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2016 July

August 3rd, 2016

CedarMesa 1b3a
Ancient Pueblo Dwelling, Bears Ears NM Proposal                                                                    (Mike Painter)
 

July 2016

Dear CalUWild friends & supporters-

Summertime tends to be slow on the action front, but not this year, as you’ll see below. Take your choice of items to focus on in August-they’re all critical. But please, with one the major party platforms (See Item 7, below) including the proposition that some federal lands should be disposed of, this is not time to take a vacation from involvement.
 

Thanks again to everyone who made an extra contribution to CalUWild in response to the request in last month’s Update. If you’d still like to make a contribution, full information may be found here.
 

There’s always something to add at the last minute: In our October Update and in last month’s, we linked to reviews of a recent book on the great German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt. We just received an announcement that on Friday, August 19, at 6 p.m., the Goethe-Institut San Francisco will be showing the film Measuring the World, looking at the curiosity that drove Humboldt and the equally great mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss in totally opposite directions. The film is based on the novel of the same name, runs 113 minutes, and is in German with English subtitles. Admission is free. The Goethe-Institut is located at 530 Bush Street, 2nd Floor, San Francisco 94108.
 

Thanks for your ongoing support and enthusiasm for wilderness and public lands!
Mike
 

IN UTAH
1.   Public Lands Initiative Bill Introduced in House
          (ACTION ITEM)
2.   Interior Secty. Sally Jewell Visits the Bears Ears
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
3.   National Forest Planning
          Sequoia National Forest
          (ACTION ITEM)
4.   Yosemite Wilderness Planning
          (ACTION ITEM)
5.   Central Coast Wilderness Bill
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN GENERAL
6.   Other Legislation in Congress

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

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IN UTAH
1.   Public Lands Initiative Bill Introduced in House
          (ACTION ITEM)

Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) introduced his long-awaited Public Lands Initiative (PLI) covering seven counties in eastern Utah on July 14, just as Congress was heading out of town for a seven-week recess. More significantly, though, the bill is an attempt to prevent the designation of the Bears Ears National Monument by the President. Mr. Bishop introduced it just as Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and other administration officials were visiting Utah to learn more about that proposal (See Item 2).

The bill, H.R.5780, does not incorporate much of the feedback received from various counties and the public, and in some respects is worse than the draft released earlier in the year. The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance sent out this summary (edited very slightly):
 

After years of missed deadlines, Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT) finally introduced his long-delayed Public Lands Initiative. As anticipated, the PLI fails to protect Utah’s remarkable public lands and divests the American people of their public lands heritage. There is no chance this terrible bill could be passed in the few days left in this Congress, and it serves only as an effort to forestall President Obama from designating a Bears Ears National Monument.

Utah’s congressional delegation will no doubt repeat ad nauseam their talking point about 4.6 million acres of federal land “designated for conservation” in the PLI. Don’t believe it. The big acreages proffered by Rep. Bishop are disingenuous, as a hard look at the bill reveals that the PLI is a cobbled together mess that maximizes resource extraction and includes land “protections” riddled with loopholes.

A pro-development bill disguised as conservation

Among the laundry list of unacceptable provisions of the bill, the PLI:

• Fails to protect 62% of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Actas designated wilderness and opens up currently protected lands, such as Wilderness Study Areas, to energy development and off-road vehicle use.

• Substitutes bastardized National Conservation Areas (NCAs) that enshrine the Bush-era management plans that designated thousands of miles of off-road vehicle routes; allows designation and development of new motorized trails; green-lights vegetation manipulation projects (such as pinyon-juniper clearcuts); mandates livestock grazing; declares that no more wilderness can be protected in these areas; and limits federal land managers’ ability to protect natural and cultural resources.

• Fails to protect over half a million acres of the Bears Ears region as proposed by the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition; diminishes the Coalition’s voice in management of the reduced Bears Ears NCA by creating a 10-member advisory committee with only one tribal representative; promotes motorized recreation in this archaeologically rich region; allows grazing in currently closed areas like Grand Gulch, Fish, Owl, and Arch Canyons; and prohibits the agency from protecting hundreds of thousands of acres of wilderness.

• Seizes authority from public land managers and instead gives the State of Utah control over the permitting and regulation of all forms of energy development on millions of acres of federal lands and, in doing so, likely eviscerates meaningful energy leasing reform such as the nearly completed Moab Master Leasing Plan.

• Codifies the abysmal Bush-era motorized travel plans in protected areas and prohibits future closures of any motorized route for natural or cultural resources concerns.

• Grants thousands of miles of claimed R.S. 2477 routesto the State of Utah while allowing for continued litigation over R.S. 2477 routes within areas designated as wilderness, NCAs, and Recreation Areas.

• Unleashes a carbon bomb by transferring large blocks of federal land to the State of Utah for tar sand, oil shale, potash, coal, oil, and gas development. These blocks are located in the remote Book Cliffs, in high-value scenic and recreation lands near the Green River west of Moab, on Hatch Point bordering Canyonlands National Park, near the world-renowned San Rafael Swell, and in the Uintah Basin.

• Permanently establishes livestock grazing as a priority across southern and eastern Utah and would result in both increased and new grazing in areas currently closed by federal land agencies due to natural and cultural resource damage.

• Furthers the State of Utah’s land grab efforts by transferring federal land to the state, without compensation, for facility development and increased motorized and non-motorized recreation.

• Rewards dangerous anti-government activity by granting a right-of-way for motorized access in Recapture Canyon, the site of San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman’s illegal 2014 ATV protest ride.

• Undermines the Antiquities Act by including a companion bill [H.R.5781] that would remove the president’s authority under the Antiquities Act to protect deserving landscapes in southern and eastern Utah.

Taken as a whole, the PLI is an assault on the wilderness of southern and eastern Utah.

Where do we go from here?

It’s time to move forward for the sake of Utah’s land, wildlife, and cultural resources. It’s time to call the PLI what it really is: one more failed attempt by Utah’s congressional delegation to develop a meaningful conservation bill for the national treasures of southern and eastern Utah.

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

There has been much written in the Utah and Western press about the PLI, and I could go on and on about it, but I’ll simply link to an op-ed SUWA’s Executive Director Scott Groene wrote for the Salt Lake Tribune, Utah leaders will fail until they respect wilderness.

Our best line of defense in the House is to alert our cosponsor friends to the legislation. Pick out a couple of the bullet points above and please give your representative a call. Especially important are members of the House Natural Resources Committee, marked with an *.

House cosponsors from California are:

Jared Huffman (D-2) *
Doris Matsui (D-6)
Jerry McNerney (D-9)
Mark DeSaulnier (D-11)
Barbara Lee (D-13)
Jackie Speier (D-14)
Eric Swalwell (D-15)
Mike Honda (D-17)
Anna Eshoo (D-18)
Zoe Lofgren (D-19)
Sam Farr (D-20)
Lois Capps (D-24) *
Julia Brownley (D-26)
Judy Chu (D-27)
Adam Schiff (D-28)
Tony Cárdenas (D-29)
Grace Napolitano (D-32) *
Ted Lieu (D-33)
Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-40)
Mark Takano (D-41)
Alan Lowenthal (D-47), lead sponsor

Not cosponsors, but on the House Natural Resources Committee:

Doug LaMalfa (R-1)
Tom McClintock (R-4)
Paul Cook (R-8)
Jeff Denham (R-10)
Jim Costa (D-16)
Norma Torres (D-35)
Raul Ruiz (D-36)

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

A full list of cosponsors nationwide may be found here.

A full list of Natural Resources Committee members may be found here.
 

2.   Interior Secty. Sally Jewell Visits the Bears Ears
          (ACTION ITEM)

An estimated 1,500 people showed up in Bluff, Utah on July 16 to meet with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, BLM Director Neil Kornze, US Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Robert Bonnie, Jon Jarvis, director of the National Park Service, and Michael Black, Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Significantly, members of Utah’s congressional delegation sent staff members to attend rather than appear in person.

The gathering in Bluff followed a three-day tour of the area by the officials, which included meetings with tribal leaders at the Bears Ears and with Grand County officials. Secty. Jewell hiked to some of the archaeological sites in the proposal and said she was shocked to see the lack of protection for them. She stressed all along that she was in Utah to listen and that no decision had yet been made within the Administration. Secty. Jewell has long said that they prefer legislative protection, but that the Administration would not hesitate to use the Antiquities Act to designate a monument if that process failed. She expressed disappointment that the PLI had taken so long to be introduced.

Further evidence of the need for protection is provided by this article in the Salt Lake Tribune about the planned expansion of a uranium mine in the monument proposal area.

The Sutherland Institute, no friend of wilderness (see ITEM 7 for an example), posted a video of the Bluff meeting on YouTube. It’s three hours and 15 minutes long, but you don’t need to watch the whole thing to see what the meeting was about.

The Bears Ears proposal continues to garner widespread press in Utah and across the country. Here are a few examples:

CalUWild friend and Advisory Board member Terry Tempest Williams wrote an op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune regarding the tribes’ proposal.

The Washington Post published an op-ed, President Obama, make Bears Ears a national monument.

Salt Lake Tribune reported on remarks by Gary Herbert, the state governor, voicing his opposition via an unfortunate choice of words: Utah guv calls pro-Bears Ears monument proposal ‘a political tomahawk’

We repeat our action call from previous months: If you haven’t already, please sign the Bears Ears Coalition’s online petition, and send a message of support to both the White House and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell:

Pres. Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500
Comment line:   202-456-1111
Online comments here

Hon. Sally Jewell
Secretary
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20240
Comment line:   202-208-3100
Email address:   feedback [at] ios [dot] doi [dot] gov

 
IN CALIFORNIA
3.   National Forest Planning
          Sequoia National Forest
          DEADLINE: August 25
          (ACTION ITEM)

Last month we reported that three California national forests-Inyo, Sierra, and Sequoia- had draft management plans open for comment, and we included the California Wilderness Coalition’s recommendations for the Inyo NF. This month we include their recommendations for Sequoia NF. CWC hasn’t released its recommendations for Sierra, and we’ll do our best to get them to you via email or by our Facebook page. (This is one example of a time where Facebook does come in handy, so we don’t have to send out multiple emails, as we try to avoid cluttering up your INBOX. So if you’re on Facebook, please Like and Follow CalUWild there if you haven’t already. We also use it to occasionally post articles of interest between Updates.)

What’s At Stake in the Sequoia National Forest Plan Revisions

The Sequoia National Forest encompasses the iconic landscape of the southern Sierra Nevada. This highly scenic and mostly wild region attracts visitors from all over world. The draft plan addresses many different land and resource management issues, including the identification of and potential agency recommendations to protect additional wilderness and wild & scenic rivers. Protection of these wild places not only ensures that present and future generations may enjoy them, but they also provide refuge for fish, wildlife, and plants; preserve important sources of clean water and air; and help boost the local tourism-based economy.

Unfortunately, the Forest Service’s “preferred” Alternative B for the Sequoia Forest recommends no new wilderness for protection. Even worse, the preferred alternative proposes to double the amount of logging on the Sequoia Forest. But the more conservation-oriented Alternative C recommends more than 206,904 acres of wilderness, while proposing a more modest level of logging.

Some of the outstanding wild places that would be protected under Alternative C on the Sequoia Forest include:

Domeland Wilderness Additions – Alt. C proposes to add 37,415 acres to the existing Domeland Wilderness, including portions of the upper Trout and Salmon Creek drainages and the beautiful Siretta Trail and the unique Twisselmann Botanical Area.

Golden Trout Additions – Alt. C proposes to add 32,920 acres to the existing Golden Trout Wilderness, but roadless lands encompassing Rattlesnake and Durwood Creeks (key tributaries to the North Fork Kern Wild & Scenic River) are not proposed for protection under Alt. C.

Other Wilderness Additions – Alt. C recommends modest additions to the existing Monarch and Jennie Lakes Wilderness.

New “Stand Alone” Areas – Alt. C recommends protection for several new “stand alone” Wilderness areas, including the Stormy Canyon and Cannell Peak areas encompassing much of the lower North Fork Kern watershed, and Slate Mountain and Long Canyon in the Giant Sequoia National Monument portion of the Forest.

The plan identifies about 77.6 miles of rivers and streams previously determined eligible for Wild & Scenic River protection. This includes segments of the Kings, lower Kern, Little Kern, North Fork and North Fork Middle Fork Tule Rivers. But no new eligible streams were identified, including Rattlesnake, Durwood, Trout, Salmon, Brushy, and Dry Meadow Creeks – all important tributaries to the North Fork and South Fork Kern Wild & Scenic Rivers.

Please send an email to the Forest Service TODAY urging the agency to adopt an improved Alternative C for the Sequoia National Forest that protects significant amounts of wilderness and all streams identified as eligible for wild & scenic river protection.

The deadline for public comments is August 25, 2016. For more information, please contact Steve Evans, CWC’s Wild Rivers Consultant at sevans [at] calwild [dot] org or call (916) 708-3155. To review the Forest Service’s draft Forest Plans and EIS, as well as for the full schedule of upcoming public meetings, visit the Forest Service’s website.

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

You may submit your comments using one of the following methods:

Project web-site comment form

E-mail

US Mail:

Planning Team Leader
Forest Plan Revision
1839 South Newcomb Street
Porterville, CA 93257

 
4.   Yosemite Wilderness Planning
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINE: September 30
          (ACTION ITEM)

Yosemite National Park is updating its Wilderness Stewardship Plan and has released a Preliminary Concepts Overview. The Park is currently accepting public comments regarding this overview and ideas pertaining to two of the more complex issues in the Yosemite Wilderness: Visitor Use and Capacity, and Stock Use.

The Park’s announcement just came out, so there hasn’t been any time to review it, but if you’d like to do some independent reading, you may download the relevant documents by clicking on the links at the bottom of the project’s Preliminary Concepts page. The page also lists some suggested questions to answer for your comments.

