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2019 October

November 5th, 2019


Lehman Caves, Great Basin National Park, Nevada                                                                                              (Mike Painter)

 
October 31, 2019

Dear CalUWild friends—

First of all, I want to express concern for everyone who has been affected by the fires in Northern and Southern California. Please stay safe.

There are a few Action Items this month, all involving Congress. Feel free to combine any or all of them in one call or message posted to your representative’s and senators’ comment forms on their websites.

 
Toward year-end, we send out our membership appeal, and we’ll be doing that again in November and December. Dues have never been required to receive CalUWild’s Monthly Update, but we do rely on support from our readers. If you’d like to help us save on printing and postage expenses for our mailing, you can send in a contribution ahead of time, mailing it to:

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

Dues payable to CalUWild are not tax-deductible, as they may be used for lobbying. If you’d like to make a tax-deductible contribution, please make your check payable to Resource Renewal Institute, CalUWild’s fiscal sponsor, and mail it to the address above. Please print out and enclose a membership form if your address is not on the check.

Your support is more critical than ever, but even more important is for people to take action to protect our wild places and public lands. Our goal has always been to make that as easy for you as possible.

 
Finally, as Thanksgiving comes around, please don’t forget to give thanks for our public lands—our birthright as Americans— and all the other gifts we enjoy here.

 
Best wishes,
Mike

 
IN UTAH
1.   State Update
          A.   America’s Redrock Wilderness Act
                    (ACTION ITEM)
          B.   National Monuments Litigation
          C.   Off-Highway Vehicle Use in Utah’s National Parks

IN CONGRESS
2.   Legislative Update
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN GENERAL
3.   Park Service Committee Proposes to “Improve” Camping
          And Reduce Senior Pass Discounts
          (ACTION ITEM)

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

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IN UTAH
1.   State Update
          A.   America’s Redrock Wilderness Act
                    (ACTION ITEM)

There is no firm date yet for the reintroduction of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act. However, the chief sponsors in the House and Senate, California Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-47) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) respectively, are committed to the legislation.

If you haven’t contacted your Senators or Congressional representative, now would be a good time to do so, with a request that they become original cosponsors of the bills. That means they are listed as cosponsors on the day the bills are introduced. High numbers of cosponsors indicate that members think a bill is important, sending a political signal to Congressional leadership, as well as to federal land management officials that Congress is paying attention to their actions.

Full contact information may be found on CalUWild’s Online California Congressional Information Sheet.

          B.   National Monuments

The litigation over the reduction of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments continues in Washington, DC. Supporters of the monuments won a victory when Judge Tanya Chutkan ruled against the government’s motion to dismiss the case. At the same time, Judge Chutkan asked the plaintiff tribes and conservation groups to clarify their standing (right to sue) in the case. We’ll keep you posted at things proceed.

The Bears Ears National Monument was added to the 2020 World Monuments Watch List (along with Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris) in recognition of the threats to its cultural and archaeological significance by the administration’s attempts to reduce its size. You can read an article about that in the New York Times: Bears Ears and Notre-Dame Named to 2020 World Monuments Watch.

          C.   Off-Highway Vehicle Use in Utah’s National Parks

As we reported last month, the Park Service made a proposal to allow off-road vehicles in the national parks in Utah. The proposal aroused the opposition of many citizens, conservation groups, local governments, and employees and officials within the Park Service itself. Doing an about-face, the Park Service reversed its decision.

The proposal received a lot of press, some of which are included here:

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune, Park managers balk at plan to let ORVs in Utah national parks.

An editorial in the Tribune: The Mighty Five are not for your noisy toys, boys.

And another article in the Tribune: Grand County, Moab unite against plan to allow ORVs in Utah’s national parks

 
IN CONGRESS
2.   Legislative Update
          (ACTION ITEM)

In ITEM 1 of last month’s Update we gave descriptions of bills that we are tracking and that could use cosponsors, too. A few of them have added cosponsors, and we’ve updated our Online California Congressional Information Sheet. Please check the table for your representative and senators and either thank them for cosponsoring or ask them to become a cosponsor the bills listed, if you haven’t already. You can call the number listed for their DC office or contact them with your comments via their websites at house.gov or senate.gov.

