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2020 March

April 1st, 2020

Globe Mallow, Cedar Mesa, Utah                                                                                                              (Mike Painter)

 
March 31, 2020

Dear CalUWild friends—

Welcome to the strange new world of coronavirus. I hope everyone and their families are able to stay healthy and safe. That needs to be the first priority.

However, we still need to pay attention to what’s going on in Washington, DC and elsewhere. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and the rest of the administration are insisting on pushing full steam ahead with their anti-environmental agenda of NEPA rollbacks, oil and gas leases, and more. This comes despite pleas from employees who need to take time off and from Congress and citizens who need to be attending to other matters. Meanwhile the oil and gas industry is requesting leniency on enforcement, since many of them are now short of workers because of the virus. We’ll see what the response is to those requests.

So while we’re in for rough times ahead on many fronts, we all will need to do our best to get through. See ITEM 4 for ideas for things to do to that provide for some balance and relaxation.

 
Best wishes,
Mike

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

IN COLORADO
2.   Wilderness Bill Introduced for Southern Colorado

IN IDAHO
3.   Job Opportunity: Western Watersheds Project

IN GENERAL
4.   The Pandemic and Public Lands

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

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

There is only one new cosponsor for America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act this month from California: Rep. Katie Porter (D-45). (Many of you may have seen video of Rep. Porter, in a Congressional hearing, forcing the head of the Centers for Disease Control to agree to free testing for the coronavirus.)

Please call her office to say thank you: 202-225-5611

We hope to get most of California’s representatives signed on soon as cosponsors, so please look at the California Congressional Information Sheet on our website and see where your representatives stand. And then call to thank or ask them, as appropriate.

A full list of cosponsors nationwide (74 in the House and 17 in the Senate) may be found here.

 
IN COLORADO
2.   Wilderness Bill Introduced for Southern Colorado

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R) has introduced the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness Additions Act (S. 3320), which would add some 40,000 acres to the existing wilderness area (of the same name) in the Rio Grande National Forest.

Sen. Gardner has faced criticism because he has not been a supporter of wilderness and public lands since being elected in 2015. Sen. Gardner has not spoken in favor of the CORE Act, introduced by Sen. Michael Bennet (D), which we wrote about in our January 2019 Update. The League of Conservation Voters says that in 64 out of 75 votes, Sen. Gardner voted against conservation interests. Conservation Colorado published an analysis of Sen. Gardner’s environmental record, which you can read here. Sen. Gardner is, however, credited with having changed White House thinking on funding for the Land & Water Conservation Fund.

Conservation and outdoor recreation are important issues in Colorado, and Sen. Gardner is facing a tough re-election campaign this year. Therefore, many people there feel that this bill is merely a way to shore up his credentials, risk-free, since its acreage is a large proportion of the recommendation (58,000+ acres) already made by the Forest Service in its preferred alternative of the management plan for the forest.

We’ll see how it all plays out and keep you posted.

 
IN IDAHO
3.   Job Opportunity: Western Watersheds Project

Our friends at Western Watersheds Project are looking for …

… an Idaho Director to continue and expand WWP’s campaign to protect and restore public lands and wildlife in Idaho, with an emphasis on livestock grazing and related environmental problems. The position will entail administrative and legal oversight of federal decisions, fieldwork, data collection and analysis, participation in agency planning processes, media outreach and legislative advocacy. The ideal candidate will be highly organized, self-motivated, be able to synthesize and understand ecological and biological concepts, and have strong written and oral communication skills.

Full details are on WWP’s website here.

 
IN GENERAL
4.   The Pandemic and Public Lands

With the coronavirus spreading around the U.S. and the world, many states, including California, issued orders restricting people’s activities to those considered “essential.” Fortunately, this included getting out for exercise. Unfortunately, many people decided this was reason to visit our public lands, near and far from their homes. The Park Service encouraged this by waiving entrance fees at all national parks and monuments.

Many areas found themselves overrun with visitors, defeating the purpose of stay-at-home orders for reducing transmission. Local roads were overwhelmed, severely restricting the ability of emergency agencies to function. Local officials put shutdowns into effect at some places immediately. Eventually, many national parks and monuments were closed to prevent public transmission of the virus but also to protect the employees of the sites.

However, the Park Service so far has refused to close Grand Canyon National Park, despite calls from its superintendent, park employees, and local and national officials. It’s unclear what the reasoning might be.

So in short, this is not the time to plan a trip to Moab or the Bears Ears. Neither place has the capacity to handle any problems that visitors might have on top of expected coronavirus patients. (Moab’s hospital has a total of 17 beds.) The Navajo Nation needs its facilities for its own citizens. In recognition of this, the SE Utah Health Department issued an order closing all restaurants, bars, and movie theaters for 30 days. In addition, it directed that all lodging be rented only to only “essential” or primary residents of Carbon, Emery, and Grand counties.

In California, all National Forest and State Park campgrounds are closed, though hiking trails are open. However, long-distance driving for hiking is not considered “essential.”

So what to do instead? Use your local parks and open spaces for exercise, obeying all travel and parking restrictions. Maintain your distance and awareness when you’re out. Wash your hands when you get home!

And afterward there’s no need to be bored at home.

Many national parks and other places have webcams, which you can watch over the Internet, so you can check in on some of your favorite places. (No webcams in wilderness, however!) A CalUWild friend sent in a link to a page from which you can take virtual tours of some of the most well-known national parks. (Google Earth is required.)

Many arts organizations, museums, and other institutions are making their archives available free of charge.

For example, the Metropolitan Opera will be streaming CalUWild Advisory Board Member John Adams’s opera Nixon in China on Wednesday, April 1, beginning at 7:30 p.m. EDT. The MET is streaming one opera every night from its Live in HD movie theater screenings, and they are available for the following 23 hours. Details may be found by following the links here.

The Smithsonian announced Smithsonian Open Access—“where you can download, share, and reuse millions of the Smithsonian’s images—right now, without asking.”

The California Academy of Sciences has Academy @ Home

The Internet Archive announced this week it was making a “National Emergency Library” available with over 1.4 million volumes, free of charge.

Google Arts & Culture has virtual tours of reportedly 2,500 museums!

For the younger folks in your life: Open Culture has an archive of 6,000 historical children’s books and coloring books from 113 museums available for free download. They have lots of other free materials of interest, too.

Please support your local arts organizations and businesses as much as you can during the time ahead!

 
IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
5.   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 from the New York Times: Coronavirus Doesn’t Slow Trump’s Regulatory Rollbacks, as mentioned in the introduction.

Specifically related to the BLM headquarters move:

An article in The Hill: BLM exodus: Agency loses half of DC staff slated for relocation

An article in the Washington Post: Trump’s bid to move hundreds of jobs from D.C., possibly separating families, was based on unsupported assumptions, report says

An article in The Hill: Natural Resources chair threatens to subpoena Interior Department

Utah

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune: Cattle could return to Escalante tributaries under new Grand Staircase monument plan. This is on the same topic as the op-ed by John Leshy in the New York Times that we linked to last month.

The Atlantic published a photo essay on Utah.

Nevada

An article in the Reno Gazette Journal: District court judge deals blow to Las Vegas pipeline plan. We’ve written on the proposed pipeline and its potential effects on Spring Valley in Nevada and Snake Valley on the Utah-Nevada border previously.

Wyoming

An article in the Washington Post on wildlife crossing for animals encountering freeways: Safe Passages

Related to Coronavirus and Public Lands

An op-ed in National Parks Traveler: The National Park Service’s Battle With Politics And Common Sense

An article in the Los Angeles Times: This Trump agency downplayed coronavirus. Two days later, it praised his ‘decisive’ response

CalUWild friend writer Jon Mooallem had an op-ed in the New York Times adapted from his new book on the 1964 Alaska Earthquake: This Is How You Live When the World Falls Apart. Jon’s book “This Is Chance! The Shaking of an All-American City, a Voice That Held It Together,” was published this month and is available from your local bookseller or Amazon.

Public Lands in General

An article in Courthouse News: National Monuments Shown to Boost Economy of American West

An article in the New York Times: A Mustang Crisis Looms in the West

 
 
 
 
 

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2014 March

April 4th, 2014

DSC_0266b3aStornetta Public Lands, California Coastal National Monument, March 12, 2014      (Mike Painter)

April 2, 2014

Dear CalUWild friends-

There’s a lot of information and many links this month, so I’ll keep the introduction short, just to say that it really wasn’t planned that so many of the items would feature Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Public Lands & Environmental Regulation. We’ll be hearing even more from and about him in the future, because he will likely become chairman of the full Natural Resources Committee in the next Congress, as the present chairman, Doc Hastings (R-WA)-also no friend of public lands protection-has announced his retirement when his term expires. We will have our work cut out for us.

An administrative request: With this year being the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, the opportunities for outreach for CalUWild are multiplying. Our brochure, however, is in serious need of updating. If you’re a graphic artist willing to volunteer to help with the design of a new brochure, or someone who might be able to arrange for printing at an affordable price, please get in touch.

Thanks for all your continued interest and support!

Happy April,
Mike

IN UTAH
1.   Amazing Earthfest in Kanab
          May 11-17, 2014

IN CALIFORNIA
2.   President Obama Adds Stornetta Public Lands
          To the California Coastal National Monument
          (ACTION ITEM)
3.   Fracking Moratorium Hearing in Sacramento
          April 8, 9:30 a.m.
          (ACTION ITEM)
4.   Save the Dates
          Visions of the Wild Festival
          In Vallejo
          September 3-6, 2014

IN GENERAL
5.   Rep. Bishop’s Bill to Limit National Monument
          Designations Passes the House
6.   Commercialization & Fees
          In the National Forests
          Comments due Friday, April 4
          URGENT
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
7.   Links of Interest

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IN UTAH
1.   Amazing Earthfest in Kanab
          May 11-17, 2014

Rich Csenge, one of our friends at Mainers for Utah Wilderness, decided some years ago to spend several months of every year in Kanab in Kane County, Utah. He is now the director of Amazing Earthfest, a celebration of the landscape there, in its 8th year. He sent along the following description. Spring is perfect for exploring the redrock country of Southern Utah. If you haven’t been hooked by the landscape like many of us have been, now might be the time!

Connect with nature at Amazing Earthfest, Southern Utah’s annual spring festival of learning, discovery, arts and adventure; a premier 7-day celebration of the Colorado Plateau, exploring land and life in the intermountain West.

Choose from over 50 free events in hiking, cycling, horseback and ATV riding, programs in native cultures, wildlife, dinosaurs, ecology, geology, land ethics, astronomy, Pioneer history, performance arts and live entertainment, amidst some of the world’s most beautiful scenery.

Experience the outdoor exhilaration of guided backcountry trips, indoor performance arts and learning opportunities, or engage your senses with a series of contemporary award-winning documentary films to about issues of planetary, national, and regional significance in a cool, comfortable theater.

Make the spectacular scenery of Southern Utah your destination this year and experience Amazing Earthfest! For information on travel and lodging, and a schedule of events visit www.amazingearthfest.com or call 1-800-733-5263 (1-800-SEE-KANE).

National Geographic Traveler featured Kane County and Amazing Earthfest in it Best Spring Trips 2014 issue.

The Wilderness Society also ran an article on its website.

