• Take the time to do leasing properly, including setting up an interdisciplinary review process. This will cut down on the number of protests and lawsuits.
• Engage the public more effectively in the process.
• Emphasize already producing areas rather than opening up new ones.
• Take a closer look before leasing in special places such as proposed wilderness, near national parks, in municipal watersheds, endangered species habitat, and archaeological areas.
• Most importantly, take a balanced view of leasing, rather than allowing industry to set the pace. These are public lands and resources.

The New York Times published an editorial this week supporting the Secretary’s action. We look forward to seeing his proposals implemented.

This good news was tempered a bit by former Republican Congressman Richard Pombo’s announcement that he will be running for Congress again in 2010. He’s not planning on running for his old 11th District seat though, but rather to replace retiring Rep. George Radanovich (R-19), whose district includes Yosemite National Park. Mr. Pombo is not a resident of the district (which is adjacent to his old one), and he will face at least 2 others in the primary election. We’ll see how things turn out.

One of CalUWild’s major projects for the first few months of the year is helping to plan the Western Wilderness 2010 Conference at UC Berkeley, April 8-11. See ITEM 4 for more information.

We’re also hoping to have a completely new website up and running soon. We’ll keep you posted.

Once again, many thanks to everyone who has sent in contributions the last few weeks. We appreciate your support and interest and will continue to bring you the latest news on issues from around the West in the new year!

Best wishes,
Mike

IN UTAH
1.   Nine Mile Canyon Listed on National Register of Historic Places —
Pact Signed to Protect Rock Art

IN CALIFORNIA
2.   Sen. Dianne Feinstein Introduces Legislation
For Wilderness and Monuments in the Mojave Desert
(ACTION ITEM)

3.   Rep. Darrell Issa Introduces Wilderness Bill
For Northern San Diego County
(ACTION ITEM)

IN THE WEST
4. Western Wilderness Conference 2010: New Aims, New Allies
UC Berkeley
April 8-11, 2010
Early Bird Registration until January 31
(ACTION ITEM)

IN GENERAL
5.   US Forest Service Proposes Reducing Discounts
On Senior & Disabled Lifetime Passes
Comments Needed
DEADLINE: February 1
(ACTION ITEM)

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

IN UTAH
1.   Nine Mile Canyon Listed on National Register of Historic Places —
Pact Signed to Protect Rock Art

We’ve reported over the years on the threats to Nine Mile Canyon, near Price, Utah. Our April 2008 Update contained an ACTION ITEM regarding an EIS the BLM was preparing for a proposal by the Bill Barrett Corporation for 800 gas wells in the vicinity. The plans drew quite a bit of opposition from many quarters, including archaeologists, Native American tribes, historic preservationists, and conservationists. Among other things, they were concerned that the resulting truck traffic would kick up dust, containing chemicals that would eat away at the rock art.

Last month, 63 sites in Nine Mile Canyon were added to the National Register of Historic Places. BLM expects these to be the first listings of many, as there are many sites in the canyon that are eligible for inclusion. In late December, the BLM, Bill Barrett Corp., and many of the groups opposed to development plans signed an agreement that should lead to better protection of the 40-mile long canyon, sometimes called “the world’s longest rock art gallery.”

The agreement commits Bill Barrett to fund fieldwork, monitoring, studies, and other activities on the sites not placed on the Register. Dust must be kept controlled, and if it is not, BLM could withhold Bill Barrett’s drilling permits. BLM and other entities will also develop a site stewardship plan for the canyon.

The agreement is supposed to last for 10 years and can be modified and/or extended.


IN CALIFORNIA
2.   Sen. Dianne Feinstein Introduces Legislation
For Wilderness and Monuments in the Mojave Desert
(ACTION ITEM)

After months of anticipation, a few days before Christmas Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) introduced the California Desert Protection Act of 2010, S.2921. The bill would increase protections on some 1.6 million acres of the Mojave Desert in California. It also puts the brakes on some solar energy proposals.

The New York Times had an article at the time of the bill’s introduction that discussed the issues in some detail, including Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s objection. He was quoted as saying: “This is arguably the best solar land in the world, and Senator Feinstein shouldn’t be allowed to take this land off the table without a proper and scientific environmental review.”

