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2007 January

January 31st, 2007

January 31, 2007

Dear members, friends, and supporters of CalUWild—

As you’ve probably noticed, the new year is moving along quickly. A new Congress—the 110th—began in Washington on January 4, with San Francisco’s Nancy Pelosi being sworn in as Speaker of the House of Representatives. California’s Sen. Barbara Boxer will be the chairman of Environment and Public Works Committee in the Senate. Sen. Dianne Feinstein is on the Judiciary and Appropriations Committees. All are in good positions to help protect America’s public lands from needless exploitation.

We’re sorry that two of the Action Items below (ITEMS 2 & 3) have such short deadlines, but please do your best to write quickly!

As CalUWild enters its 10th year, we will do our best to keep you informed of developments and ways that you can influence decision-making in timely and effective ways. As always, if you have any questions, comments, or critiques, please feel free to let us know. You can reach us by phone (415-752-3911), email (info@caluwild.org), or U.S. Mail (P.O. Box 210474, San Francisco, CA 94121-0474).

Finally, a big thank you to everyone who responded to our end-of-the year dues drive. We appreciate your generosity. If you haven’t sent in your membership, please do so. Although we operate on a shoestring, we still need funding. A membership form is available online for printing and mailing.

Thanks for all your interest and efforts!

Mike Painter
Coordinator

IN UTAH
1. America’s Redrock Wilderness Act
To be Reintroduced
Congressional Cosponsors Needed
(ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
2. Fish Poisoning in Sequoia-King’s Canyon
National Park Wilderness
Comments Needed
DEADLINE: February 6, 2007
(URGENT ACTION ITEM)
3. Effort to De-Designate Wilderness in California
Letters Needed
DEADLINE: February 7, 2007
(URGENT ACTION ITEM)
4. Environmental Groups Petition to Join
Lawsuit over R.S. 2477 Claims in Death Valley National Park
5. Wilderness Conference at San Francisco State
April 5-7, 2007

IN OREGON
6. Public Interest Environmental Law Conference
University of Oregon School of Law
Eugene
March 1-4, 2007

IN GENERAL
7. User Fees on Public Lands
Write to Congress in Opposition
(ACTION ITEM)
8. Investigations in Washington, DC
Target Former Interior Official and
Oil & Gas Royalties
9. New Chief of the Forest Service
10. Job Opportunities with the BLM
In California & Nevada: Weed Warriors

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IN UTAH
1. America’s Redrock Wilderness Act
To be Reintroduced
Congressional Cosponsors Needed
(ACTION ITEM)

Because of the national and international importance of Utah’s wildlands, citizens from around the United States have campaigned tirelessly for their permanent protection. We are expecting that Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) will once again introduce America’s Redrock Wilderness Act in the 110th Congress. One way of showing support for the bills is through congressional cosponsorships. This simply means that senators and representatives add their names to a bill as if they were the original authors.

Cosponsorship is a powerful sign to the rest of Congress and to the Bureau of Land Management that the issue is important. It also signals to BLM that people are looking over its shoulder make sure it acts appropriately and in the best interest of all citizens.

The Redrock Cosponsor drive is CalUWild’s major lobbying effort every Congress. We begin shortly after the new Congress begins, asking our members to contact their senators and representatives to become cosponsors. With our limited resources, however, we do not spend much time or effort trying to convince members who are rarely if ever in favor of environmental protection to become cosponsors.

The cosponsorship campaign uses two primary tactics: office visits and letters. Every year CalUWild, as a member of the Utah Wilderness Coalition, looks for a few Californians who might be interested in Wilderness Week: a trip to Washington, DC, visiting offices on Capitol Hill and asking for cosponsorship. It’s a fun and educational undertaking. You get to see government “up close and personal,” and you are part of a team of people from all over the country engaged in the shared undertaking. No experience is necessary, and you receive all the training you need once you’re there.

If you can’t make it to Wilderness Week, the next best thing is to write your representatives and senators. If you can get your letters to CalUWild before March 13, we will be happy to deliver them. Otherwise, fax them to DC or mail them to your representatives’ local offices. Contact information is on CalUWild’s website. (This information has not been updated for the 110th Congress yet, so you might want to check it on your representatives’ pages at http://www.house.gov.)

In your letter, ask them to cosponsor America’s Redrock Wilderness Act and tell them why the issue is important to you. If you receive a noncommittal or nonresponsive reply, write again. It gives you another chance to bring the issue before their eyes. After a short while, they begin to notice. Staff in Washington has said that it only takes six or seven letters on a given issue to make that issue move up the “totem pole” in the office. That is not very many.

IN CALIFORNIA
2. Fish Poisoning in Sequoia-King’s Canyon
National Park Wilderness
Comments Needed
DEADLINE: February 6, 2007
(URGENT ACTION ITEM)

Issues surrounding wildlife management are important in wilderness areas. Where introduced, non-native, and/or invasive species are found or stocked, there is always a debate on how best to manage them to keep within the Wilderness Act’s requirement that Nature be “untrammeled” (left to its own processes).

In the Sierra Nevada there is a long history of stocking lakes with Rainbow Trout. In recent years, amphibian populations have plummeted across the Sierra. Of particular interest is the Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog, and the non-native trout have been implicated as one cause of the decline. In an attempt to solve the problem, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are proposing to poison up to 85 lakes, most of them in designated wilderness areas, without doing a formal environmental impact statement (EIS). At a minimum, a project of this size should require a full EIS and not be fast-tracked.

Our friends at Wilderness Watch have prepared the following Action Alert.

National Park Service Proposes to Poison Numerous Lakes Within the Sequoia and Kings Canyon Wilderness

Comments Needed by Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Background: On January 17, 2007, the National Park Service announced a stunning proposal to poison as many as 85 lakes within Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks (SEKI) to remove non-native trout. Virtually all of the lakes proposed to be poisoned lie within designated wilderness. Despite the impacts of chemical fish poisons on numerous non-target animals, SEKI has not prepared an environmental impact statement (EIS) as required by law, and has stated its intention to fast-track the environmental review process so poisoning may begin this summer.

SEKI is allowing only a brief “scoping” period for public comments. It is imperative that the Park Service be flooded with comments by February 6, 2007 demanding the preparation of an EIS.

SEKI claims that the poisoning of up to 85 lakes and ponds is necessary to “preserve and restore populations of mountain yellow-legged frogs and other native animals in high elevation lakes and streams.” However, while the precipitous decline in mountain yellow-legged frog (MYLF) populations is cause for great concern, there are many reasons to oppose the poisoning of waters within the SEKI Wilderness:

Chemical fish poisons are toxic to all gill-breathing animals, and thus kill not only fish, but also the tadpoles of frogs and toads, as well as aquatic invertebrates that form the base of the food chain.

SEKI falsely characterizes the adverse effects of fish poison as “temporary.” Recent studies at other poisoned sites in the Sierra Nevada have shown that populations of rare stoneflies and other stream-dwelling fauna have failed to recover after many years. Despite SEKI’s wishful thinking that the effects are “temporary,” the available data clearly indicate that fish poisons create significant long-term (and possibly permanent) effects.

While fish predation is clearly responsible for at least some of the MYLF’s decline in recent decades, it has recently been documented that frogs have been declining world-wide due to widespread fungal infections. The reason(s) why so many frogs are now dying from fungus is unclear, but the latest research and computer models have shown that the decline of MYLF’s in the Sierra Nevada (including SEKI) is strongly correlated with pesticide drift from California’s Central Valley. It is entirely possible that pesticides or other environmental contaminants have made the frogs more susceptible to fungal infections. Thus, it is highly uncertain whether the MYLF will survive in the long-term even if fish were removed using poison, as proposed. The poisoning of wilderness lakes and streams may only add insult to injury. At minimum, an EIS must be prepared to analyze and disclose all of the possible reasons for the MYLF’s decline, to objectively assess the scientific uncertainty and controversy, and to honestly evaluate the chances that poisoning up to 85 lakes can save the MYLF.

Chemical fish poisons contain solvents, emulsifiers, dispersants, synergists, and other additives that are potentially harmful to human health. These chemicals are known to persist for months, possibly even longer, in cold mountain lakes and many of their effects have not been tested.

Poisoning of wilderness lakes would require tons of equipment and personnel, and the Park Service would likely propose using helicopters. The wilderness character would be adversely impacted by noise, chemicals, warning signs, closures, and the deliberate killing of native, non-target animals.

The waters to be poisoned have never been fully surveyed. It is possible, and perhaps even likely, that undiscovered endemic species of invertebrates may exist in the lakes/ponds/streams that would be poisoned. The act of poisoning these waters could thus wipe out new species before they are even discovered.