Please note that Rep. Katie Hill (D-25) is resigning. It’s not yet clear exactly when a special election might be called for her district. She was a cosponsor of all of the bills except H.R. 2250, Rep. Huffman’s Northwest California bill.

 
In other news, we’re happy to report that the House passed three public lands protection bills this week. The CORE Act for Colorado passed 227-182. Our friends at the Wilderness Workshop in Carbondale describe it as follows:

It will create new and sustainable recreation opportunities, expand Wilderness in the White River and San Juan National Forests, permanently close the Thompson Divide to new oil and gas leasing, honor veterans and founding-members of the modern ski industry by establishing the nation’s first National Historic Landscape at Camp Hale, and increase public access to, and management of, fishing areas in the Curecanti National Recreation Area.

The Grand Canyon Centennial Act passed by a vote of 236-185. It would permanently withdraw more than 1 million acres around the park from mining, particularly of uranium. The White House has issued a veto threat, saying that it opposes “such a large, permanent withdrawal, which would prohibit environmentally responsible development.” There is no companion bill in the Senate.

The Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act, H.R. 2181, sets up a 10-mile wide buffer around Chaco Canyon in which oil and gas development would be permanently prohibited. That bill passed on a 245-174 vote. It has a companion bill, S. 1079, in the Senate.

We’ll keep you posted on these bills as they progress.

 
IN GENERAL
3.   Park Service Committee Proposes to “Improve” Camping
          And Reduce Senior Pass Discounts
          (ACTION ITEM)

An Interior Department advisory committee, made up almost solely of recreation industry representatives, has sent a letter to Interior Secretary Bernhardt making recommendations regarding the future of camping in our national parks. Not surprisingly, given the make-up of the “Made in America Committee” (which can be found toward the bottom of the page here), it proposes increased use of public–private partnerships, allowing concessionaires to run campgrounds, increased WiFi availability, equipment rentals, mobile food services including food trucks, and more.

The committee also recommends the introduction of blackout periods during peak seasons when the 50% Senior Pass discounts would not apply.

These recommendations fundamentally change the traditional notion of camping in out national parks. And all of them would push camping fees even higher than they already are by forcing people to pay for the site and cover both the concessionaires’ fees to the Park Service and their profit on top of that. While the Forest Service has turned some campsite management over to concessionaires, the Park Service has generally not, except for a few specialized campgrounds. The BLM manages all of its own campgrounds. There is well-founded concern that this is a push to privatize campgrounds across the board.

The Committee is recommending that the Park Service begin implementing parts of its recommendations by December 1, 2019, with no formal opportunity for public or congressional input.

The committee’s page has an email link and a U.S. Mail address at the very bottom where you can make your opinions known:

Email form here

U.S. Mail
Joshua Winchell, Designated Federal Officer
Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee
MS-2659, Office of Policy
National Park Service
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20240

Please also call your Congressional representative and Senators to let them know about this proposal, being undertaken without consulting either the public or Congress. Click here for DC phone numbers or go to their websites at house.gov or senate.gov.

 
You can read the full letter here. National Parks Traveler offered a comprehensive look at the recommendations, and the comments following the article may give you ideas for your own comments to make to the committee and Congress.

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

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

The Administration

An article in The Hill: BLM move would split apart key public lands team

An article in Bloomberg Environment: Public Lands Decisions Best Made in D.C., Acting BLM Chief Says. This directly contradicts the rationale for moving the BLM headquarters to Grand Junction, Colorado, which claimed that officials should be closer to the lands about which they are making management decisions.