Sen. Feinstein’s office released the following list of provisions (somewhat shortened for the Update), saying that the bill will, among other things:

* Establish the 941,413-acre Mojave Trails National Monument in eastern San Bernardino County along the southern boundary of the Mojave National Monument;

* Designate the 133,524-acre Sand to Snow National Monument that stretches between Joshua Tree National Park on the east and the highcountry of the San Gorgonio Wilderness in the San Bernardino National Forest to the west;

* Add three areas encompassing 173,861 acres to the National Wilderness Preservation System, including the Avawatz Mountains Wilderness (86,614 acres), Great Falls Basin Wilderness (7,871 acres) and Soda Mountains Wilderness (79,376 acres);

* Enlarge four existing wilderness areas by 172,247 acres, including the Death Valley National Park Wilderness (90,152 acres), Golden Valley Wilderness (21,633 acres), Kingston Range Wilderness (53,321 acres) and San Gorgonio Wilderness (7,141 acres);

* Enlarge Death Valley National Park by 40,740 acres, Mojave National Preserve by 29,246 acres and Joshua Tree National Park by 2,904 acres;

* Add over 70 miles (22,400 acres) of stream to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System along the Amargosa River, Deep Creek, Surprise Canyon and the Whitewater River;

* Protect land from development that has been donated to or acquired by the federal government for conservation purposes; and

In addition to these protective measures, as a political compromise Title I will also:

* Withdraw protection from 33,571 acres of the Soda Mountains Wilderness Study Area;

* Withdraw protection from the 84,400-acre Cady Mountains Wilderness Study Area (however, all but 5,500 acres of the area will be included in the Mojave Trails National Monument);

* Turn five existing administratively-designated off-highway vehicle (OHV) recreation areas into legislatively-designated OHV areas; and

* Require the Secretary of the Interior to study the possibility of expanding these OHV areas.

We, of course, whole-heartedly support the creation of and additions to the wilderness areas, the creation of the new national monuments, and the enlargement of the parks.

We have concerns about the designation and potential expansion of the OHV areas. Sen. Feinstein said on a radio program that she thinks that OHV riders will limit their use to officially designated OHV areas, rather than riding anywhere they please in other sensitive areas. We have a our sincere doubts about that analysis, as it seems OHV riders (even if it is only a minority as often claimed) go just about anywhere they please, but it is encouraging that she does see the need for putting limits on OHV recreation.

We encourage you to let Sen. Feinstein know your thoughts on the legislation. You can reach her at:

Phone:
Washington, DC:   202-224-3841
San Francisco:   415-393-0707
Los Angeles:   310-914-7300
San Diego:   619-231-9712

Email:
http://feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=ContactUs.EmailMe

Other contact information may be found here.


3.   Rep. Darrell Issa Introduces Wilderness Bill
For Northern San Diego County
(ACTION ITEM)

Last month, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-49) introduced H.R.4304, the Beauty Mountain and Agua Tibia Wilderness Act of 2009. Our friends at the California Wilderness Coalition sent out the following summary of the bill:

The Beauty Mountain and Agua Tibia Wilderness Act of 2009 would add over 7,796 acres to the existing Agua Tibia Wilderness and would expand the Beauty Mountain Wilderness by an additional 13,635 acres. Representative Issa’s bill would build on successful legislation sponsored earlier this year by Senator Barbara Boxer (Democrat, California) and Representative Mary Bono Mack (Republican, Palm Springs) whose “California Desert and Mountain Heritage Act” established the Beauty Mountain Wilderness and enlarged the Agua Tibia Wilderness that was established in 1975.

Characterized by deep canyons and rugged coastal sage scrub, Agua Tibia is enjoyed by hikers and equestrians who travel trough the region via the rugged Cutca Trail. It is home to such sensitive species as the California gnatcatcher and the rosy boa constrictor. As its name implies, Beauty Mountain is a scenic jewel draped in chaparral, fascinating rock formations and oak woodlands. Both of these areas provide endless recreational opportunities as well as priceless habitat for endangered wildlife. Both areas serve as critical plant and wildlife migration corridors between Anza-Borrego Desert State Park on the east and the coastal mountains of Riverside and San Diego counties to the west. All too often such biological pathways are severed by development, especially in southern California.

Representative Issa toured the areas several months ago and agreed to help protect them both for their scenic and habitat values and also because they provide excellent recreation opportunities for his constituents and others.

Please thank Rep. Issa for introducing the bill. If you’ve hiked in the areas covered by the legislation, let him know!

Phone:
Washington, DC:   202-225-3906
Vista:   760-599-5000

Email:
https://forms.house.gov/issa/webforms/contact.html

Other contact information may be found at the bottom of Rep. Issa’s website.


IN THE WEST
4. Western Wilderness Conference 2010: New Aims, New Allies
UC Berkeley
April 8-11, 2010
Early Bird Registration until January 31
(ACTION ITEM)

The Western Wilderness Conference 2010 will take place April 8 – 11, 2010, on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley, California. Visit the conference website: www.westernwilderness.org.