Non-chemical alternatives are readily available. Manual gill-nets and “electrofishers” have been shown to be very effective at eliminating non-native trout from lakes/ponds.

What You Can Do

Send a letter or e-mail, postmarked by Tuesday February 6, 2007, to:

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
Attn: Compliance Office – Lake Poisoning
47050 Generals Highway
Three Rivers, CA 93271

Email address: SEKI_Superintendent@nps.gov
cc: wendy_koelfgen@nps.gov

Subject: Scoping Comments – Lake Poisoning

Suggested Comments:

1) State that you are commenting on the Scoping Notice titled: “Restoration of Mountain Yellow-legged Frogs and High Elevation Lakes and Streams, January 2007.”

2) Express support for Alternative 3 (Physical Treatment Only) which would remove non-native trout using manual methods only (i.e., gill nets, electroshockers).

3) Raise any or all of the issues mentioned above. If you have time, it is best to re-state them in your own words.

4) Express opposition to any use of chemical fish poisons in the SEKI Wilderness without detailed environmental analysis and more opportunities for public comments. Insist that an EIS must be prepared before SEKI considers any use of fish poisons.

For an electronic copy of the 6-page scoping notice contact TinaMarie Ekker at Wilderness Watch: tmekker@wildernesswatch.org

For more information contact:

Wendy Koelfgen (SEKI’s NEPA specialist) (559) 565-3102
e-mail: wendy_koelfgen@nps.gov

Alert Prepared By:

Wilderness Watch
P.O. Box 9175
Missoula, Montana 59807 U.S.A.

phone: (406) 542-2048
http://www.wildernesswatch.org

3. Effort to De-Designate Wilderness in California
Letters Needed
DEADLINE: February 7, 2007
(URGENT ACTION ITEM)

California has much federal land designated as wilderness. It also has a system of wilderness on state-owned lands. A large chunk of that is in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, east of San Diego. San Diego Gas and Electric Company is proposing that the state de-designate a corridor through the park to construct a power transmission line.

The California Wilderness Coalition, the one organization focusing only on the Golden State’s wilderness, has prepared the following Alert. Please write (but use your own words)!

PLEASE FORWARD THIS ALERT FAR AND WIDE!

Dear lovers of California’s wild places:

San Diego Gas and Electric Company (SDGE) has proposed to erect a gargantuan powerline called the “Sunrise Powerlink” in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and, even more shockingly, to plunge the line through a designated Wilderness area!

When either the federal or state government protects fragile wild lands as wilderness the protection is supposed to last forever, or at least as close to forever as something can get under our nation’s laws. Sadly, a loophole exists that allows wilderness or portions of wilderness to be de-designated under some circumstances. SDGE is trying to exploit this loophole by de-designating wilderness for the first time in California’s history. If SDGE is successful at Anza-Borrego, then no designated wilderness is safe anywhere!

The California State Park and Recreation Commission has been given the utterly unenviable task of voting on this heinous proposal because under state law they have the authority to de-designate state park wilderness. Commission members absolutely must hear from you before they vote on the issue on 2/8/07!

There are two ways you can contact the Commission and stand up for California’s wilderness:

1) Attend the next meeting of the California State Park And Recreation Commission on Thursday, February 8, 2007 at 7:00 p.m. in the De Anza Ballroom of the Borrego Springs Resort, 1112 Tilting T Drive, in Borrego Springs, California. Come prepared to speak, even if it’s just to express in a few simple words your opposition to wilderness de-designation and the idea of building massive powerlines through state parks.

2) If you absolutely can’t attend the meeting, then write a letter to the commission in time for them to get your comments by 2/7/07!

Please address your letters to:

The Honorable Bobby Shriver, Chair
California State Park and Recreation Commission
C/O Louis Nastro, Assistant to the Commission
P.O. Box 942896
Sacramento, CA 94296-0001

Via email: LNastro@parks.ca.gov

Please provide your full name and address in your letter, even if you send your comments by e-mail.

SAMPLE LETTER:

The Honorable Bobby Shriver, Chair
California State Park and Recreation Commission
C/O Louis Nastro, Assistant to the Commission
P.O. Box 942896
Sacramento, CA 94296-0001

Dear Mr. Shriver and other members of the Commission:

I strongly oppose the construction of the Sunrise Powerlink through Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. I also oppose the shocking proposal to de-designate wilderness inside the park. If the Commission approves the de-designation, it will establish an extremely harmful precedent that will threaten wilderness areas not only in California, but across the nation.

The Commission has shown itself to be a friend of our parks and wilderness areas over the years. Please continue to stand up for our wild places by voting against Sunrise Powerlink.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

4. Environmental Groups Petition to Join
Lawsuit over R.S. 2477 Claims in Death Valley National Park

Inyo County has long threatened action over its road claims on federal lands within its jurisdiction. Last Fall it initiated a lawsuit against the National Park Service, seeking title to routes inside Death Valley National Park. It claims that these roads belong to them under R.S. 2477, the Civil War-era statute granting rights of way for the construction of highways over federal lands. The statute was repealed in 1976, but valid existing claims were grandfathered in.

Over much of the West, counties have claimed rights of way in order to defeat wilderness proposals or to demonstrate opposition to the federal government’s management of public land. Very often the “roads” are nothing more that dirt tracks or even game trails, and they often lead nowhere. The Bush Administration developed new rules regarding claims several years ago, and the issue continues to be the subject of controversy, in court and out.

Six groups, represented by Earthjustice, have petitioned to intervene in Death Valley litigation in support of the Park Service againstof Inyo County’s claims. They are: the Sierra Club, Friends of the Inyo, California Wilderness Coalition, Center for Biological Diversity, The Wilderness Society, and the National Parks Conservation Association. A hearing is scheduled for March 12.

We’ll keep you posted.

5. Wilderness Symposium at San Francisco State University
April 5-7, 2007

Eco-Students at San Francisco State and other organizations are organizing a free three-day symposium that will take a look at current attitudes toward wilderness and seek ways to enlarge the community of people that value wilderness. CalUWild is one of the sponsoring organizations.

For more complete information on the schedule, visit www.bawt.org/symposium.

An event to help raise funds for the conference will be held in San Francisco on February 10 at Space 180, 180 Capp Street, 6-11p.m. Featured will be Samantha Chase, standup comedienne, and music by Shake Your Peace, Lumaya, Bantercut, Tyler Smith, and Chris & John Kelly.

For more information on either the symposium or the fundraiser, contact Mike Yoshioka, 530-277-5940.

IN OREGON
6. Public Interest Environmental Law Conference
University of Oregon School of Law
Eugene
March 1-4, 2007

Every year, the law students at the University of Oregon organize the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference, sometimes called E-LAW or Land-Air-Water. 2007 marks the 25th conference. It has grown to attract over 3,000 participants annually. Although billed as a “law conference,” it is open to anyone with an interest in environmental issues, and activists of all stripes converge on the law school in Eugene for four days of panels, workshops, keynote addresses, and other activities.

In addition, the hallways of the law school become a giant information fair, where organizations put out literature and set up displays. CalUWild is a frequent participant, and in fact, every year we recruit the largest number of new members of any event we take part in.

For students and job-hunters it is the best place to meet people in almost any field. And for the general public, it holds the widest variety of discussions on a multitude of topics, often at the cutting-edge of environmental thinking and developments. Attorneys can earn continuing education credit by attending.

This year the Conference will be held March 1-4. For full details, including online registration, visit the Conference website.

IN GENERAL
7. User Fees on Public Lands
Write to Congress in Opposition
(ACTION ITEM)

Last year, the Department of the Interior quietly eliminated the National Parks Pass, which for $50 gave the holder unlimited entrance to the national parks. For an additional $15 entrance to other federal fee lands was covered as well. Now, for $80, purchasers get an “America the Beautiful” pass, covering all public lands in the country.

At the same time, budgets for the land management agencies are being slashed. The Forest Service is closing many campgrounds and other facilities. Those that aren’t closed are being leased to concessionaires who often only keep them open during the Summer. Visitation to National Parks and other areas is decreasing.

Congress needs to take a hard look at the situation and fund our public land management agencies at a level adequate to do the job needed. This point needs to be stressed in every communication to Congress.

With a new Congress beginning, and new committee chairmanships, the information in the following Alert is especially relevant. The information in it comes from Keep Sepse Wild in California and the Western Slope No Fee Coalition in Colorado. It is edited for this Update.

Help Turn The Tide in Washington on the Issue of Public Lands Access Fees and Closures!

Please Contact Your Elected Representatives Today. [Contact Information Below.]

