2017 December

January 3rd, 2018

Sunrise over the La Sal Mountains, Utah                                                                                   (Mike Painter)

New Year’s Eve 2017

Dear CalUWild friends—

2017 was a long year for the conservation community. It seemed that very week the administration or Congress came up with some new rollback or ill-thought proposal. For those of us concerned with public lands, the months-long review of national monuments was the most noteworthy. The first negative results were released earlier this month. (See Item 1.)

But with 2018 upon us, we can’t afford to dwell too much on the past. Instead, we look to the opportunities ahead to support our public lands, though it will take a lot of work. Attempts to undermine the Antiquities Act and to allow mountain bikes in designated wilderness areas are just two of the things we expect to be busy in the year ahead. We also look forward to permanently reauthorizing the Land & Water Conservation Fund and securing wilderness designations for areas along the Central California Coast and northern part of the state.

Fortunately, we have allies, as the American public and press are largely on our side. We will still need to keep our attention and energies focused, however, and CalUWild will do its best to provide the information needed to be effective.

We’ve been able to prevent almost all serious attacks on public lands in the past, and there’s no reason to think we can’t do the same again!

Many thanks to everyone who generously responded to the membership appeal we recently sent out. If you haven’t sent in a contribution, please consider doing so. Complete information may be found on this form, which you may print and send in along with your gift.

As always, thanks for your concern for our wild and public lands.

Wishing you many opportunities in the New Year to get out and explore,

1.   The Administration Sharply Shrinks Bears Ears and
          Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments
          And Threatens Modifications to Others
          (ACTION ITEM)

2.   Park Service Announces
          Only 4 Fee-Free Days in 2018
3.    Job Announcements
          a.   Conservation Lands Foundation:
                     Associate Southern California Director
          b.   Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center:
                     Digital and Grassroots Campaigner/Senior Campaigner
          c.   American Conservation Experience:
                    Emerging Professionals Internship Corps,
                    Park Service Division
          d.   Wyoming Outdoor Council:
                     Conservation Advocate

4.   Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest


1.   The Administration Sharply Shrinks Bears Ears and
          Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments
          And Threatens Modifications to Others
          (ACTION ITEM)

On December 4, the president traveled to Salt Lake City, along with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and other politicians, to sign two proclamations eviscerating the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. They were joined by a small group of select onlookers in the capitol rotunda, while outside more than 3,000 people gathered in the freezing cold to protest the action. Two days before, more than 6,000 citizens had gathered on the capitol steps in advance of the visit to protest the impending action.

The proclamations were not unexpected, as Secty. Zinke had been undertaking a review of 27 national monuments since April, and preliminary details had been leaked to the press several months ago.

Still, the final results showed a shocking lack of respect for Native Americans, for the general citizenry (who overwhelmingly—99%—commented in favor of leaving all national monuments intact), and the truth. (“Public lands will once again be for public use,” the president said.)

The tribes, conservation groups, and businesses filed several lawsuits against the administration immediately, and two of Utah’s congressmen introduced legislation to codify the proclamations, as well. (The fact that legislation was introduced is a clear indication that they realize there are serious legal problems with the administrative rollback. But because the Constitution gives Congress the authority to manage federal lands, any laws it passes are binding, and might render the lawsuits moot.)

Here are some of the most important details in the proclamations and the legislation.

Bears Ears National Monument

•   The protected area was reduced by a whopping 85%.

•   The monument was split into two separate new monuments: Shash Jáa and Indian Creek. (The use of “Shash Jáa,” the new name, is just one sign of the profound disrespect the administration has for the tribes involved, as it means “Bears Ears” in the Navajo tongue. Each of the five tribes in the coalition has its own language, and they specifically wanted the English name for the monument, as it was a neutral language to all of them.)

•   The bill number and title are H.R. 4532, “Shash Jáa National Monument and Indian Creek National Monument Act,” introduced by Rep. John Curtis (R-UT), who replaced Rep. Jason Chaffetz after he resigned.