IN CALIFORNIA
2.   President Obama Adds Stornetta Public Lands
          To the California Coastal National Monument
          (ACTION ITEM)

On March 11, Pres. Obama invoked the Antiquities Act of 1906 to designate the first onshore portion of the California Coastal National Monument, which stretches along the entire 1,100-mile-long coastline of the state. The designation is the latest addition to the monuments managed by the Bureau of Land Management and its National Landscape Conservation System, established by Bruce Babbitt, Secty. of the Interior under Pres. Clinton.

Pres. Obama’s designation protects almost 1,700 acres around Pt. Arena and the mouth of the Garcia River on the southern Mendocino County coast. It is the home to many wildlife species, including the mountain beaver, endangered butterflies, Coho and Chinook salmon, seals, and sea lions. Tundra swans over-winter at the mouth of the river, and whales migrate offshore.

Secty. of the Interior Sally Jewell, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality Mike Boots, and Principal Deputy BLM Director Neil Kornze all attended a dedication celebration on March 12 on the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, when the photo accompanying this month’s Update was taken.

You may read Pres. Obama’s Proclamation here and his signing comments here.

The proclamation was met with almost universal acclaim, except for Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation. He criticized the designation of the monument, saying:

The President’s use of the Antiquities Act to expand the Coastal California [sic] National Monument is disappointing to say the least. It is also purely political and undermines sincere efforts to reach consensus on questions of conservation. … The fact that this bill hasn’t yet been considered in the Senate is not an oversight, it was intentional. The legislation was held up in the Senate so the President could usurp the congressional process. In other words, the House was punked by the President. … The President seems to view the legislative process as relevant only when it is politically convenient. Unfortunately, that is not how our founding fathers intended for the federal government to operate. I am troubled by the way President Obama and Harry Reid misuse the powers entrusted to them by the American people. …

You can read his full statement here and post a comment, too, if you like.

Rep. Bishop’s statement is rather disingenuous. It is true that the monument legislation had passed the House. The bill had been previously introduced by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-5), and it was passed after being carried on by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-2) following redistricting-the first bill that he introduced, quite an achievement. However, his legislation simply added the land under the provisions of the original monument proclamation by Pres. Clinton in 2000.

However, when the bill was heard by the Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Bishop amended it significantly, requiring that (1) traditional economic activities and existing uses, such as grazing and maintenance of existing structures used for grazing, not be restricted; and (2) acquisition of non-federal lands within the boundaries only occur through donation or exchange, i.e., it prohibited the government from purchasing land (or an owner from selling-so ironically restricting private property rights). The President’s proclamation contains no such language, and it also designated a larger area than was covered by the bill.

The Salt Lake Tribune published a letter to the editor from Scott Schneider, the president of Visit Mendocino County, criticizing Rep. Bishop’s comments.

As we have reported before, Rep. Bishop has inserted these types of amendments into other bills for Nevada and the Pinnacles National Monument-to-Park legislation in California, overriding results achieved through public processes that enjoyed widespread local support.

Please contact Pres. Obama and Secty. Sally Jewell to thank them for protecting the Stornetta Lands and to encourage them to continue designating monuments.

Contact information:

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

You may comment via the Interior Department’s online comment page, by email or phone at 202-208-3100.

The BLM’s website for the Stornetta Lands is here and for the California Coast, click here.

Visit Mendocino County’s website is here.

Related to the monument designation, CBS News ran a segment on wilderness specialist Bob Wick, who works in the BLM’s California state office in Sacramento, and who has photographed public lands along the coast and all over the West. Click here to view the 2:34-minute video.

3.   Fracking Moratorium Hearing in Sacramento
          April 8, 9:30 a.m.
          (ACTION ITEM)

The Californians Against Fracking coalition, of which CalUWild is a member, is encouraging people to attend a legislative hearing in Sacramento on Tuesday, April 8, at 9:30 a.m. Senate Bill 1132 would impose a moratorium on fracking and other recovery enhancement processes, such as acidization, until a full environmental impact report is completed. Here’s the information from the coalition:

On April 8 the Senate Natural Resources Committee will hold the first legislative hearing about the fracking moratorium bill. We are planning to pack the hearing room with supporters, and then visit our Senators to tell them to vote for the bill. Please sign up here to join us if you’re able to come to Sacramento that day.

What: Senate Natural Resources Committee hearing on the fracking moratorium bill, followed by visits to legislative offices
When: Tuesday, April 8, 9:30AM
Where: Room 112, California State Capitol Building, Sacramento, CA

If you are interested in visiting legislative offices after the hearing, we can provide you with specific information and answer any questions you might have. Please fill out this form with your address so we can help you figure out who your senator is (if you don’t already know).

Please forward this sign up or your own to your lists so we can get as many supporters to the meeting as possible. Let me know if you have any questions.

With many thanks,

Hillary Aidun
Anti-Fracking Organizer
Center for Biological Diversity
415-436-9682 x 335
haidun [at] biologicaldiversity [dot] org

4.   Save the Dates
          Visions of the Wild Festival
          In Vallejo
          September 3-6, 2014

As we’ve mentioned many times, 2014 marks the 50th Anniversary of the passage of the Wilderness Act, the law creating the National Wilderness Preservation System. The anniversary is being commemorated with events all around the country. Here in the Bay Area and Northern California, the major celebration will be Visions of the Wild: Connecting nature, culture and community, a 4-day festival taking place in Vallejo, September 3-6.

The U.S. Forest Service, whose regional headquarters are located at the old Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo, is facilitating planning for the Festival. But Vallejo is also one of the most diverse cities in the United States, and the intent is to bring many different communities together to celebrate wilderness and introduce people to it.

The Festival will kick off on September 3 with a Walk for Wilderness, and then continue on September 4-6 with a full program of arts & music, speakers, films, field trips, and service projects. The Festival has a website and a Facebook page, both of which will be updated as planning continues.

Additional organizers include the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Park Service, BLM, the City of Vallejo and the local arts foundation, Tuleyome, Sierra Club, and CalUWild.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, one of CalUWild’s national monuments coalition partners, just ran a feature article on Vallejo in its quarterly magazine.

IN GENERAL
5.   Rep. Bishop’s Bill to Limit National Monument
          Designations Passes the House

By a vote of 222-201, the House of Representatives passed a bill introduced by Utah representative Rob Bishop (R) that would impose severe restrictions on the President’s authority to designate national monuments under the Antiquities Act of 1906. That law has been invoked over 100 times to establish monuments such as Devil’s Tower, Grand Canyon, Zion, Arches, Death Valley, and Muir Woods. Congress has gone on to designate many monuments as national parks.

The vote was pretty much along party lines, although 10 Republicans voted against it, and three Democrats (including Utah’s Jim Matheson) voted in favor.

The bill, titled the “Ensuring Public Involvement in the Creation of National Monuments Act” (H.R. 1459), is the just latest of Rep. Bishop’s attacks on public land protection. Though the Senate will most likely not take up the bill, and the President would in all probability veto it, it provides a warning for what we can expect should there be a shift in the political landscape in Washington, DC, i.e., control of the Senate and/or White House.

The bill amends the Antiquities Act to prohibit the President from making more than one monument designation in a state during a four-year term of office without an express act of Congress, or including private property without the written consent of the affected property owner. Furthermore, the bill subjects declarations to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), meaning that an environmental impact statement would have to be prepared, followed further by a feasibility study to include an estimate of the costs associated with managing the monument in perpetuity (including any loss of federal and state revenue) and the benefits associated with managing the monument in perpetuity. Finally, designations would expire after three years if not approved by Congress or the NEPA requirements were not satisfied.

There are many ironies involved here. The first is the bill’s very title: “Ensuring Public Involvement …” The Obama Administration has been very (many would say overly) cautious about designating monuments. In every instance, prior to their establishment, the monuments were the subjects of thorough public processes and campaigns. None has been controversial in their local communities.

Secondly, non-conservationists have often opposed NEPA for various practical and philosophical reasons and are always looking to exempt projects from its requirements or even amend or repeal the basic law. (While NEPA compliance can be a cumbersome and time-consuming undertaking, its benefits usually outweigh the burden.) So to now attempt to broaden its application is pretty hypocritical.

Finally, requiring a formal feasibility study can only be meant to discourage designations. Presidents generally take all the stated issues into account before issuing proclamations, even if they aren’t formalized. (In the Nevada wilderness bills mentioned above Rep. Bishop also inserted requirements for studies, despite the fact that studies had already been done by the agencies before the bills were introduced.)

It’s not unreasonable to see Rep. Bishop’s proposal as an attempt to smother monument designations under paperwork in order to discourage them in the first place.

Newspapers across the country published editorials and op-ed pieces against the legislation. Here is a sample:

The Salt Lake Tribune: Bishop’s attack on Antiquities Act is a bad idea
San Francisco Chronicle: Don’t diminish protections of public lands
The Bakersfield Californian: Preserve the Antiquities Act for posterity
The Virginian-Pilot: History lessons lost in Congress
The Hill (DC), by Ken Burns: Don’t sap the Antiquities Act

6.   Commercialization & Fees
          In the National Forests
          Comments due Friday, April 4
          URGENT
          (ACTION ITEM)

Sorry for the short notice, but the following alert (edited for length) just came in from our friends at the Western Slope No-Fee Coalition, a broad-based organization whose goals are:

• To eliminate recreation fees for general access to public lands managed by the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management
• To eliminate backcountry fees and interpretive program fees in National Parks
• To require more accountability within the land management agencies
• To encourage Congress to adequately fund our public lands

FEDERAL JUDGE ALLOWS PRIVATIZATION OF ALL RECREATION ON ALL NATIONAL FORESTS

Ruling says concessionaires are exempt from the requirements and restrictions in federal recreation fee law.

In a ruling handed down March 28, 2014, Judge Rudolph Contreras of the DC District Court wrote that Forest Service concessionaires are not subject to the restrictions on recreation fees that apply at agency-managed recreation sites.

The ruling essentially means that private companies operating under permit on National Forest land can require everyone to pay a fee for doing anything, anywhere within their permit area.

The ruling concludes a lawsuit filed by several individuals and a watchdog organization, challenging the Forest Service policy of allowing concessionaires to charge fees that the agency is not allowed to charge under the limitations in the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act.

When FLREA was enacted in 2004, its authors included specific requirements and restrictions on recreation fees, in response to public concerns that the federal agencies cannot be trusted with fee authority. But they also included a clause allowing third parties to charge for goods or services “notwithstanding any other provision of law.” The Forest Service interpreted that to mean that concessionaires don’t have to abide by the same legal requirements as the agency must. That interpretation is what was challenged in the lawsuit, and what the court has now upheld

Under Judge Contreras’s ruling:

The Forest Service cannot charge a fee:

-solely for parking.
-for passing through federal land without using facilities and services.
-for a scenic overlook.
-for general access.
-for camping at undeveloped sites with no amenities.
-for picnicking along a road or trailside.

But a concessionaire can!

The Forest Service has already turned over half of all its campgrounds, including more than 80% of the most highly-developed ones, to private operation-typically at much higher rates than agency-managed campgrounds. But this decision is not limited to campgrounds. It will allow the Forest Service to stop providing any recreation at all. They can turn it all over: picnic areas, trailheads, scenic roads and overlooks-everything-to private companies to operate for profit.

If you have a federal recreation pass like the Senior or America the Beautiful Pass, this is likely to make it worthless on National Forests, because concessionaires don’t have to honor those the same way the Forest Service does.

The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act was recently extended into next year to allow Congress time to enact new legislation to replace it. That legislation must include provisions that apply consistent rules and restrictions on all public lands, regardless of whether they are agency managed or operated under permit by private entities.