Skyrocketing entrance fees in National Parks, widespread recreation site closures by the Forest Service and widespread implementation of fees are attracting bipartisan opposition in Congress. The change from Republican to Democratic control and the subsequent shakeup of Committees and their Chairmen has opened a window of opportunity for a top-to-bottom review of national recreation policy. It’s up to us, the American People, to take advantage of that opportunity and act now to persuade Congress to put the “public” back in public lands.

Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) has taken a strong stand against the Forest Service’s “Recreation Site Facility Master Planning” policy that is already resulting in new fees, increased fees, site closures, and other changes to recreation programs on National Forests.

Nor, we would add, on the backs of public lands users in any other state!

Senator Craig Thomas (R-WY), outgoing Chair of the Senate’s National Parks Subcommittee, is criticizing the new $80 “America the Beautiful” pass that is pricing Americans out of their National Parks and other federally managed public lands. According to Thomas, “An $80 fee is certainly higher than what folks should have to pay to recreate on federal lands.” He went on to say he opposes expanding the recreation fee beyond National Parks to other federal land management agencies, which will result in higher fees with no guarantee of improving the impacted recreation sites. “If there’s a budget problem in our land management agencies, let’s get to the root of it, address it head-on, and not put budget shortfalls on the back of recreational visitors.”

Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) recently sent an open letter to Secretary of Interior Dirk Kempthorne urging him to veto the planned entrance fee increases at Crater Lake National Park and Lava Beds National Monument.

Now is the time to urge your representative and senators to weigh in and protect the public’s interest in public lands!

Congress must take a long, hard look at where these “Full Cost Recovery” recreation policies are heading. Individuals, organizations, and local governments must contact their Congressional representatives and ask them to hold oversight hearings and take legislative action to:

– Roll back the Recreation Site Facility Master Planning (RSFMP) process in the Forest Service. This program will eliminate thousands of recreation sites, reduce operating seasons, increase fees, create new fee sites and turn hundreds more sites over to concessionaires. The RSFMP turns the Forest Service recreation programs into a taxpayer funded “For-Profit” venture that forces Americans away from the forests and damages local economies.

[Read Western Slope’s report on RSFMP.]

– Repeal the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) for the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, Bureau of Reclamation, Fish & Wildlife Service and National Park Service, including the new $80 “America The Beautiful Pass” which is pricing the public out of visiting our Parks and other public lands. Fee policy remains extremely contentious, yet the agencies continue to charge the public fees that are well outside of the authority of the FLREA. Incentives created by the FLREA are the driving force behind policies such as the RSFMP.

[Click here for more on BLM and Forest Service FLREA Implementation]

– Limit the cost of National Park entrance fees. Park visitation is down across the board since the late 1990s when Fee Demo caused a round of substantial entrance fee increases. Under the FLREA the NPS is raising fees yet again, by 100% in many cases.

– Audit the agencies’ budgets and mandate that 75% of Congressionally appropriated recreation funding gets to the ground. The Forest Service, for instance, has had its national recreation funding increased by 22% over the last decade while, according to local FS managers, local funding has decreased by as much as 50%. The WSNFC currently estimates that, at best, as little as 18% of Congressionally appropriated funding for Forest Service recreation actually gets to the ground.

It’s been two years since the FLREA was attached as a rider on a spending bill. All the public has to show for it is agency policies that are pricing the public out of their public lands, policies that replace appropriated funding with fees at the local level, agencies that think they are above the law in charging fees outside the FLREA’s authority, and the decommissioning of thousands of campgrounds, picnic areas and trails.

Whom to contact:

Call and/or fax your own representative and senators, as well as the new committee chairs below.

There is no deadline for these contacts – please keep calls and faxes going to DC through mid-February or later.

House and Senate Committee Chair Contact Info:

Senator Jeff Bingaman (NM) – Chairman Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee
Phone: 202-224-5521
Fax: 202-224-2852

Senator Ron Wyden (OR) – Chairman Public Lands and Forests Subcommittee
Phone: 202-224-5244
Fax: 202-228-2717

Senator Daniel Akaka (HI) – Chairman National Park Subcommittee
Phone: 202-224-6361
Fax: 202-224-2126

Senator Dianne Feinstein (CA) – Chairman Interior Appropriations Subcommittee
Phone: 202-224-3841
Fax: 202-228-3954

Rep. Nick Rahall (WV) – Chairman House Natural Resources Committee
Phone: 202-225-3452
Fax: 202-225-9061

Rep. Norman Dicks (WA) – Chairman House Interior Appropriations Committee
Phone: 202-225-5916
Fax: 202-226-1176

Please forward this alert to others who might be interested.

8. Investigations in Washington, DC
Target Former Interior Official and
Oil & Gas Royalties

In the past, we wrote about J. Steven Griles, the former Deputy Secretary of the Interior who had formerly been a lobbyist for oil & gas and mining companies. He was the subject of an ethical investigation while at the Department and had promised not to have contact with his former clients.

On January 10, the Washington Post reported that Mr. Griles had been informed that he was the subject of an investigation in the Jack Abramoff corruption scandal investigation. The subject of the investigation appears to be job offers from Mr. Abramoff to Mr. Griles as well as contributions to an advocacy group run by a personal friend of Mr. Griles.

Another investigation, this one by the Inspector General at the Interior Department, has found that officials there possibly covered up irregularities in the collection of oil & gas royalties. Leases in the Gulf of Mexico should have brought in an estimated $10 billion, but the Minerals Management Service left out standard language in the leases to trigger the payment of those royalties.

One is left wondering if the resignations of Interior Secretary Gale Norton and more recently BLM Director Kathleen Clarke were mere coincidences. (It was recently announced that Ms. Norton has found new employment with Shell Oil Company.)

9. New Chief of the Forest Service

Earlier this month, Dale Bosworth announced he was retiring as Chief of the Forest Service. Mr. Bosworth was instrumental in overturning the Roadless Rule and opening forest lands to oil & gas development and increased timber sales.

Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns appointed Gail Kimbell to be the 16th Chief of the Forest. Ms. Kimbell was in charge of forest in northern Idaho, Montana, and North & South Dakota before her appointment. She is also the first woman to be appointed Chief.

10. Job Opportunities with the BLM
In California & Nevada: Weed Warriors

BLM Announces Openings for Summer “Weed Warrior” Jobs

The Bureau of Land Management has announced summer job openings for “weed warriors” who will work to combat the spread of invasive and noxious weeds on public land in northeast California and far northwest Nevada

The BLM’s Alturas, Surprise (Cedarville) and Eagle Lake (Susanville) field offices plan to fill nine positions for a work season that begins in mid May and runs for up to six months. The agency expects to fill five jobs in Susanville and two each in the Alturas and Cedarville locations.

Applications must be filed via the internet by Friday, Feb. 23.

Job descriptions and applications are available at https://jobs1.quickhire.com/scripts/BLM.exe . Jobs are listed under the title Range Aid/Technician (Weeds), under the announcement number NHRMC-2007-0016.

Weed warriors work in rugged back country locations to locate, map and apply treatments to weeds that threaten wildlife habitat and productivity of the land. Crews work four 10-hour days per week. Members must be able to operate manual-transmission four-wheel-drive pickup trucks. They should have strong communication and map reading skills. Experience with global positioning systems equipment is helpful.

Because work is performed in hot weather and in rugged terrain, crew members must be in good physical condition.

For more information contact:

Mike Dolan in the Alturas Field Office, (530) 233-4666;
Alan Uchida in the Surprise Field Office, (530) 279-6101; or
Josh Gibbs in the Eagle Lake Field Office, (530) 252-5318

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2005 January

January 5th, 2005

January 05, 2005

Dear Friends of CalUWild:

First of all: Happy New Year! Best wishes for a healthy 2005, with many opportunities to enjoy the wilderness!

We expect 2005 to be a busy year, with mostly defensive efforts necessary to keep our lands wild and protected from significant impacts. As usual, the administrative agencies (Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, and Park Service) and Congress will be the main focus of our activities, as will the media, through letters to the editor. Remember, CalUWild’s one membership requirement is to write at least one letter a month in support of wild lands protection.

We’ll do our best to help you be effective advocates.

There was very good news on the California wilderness front after our December UPDATE. The North Coast Wild Heritage Act, the bill designating wilderness in the first congressional district, passed the U.S. Senate. Unfortunately, the House adjourned without taking up it or much other legislation, so the bill will be re-introduced early in the 109th Congress. But the Senate passage is good news, nevertheless, making passage in the new Congress much more likely.

There was also good news for Nevada wilderness when Pres. Bush signed the Lincoln County bill, designating 760,000 acres of wilderness in that county. Other provisions of that bill, dealing with water rights-of-way and land exchanges, were opposed by many conservationists. Overall, the legislation was a decidedly mixed bag.