An article in Westwise from our friends at the Center for Western Priorities, analyzing the administration’s deregulation agenda in response to industry input: Scoring the Trump Interior Department’s deregulatory hit list

An article by ProPublica (formerly the Center for Investigative Reporting): The Trump Administration Says It Has Violated Its Own Ethics Pledge

Utah

An article in The Atlantic: The Forest Service Is About to Set a Giant Forest Fire—On Purpose

California

An op-ed in the Los Angeles Times by Terry Tempest Williams, who is on CalUWild’s Advisory Board: Yosemite’s Sequoias have a vital message. Listen to them, urges Terry Tempest Williams. Terry also has a new book out, Erosion: Essays of Undoing, reviewed by Diane Ackerman in the New York Times: One Environmentalist’s Warning: Think Globally, Act Accordingly

A press release from the California BLM: Community of Lone Pine Celebrates Alabama Hills National Scenic Area

An article in the Marin Independent Journal: Trump criticizes Drakes Bay Oyster Co. closure before signing transparency orders

An article in Courthouse News: Chinook Salmon Flocking to Revitalized San Joaquin River. At the same time: Trump Administration Moves to Lift Protections for Fish and Divert Water to Farms, as the New York Times reports. Unfortunately, Gov. Gavin Newsom just vetoed SB 1, which would have authorized state protections for endangered species in just this kind of circumstance.

Alaska

An article in Courthouse News about the proposed Pebble Mine: Lawsuits Pile Up Over EPA’s Green Light for Mine Near Pristine Alaskan Bay. We’ve written about this mine several times before, most recently in August and May of this year.

An article in the Washington Post: Critics gear up for response to lease sale in Arctic refuge

In General

An article by Roger Kaye, long-time Alaska U.S. Forest Service staffer, including state wilderness director, in Rewilding: Wilderness in the Anthropocene: What Future for its Untrammeled Wildness?

An article in the Washington Post: Americans would rather reduce oil and gas exploration than ‘drill, baby, drill’

An article in The Nation: The Once Common Republican Environmentalist Is Virtually Extinct

 
 
 
 
 

Support CalUWild!

Membership is free, but your support is both needed and appreciated.

Dues payable to CalUWild are not tax-deductible, as they may be used for lobbying.

If you’d like to make a tax-deductible contribution, please make your check payable to Resource Renewal Institute, CalUWild’s fiscal sponsor.

Please print out and enclose a membership form if your address is not on the check.

Either way, mail it to:

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

 
 
 

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 membership information, click here.

Please “Like” and “Follow” CalUWild on Facebook.

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2019 April

May 2nd, 2019


Wild & Scenic River System stamps                                                                                                               (U.S. Postal Service)

 
April 30, 2019

Dear CalUWild friends—

There is only one main item this month, with three easy ACTION SUB-ITEMS dealing with Congress. We previewed these briefly in our January Update, and the time has come to act in support of them. They can all be done in the same phone call.

The second item is our regular IN THE PRESS section. Some of the articles in it are about issues we’ve covered in the past but which don’t require a separate item in the Update. Included are articles about the new Secretary of the Interior, David Bernhardt. His tenure is already as filled with controversy as Ryan Zinke’s, who was forced to resign last year. We’ll keep you posted on developments.

Public lands have been increasingly in the news with this administration, and there are often too many topics to cover in great detail. In response, we’ve been increasing the number of articles we link to. I hope you’ll read them to keep up-to-date on developments and to stay generally informed about public lands.

 
Last year was the 50th Anniversary of the National Wild & Scenic Rivers System. This year, the U.S. Postal Service is issuing First Class commemorative (Forever) stamps in honor of the system. Several are photos taken by friends of CalUWild, and we’re featuring them this month as the (slightly fuzzy) illustration for the Update. The stamps are being released May 21.

 
Best wishes,
Mike

 
IN CONGRESS
1.   Legislative Update
          (3 ACTION ITEMS)
          a.   Utah’s Red Rock Wilderness Act Reintroduction Expected in May
          b.   3 California Wilderness Bills Introduced in April
          c.   ANTIQUITIES Act of 2019

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

 
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IN CONGRESS
1.   Legislative Update
          (ACTION ITEMS)
          a.   Utah’s Red Rock Wilderness Act Reintroduction Expected in May

America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act (ARRWA) has consistently been CalUWild’s major legislative focus since our founding in 1997. It would designate land in Utah managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management as wilderness. The bill was first introduced in 1989 by Utah Rep. Wayne Owens (D), and when he left Congress, he asked Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) to take it on. It was later championed by Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), and now the lead sponsor is California’s Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-47). Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) has been the Senate champion for many years.