The Park will also host a series of webinars and public meetings in August:

Online Webinar #1
Tuesday, August 9
12 noon – 1 p.m.
Webinar link

Groveland Public Workshop
Wednesday, August 10
5:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Groveland Community Hall
18720 Highway 120
Groveland, California

Lee Vining Public Workshop
Thursday, August 11
5:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Lee Vining Community Center
296 Mattly Avenue
Lee Vining, California

San Francisco Public Workshop
Monday, August 15
5:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Fort Mason Center, Building C
2 Marina Blvd.
San Francisco, California

Oakhurst Public Workshop
Thursday, August 18
5:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Oakhurst Branch Library
49044 Civic Circle
Oakhurst, California

Online Webinar #2
Monday, August 22
6 – 7 p.m.
Webinar link

For the webinars, the Park Service advises visiting the webex website prior to the meeting date to ensure your device has the proper software to participate.

To submit comments online, click on the Comment Now button on the Preliminary Concepts page.

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

Superintendent
Yosemite National Park
Attn: Wilderness Stewardship Plan
P.O. Box 577
Yosemite, CA 95389

 
5.   Central Coast Wilderness Bill
          (ACTION ITEM)

CalUWild is a member of the coalition working for permanent protection of areas on the Central Coast of California. Rep. Lois Capps (D-24) has been a staunch advocate for wildlands protection there via the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act (as well as many other places, including Utah). We shared a detailed description in Item 2 of our May 2014 Update. Rep. Capps reintroduced the bill in the 114th Congress in April 2015 as H.R.1865, and Sen. Barbara Boxer reintroduced companion legislation in the Senate.

Here is a brief description of the bill from the California Wilderness Coalition:

The legislation will protect 245,500 acres of wilderness, create two scenic areas encompassing 34,500 acres, and safeguard 159 miles of wild and scenic rivers in the Los Padres National Forest and the Carrizo Plain National Monument. Once they become law, these protections will help sustain the area’s quality of life by ensuring clean water for communities, protecting valuable wildlife habitat, and stimulating a vibrant local economy.

CWC is asking people to support the effort at protection by contacting the offices of Rep. Capps and Sens. Boxer and Dianne Feinstein as follows:

Rep. Lois Capps:Thank her for her leadership on this to date. Urge her to push for a hearing in the House Natural Resources Committee, including submitting a new letter to the committee

Phone:   202-225-3601
Online (for constituents only) here

Senator Barbara Boxer:Thank her for securing a hearing on the bill. Urge her to prioritize the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act and explore strategies to get it passed before the end of her term.

Phone:   202-224-3553
Online here

Senator Dianne Feinstein:Ask her to co-sponsor the Central Coast Heritage Act.

Phone:   202-224-3841
Online here

 
IN GENERAL
6.   Other Legislation in Congress
          (ACTION ITEM)

Three anti-public-lands bills have come to our attention recently. Please feel free to share your thoughts about them with your legislators. (It’s interesting that all of them come Utah legislators … )

Interior Appropriations Bill
Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) has introduced an amendment to the Interior Appropriations bill that would prevent the president from designating national monuments in Utah and other areas using the Antiquities Act. The Administration has threatened to veto the bill if this provision is included. Let’s hope Pres. Obama keeps that threat if needed.

Mountain Biking in Wilderness
The Wilderness Act of 1964 (16 USC §1131) begins with: “In order to assure that an increasing population, accompanied by expanding settlement and growing mechanization, does not occupy and modify all areas within the United States …” Further on it states: “[T]here shall be no temporary road, no use of motor vehicles, motorized equipment or motorboats, no landing of aircraft, no other form of mechanical transport, and no structure or installation within any such area.” (Emphasis added.)

These words have been generally understood to prohibit bicycles, wheelbarrows, and chainsaws in designated wilderness areas. Over the years, some in the mountain biking community have urged that wilderness areas be opened to mountain bike use. This idea has been gaining some steam, and in March 2016 CalUWild joined over 110 other environmental organizations in a letter to Congress objecting to the idea. In mid-July, the idea became more concrete when Utah Senators Mike Lee (R) and Orrin Hatch (R) introduced the “Human-Powered Travel in Wilderness Act,” S.3205. The bill would allow land managers to open trails to mountain bikes, as well as use chainsaws for trail maintenance and other activities.

The Park City, Utah, Park Record published an article explaining the legislation in more detail as well as an editorial opposing it: Mountain bikes don’t belong in designated wilderness areas.

Wilderness is a philosophical land designation and not based solely on criteria related to recreation or harm to trails. Rather, it’s meant to keep the modern world at bay. People who enjoy mountain biking are entitled to the same access as everyone else: on foot, horseback, raft, or canoe.

Law Enforcement
Earlier in the year Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) introduced the Local Enforcement for Local Lands Act of 2016, H.R.4751, which would terminate the law enforcement functions of the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management and to provide block grants to States for the enforcement of Federal law on Federal land under the jurisdiction of these agencies. This is another example of the anti-federal-lands viewpoint of some Westerners finding support from their legislators.

So far, the bill has been cosponsored by: Reps. Rob Bishop (R-UT), Chris Stewart (R-UT), Mia Love (R-UT), Dan Newhouse (R-WA), Paul A. Gosar (R-AZ), Frank C. Guinta (R-NH), Tom McClintock (R-CA), Mark E. Amodei (R-NV), Steve Pearce (R-NM), and Raul R. Labrador (R-ID).
 

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

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

The Bundy Case

The Oregonian reports: Ammon Bundy’s bodyguard Brian Cavalier pleads guilty to two federal charges

Prosecutors: Ryan Bundy Jail Escape Foiled During Cell Search, reporting that Ryan Bundy tore his bed sheets and braided them together into 12-15 feet of rope in an attempt to escape Multnomah County, Oregon jail.

High Country News Articles

Don’t just save the Grand Canyon. Save the wider region, too.

#whereisjose: The man forging a new path in the outdoors, an article on CalUWild friend José Gonzáles, founder of Latino Outdoors, and his efforts

An essay on the relevance of a sometimes forgotten Western writer: Sometimes, the West must be protected from itself: Today, we need to listen more carefully than ever to the ideas of Western historian, Bernard DeVoto.

A story about the Yosemite ranger, featured in Ken Burns’s series on the national parks: How Shelton Johnson became the Buffalo Soldiers’ champion: The Park Service’s best-known ranger is determined not to let the African-American soldiers fall into obscurity.>

Other Public Lands Links

As mentioned in the introduction: Outside Magazine published an op-ed, Fact-Checking the GOP’s Plan to Steal Your Public Land

As mentioned in Item 2, above, a Center for Western Priorities exposé- Quote: “PERC and Sutherland gave Oregon’s visitation data to New Mexico, Utah’s numbers to Oregon, and Washington’s to Utah. Washington received visitation data from Wisconsin-a state which wasn’t included in the Sutherland/PERC report.” Busted: Right-wing “environmental research” group uses falsified data to justify state land grab

An op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune supporting a Greater Grand Canyon National Monument proposal: Obama should declare this monument … in Arizona

US Fish & Wildlife Service photos of wolf pups in the Rogue Pack started by OR-7, the wandering wolf from Oregon of 5 years ago. (California has its own Shasta Pack in Siskiyou County with pups, as we reported in August last year. So far they’ve pretty much managed to stay out of the spotlight.)

On the Web

CalUWild is a member of the Bodie Hills Conservation Partnership. Here’s an interesting website and blog dealing with the natural history of the Bodie Hills and the surrounding area.

On Television

In Item 4 of our April Update we linked to a ProPublica series titled Killing the Colorado. On Thursday, August 4, 9 p.m./8 p.m. Central, the Discovery Channel is airing a documentary with the same title, based on the series. The film will be available on Discovery.com, Discovery Go, and Discovery On Demand on August 5.

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

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2015 July

August 4th, 2015

DSC_0862a3a
The Colorado River at Dead Horse Point, Utah                                                                         (Mike Painter)

August 3, 2015

Dear CalUWild friends –

Preparation of the July Update spilled over into August. Sorry for the delay!

Last month, Pres. Obama designated three new national monuments: Berryessa Snow Mountain in California (Item 3), Basin and Range in Nevada (Item 5), and Waco Mammoth in Texas. These bring to 19 the number of monuments created or expanded by Mr. Obama. Since the Waco Mammoth Monument is outside CalUWild’s geographical focus, I won’t say too much about it beyond the fact that it contains significant fossil finds, including a “nursery herd” of mammoths, young ones and females, buried by mud in a natural disaster and thus preserved. Fossils of other mammoths and other species have also been unearthed there. The presidential proclamation gives more details, and if you’re interested, please read it. (Links to the other two proclamations are included below.) The White House posted an announcement about the three designations on its website, which you may read here.

Please thank the president for his continued use of the Antiquities Act by designating these three new monuments. Contact information is below.

There are quite a number of other Action Items, so I won’t say much more than to wish you a good summer and hope you can get out sometime soon to enjoy our wild areas and public lands. Thanks for your continued support and interest!

Best wishes,
Mike

IN UTAH
1.   Bears Ears Protection Campaign Gathers Steam
          (ACTION ITEM)
2.   Arches and Canyonlands National Parks Undertake Traffic Planning
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
3.   Pres. Obama Designates Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument
          (ACTION ITEM)
4.   Castaic Wilderness Bill Introduced
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN NEVADA
5.   Pres. Obama Designates Basin and Range National Monument
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN GENERAL
6.   Job Listings
          a.   Bodie Hills Conservation Partnership, Director
          b.   Defenders of Wildlife, California Program Associate

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

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

IN UTAH
1.   Bears Ears Protection Campaign Gathers Steam
          (ACTION ITEM)

For the last several years, CalUWild has been part of a coalition of organizations, including the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, the Sierra Club, and the Grand Canyon Trust, proposing that the area surrounding Canyonlands National Park be protected as a national monument. The Administration has definitely taken note of our efforts. More recently, a campaign has become public, initiated by Native American tribes to secure protection for the areas surrounding the Bears Ears (near Natural Bridges National Monument) and Cedar Mesa. The area contains a very dense concentration of archaeological sites. It is considered the ancestral home of many of the present-day Pueblo tribes in the Southwest and is sacred to other tribes, including the Navajo, Ute Mountain Utes, and Hualapai.

The Bears Ears proposal covers approximately 1.9 million acres. As you can see by comparing a map of the Bears Ears proposal with one of the Greater Canyonlands proposal, there is substantial overlap between the two-the south and eastern portions of the Canyonlands proposal are included in the Bears Ears.

The Bears Ears campaign hopes that Congress will create a National Conservation Area legislatively, but if that doesn’t happen, that Pres. Obama will use his authority under the Antiquities Act to designate a National Monument, as he has been recently inclined to use. An intertribal meeting was held last month at the Bears Ears, which administration and local land mangers attended. The proposal was discussed, and the government officials had an opportunity to see the landscape for themselves and meet with tribal leaders and members face to face.

However, the meeting immediately aroused suspicion and opposition in San Juan County, where the proposed area is located. People are claiming it’s a federal land grab, that the local population should have the final say in the land’s management, and that the locals have been good stewards of the area. This is, in other words, the same reaction heard always when land protection proposal are put forth.

It remains to be seen what steps the Administration will take with respect to Southern Utah. The President will most likely wait to see the outcome of Rep. Rob Bishop’s Public Lands Initiative, which is progressing slowly at this point, and would look at the merits of the Greater Canyonlands proposal compared to the Bears Ears. At this point anything is possible.

We’ll keep you posted.

Indian Country Today Media had an article discussing the proposal. It contains a YouTube video from an Ecoflight flight over the area, offering an interesting aerial perspective of the area. Utah TV station KSL ran a segment on the proposal, posted online with the somewhat sensationalist headline: “Does secret meeting mean feds are plotting new Utah national monument?” You can watch the segment or read the balanced-despite-the-headline article accompanying it here.

Jerry Spangler, an archaeologist and executive director of the Colorado Plateau Archaeological Alliance, wrote an op-ed in the Deseret News arguing in general for a monument in Utah’s Canyon Country.

The Bears Ears Coalition has an online petition asking Congress and President Obama to protect the area. Please sign it by following the Take Action link on their homepage.

2.   Arches & Canyonlands National Parks Undertake Traffic Planning
          DEADLINE: August 19
          (ACTION ITEM)

The following article regarding traffic problems in Arches and Canyonlands national parks appeared recently in National Parks Traveler. If you have suggestions you’d like the Park Service to consider, please submit them. Please mention your own experience in either park, if any. Follow the links in the article.

If you’ve ever visited Canyonlands and Arches national parks in southeastern Utah during the busy season, you know that finding a parking spot near the key geologic attractions can be difficult at times. So how would you solve the congestion problems?

Earlier this year the National Park Service started a project in Arches to expand the parking area at the Delicate Arch trailhead to help solve part of the problem. But now the agency wants to take a broader approach to parking and traffic issues in the two parks.

The Park Service is now seeking public input on possible solutions to the parking crunch.

During peak season, all major parking areas in the parks are at or over capacity several hours a day. When this occurs, visitors park their cars along roadsides for long distances and walk in traffic to their destination, while stopped cars waiting for spaces to become available at parking lots impede traffic flow. As a result, visitor safety is compromised, conflicts arise between visitors, roadside vegetation is damaged, and the positive visitor experience is diminished.

The purpose of the Traffic Congestion Management Plan is to explore ideas and identify solutions to solve these crowding problems. The overall goal of the plan is to protect and enhance the current and future visitor experience in the parks while protecting park resources and values.

In January 2015, the Park Service held an open house to seek feedback from the public on various congestion management strategies for Arches National Park, and comments received offered a variety of possible solutions to managing congestion in the park. The NPS is now beginning the compliance process to further examine those solutions as part of a Traffic Congestion Management Plan and Environmental Assessment for both Arches and Canyonlands national parks. The suggested solutions are described, along with some of the pros and cons of implementing each solution, in the public scoping newsletter. [Link below]

Individuals wishing to participate are asked to submit comments on the NPS Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) website at:

http://parkplanning.nps.gov/arch_traffic_congestion_management (Arches), or

http://parkplanning.nps.gov/cany_traffic_congestion_management (Canyonlands).

Deadline for comments submitted via these websites is August 19.