In the bad news department, the House and Senate passed the omnibus appropriations bill with its load of harmful environmental riders largely intact (see the December UPDATE ). This means that the Fee Demonstration Program is permanent until legislation can be passed to get rid of it. We will not be giving up on that front.

This past weekend, Rep. Robert Matsui (D-05, Sacramento) died in Washington, DC. He was a longtime co-sponsor of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act and was also responsible for protecting the American River from Auburn Dam. Our condolences to his family and staff.

There are just two, very short items, below, allowing you to ease into the new year.

Thanks for all your efforts,

Mike
==========================================================================================

IN ARIZONA
1. Colorado River Management Plan Grand Canyon National Park
Comment Period Extended
Deadline: February 1, 2005
(ACTION ITEM)

IN ALASKA
2. Calls & Letters Needed
Opposing Opening Up Arctic Wildlife Refuge For Energy Exploration
(ACTION ITEM)

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IN ARIZONA
Colorado River Management Plan
Grand Canyon National Park
Comment Period Extended
Deadline: February 1, 2005
(ACTION ITEM)

As discussed in full detail in the November 2004 UPDATE , the National Park Service is looking for comments on its Draft Colorado River Management Plan. The original deadline of January 7 has now been extended to February 1, 2005. If you haven’t submitted comments, please do. See the November UPDATE for suggestions and other information.

One thing to remember about comments and deadlines: if you miss a deadline, you should submit your comments anyway. Legally, the agency may not have to respond to your comment in its final document, but it is still required to take the information you provide into account in its decisionmaking process. Better late than never!

IN ALASKA
2. Calls & Letters Needed
Opposing Opening Up Arctic Wildlife Refuge For Energy Exploration
(ACTION ITEM)

The Bush administration and Republican leaders in Congress are once again banging the drum regarding making the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge accessible to oil & gas exploration. While no formal legislative proposals have been put forward so far, now is the time to let your representatives and newspapers know pre-emptively that the Arctic Refuge is a special place that deserves protection. The wildlife and wilderness values it possesses far outweigh the short-term energy to be gained by drilling there. And the impact on the native Gwich’in people would be incalculable. Please write or fax your senators and representative and your local newspaper, telling them that the United States need a sensible energy policy, not one which includes destroying important parts of our environment.

Contact information for Congress can be found on the CalUWild web site at: https://www.caluwild.org/advocacy2.htm.

However, with a new Congress beginning, some offices may have moved. We have not yet had a chance to update the information there, so it might be a good idea to call offices to confirm mailing addresses. Phone numbers usually do not change. We will update the web site as soon as possible.

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

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

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2004 January

January 19th, 2004

January 19, 2004

Dear CalUWild friends and supporters;

This month’s Update is a little different from most others. Item 1 is the only one dealing with wilderness, and is a repeat from December (although it contains a little bit more information about the issue).

Next are two press-related items. the first contains background information on effective advocacy, in addition to an opportunity for letter-writing. the second is an offer from High Country News , a paper that has covered the Intermountain West for many years. Together these two items stress the need for staying informed on issues that affect us.

Many thanks to the CalUWild members and friends who sent in contributions over the holidays. They were very much appreciated. Although dues are voluntary, we need the support of each and every member. If you haven’t contributed anything in the last year, please consider doing so. You can find a dues form on-line.

Thank you for your interest in protecting our wild places,

Mike

IN CALIFORNIA

1. Mt. Whitney Toilets Environmental Assessment

DEADLINE: February 4, 2004

(ACTION ITEM)

IN THE PRESS

2. San Francisco Chronicle Op-ed Piece

Regarding Writing Congress

(ACTION ITEM)

3. High Country News Offer

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

IN CALIFORNIA

1. Mt. Whitney Toilets Environmental Assessment

DEADLINE: February 4, 2004

(ACTION ITEM)

As discussed in the December 2003 Update , the National Forest has a new preferred alternative to deal with the toilet situation on the Mt. Whitney Trail. This is good news!

It is now Alt. 5: Toilet Building Removal and Mandatory Pack Out of Human Waste. Under this alternative, hikers would be given waste pack-out kits and would dispose of them after the hike at the Whitney Portal trailhead. Overnight campers would not be assigned to specific campsites along the trail. The first of the two toilets would be removed in 2004, the second in 2005. There would be no structures or mechanized equipment or transport once the existing toilets are removed. If the mandatory pack out system fails, the Forest Service would implement further use limits and/or designated site camping, which are included in Alt. 4.

Alternative 4 would also remove the toilet structures and the “pack-it-out” aspect would be voluntary. However, the trail quotas would also be decreased and overnight hikers would be assigned designated campsites.

Please send the Forest Service your comments. If you have had experience with a pack-it-out system before, include your thoughts. Similar programs have been used at Mt. Shasta and Mt. Rainier, Denali, and Grand Teton National Parks.

*
Thank the Forest Service for making Alt. 5 its preferred alternative. Since the existing toilets are in designated wilderness, it is especially important that they be removed and not rebuilt. This alternative also removes the necessity of intrusive helicopter flights for carrying waste out.
*
Request that signing for “privacy areas” be kept to a minimum. It seems hikers can figure those things out for themselves.
*
Stress the need to monitor impacts at campsites, especially if they are not designated sites.

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

Mr. Garry Oye

District Ranger

White Mountain Ranger Station

798 N. Main Street

Bishop, CA 93514

They may also be submitted by FAX to:

760-873-2563

or e-mail at:

comments-pacificsouthwest-inyo@fs.fed.us

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

IN THE PRESS

2. San Francisco Chronicle Op-ed Pieces

Regarding Writing Congress

(ACTION ITEM)

Those of you who read the San Francisco Chronicle may have read the Insight section on Sunday, January 11. It contained an essay in which a 2003 graduate of Georgetown University talked about working in House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert’s office as a summer intern after his freshman year. He wrote about the use of “signature machines” on letters back to constituents and the need for responses that say “something without really saying anything.” His attitude was summed up in the headline: “Write your congressman? Don’t even bother! His signature is phony, so is his interest.”

CalUWild is in total disagreement with the cynical conclusion expressed in the headline and the article. While the depiction of Rep. Hastert’s office may be 100% accurate, we do not believe that the author is justified in concluding that all other offices on Capitol Hill exhibit such a negative view toward constituent correspondence. If they did, we would not recommend writing to those same offices to protect wilderness. We firmly believe in only taking action that is effective. And time and time again we have seen instances where just a few letters have made a difference.

Of course, it’s a very seductive conclusion, because the press is full of accounts of undue influence in the Capitol (even more in this White House). And voters should react negatively to that. But just because it fits nicely into a pre-existing picture does not make it an accurate portrait in and of itself.

It is very dangerous to take this attitude, because it guarantees that there will be no voices to counter the others in Washington.

CalUWild members should send letters to the Chronicle expressing their views, especially if they have had positive experiences with writing or calling specific legislators.

Write to:

letters@sfchronicle.com

I submitted the following op-ed piece as a counterpoint to the essay, but the Chronicle has said they won’t publish it. The paper told me it has a policy against publishing rebuttals, and that the Insight section is only for “fresh, new ideas.” I’d say the cynicism of this former intern is hardly fresh or new.

One note: This piece is quite a bit longer than an ordinary op-ed (the Chronicle ordinarily has a 650-word limit). It was written to respond to the original essay and is about the same length as it.

Write your congressman? You bet!

It was a bleak picture that Jonathan McLeod painted in his essay about being an intern on Capitol Hill. (“Write your congressman? Don’t even bother! His signature is phony, so is his interest” INSIGHT, January 11)

However, he shouldn’t generalize too much from his experience; his conclusion does not in any way reflect my experience working with Congress. There is enough about our system for voters to be cynical about, and the last thing we need is for those attitudes to be unnecessarily reinforced.

If I believed for one minute that citizen letters were a waste of time, I would not be committed to my work. I am the founder of Californians for Western Wilderness, a group dedicated to saving wildlands,and to the belief that ordinary citizens can make a difference, if they have the proper tools and information to be effective. Our goal is to provide those. When citizens see how easy it is to have an effect, maybe they will carry that knowledge over to other areas of concern.

We got our start in 1997, but we couldn’t continue if we hadn’t met with some level of success through the involvement of our members. The income is just not good enough to support a massive waste of time.

So just what have I learned over the last few years?

To begin, let me say that there are parts of Mr. McLeod’s essay that ring true, but each office has its own policies and procedures. His experience is not necessarily typical.