Tell Congress you want concessionaires to play by the same rules as the federal agencies! Please take action now.

HOUSE TO CONSIDER FEE LEGISLATION AT HEARING APRIL 4

The US House is holding a hearing this coming Friday, April 4th, at 9 am Eastern to consider draft fee legislation proposed by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT). WSNFC President Kitty Benzar will be an invited witness at this hearing. You can live-stream the hearing at the House Natural Resources website, or watch the archived video later. It will be posted after the hearing concludes.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Contact Congress and tell them that new fee legislation must require private concessionaires on federal lands to play by the same rules as the agencies. Americans have a right to expect fair, consistent rules governing access to our public lands – regardless of whether they are publicly or privately managed.

Call-or better yet fax-your comments for maximum impact.

Tell Congress to enact legislation that allows fees only for use of developed facilities, and to apply all fee requirements at concessionaire-managed sites the same as at agency-managed ones.

Here is the contact information:

Committee on Natural Resources
United States House of Representatives
1324 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Phone: (202) 225-2761
Fax: (202) 225-5929
Or use their Webform

Energy and Natural Resources Committee
United States Senate
304 Dirksen Senate Building
Washington, DC 20510

Phone: (202) 224-4971
Fax: (202) 224-6163
Sorry, they don’t offer a Webform

Very important: send a copy of your comments to both of your Senators and to your US Representative. To find their Webform, go to the Senate website and the House website.

IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
7.   Links of Interest

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

Articles and opinion on two important Alaska issues: The Izembek Road through a designated wilderness area and the Pebble Mine above Bristol Bay

          Bruce Babbitt op-ed in the Los Angeles Times: Alaska’s ‘road to nowhere’ is still a boondoggle

          Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) response

          New York Times article: E.P.A. Says It Will Fight Mine Project in Alaska

          Related editorial: A Reprieve for Bristol Bay

Timothy Egan in the New York Times on the recent landslide in Washington state

An op-ed in the New York Times, Is Canada Tarring Itself?, about tar sands development in Canada, by CalUWild friend Jacques Leslie. Tar sands development is a threat in Utah and other Intermountain States.

An article in the Washington Post: John Podesta: The man behind President Obama’s new environmental push

A Michael Frome essay on the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, published by Wilderness Watch

The Atlantic‘s photo blog InFocus posted pictures of the Ivanpah solar plant in the Mojave Desert.

Related articles on the installation’s impacts on birds—first reported by Chris Clarke last Fall, but numerous articles appeared when the plant opened in February (Google “Ivanpah solar birds” for multiple results)—and on aviation

The U.S. Forest Service here in Region 5 (California) has been producing short films on restoration topics. The latest is Marijuana Grows and Restoration. We’ll include more links to other films in the series in future issues of the Update.

Two Park Service studies on park economics:

2012 National Park visitor spending effects: Economic contributions to local communities, states, and the nation

Effects of the October 2013 government shutdown on National Park Service visitor spending in gateway communities

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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2012 March

April 2nd, 2012

Pictographs, Canyonlands National Park, Utah                                                                                    (Mike Painter)

March 31, 2012

Dear CalUWild friends and supporters—

There are quite a few items this month, so we’ll get right to them.

But first, thank you, as always, for your interest and willingness to stand up for our wilderness and public lands!

Best wishes,
Mike

IN UTAH
1.   Interior Approves Huge Drilling Project in Desolation Canyon
          DEADLINE: April 16
          (ACTION ITEM)
2.   Rep. Matheson Re-Introduces Wasatch Mountains Wilderness Bill
3.   Governor Signs Bill Requiring Turnover of Federal Lands

IN JAIL
4.   BLM Bid Disrupter Tim DeChristopher Put in Isolation

IN CALIFORNIA
5.   Wilderness Bill Introduced for Los Padres National Forest
6.   Beauty Mountain Wilderness Bill Needs Support
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN NEVADA
7.   Nevada Goes Ahead with Groundwater Pumping Plans

IN WASHINGTON STATE
8.   Judge Rules Against Fire Tower Reconstruction in Wilderness

IN GENERAL
9.   Shell Sues Conservation Groups over Alaska Plans

IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
10.   Links of Interest

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

IN UTAH
1.   Interior Approves Huge Drilling Project in Desolation Canyon
          DEADLINE: April 16
          (ACTION ITEM)

This month, the Bureau of Land Management and the Interior Department approved a natural gas drilling project in the Desolation Canyon proposed wilderness along the Green River, one of the largest roadless areas in the lower 48 states.

The BLM released its Final EIS after the initial Draft EIS received extremely low marks from the US EPA, so it has now proposed a new Alternative F as the one it will proceed with, after a 30-day waiting period.

The conservation community and EPA had supported Alternative E, which would have allowed no wells in the proposed wilderness area and only six acres would have been disturbed. The new Alternative F will allow 215 wells, disturbing close to 2,500 acres of proposed wilderness—only seven wells fewer, but almost 50% more acreage disturbed than under the company’s own original proposal, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The EIS may be found online here.

Please write to BLM and ask it to adopt Alternative E, originally supported by the EPA and conservationists, as its final choice. As always, personalize y our comments, mentioning your experiences, if any, in the area, and why the issue is important to you.

Comments may be submitted online at: BLM_UT_Vernal_Comments [at] blm [dot]gov.

Subject: Gasco Energy Inc. Uinta Basin Natural Gas Development Project EIS

By U.S. Mail:

Ms. Stephanie Howard
Environmental Coordinator
170 South 500 East
Vernal, UT 84078

Please also send a letter to Interior Secretary Salazar pointing out that this approval by the Utah BLM flies in the face of his efforts promoting America’s Great Outdoor Initiative to get people outside and expand recreational opportunities, since Desolation Canyon is one of the country’s premier rafting and roadless areas

In addition, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance has begun an online petition that you can sign. But please, do submit your own comments as above; they are more effective than online petitions.

2.   Rep. Matheson Re-Introduces Wasatch Mountains Wilderness Bill

On Tuesday of this week, Rep. Jim Matheson introduced legislation in the House of Representatives to designate new wilderness on national forest lands along the Wasatch Front, east of Salt Lake City. The bill would set aside nearly 26,000 acres of land, plus designate another 10,000 acres as a special management area that would still allow helicopter skiing, which is not allowed in wilderness areas. The bill is designed to protect important watershed areas from development. Rep. Matheson introduced similar legislation in the last Congress. No companion bill was introduced in the Senate.

We’ll keep you posted as the bill moves along.

3.   Governor Signs Bill Requiring Turnover of Federal Lands

Last Friday, Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed a controversial bill requiring the federal government to hand over millions of acres of land to the state of Utah. Most legal experts say the bill is unconstitutional and don’t expect anything to come of it. But that hasn’t stopped the governor and his allies in the state from moving ahead in their attempts to wrest control of much the state away from the BLM, and Forest Service. National parks and military installations were exempted from the legislation. However, the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, managed by the BLM, and long considered a thorn in their side by Utah legislators, is included.

Utah claims that it needs to the lands under state jurisdiction in order to have a tax base to support public schools. Utah has the lowest per pupil funding in the country. The state has been unwilling to look at other possible funding sources for its schools. It currently has no severance tax on coal and a low tax on oil taken from the ground. It has been unable to properly maintain the state park system. The law gives the federal government until the end of 2014 to relinquish control, after which time the state has threatened to sue for control.

A similar bill was defeated this week in Arizona, while another in Colorado is moving ahead.

IN JAIL
4.   BLM Bid Disrupter Tim DeChristopher Put in Isolation

On March 9, Tim DeChristopher, who was convicted of placing illegal bids in the December 2008 BLM auction in Salt Lake City, was put in an isolation cell at the California prison where he is currently serving a 2-year term. DeChristopher was returned to his regular cell Wednesday evening, March 27 after his situation was made public and Congress and the prison received thousands of telephone calls protesting the action.

As DeChristopher was being taken to the isolation unit, he was reportedly told that a congressman (unnamed) contacted the prison, accusing him of sending a threatening email. The email in question was published by Rolling Stone magazine and can be read here. In it, DeChristopher discusses returning a contribution to his legal defense fund, made by a company that was closing its U.S. manufacturing facilities and moving to overseas production. Consequently, DeChristopher didn’t think that he should be keeping the contribution. In the email he says that when writing to the company’s owner, he would “include a threat to wage a campaign against” the company if it didn’t change its plans.

At this point, it’s not clear if that “threat” was the cause of DeChristopher’s punishment or whether he was felt to be doing political organizing from prison. Regardless, isolation is usually reserved for prisoners who are violent while in prison.

The case has been controversial from the beginning. The Utah oil & gas auction was undertaken in the last days of the Bush Administration and was seen by many as a parting gift to the industry. A judge issued a restraining order against the leases and incoming Interior Secretary Salazar suspended them. The U.S. Attorney for Utah decided to prosecute DeChristopher anyway. During the trial before District Judge Dee Benson, DeChristopher was not permitted to introduce evidence was to why he undertook his action, depriving him of the opportunity to present a “necessity” defense. At sentencing, Judge Benson told DeChristopher that one of the reasons he imposed the harsh sentence was because DeChristopher had continued speaking out against oil & gas development and on climate change issues. "The offense itself … wasn’t that bad," the Salt Lake Tribune quoted the judge as saying. After sentencing, DeChristopher’s attorney, former BLM Director Pat Shea, claimed that Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch had discussed potential sentences with Judge Benson. Sen. Hatch denied doing so. Prior to being appointed to the bench, Judge Benson was Sen. Hatch’s chief of staff.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver has agreed to hear DeChristopher’s appeal in May.

IN CALIFORNIA
5.   Wilderness Bill Introduced for Los Padres National Forest

Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-24) has introduced a wilderness bill, H.R. 4109, for the Los Padres National Forest in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties that would enlarge the Matilija, Sespe, and Dick Smith wilderness areas. All together, the bill designates about 63,000 acres. In addition, it also creates the Condor Ridge Scenic Area on the Gaviota coast. Finally, the bill would provide wild & scenic river protection for portions of Indian Creek, Mono Creek, and upper Piru and Sespe creeks, totaling about 89 miles.

There are other portions of the bill that ought to be corrected, however, including the opening up of routes that have been closed for several decades, and the creation and enlargement of two OHV areas in Ventura County, and a potentially unequal land exchange around Lake Piru.

Rep. Gallegly, who has been in Congress since 1987, has announced that will be retiring at the end of this term.

We’ll continue to follow the bill as it moves along.

6.   Beauty Mountain Wilderness Bill Needs Support
          (ACTION ITEM)

The following information comes from an alert that our friends at the California Wilderness Coalition recently sent out regarding the Beauty Mountain and Agua Tibia Wilderness Act (H.R. 41).

Protect Beauty Mountain!

Congressman Darrell Issa (R-49) introduced the Beauty Mountain and Agua Tibia Wilderness Act last year, but the bill is languishing in the US House of Representatives. Take action today by writing to Rep. Issa and let him know just how important this bill is to you!

Use the talking points below in your letter and send it to Representative Issa. Feel free to add in your own personal stories and anecdotes about why Beauty Mountain and Agua Tibia are so important to protect!

• Thank Rep. Issa for introducing the Beauty Mountain and Agua Tibia Wilderness Act.