Scoping Letter (downloads automatically when link is clicked)

____________________

Last week, Canyonlands National Park also announced day-use permit requirements and limits for vehicles and bikes for the White Rim Road in the Island in the Sky and for Elephant Hill in the Needles, beginning September 1, 2015. More details may be found on the Park’s website here.

IN CALIFORNIA
3.   Pres. Obama Designates Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument
          (ACTION ITEM)

As mentioned in the introduction, Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument, in the Inner Coast Range north of San Francisco was designated July 10. We’ve written about the area and the campaign before, so I won’t go over the details now, but if you want a refresher, you can read more here:

— CalUWild Update, June 2012
— Rep. Mike Thompson’s (D-5) press release in February 2015 upon introducing legislation with Sens. Boxer and Feinstein to protect the area

A map of the new monument may be found here. (Cache Creek Wilderness is in the heart of the monument and is the site of the Rocky Fire, now the largest wildfire in Northern California. There’s a map with current fire information here.)

You may read Pres. Obama’s proclamation here.

Many thanks go to Tuleyome and the California Wilderness Coalition for their tireless efforts over many years, leading the coalition of organizations supporting the proposal. It’s a victory for them and all of us!

Please thank Pres. Obama for the designation (as well as for the other two).

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

Comment line:   202-456-1111
Online comments here

Rep. Mike Thompson has been a strong supporter of the monument though legislation in Congress, as have been Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein. I’m sure they would appreciate hearing a quick word of thanks, too. Click on their names for contact information.

Rep. Thompson
Sen. Boxer
Sen. Feinstein

4.   Castaic Wilderness Bill Introduced
          (ACTION ITEM)

California Rep. Steven Knight (R-25) last month introduced a bill that includes wilderness designation for approximately 70,000 acres of the Angeles National Forest, near Santa Clarita, north of Los Angeles. The bill, H.R. 3153, also would create the St. Francis Dam Disaster National Memorial, commemorating the dam disaster in 1928 that killed more than 400 people.

Smithsonian Magazine ran an article on the disaster in March 2015, which you can read online here. Wikipedia has an entry on the dam and the disaster, as well.

CalUWild friend Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel of Santa Clarita, Executive Director of the Community Hiking Club there, led the local campaign to protect the Castaic Wilderness, which was also supported by the California Wilderness Coalition. Many animal species inhabit the area, including the California condor, the arroyo toad, and the California red-legged frog. Additionally, the area contains Native American sites and artifacts, including petroglyphs and grinding rocks.

The Santa Clarita Valley Signal ran an article, including quotes from Ms. Erskine-Hellrigel.

There is some talk that off-road vehicle groups are lining up against the bill, so it’s very important for wilderness friends to say thank you to Rep. Knight and encourage him to keep the wilderness provisions in his bill.

Via website (for constituents only)
DC phone:   202-225-1956

IN NEVADA
5.   Pres. Obama Designates Basin and Range National Monument
          (ACTION ITEM)

As part of his “triple play” last month, Pres. Obama designated the Basin and range National Monument in Southern Nevada, covering approximately 704,000 acres. It also surrounds one of the country’s largest “earth art” installations, City. Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, who is retiring next year, and local Rep. Dina Titus (D-1) supported the designation.

Friends of Nevada Wilderness had this to say about the monument:

The new Basin and Range National Monument will preserve a region that is rich in historic, cultural, and natural resources-a treasure for Nevadans and all Americans. This designation will help safeguard irreplaceable Native American rock art and sacred tribal lands, shield habitat for at least two dozen threatened and endangered wildlife species, protect rare and sensitive plants, and preserve the lands surrounding the expansive art work by Michael Heizer on his private land known as “City.”

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) had this to say about the monument:

Ah, bull crap. That’s not an antiquity.

(He had been asked about 4,000-year-old petroglyphs in the monument. [Greenwire, “Obama designations place Antiquities Act in GOP crosshairs,” July 10, 2015])

You may read Pres. Obama’s monument proclamation here.

The New York Times had an article looking at artist Michael Heizer and his work.

Please thank Pres Obama, Sen. Reid, and Rep. Titus.

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

Comment line:   202-456-1111
Online comments here

Sen. Harry Reid, DC office:   202-224-3542
Rep. Dina Titus, DC office:   202-225-5965

IN GENERAL
6.   Job Listings
          a.   Bodie Hills Conservation Partnership, Director

After two years leading the Bodie Hills Conservation Partnership, of which CalUWild is a member, Director Jeff Hunter will be pursuing new adventures and opportunities. During his tenure the Partnership has:

– Raised the profile of the Bodie Hills across California and nationally.
– Recruited and engaged with dozens of volunteers who gave over 1,000 volunteer hours to make tangible, on the ground benefits for wildlife including sage grouse.
– Formed relationships with key stakeholders and advanced the conversation about permanently protecting the Bodie Hills.
– Increased capacity for the Partnership, and opened our first ever office in Bridgeport California.
– Built working relationships with representatives from various land management agencies including the BLM, USGS, Nevada Dept. of Wildlife, Forest Service, California Fish & Wildlife, and Mono County.

In the coming months, a search will be undertaken to find a successor and continue to make a positive impact for the wildlife, land, and heritage in this special place. If you or anyone you know might be interested in this opportunity, please contact Sam Goldman at the Conservation Lands Foundation.

It’s been a pleasure working with Jeff, and we wish him well!

          b.   Defenders of Wildlife, California Program Associate

Our friends at Defenders of Wildlife sent out the following last week:

California Program Associate
Location: Sacramento, CA
Department: Field Conservation Programs
Supervisor: Director, California Program

BASIC SUMMARY:
This professional-level position is responsible for implementing assigned work plans for the California Program of Defenders of Wildlife. The primary responsibilities include implementation of programs, strategies, campaigns, and projects focusing on strategic plan priorities in California. This position also involves a wide variety of responsibilities supporting the program and operations of the California Program field office. Programmatic and technical assistance will be provided to the Director and other staff members in the California Program. It serves as the Director’s liaison to other staff, federal and state agency personnel, elected officials and their staff, Defenders’ members and the general public. The California Program Associate must possess a general knowledge of all programs and projects within the California Program in order to assist the Director with oversight, implementation of works plans and compliance with procedures and schedules. This position requires substantial discretion in determining how to meet assigned goals and competing deadlines.

For the rest of the announcement, click here.

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

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

New York Times Articles

Op-ed, More Logging Won’t Stop Wildfires

Op-ed, Why Are Our Parks So White?

More related to diversity

NPR Report: Outdoor Afro: Busting Stereotypes That Black People Don’t Hike Or Camp

National Parks Conservation Association video, The Way Home: Returning to the National Parks, including interview with Ranger Sheldon Johnson, known for his Buffalo Soldier portrayal

Meet the 93-Year-Old Woman Who Still Works 5 Days a Week and Never Wants to Retire, a profile of Betty Reid Soskin, at 93 the oldest National Park ranger

Post on Ted Williams’s FlyRod & Reel blog: Sportsmen Sign Petition, Flood Lawmaker Offices with 174K Letters Opposing Western Land Grab

Op-ed in The Hill: Sportsmen Need the Land and Water Conservation Fund

In Outside Online: Scott Jurek’s Champagne Problems, examining commercialization of wilderness and the fines assessed against a record-setting through-hiker on the Appalachian Trail. Thanks to our friends at Wilderness Watch for bringing the article to our attention.

An article in High Country News: Illegal flights persist despite national park drone ban

An op-ed in the Los Angeles Times by CalUWild friend Jacques Leslie: How not to fix California’s water problems

A blog post by our friends at Los Padres Forest Watch about a dam removal project in Los Padres National Forest

Video Links

Episode 14 in the US Forest Service’s Restore series: Marijuana Grows and Restoration

Another in the National Park Service series, America’s Wilderness. This time: Dinosaurs in the Desert: Petrified Forest Wilderness, in Arizona

Black Bears, Yosemite Nature Notes

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

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2014 July

August 4th, 2014

DSC_0683b3a
Notch Peak and Dry Sevier Lakebed, West Desert, Utah                                                           (Mike Painter)

July 30, 2014

Dear CalUWild friends-

Summer is a great time for reading, and many more articles than usual, as well as other items, came to my attention this month, so I’ll keep the introduction short.

A lot happened 50 years ago in 1964 as you’ll see from various items in this month’s Update. Please note Items 3 & 5, containing registration information for two major Wilderness50 events. In addition to the Wilderness Act, the Civil Rights Act was passed that year, another landmark piece of forward-looking legislation.

On the administrative front, there are still a few of the California commemorative 50th Anniversary posters by Tom Killion available, so if you haven’t gotten yours yet, please order one (and we can always get more). They measure 18″x24″ and are printed on good quality paper. Prices are 1 for $15, 2 for $25, and 3 for $35.50, including First Class postage. All proceeds benefit CalUWild.

Send a check payable to CalUWild, P.O. Box 210474, San Francisco, CA 94121-0474. For information on larger orders or with other questions, send an email.

Finally, “social media” like Facebook is an increasingly important means of communication for many non-profit organizations, extending their reach, including to people not otherwise connected. Since CalUWild publishes usually only one Update a month, Facebook is also a way to inform you of items on short notice, or of interesting things that might be outside of the normal scope of the Update. So if you’re on Facebook, please like CalUWild. And tell your friends to do the same!

As always, thanks for your interest and support.

Best wishes,
Mike

IN UTAH
1.   Canyonlands National Monument Campaign
          a.   Coalition Launches New Website
          b.   14 Senators Send Letter in Support of Designation
                        (ACTION ITEM)
          c.   Health Professionals Issue Call for Protection
                        (ACTION ITEM)
          d.   Photo Campaign Continues
                        (ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
2.   Yet Another Lawsuit Filed over Drakes Bay Oyster Farm
3.   Registration Open for Visions of the Wild Festival
          In Vallejo
          September 3-6
          Free Concert
          August 13
4.   Bodie Hills & Friends of the Inyo Service Trips & Hikes
          First one: August 16-17

IN NEW MEXICO
5.   Reminder: Register for National 50th Conference
          In Albuquerque
          October 15-19

IN OREGON
6.   Wandering Wolf Has a Family
          (ACTION ITEM)

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

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IN UTAH
1.   Canyonlands National Monument Campaign
          a.   Coalition Launches New Website

CalUWild is a member of the Greater Canyonlands Coalition, which has just launched a new website. It includes all sorts of information about the proposed national monument, including a fun and interesting “by the numbers” page.

For a detailed briefing paper (white paper) on the proposal, click here. Also be sure to like Protect Greater Canyonlands on Facebook

One of our friends from Maine, Bob Hamblen, recently wrote an op-ed piece supporting establishment of the Monument, published in the Moab Sun News. As you can see, support is building around the country!

          b.   14 Senators Send Pres. Obama Letter
                    Supporting Designation
                    (ACTION ITEM)

Just as this issue of the Update was being finished, the following (slightly edited) came in from Jen Ujifusa, Legislative Director at the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance in Washington, DC:

Big news coming out of Washington today! This week, 14 senators, led by Senator Dick Durbin (the principal sponsor of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act), sent a letter to President Obama encouraging him to use the Antiquities Act to designate Greater Canyonlands a National Monument. These senators recognize that Greater Canyonlands is a national treasure that remains unprotected.

“Although Canyonlands National Park is the heart of the area, we support the opportunity to protect Greater Canyonlands, a 1.8 million acre area of land that encompasses the Park,” the senators wrote. “Greater Canyonlands is one of our nation’s most stunning, wild, and unique landscapes. It should be protected permanently for the benefit and education of future generations.”

This hasn’t happened before in this administration. 14 senators, representing 13 states and more than 100 million Americans, asked President Obama to create a new national monument. Those senators are Dick Durbin (IL) and, in order by state, Barbara Boxer (CA), Richard Blumenthal (CT), Brian Schatz (HI), Tom Harkin (IA), Ed Markey (MA), Elizabeth Warren (MA), Debbie Stabenow (MI), Robert Menendez (NJ), Sherrod Brown (OH), Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), Bernie Sanders (VT), Patty Murray (WA), and Tammy Baldwin (WI).

If you live in one of these states, please thank your senator!

The senators wrote, “The promise of Greater Canyonlands remains unfulfilled. As Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell has noted, ‘there are some places that are too special to develop.’ Greater Canyonlands is certainly one of those. We urge you to consider using your authority under the Antiquities Act to write the final chapter for this national treasure and declare Greater Canyonlands a national monument.”

You may read a copy of the letter here.

Utah Public Radio called me this afternoon with questions for a brief story on the letter, which is now online here.

Please let Sen. Boxer know you appreciate her efforts. It’s important!!

Contact information for her offices:

DC office:   202-224-3553
Webform here
Click here for information on her local offices around the state.

          c.   Health Professionals Issue Call for Protection
                    (ACTION ITEM)

This month the Coalition released a letter signed by 200-plus Utah health professionals supporting a monument designation. Terri Martin, SUWA‘s Western Regional Organizer issued the following (slightly edited) statement on July 22:

Today, more than 200 health and well-being professionals from Utah sent a letter to President Obama asking him to protect Greater Canyonlands as a national monument, citing the health benefits to all Americans.

Anyone associated with a health-related field is welcome to sign on, no matter where you live – doctors, nurses, mental health workers, health aides and technicians, “alternative” health and well-being practitioners, yoga and fitness instructors, and body workers and healers of all kinds.

Click here to read the letter. And if you work in the field of health and well-being, please add your name to the letter today.

The letter presents the compelling argument that protecting large pristine landscapes like Greater Canyonlands fosters a healthy America by inspiring people to get outside and be active, by renewing and restoring psychological well-being and by preserving clean air and water.

Please help us bring this important letter to the attention of the White House by adding your name, or by forwarding this email to friends or family members who work in the health and well-being fields.

Thank you for taking action.

          d.   Photo Campaign Continues
                    (ACTION ITEM)

If you haven’t submitted a photo to the Canyonlands campaign, now’s the time to do it, so we can have the maximum number in place in time for the 50th Anniversary of Canyonlands National Park in September.

It’s simple: Download a sign and print it on yellow paper or on white paper. Sign it with your name (if you like), city, and state. Take a picture of yourself holding the sign and email it to rachel [at] suwa [dot] org.