An office in the House of Representatives might receive a hundred or more letters a day. California’s senators receive ten times that number, 10-15,000 letters per week. The advent of e-mail has made the situation even more overwhelming. Given those volumes, it is unlikely that a legislator could read each letter and respond personally. Practicality dictates that they might use a machine to sign outgoing correspondence. With staffing and time restraints, an efficient office simply might not craft a personalized response to each correspondent. There are offices, however, that do.

Additionally, in the House of Representatives offices generally do not deal with voters from outside their districts, although there are exceptions. Sometimes offices forward the correspondence to the appropriate member; sometimes they simply discard it.

Finally, it is true that pre-printed postcards may be summarily dumped in the trash. They reflect no thought on the part of the sender, and I’m frankly dismayed that many advocacy groups continue to use them. They give citizens a false sense of having done something. However, this is not a uniform practice; some offices do tally them.

But acknowledging these points does nothing to change my view that Mr. McLeod’s conclusion – that it’s all a waste of time – is inaccurate.

What might account for this discrepancy in our viewpoints?

Given the typically short tenure of most congressional staffers, one might expect that this inside information that Mr. McLeod purports to be exposing would have come out before.

However, I have never heard a Capitol Hill staff person say anything remotely resembling his viewpoint. On the contrary: Every year since 1999 I have gone to Washington with ordinary citizens to meet with congressional staff on issues of concern. Some of these staff members have addressed our groups, and every one of them has stressed the importance and need for letters from constituents in their home districts. They have been blunt: Offices inside the Beltway do not have every piece of information on every topic. They rely on the voters to keep them informed on the issues, in addition to voters’ opinions.

Of course there are some topics where a representative’s mind is made up and he or she is unlikely to change it. In those instances, the most letterwriters can hope to do is make their opinions known. However, when a legislator is undecided, these staffers have told us that it can take as few as five or ten constituent letters to convince a lawmaker to take a particular stand.

To double check these points, I sent Mr. McLeod’ essay to six current or former House and Senate staffers with whom I have worked over the years. Their initial comments were just about unanimous: “It’s too bad he had such a miserable experience being an intern.”

They all said that, of course, it was possible that the essay accurately reflected the way Speaker J. Dennis Hastert ran his office. However, since he is House Speaker, his office is not typical. Leadership offices receive many times more mail than average, and those offices do not have a larger staff to handle the volume.

Several pointed out the fact that the short time of Mr. McLeod’s position as a summer intern probably didn’t give him adequate time to learn the complexities of the decisionmaking process. But someone was advising his boss; somehow information was getting through.

But to the extent that the Speaker ignores his mail, his constituents lose out, and his effectiveness as a legislator is diminished.

Interns often handle the mail and answer phones to expose them to the broad range of concerns that constituents have and to give them direct interaction with the public, not because it is unimportant or no one else can or wants to handle the mail.

All the staffers I contacted said that their offices do consider constituent mail important, and they said that most other offices do as well.

Their offices tally the opinions expressed in incoming mail because representatives and senators need and want that information before every vote they cast. Furthermore, letters are important because they may provide new perspectives or ideas regarding issues of concern to the legislator.

One legislative correspondent who had been in charge of the mail system in her House office for about a year and a half e-mailed me: “During my tenure there, and I am sure it continues, letters with specific concerns always received personal attention, either by DC staff or the California staff. I worked closely with the legislative assistants in our office, who work closely with [my boss], to collectively provide a response to the constituent’s needs and concerns and let them know [her] position. This is not … ‘saying something without really saying anything.’”

She continued: “It is true, however, that there are occasions when mail is not regarded with that same level of priority. Often, there are mass mailings that come in from constituents belonging to interest groups. These are usually postcards with an issue printed on them by the organization and then sometimes signed by the constituent. In response to these form mailings, they receive form letters back from the Congresswoman. This is simple to understand because they really provide nothing personal to personally respond to. It’s important to restate, however, that this is NOT how all, or most constituent letters are handled.”

Another staffer, this one with a Senate office, responded: “Some letters receive form letter responses and other letters receive specific responses, but all receive attention in our office and most other Congressional offices. … After working as a Legislative Correspondent and Legislative Assistant on the Hill, I believe even more strongly in the philosophy that every person can make a difference.”

Not a single one of these staff people supported the view that letters to Congress are a waste of time.

So what tactics can a voter use effectively to make that difference felt in Washington, DC?

*
When writing a letter, let the legislator know that you have put some thought into the issue. Make it personal. Don’t use pre-printed postcards or form letters that you simply sign and drop in the mailbox. As noted above, legislators want to know that something is important enough to you the constituent that you would take the time to write.
* Keep your letter simple and on-topic. State what you want the representative to do. Explain why the particular issue is important and why. Ask to be informed of the final decision.
* Use the form letter you may receive in response as an opportunity to follow-up. If you have a question not covered by their response, write again. That will force the issue up the ranks in the office. It’s unlikely you will receive a form letter the second time around.
*
Get to know the staff people working on your particular issue, either at the local office or in the Capitol. If you’re in Washington on vacation, make an appointment to visit the office. Consider taking your kids along to the meeting. That lets the staff know you’re concerned about your kids’ future. At the same time you teach the kids two important lessons: You care about their world, and it is important to be active in public affairs.
*
Congressional recesses aren’t vacations for lawmakers. Attend scheduled public meetings during those times or on weekends. Ask questions publicly, when the representative can’t ignore you. Talk to the legislator or the staff before or after the meeting.
*
Don’t give up.

A staff person for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee talked with me for 40 minutes about the importance of citizen involvement. She concluded our conversation by stating the obvious: “If you don’t write, your interests will be represented by people who don’t have your interests at heart.”

That is something every voter should remember.

3. High Country News Offer

High Country News is a newspaper published in Colorado, covering issues in the Intermountain West – from the Sierra Nevada to the Rockies. Later this month, the paper is publishing an cover story on the Bush Administration’s energy policy and its impact on wilderness principles and policy. The conclusion of the story is reportedly: “In the painfully delicate balancing act called multiple use, wilderness has been cut out of the picture.”

The paper sent out a notice last week saying that it would be happy to provide a free copy of the wilderness issue to anyone requesting one.

If you’re not familiar with the paper, this would provide an introduction to it.

To request a copy you can go on-line to:

http://www.hcn.org/freeissueoffer104.jsp

Or send your name and address to:

HIGH COUNTRY NEWS

119 Grand Avenue

P.O. Box 1090

Paonia, CO 81428

1-800-905-1155 (phone)

970/527-4897 (fax)

circulation@hcn.org

Disclaimer: While we appreciate the willingness of HCN to do this, you might also receive subscription offers from them afterward. CalUWild has no financial interest in this offer, nor do we have anything waiting to be published by them.

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Posted in Newsletters | Comments Off on 2004 January

2003 January

January 11th, 2003

January 11, 2003

Happy New Year, friends and supporters of CalUWild

With the 108th Congress sworn in this week, 2003 is off and running. Because the Republicans control both houses of Congress and the White House, it will be a busy time for all who care about protecting wilderness and public lands.

Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA11), who could hardly be more anti-environmental, was picked to be Chairman of the House Resources Committee. This is not good news. One Washington insider reacted: Compared to [Mr. Pombo], Jim Hansen looks like a statesman. Mr. Pombo has talked about revamping the Endangered Species Act, the Antiquities Act, and other similar adventures. But it remains to be seen how his appointment will play out, since his selection passed over senior members of the committee, some of whom are more moderate than he. Mr. Pombo was sixth out of seven in seniority, so internal committee politics may cramp his ability to push a radically anti-environmental agenda.

However, we can’t count on that. Public pressure”letters, phone calls, faxes and e-mails”will be the most important tool we have against any attempts to roll back environmental laws.

To that end, we will soon send out How and to Whom: The CalUWild Guide to Effective Advocacy, which will include updated contact information for the 108th Congress.

This week, the Administration issued its long-awaited new rule on rights-of-way and RS 2477, with a potentially huge impact on wilderness and public lands. See Item 1 for details.

Finally, we can expect to see an energy bill introduced that will include opening up the Arctic Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration. The Democrats threatened in the last Congress to filibuster any such provision, and we hope they will do so again, if necessary. But we can also expect other bad provisions regarding exploration in the Intermountain West, tax breaks and subsidies for oil and gas producers, and little in the way of conservation, support for renewable sources of energy, or protection for people who own the surface rights in leased areas.

Not all the news is grim, however.

The week before Christmas, President Bush signed the Big Sur Wilderness and Conservation Act of 2002 into law, permanently protecting almost 57,000 acres of wild lands in Monterey and San Benito counties: 37,110 additional acres in the Ventana Wilderness; 17,055 more in the Silver Peak Wilderness; and 2,715 in Pinnacles National Monument.