•   A new council will be created to manage the Shash Jáa monument. It is to be comprised of:

—one individual from the Interior or Agriculture Department;
—three members of the Navajo Nation, one of whom must be from the local chapter;
—one member of the White Mesa Utes; and
—two San Juan County commissioners.

All members must be residents of Utah. This is troublesome for two reasons: it sets up overwhelming local control of federal lands, and it reduces the other tribes of the Inter-Tribal Coalition—who were largely responsible for the creation of the monument and who view the Bears Ears as their ancestral homeland—to a very indirect consultative role.

•   You can see a map of the changes here.

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

•   The protected area was reduced by about 50%.

•   The monument was split into three separate new monuments: Grand Staircase, Kaiparowits, and Escalante Canyons. In a puzzling move, Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) also included an “Escalante Canyons National Park and Preserve” within the boundaries of the Escalante Canyons National Monument in his bill, H.R. 4558, the so-called “Grand Staircase Escalante Enhancement Act”. The national park details are not spelled out in the bill, but it seems like an attempt at “greenwashing,” making it sound like he’s doing something good for conservation.•   The bill creates a new council to manage the three monuments and park & preserve. It is to be comprised of:

—one individual from the Interior Department;
—two Garfield County commissioners;
—two Kane County commissioners;
—one Utah State Legislator representing Kane County, Garfield County, or both;
—one at-large member, appointed by the president.

The monument’s original advisory committee was made up mostly of scientists and other stakeholders, such as elected officials, ranchers, outfitters, and environmentalists. Again, the overwhelming local control of federal lands is a huge problem.

•   The bill conveys full title to the Hole in the Rock Road to the State of Utah.

The bill had a hearing in the House Subcommittee on Federal Lands the week after it was introduced.

•   You can see a map of the changes here.


The five members of the Inter-Tribal Coalition (Hopi, Navajo, Ute, Ute Mountain Utes, and Zuni) file a lawsuit the very day the new Bears Ears proclamation was signed.

A second Bears Ears lawsuit was filed by 11 conservation organizations: The Wilderness Society, the National Parks Conservation Association, the Sierra Club, Grand Canyon Trust, Defenders of Wildlife, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Western Watersheds Project, WildEarth Guardians, Center for Biological Diversity, Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

A third Bears Ears lawsuit was filed by the Navajo non-profit Utah Diné Bikeyah and a host of recreational and other organizations: Patagonia Works, Friends of Cedar Mesa, Archaeology Southwest, the Conservation Lands Foundation, Access Fund, the Society for Vertebrate Paleontology, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Two lawsuits were filed against the Grand Staircase-Escalante rollback, one by conservation groups and a second by Grand Staircase Escalante Partners, the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, and the Conservation Lands Foundation.

All argue that the Antiquities Act of 1906 does not give the president authority to reduce national monuments once established; only Congress has that power under the Constitution and the Federal Lands Policy & Management Act of 1976. Additionally, in the case of the Grand Staircase-Escalante, Congress made its own previous boundary adjustments and exchanged lands with the State of Utah plus paid Utah $50 million, so the administration cannot make any changes, regardless of whether the Antiquities Act implies that he has the authority to do so. Here’s an article we linked to back in June that sets out the legal arguments.

All suits were filed in Federal District Court for the District of Columbia.

Related News

Secty. Zinke recommended that Gold Butte NM in Nevada and the Cascade-Siskiyou NM straddling the California-Oregon border also be reduced, though he released no details. He recommended management changes for Katahdin Woods and Waters in Maine to allow for tree thinning, and finally recommended the addition of three new monuments: The Badger-Two Medicine Area in Montana (coincidentally his home state); Medgar Evers in Mississippi, and Camp Nelson in Kentucky. These are believed by many to be “greenwashing” attempts, as well.

Further Reading

You can read the Interior Department’s Final Revised Report here and the press release announcing it here.

Our friends at the Center for Western Priorities released a document: The remaining falsehoods in Ryan Zinke’s final national monuments report.

The Salt Lake Tribune published an article: Uranium mill pressed Trump officials for Bears Ears reductions, records show.

The Nation published a piece: The Far-Right Campaign to Destroy Our National Monuments.