To see some of the photos that have already been submitted, click here.

Thanks !!

IN CALIFORNIA
2.   Yet Another Lawsuit Filed over Drakes Bay Oyster Farm

The saga over the fate of Drakes Bay Oyster Company in Pt. Reyes National Seashore took another twist this month.

As we reported in our last Update, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene in the dispute between the oyster farm in the Phillip Burton Wilderness and the National Park Service and Interior Department. Following that ruling, owner Kevin Lunny said the company would cease operations on July 31.

Two weeks ago the Tomales Bay Oyster Company, four restaurants—the Hayes Street Grill in San Francisco, the Saltwater Oyster Depot in Inverness (along Tomales Bay) and the Cafe Reyes and Osteria Stellina, both in Point Reyes Station—and several individuals sued the Interior Department, Park Service, and the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration. They claimed that the federal government violated the Aquaculture Act and failed to consult with the California Coastal Commission before deciding not to renew the lease. The restaurants claim that the closure will hurt their businesses by depriving them of a source of oysters. They asked to court to issue an injunction against the closure of the Oyster farm and to rule that Secty. Ken Salazar’s 2012 decision is void.

Drakes Bay Oyster Company and owner Kevin Lunny are not plaintiffs in this suit, and Mr. Lunny has said that he will stop retail sales on the 31st, regardless.

In response to the suit, Pt. Reyes officials said that the oyster farm could continue its commercial sales for another month or for 30 days after the court rules on the injunction request, though there will be no more sales to the general public.

Since none of the plaintiffs was party to the original lease and there is no legal right to buy products from a particular supplier, it will be interesting to see how the court rules in this new challenge. We’ll keep you posted.

3.   Registration Open for Visions of the Wild Festival
          In Vallejo
          September 3-6
          Free Concert
          August 13

CalUWild has been very heavily involved in planning Visions of the Wild: Connecting Nature, Culture & Community, a 4-day festival celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act. We’re happy to announce that registration is now open!

It is shaping up to be the biggest and most diverse 50th Anniversary celebration in California, bringing together a large array of government agencies, nonprofit organizations, politicians, writers, artists, filmmakers, students, and others to explore a wide variety of topics related to wilderness and nature. It’s taking place in downtown Vallejo, which, in addition to being the headquarters for Region 5 of the US Forest Service, is reportedly the most diverse city in the US.

The Festival starts off on the evening of Wednesday, September 3 (the actual anniversary) with a Walk for Wilderness, and each of the following three days has a theme: Politics (Thursday); Culture (Friday); and Spirituality & Journey (Saturday), and panels and films will reflect the day’s theme. Concurrently, there will be art shows, student activities, informal presentations, field trips on Saturday, music, and more.

Full registration for the Festival is $40 General Public and $20 for students until September 1. Online ticket service charges apply.

The Festival’s website is www.visionsofthewild.org, with a Festival schedule (updated as events are added), as well as the registration page.

CalUWild will have an information table set up at The Hub, so please stop by. We hope to see you there!

On Wednesday, August 13, the Empress Theater in Vallejo, one of the main venues for the Festival, will be hosting a free installment of the Ramble, their weekly concert. Doors open at 5:30 p.m, and music starts at 7. Details here.

4.   Bodie Hills & Friends of the Inyo Service Trips & Hikes
          First one: August 16-17

CalUWild is also a member of the Bodie Hills Conservation Partnership, seeking permanent protection for the Bodie Hills, a spectacular wild area north of Mono Lake. Jeff Hunter, who’s heading up the Partnership, sent out this announcement recently:

We’re looking for volunteers to assist with projects that will enhance wildlife habitat and the visitor experience in the Bodie Hills. Volunteering is a great way to discover the Bodie Hills and leave a positive, lasting impact on this treasured landscape. The August 16 project is being held in partnership with Friends of the Inyo and the BLM and will involve converting a barbed wire fence to a wildlife friendly “let-down” fence. Some additional fence work is also planned during the day. An optional overnight campout will be held after the August 16 project, followed by a hike the following morning.

Another service trip, location to be determined, will be held September 27, in conjunction with National Public Lands Day.

The Bodie Hills Conservation Partnership is also planning to lead a series of public outings this summer and fall on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the Bodie Hills. The outings vary in length and difficulty and are free and open to the public. Space is limited, and pre-registration is required.

Sunday Aug 10: Bodie Mountain & Potato Peak Hike with optional summit of Potato Peak. Rated: Very Strenuous

Saturday Aug 30:   8~ mile Dry Lakes Plateau hike (cross country – no trail) with optional Beauty Peak summit. Rated: Very Strenuous

Saturday Sept 13: Obsidian Quarry tour with BLM Archaeologist Greg Haverstock. Rated Easy.

Saturday October 25: 4-mile hike to summit of Mt. Biederman. Rated: Moderately Strenuous.

The Bodie Hills Conservation Partnership has begun publishing a monthly newsletter with news and information about trips and more. To receive it, or for more information about joining these outings and volunteer projects, please contact Jeff Hunter at info [at] bodiehills [dot] org or 423-322-7866, or visit BodieHills.org.

IN NEW MEXICO
5.   Reminder: Register for National 50th Conference
          In Albuquerque
          October 15-19

Early registration continues for the National 50th Wilderness Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to be held October 15-19, with training sessions and field trips before and after the main conference. The original deadline for early registration of July 31 has been extended at least to September 1, but there is no firm cut-off date yet, so the earlier you register, the better.

Early registration is $350, with a 50% reduction for seniors (55 and over), students, and seasonal agency employees.

Complete information, including a downloadable program, may be found by following the links at www.wilderness50th.org.

CalUWild is a sponsor of the Conference.

IN OREGON
6.   Wandering Wolf Has a Family
          (ACTION ITEM)

We’ve reported in the past about OR-7, the lone wolf that came to California from a pack in Oregon, probably in search of a mate. It seems he found one and now has a family. Here’s an excerpt from southern Oregon’s Mail Tribune. (Click here for the full article.)

New photos of wolf OR-7’s pups show that he and his mate have at least three offspring roaming the woods of eastern Jackson County – and maybe more.

Photos snapped by a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service trail camera reveal at least two gray pups seen along the same logging road where the camera this spring captured images of OR-7 and his dark-colored mate.

Earlier photos from just outside their den showed at least one dark-colored pup, says John Stephenson, a Fish And Wildlife Service biologist in Bend who is tracking Western Oregon’s only known wolf pack. …

The photos were taken July 12 and were retrieved from the camera July 17, Stephenson says.

See them here.

Because wildlife is a critical component of Wilderness, please write Gov. Jerry Brown asking him to oppose proposals to remove wolves from the Endangered Species List. The following talking points come from a sample letter sent out by the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center:

•   Wolves are making their way back to the states of Oregon, Washington, and California. Wolf OR-7, who visited California in 2011-13, and his mate have at least three pups in southern Oregon.

•   The Governor should request that wolves retain their protections under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). While the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service accepts that wolves in the West Coast are just now beginning to recover, and that we may have distinct populations deserving federal protection, they continue to propose removal of the species from the ESA list. The vast majority of Americans and residents of California, Oregon, and Washington support wolf conservation.

•   The restoration of wolves has been one of the biggest successes of the Endangered Species Act since it was passed in 1973, but wolf recovery is unfinished. Delisting the gray wolf will halt four decades of progress and expose America’s wolves before they have recovered. Delisting could also derail efforts to restore wolves to more of their historic range, especially in California, Oregon, and Washington.

•   Wolves are a native species and play a vital role in restoring healthy ecosystems by keeping prey species in balance. Someday, when wolves have recovered throughout most of their historic range out west, delisting will be an option worth debating. However, we are not there yet.

•   Thank Gov. Brown for his leadership on the issue.

Contact information:

Hon. Jerry Brown
Governor
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA  95814

Webform here
Phone:   916-445-2841
Fax:   916-558-3160

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

If a link is broken or otherwise inaccessible, please send me an email, so I can correct the link or send you a PDF of the article.

New York Times articles

An op-ed piece: The Wilderness Act Is Facing a Midlife Crisis

An op-ed piece: Streaming Eagles by Jon Mooallem on wildlife cams. Jon will be a featured speaker at Visions of the Wild Festival in Vallejo on Thursday, Sept. 4. He is the author of Wild Ones: A Sometimes Dismaying, Weirdly Reassuring Story About Looking at People Looking at Animals in America

An op-ed piece: Let Them Eat Dirt by Timothy Egan, and a related essay, though not specifically nature-related, by regular editorial columnist Ross Douthat: The Parent Trap.

An article on efforts to eradicate non-native tamarisk: Arizona Enlists a Beetle in Its Campaign for Water

An article on fracking and sage grouse, including a quote from CalUWild friend Erik Molvar of Wild Earth Guardians. Erik also appears in the video accompanying the article.

Not exactly about wilderness or public lands, but related: Real Adventurers Read Maps: Using Maps vs. GPS

High Country News articles

Feature:Reflections on the Wilderness Act at 50, by CalUWild friend John Hart (currently for subscribers only).

An essay titled The Death of Backpacking

Other articles

Two articles by Ken Brower, writing on wilderness in the July-August issue of Sierra Magazine: Reclaiming Wilderness: It tells us who we are, and we lose it at our peril, and an essay on National Geographic‘s website on salvage logging in the aftermath of last year’s Rim Fire near and in Yosemite

An essay by Doug Peacock: American Wilderness Faces the Firing Squad. It also makes reference to the article from Outside that we linked to last month.

An Adventure Journal poll: Is the Idea of Wilderness Dead?. Read and VOTE! The piece also makes reference to the NY Times Midlife Crisis op-ed linked to above.

An op-ed in Roll Call: Retired Military Leaders Urge Congress to Reject Efforts to Undo Antiquities Act

An article in Nature on how sandstone arches are formed

An article in the Washington Post on groundwater depletion in the Colorado River Basin

Other print links

The first issue of BLM’s new quarterly newsletter, My Public Lands

The Land & Water Conservation Fund Coalition, of which CalUWild is a member, issued a report on the 50th Anniversary of the LWCF, which uses revenues from offshore oil & gas for conservation purposes.

Lewis & Clark Law School devoted its latest issue of Environmental Law to articles about Wilderness.

Video files

Another in the Park Service’s video series on wilderness, A Day in the Desert: Saguaro Wilderness in Arizona

Episode 4 in the Forest Service’s Restore series: Restoring Economy, Community and Environment

Audio files

Last month Orion Magazine hosted a free web event Is Wilderness Still Relevant?, exploring how we keep wilderness relevant in a changing world. Panelists were author/historian Doug Scott; Outdoor Afro founder Rue Mapp; author/educator David Sobel; and Forest Service Southern Region wilderness program leader Jimmy Gaudry. The audio file is online here.

A listing of audio files from previous Orion programs can be found here. You can add your name to Orion‘s mailing list for announcements of future web events there. They’re always interesting!

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

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2013 July

August 5th, 2013

DSC_0718b1aSleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan                                                                              (Mike Painter)

July 31, 2013

Dear CalUWild friends—

There’s not much to report on this month, so this will be a short Update.

Since much of the West (and the country) has been having heat waves, I decided to use a photo that’s a bit “cooler” this month. It’s also a reminder that not all wilderness in the U.S. is in the West-the Senate recently passed a bill designating almost half of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in western Michigan as wilderness. (The bill has not been voted on in the House.)

Deadline Approaching: If you’re a photographer (professional, amateur, or student) please consider entering the photo contest celebrating next year’s 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, sponsored by the Smithsonian. See Item 3 for more details.

Enjoy some time outdoors this Summer!

Best wishes,
Mike

IN UTAH
1.   Red Rock Bill Cosponsor Update
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
2.   House Passes Bill Expanding Coastal National Monument

IN GENERAL
3.   50th Anniversary “Wilderness Forever”
          Photography Contest & More
          ENTRY DEADLINE: September 3, 2013
          (ACTION ITEM)

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

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IN UTAH
1.   Red Rock Bill Cosponsor Update
          (ACTION ITEM)

Since our last Update we’ve added two more California cosponsors to America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act: Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-40), a long-time member of CalUWild’s Advisory Board; and first-term Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-47), on the House Natural Resources Committee.

If you live in one of their districts, please send them a message of thanks.

Rep. Royball-Allard: 202-225-1766
   Webform (constituents only)
Rep. Lowenthal: 202-225-7924
   Webform (constituents only)

Additional cosponsors from California are:

House
Jared Huffman (D-02)
Mike Thompson (D-05)
Doris Matsui (D-06)
Jerry McNerney (D-9)
George Miller (D-11)
Barbara Lee (D-13)
Jackie Speier (D-14)
Mike Honda (D-17)
Anna Eshoo (D-18)
Zoe Lofgren (D-19)
Lois Capps (D-24)
Judy Chu (D-27)
Adam Schiff (D-28)
Tony Cárdenas (D-29)
Grace Napolitano (D-32)
Henry Waxman (D-33)
Linda Sánchez (D-38)

Senate
Barbara Boxer (D)

Overall, the bill has 88 cosponsors in the House and 18 in the Senate-up 4 and 2 respectively since last month-so we’re making progress.

For a complete list of cosponsors go here.

IN CALIFORNIA
2.   House Passes Bill Expanding Coastal National Monument

The following announcement came from our friends at the California Wilderness Coalition.

A HUGE thank you to Rep. Huffman, Rep. Thompson, and Rep. Farr for your leadership on this important legislation!

The bill adds the 1,255-acre Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands on the Mendocino coast to the California Coastal National Monument. The land includes habitat for endangered species, including the Point Arena mountain beaver and the Behren’s silverspot butterfly. The bill keeps the current recreational, ranching and research uses and will boost the regional economy with an increase in tourism, the area’s largest employer.

Next stop for the bill is the US Senate, where California Senators Boxer and Feinstein have introduced a Senate version of the bill.

The San Francisco Chronicle ran an article after the bill passed last week, discussing land protection in the area.