Also in mid-December, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a preliminary injunction against implementation of the National Forest Roadless Rule, effectively reinstating it. The court said in its opinion:

“Given the importance of roadless lands as a resource and the ease with which they may be irretrievably damaged, and the amount of forest land already crossed by roads that facilitate active management of vast acreages, a near total ban on further road construction in the remaining and precious roadless areas within our national forests is not the drastic measure that the plaintiffs make it out to be.”

Finally, California representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA08) was elected House Minority Leader. Rep. Pelosi is generally strong on the environment. It is not clear, however, whether she will use her position to be a visible advocate for specific legislation, e.g., cosponsoring America’s Redrock Wilderness Act, but she will definitely be receptive to our efforts on issues and work behind the scenes to move things along.

On the administrative front, thank you to everyone who sent in contributions last year. Member support in 2002 increased quite a bit over 2001. But our needs are ongoing, so if you haven’t contributed in a while, please consider making a contribution sometime soon. Dues are not tax deductible, because they are sometimes used for direct advocacy, but tax-deductible contributions can be made payable to the Resource Renewal Institute. Either way, they should be mailed to:

CalUWild

P.O. Box 210474

San Francisco, CA 94121-0474

Thank you also to all who returned their membership survey, sent out at the end of November. We will discuss some of the comments received when we send out the Advocacy Guide. A large majority included supportive comments regarding CalUWild’s work. I’m happy to say we seem to be on the right track. If you have not responded, please do so. (If you would like another copy sent to you, send an email to info@caluwild.org. The most important information you can give us is the name of your Congressional representative, so we can target information as needed and also determine where we need to work on membership development.

Lastly, thank you for your concern for wilderness in Utah and the West, and more importantly for translating it into action. It does make a difference!

Best wishes,

Mike

IN UTAH, CALIFORNIA, ALASKA & ELSEWHERE

1. New Regulations for Roads in Wilderness, Parks, and Other Public Lands

(ACTION ITEM)

IN UTAH

2. Letters Needed Supporting America’s Redrock Wilderness Act

Deadline: February 19

(ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA

3. CalUWild Slide Show in Davis

February 12

IN WYOMING

4. Protest the Snowmobiles in Yellowstone

February 15

IN OREGON

5. Land-Air-Water Conference in Eugene

March 6-9

IN COLORADO

6. Position with the Wilderness Society in Denver

Deadline: January 22

IN MEMORIAM

7. Wayne Owens

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

IN UTAH, CALIFORNIA, ALASKA & ELSEWHERE

1. New Rules for Roads in Wilderness,

Parks, and Other Public Lands

(ACTION ITEM)

On January 6, the BLM released its new rule for disclaimers of interest. BLM is saying it may determine rights-of-way, even on lands managed by other agencies: national forests, parks, wildlife refuges, and military installations.

Roads cause many well-known problems on the landscape: erosion and loss of water quality, wildlife habitat fragmentation, destruction of archaeological resources, and the spread of invasive weeds. Additionally, the presence of a road generally disqualifies an area for wilderness designation. Thus there is potential for severe consequences across the West.

This rule change is part of the ongoing saga of the Mining Law of 1866 and its provision titled Revised Statute 2477. RS 2477, passed when the U.S. was still trying to open up and settle the West, states: The right-of-way for the construction of highways over public lands, not reserved for public uses, is hereby granted.

RS 2477 was repealed in 1976, but existing rights were grandfathered in. Wilderness opponents have seized upon this loophole to claim routes all across the West, hoping to defeat wilderness designation and exert control of federal lands. In Utah, counties have bulldozed roads into proposed wilderness areas. They have also tried to force the Park Service to open sensitive areas in Canyonlands National Park to vehicle travel. In California, San Bernardino County is claiming 2,567 miles of routes in Mojave National Preserve; more than one quarter of these miles are in designated wilderness areas. Inyo County plans to assert claims in Death Valley National Park. Even Los Angeles County is looking into asserting claims.

Last February, the Administration proposed a new rule, allowing the federal government to disclaim any interest it had in property, including rights-of-way. The new rule removes the 12 year statue of limitations for states, enlarges the definition of states to include cities and counties, and enlarges the pool of potential applicants for a disclaimer from present owner of record to any entity claiming title. BLM received about 18,000 comments in response; most were form letters opposed to the rule change.

In spite of this opposition, BLM released the new rule with little change, although it did promise not to issue a disclaimer if another agency had a valid objection.

BLM has consistently denied that the rule change will have a major impact on RS 2477 claims, yet counties did submit comments regarding such claims. For example, San Bernardino County was concerned that paying the costs of processing applications might create a financial burden for it because of the number of claims the county might potentially file. As we saw above, there are many. For a map, see:

http://www.calwild.org/photos/content/rs2477/rs2477map.jpg

The rule change received widespread coverage in the press, and editorial reaction has been almost uniformly negative. For a sample, see:

http://www.denverpost.com/Stories/0,1413,36%257E417%257E1076663,00.html

http://www.sltrib.com/2002/Dec/12252002/utah/14371.asp

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/102348_roads01.shtml

CalUWild is working with a coalition of organizations including The Wilderness Society, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Earthjustice, California Wilderness Coalition, Defenders of Wildlife, Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Sierra Club to fight the new rule and minimize its impacts, both in California and across the West.

The California Wilderness Coalition and other organizations will be undertaking extensive surveys of claimed routes throughout California and will be needing volunteers to help. It’s a great way to get out to see the wild areas of the state and help out on a cutting-edge issue at the same time. Contact Amanda Dranginis at CWC for more information:

530-758-0380

amanda@calwild.org

We’ll see where this all leads. However, citizens concerned about the potential impacts of the rule change should write to their elected representatives in Washington letting them know their views.

For more information on RS 2477, visit:

Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance

California Wilderness Coalition

Stop RS 2477 Campaign

IN UTAH

2. Letters Needed Supporting America’s Redrock Wilderness Act

Deadline: February 19

(ACTION ITEM)

Every year, the Utah Wilderness Coalition brings friends of Utah wilderness from around the country to Washington, DC to learn about the issues facing Utah and then to meet with Congressional offices, educating them in turn. With this being the start of the 108th Congress, the UWC will be visiting all offices in the House and Senate. Three CalUWild representatives will take part this year, February 22-26.

One of the best types of handout material to give a congressional office is letters from constituents. If you would like to have a letter in support of America’s Redrock Wilderness Act delivered to your representatives, we would be happy to do so.

The important thing to do is let your representative and senator know why you support wilderness protection in Utah and ask him or her to do the same by cosponsoring (again, if applicable) America’s Redrock Wilderness Act when it is introduced by Rep. Maurice Hinchey and Sen. Dick Durbin this year.

Send your letters to:

CalUWild

P.O. Box 210474

San Francisco, CA 94121-0474

Letters need to arrive before February 19.

In the last Congress, the cosponsors (with OLD district numbers) from California were:

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D)

Xavier Becerra (D-30)

Howard Berman (D-26)

Lois Capps (D-22)

Susan Davis (D-49)

Anna Eshoo (D-14)

Sam Farr (D-17)

Bob Filner (D-50)

Jane Harman (D-36)

Mike Honda (D-15)

Barbara Lee (D-09)

Zoe Lofgren (D-16)

Robert Matsui (D-05)

Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-37)

George Miller (D-07)

Grace Napolitano (D-34)

Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-33)

Loretta Sanchez (D-46)

Adam Schiff (D-27)

Brad Sherman (D-24)

Hilda Solis (D-31)

Pete Stark (D-13)

Ellen Tauscher (D-10)

Mike Thompson (D-01)

Maxine Waters (D-35)

Diane Watson (D-32)

Henry Waxman (D-29)

Lynn Woolsey (D-06)

This Congress we would like to add (NEW district numbers):

Sen Dianne Feinstein (D)

Joe Baca (D-43)

Dennis Cardoza (D-18)

Cal Dooley (D-20)

Tom Lantos (D-12)

Nancy Pelosi (D-08)

Linda Sanchez (D-39)

Of course, we would be glad to have some Republican members of California’s delegation on the list. Unfortunately, almost all of them are anti-wilderness so the chances aren’t too great. But it’s still important for people to let them know their thoughts on issues.

IN CALIFORNIA

3. CalUWild Slide Show in Davis

February 12

CalUWild coordinator Mike Painter will present a slide show the evening of February 12, featuring Utah as a prime example of the broader citizens wilderness movement growing across the West. Please join us at:

Yolo County Library

Davis Branch, Blanchard Room.

315 E. 14th St. in Davis

The program will run from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. and will be co-hosted by Yolano Group Sierra Club.

Admission is free.

Mark your calendars. Hope to see you there!