You can see a map of the proposal as introduced in the last Congress here. (Some portions in Emery County—north and south of I-70—were designated as wilderness in the large public lands package that became law in March of this year, and they will be omitted when the bill is reintroduced.)

The bill is important for two reasons. The first, obviously, is to designate deserving areas as wilderness. The second, however, is equally important: It sets a standard against which all other proposals, either legislative or on-the-ground projects by the BLM, must be measured. By cosponsoring the bill, representatives indicate their strong support for it and its underlying protections. We can then usually count on cosponsors to actively oppose bad legislation when it is introduced.

Rep. Lowenthal and Sen. Durbin will most likely reintroduce ARRWA in May. We would like to see as many California representatives as possible, and both senators, sign on as cosponsors before reintroduction. Nicole Brown, the founder of Women Who Hike, and I spent a few days in Washington earlier this month visiting California congressional offices, informing them of the upcoming reintroduction of the bill. But they need to hear from constituents as well, so please call your representatives and senators and ask that they sign on as original cosponsors.

A list of previous ARRWA cosponsors from California and contact information for all California congressional offices in Washington may be found on our online California Congressional Information Sheet.

 
          b.   3 California Wilderness Bills Introduced in April

April 10 saw the reintroduction of three public lands bills for California, north, central, and south, in the House. Sens. Kamala Harris (D) and Dianne Feinstein (D) also introduced companion legislation in the Senate for each of the bills.

Rep. Jared Huffman (D-2) reintroduced his Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act (H.R.2250). The proposal would protect local wild lands, expand recreational opportunities, improve fire management, and restore impacted watersheds. The bill number in the Senate is S.1110.

Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-24) reintroduced his Central Coast Heritage Protection Act (H.R.2199). The bill would protect 244,909 acres of wilderness, create two scenic areas encompassing 34,882 acres, and safeguard 159 miles of wild and scenic rivers in the Los Padres National Forest and the Carrizo Plain National Monument. The bill number in the Senate is S.1111.

Rep. Judy Chu (D-27) reintroduced her San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act (H.R.2215). The bill would designate wilderness in the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument and enlarge the monument, as well as creating a national recreation area. The bill number in the Senate is S.1109.

More detailed descriptions of the bills may be found in this press release from the California Wilderness Coalition.

Please thank the House sponsors and both senators for their championship of each of these bills. (ALSO: If you haven’t thanked Sen. Feinstein for her California Desert Protection and Recreation Act, passed with the large public lands package in March, please do so as well!)

Contact information for all California congressional offices in Washington may be found on our online California Congressional Information Sheet.

 
          c.   ANTIQUITIES Act of 2019

As we have reported over the years, the Antiquities Act of 1906, signed into law by Pres. Theodore Roosevelt, has been under attack from anti-public land forces. The law authorizes the president to declare as monuments “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest” that are on federally-managed land, “the limits of which in all cases shall be confined to the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.”

The Antiquities Act has since been used by presidents of both parties to create more than 130 national monuments.

The law has created controversy since its inception. A lawsuit was filed against Pres. Roosevelt, arguing that his designation of the Grand Canyon was an abuse of authority because of the monument’s size. However, the Supreme Court ruled that it was appropriate, given the canyon’s size. In more recent times, presidents have recognized the need to preserve larger landscapes for their scientific and ecological value. Beginning with Bill Clinton and his designation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah, the Bureau of Land Management has had landscape-scale monuments under its jurisdiction. These monuments continue to arouse opposition from some in the West—hence the sham review that the administration undertook at then-Sen. Orrin Hatch’s (R-UT) instigation, resulting the reduction of both Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears national monuments. Other monuments designated since 1996 remain at risk, although Interior Secretary David Bernhardt has said further review is not on his priority list. (We’ll see about that …)