Although the event takes place in the San Francisco Bay Area, wilderness organizations and advocates from around the West are invited to participate in this grand event. Some 600 to 800 participants from all western states will gather to focus on the role of wild lands in an era of global climate change. Plenary sessions, dynamic speakers and intensive workshops will help connect wild places with climate change and give lessons on how to advocate more effectively. Music, films and fun.

Save the date now!  For anyone who cares about the wild places of the West—this is one event not to miss!  This is your opportunity to give back, to make a difference and to help secure the grand wild places of the American West for future generations.

Why attend? Western Wilderness Conference 2010 will:

** reach out to inspire interested new advocates, including students;
** re-inspire longtime dedicated wilderness advocates;
** focus on the role of wild lands in an era of global warming;
** explore how wildlands advocacy can accommodate Native American traditional land-ethic and cultural values;
** promote getting children outside into Nature’s wild places!
** train activists to advocate more effectively for wild places;
** and have fun!  Dynamic speakers, workshops, music, meals, outings!  It’s all part of the celebration of the West’s wild places.

CalUWild is working with the Sierra Club, California Wilderness Coalition, The Wildereness Society, and Northwest Parks and Wilderness Conference on the planning. Twenty-two Sierra Club western chapters are already conference sponsors.

Online registration at www.westernwilderness.org is now available. “Early bird” registration fee is $100—but act quickly!  Some scholarships are available; contact Vicky Hoover, planning committee co-chair, for info: vicky.hoover@sierraclub.org or (415) 977-5527.


IN GENERAL
5.   US Forest Service Proposes Reducing Discounts
On Senior & Disabled Lifetime Passes
Comments Needed
DEADLINE: February 1
(ACTION ITEM)

The Forest Service is proposing to reduce some discounts for seniors and permanently disabled citizens through the Senior and Access passes it sold in years past. Traditionally, they entitled holders to a 50% reduction on camping fees at Forest Service campgrounds. The new proposal would allow private concessionaires, who now manage about half of all Forest Service campgrounds (and slightly more than 80% of spots that accept reservations), to substitute a 10% discount. Additionally, passholders would be required to pay for day-use access at sites where their passes had previously allowed free access.

The proposed changes were instigated by complaints, listed in the Federal Register, from the private concessionaires that:

(1) [Federal law] does not require a camping fee discount for Senior and Access Passes;
(2) A 50 percent discount is very steep and is not comparable to other discounts in the private sector;
(3) The 50 percent discount is non-negotiable and thus cannot be used as a marketing tool to encourage off-peak use;
(4) Application of the 50 percent discount to holders of Senior and Access Passes is unreasonable in view of the growing number of senior citizens in the United States; and
(5) The 50 percent discount requires concessioners to raise camping fees to compensate for the loss in revenue, thus increasing prices for non-seniors and discouraging a future generation of campers.
Of course, these complaints beg the question: For whose benefit should our public lands, which belong to all Americans as their birthright, be managed — the public’s or the concessionaires’? And while in the past, concessionaires tended to be “mom & pop” operations, increasingly, large corporations are getting into the business, especially where reservations are now required.

Please write a comment letter before February 1. Here are a few talking points. Include other thoughts of your own, including the value that these passes may have had for you or your parents or other people you know.

—   The public lands should be managed for the benefit of the public, not private businesses. These proposed regulations provide no benefit to the public, only to private businesses.

—   These proposals are another step in the privatization of public resources.
—   Seniors and permanently disabled people bought these passes with the understanding that they were lifetime passes. It is unfair to change the rules now.

For a fuller discussion of the many issues involved, read a commentary in High Country News by Kitty Benzar, president of the Western Slope No-Fee Coalition here. She and I were both quoted in an article that appeared in the Sacramento Bee last Sunday. The full Federal Register notice may be read online here.

You may comment online here.

By mail to:
U.S. Forest Service
Attn: Ms. Carolyn Holbrook
Recreation and Heritage Resources Staff
1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Stop 1125
Washington, DC  20250-1125

For further information, contact Ms. Holbrook at 202-205-1426.

You should also let your congressional representative and senators know your thoughts on this issue. Full contact information is available at www.house.gov and www.senate.gov.

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2009 January

January 31st, 2009

January 31, 2009

Dear CalUWild friends and supporters —

Pres. Barack Obama is off to a quick start, and while he has done little directly related to public lands, there are clear indications that things will be different in Washington under his administration.

Some of the changes so far:

— In his Inaugural Address, Pres. Obama said: “We will restore science to its rightful place.” If implemented, this will change the approach to decision-making that prevailed in the previous administration. In particular, it will change endangered species policy and climate policy, where higher-ups often overruled reports and opinions of staff, based solely on political considerations.