IN WYOMING

4. Protest the Snowmobiles in Yellowstone

February 15

The Winter Wildlands Alliance is organizing a protest against the increasing presence of snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park. In another example of rolling back rules, the Administration has decided not to ban snowmobiles from the park, despite overwhelming public sentiment to do just that.

If you’ve always wanted to visit the park in Winter, and at the same time public support wilderness and our parks, this is the way to do it.

The Winter Wildlands Alliance has reserved a block of rooms at two motels in West Yellowstone for the President’s Day weekend, but reservations need to be made immediately–by January 14. (Sorry for the short notice, but we only got the information a couple of days ago.)

For more information, and to register, visit the Winter Wildlands Alliance at http://www.winterwildlands.org/.

or contact Steve Miller at:

208-344-2968.

IN OREGON

5. Land-Air-Water Conference in Eugene

March 6-9

Every March, activists, lawyers, and students from around the world converge on Eugene, OR for the annual Public Interest Environmental Law Conference, reputedly the largest such gathering in the world. It’s a great way to get up to date on every imaginable environmental issue and to meet the folks working directly on the issues.

CalUWild will be setting up an information table along with Oregonians for Utah Wilderness, as we have in previous years.

Their website isn’t functional yet, but a detailed agenda and registration information will be posted at:

http://www.pielc.org/

IN COLORADO

6. Position with the Wilderness Society in Denver

Deadline: January 22

The Wilderness Society Four Corners office has a Program Assistant position available for someone interested in working on protection and management of National Monuments and other BLM lands on the Colorado Plateau. The position is located in Denver and will involve traveling at least monthly travel to Southern Utah.

The application deadline is January 22, with an immediate starting date.

If you’re interested in a job description, send an email requesting one to : info@caluwild.org

IN MEMORIAM

7. Wayne Owens

Former Utah Congressman Wayne Owens died in Israel on December 18. Rep. Owens was the original author of America’s Redrock Wilderness Act.

He was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1972, where he served on the Judiciary Committee that voted to impeach Richard Nixon. Rep. Owens ran for the Senate in 1974, losing to Jake Garn, and later ran unsuccessfully for Utah’s governorship in 1984. In 1986 he was elected again to the House, where he served until 1992, when he again ran for a Senate seat, losing to Bob Bennett.

Rep. Owens helped found the Center for Middle East Peace and Economic Cooperation and after leaving Congress, served as the organization’s president.

All friends of Utah wilderness and advocates for peace in the Middle East will miss him greatly.

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Posted in Newsletters | Comments Off on 2003 January

2002 January

January 9th, 2002

January 9, 2002

Dear CalUWild Friends & Supporters —

Happy New Year to everyone who cares about our Wild Lands in the West! Thank you for all your efforts on their behalf in 2001.

We begin 2002 with some major, interesting news, which you can read about in Item 1. Also, Undersecretary of Agriculture Mark Rey has given final approval to the Sierra Nevada Framework, which puts an emphasis on ecosystem management for the 11 national forests of the Sierra. We will keep you posted on its implementation.

The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance sent out an alert this morning which included an urgent action item. Because it just came in, it is reprinted in full below (Item 2). If you are on SUWA’s Alert List, sorry for the duplication.

With Congress beginning its new session soon, we are including a copy of CalUWild’s How and to Whom: Effective Advocacy. This information will soon be appearing on a page on our website https://www.caluwild.org, so if you have comments or suggestions, please contact me at 415-752-3911.

Finally, thanks again to everyone who made contributions to CalUWild over the holidays. Your support is much appreciated. If you haven’t contributed in a while, please help out if you can.

Best wishes,

IN UTAH

1. Jim Hansen Announces He Won’t Run Again

2. Action Item: Oil & Gas Exploration Next to Arches National Park

3. Action Item: America’s Redrock Wilderness Act Cosponsors

IN CALIFORNIA

4. Utah Slide Show Tours California

5. Action Item: Ft. Irwin Expansion Scoping Meetings in Southern California

6. Support the Glen Canyon Institute in San Diego

IN UTAH

1. Jim Hansen Announces He Won’t Run Again

Yesterday, Rep. Jim Hansen (R-UT), chairman of the House Resource Committee announced that he will not seek re-election in November. Mr. Hansen is in his 11th term in the House, where he has consistently opposed meaningful wilderness legislation for Utah, especially America’s Redrock Wilderness Act. Instead he has introduced bills which have given the appearance of affording protection, but have not really done so: acreage protected has been minimal; federal water rights for have not been retained; off-road vehicle use has not been effectively controlled; and other government agencies, particularly the military, have been allowed unprecedented access to wilderness areas.

What remains to be seen is who will replace Mr. Hansen, both in Utah’s delegation, and as chairman of the Resources Committee. Should Rep. Hansen’s Utah replacement be given a seat on the committee, he or she will not have the seniority that Mr. Hansen did. That will make supporting effective Utah legislation less risky for other members of Congress, who have reportedly often been concerned with incurring Mr. Hansen’s wrath. And already the sparring has begun for the chairmanship of the committee. The Congressional Quarterly reports that California Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-23) has indicated an interest, as has Rep. Jim Saxton (R-NJ). Rep. Gallegly is not known as a friend of the environment; the League of Conservation Voters gave him a score of 23% for the 106th Congress. Rep. Saxton, on the other hand, is a cosponsor of America’s Redrock Wilderness Act. He has an LCV rating of 63%.

The full text of Rep. Hansen’s announcement can be found on the Web at:

http://www.house.gov/hansen/jan8-02.htm

2. Action Item: Oil & Gas Exploration next to Arches National Park

As mentioned above, the following cones direct from SUWA.

More seismic exploration is proposed for beautiful slickrock country bordering the Colorado River near Arches National Park – oil and gas wells cannot be far behind. Please take a moment to write a letter to BLM urging the agency to deny the Yellow Cat 2-D seismic proposal that would involve absurdly huge trucks driving cross-country in a remote and rarely visited wilderness area that offers some of the most incredible views of southeastern Utah!

The Yellow Cat 2-D Geophysical Project would be located in the Dome Plateau unit of the citizens’ wilderness proposal. The Dome Plateau area is northeast of Moab on the northwest side of the Colorado River, between Arches National Park and the Dewey Bridge. Recent seismic exploration projects in the area have left the landscape scarred, essential microbiotic soils pulverized and vulnerable to erosion, centuries-old trees and animal dens smashed, and newly-created motorized routes inviting further destruction. The Yellow Cat 2-D project would be no different.

*** PLEASE URGE BLM TO: ***

— adopt the “no action” alternative and deny this proposed seismic project

— deny seismic exploration and subsequent oil and gas developments in areas proposed for wilderness

Please mail or fax your letter to the following people:

Ms. Sally Wisely

Utah State BLM Director

PO Box 45155

Salt Lake City, UT 84145-0155

Fax: 801-539-4013

Ms. Maggie Wyatt

Moab Field Office Manager

82 E Dogwood

Moab, UT 84532

Fax: 435-259-2106

3. Action Item: America’s Redrock Wilderness Act Cosponsors

With the start of the second session of the 107th Congress, the drive for cosponsors for America’s Redrock Wilderness Act (H.R. 1613, S. 786) will pick up again. Exactly one half of California’s delegation is on board: 26 representatives and one senator. Nationally, the bill is cosponsored by 157 House members and 15 senators. Here’s the list for California. If your representative is on the list, please write him or her a thank you letter. If not on the list, ask that he or she become a cosponsor. Letters to Sen. Feinstein are welcome, too.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D)

Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-30)

Rep. Howard Berman (D-26)

Rep. Lois Capps (D-22)

Rep. Susan Davis (D-49)

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-14)

Rep. Sam Farr (D-17)

Rep. Bob Filner (D-50)

Rep. Mike Honda (D-15)

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-09)

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-16)

Rep. Robert Matsui (D-05)

Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-37)

Rep. George Miller (D-07)

Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-34)

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-33)

Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-46)

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-27)

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-24)

Rep. Hilda Solis (D-31)

Rep. Pete Stark (D-13)

Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-10)

Rep. Mike Thompson (D-01)

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-35)

Rep. Diane Watson (D-32)

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-29)

Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-06)

IN CALIFORNIA

4. Utah Slide Show Tours California

Bob Brister, Outreach Associate at the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, will be criss-crossing California (with a side trip to Nevada) the next two months, showing spectacular slides of Utah wilderness. Attend a showing if you can, and remind yourself what it is we’re all working so hard to protect. Bring a friend or family member along so they can see what we’re so enthusiastic about.