To rectify this situation, the ANTIQUITIES Act was introduced in the last Congress and has been reintroduced in this one. The bill states unambiguously that “a national monument may only be reduced, diminished, or revoked by an Act of Congress.” It also gives congressional recognition to the 52 national monuments as originally designated since 1996, preventing the administration from tampering with their boundaries. Furthermore, it enlarges the Bears Ear National Monument to reflect the proposal originally made by the Native American Inter-Tribal Coalition. (Pres. Obama’s designation was somewhat smaller.) The bill also establishes a “National Monument Enhancement Fund” to be used for management planning and acquisition of needed land. (One questionable aspect, however, is that the fund is also to be used for development of recreational infrastructure, even though recreation is not one of the purposes for which monuments are to be designated.)

In the House the bill number is H.R.1050, and in the Senate, it’s S.367.

At present, there are 98 cosponsors in the House and 24 in the Senate. We would like to see more cosponsors in both chambers, especially among freshman representatives in the House. There are 29 California representatives currently cosponsoring. Freshmen California House members missing from the list are Josh Harder (D-10), TJ Cox (D-21), Gilbert Cisneros (D-39), and Harley Rouda (D-48). Both Sens. Harris and Feinstein are cosponsors.

Please call your representatives and both senators as appropriate to either thank them or ask them to become cosponsors of these bills.

A list of current ANTIQUITIES Act cosponsors from California and contact information for all California congressional offices in Washington may be found on our online California Congressional Information Sheet.

 
IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
2.   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.

Department of the Interior and the administration

An article in the Washington Post on then-nominee/Acting Interior Secretary Bernhardt: Interior Dept. watchdog reviewing allegations that acting secretary violated Trump ethics pledge

From our friends at the Center for Western Priorities, in Westwise: Hidden calendars show Trump’s pick for Interior Secretary met repeatedly with drilling, mining industries

In the New York Times: Senate Confirms Bernhardt as Interior Secretary Amid Calls for Investigations Into His Conduct. It’s disappointing that three Democrats, particularly Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) who is a strong defender of public lands, voted to confirm Mr. Bernhardt.

An article in Politico: National Archives joins investigation into Interior chief’s missing calendars

His first day on the job, and the New York Times had this article: Interior Dept. Opens Ethics Investigation of Its New Chief, David Bernhardt

And the Interior Secretary isn’t the only one with ethics problems, as you can read in this article from The Hill: EPA administrator failed to disclose former lobbying client

We’ve reported for years on the proposal to build a road in Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, much of which is designated wilderness, most recently in our January 2018 Update, when then-Secretary Zinke signed a land exchange agreement. Our friends at Wilderness Watch, the Sierra Club, and The Wilderness Society sued to overturn the agreement and were successful. The same day, the judge ruled that the administration’s decision to open Arctic and Atlantic waters to drilling was also illegal. You can read about both decisions in the Washington Post: Federal judge declares Trump’s push to open up Arctic and Atlantic oceans to oil and gas drilling illegal. You can read the Izembek ruling here. The ruling in the drilling case is similar to the one hoped for in the national monument rollbacks cases—that the president doesn’t have the authority to diminish protections put in place by a predecessor.

Another judge ruled that the Interior Department is barred from overturning the Obama Administration’s moratorium on coal mining on public lands without undertaking a NEPA analysis. An article in the New York Times: Judge Delivers Major Setback to Trump Policy to Increase Coal Mining on Federal Land

An article in the Harvard Law Review: The Trump Administration and Lessons Not Learned from Prior National Monument Modifications

An article in High Country News about the Hammond family in Oregon, whose prison sentences set off the Bundy occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge: Fire-starting ranchers get a new blessing from BLM. A bizarre turn of events …

An op-ed in The Guardian: Trump’s EPA wants to put a toxic mine in pristine Alaska. What could go wrong? We’ve written about the Pebble Mine several times, most recently in May 2017.