What Action to Take

Congress will be back in session the first week in January. It is critical that you contact your Representative and Senators to let them know you oppose both the rollbacks by the administration and the legislation that has been introduced by the Utah congressmen to shrink the monuments and any attempts to reshape the Antiquities Act. If allowed to stand, these actions will set terrible precedents for the future.

Remember: An attack on one monument is an attack on all.

Full contact information for California House members may be found by following the links here, and for other states by following the links here.

California’s senators may be reached here:

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

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

The general page for Senate contact information is here.

Also, please write letters to the editor expressing support for public lands whenever a relevant article appears.

2.   Park Service Announces
          Only 4 Fee-Free Days in 2018

Last year there were ten days when entrance fees are waived. This year there will be but four. They will be:

January 15 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
April 21 – First Day of National Park Week
September 22 – National Public Lands Day
November 11 – Veterans Day

Mark your calendars.

A Park Service spokesman said: “Now that the nation is recovering from the recession and the Centennial [2016] has passed, the NPS is returning to a lower number of fee-free days. Fewer fee-free days means additional revenue to improve facilities, address deferred maintenance issues, and enhance the overall park experience for visitors.”

3.   Job Announcements

Several organizations we’ve worked with over the years have job openings right now. Click on the links under each short description for more information.

          a.   Conservation Lands Foundation:
                    Associate Southern California Director

This person will facilitate the Conservation Lands Foundation’s expansion, protection and constituency building efforts for the National Conservation Lands in Southern California, particularly in the California Desert. The position will work collaboratively with Bureau of Land Management and other federal agency staff, regional and statewide conservation organizations, Friends groups, and diverse partners to enhance support for the National Conservation Lands in Southern California.

Conservation Lands Foundation Associate Southern California Director

          b.   Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center:
                    Digital and Grassroots Campaigner/Senior Campaigner

K-S Wild is accepting applications for a Digital & Grassroots Campaigner/Senior Campaigner through January 9th, 2018. The ideal candidate is passionate about saving wild places in the Klamath-Siskiyou and specializes in digital communications. This is a great opportunity for someone who has experience managing social media accounts, websites, and email communications.

If you’d like to learn more and how to apply, you can read the job announcement on our website.

          c.   American Conservation Experience:
                    Emerging Professionals Internship Corps (ACE EPIC),
                    Park Service Division

ACE EPIC is a targeted internship program dedicated to developing and diversifying the conservation workforce nationwide. Our partnerships with federal land management agencies, as well as private and non-profit conservation organizations, provide hands-on natural and cultural resource management opportunities for young, knowledgeable college graduates. Our internship programs serve as a bridge between academia and careers for young professionals seeking positions as public servants within the Department of Interior. The National Park Service Member Manager position will oversee the management of NPS ACE EPIC interns and programming throughout the United States.

Applications can be submitted here:

          d.   Wyoming Outdoor Council:
                     Conservation Advocate

The Wyoming Outdoor Council is looking to hire a Conservation Advocate—preferably someone who is also an attorney.

4.   Links to Articles and Other Items of Interest

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

An article in the New York Times: The Treasures of Chaco Canyon Are Threatened by Drilling

The Guardian reported on the latest development in the Bundy Family saga: Cliven Bundy: judge declares mistrial in case against Nevada rancher and family

News about the Department of the Interior

A profile in Outside Magazine of the Interior Secretary: Ryan Zinke Is Trump’s Attack Dog on the Environment. The reporter was subsequently blocked from taking part in an Interior Department press conference call, as reported here, because he had reported (accurately, apparently) that Mr. Zinke had his fly fishing reel mounted on backwards while they were out fishing together.

Rep. Raúl Grijalva of Arizona, Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee, wrote this op-ed in High Country News: Stop trying to militarize Interior, Ryan Zinke

Newsweek reports on more travel funding irregularities: Interior Department Tapped Wildfire Preparedness Funds for Ryan Zinke Helicopter Tour

An op-ed in The Hill by Pat Shea, former Director of the BLM, on a possible nominee to head the agency: Our public lands need balanced — not extremist — leadership


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