— One of Pres. Obama’s first orders was to agencies telling them that the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is to be liberally construed, with a presumption in favor of disclosure. This is in contrast to the previous administration’s policy that information not be released unless absolutely required. Furthermore, Pres. Obama said that agencies shouldn’t wait for FOIA to be invoked before making information public. Rather they should proactively use technology to become more transparent and accountable to citizens. He directed the Attorney General to draw up new regulations to implement these ideas.

— The White House website has a comments page where citizens can submit comments and suggestions. Full contact information for the White House is on the page as well, and you can also sign up here for email updates from the White House.

— White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel announced that the administration was putting a hold on regulations not yet finalized but proposed by the previous administration, until a policy review has been completed. This should include the controversial proposal to allow weapons in national parks.

— The new administration has also indicated it may drop the defense of lawsuits brought against agencies that were implementing previous policies that it opposed.

In other news from Washington, Ken Salazar was confirmed as Secretary of the Interior. In his confirmation hearings, he promised to undertake a complete review of the policies that his predecessors in the previous administration had implemented.

In a speech to Interior employees he said that he would maintain high ethical standards and that the public interest would come before private interest. To hear Mr. Salazar’s full speech, (about 20 minutes long) click here.

While the spirit and tone of the Department, as expressed by Mr. Salazar, is very different, we will still need to follow the Department’s policies closely. People must not be afraid to criticize that which needs correcting, even if overall the Department’s policies are improved. In particular, we will need to ensure that the drive for “energy independence” does not compromise the other values that we hold dear. Oil and gas exploration, the siting of solar energy projects in desert wildlands, and the designation of energy transmission corridors across wildlands will continue to be of particular concern.

Nevertheless, it will be a different atmosphere, one where we know that our opinions will be heard and take into account, even if not always implemented.

Thanks again to everyone who contributed to CalUWild’s 2009 membership support drive over the holidays. With foundation funding become more and more scarce, we’re going to need to count on our members even more. If you would like to make a contribution, please print out this coupon and mail it with your gift to P.O. Box 210474, San Francisco, CA 94121. It’s never too late!

Most of all, though, thanks for your interest in protecting the West’s wildlands!
Mike

IN UTAH
1. Federal Court Halts Lease Sale
2. Washington County Bill Included in Omnibus Lands Bill

IN WASHINGTON, DC
3. Omnibus Public Lands Bill Passes Senate
(ACTION ITEM)

IN NEW MEXICO
4. Forest Service Proposes Chainsaw Use in Wilderness
Comments Needed
DEADLINE: February16, 2009
(ACTION ITEM)

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IN UTAH
1. Federal Court Halts Lease Sale

Good news for Utah’s wildlands arrived on Saturday, January 17, when a federal judge in Washington, DC issued an injunction against the BLM and the finalizing of its controversial lease sale in December. BLM had offered many leases in areas near national parks and in proposed wilderness areas. Some parcels were withdrawn before the sale in response to complaints from the National Park Service — but not all.

Injunctions are granted to prevent imminent harm, which the finalizing of the leases would have been, and often only when the judge feels that the requesting party has a good chance of winning its case on the merits.

The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Natural Resources Defense Council, The Wilderness Society, and Earthjustice won the injunction, buying time to prepare the case against BLM that the leases were improperly offered. Many people feel that the resource management plans pushed through last year were an attempt to allow leasing in areas that might otherwise be off-limits. So we’ll see how this turns out in the end.

In addition, as we reported last month, Tim DeChristopher, a student from the University of Utah, upped bids at the lease sale without any intention or ability to actually pay for the leases he won. His actions have continued to attract attention and contributions to his defense fund. Interior Secretary Salazar has said he’s aware of the issue and will take a look at how best to resolve it.

Here’s are a few articles and opinion pieces about his case.

Washington Post

High Country News

Salt Lake Tribune (may be removed from archive 30 days after publication date)

2. Washington County Bill Included in Omnibus Lands Bill

In a surprise to many, when the Omnibus Public Lands Bill was introduced in the Senate at the start of the 111th Congress this month, it included the Washington County Growth and Conservation Act. The Utah legislation had not been included in the Omnibus Bill when it was assembled in the 110th Congress last year.

The bill designates about 130,000 acres of BLM wilderness, in addition to wilderness inside Zion National Park. It also designates much of the Virgin River in Utah as Wild & Scenic and includes 50,000 acres in National Conservation Areas.