IN GENERAL
3.   50th Anniversary “Wilderness Forever”
          Photography Contest & More
          ENTRY DEADLINE: September 3, 2013
          (ACTION ITEM)

Here’s a repeat of last month’s announcement:

As part of next year’s celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, the national Wilderness50 Committee, of which CalUWild is a part, is organizing a photography contest under the auspices of the Smithsonian Institution and Nature’s Best Photography. The judges will select between 40 and 50 winners, with separate amateur, student, and professional winners in 4 different categories: Scenic Landscape; Wildlife; People in Wilderness; and Most Inspirational Moment.

Winning images will be displayed at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, beginning next Spring. Possibilities for a traveling exhibition are also being explored.

Full contest details can be found here.

This is a great opportunity to contribute to the celebration!

Separate photo exhibitions are being planned for venues around the country. If you would like to organize one or have photographs you’d like to contribute for a local exhibition, please send me an email.

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

If a link is broken or you are unable to access an article, please let me know.


The New York Times on planning for Yosemite Valley and the Merced River


High Country News on Utah Rep. Rob. Bishop’s proposal for moving past the public lands impasse in Utah


San Francisco Chronicle article on a court ruling requiring Drakes Bay Oyster Company at Pt. Reyes National Seashore to clean up its operations.


The Wilderness Society’s report Too Wild to Drill looking at 12 places threatened by energy development.

As always, if you ever have questions, suggestions, critiques, or wish to unsubscribe, all you have to do is send an email.

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2012 July

July 12th, 2012


Hovenweep National Monument, Utah                                                                                                    (Mike Painter)

July 10, 2012

Dear CalUWild friends—

Summer has arrived with its heat and forest fires and fog (depending on where you live). The presidential campaign is underway, with little or no discussion of the environment, let alone public lands, except in the context of more drilling for “energy independence.” The media’s attention has been focused elsewhere, too. If you can, what better time to get away to enjoy your public lands-wilderness or not?

Thanks for all of your support and interest during the rest of the year, too!
Mike


IN UTAH
1.   BLM Approves Major Gas Project Near Desolation Canyon
(ACTION ITEM)
2.   BLM to Issue Supplemental DEIS on Alton Coal Mine
Near Bryce Canyon

IN CALIFORNIA
3.   Inyo County Loses R.S. 2477 Road Claim in Death Valley
4.   Forest Service Releases Draft Plan for Lake Tahoe Basin
5.   State Park Closures Averted at Last Moment

IN COLORADO
6.   Court Rules against BLM and its Roan Plateau Plan

IN GENERAL
7.   House Passes Law Eliminating
Environmental Protections along U.S. Borders

IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
8.   Links to Articles of Interest

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

IN UTAH
1.   BLM Approves Major Gas Project Near Desolation Canyon
(ACTION ITEM)

Ignoring comments, editorials, and congressional pleas, the BLM approved an alternative that would allow the energy company Gasco Energy to drill 1,300 wells around the spectacular Desolation Canyon. The “Record of Decision” was issued June 18 and was immediately condemned by conservation groups, outdoor industry leaders, and others across the country.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar was quoted: “As we move forward with President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy, we must strive for balanced, environmentally appropriate development of our nation’s energy resources. This plan reflects our commitment to responsibly address public concerns regarding resource and land use issues in the Uinta Basin area. Working together with Gasco Energy, Inc., we have made substantial improvements to protect land and water resources, safeguarding iconic areas such as Desolation and Nine Mile Canyons, while supporting Utah’s economy and reducing our dependence on foreign oil.”

BLM and the administration turned their backs on an alternative plan that would have allowed for 1,100 wells in the area, while still protecting areas proposed for wilderness designation. That alternative had the support of the conservation community and the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Desolation Canyon is one of America’s premier roadless areas and provides numerous opportunities for rafting on the Green River and exploration. It is also the home to abundant wildlife such as mountain lions, bighorn sheep, and black bears. Given the administration’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, the decision is baffling. It also stands in stark contrast to a previous project where the Anadarko energy company agreed not to locate wells in wild areas along the White River after discussions with the conservation community. Utah’s State BLM Director claimed a similar process has been followed this time, but conservation groups said that neither Gasco nor the BLM had discussed the proposal with them in any effort to reach a compromise.

Click here to read a press release with quotes from Rep, Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), the main sponsor of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act in the House, and others from the outdoor industry and conservation groups.

Secretary Salazar needs to hear from people who value wild places that these kinds of decisions are both unwise and unnecessary, and they should not be repeated. Please write or call him.

email:   KenSalazar [at] ios [dot] doi [dot] gov
webform:   http://www.doi.gov/feedback.cfm
fax:   202-208-6950

Hon. Ken Salazar
Secretary
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, DC  20240
(Postal mail to federal offices is still irradiated and faces delays, so other forms of communication are preferable.)


2.   BLM to Issue Supplemental DEIS on Alton Coal Mine
Near Bryce Canyon

We wrote in the December 2011 Update about the proposed expansion of a coal mine adjacent to Bryce Canyon National Park. The comment period closed in early January, and in response to the comments received the BLM issued the following press release today.

KANAB, UT – The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Kanab Field Office (KFO) announced that it will issue a Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) for the Federal Coal Lease Application from Alton Coal Development LLC. Alton Coal seeks to lease Federal coal on 3,581 acres (more or less) of public and private land near Alton, Utah.

The BLM made a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) available for public review from November 4, 2011 until January 27, 2012. The BLM received approximately 177,000 comments during this time. Additionally, the BLM has worked closely with other agencies through the entire process, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Park Service.

Because the BLM is committed to providing the best analysis possible, the SDEIS will address issues raised to date, including wetlands and air quality, and provide increased protection measures for the Greater sage-grouse habitat. BLM anticipates that the SDEIS will be available for public review and comment in early 2013. Public meetings on the SDEIS will be held in concert with the comment period.

We’ll keep you posted on further developments and opportunities for involvement.

IN CALIFORNIA
3.   Inyo County Loses R.S. 2477 Road Claim in Death Valley

A federal court in California dismissed Inyo County’s claim to a right-of-way through Last Chance Canyon in Death Valley National Park. The judge ruled that the county had not shown that the route met the standard for a highway under California law or under R.S. 2477. The claim was the last one to be resolved in a case that Inyo County first filed in 2006 against the Park Service. In 2008 the same judge ruled against the county on other routes named in the suit because they were not brought within the 12-year statute of limitations.

The Park Service was joined in the case by the California Wilderness Coalition, Friends of the Inyo, the Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society, National Parks Conservation Association, and the Center for Biological Diversity. Ted Zukoski of Earthjustice represented the conservation groups in the case.

4. Forest Service Releases Draft Plan for Lake Tahoe Basin

The National Forest Service last month made public a draft plan to guide the future management of the Lake Tahoe Basin. The Tahoe area contains large tracts of public land, some of which is designated wilderness: the Desolation, Granite Chief, and Mt. Rose Wilderness areas are located there. The Upper and Lower Truckee River and other streams are eligible for Wild & Scenic River status. Additionally, Lake Tahoe is important to many Californians and others from around the country.

At this point we don’t have much information about the Plan’s alternatives, but we’ll send it out next month when talking points become available.

The Forest Service will hold several public meetings and a “webinar” in July to explain the alternatives and answer questions about the draft.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Forest Supervisor’s Office
35 College Drive in South Lake Tahoe
2-4 p.m. & 6-8 p.m.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012
North Tahoe Conference Center
8318 North Lake Boulevard in Kings Beach
2-4 p.m. & 6-8 p.m.

Thursday, July 19, 2012
Webinar
Register here.
Type in the Meeting ID: PQB62T

You may review the draft plan here.

E-mail comments to: comments-pacificsouthwest-ltbmu [at] fs [dot] fed [dot] us
Subject: “Draft Land Management Plan”

The Forest Service will be accepting comments until August 30.

5.   State Park Closures Averted at Last Moment

The following information, slightly edited, comes from the Sierra Club’s California State Office:

Good News: No state parks closed on July 1. The last week in June, the Governor signed a budget bill that shifts $7 million from an off-highway vehicle fund and $3 million from an alternative fuel/alternative vehicle incentive fund to the state parks to keep them open for the time being. Natural Resources Agency Secretary John Laird said that this funding would allow time for additional contracts to be signed with various entities to take over/help run another 25 or so parks. Already contracts have been signed that will save-for this year-40 parks. There are a few others of the original 70 parks targeted that the state is still trying to figure out how to handle. Not all of the parks that will remain open will have the same level of service or the same hours open as before this funding crisis. But at least they will be open for some period.

Bad News: The governor line-item vetoed in the main budget bill an additional $31 million in funds for the parks system. Most of that money would have been designated for particular uses and would not have necessarily helped keep the parks open, but might have helped with maintenance and rehabilitation. Additionally, it is unclear whether the agency or the governor has a plan for how to keep the parks open, and for how to find sustainable funding, over the long haul.

Sierra Club Executive Director Mike Brune and California Director Kathryn Phillips published an op-ed piece in the Sacramento Bee a few Sundays ago with ideas and suggestions for long-term park management and funding.

IN COLORADO
6.   Court Rules against BLM and its Roan Plateau Plan

U.S. District Court judge Marcia Krieger in Denver ordered the BLM to review the plan it issued in 2007 allowing gas exploration on the wild Roan Plateau of Western Colorado. (For background on the issue, see Item 7 in our February 2005 Update.) She ruled that BLM did not consider an alternative endorsed by local communities that would have protected more of the landscape, in addition to not analyzing potential ozone impacts and the cumulative effects of other projects in the area.

The court did not throw out the subsequent leases, saying that those could be dealt with after BLM has reviewed its plan. However, the court did not order BLM to reach any specific conclusions in its review. Conservation groups are hopeful that it will adopt a more balanced and protective approach.

You can read a PDF of the court’s opinion online here.

IN GENERAL
7.   House Passes Law Eliminating
Environmental Protections along U.S. Borders

By a vote of as 232-188 the House passed a controversial bill that would exempt the Border Patrol from compliance with environmental laws on lands within 100 miles of a border. 16 Democrats voted in favor of the bill, and 19 Republicans were opposed.

H.R. 1505, the so-called National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act, was introduced by Utah Rep. Rob Bishop (R) and had 59 cosponsors. The laws that are bypassed include the Wilderness Act, the Antiquities Act, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, the National Park Service Organic Act, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, and more.

As we said when the bill was introduced: The need for the bill is not at all clear, since the Border Patrol has said in the past that environmental laws do not significantly hinder its operations, and in fact, the agency has good working relations with land managers.

The bill moves on to the Senate, where its future is uncertain. We’ll keep you posted.

IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
8.   Links to Articles of Interest

Lots of Summer reading!

As always, if a link is broken or you’re otherwise unable to access an article, please send me an email. And just a reminder: An article’s inclusion in this section does not imply CalUWild’s agreement with the author’s viewpoint, in whole or in part.

Salt Lake Tribune

Utah may take its lands battle to Congress, not courts

San Francisco Examiner five-part series on Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite and water for San Francisco

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

National Parks Traveler publication on “friends groups” in eight national parks: Acadia, Big Bend, Blue Ridge Parkway, Glacier, Grand Teton, Great Smoky Mountains, Shenandoah, and Yellowstone. Click on the link found in this article.

High Country News on Rachel Carson & the 50th Anniversary of Silent Spring

In the New York Times: Diane Ackerman

Are We Living in Sensory Overload or Sensory Poverty?

Nature: Now Showing on TV

Richard Louv, writing in the AARP Bulletin

A Call to Nature: We’d all benefit from more “vitamin N”

Our friend Brian Beffort of Friends of Nevada Wilderness, writing in the Reno Gazette-Journal

Room to Roam: Removing fences on Nevada’s Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge

Hazelton, Pennsylvania Standard-Speaker

True spirit of America dwells in wilderness

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2011 July

November 8th, 2011


Southwest Landscape 4                                 Patrick Dengate (oil on panel, 20″ x 16″)

 
July 23, 2011

Dear CalUWild friends —

Summer is moving along quickly, though it is coming slowly to the higher elevations of the West. There is high runoff from the snowmelt, and there have been a number of fatalities in Yosemite and elsewhere, so if you’re out and about, please exercise extra caution. Remember: It’s wild out there!

Congress is still in session and the budget battles rage on. House Republicans continue their assault on the environment, both by trying to cut funding and introducing legislation. We need to make sure that the Senate doesn’t approve any bad legislation from the House and that the White House doesn’t sign anything that might make its way there that sets back protection for the environment.

There’s not a lot to share this month, but there are a few things to be aware of this, so please take a moment to write a letter or make a phone call.

The artwork for this month’s Update was just painted by Pat Dengate, an artist in the Detroit area and one of the founders of Michigan Friends of Redrock Wilderness, part of the network of Utah state activist groups. The Cubist-influenced view is looking south from the Green River Overlook in Canyonlands National Park, the same view as in May’s Update photo. Pat’s work has appeared in SUWA’s Redrock Wilderness, Wild Earth, and in other publications and books. Visit his website at www.patrickdengate.com.

As always, if you have questions, comments, or suggestions, don’t hesitate to get in touch by email, phone (415-752-3911) or US Mail (P.O. Box 210474, San Francisco, CA  94121-0474).

Thanks for your continued interest and efforts!
Mike

IN UTAH
1.   Redrock Bill Cosponsor Update
           (ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
2.   Bodie Hills Update
           (ACTION ITEM)

IN GENERAL
3.   Wilderness Study Area Release
           Hearing in Congress on Tuesday
           (ACTION ITEM)

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

IN UTAH
1.   Redrock Bill Cosponsor Update
           (ACTION ITEM)

There was good news on the Utah cosponsor front this month, as we added four California House members to the roster:

          Doris Matsui (D-5)
          Barbara Lee (D-9)
          Judy Chu (D-32)
          Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-34)

They join the following from California:

          Mike Thompson (D-01)
          Lynn Woolsey (D-06)
          George Miller (D-07)
          Jerry McNerney (D-11)
          Jackie Speier (D-12)
          Pete Stark (D-13)
          Mike Honda (D-15)
          Zoe Lofgren (D-16)
          Sam Farr (D-17)
          Lois Capps (D-23)
          Howard Berman (D-28)
          Adam Schiff (D-29)
          Laura Richardson (D-37)
          Grace Napolitano (D-38)
          Bob Filner (D-51)

          Sen. Barbara Boxer (D)

Please send a note of thanks to your representative if he or she is on the list above.