• The bill would bring much needed protections to these spectacular areas in San Diego County. The chaparral-draped slopes and valleys of Beauty Mountain and Agua Tibia provide homes to wildlife as well as hiking and horseback riding opportunities for locals and visitors. We need this bill!

• Given the challenging climate in Congress and the future uncertainties that redistricting will bring, we hope that Rep. Issa is able to move the bill across the finish line in this Congress.

• Ask Rep. Issa to let you know if you can help in any way to assist with this important bill.

• Thanks again for his leadership and vision for San Diego County’s wild places.

Send your letter to Rep. Issa via his website contact form.

Or send it by U.S. Mail or fax:

1800 Thibodo Road, #310
Vista, CA 92081
Fax: 760-599-1178
DC Fax: 202-225-3303

Click here for a Beauty Mountain and Agua Tibia Wilderness Act Map.

Background
The Beauty Mountain and Agua Tibia Wilderness Act 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 passed in 2009 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.

IN NEVADA
7.   Nevada Goes Ahead with Groundwater Pumping Plans

Last week the Nevada State Engineer gave the Southern Nevada Water Authority the right to pump groundwater from four valleys north of Las Vegas: Spring, Cave, Dry Lake and Delamar valleys, stretching up to Great Basin National Park. No decision was made concerning Snake Valley, east of the Park and straddling the border with Utah. That proposal has been the subject of negotiations between the two states.

BLM is expected to approve a right of way for a pipeline to Las Vegas across federal land later this year.

Conservationists fear that pumping will take more water than annual snowpack can supply, and that the sinking water table will cause desertification of the valleys and springs to dry up. The Water Authority claims it will monitor the pumping and that no negative effects will occur. Opponents respond that the time any such effects are noticed, it will be too late to allow for recharge of the groundwater.

Lawsuits by conservationists and agricultural interests challenging the grant of water rights are likely.

Las Vegas estimates that the water would be enough to supply 300,000 homes.

IN WASHINGTON STATE
8.   Judge Rules Against Fire Tower Reconstruction in Wilderness

In our February Update we mentioned an article in High Country News about the debate over the reconstruction of the Green Mountain fire lookout, located in a designated wilderness area in Washington State. This week, a federal judge in Seattle ruled that the U.S. Forest Service had violated the Wilderness Act and NEPA by failing to undertake any study of the necessity of rebuilding the lookout and how to minimally intrude on the wilderness area in order to accomplish its goal.

In addition, the judge ruled that the obligation to preserve wilderness character took precedence over any other possible obligation to maintain the historic structure, especially since Congress made no mention of the lookout in the legislation creating the wilderness area. In fact, the Forest Service just about rebuilt the entire structure, using numerous (more than 67) helicopter trips to the top of Green Mountain in the process of removing the old building and replacing it.

In his ruling, the judge wrote that “removal of the present lookout structure is the appropriate remedy.”

Wilderness Watch, represented by Pete Frost of the Western Environmental Law Center, brought the case.

If you would like to read the judge’s opinion in the case, click here. If the link doesn’t work for some reason, send me an email, and I’ll send you a PDF attachment.

IN GENERAL
9.   Shell Sues Conservation Groups Over Alaska Plans

Shell Oil recently filed a pre-emptive lawsuit against a number of conservation groups, hoping to head off any possible challenge to its recently-submitted oil spill prevention and response plan. The groups sued are: Center for Biological Diversity, Alaska Wilderness League, Natural Resources Defense Council, Northern Alaska Environment Center, Oceana, Pacific Environment, Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands, Sierra Club, and The Wilderness Society. Earthjustice is representing the defendants.

Shell hopes to begin exploratory drilling in the Chukchi Sea this summer and fears that any delay caused by litigation will force it to have to wait until next year. The “drilling season” lasts only three months because of sea ice.

Lawsuits of this kind are rarely successful, because until a challenge is actually filed, there is nothing to contest.

IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
10.   Links of Interest

If you’re unable to access an article or a link doesn’t work for some reason, send me an email.

USA Today: More national parks curb sales of disposable water bottles

Park Service Report: Economic Benefits to Local Communities from National Park Visitation and Payroll, 2010

From the Los Angeles Times:

           California State Parks reprieves

           Dropping Fees in National Forests

From the New York Times:

           Utah’s New Natural History Museum

           Is Silence Going Extinct?

           Two articles by Timothy Egan, on public lands and nature deficit disorder

Tags: ,
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2011 March

October 25th, 2011

Overlooking the Goosenecks of the San Juan River, Utah                                                            Mike Painter


April 2, 2011

Dear CalUWild friends –

April Fool’s Day is just past, but I hope we can still get away with sending out the March Update today.

There was no Update for February, as I was in Washington, DC at the end of last month with the Utah Wilderness Coalition, in advance of the reintroduction of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act. See item 1.

Congress has been spending a lot of its time on budget issues, but rather than pass a complete bill, it has settled for stopgap measures (continuing resolutions) to avoid a government shutdown. Things seem to have reached an impasse, so it will be interesting to see what happens in the next week or so. So far, many anti-environmental amendments have been proposed in the House, but for the most part the Senate has eliminated them in the final versions. The Republicans aren’t giving up, however, in the budget process or in the stand-alone legislation they are proposing. At least one example is below.

On the administrative side of things, a big “Thank You” goes to everyone who contributed to our Annual Appeal. If you didn’t get around to it, though, you can still make a contribution, as we are always in need of funding help. Tax-deductible contributions should be made payable to “Resource Renewal Institute,” our fiscal sponsor. Contributions payable to “CalUWild” may be used for lobbying and are NOT tax-deductible. Either way, please mail your check to CalUWild, P.O. Box 210474, San Francisco, CA 94121-0474.

Thank you for your interest and support,
Mike

IN UTAH
1. America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act Reintroduction
          (ACTION ITEM)
2. BLM Approves Potash Mining on Sevier Dry Lakebed

IN CALIFORNIA
3. Bodie Hills Update
4. Pt. Reyes Oyster Farm Update

IN GENERAL
5. Other Public Lands Bills Introduced
6. America’s Great Outdoors Report
7. Wild Lands Policy

IN THE PRESS
8. Tom Wharton: A Fat Man’s Defense of Wilderness
9. Brooke Williams: Why Do We Need Wilderness?

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

IN UTAH
1. America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act Reintroduction
          (ACTION ITEM)

In the next couple of weeks, Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) will reintroduce America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act. First introduced in 1989, the bill is a comprehensive approach to protecting the remaining wildlands of Utah.

Some California representatives have already signed on as cosponsors of the bill:

          Lynn Woolsey (D-CA06)
          George Miller (D-CA07)
          Jerry McNerney (D-CA11)
          Pete Stark (D-CA13)
          Mike Honda (D-CA15)
          Sam Farr (D-CA17)
          Lois Capps (D-CA23)
          Howard Berman (D-CA28)
          Laura Richardson (D-CA37)
          Grace Napolitano (D-38)
          Bob Filner (D-51)

If you live in their districts, please give them a phone call or send them an email of thanks. Contact information can be found at the members’ web pages at www.house.gov.

Previous cosponsors are:

          Mike Thompson (D-1)
          Doris Matsui (D-5)
          Barbara Lee (D-9)
          John Garamendi (D-10)
          Jackie Speier (D-12)
          Anna Eshoo (D-14)
          Zoe Lofgren (D-16)
          Brad Sherman (D-27)
          Adam Schiff (D-29)
          Henry Waxman (D-30)
          Xavier Becerra (D-31)
          Judy Chu (D-32)
          Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-34)
          Maxine Waters (D-35), though not in the last Congress
          Jane Harman (D-36)
          Laura Richardson (D-37)
          Linda Sanchez (D-39)
          Loretta Sanchez (D-47)
          Susan Davis (D-53)

Karen Bass (D-33), a new member, replaced Diane Watson, who was a previous cosponsor that retired last year.

Jim Costa (D-20) is a member of the House Natural Resources Committee, but has never been a cosponsor. He, Dennis Cardoza (D-18), and Joe Baca (D-43) have said that they prefer to focus on local issues.

Wilderness has traditionally been a non-partisan issue. In recent years, unfortunately, it’s become a more polarized-and polarizing-issue. Only a few of the Republican members of California’s delegation seem to see expanding wilderness as anything positive, and those that do think that local interest and support trump all other considerations, so there are currently no cosponsors among GOP members from California.

Regardless of whether they can be convinced, it’s still important that representatives know your views.

2. BLM Approves Potash Mining on Sevier Dry Lakebed

The Utah BLM State Office approved a plan to open Sevier Dry Lakebed, southwest of Delta, to potash mining. The move was not unexpected, since it was the “preferred alternative” in the EIS it released last year. See the October Interim Update.

It’s not clear whether conservationists will appeal the decision, since there are concerns about dust, groundwater supplies, and the impact on migratory birds during wet years.

An area of 126,0000 acres will be opened, and the project will be active for about 8-1/2 years.

IN CALIFORNIA
3. Bodie Hills Update

In January’s Update, we wrote about a then-upcoming February meeting in Bridgeport where the Cougar Gold Company was making a public presentation of its proposal for a gold mine in the Bodie Hills. It continued to push for release of the Bodie Wilderness Study Area (WSA), telling the Board of Supervisors that it would not continue with its plans if the WSA remained in place. The company refused to give any details as to its plans, however, and dismissed questions from concerned citizens. (When asked about potential pollution in Rough Creek, the representative wondered why there was concern, since it flowed to Nevada anyway and wouldn’t affect Bridgeport.)

No vote was taken at the meeting, and people left with more questions that had been answered.

As a follow-up to that meeting, Supervisor Hap Hazard, the deciding vote on the 5-member board, decided to put forth a compromise proposal that would split the Bodie WSA, releasing half of it for the mining development. At a meeting earlier this month, no one was happy with Mr. Hazard’s proposal, either on its merits or because of the way it was handled. The supervisors took no vote on the matter, and it seems that at the local level at least, the issue of WSA release has been put to rest for the short term.

There has been no further word from the gold mining company.

Rep. Buck McKeon (R-25), the local congressman, has not reintroduced his bill from the last Congress to release the Bodie WSA. (But see Item 5a for a late-breaking, related issue.) The potential bill mentioned there would have the same effect as Rep. McKeon’s stand-alone bill of last year, since the Bodie WSA is “not recommended” for wilderness status by the BLM. It’s likely that the Supervisors will be asked to support this legislation, instead.

Conservationists are working on outreach to Bodie Hills stakeholders, in the hopes that a long-term vision and plan for protection of the area can be developed. Such a process should involve the local communities, and other interested citizens and groups around the state and country. We’ll keep you posted.


4. Pt. Reyes Oyster Farm Update

We’ve reported in the past on the ongoing controversy at Pt. Reyes National Seashore and the potential extension of the commercial oyster farm’s operating permit.

BRIEF SUMMARY: Pt. Reyes NS was created in 1962. The dairy ranches and oyster farm within its boundaries were allowed to continue operations. In 1972, the Seashore’s general management plan was completed, and the oyster farm was given a 40-year use permit. In 1976, Congress designated the Philip Burton Wilderness. The area where the oyster farm is located was designated “potential wilderness,” meaning that it would become fully wilderness when the non-conforming use (the oyster farm) was removed. This was expected to occur in 2012, at the expiration of the use permit.