The most egregious objectionable provisions have been removed in this latest version, such as the sale of large areas of public lands for development. But other concerns do remain, such as the release of some wilderness study areas and the omission of other wilderness-quality lands. Non-wilderness concerns include the inclusion of a study of a freeway through a desert tortoise preserve area.

Item 3 contains more information on the Omnibus Bill

IN WASHINGTON, DC
3. Omnibus Public Lands Bill Passes Senate
(ACTION ITEM)

The Omnibus Public Lands Act of 2009 is a collection of nearly 160 public lands bills, held over from the last Congress, where most of them had passed committees in the last Congress, but were never finally approved. (Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) had even promised to call a lame duck session specifically to consider this legislation, but economic matters wound up overshadowing everything after the election.)

So Sen. Reid made the bill just about the first item of business when the new Congress convened, even going so far as to hold a rare Sunday session of the Senate to consider a procedural vote on the bill to stop the filibuster by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK). A final vote was held a few days later and the bill passed by a vote of 73-21.

It now goes to the House of Representatives.

As we’re reported previously, the bill contains legislation designating three new wilderness areas, and additions to existing areas, in California, totaling 735,000 acres. It also designates Wild & Scenic Rivers in this state as well. The bill contains four new wilderness designations in Oregon around Mt. Hood, the Copper Salmon Wilderness, the Oregon Badlands, and in Cascade Siskiyou National Monument. Much of Rocky Mountain National Park, a subject CalUWild has previously written about is also designated. The bill also makes permanent the National Landscape Conservation System set up by Interior Secretary Babbitt. A non-wilderness item of interest to Californians is the inclusion of the San Joaquin River Restoration, which is designed to put permanent flows in the San Joaquin River in the Central Valley to restore salmon runs.

Controversial provisions include the Izembek Road in Alaska, which would exchange 200 acres of wilderness in the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in order to construct a road to an isolated village. And the Owyhee Public Lands Management Act contains troublesome language as well. The Washington County bill was mentioned in Item 2.

Legislation often involves compromise. When this many bills are packaged together, the decision each person (and organization) has to make is whether the positives outweigh the negatives. This most obviously includes looking at the specifics of each included bill. But almost as important is considering the amount of work that has already gone into getting bills through committees and whether that work can or should be repeated in a new Congress. Given the other hot topics on the national agenda right now, it is very unlikely that the various committees will consider this many bills again.

If the legislation is amended in the House, it will have to go back to the Senate for another vote or a conference committee and face the additional possibility of another filibuster.

From CalUWild’s perspective, the positives do outweigh the negatives.

Let your Representative know your views!

IN NEW MEXICO
4. Forest Service Proposes Chainsaw Use in Wilderness
To Fell “Hazard” Trees
Comments Needed
DEADLINE: February16, 2009
(ACTION ITEM)

The Wilderness Act of 1964 prohibits the use of motorized equipment in designated wilderness areas, except as necessary to meet the minimum requirements for the management of an area. This is generally understood to mean no chainsaws.

Our friends at Wilderness Watch in Missoula have alerted us to a project that the Forest Service is proposing in the Sandia Mountains Wilderness, just to the east of Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Forest Service says that there are many dead and dying trees, creating hazardous trail conditions in the wilderness area. So it is developing a plan to cope with the issue. Among the options it is exploring is the removal of many (thousands, apparently) of trees along trails using chainsaws to cut them down. This flies in the face of the Wilderness Act and should be opposed.

Here is the alert from Wilderness Watch, slightly modified for formatting, containing more information.

The Forest Service is proposing to use chainsaws for trail clearing and to cut down thousands of “hazard” trees along 80 miles of trails in the Sandia Mountains Wilderness in New Mexico. Wilderness Watch strongly objects to the proposal and urges you to write to the Forest Service expressing your concerns with its plans.

Background: According to the US Forest Service (USFS), significant tree mortality is occurring in the 34,232-acre Sandia Mountain Wilderness due to insects and disease. The USFS believes that dead trees falling on the trails presents a safety hazard in this popular Wilderness, and the Regional Forester is requesting public feedback on a proposal to use chainsaws to fell and remove “hazard” trees along the affected trails (Pino, Embudo, Embudito, La Luz, Cienega, Faulty, Domingo Baca, and the Sandia Crest Trail). The proposal includes closing all 79.5 miles of these trails until the falling trees no longer pose a risk to visitors, and felling trees standing within 1.5 tree lengths from trail center. Public feedback is being requested prior to the agency’s final decision.

The USFS scoping letter describes the following four options:

Option 1: Allow the dead and dying trees to fall to the ground naturally, then cut the fallen trees with cross-cut saws. The trails most affected by the downfall will be closed to public use until the trail has been cleared of the hazard trees.