Bears Ears National Monument

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune: Democrat-controlled San Juan County formally withdraws from Bears Ears court case

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune: Feds stack Bears Ears advisory group with critics of southern Utah monument

An editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune: Bears Ears committee is a monument to bad intentions

An excellent graphical representation in the Washington Post: What Remains of Bears Ears

In the Salt Lake Tribune: Southern Utah environmental group sues feds over public lands leased for oil and gas development in Alkali Ridge. The area is adjacent to the Bears Ears National Monument.

Public Lands in General

An op-ed in The Guardian: We must ensure US public lands stay public, or risk ‘demolition of society’

A judge says: “It is simply delusional to maintain that all public land within the boundaries of Nevada belongs to the State of Nevada.” Cliven Bundy’s public lands claim is ‘simply delusional,’ judge rules

An op-ed in the Los Angeles Times: I was a national parks slacker. It took a foreigner to open my eyes.

An article in The New Republic: How Instagram Ruined the Great Outdoors. And on a related note, an article in the Salt Lake Tribune: Moab is drowning in tourists, and Utah is making Grand County spend millions a year to invite more

An op-ed in the New York Times: Why Are We Still Slaughtering the American Bison?

The Arts

The Los Angeles Times recently gave Terry Tempest Williams its Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement, for writing about the West. The paper published an interview with her: Terry Tempest Williams on nature writing: ‘My heart is very deep in these wild lands’. Terry is on CalUWild’s Advisory Board.

 
 
 
 
 
Support CalUWild!

Membership is free, but your support is both needed and appreciated.

Dues payable to CalUWild are not tax-deductible, as they may be used for lobbying.

If you’d like to make a tax-deductible contribution, please make your check payable to Resource Renewal Institute, CalUWild’s fiscal sponsor.

Please print out and enclose a membership formif your address is not on the check.

Either way, mail it to:

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

 
 
 
 
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 membership information, click here.

Please “Like” and “Follow” CalUWild on Facebook.

 

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2019 January

January 31st, 2019


In the Needles District, Canyonlands National Park, Utah                                                                                (Mike Painter)

 

January 30, 2019

Dear CalUWild friends—

With a new Congress and a bad start to the year with the recent government shutdown, there is not a lot to report on this month, so this Update does not contain any Action Items.

The shutdown turned out to be very bad for public lands. The Department of the Interior left some national parks open, unstaffed, but that turned into a disaster, when trash piled up, restrooms went uncleaned, and people camped illegally. There has been a lot of reporting the last few days about Joshua Tree National Park, where Joshua trees, some reportedly 300 years old, were vandalized and even cut down and people drove off-road. See Item 4, IN THE PRESS, for more coverage of the issues, including the feared effects of “the wall” on wildlife.

 
CalUWild is pleased and honored to welcome Berkeley photographer and videographer Deborah O’Grady to our Advisory Board. For 30 years, Deborah has captured the landscapes and people of the West. Among her significant projects are video projections to accompany performances by the Saint Louis Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and others of the French composer Olivier Messiaen’s From the Canyons to the Stars, a large orchestral work inspired by his visits to Zion and Bryce national parks in Utah. Deborah also photographed World War II Navajo Marine veterans for Code Talker Stories, a book documenting their oral histories and the use of the Diné language to help the war effort. You can see portfolios of Deborah’s work on her website at deborahogrady.com.

 
We’re looking forward to the year ahead, working with all of you to protect our wild areas and other special places. Thanks for all your interest and support!

 
Best wishes,
Mike

 
IN GENERAL
1.   Legislative Preview

IN CALIFORNIA
2.   Bears Ears Book Events
          In Berkeley and Point Reyes Station
          January 31 & February 2
3.   Bodie Hills Winter Outing
          February 23

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

 
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IN GENERAL
1.   Legislative Preview

The 116th Congress began at the beginning of the month. As everyone knows, the Congress is now divided between the Republican-majority Senate and the Democratic House. That puts us in a better position to block unfavorable legislation, but it still doesn’t guarantee getting protective legislation though.