The oyster farm changed hands in 2005, and the new owner knew that the permit would expire in 2012. In the last couple of years he’s been pushing for an extension. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) attached a rider to an appropriations bill authorizing the Secretary of the Interior to extend the permit if he wished. Last Fall, the Park Service began the preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS), analyzing the possible 10-year renewal of the permit.

The Park Service recently completed the scoping process and has released the preliminary results and its analysis of the comments received.

2,769 comments supported the “no action” alternative (i.e., the permit should not be extended), while 813 supported granting an extension. 64% of the comments came from outside of California, reflecting a national interest in the issue. The Park will now use this information to develop a range of alternatives addressing the issues raised during scoping. It will issue a draft EIS with a “preferred alternative” and an analysis of each alternative. That draft will be available for public comment, and we’ll let you know when it comes out.

Point Reyes NS has posted a web page with links to the report and its sections here. The summary of comments and concerns may be found here.

CalUWild believes that Congress made its intent clear when it designated the wilderness area in 1976 that the oyster farm not be permanent. In the absence of any subsequent full re-examination of the issue by Congress, the Park Service should rely on that intent and not grant a renewal of the use permit.

Some people, however, find that that the issue is complicated by an ongoing controversy over the environmental impacts of the oyster farm’s operations. The Park Service has been studying the oyster farm for several years, trying to determine its impact on harbor seals that have a breeding colony nearby and on eelgrass growing in the estuary. Charges of scientific misconduct were leveled against the Park Service, leading to an investigation by the Inspector General (IG) of the Interior Department. Just last week, the IG issued its report, which you can download here.

The report found that although the Park Service scientists were selective in their use and release of data, it didn’t amount to “scientific misconduct” because it didn’t appear to be intentional, though they seemed unwilling to leave their personal biases aside. For a more detailed discussion, read this recent article on the controversy in the New York Times here.

If there are in fact negative environmental impacts from the oyster farm, they should factor into the Park’s decision, but policy considerations alone should be sufficient to reject the extension.


IN GENERAL
5. Other Public Lands Bills Introduced

a. Just the other day we learned of a proposed bill by Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA22 and House Majority Whip) that would release all Wilderness Study Areas that have been recommended by the BLM as “not suitable” for final designation. The bill would also repeal Interior Secretary Salazar’s Wild Lands Policy (Order 3310) of last December. Finally it would release all inventoried roadless areas on national forest lands also not recommended by the Forest Service for final designation.

In other words, the bill strips the two land management agencies of their ability to protect wilderness values on the lands under their jurisdiction. Rep. McCarthy’s bill reflects wilderness opponents’ misunderstanding of the nature and purpose of these administrative categories and Secty. Salazar’s order. If lands can’t be managed to preserve their wild character, then it’s likely that they won’t qualify for designation by the time Congress gets around to looking at them.

There is no word on a companion bill in the Senate, and of course, the bill would have to pass there and be signed by the president before becoming law.

b. Sacramento River National Recreation Area Act, S.173, reintroduced in the Senate by Sen. Boxer, it would create a National Recreation Area of 17,000 acres, managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

c. Chimney Rock National Monument in Colorado, S.508, reintroduced in the Senate would preserve a unique Ancestral Puebloan (Anasazi) archaeological area.


6. America’s Great Outdoors Report

The White House has finally released its America’s Great Outdoors Report. It was the result of a series of public meetings held across the country last year and from comments received on its website.

Among its recommendations is full and dedicated funding for the Land & Water Conservation Fund, which provides funding to buy parklands and wildlife habitat. It also proposes looking at other public/private partnerships to provide funding for projects. It also has a focus on urban parks, bring nature loser to those living in cities.

The report proposes a youth service program, the Conservation Service Corps, to provide training in land and water conservation. It also recommends a National Recreation Blueways Trails Initiative, to make rivers an important focus of recreation and conservation.

The report and can be read at and downloaded here.

People interested in these issues will need to keep the pressure on the administration so that it implements these recommendations, rather than collecting dust.

The New York Times ran an editorial in favor of the report, which you can read here.


7. Wild Lands Policy

Though there is widespread editorial support for Secty. Ken Salazar’s Wild Lands policy, the backlash continues from many conservative Western legislators and “access” organizations.

Much of the opposition stems from the claim that only Congress can designate wilderness. Of course, this is true, but the order doesn’t give the BLM the power to designate wilderness, only to inventory lands for wilderness character and then to manage those areas to preserve that wild character until Congress acts. The Federal Lands Policy & Management Act requires the BLM to maintain a current inventory of the resources under its jurisdiction and then prepare and implement resource management plans, which are in effect for 10-15 years, and which are open to public comment during their preparation. It’s important to note that RMPs are not permanent and that they can be amended at any time through a public process, undermining the opponents’ claims.

Opponents also claim it’s a “land grab” by the federal government. Of course, the lands that the policy applies to are already federal, owned by all the citizens of the US, managed by the government.

The Utah Association of Counties and Uintah County in Utah have filed suit against the Interior Department and the Wild Lands Policy, arguing that it violates BLM’s obligation to mange its lands for multiple use. But one can’t have every imaginable use on every acre of land, and some uses obviously conflict with others. BLM and the other agencies develop their planning documents in order to sort out these competing uses and decide which are most appropriate for which areas. Wilderness is one simply of those competing uses.

House Republicans have decided to hold “oversight” hearings on various topics, including the Wild Lands Policy. Judging by the lineup of witnesses, these have been mainly for show rather than true information-gathering. For example, on March 1, the House Natural Resources Committee held such a hearing, and only 2 witnesses out of 10 were called to testify in favor of the policy. And in a breach of protocol, BLM Director Bob Abbey was the very last witness, meaning that many members of the committee, the audience members, and the press had long left. But Abbey was lucky: it wasn’t even clear until the day before the hearing that anyone from the administration would be testifying at all.

This Natural Resources Committee page contains links to video feeds of the testimony, as well as prepared testimony from the various witnesses.

The Denver Post published an op-ed piece on the BLM wild lands policy.

We’ll see where the policy winds up, and we’ll keep you informed.


IN THE PRESS

The New York Times has unfortunately instituted a paid subscription program for its website, but we’ll continue to post links to articles of interest here. If you’re unable to access an article, please let me know.

8. Tom Wharton: A Fat Man’ Defense of Wilderness

9. Brooke Williams: Why Do We Need Wilderness? A New Way of Valuing Land

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2010 March

September 8th, 2010

March 31, 2010

Dear CalUWild Friends —

As we’ve been announcing for the last few months, the 2010 Western Wilderness Conference will be taking place next week, April 8 – 11, at UC Berkeley. It promises to be an interesting and exciting event. Program highlights include:

— Rick Ridgeway from Freedom to Roam, on the need for connections
between wild areas for wildlife migration.
— Malcolm Margolin of Heyday Books, hosting an evening program
on writers and wilderness.
— Speakers on the history of wilderness, working with Congress, and
how climate change is affecting wilderness and management philosophy.
— Panels and workshops on initiatives in states around the West, stewardship,
grassroots tools, increasing the involvement of youth, under-served, and
non-traditional allies and communities.
— Entertainment by I See Hawks and Walkin’ Jim Stoltz on Friday night.

Full details are available online at the Conference website. Advance registration is recommended and is available through midnight, Monday April 5. After that, attendees can register on-site, but the cost will be higher ($200 for the entire conference or $100 for a single day). Scholarships for students and youth (under age 25) are still available. An additional travel stipend is available for students or youth coming from beyond the Bay Area or out-of-state. For details, contact Vicky Hoover at the Sierra Club.

We look forward to seeing you there!

In breaking news today, Pres. Barack Obama announced that the federal government will relax restrictions for drilling for oil & gas in the coastal waters of Alaska as well as along the East Coast. The West Coast does not appear to be affected. We’ll keep you posted, especially as this decision might impact the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which we still hope to see designated as wilderness one day soon.

As always, thanks for your efforts on behalf of our Western public lands!

Best wishes,
Mike

IN UTAH
1. Utah Redrock Legislation Cosponsors
(ACTION ITEM)

2. Utah Governor Signs Legislation
Allowing the State to Institute Eminent Domain
Actions Against the Federal Government

IN GENERAL
3. “No More Monuments” Legislation Introduced

4. Forest Service Says Seniors
Will Continue to Receive Discounts

IN MEMORIAM
5. Ed Wayburn

6. Stewart Udall

7. Terry Shepherd

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

IN UTAH
1. Utah Redrock Legislation Cosponsors
(ACTION ITEM)

The number of cosponsors for America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act continues to climb. The totals stand at 161 in the House (H.R. 1925) and 22 in the Senate (S.799). This ties the number from the last Congress and is only eight below the previous record.

Here in California we added three cosponsors recently: Doris Matsui (D-5) and Judy Chu (D-32). Reps. Matsui is a returning cosponsor, while Rep. Chu was elected last summer to replace longtime cosponsor Hilda Solís, who became Secretary of Labor in the Obama Administration.

Many thanks to everyone who called, asking them to sign on. Now it’s time to call and say thanks; that’s just as important! Contact information for each:

Doris Matsui
202-225-7163 (DC)
916-498-5600 (Sacramento)

Judy Chu
202-225-5464 (DC)
626-448-1271 (El Monte)

California is still lagging a bit on cosponsorships, probably because everyone’s focus has been on health care. The following previous cosponsors have not signed on yet in this Congress. If you (or anyone you know) live in one of these districts, please contact them, asking them to renew their cosponsorship of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act. (Diane Watson is retiring at the end of this term, so it would be a good note for her to leave Congress on.)

Xavier Becerra (D-31)
202-225-6235 (DC)
213-483-1425 (LA)

Diane Watson (D-33)
202-225-7084 (DC)
323-965-1422 (LA)

Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-34)
202-225-1766 (DC)
213-628-9230 (LA)

Maxine Waters (D-35)
202-225-2201 (DC)
323-757-8900 (LA)

Linda Sanchez (D-39)
202-225-6676 (DC)
562-860-5050 (Cerritos)

2. Utah Governor Signs Legislation
Allowing the State to Institute Eminent Domain
Actions Against the Federal Government

The State of Utah’s animosity toward the federal government reached new heights last Saturday, when Gov. Gary Herbert signed legislation that he and legislators hope to use to claim some of the federal land in the state, using eminent domain. The federal government owns and manages more than 60% of the land in the Beehive State. Under normal circumstances, eminent domain is used by governments to seize private property for public purposes.

The state claims that it needs control of the lands so that it can adequately support its schools, which currently have among the lowest funding levels per student in the country. The state has long had its eyes on the Kaiparowits Plateau in the heart of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which contains large coal reserves. (The state has also never forgiven Pres. Clinton for designating the monument in 1996.) Furthermore, the state is irritated that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar voided 77 oil & gas leases in 2009, finding that they were too close to some of Utah’s national parks and potential wilderness areas.

Some in the state have expressed hope that this will spark a West-wide rebellion against federal ownership of significant tracts of land in the region. But most legal scholars give the law slim chance of passing constitutional muster because of the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution.

Interesting times in the West!

IN GENERAL
3. No More Monuments Legislation Introduced

As we reported last month, Rep. Rob Bishop (R) of Utah leaked an Interior Department memo containing a list of potential new national monuments around the West. Despite Secretary Ken Salazar’s explanation that it was a study list rather than a designation list, the uproar that ensued among government officials in the Intermountain West has not gone away.