Option 2: Allow the dead and dying trees to fall to the ground naturally, and then cut the fallen trees with chainsaws. According to the USFS, the use of chainsaws would expedite the trail corridor clearing, allowing the trails to be reopened sooner to use.

Option 3: Close the trails to use until the hazard trees can be felled by cross-cut saws. The USFS claims that the use of cross-cut saws is “labor-extensive and time-consuming;” therefore the trails would remain closed longer.

Option 4: Close the trails to use until the hazard trees can be felled by chainsaws.

Wilderness Watch opposes this proposal, which goes beyond the minimum required to protect the Wilderness, and it places administrative convenience before preservation of wilderness character. Wilderness Watch supports an alternative in which the trails remain open, with warning signs posted at trailheads where hazards may be encountered. Visitors to the Wilderness should be allowed to experience nature on its own terms, including any risks that naturally exist. Dead trees should be allowed to fall naturally, with cross-cut saws then used to clear trails of fallen trees.

Please submit your comments supporting something similar to this alternative, and opposing the Forest Service’s proposal to fell the trees or use chainsaws, by February 16, 2009 (see below for submission information). The Forest Service does not intend to do an environmental analysis of the proposal. While that is probably illegal, it means this will be your only chance to influence the agency’s decision on this project, so please be sure to make your voice heard now on this important issue in the Sandia Mountains Wilderness.

Written responses may be submitted to:

Lisa L. Jones
Trails and Wilderness Program Manager
Sandia Ranger District
11776 Hwy 337
Tijeras, NM 87059

Fax number: 505-281-1176.

Electronic responses may be submitted to: ljones@fs.fed.us.

Hand-delivered or oral responses may be submitted weekdays 8:00 am – 4:30 pm to the address above, or called in via phone: 505-281-3304.

For more information, please contact George Nickas:
phone: 406.542.2048
email: gnickas@wildernesswatch.org

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Posted in Newsletters | Comments Off on 2009 January

2008 January

January 29th, 2008

January 29, 2008

Dear CalUWild friends –

We took an Update break in December because there wasn’t a lot to report, but 2008 is off to a busy start. There are two important public comment opportunities we hope you’ll submit comments for. They don’t need to be lengthy, but it is important that the BLM, Forest Service, and Park Service know that citizens are concerned about and involved in the management of the lands that belong to all Americans.

Many thanks to everyone who responded so generously to our annual membership appeal, sent out in December. We know that there are many organizations working on many different issues and worthy of support, so your contributions to CalUWild mean a lot and are appreciated. If you did not receive a letter or email for some reason or you’ve misplaced it, you can still send in a contribution by printing out our online membership form and mailing it with your check.

We run the organization on a shoestring budget, so we don’t send out repeated membership reminders. And we don’t use direct mail, either. These seem to be contrary to nonprofit wisdom and practice, but for a small organization like ours, in addition to saving printing and postage costs, it allows us to spend more time writing comments and getting information out to our members. We also hope that not having an online contribution system is not a deterrent to people. Cost is a major factor there, but if you have suggestions for a secure, effective system, please send me an email

In the meantime, financial supporter or not, we thank you for your interest in our wild public lands. That’s your most important contribution!

Best wishes,
Mike

IN UTAH
1. Monticello BLM RMP Comments Due
DEADLINE: February 8, 2008
(ACTION ITEM)
2. Backcountry Volunteers 2008 Service Trips

IN CALIFORNIA
3. Off-Road Vehicle Conference

In Joshua Tree
April 5, 2008

IN ARIZONA
4. Judge Rejects Challenge to River Management
Plan in Grand Canyon National Park
Appeal Announced on Park’s 100th Anniversary

IN OREGON
5. Public Interest Environmental Law Conference
Eugene, OR
March 6-9, 2008

IN GENERAL
6. Fee legislation Introduced
(ACTION ITEM)
7. US Forest Service Outfitter Rules
Comment Period Extended
NEW DEADLINE: February 19, 2008
(ACTION ITEM)

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IN UTAH
1. Monticello BLM RMP Comments Due
DEADLINE: February 8, 2008
(ACTION ITEM)

The comment period for last of the six Utah RMPs is coming to a close next week. The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance sent out this following alert yesterday (slightly edited).

Tucked into Utah’s southeast corner, the Monticello district boasts some of the most extraordinary ancient cultural sites in Utah, including granaries, cliff dwellings, and rock art. Here, one can still enjoy undeveloped vistas and find solitude in remote, seldom-visited canyons. These experiences are slowly disappearing, however, as off-road vehicle use becomes increasingly popular, and oil and gas development rapidly encroaches on pristine areas. Southeastern Utah is renowned for its dense collection of Ancestral Puebloan artifacts, kivas, and dwellings. Unfortunately, less than 6% of these public lands have been surveyed to document and record these irreplaceable prehistoric artifacts.