The list of those we’d still like to see sign on is getting shorter. If your representative is on the following list, please contact him or her, asking them to cosponsor America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act.:

          John Garamendi (D-10)
          Anna Eshoo (D-14)
          Brad Sherman (D-27)
          Henry Waxman (D-30)
          Xavier Becerra (D-31)
          Karen Bass (D-33)
          Maxine Waters (D-35)
          Linda Sanchez (D-39)
          Loretta Sanchez (D-47)
          Susan Davis (D-53)

Contact information may be found on representatives’ pages at house.gov.

IN CALIFORNIA
2.   Bodie Hills Update
           (ACTION ITEM)

Efforts are continuing to preserve the Bodie Hills, east of Yosemite and north of Mono Lake. The BLM has designated several Wilderness Study Areas in the Hills, and Bodie State Park, California’s most famous ghost town is located there. The area is rich in wildlife and wildflowers and scenic beauty.

The Bodie Hills have also been long sought after for their potential mineral wealth. Proposals for new gold mines have cropped up several times over the years, and there is a proposal now, as we’ve been reporting for the last year or so. The closest town, Bridgeport, does not have a well-developed tourist industry, although hunters and anglers have long used it as a base. The economy is struggling, and a gold mine looks attractive to many. The Bodie Hills, however, are more important for their ecological and recreational values than for minerals.

Last year the local congressman, Buck McKeon (R-25), introduced legislation that would have released the Bodie WSA from its protected status. In September the Mono County Board of Supervisors considered a resolution in support of Rep. McKeon’s bill, but it failed to get a majority of the votes. Rep. McKeon’s bill did not to pass the House.

Now there is new legislation in Congress affecting the Bodie Hills. This time the bill is H.R. 1581, the huge WSA release bill (see ITEM 3), introduced by California Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-22), and about which we wrote last month.

On Tuesday August 2, the Mono County supervisors will be considering two resolutions, one supporting the McCarthy bill and a second supporting the release of the Bodie WSA.

In September, the supervisors received hundreds of letters from concerned citizens opposed to the gold mine proposal and to release of the WSA. The supervisors now need to hear from friends of the area again.

Please send a letter asking them to oppose the resolution supporting the Bodie WSA release as well as oppose the resolution supporting H.R. 1581. Make your letters as personal as possible. If you have visited the area, let them know that. Tell them what was special to you.

More background information can be found on the Bodie Hills Conservation Partnership’s website.

Letters should be sent to:

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

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

If you happen to be in the Eastern Sierra on August 2, or just need an excuse to visit, please attend the supervisors meeting in the historic courthouse. The meeting time has not been announced yet. Contact Drew at Friends of the Inyo for details as the time gets closer.

As mentioned last month the Bodie Hills Conservation Partnership, of which CalUWild is a member, is hosting various hikes throughout the Bodie Hills in the Eastern Sierra. The dates are:

          July 31, August 7, & September 4.

All trips will meet at 8 a.m. at the parking lot in front of the Forest Service Visitor Center to carpool. These will be all day hikes. Visit Friends of the Inyo’s website or http://www.bodiehills.org for specific information on trips, or contact drew@friendsoftheinyo.org for more info on the trips.

On July 24 and August 14, there will be public presentations discussing the issues facing the Bodie Hills, so if you happen to be in the area on one of those dates, you might attend. Programs will take place at the Mono Lake Committee in Lee Vining, on the main street (U.S. 395), starting at 5 p.m. both days.

Contact Drew Foster at Friends of the Inyo in Lee Vining for more information on any of the above.

          email:   drew@friendsoftheinyo.org
          phone:   805-405-7577

IN GENERAL
3.   Wilderness Study Area Release
           Hearing in Congress on Tuesday
           (ACTION ITEM)

There will be a hearing on Tuesday, July 26, of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests & Public Lands of the House Natural Resources Committee on H.R. 1581, the Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act of 2011. We mentioned the bill and its Senate companion, S. 1087, by Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) in last month’s Update. The bill would take away interim protections for more than 60 million acres of wildlands around the country, including more than 1.3 million acres of BLM lands in Utah, and 4.4 million acres in California, managed by the Forest Service or BLM. It is one of the biggest wholesale attacks on the nation’s wildlands since the Wilderness Act was passed in 1964.

Please contact your representatives and senators and ask them to oppose the bill.

Only one representative from California sits on the subcommittee, John Garamendi (D-10). If you live in his district, please call his office right away, urging him to attend the hearing and oppose the bill.

          phone:    202-225-1880 (DC)
                           925-932-8899 (Walnut Creek)

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2010 July – Interim

October 15th, 2010

John Muir Wilderness, California                                                                                                    Mike Painter

July 31, 2010

Dear friends of CalUWild—

There are a few items of interest this month. They contain mostly good news, which is nice for a change!

The House of Representatives yesterday passed an offshore oil reform bill. The bill originally contained many provisions relating to onshore (land) leasing and reform, but unfortunately most of those were stripped out between the hearing in the Natural Resources Committee last week and the vote in the House. However, not all was lost, since the final version retained a requirement for full, permanent funding for the Land & Water Conservation Fund, a longtime goal of conservationists. The LWCF is used to purchase land and easements at the federal, state, and local levels, mainly for recreation and preservation purposes. The Fund was originally established in 1964, with funding coming from offshore energy leasing fees. The Fund has a cap of $900 million annually, but it has only been fully funded twice since its inception. This bill changes that. We’ll see how it proceeds in the Senate. Congress is beginning its August recess soon, so it’s unlikely that anything will happen before September.

It’s also unlikely that there will be any movement before September on the county-by-county wilderness processes underway in Utah. We’ll keep you posted there.

Summer is moving along quickly, and we hope you’ve been able to get away and spend some time in the outdoors—or least plan to do so still.

Best wishes,
Mike

IN UTAH
1.   Desolation Canyon-West Tavaputs Agreement

IN COLORADO
2.   Vermillion Basin Spared Oil & Gas Development
Send Thank You Letters
(ACTION ITEM)

IN WYOMING
3.   Yellowstone Snowmobiling
Planning Update
(ACTION ITEM)
Public Conference Call & “Webinars” Next Week

4.   Yellowstone’s Wild Bison Face Vaccinations
Comments Needed
(ACTION ITEM)
DEADLINE: September 24

IN GENERAL
5.   America’s Great Outdoors Initiative Continues

ON THE WEB
6.   Western Wilderness Conference Sessions Online

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

IN UTAH
1.   Desolation Canyon-West Tavaputs Plateau
Oil & Gas Exploration Impacts Reduced Through Agreement
Between Conservation Organizations and Bill Barrett Corp.

Friends of Utah’s wild places received some very welcome news this week. The Bureau of Land Management announced that it would be releasing a “Record of Decision” (ROD) for the controversial West Tavaputs Full Field Natural Gas Development Project, reflecting an agreement among the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, The Wilderness Society, Natural Resources Defense Council, Grand Canyon Trust, Sierra Club, National Parks Conservation Association, and the Bill Barrett Corp. of Denver. The agreement significantly reduces the footprint of the company’s proposed activities.

Desolation Canyon is one of the most remote areas in the Lower 48, with very few roads. It provides remarkable habitat for a wide variety of wildlife and contains many archaeological sites as well. The Green River flows through it, making it a favorite stretch for river runners.

Reflecting its wild nature, much of the area has been included in America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act for many years. Thus conservationists greeted Bill Barrett Corp.’s original proposals for oil & gas development with alarm. BLM began the planning process in 2008, and barring appeals, the ROD brings it to a close. The highlights from the agreement are:

•   No wells will be drilled on existing leases in the Jack Canyon or Desolation Canyon Wilderness Study Areas.

•   The number of surface-disturbing sites in other proposed wilderness areas will be fewer than six, down from the original 225.

•   Overall, the Barrett Corp. will reduce the number of well pads from 538 to 120, with a corresponding reduction in the number of wells from 807 to 626 (presumably through the use of directional drilling). Thus the number of disturbed cares will drop from 3,656 to 1,603.

The agreement follows another from January 2010 providing increased protection for Nine Mile Canyon and its rock art and other archaeological sites. The Final EIS also reflects that agreement

The Final EIS and ROD may be found on the web here.


IN COLORADO
2.   Vermillion Basin Spared Oil & Gas Development
Send Thank You Letters
(ACTION ITEM)

There was further good news late last month when the Colorado BLM reversed itself on previous proposals for energy development in the Vermillion Basin in Moffatt County. A planning process for the northwest corner of the state has been going on for many years, and the most recent draft allowed for much leasing for energy development. Instead, the BLM announced that the 77,000-acre Vermillion Basin would not be opened for leasing.

Vermillion Basin is a wild, scenic area, home to much wildlife, and it contains a wealth of archaeological resources, too. Vermillion Basin was also mentioned as a possibility for designation as a national monument back in January in an Interior Department memo leaked to Utah congressman Rob Bishop. According to The Wilderness Society, the basin might only contain 10 days’ U.S. supply of natural gas and virtually no oil. TWS also says that some 5 million acres of Colorado lands are leased, but only about 30% have been developed. And in the Little Snake Field Office, where Vermillion Basin is located, less than 15% of the million-plus acres already leased have been developed.

Letters of thanks, supporting the decision, should be sent to:

Ms. Helen Hankins
State Director
BLM Colorado State Office
2850 Youngfield Street
Lakewood, CO  80215-7093

Email: Helen_Hankins@blm.gov


IN WYOMING
3.   Yellowstone Snowmobiling
Planning Update
(ACTION ITEM)
Public Conference Call & “Webinars” Next Week

CalUWild has been following and commenting on Yellowstone National Park’s lengthy planning process for Winter use of the park. Early this year, the Park opened a new scoping period, collecting suggestions and ideas for alternatives and approaches. The Park has just announced the alternatives (see below) that it will analyze in the coming months, culminating in a Draft EIS to be released in early 2011. This announcement is merely informational, and no written action is required at present.

The Park is scheduling an informational conference call and two online “webinars” for members of the public who would like more information.

The conference call is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 4, at 7 p.m. MDT. The toll-free number for the call is 877-918-1346 (this number is for calls from U.S. telephones only). When prompted, please enter the passcode 8654495 followed by the pound (#) sign.

The webinars are scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 3, at 7 p.m. MDT, and Thursday, Aug. 5, at 10 a.m. MDT. Registration is required and is open until the time of the webinar. For instructions about how to participate in the webinars, go here.

Here are the Park Service’s six alternatives, verbatim:

ALTERNATIVE 1: No Action-No Snowmobile/ Snowcoach Use.

The current interim rule for winter use would expire after the 2010/2011 winter season. After that, no public use of over-snow vehicles (OSV) would be permitted in Yellowstone. Only non-motorized winter access into the park (on foot, ski, and snowshoe) would continue.

ALTERNATIVE 2: Continue Snowmobile/ Snowcoach Use at 2008 Plan Limits.

Winter access to the park via snowmobiles and snowcoaches would continue under present limits: up to 318 snowmobiles and 78 snowcoaches per day. All current OSV requirements would continue, including entry only with OSV guides, restrictions on hours of operation, and only snowmobiles that meet “Best Available Technology” (BAT) requirements. BAT also would be developed and implemented for snowcoaches by the 2014/2015 season.

ALTERNATIVE 3: Return Snowmobile/Snowcoach Use to 2004 Plan Limits.

Snowmobile and snowcoach use levels would be allowed to increase to the levels set in the 2004 plan – up to 720 snowmobiles and 78 snowcoaches per day. All current OSV requirements would continue, the same as under Alternative 2, above, including development and implementation of BAT for snowcoaches by the 2014/2015 season.

ALTERNATIVE 4: Mixed-Use: Snowcoaches, Snowmobiles, and Wheeled Vehicles (Road Plowing).

Visitors could enter Yellowstone in the winter by multiple motorized methods. The roads from West Yellowstone and Mammoth Hot Springs to Old Faithful would be plowed for park access in wheeled, commercial, multi-passenger vehicles (buses and vans). The south entrance road would be groomed for use by up to 30 snowcoaches and 100 snowmobiles per day, all required to be BAT. The east entrance road over Sylvan Pass would be closed to OSV use. Non-motorized winter access would continue.

ALTERNATIVE 5: Transition to BAT Snowcoaches Only.

Motorized access to the park would be in BAT snowcoaches only. Snowmobiles would gradually be phased out, beginning in the 2014/2015 season, when all snowcoaches would be required to meet BAT standards. Snowcoaches would replace snowmobiles within a five-year period (depending on snowcoach user demand). This Alternative initially provides for both snowmobile and snowcoach access under present levels – 318 snowmobiles and 78 snowcoaches per day. After the 2014/2015 season, snowcoach numbers would be allowed to increase to 120 per day, with a corresponding decrease in the number of snowmobiles during the five-year phase-out period.

ALTERNATIVE 6: Implement Variable Management.

OSV and visitor use would be managed for a greater variety of winter experiences by setting times and places for higher and lower levels of use, including additional opportunities for undisturbed skiing and snowshoeing. OSV entries into Yellowstone would have a winter season limit of up to 32,000 snowmobiles and 4,600 snowcoaches, and a daily limit of up to 540 snowmobiles and 78 snowcoaches. Up to 25 percent of snowmobile entries would be available for unguided use.

If you’re interested in directly receiving further information on Yellowstone’s Winter Use planning process, contact the Park and ask to be added to their list:

Email:   yell_winter_use@nps.gov
Phone:   307-344-2019
US Mail:

Winter Use
Yellowstone National Park
P.O. Box 168
Yellowstone National Park
WY  82190-0168


4.   Yellowstone’s Wild Bison Face Vaccinations
Comments Needed
(ACTION ITEM)
DEADLINE: September 24

It might come as a surprise to many, but Yellowstone National Park, the nation’s oldest, contains no designated wilderness areas. Yet remarkably, despite very heavy visitation, the Park remains a substantially functioning ecosystem, especially since the successful restoration of wolves there. In fact, Yellowstone is often called America’s Serengeti.