Utah’s Sen. Bob Bennett (R) introduced legislation early this month to prohibit the president from using the Antiquities Act of 1906 to designate any monuments in the state of Utah without congressional approval. The bill was co-sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) of Utah and a companion bill was introduced in the House by Rep. Rob Bishop (R).

The New York Times reported that representatives from California (Wally Herger, R-2), Colorado, Montana, and Nevada had introduced similar bills, and that Alaska and Arizona representatives were considering their own legislation. The Arizona bill has since been introduced. And in the Senate, Sen. David Vitter (R-Louisiana) introduced a bill barring the president from designating any national monuments on federal land anywhere, without congressional approval. Wyoming was exempted from the monument designations under the Antiquities Act back in the 1950s.

These most recent bills have all been referred to their proper committees, where they will likely not receive much support from Democrats. We’ll keep you posted.

4. Forest Service Says Seniors
Will Continue to Receive Discounts

On March 17, US Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell announced that the Forest Service would not change the way in which Golden Age and Golden Access passes are honored at campsites and other fee areas around the country. This means that seniors and disabled citizens will enjoy the same discounts at facilities run by private concessionaires as they traditionally have. The Forest Service had proposed reducing the discount from 50% to 10%.

Chief Tidwell said that they had received over 4,000 comments in response to the proposal.

Many thanks to all of you who submitted comments in response to our January Update!

IN MEMORIAM
5. Ed Wayburn

On March 5 America lost one of its conservation heroes, when Dr. Edgar Wayburn of San Francisco passed away at the age of 103. He was the Honorary Lifetime President of the Sierra Club in recognition of his tireless efforts to protect the nation’s wild places. Dr. Wayburn was also a member of CalUWild’s Advisory Board since it was founded in 1997.

Dr. Wayburn and his wife Peggy, who died in 2002, were instrumental in the founding of Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Pt. Reyes National Seashore, and protecting some 100 million acres of land in Alaska with the passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act in 1980. (ANILCA alone created 10 new national parks and expanded three others!)

Dr. Wayburn was an effective advocate, never calling undue attention to himself. Pres. Bill Clinton awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1999 in recognition of his efforts, saying he had “saved more acres of wilderness than any other person alive.” Dr. Wayburn continued his work for many years thereafter.

Dr. Wayburn will be missed, but the lands he protected will forever stand as a memorial to him.

You may read more about Dr. Wayburn in the San Francisco Chronicle and New York Times.

6. Stewart Udall

Stewart Udall, Secretary of the Interior from 1961-1969 under presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, died March 20 at his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He was 90 years old, the last surviving member of JFK’s cabinet.

As Secretary of the Interior, Mr. Udall helped create Canyonlands, Redwood, North Cascades and Guadalupe Mountains national parks, as well as Cape Cod National Seashore. Important legislation signed during his tenure included the 1964 Wilderness Act, the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, National Historic Preservation Act, the National Trails bill, and the Water Quality Act. In addition, the Land and Water Conservation Fund was set up while he was Interior Secretary.

The Udall family has a long record of public service. Prior to serving as Secretary, Mr. Udall served three terms in Congress. Morris K. “Mo” Udall, Stewart’s brother, was elected to fill his congressional seat when he became Interior Secretary. Their father, Levi Udall, was a Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court from 1947 to 1960, serving twice as Chief Justice. Stewart Udall’s son Tom is currently a U.S. Senator from New Mexico, and his nephew Mark serves in the Senate from Colorado.

The New York Times published a lengthy obituary from the Associated Press, containing more information about Mr. Udall’s life.

7. Terry Shepherd

Friends of Utah’s wildlands were saddened by the news that Terry Shepherd, former Executive Director of Red Rock Forests in Moab, passed away in February from complications from the H1N1 virus. Terry had been working in Alaska, where she was Executive Director of the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies since last year. Aged 45, Terry was an energetic woman who brought boundless passion to her work.

Red Rock Forests has posted a warm and heartfelt tribute to Terry on its website. CalUWild wishes to express its condolences to Terry’s family and friends. Our thoughts are with all of them.

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2009 March

March 27th, 2009

March 27, 2009

Dear CalUWild friends —

I spent the end of February in Washington, DC with the Utah Wilderness Coalition. While there, close to 50 friends of Utah wilderness visited congressional offices on Capitol Hill to inform them about the impending reintroduction of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act and other issues of concern. It was a successful trip, and we are already seeing the results in the numbers of cosponsors for the bill. (See Item 1.)

Last month there was very little news to share with our members, so combined with the travel schedule, we did not send out an Update for February. This month, though, we’re back with important news from Washington, DC: After shuttling back and forth between the Senate and the House, the Omnibus Public Lands Bill passed its final hurdle on Wednesday when the House voted 285 – 140 in favor of the bill. Pres. Obama is expected to sign it into law on Monday.

The package contains nearly 160 separate pieces of legislation, some of which have been floating around Congress for years. Bills that CalUWild has taken a special interest in over the years include:

Utah — The Washington County bill designated almost 200,000 acres of BLM wilderness in southwest Utah, where the Colorado Plateau meets the Mojave Desert and the Great Basin. The bill was much improved over the version in the last Congress, with the biggest public land sale/giveaway provisions removed.

California — Three wilderness bills are included: The Eastern Sierra bill sponsored by Rep. Buck McKeon (R-25), the Riverside County bill sponsored by Rep. Mary Bono Mack R-45), and the Sequoia-Kings Canyon bill sponsored by Reps. Devin Nunes (R-21) — who voted against the Omnibus package anyway — and Jim Costa (D-20). Also included are Wild & Scenic River designations and legislative implementation of an agreement to restore about 60 miles of the San Joaquin River to support salmon populations.

Oregon — Areas around Mt. Hood and the Columbia Gorge were designated wilderness, as well as desert areas in eastern Oregon and Soda Mountain and the Copper Salmon wildernesses in the southern part of the state.

Colorado — Much of Rocky Mountain National Park was designated as wilderness.

National Landscape Conservation System — The bill gives permanent legislative recognition to the system that former Interior Secretary Babbitt created administratively to call attention to some of the more sensitive, unique, or otherwise outstanding lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Included are the national monuments under BLM’s jurisdiction (such as Grand Staircase-Escalante and Carrizo Plain), Wild & Scenic Rivers, National Conservation Areas, and other lands.

Omnibus bills are not the best way to get legislation passed, because everything, good and bad, is lumped together. And this bill was not without controversy. A bill allowing the exchange of wilderness lands in the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska for construction of a road to an isolated village was included. A provision was added, though, allowing the Secretary of the Interior to veto the project, pressure might be needed here in the future. Also, the Owyhee Initiative in Idaho was included, which was put together through a “collaborative” process of ranchers and environmental organizations (although grazing opponents were excluded from the working group). Some of the more egregious provisions were removed, but not everyone is satisfied with the outcome. We will need to remain vigilant as that management process unfolds.

Finally, it was no surprise that some Republicans were concerned that too much land was being locked away from energy production, particularly in Wyoming, where a large portion of the Bridger-Teton National Forest was closed to oil exploration.

You can see the breakdown of the House vote online here.

As always, thanks for all of your efforts to protect the wild places of the West,
Mike

IN UTAH
1. Red Rock Bill Introduction
NEXT TUESDAY, March 31
(ACTION ITEM)
2. Interior Secretary Salazar Cancels Some Leases

IN CALIFORNIA
3. Sen. Feinstein Proposes New
National Monument in the Desert
4. Meet Interior Secretary Salazar in San Francisco:
Hearings on Offshore Energy Development
April 16
5. California Wilderness Coalition Event
April 24 in San Francisco

SAVE THE DATE
6. Western Wilderness Conference 2010
UC Berkeley
April 8 – 11, 2010

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

IN UTAH
1. Red Rock Bill Introduction
NEXT TUESDAY, March 31
(ACTION ITEM)

Longtime Utah wilderness champion Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) is planning to reintroduce the Red Rock Wilderness Act in the House of Representatives next Tuesday. With the new administration and Congress, we’re hoping for a hearing sometime soon in the House Natural Resources Committee.

So far there are 75 cosponsors, and we’re making one last push before Tuesday.

Here are the California cosponsors so far. If your representative is listed, please thank him or her. If not, contact the office and urge them to sign on as a cosponsor.

Berman (D-28)
Capps (D-23)
Eshoo (D-14)
Farr (D-17)
Filner (D-51)
Honda (D-15)
Lee (D-9)
Lofgren (D-16)
McNerney (D-11)
Miller, George (D-7)
Thompson (D-1)

Napolitano (D-38)

Schiff (D-29)
Sherman (D-27)
Stark (D-13)
Susan Davis (D-53)
Waxman (D-30)

Complete contact information for all offices can be found on your representative’s page at www.house.gov.

2. Interior Secretary Salazar Cancels Some Leases

Last month, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that the administration was canceling 77 leases that had been offered in Utah in December as the Bush administration was leaving office. The leases were near Arches and Canyonlands national parks, Dinosaur National Monument, and Nine Mile Canyon. Many conservation groups and citizens had protested the leases, saying that they were inappropriate.

The Department of the Interior will review the 77 parcels and may offer them at a later time if it determines that doing so would not compromise the sensitive areas nearby.

The December lease sale itself was notable for the actions of Tim DeChristopher, who protested by bidding up prices on parcels. No decision has been made yet regarding charges against him.

IN CALIFORNIA
3. Sen. Feinstein Proposes New
National Monument in the Desert

As pressure grows for the United States to begin looking more seriously at energy sources other than fossil fuels, an issue of concern is the placement of solar and wind installations and transmission lines. The deserts of Southern California and other areas are prime locations, and many proposals for development have already been put forward. But however harsh and stark they might look, desert ecosystems are remarkably fragile and do not recover quickly from disturbances. They are also home to numerous unique plant and animal species. Therefore, any development must be carefully planned.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has been a longtime champion of protecting the California deserts. This month she announced plans to introduce legislation designating a new national monument in the Mojave Desert, between Joshua Tree National Park and the Mojave National Preserve. Over 600,000 acres of land are covered by the proposal and were once owned by Catellus, the real estate subsidiary of the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific railways. The lands were donated to or purchased by the federal government for conservation purposes.

However, the state of California is looking at development on large sections of the land and Sen. Feinstein says that BLM also considers those lands open for energy development. She has written to Interior Secretary Ken Salzar saying that because those lands were donated and purchased for conservation purposes, they should not now be open to alternative energy development, and she has asked that the BLM suspend consideration of any leases on these lands.

We’ll keep you posted as the situation develops.

4. Meet Interior Secretary Salazar in San Francisco:
Hearings on Offshore Energy Development
April 16

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is holding four public hearings around the country in April to discuss and take comments on the issue of offshore energy development. While not strictly a wilderness issue, it is a topic of interest to many in California, so we thought we’d forward the invitation:

United States Department of the Interior
Office of the Secretary
Washington, D.C. 20240

You are invited to regional public meetings hosted by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar on offshore energy development. These meetings are part of a four-part strategy Secretary Salazar announced in February for developing a new, comprehensive energy development plan for the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf.

Meetings will be April 6 in Atlantic City, April 8 in New Orleans, April 14 in Anchorage and April 16 in San Francisco:

Thursday, April 16 in San Francisco, CA
Mission Bay Conference Center at UCSF
Robertson Auditorium
1675 Owens Street
San Francisco, CA

MEETING DETAILS
At each location, doors will open at 8:00 a.m. and meetings will begin at 9:00 a.m. Meetings will conclude by 8:00 p.m., with breaks tentatively scheduled from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Please refer to http://www.mms.gov/5-year/ for final schedule information for each meeting.