Spectacular Arch Canyon, with its rare perennial desert stream, has already seen devastating ORV damage. Meanwhile, speculative oil and gas exploration occurs at the doorstep of Hovenweep National Monument, leaving lasting scars near the Utah-Colorado border. Nevertheless, under the proposed Resource Management Plan, lands rich in cultural heritage sites-such as Arch and Recapture canyons and lands along the San Juan River, putting these exceptional archeological treasures at increased risk of vandalism and looting.

Here’s what you can do:

Comments due by February 8, 2008!

In order for the BLM to make substantive changes to their proposed management plan, they need to hear substantive comments from the public on the RMPs’ proposed management initiatives. If you’ve visited places like Grand Gulch or Cedar Mesa, hiked in Arch Canyon or Recapture Wash, marveled at Comb Ridge or floated the San Juan River – and especially if you’ve ever been disturbed at your favorite quiet spot by the roar of off-road vehicles – please write to the BLM and tell them about your experiences. Make your comments as specific as possible. Share with the BLM experiences you have had in specific places and explain how the Monticello Draft RMP fails to adequately protect these places. Especially salient are reports of user conflicts such as the drone of motors disturbing the peace of a hike in Arch Canyon.

Click here for information on the RMP, including maps of proposed off-road vehicle routes, a list of threatened places, and a chart comparing the various alternatives.

Comments should be sent to:

Bureau of Land Management
Monticello Field Office
RMP Comments
P.O. Box 7
Monticello, Utah 84535

Or by email to:

UT_Monticello_RMP_Comments@blm.gov

Please also email a copy of your comments to Scott Braden at the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance so they know which places are getting adequate comment coverage. For more information email Scott or call him at 435-259-0276.

Thanks!

2. Backcountry Volunteers 2008 Service Trips

Our friends at Utah Backcountry Volunteers report an impressive and successful 2007, with seven completed service trips, 52 volunteer participants, 1,600 hours volunteered, and $30,032 in volunteer labor donated to Utah public lands.

They recently announced their 2008 schedule, with more trips planned than last year, to places like Zion National Park, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Manti-LaSal National Forest/San Rafael Swell, Dark Canyon Wilderness, the Stansbury Mountains, and Cedar Mesa/Grand Gulch Primitive Area.

In addition, they have a brand new website with a complete schedule of trips and more.

We urge you to consider a service trip to Utah. It’s a wonderful way to have fun seeing the landscape intimately and meeting new people. At the same time, you’re doing some good and sending a message to the agencies that you support quiet uses of the land, rather than motorized recreation. Not bad!

IN CALIFORNIA
3. Off-Road Vehicle Conference
In Joshua Tree
April 5, 2008

As you know, off-road vehicle use and abuse is a huge issue on public lands all across the West. I recently received the following announcement for a conference in Joshua Tree, sponsored by some of the groups with whom CalUWild works closely. For more information, click here. Spread the word!

In 2005, desert communities held a conference to address off-road vehicle abuse of our private and public lands. The event was a great success and helped to launch many successful initiatives to obtain law enforcement and to protect our precious desert lands and our quality of life.

Community ORV Watch (COW), the California Wilderness Coalition (CWC), the Morongo Basin Conservation Association (MBCA), the Desert Protective Council (DPC), The Mojave Land Trust and the Alliance for Responsible Recreation (ARR) (partial list) is organizing a conference about how our desert communities can protect ourselves from ORV abuse of private and public lands. The conference will take place on Saturday, April 5th at the Joshua Tree Community Center.

Dr. Howard Wilshire, respected desert advocate and author of The Environmental Effects of Off-Road Vehicles [and CalUWild Advisory Board member], will be our keynote speaker. The conference will feature reports from grass-roots activists, speakers on a number of relevant topics and a panel of representatives from local, county and federal law enforcement agencies who will be asked about their efforts to address ORV abuse.

IN ARIZONA
4. Judge Rejects Challenge to River Management
Plan in Grand Canyon National Park —
Appeal Announced on Park’s 100th Anniversary

Late in 2007, a federal judge in Phoenix ruled against Wilderness Watch, River Runners for Wilderness, Living Rivers, and Rock the Vote, plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the National Park Service over its Colorado River Management Plan. CalUWild had worked with these and other groups a few years ago in a futile attempt to persuade the Park Service to manage the Colorado River in Grand Canyon NP as wilderness by banning the use of motorized craft in the Canyon. We also sought more equitable access for private citizens who wish to raft on their own though the Canyon. As it stands, commercial outfitters are given the majority of trip slots for their clients.