We don’t often write about wildlife issues except where they impact wilderness values, and Yellowstone has had its share of those. One of the ongoing battles, which we’ve occasionally covered, concerns the Park’s wild bison herd and cattle in neighboring states, especially Montana.

The issue centers on the disease brucellosis, which affects cattle, causing pregnant females to abort. Wild bison are known to be carriers of the bacterium causing the disease, ironically having contracted it from cattle 100 or so years ago. However, there has never been a known case of transmission from bison back to cattle. (Elk are more of a threat.) Yet over the years, the Park Service and the State of Montana have engaged in an all-out war (there’s almost no other word for it) against the wild bison of Yellowstone, especially when they migrate out of the Park in search of forage at lower elevations in severe Winters. The bison are hazed back into the Park, often by helicopter, even when they have calves or they are rounded up and shipped to the slaughterhouse. Just about every year some bison are killed, and some years the numbers are large. (In 2007/8, for example, over 1,600 were killed, nearly 1/3 of Yellowstone’s herd.)

In an effort to resolve the problem, the Park Service has proposed vaccinating the wild bison in the Park. There seem to be many scientific uncertainties surrounding the effectiveness of the vaccine and its effect on bison themselves—it may cause them to abort, for example. Animals vaccinated from a distance would be tagged with paintballs or other markings, while animals vaccinated in pens would have chips implanted in them.

The Buffalo Field Campaign has an extensive web page with all sorts of information on many aspects of the issue, much more than I want to go into here. A far less expensive (and less complicated) option would be simply to buy out the grazing leases in the animals’ migration path. It would preserve the naturalness of the ecosystem at the same time.

From a wilderness advocacy standpoint, vaccinating wild bison is simply an absurd idea. Wild ecosystems should be left wild, and that includes their animal populations. This proposal would destroy the wildness of Yellowstone’s ecosystem.

If you would like to read the Park Service vaccination proposal, you may download a copy of it by clicking on the link near the bottom of this page.

The Park Service just extended the deadline for accepting comments on its proposal until September 24. It is not accepting email or fax comments; you’ll have to submit your comments online here. Or mail your comments to:

Bison Ecology & Management Office
Center for Resources
P.O. Box 168
Yellowstone National Park
WY  82190-0168


IN GENERAL
5.   America’s Great Outdoors Initiative Continues

We’ve been reporting the last few months on President Obama’s “America’s Great Outdoors Initiative,” a program to help “reconnect Americans, especially children, to America’s rivers and waterways, landscapes of national significance, ranches, farms and forests, great parks, and coasts and beaches, by exploring a variety of efforts.”

As part of the process to involve ordinary Americans, earlier this month several “listening sessions” took place in various cities in California and around the country. More are being added to the schedule all the time. Check the AGO website for the evolving schedule. If there is one nearby, please try to attend.

I attended a session at UC Davis, hosted by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-1). Over 250 citizens and several Administration officials were present: Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality; Will Shafroth, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior; Ed Burton, Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA; and Jovita Pajarillo, Assistant Director, Water Division, US EPA, Region 9.

The officials seemed genuinely interested in hearing what people had to say and encouraged people to submit comments via the AGO website or to them directly. There were three formal presentations from: the California Rice Foundation and Ducks Unlimited about private wetlands and their importance to the millions of birds along the Pacific flyway; Andy Beckstoffer on conservation easements; and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation on Tule Elk restoration programs, including the Cache Creek Natural Area. Several members of the public spoke in favor of the proposed Berryessa-Snow Mountain NCA (another area considered for national monument status by the administration).

The California Wilderness Coalition reports that almost 800 people attended another session the following day at Occidental College in Los Angeles.

If you are unable to attend a listening session, you may submit comments via the AGO website. The website itself is evolving, and while it has been open for comments and suggestions since the beginning, the format has changed and now it’s dividing suggestions into four categories:

Challenges – What obstacles exist to achieving your goals for conservation, recreation, or reconnecting people to the outdoors?
What Works – Please share your thoughts and ideas on effective strategies for conservation, recreation and reconnecting people to the outdoors.
Federal Government Role – How can the federal government be a more effective partner in helping to achieve conservation, recreation or reconnecting people to the outdoors?
Tools – What additional tools and resources would help your efforts be even more successful?

Topics submitted prior to the site’s reorganization have been archived, but they cannot be voted or commented on.

It’s not clear how long the listening sessions and comment opportunities will continue, but the President is supposed to be given a report in November. So act sooner rather than later! As with all undertakings one thing is for certain: if we don’t take part, our ideas are guaranteed not to appear in the final report. And if you look through the suggestions and comments, you’ll see that many come from people who do not value wilderness and quiet recreation.

Some of the topics we would like to see addressed in the report include:

• Wilderness and WSA designation & management
• Adequate funding for land management agencies
• Focus on protecting Nature, including the restoration of degraded areas
• Establishment of a formal system of wildlife corridors
• Establishment of new parks and recreation areas at all levels
• Pitfalls of privatization of public resources
You need to register on the website in order to submit topic suggestions, comments, or to vote on others’ suggestions.

Comments may also be submitted directly CEQ chair Nancy Sutley at:

Council on Environmental Quality
722 Jackson Place, NW
Washington, DC  20503

Email is best, though, because of potential irradiation of the mail, since it’s a White House Office:

FN-CEQ-OpenGov@ceq.eop.gov

CEQ’s fax:   202-456-6546


ON THE WEB
6.   Western Wilderness Conference 2010
Sessions Now Online

If you were unable to attend the Western Wilderness Conference 2010, missed a session because you were attending another one at the same time, or just want to listen again, now is your chance to catch up. The California Wilderness Coalition has posted many of the sessions through the generosity of the Morrissey Family Foundation. Click here for the list of sessions currently available for viewing.

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2010 July

October 15th, 2010

July 2, 2010

Dear Northern California CalUWild friends—

We just learned this morning that Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA1) will be hosting a listening session for the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative at UC Davis on July 7 (next Wednesday). You may recall that Rep. Thompson was the author of the Northcoast Wild Heritage Act a few years ago, and we appreciate his willingness to be involved in the AGO process now.

Among Rep. Thompson’s guests will be:

Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality
Will Shafroth, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks
Senior EPA staff

Please RSVP by July 6 to Rep. Thompson’s Legislative Director Jonathan Birdsong (jonathan.birdsong@mail.house.gov) if you plan to attend.

Here are the details:

Vanderhoef Studio Theatre
Robert & Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts
UC Davis
July 7, 2010
11 a.m.

For directions, click here.

We apologize for the short notice. This meeting does not appear on the AGO website, so we could not list it in the recent June Update.

Also: We tried to send this announcement out only to people who might be in a position to attend or might otherwise be interested. If you received it and could not possibly attend, please send me an email with at least your home or work ZIP code and Congressional District. That will help us improve the functioning of our database. Thanks!

Hope to see you there. And Happy 4th of July,
Mike

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2009 July

July 31st, 2009

July 31, 2009

Dear CalUWild friends —

There are quite a few ACTION ITEMS this month, so we’ll dispense with a lengthy introduction.

But I will take the opportunity to thank everyone for their interest in and advocacy for our wildlands in the West. Keep up the good work!

On a financial note: Given the dreary economic situation, foundations are cutting back on support and likely will continue to do so for the next few years, even after things pick up. Thus member support will become even more important than it already is.

We do not send out a lot of fundraising appeals, but if you’d like to send in an extra contribution, it would be much appreciated.

So if you’re able, please consider a mid-year contribution to CalUWild. (Tax-deductible contributions should be made out to Resource Renewal Institute, our fiscal sponsor.) Either way, mail it to:

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

Thanks,
Mike

IN UTAH
1. Land Exchange Bill Passes House
(ACTION ITEM)
2. Emery County Developments

IN CALIFORNIA
3a. Rep. Darrell Issa Proposes Wilderness in Northern San Diego County
(ACTION ITEM)
3b. Go Hiking in the Proposed Area!
Saturday, August 8
(ACTION ITEM)
4. Governor Cuts State Parks Budget Even More
(ACTION ITEM)
5. CalUWild Slideshow in Santa Rosa
Tuesday, August 4, 7:30 p.m.

IN GENERAL
6. Show Support for Wilderness Inventories
(ACTION ITEM)

IN THE PRESS
7. Groups Sue over Transmission Corridors (NY Times)
8. Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NY Times)
9. National Landscape Conservation System (Condé Nast)

PHOTO CONTEST
10. Celebrating the 45th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act
(ACTION ITEM)

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

IN UTAH
1. Land Exchange Bill Passes House
(ACTION ITEM)

If you look at a map of some of the Western states, you’ll notice that there are often squares of land belonging to the state embedded in the federal lands. These were lands given to the states to develop or manage for resource and revenue production, often to benefit schools, as is the case with Utah. This checkerboard pattern, however, interferes with ecosystem management and wilderness designation. So one option is to exchange the state lands for federal land elsewhere in the state that might be more appropriate for development.

This system has been abused in recent years, with the federal government falling prey to inaccurate appraisals and other problems. But a recent bill affecting some 40,000 acres of state land in Utah, H.R.1275, passed the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously. It was put together by the Grand Canyon Trust, the State Institutional Trust Lands Administration, and the state’s congressional delegation, and if passed by the Senate and signed into law, will trade the lands for other federal acreage that development has already affected and are thus more suitable for future development.

Many of these acres are in areas included in America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act such as Fisher Towers or Gold Bar along the Colorado River or in the Bookcliffs.

A good way to keep Utah wilderness on their radar would be to call your House representative and thank them for voting for the bill. Contact info can be found by going to your Rep’s website on www.house.gov.

2. Emery County Developments

The Emery County Progress reported earlier this month that the county’s Public Lands Council was beginning a public process to develop a federal public lands bill. The interesting aspect to the announcement is the possibility of including wilderness recommendations in the final proposal.

Emery County covers much of the San Rafael Swell in east central Utah and has already-designated wilderness study areas such as Muddy Creek, Crack Canyon, the San Rafael Reef, Mexican Mountain, and also Desolation Canyon along the Green River.

The fact that wilderness is being considered is a testament to the progress that wilderness advocates have made on the issue, even though it’s been slow progress. It’s not a question any more of whether wilderness will be designated, but rather how much and when.

We’ll keep you posted as the situation develops further.

IN CALIFORNIA
3a. Rep. Darrell Issa Proposes Wilderness in Northern San Diego County
(ACTION ITEM)

The following comes from our friends at the California Wilderness Coalition.

Earlier this month, Congressman Darrell Issa (Republican-Vista) who represents northern San Diego County announced his intention to introduce the “Beauty Mountain and Agua Tibia Wilderness Act of 2009,” a bill strongly supported by the CWC and other conservation groups because it would protect two of southern California’s most important areas of open space as wilderness.

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

Characterized by deep canyons and rugged coastal sage scrub, Agua Tibia is enjoyed by thousands of hikers and equestrians each year who travel through the region via the rugged Cutca Trail. As its name implies, Beauty Mountain is a scenic jewel draped in chaparral, fascinating rock formations and oak woodlands. Both of these areas provide endless recreational opportunities as well as priceless habitat for endangered wildlife. Both areas serve as critical plant and wildlife corridors between Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and the coastal mountains of Riverside and San Diego counties.

Representative Issa toured the areas and agreed to help protect them both for their scenic and habitat values and also because they provide excellent recreation opportunities for his constituents and others. Representative Issa has posted a copy of his draft legislation and his wilderness proposal maps on his website at the following links:

Proposed Beauty Mountain Legislation (Draft)
Map of Agua Tibia Proposed Wilderness Additions
Map of Beauty Mountain Wilderness Additions

The congressman is seeking public input until August 17, 2009 on the idea of protecting the areas. As he says on his website, “I’m asking for the public to review and share their ideas so that this wilderness area is created in full consultation with those who will enjoy the benefits of protecting this land and live near it.”

Please take a moment to e-mail Representative Issa at beautymountain@mail.house.gov to thank him for his efforts to protect these beautiful places. If you have visited either of them or if you are one of his constituents, please share that information with him as well.

3b. Go Hiking in the Proposed Area!
Saturday, August 8
(ACTION ITEM)

The North San Diego Wild Heritage Campaign is leading occasional hikes to areas in the proposal. The next is August 8. Here’s the information from Geoffrey Smith, longtime wilderness activist in San Diego:

Our next hike will be to Beauty Mountain Proposed Wilderness Addition. Like Agua Tibia, this area was partially designated as Wilderness under the Omnibus Land Management Act in April 2009. Congressperson Mary Bono Mack authored that legislation for her district in Riverside County; now, Congressperson Darrell Issa is preparing to introduce companion legislation to complete the wilderness designation in his district for these two beautiful areas.

Please join us on this adventure! Half the fun is just being in the area. We will hike at an easy pace due to the heat, approaching Beauty Mountain from the south. Beauty Mtn. is located due east of Palomar Mountain, just south and west of the community of Anza.

Beauty Mountain Proposed Wilderness Day Hike

Saturday, August 8, 9:00 am
5 miles, moderate difficulty
RSVP to Leader: Geoffrey Smith, 858.442.1425
yourpartners@partners4nature.com

At 14,249 acres, the Beauty Mountain Proposed Wilderness Addition is a scenic jewel draped in chaparral, fascinating rock formations and oak woodlands. The area is a transition zone between Anza-Borrego Desert State Park to the east and the endangered coastal sage scrub of the Coast Range to the west. The California Riding and Hiking Trail crosses the area. On warm spring days, visitors are greeted with the heady scents of sage, manzanita, and California lilac while hill after misty hill rises in the distance, presenting an unbroken view of wild country. Our hike will explore this pristine area, in the shadow of Palomar Mountain. Group size is limited, please call the leader to sign up. Meeting location is the general store and gas station on SR79 in Sunshine Summit, located approximately mid-way between Aguanga and Warner Springs. Sponsored by The North San Diego Wild Heritage Campaign.