RSVP REQUESTED
If you plan to attend one or more meetings, please RSVP to DOI_Events@ios.doi.gov. Please note that an RSVP does not guarantee admission, and that admission to all meetings will be on a first come, first served basis.

Regional Governors and elected federal officials, private citizens, interested organizations, entities, energy producers, advocacy groups, and local governments are invited to attend and offer brief comments or to ask questions. After opening remarks by the Secretary, there will be presentation of a report being prepared by the Department concerning offshore energy resources. The rest of the day’s meeting will be devoted to hearing from public and private interests.

If you are unable attend in person, or are unable to speak at the meetings, you are welcome to submit written statements, comments or documents, either at the meeting or during the extended public comment period, which ends September 21, 2009. For more information on how to submit a comment, please visit: http://www.mms.gov/5-year/2010-2015DPPComments.htm

These meetings are all free and open to the public, and we want to encourage broad participation in this important discussion about how to proceed with development of a comprehensive offshore energy plan. Please feel free to pass along this invitation to your colleagues and other interested parties with whom you work.

Best,
Ray Rivera
Director of External and Intergovernmental Affairs
Office of the Secretary
U.S. Department of the Interior

Owens Street at Mission Bay is a little south of the baseball stadium and of the Caltrain Station at 4th and King, within walking distance of Caltrain.

5. California Wilderness Coalition Event
April 24 in San Francisco

Our friends at the California Wilderness Coalition are holding their annual Wild Event April 24th in the Presidio in San Francisco. Here’s their invitation — attend if you can!

The California Wilderness Coalition invites you to come and enjoy a very special evening in support of our work to protect California’s remaining wild lands.

Join us in San Francisco’s historic and elegant Presidio for a wonderful evening of fine wine and food. We are delighted and proud to honor pioneering mountaineer Rick Ridgeway with this year’s Philip Burton Award. Rick is Patagonia’s Vice President of Environmental Initiatives and the force behind Freedom to Roam, an effort to create, restore and protect wildway corridors for America’s wildlife. Silent and live auctions will offer guests the opportunity to bid on a wide variety of items and services donated by our generous sponsors, including art, wine, back-country trip planning services, outdoor gear, and much, much more. And take advantage of this very unique opportunity to hear from and meet Rick.

Please consider taking a leadership role in protecting California wilderness by joining CWC as a sponsor for this year’s event. We have a broad range of sponsorship opportunities. Please contact our Development Director, Bill Tieman, for further information about our sponsorship levels and benefits at btieman@calwild.org or (510) 451-1450.

VIP Reception at 5 p.m.
Main Event, 6 – 9 p.m.

The Officers’ Club
50 Moraga Avenue
The Presidio, San Francisco
Silent and Live Auctions, Fine Wine, Beer and Buffet

Map of venue

Capacity is limited. Click here to purchase tickets online, or contact us at (510) 451-1450 or info@calwild.org.

SAVE THE DATE
6. Western Wilderness Conference 2010
UC Berkeley
April 8 – 11, 2010

CalUWild is working with the Sierra Club, California Wilderness Coalition, The Wilderness Society, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Wilderness Watch, and other organizations to plan a West-wide wilderness conference next year, at UC Berkeley. Here’s our first announcement:

New Aims, New Allies

The Western Wilderness Conference 2010 will take place April 8 – 11, 2010, on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley, California.

Save the date now! For anyone who cares about the wild places of the West, this is one event not to miss!

Although the event will take place in California’s San Francisco Bay Area, wilderness organizations and advocates from all twelve western states, including Alaska, are involved, and wild lands advocates from all those states are enthusiastically invited to participate in this grand event.

Who’s invited? Wilderness advocates, both professionals and volunteers, new advocates; Native American leaders, land agency personnel, outings leaders, individuals, college students and faculty, representatives of organizations working on quiet recreation and on varied land-preservation efforts, decision makers at different levels of government. .

Where will they come from? All over the West! From California, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Wyoming. Maybe Western Canada and Mexico.

Why attend? Western Wilderness Conference 2010 will:

** inspire interested new advocates, including students, to preserve our nation’s remaining wild places;
** re-inspire longtime dedicated wilderness advocates to vigorous new advocacy with renewed motivation;
** offer a forum to discuss and debate timely wilderness-related topics, particularly as they relate to global warming changes;
** explore how to incorporate Native American traditional land-ethic and cultural values into wildlands advocacy;
** promote getting children outside into Nature’s wild places!
** provide training sessions to help activists become more effective advocates for wild places; preservation.
** and have fun!

Speakers, plenary sessions, workshops, music, meals, outings! They’re all part of the celebration of the West’s wild places.

Berkeley, California. April 8 – 11, 2010.

Check out the conference website: www.westernwilderness.org.

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2008 March

March 27th, 2008

March 27, 2008

Dear CalUWild Friends –

There are a few Action Items this month, so please take a few minutes to write a letter or make the phone calls needed. Your letters and phone calls don’t have to be long; keeping things simple is easier for you and the person receiving your message. All the information you need is below. If you have any questions, please contact me by phone (415-752-3911) or email.

At a wilderness hearing last month, Arizona representative Raul Grijalva, the chairman of the House subcommittee on National Parks, Forest and Public Lands, reminded us why it’s important:

In the end, wilderness is not defined by the absence of certain activities but rather by the presence of certain unique and invaluable characteristics. The answer to the often-asked question: “Why do you want this area to be wilderness?” is: “These areas already are wilderness; we simply want to preserve them as they are and as they have been for generations.”

CalUWild needs a volunteer: Our webpage with contact information for California’s congressional delegation, administration officials, and the press is somewhat out of date for a few entries. If you would be willing to spend a few hours checking the information and correcting it where necessary, it would be a big help. Please send me an email or give me a call.

As always, thank you for your interest and involvement!
Mike

IN UTAH
1. SIGN-ON LETTERS IN CONGRESS
REGARDING PROTECTION OF
UTAH’S BLM WILD ROADLESS AREAS
CALLS NEEDED
(ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
2. OIL EXPLORATION COMING TO THE CARRIZO PLAIN?
LETTERS NEEDED
(ACTION ITEM)
3. PUBLIC MEETINGS ON PROPOSED STATE PARK CLOSURES

IN GENERAL
4. NO-FEE BILL IN THE U.S. SENATE
CALLS NEEDED
(ACTION ITEM)

JOB ANNOUNCEMENT
5. TULEYOME CAMPAIGN DIRECTOR
BLUE RIDGE SNOW MOUNTAIN NCA CAMPAIGN

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

IN UTAH
1. SIGN-ON LETTERS IN CONGRESS
REGARDING PROTECTION OF
UTAH’S BLM WILD ROADLESS AREAS
CALLS NEEDED
(ACTION ITEM)

Very often, our focus is on legislation to safeguard wilderness areas, because designation offers the strongest, most permanent protection. However, as we’ve seen with America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act in Utah, the legislative process can be slow and drawn out. Fortunately, there are other tactics can be used to protect wildlands at some level in the interim. Congressional pressure on federal land management agencies is one of them.

As we have been writing for the last six months or so, the BLM in Utah has been revising many of its resource management plans for Utah. These documents guide the actions of BLM for 10-15 years after their adoption. So far in these plans, BLM has given short shrift to the notion of protecting wildlands from oil & gas exploration or off-highway vehicle use, despite the fact that some 3 million acres have been identified by BLM itself as having wilderness character.

Therefore, the Senate and House sponsors of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) have each drafted a letter to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne and BLM Director Jim Caswell. They are currently collecting co-signers in their respective chambers.

California’s congressional delegation has long been strong supporters of Utah’s wilderness. As many as 31 representatives and both senators have been cosponsors of the Red Rock bill at one time or another (although Sen. Feinstein dropped off again). Therefore, they are likely to sign on to these letters if they hear from their constituents.

Neither Sen. Boxer nor Feinstein has signed on to Sen. Durbin’s letter so far, but the following California congressmen/women have signed on to Rep. Hinchey’s letter. If your representative is on the list, please give them a call of thanks. If their name is not on the list, please call them and ask them to sign on.

George Miller (D-07)
Pete Stark (D-13)
Sam Farr (D-17)
Lois Capps (D-23)
Howard Berman (D-28)
Henry Waxman (D-30)
Diane Watson (D-33)
Grace Napolitano (D-38)

Contact information for California’s congressional delegation can be found on our website.

IN CALIFORNIA
2. OIL EXPLORATION COMING TO THE CARRIZO PLAIN?
LETTERS NEEDED
(ACTION ITEM)

With the skyrocketing price of energy supplies, exploration is suddenly potentially profitable in places where is hasn’t been before. One such place is Carrizo Plain National Monument in the southern Central Valley. Inholdings in the Monument as well as privately-held subsurface mineral rights continue to be a threat. The Carrizo Plain is home to numerous threatened or endangered species. The Wilderness Society has a webpage with further information on the issue.

Cal French, chair of the Sierra Club’s California Nevada Regional Conservation Committee, recently sent out a list of suggested actions concerned citizens could take to help ensure the continued preservation of the Monument.

1. Write a letter to:

Tim Smith
Field Office Manager
Bureau of Land Management
3801 Pegasus Drive
Bakersfield, CA 93308

Ask that he carefully scrutinize all applications for testing and drilling by oil companies on the Carrizo Plain National Monument to make sure that the least possible harm is done to the objects that legally protected by the proclamation that created the monument. To read a copy of that proclamation go to http://clinton5.nara.gov/library/hot_releases/January_17_2001_13.html and feel free to quote from it. Point out that you will support Congressional appropriations to acquire the subsurface mineral rights on the Monument and urge the BLM to try to acquire funds to acquire those rights.

2. Send copies of your letter, or separate messages (could be the better option) to the following members of Congress:

Kevin McCarthy (R-22), whose Congressional district includes all of the Monument. U.S. Mail is best sent to his Bakersfield Office:

4100 Empire Drive, Suite 150
Bakersfield, CA 93309

Or send an email through his website at:

http://kevinmccarthy.house.gov/showpage.asp?ID=69

Rep. Lois Capps (D-23), whose district used to include the Monument.

101 W. Anapamu St., Suite C
Santa Barbara, CA 93101

Or send an email through her website at:

http://www.house.gov/capps/contact/send_an_email.shtml

She may be the only member of Congress who has actually been to the Monument—and more than once. Her late husband Walter Capps (former Congressman) has a lot to do with the CPNM’s creation.

Rep. Raul Grijalva, Chairman, Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands is a champion of the National Landscape Conservation System.

Rep. Grijalva’s webpage says he doesn’t respond to letters received from non-constituents, so it might be best to fax him a letter c/o the Natural Resources Committee.

fax: 202-225-1931

For info on the NLCS (the BLM’s “crown jewels,” go to http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/blm_special_areas/NLCS.html and feel free to select quotes from this source to use in your letters and messages to the BLM and members of Congress.

3. Write a letter to your local newspapers about this oil prospecting proposal on the CPNM. Phrase it so that it is pithy and accurate.

4. Send copies of your letters, or semi-original letters, to:

The Nature Conservancy
201 Mission Street, 4th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105

email: calweb@tnc.org

and to:

California Department of Fish and Game
1416 9th Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

TNC and CA DFG are partners in the management of the Monument with the BLM (which has the final say on most issues). They can influence what the BLM does on the Monument.