The biggest change from the previous Congress will be the oversight that the House Natural Resources Committee will be able to exercise over the administration, particularly the Department of the Interior. Arizona Congressman Raúl Grijalva is the chairman, and he has stated that the committee will investigate the actions taken by the White House to shrink monuments as well as former-Secretary Zinke’s many scandals and ethics investigations.

We expect a variety of bills to be reintroduced in Congress, and look forward to new proposals as well. Here are the most significant ones, most of which we’ve mentioned in the past.

National

Public Lands Package: A large bill containing many smaller ones was being considered at the end of the last Congress, but failed to pass because of the objections of Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), who refused to let it proceed because there was no exemption for the state of Utah from the Antiquities Act of 1906, which authorizes the president to designate national monuments. The entire bill, or parts of it, will likely be reintroduced, but it’s unlikely there will be any such exemption, so its prospects are unknown.

The ANTIQUITIES Act of 2019: This bill would codify all the national monuments designated since 1996 and restates the principle that only Congress has the authority to shrink monuments once they are designated. It also expands the Bears Ears National Monument to the original proposal of 1.9 million acres made by the Inter-Tribal Coalition, to include lands left out by Pres. Obama. It is expected to be introduced next week.

Utah

America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act: This bill would designate as wilderness 9 million acres of qualifying lands that are managed by the Bureau of Land Management. It’s the “gold standard” against which all other proposals must be measured. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) and California Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-47) are the lead sponsors in the Senate and House, respectively.

Emery County Bill: The bill was included in the big public lands package and had been changed to reflect some conservation community concerns, to the point where the Utah Wilderness Coalition supported it. It may be introduced as a stand-alone bill.

The Bears Ears Expansion Act: This is a stand-alone bill to enlarge the Bears Ears monument to its original proposed size. It was introduced today with 71 original cosponsors.

The Protect Utah’s Rural Economy (PURE) Act: Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) are joining forces to exempt Utah from the original Antiquities Act. It would prevent a president from designating a monument or expand an existing one, without the approval of Congress or the state Legislature. It’s Sen. Romney’s first bill and does not bode well for his approach to public lands.

California

Northern California Conservation and Recreation Act: Sponsored by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-2), the proposal would protect local wild lands, expand recreational opportunities, improve fire management, and restore impacted watersheds.

Central Coast Heritage Protection Act: Sponsored by Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-24), Rep. Julia Brownley (D-26), and Sen. Kamala Harris (D), the bill would protect 244,909 acres of wilderness, create two scenic areas encompassing 34,882 acres, and safeguard 159 miles of wild and scenic rivers in the Los Padres National Forest and the Carrizo Plain National Monument.

San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act: Rep. Judy Chu (D-27) introduced two bills in the last Congress to designate wilderness in the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument and to enlarge the monument, as well as creating a national recreation area. Sen. Kamala Harris (D) introduced a bill in the Senate combining these two bills.

California Desert Protection and Recreation Act: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) has long been a champion of protecting the Mojave Desert, a task she took on when Sen. Alan Cranston retired. Her latest legislation is designed to build on her initial Desert Protection Act of 1994 and would protect additional land and help manage California’s desert resources by balancing conservation, recreation, and renewable energy development.

Colorado

Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act: The bill would protect wild places throughout Colorado, each of which have been a part of individual legislative proposals in the past: create new and sustainable recreational opportunities and expand Wilderness in the White River and San Juan National Forests, permanently withdraw the Thompson Divide from new oil and gas leasing, and formally establish three reservoirs along the Gunnison River as the Curecanti National Recreation Area.

CalUWild looks forward to working with our coalition partners across the West to educate the public about these bills and others as they come along. We will keep you informed as they progress.