CAMPAIGN BACKGROUND

The North San Diego Wild Heritage Campaign is conducting a series of outings to proposed wilderness and wild & scenic river areas that are being considered for bill introduction by Congressman Darrell Issa. The purpose of these guided outings is to inform the public about the places we are aiming to protect through federal wilderness and wild & scenic river designation. These outings are part of a comprehensive grassroots volunteer-based campaign in San Diego and southern Riverside Counties. Each of these outings is lead by Geoffrey Smith, a long-time outing leader in San Diego county with over 25 years of experience conducting group outings into backcountry areas.

Please let me know if you would like to come!

Geoffrey

The North San Diego County Wild Heritage Campaign (www.californiawild.org) &
www.Wilderness4All.org

4. Governor Cuts State Parks Budget Even More
(ACTION ITEM)

The legislature finally agreed this week on a budget deal, but when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger received it, he decided to cut another $6 million from the already-reduced parks budget, bringing the total cuts to $14.2 million. Under the legislature’s original plan, estimates were that 30 parks might have to be closed. The governor’s actions might cause another 70 parks to close, bringing the total to 100 or more.

One is left wondering whether the governor sees this as an opportunity to sell off or privatize the state park system.

It’s not clear whether the governor has the legal authority to proceed as he did. The constitution gives him a line-item veto over appropriations, but the legislation was defined items as reductions to already-approved appropriations. So the line item veto power may simply not apply.

Please write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper protesting this scheme. Here are some talking points:

— These small cuts like $8 million, $14 million, even $140 million are so insignificant compared with the total deficit that they can’t possibly make any difference. All the small budget cuts added together amount to only about one percent of the deficit.

— For every dollar expended on parks from the General Fund, $2 comes back to the General Fund in the form of sales taxes on purchases by park visitors. Two separate studies, one in 2002 and one in 2009 reach essentially this same conclusion. Even if it’s only a dollar back for every dollar spent, there is still no benefit to cutting the parks budget. The parks pay for themselves. Claiming a decrease in expenditures but not acknowledging a corresponding decrease in revenue is dishonest bookkeeping.

(3) More fundamentally, the parks were set aside to be preserved forever for the people of California. It may be illegal to close a park; it is at least a breach of public trust. Nobody will want to donate land for state parks that may be closed at the whim of the governor or the legislature.

Also: Let the governor know what you think!

Fax: 916-445-4633
Phone: 916-445-2841
Email via his website at: http://gov.ca.gov/interact

5. CalUWild Slideshow in Santa Rosa
Tuesday, August 4, 7:30 p.m.

I will be presenting a slideshow on Utah wilderness for the Rock, Ice & Mountain Club of Santa Rosa next Tuesday, August 4. I’ll discuss the citizens wilderness campaign there as a prime example of and influence on citizens proposals all over the West. The pictures are my own, illustrating all the major regions covered by America’s Redrock Wilderness Act and the management issues on the ground. Please join me and forward this announcement to anyone you know who might be interested!

The Club meets monthly at:

Round Table Pizza
2065 Occidental Road (near the corner of Stony Point Road and Hwy 12)
Santa Rosa

The meeting will start at 7:30 p.m., with slides around 7:50.

IN GENERAL
6. Show Support for Wilderness Inventories
(ACTION ITEM)

One of the Bush Administration’s legacies is its policy of discontinuing inventories of public lands managed by the BLM for their wilderness character. The Obama Administration is looking at these policies and needs to hear from people who treasure wild places. The Sierra Club’s National Utah Wilderness Team, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, and other concerned organizations are hoping to see the policy reversed. Citizen input will help it happen. The following (slightly edited) comes from the Sierra Club’s Utah Wilderness Team:

Dear Fellow Wilderness Supporter:

America’s heritage of wild public lands – our true “wild west” – is in danger. You can play a part in assuring these lands get the protection they deserve.

After nearly a decade of mismanagement and neglect the West’s unprotected wilderness quality public lands are in dire circumstances, particularly BLM managed lands in the southwest. Bush administration policies that prioritized oil and gas exploration and uncontrolled use of off-road vehicles rather than conservation are still in place.

The Obama Administration is reviewing these Bush policies but is under great pressure to avoid change and stay the course. These negative voices need to be counterbalanced by your positive voice asking the Administration to give our wild public lands the protection they deserve.

It’s easy for you to help. Just write to Department of Interior Deputy Secretary David Hayes on a postcard or in a short letter:

— Please protect the red rock canyonlands and other western wild lands by reversing President Bush’s “no more wilderness” policy and utilizing the BLM’s authority to inventory and protect roadless and wild lands.

Use your own words and personalize the message with your own experiences if you like. Be sure to add your name and address.

Mail it to:

Mr. David Hayes, Deputy Secretary
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20240

By sending this message you will help to protect some of America’s most special wild places such as southern Utah’s sandstone plateaus, many Native American archeological sites, the basin and range country of Nevada, the Vermillion Basin in Colorado, and Quayle Draw in Arizona. These wild lands are a haven for hiking, family adventures, and enjoyment of majestic scenery.

Thank you for helping to protect America’s magnificent wild public lands.

Bob Jordan
Chair, Sierra Club Utah Wilderness Team
www.sierraclub.org/utahwilderness

IN THE PRESS

There’s always more information and news about various important issues than can be comfortably fit into an Update, so when appropriate, we’ll provide links to various articles or other sources of information that you might find interesting.

7. Groups Sue over Transmission Corridors (NY Times)

Energy and public lands are an ongoing issue. The desert and other public lands are being eyed as potential routes for transmission lines to bring energy to cities from the areas where it has been produced (often many miles away). The Bush Administration pushed through the designation of corridors in areas that many feel are inappropriate, and some groups are fighting back in court:

http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2009/07/08/08greenwire-groups-sue-us-over-energy-transmission-corrido-17235.html

8. Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NY Times)

The New York Times has consistently taken a strong stand in favor of public land protection in the West. Here’s an editorial in favor of the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act, a bill that deals with large-scale landscape protection and provides for connectivity between protected areas. This is an idea that will become increasingly important as climate change seems already to be forcing species to move up in elevation or northward to new areas.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/07/opinion/07tue3.html

9. National Landscape Conservation System (Condé Nast)

We covered issues relating to the BLM’s National Landscape Conservation System for a long time. Word about the System is making it into the mainstream press:

http://www.concierge.com/cntraveler/articles/500993

PHOTO CONTEST
10. Celebrating the 45th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act
(ACTION ITEM)

This might be of interest to some of you, from the Campaign for America’s Wilderness:

Help Celebrate the Wilderness Act’s 45th Anniversary — In Pictures
The Winning Photo Will Become a Poster!

The Wilderness Act turns 45 years old in September, and to celebrate the Campaign for America’s Wilderness is calling on wilderness photographers around the nation to send in a favorite image they’ve taken of a federal wilderness area. The best photo, as judged by our crack staff, will become a limited edition 45th Anniversary poster, and the photographer will receive an autographed copy of Doug Scott’s new book, Our Wilderness: America’s Common Ground.

Submission guidelines:

Limit two (2) photos per person. We’re especially partial to photos of people enjoying the wilderness, but appreciate wildlife and scenery, too.

Poster-quality images should measure 3600 x 5400 pixel resolution or 150 dpi @ 24″ x 36″. Photographers should send low resolution copies (under 2 MB) of their wilderness photo to info@leaveitwild.org.

Please include a brief description of the scene (name of river, peak, mountain range, etc.), the name of the wilderness area, your e-mail address and contact information.

The deadline for entry is August 21, 2009

If you have any questions, please e-mail the Campaign at info@leaveitwild.org.

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2008 July

July 30th, 2008

July 30, 2008

Dear CalUWild friends —

The smoke over some of California has lessened, and gas prices have begun to drop as well. Both of these are good news for people wanting to get out and explore. However, the overall energy situation in the U.S. still needs to be addressed in a comprehensive and systematic way.

Upon examination, the idea that we can somehow solve our problems by simply drilling more oil or gas wells does not hold up. The imbalance between demand and available supply in this country is just too great. And to permanently alter our landscape for what can only be a short-term fix makes no sense, either.

Efficiency and conservation are known to be the least expensive solutions. Renewable sources, such as wind and solar are also, although the administration and its allies in Congress are allowing tax credits for these sources to expires, while allowing subsidies for the oil and gas industries to continue. (Just today, the Republicans in the Senate refused to allow a vote on a bill that would have provided support for renewable energy production.) This is not wise policy.

Recent polls indicate that many Americans are willing to forego environmental protections to increase energy production. This is also unwise. Much of the focus of the debate is on public lands in the West. As we all know, the current administration has been hell-bent on opening up our remaining wild areas to oil & gas exploration. Vast areas of the deserts in the Southwest are being proposed for large-scale solar energy projects. The federal government is declaring huge areas as transmission corridors, where environmental factors likely will not be considered. So while renewable sources are a good idea, they carry their own risks, especially when it comes to their scale. More effort needs to be made on solutions close to where customers live and work, such as rooftop installations. Siting them on wild public lands should be the last resort.

Energy cannot be viewed as an issue separate from wild lands in the West, and all of us who care about them need to stay informed of the issues and make our views known to our elected officials, our newspapers, and our friends.

This month we have only a couple of items.

Thank you for doing your part, and enjoy the Summer!

Best wishes,
Mike

IN UTAH
1. Backcountry Volunteers Service Trip

IN CALIFORNIA
2. Report on Eastern Sierra/San Gabriel Mountains Bill
Sequoia-Kings Canyon Bill Passes House
(ACTION ITEM)

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

IN UTAH

1. Backcountry Volunteers Service Trips

Our friends at Utah Backcountry Volunteers recently sent out the following announcement about service trips remaining in 2008. This is a great way to get out and see new places as well as help preserve the landscape for the future. Check them out!

Dear Friend of Utah’s Public Lands:

A great opportunity awaits you to spend quality time in Utah’s wonderful backcountry. Camp out…while giving back! Our 2008 season of volunteer service trips is halfway complete and several great places remain. For details and to join one of these fun and fulfilling excursions, go to http://www.utahbackcountry.org. In About Service Trips, read Testimonials of thrilled participants, and see what you’ve been missing in our Photo Gallery. Then Sign Up while space remains!

2008 SUMMER & FALL SERVICE TRIPS

Dixie National Forest, Canaan Peak: August 17-23
Volunteers will re-route a one mile section of non-motorized trail from a sensitive wetland area to a ridgeline location around Canaan Peak, about 13 miles west of Escalante, Utah. Escape the summer heat of redrock country by hiking and camping at 8500′ in a high aspen & fir forest.

North Stansbury Mountains Wilderness Study Area: August 30-September 1
Spend Labor Day Weekend…well, lightly laboring, but mostly relaxing in Utah’s quiet and wide open west desert. Volunteers will install an educational bulletin board informing off-road vehicle users about the WSA boundary, and erecting physical barriers to protect Muskrat Canyon. On Monday, we’ll explore the new Cedar Mountains Wilderness, checking out the pioneer wagon trail cutoff route.

Cedar Mesa/Grand Gulch Primitive Area: September 14-20
To protect ancient ruins and sensitive soils throughout this unique area, volunteers concentrate on closing user-created social trails with fallen trees and rocks, and clearly mark open trails to keep impacts under control. We’ll also conduct seasonal trail maintenance on high use and frequently flooded entry trails into main Grand Gulch. Only one space remains open.

Glen Canyon NRA, Escalante River: September 28-October 4
You get to spend a week in this spectacular redrock canyon amongst a golden ribbon of Cottonwoods in their fall splendor. Volunteers participate in restoring the river ecosystem by cutting down invasive Russian olive trees. The project is enjoined in its ninth season and is about half way complete. We’ll backpack down to the river 3 miles through Fence Canyon and camp around Neon Canyon.

Capitol Reef National Park: October 12-18
Spend a colorful fall week in the orchard group camp site in Fruita and venture daily to remote areas of this beautiful Park. Volunteers will restore desert waterways throughout the area by cutting out invasive Tamarisk trees, as well as conducting seasonal trail maintenance and fencing projects. Day hike through, and on top of, the famous namesake reef at this perfect time of year in the canyon country.

IN CALIFORNIA
2. Report on Eastern Sierra/San Gabriel Mountains Bill
Sequoia-Kings Canyon Bill Passes House
(ACTION ITEM)

The House of Representatives is considering Rep. Buck McKeon’s (R-25) Eastern Sierra and Northern San Gabriel Wild Heritage Act. The bill creates four new wilderness areas in the White Mountains, Granite Mountain (east of Mono Lake), Magic Mountain, and Pleasant View Ridge (both in the Angeles National Forest). It also adds areas to the existing Hoover, Emigrant, Ansel Adams, and John Muir Wilderness areas. In addition, 26 miles of the Amargosa River, 19 miles of Owens River headwater creeks, and seven miles of Piru Creek in the Angeles NF were designated “Wild & Scenic.”

In addition, the bill releases some areas from Wilderness Study Area status and creates a winter snowmobile area in Leavitt Bowl, next to the Hoover Wilderness. That area is to remain non-motorized during the summer months.

Pressure is building against the bill from off-road vehicle groups, so calls to Rep. McKeon and Sen. Boxer, supporting the bill and urging them to stand firm on its provisions are important.

The Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands & Forests (of the Energy & Natural Resources Committee) held a hearing on it. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D), the Senate sponsor of the legislation, testified in favor of the bill, and the subcommittee approved it.

Rep. McKeon
202-225-1956 (DC)
661-254-2111 (Santa Clarita)
661-274-9688 (Palmdale)

Sen. Boxer
202-224-3553 (DC)
415-403-0100 (SF)
213-894-5000 (LA)
Other phone numbers here.

The House also passed the Sequoia-Kings Canyon Wilderness Act, introduced by Reps. Devin Nunes (R-21) and Jim Costa (D-20). It protects nearly 115,000 acres in the national parks, particularly around the Mineral King area of Sequoia. The bill now moves to the Senate, where Sen. Boxer is its chief sponsor.

Thanks should go to Reps. Nunes and Costa and Sen. Boxer.

Rep. Nunes
202-225-2523 (DC)
559-773-3861 (Visalia)
559-353-5235 (Clovis)

Rep. Costa
202-225-3341 (DC)
559-495-1620 (Fresno)
661-869-1620 (Bakersfield)

Sen. Boxer – as above.

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