The plan developed by the Park Service continued the use of motorized boats, and although it replaced the 20-year-long waiting list for private boaters with a new lottery system, the majority of users remained commercial customers. The Park Service denied the administrative appeals of its decision, so wilderness advocates were left no choice but to sue in federal court. CalUWild was not a plaintiff in the case.

The plaintiffs argued that the National Park Service ignored its own regulations that uses in the Canyon can’t impair wilderness character. Additionally, years ago the Park Service had proposed phasing out motors, but that never happened.

The judge wrote in his decision that the Park Service’s rules requiring it to manage “potential wilderness” as wilderness “does not require the Park Service to remove non-conforming uses – in this case, motorized rafts. It requires the Park Service to manage the Colorado River corridor as wilderness to the extent possible given the existing use of motors.”

Wilderness advocates disagree strongly with this position, and so two weeks ago on January 11, the 100th anniversary of President Teddy Roosevelt’s designation of Grand Canyon as a national monument, the plaintiffs appealed the decision to the Ninth Circuit. Here is what the plaintiffs said when they filed the appeal:

A century ago, President Roosevelt proclaimed, “We have gotten past the stage, my fellow-citizens, when we are to be pardoned if we treat any part of our country as something to be skinned for two or three years for the use of the present generation, whether it is the forest, the water, the scenery. Whatever it is, handle it so that your children’s children will get the benefit of it.”

George Nickas, Executive Director of Wilderness Watch, builds on that commitment to protection. “No doubt Teddy Roosevelt would be appalled if he were here today and saw how the park service has commercialized the Grand Canyon and allowed the song of the canyon wren to be drowned by the racket of outboard motors.”

Tom Martin, Co-Director of River Runners for Wilderness agrees. “President Roosevelt was forced to strongly defend his Grand Canyon proclamation against repeated opposition all the way to the Supreme Court. One hundred years later, we are in a similar fight and likewise determined to win the best possible protection for Grand Canyon’s Colorado River.”

We’ll keep you posted on the progress of the case.

IN OREGON
5. Public Interest Environmental Law Conference
Eugene, OR
March 6-9, 2008

Every year, the students of the University of Oregon School of Law organize and host a fantastic four-day environmental conference. Although billed as a law conference, there are panels, presentations, speakers, and workshops on a wide variety of issues. Only a few of the most technical workshops might not be of interest to members of the general public. Over 3,000 people attend, including many visitors and speakers from around country and the globe, making it an excellent place to learn about new topics and meet all sorts of interesting people. Although it involves travel for Californians, I encourage you to attend if you have an interest.

Full information may be found on the conference website.

IN GENERAL
6. Recreation Fee Repeal Legislation Introduced
(ACTION ITEM)

Last month, Senators Max Baucus and John Tester (both D-MT) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) introduced legislation in the U.S. Senate to repeal the Federal Land Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA), otherwise known as the Recreation Access Tax (RAT). The RAT was the permanent replacement of the Fee Demonstration program, and was supported by the Bush Administration and pushed through Congress on a rider by Rep. Ralph Regula (R-OH), a state not known for its vast federal public lands.

The bill, S.2438, allows only national parks to collect entrance fees, and would allow fees at other facilities only if they are developed campgrounds, swimming areas, or boat launches. The bill specifically prohibits the BLM or Bureau of Reclamation from charging any user fees. Because of this prohibition, the annual Golden Eagle Pass for admission to National Parks will be reinstated.

CalUWild has long opposed the imposition of user fees, especially for activities such as hiking, parking, or picnicking, which take little in the way of infrastructure. Instead, we support funding for all the land management agencies, at a level that permits them to do the jobs they were set up to do. The money is available—it’s a question of the country’s priorities, meaning that citizens who care about our public lands need to make their voices heard.

Call your Senators and Representatives and let them know what you think!

So far there is no companion bill in the House, but we’ll keep you informed as the matter progresses.

7. US Forest Service Outfitter Rules
Comment Period Extended
NEW DEADLINE: Feb 19
(ACTION ITEM)

In November, we wrote about a Forest Service proposal to give commercial outfitter special privileges in National Forests. The original comment deadline was January 17. The Forest Service has extended it another month, so if you missed getting comments in, you still have a chance. Click here to review the alert we ran from River Runners for Wilderness. It contains all the relevant details and information. Then please submit a comment accordingly. You’ll be glad you did!

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Posted in Newsletters | Comments Off on 2008 January

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