 
IN CALIFORNIA
2.   Bears Ears Book Events
          In Berkeley and Point Reyes Station
          January 31 & February 2

Journalist Rebecca Robinson and photographer Stephen E. Strom have collaborated on a new book, Voices from Bears Ears: Seeking Common Ground on Sacred Land. The book tells the stories of 20 people on both sides of the national monument controversy: those working to protect ancestral homelands and those who feel their way of life threatened. Yet both feel a deep attachment to and reverence for the landscape, which might provide the common ground.

Both author and photographer will discuss the book at events in the Bay Area this week.

Thursday, January 31

Books Inc.
1491 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley
7:00 p.m.

Saturday, February 2

Point Reyes Presbyterian Church
11445 Highway 1
Point Reyes Station
Tickets: $10 suggested donation, benefiting Friends of Cedar Mesa
7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

 
3.   Bodie Hills Winter Outing
          February 23

CalUWild is a member of the Bodie Hill Conservation Partnership, working to achieve permanent protection for the Bodie Hills, which lie north of Mono Lake and east of Yosemite. The following announcement comes from our friends at Friends of the Inyo.

 
Bodie Hills Winter Outing
Saturday, February 23rd
9AM—3PM

Please join us for a winter outing to explore the Bodie Hills. The Bodies are beautiful in the winter!

When: Saturday February 23, 2019 from 9AM-3PM.
Where: Meet at the High Sierra Bakery in Bridgeport at 9AM.

What to Bring: Water, lunch, snacks, camera, and skis or snowshoes. If you don’t have any, we will have snowshoes for you to borrow. Dress in warm clothing. We will provide details on conditions on February 21st. Please let us know if you need guidance on gear or what to bring.

RSVP to wendy [at] friendsoftheinyo [dot] org with the number in your party and any questions you may have.

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

There were many articles in the past month regarding politics and public lands.

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 Government Shutdown

An op-ed in The Guardian’s This Land is Your Land section, by Jon Jarvis, former head of the National Park Service: Keeping US national parks open during the shutdown is a terrible mistake. It was republished in High Country News.

An article in National Parks Traveler: Groups Request Investigation Into Legality Of Keeping National Parks Open

An article about Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, in The Hill: Group asks watchdog to investigate recall of furloughed Interior workers. This request was made to the Government Accountability Office, which is open. The Interior Inspector General’s Office, the subject of the previous article is closed for the shutdown.

California Reps. Jackie Speier and Jared Huffman: Dems deliver trash from national parks to White House, reported in The Hill.

An editorial in National Parks Traveler: Gagging The National Park Service, The Information Blackout In The Parks

An article in Outside: Interior Remains Open for Business—for Oil Companies

The Washington Post reports: Court: No new offshore drilling work during federal shutdown

An article in the New York Times on the economic effects of the shutdown: Next to National Parks, a Winter of Worry

An article in the New York Times: Joshua Trees Destroyed in National Park During Shutdown May Take Centuries to Regrow

Department of the Interior

An article in the Washington Post: Justice Dept. investigating whether Zinke lied to inspector general. Another article about former Secretary Zinke, from the Associated Press: Former US Interior boss takes job at investment company

The administration has not nominated anyone to be the next Secretary of the Interior, and speculation continues over who it might be. An article in The Hill: Grijalva backs Bishop over current acting Interior Secretary

Public Lands in General

A lengthy article in the Washington Post on the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument: A DIMINISHED MONUMENT: Trump cut Grand Staircase-Escalante nearly in half to spur a mining boom. But those lost protections may not yield big profits.

An article in the New York Times: Why a Border Wall Could Mean Trouble for Wildlife

An article in the Washington Post: Trump’s executive order will cut more forest trees — and some of the public’s tools to stop it

An article in The Guardian’s This Land is Your Land section: ‘It’s tough sleeping at night’: ranchers seek to protect herds as wolves move in

An essay in National Parks Traveler by Alfred Runte: Ancient Wrongs And Public Rights Reconsidered

A new study from Headwaters Economics showing that recreation counties, especially in non-metro places, draw new residents and have higher incomes and faster earnings growth than places without recreation.

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

 
 
 
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