Here’s Bob’s schedule:

January 10

Mariposa

Yosemite Area Audubon Society

7:00 pm at Mariposa County Library, 10th at Jones

January 15

Upland

Los Serranos Group Sierra Club

7:00 pm at Upland Presbyterian Church Education Building, Euclid at 11th

January 17

Los Angeles

Central Group Sierra Club

7:30 pm at Barlow Hospital, William Hall 2000 Stadium Way

January 29

Palos Verdes Peninsula

Palos Verdes/South Bay Audubon Society

7:30 pm at South Coast Botanic Garden, 26300 South Crenshaw Blvd

January 30

Palos Verdes Peninsula

Palos Verdes-South Bay Group Sierra Club

7:00 pm at Palos Verdes Library, 650 Deep Valley Drive

February 5

Redlands

San Gorgonio Chapter Sierra Club

7:30 pm at San Bernardino County Museum, 2024 Orange Tree Lane

February 6

Long Beach

Long Beach Group Sierra Club

7:30 pm at Integrated Resources Bureau, 2929 E. Willow St.

February 7

Fresno

Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno

7:30 pm at Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno, 4144 N. Millbrook Ave.

February 13

Las Vegas

Southern Nevada Group Sierra Club

7:00 pm at Southwest Gas, Tropicana & Arville

February 14

San Mateo

Sequoia Audubon Society

7:30 pm at the San Mateo Garden Center, 605 Parkside Way

February 15

Modesto

Yokuts Group Sierra Club

7:00 pm at the Modesto Police Station, G Street & 10 Street

February 18

Marina del Rey

Airport-Marina Group Sierra Club

7:45 pm at the Community Bldg Chace Park, end of Mindanao Way

February 19

Oakhurst

Oakhurst Public Library

7:30 pm at Oakhurst Public Library Civic Circle, next to the Fire Station

February 20

Sonora

Central Sierra Audubon Society and Tuolumne Group Sierra Club

7:00 pm at Tuolumne County Library, 480 Greenley Road

February 21

Long Beach

El Dorado Audubon Society

7:30 pm at El Dorado Nature Center, Spring Street, near the 605 freeway

February 26

Reno

Lahontan Audubon Society

6:30 pm at Bartley Ranch Park school house, 6000 Bartley Ranch Road, just off of Lakeside Drive in south Reno

For more information on any of the slide shows, contact Bob Brister (801) 486-3161 ext 12.

5. Action Item: Ft. Irwin Expansion Scoping Meetings in Southern California

Ft. Irwin in the Mojave Desert of California wants to expand its National Training Center into sensitive BLM lands. Some of these are designated wilderness study areas, and the land is home to the endangered desert tortoise and endangered plants. The Army is holding two open houses/scoping hearings in Southern California to introduce its plans and begin its environmental compliance. These meetings are on January 17 in Riverside and January 19 in Pasadena.

Please attend if you are able or submit written comments to address below. Thanks.

The following information comes from the Desert Protective Council:

The Army will be holding two scoping meetings on the Fort Irwin Expansion Proposal on January 17 (Riverside) and January 19 (Pasadena). This may be your last chance to voice your concerns about a proposed expansion that would put the future of the West Mojave desert tortoise population in jeopardy and would likely lead to the extinction of the endangered Lane Mountain Milk Vetch. The meetings are January 17 in Riverside at the Riverside Convention Center (2-5 pm, 6-9 pm) and January 19 at the Pasadena Convention Center (1-4 pm). The scoping meetings are to gather information from the public to assist the Army in its preparation of a Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on the Proposed Land Expansion for Fort Irwin and the National Training Center.

This Supplemental DEIS is in reference to the Army’s plan to take 110,000 more acres of our public lands in the Mojave Desert, 35 miles north of Barstow. The army already has 643,000 acres for tank training at the Ft. Irwin National Training Center. The expansion will destroy the quality of Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) and further jeopardize the declining, federally listed desert tortoise (California’s State Reptile) by expanding training activities into prime desert tortoise habitat previously set aside for its protection. The expansion will also jeopardize the endangered Lane Mountain Milk Vetch, which lives in and around Ft. Irwin and exists nowhere else on the planet.

Evidence is accumulating that the Army does not need to expand the Ft. Irwin National Training Center to accomplish its training mission In fact, the Army can accomplish its training mission for firing longer distances by using new technologies that provide realistic, simulated training environments and scenarios. Given this simulated alternative and the increasingly desperate plight of the desert tortoise all over the Mojave desert, it is unconscionable to eliminate any portion of the desert tortoise population that is currently adjacent to the Fort Irwin National Training Center.

There are a few other key points that you might want to bring up at the hearing or in your written comments: The analysis in this new supplemental draft EIS must be equivalent in depth and quality to that of a full blown EIS for the following reasons:

The land involved in this proposed expansion is a different piece of land from the one involved in the proposed 1997 expansion, and the destruction of this area will dramatically affect a Western Mojave desert tortoise population that has declined alarmingly since 1997. You might also note that this proposed expansion includes opening up to Army maneuvers some previously protected areas for the tortoise (the UTM 90 Lands). This expansion, thus, may have a more draconian impact on the desert tortoise than the 1997 expansion would have had.

The Lane Mountain Milk Vetch was not federally listed as Endangered in 1997, and the Lane Mt. Milk Vetch only lives in the Ft. Irwin area. The new Supplemental DEIS must seriously address how the Army intends to prevent this rare plant from going extinct. You should note for the record that not only does the Lane Mt. Milk Vetch only live in the desert around Ft. Irwin but that past efforts to transplant populations of this plant to other areas have failed.

The Army should also schedule scoping hearings on the proposed expansion in the San Francisco Bay area and other parts of California, as many in the Bay Area and throughout the state also visit the Mojave desert and have an interest in the Ft. Irwin expansion.

Of course, feel free to add your own reasons why the NTC expansion will adversely affect you.

For more information on the proposed expansion, please see the Army’s website:

http://www.fortirwinlandexpansion.com/

and also http://www.tortoise.org

For more information, contact:

Terry Weiner

Conservation Coordinator

Desert Protective Council

(619) 543-0757

(619) 302-9282 cell

jtdesert@ixpres.com

Notice of Public Scoping Meeting

Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on the Proposed Land Expansion for Fort Irwin and the National Training Center

The Department of the Army will hold two public scoping meetings to introduce the Proposed Land Expansion Project for Fort Irwin and the National Training Center. The meetings allow the public to participate in the environmental impact assessment process by providing input on the range of alternatives to be considered and the impacts and issues to be assessed in the DEIS. On 16 October 2001, the Department of the Army published in the Federal Register, the Notice of Intent to prepare a Supplemental DEIS. Oral and written comments will be accepted during this meeting. A land expansion briefing will be presented at the beginning of each meeting to explain the mission of the National Training Center (NTC) and to outline the needs and requirements for the expansion. An Open House format is scheduled for two hours prior to each afternoon meeting where NTC representatives will be available to provide additional information regarding NTC operations and programs.

The meetings are scheduled as follows:

Riverside County

Open House: 12:00 Noon – 2:00 PM

Scoping Meeting (Two Sessions): 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM & 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

17 January 2002

Riverside Convention Center

3443 Orange Street

Riverside, CA 92501

Los Angeles County

Open House: 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Scoping Meeting: 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM

19 January 2002

Pasadena Convention Center

300 East Green Street

Pasadena, CA 91101

Written comments must be submitted by 19 February 2002 to:

National Training Center

AFZJ-Strategic Plans Division

P.O. Box 10309 Fort Irwin, CA 92310

6. Support the Glen Canyon Institute in San Diego

The following announcement comes from the Glen Canyon Institute. The event provides a great opportunity to see pictures of Glen Canyon before it was drowned, and to see and hear Katie Lee, a legend among lovers of Glen Canyon.

Restoring Glen Canyon: A Paradise Lost

with special guest Katie Lee

Sunday, February 3, 2002 at 5:00 PM

Mission Trails Park Visitor Center

1 Father Junipero Serra Trail

San Diego, California

Dams are from Mars, Rivers are from Venus

Jeri Ledbetter, Executive Director of Glen Canyon Institute, will present an informative slide show on the impacts of Glen Canyon Dam and the potential for restoration of Glen Canyon.

Love Stories from a Lost Canyon

Katie Lee, the grande dame of Western singers and environmentalists, will present a slide show featuring photographs of Glen Canyon before it was flooded by Lake Powell reservoir, accompanied by essay and song.

Silent Auction 5:00 – 9:00 pm

Auction items include contributions from local merchants, an original Katie Lee phonograph album, photographs, rare books, and lots more.

Tickets are $10 in advance, and $15 at the door. Seating is limited, so we strongly recommend purchasing tickets in advance, either online at http://www.glencanyon.org/events/events.htm, or through the San Diego Chapter of the Sierra Club at (619) 299-1743.

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