3. PUBLIC MEETINGS ON PROPOSED STATE PARK CLOSURES

CalUWild generally deals with federal land issues, but once in a while, a state issue comes along that is important and of interest to our members. As everyone knows, California is facing a budget shortfall, and Gov. Schwarzenegger has proposed closing 48 state parks to help close the gap, much to the dismay of many citizens. A statewide campaign against the proposal is developing. Information can be found at savestateparks.org

The California State Park and Recreation Commission will be holding two public hearings on the proposal:

San Jose
Tuesday, April 15, 6 p.m.
Board Chambers
Santa Clara County Government Center
70 West Hedding Street

Santa Monica
Wednesday, April 16, 6 p.m.
East Wing Meeting Room
Santa Monica Civic Auditorium
1855 Main Street
Santa Monica
(corner of Main Street and Pico Boulevard)

Please attend one of these meetings if you can. You will be able to speak and also submit written comments. Please also spread the word as widely as possible.

IN GENERAL
4. NO-FEE BILL IN THE U.S. SENATE
CALLS NEEDED
(ACTION ITEM)

As we reported in the January Update, the U.S. Senate will be considering legislation to repeal the access fees instituted by Congress for National Forest, BLM, National Park and Fish & Wildlife Service lands. The bill (S.2438) needs more cosponsors to help it move promptly through the Senate.

CalUWild’s cofounder, Vicky Hoover of the Sierra Club, has prepared the following information sheet and alert.

Your calls to Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein will demonstrate that citizens of California support an end to fee programs such as Southern California’s “Adventure Pass,” for access to large parts of our four National Forests. (Contact info for Senators is listed below.)

BACKGROUND:
S. 2438, the Fee Repeal and Expanded Access Act (the FREA Act), will terminate access fees for all lands administered by the US Forest Service, BLM, US Fish & Wildlife Service and Bureau of Reclamation. (These fees began in 1996 with the “Fee Demo” program and were extended in 2004 by the current fee legislation, which was attached as a rider to a must-pass appropriations bill.)

For National Parks, S.2438 will require Congressional approval of entry fee increases, and terminate second layer fees such as those for backcountry access and interpretive programs in National Parks. The new $80 America the Beautiful Pass will be scrapped, and replaced by the former $50 National Parks Pass.

Senator Barbara Boxer
(202) 224-3553

Senator Dianne Feinstein
(202) 224-3841

Please make calls through the month of March.

Can you ask family and friends also to make these brief calls? This no-fee campaign is entirely a grassroots effort; the success of S.2438 depends on all of us.

WHAT TO SAY
When somebody answers the phone at the Senator’s office, simply leave a message asking the Senator please to cosponsor S.2438. Leave your name and the city or county you live in.

You may also add a brief reason why the Senator should support S.2438, (such as: fees discriminate against lower-income Americans; or, fees are double taxation; or, fees change the historical relationship of Americans to our unique public lands; or, fees force lands managers to prioritize developments that make money. but it’s not necessary to go into much detail.

S. 2438 was introduced by Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Mike Crapo (M-ID), and has been cosponsored by Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and Ken Salazar (D-CO). This bill seeks to end a failed fee experiment that for 10 years burdened Americans with a double tax and kept many away from public lands they had once enjoyed.

Passage of S. 2438 would help derail the alarming trend of the land agencies and motorized recreation industry to promote public lands recreation as a “commodity”, for which citizens, like “customers” of a business, must shell out payment. Passage will give us time to persuade our land managers that recreation is NOT a “product” that we “buy” from them; we are NOT their “customers”.

S 2438 would repeal the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act of 2004, sometimes called Recreational Access tax (RAT) and reinstate legislation dating back to the 1965 Land and Water Conservation Act that limits the use of fees on public lands. National park fees can continue at present levels.

The ultimate solution to the problem of agency recreation management will be to provide adequate Congressional appropriations to our land managers.

Fee opponents have waited over ten years now for legislation with a good chance of ending fees for access to the public lands we love to visit. Now that it’s here, S.2438 needs our determined and consistent support.

JOB ANNOUNCEMENT
5. TULEYOME CAMPAIGN DIRECTOR
BLUE RIDGE SNOW MOUNTAIN NCA CAMPAIGN

Tuleyome is seeking a Campaign Director to head up the Blue Ridge Snow Mountain National Conservation Area Campaign. Since 2002 Tuleyome has been protecting the wild heritage and agricultural heritage of the Putah Creek and Cache Creek Watersheds for existing and future generations. Tuleyome’s Blue Ridge Snow Mountain National Conservation Area Campaign will protect nearly 500,000 acres of vital wildlands that are part of the California Floristic Province biological hotspot that provides habitat and critical migration corridors for many species of plants and animals.

JOB TITLE: Campaign Director

LOCATION: The Tuleyome office is located in Woodland, California, and field work throughout Lake, Napa, Colusa, Solano and Yolo Counties

POSITION DESCRIPTION:
The Campaign Director is responsible for coordinating the organization’s national conservation area campaign. This program will inspire Congress to designate the region as a National Conservation Area. The designation will provide a better framework to coordinate the management of public lands within the region and national recognition will also assist in the development of conservation funding that will protect the regional landscape. This will be accomplished by building broad public support for the designation. Support includes facilitating campaign planning processes, networking land use groups around the region which includes the conservation, recreation, and agricultural communities; businesses and public decision makers through outreach, education and community activism. The Campaign Director reports to the Executive Director and they are the lead person designing and implementing the campaigns work plans, budgets, and projects.

RESPONSIBILITIES AND ACTIVITIES:
1. Build broad public support for the designation of the Blue Ridge Snow Mountain NCA among the conservation, recreation, and agricultural communities; businesses and public decision makers through outreach, education and community activism.
2. Work effectively with our partners to build this support by establishing and maintaining consistent lines of communication and working relationships with a network of conservation groups and leaders focused on this project.
3. Build coalitions and partnerships with communities, organizations, and key leaders to support protecting the NCA.
4. Fundraising, including researching and writing grants and event organizing.
5. Communicate effectively with the media, through a variety of activities and events.
6. Prepare press releases, newsletters, and articles to promote the campaign.
7. Participate in speaking engagements designed to raise public awareness of Tuleyome’s activities and mission with special emphasis on the NCA Campaign.

QUALIFICATIONS FOR THE POSITION:
* Clearly demonstrated experience and skills related to the performance of the above responsibilities.
* Willingness to travel throughout the region.
* Demonstrated experience in campaign and/or political organizing.
* Demonstrated experience with national forest, park, or river related issues and/or with public lands, natural resource, conservation, and environmental issues.
* Excellent writing and editing skills and experience developing public information materials.
* Strong telephone skills.
* Demonstrated understanding of and familiarity with environmental issues.
* Demonstrated ability to work cheerfully and constructively with all kinds of people, in a variety of situations.

* Demonstrated ability to be a “self-starter” – to be someone who does not require constant supervision — and to show great initiative in the performance of the position, while still maintaining regular contact with Tuleyome.
* Knowledge of the organization’s basic programs.
* Ability to work with a diverse group of people.
* Ability to organize events.
* Demonstrated ability to layout work tasks, identify resources to complete projects, leverage human and financial resources, focus his/her own work, complete tasks on time, on budget and of a high quality.
* Skill in managing and retaining qualified staff to achieve program goals and represent the organization well.
* Ability to handle multiple projects and manage time and schedule.
* Independent, highly motivated, able to work under pressure with frequent deadlines and limited supervision.
* Knowledge and ability to write grants and conduct foundation fundraising.
* Bilingual English/Spanish preferred, including ability to translate Tuleyome materials, both orally and in writing.
* Passion for Tuleyome’s natural environment and rural communities.
* Proficiency using personal computers and the Internet.
* Ability and willingness to travel throughout the region via automobile up to 40% of time each month.

* Must have a valid California State Driver’s license.
* Occasional lifting (office supplies, etc.) of 25 pounds.
* Computer use and keyboard entry up to 8 hours per day.

EMPLOYMENT TYPE: Full time/permanent position dependent on grant funding. Salary commensurate with experience with paid vacation and sick time. Tuleyome observes most State and Federal holidays.

Tuleyome Is An Equal Opportunity Employer.

Send a cover letter and résumé via email to Debra Chase, Tuleyome’s Executive Director.

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Posted in Newsletters | Comments Off on 2008 March

2007 March

March 31st, 2007

March 31, 2007

Dear Friends of CalUWild —

I spent last week in Washington, DC meeting with members of California’s congressional delegation, asking their support as cosponsors of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, the comprehensive Utah wilderness bill. It was a good week, because in contrast to previous visits, the mood in the halls of Congress was upbeat, and the place was bustling. It’s clear that people are expecting the new Democratic majority to move on many issues, and are making sure their voices are heard.

One significant change is that the House committee in charge of public lands has had its name restored to the Natural Resources Committee. Another area where the Democrats are moving is in the area of oversight of the administration’s environmental policies and practices. Earlier this month, Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), the chief sponsor of the Red Rock bill grilled Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne on the department’s policy of continuing to lease wilderness quality lands while many leases in other areas have never been developed.

In another DC development last week, J. Steven Griles, former Deputy Secretary of the Interior Department who was a mining lobbyist before Pres. Bush appointed him, pled guilty to making false statements before the Senate Indian Affair Committee about his relationship with lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Mr. Griles left the Interior Department in 2005.

Mr. Griles’s situation, however, is quite convoluted. This week he married a woman who recently resigned her job as chief of environmental enforcement at the Justice Department. The two of them bought a vacation home in 2006 with a lobbyist for oil firm ConocoPhillips. She had signed consent decrees with ConocoPhillips in 2005 regarding violations of the Clean Air Act, although the lobbyist reportedly had nothing to do with the consent decrees. Prior to working at the Justice Department, the woman was Mr. Griles’s deputy chief of staff and later solicitor at the Interior Department, providing ethics advice to him. In 2004, the Interior Department’s inspector general issued a report, criticizing Mr. Griles for not severing his ties with his former lobbying firm and clients. As solicitor, she advised then-Secretary Gale Norton on how to respond to the report, but reportedly never told the inspector general that she and Mr. Griles had begun dating in 2003.

Unfortunately, this kind of relationship seems to be an all-too-typical situation in the present-day Executive Branch. It shows why citizens need to be on top of things if they want to be effective in making their voices heard. As always, it’s our goal at CalUWild to give you the tools you need to be effective advocates for the West’s wild places.

Thank you for all your work!

Best wishes,

Mike

IN UTAH
1. Cosponsor Drive for America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act in Full Swing
(ACTION ITEM)
2. Protect Arch Canyon
DEADLINE: April 6
(ACTION ITEM)
3. Oil & Gas Drilling in Glen Canyon NRA Denied
(ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
4. Resolution on Public Land Fees Introduced
(ACTION ITEM)
5. Forest Service Decides Not to Appeal Emigrant Wilderness Case
Dams to be Allowed to Decay
6. Cesar Chavez Resource Study
(ACTION ITEM)
7. California Wilderness Coalition Annual Celebration

IN ARIZONA
8. Webcams in Kofa NWR Wilderness Stopped
(ACTION ITEM)

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

IN UTAH
1. Cosponsor Drive for America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act in Full Swing
(ACTION ITEM)

Support for America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act is almost always CalUWild’s major lobbying effort at the beginning of each Congress. As we reported last month, Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) will be reintroducing the bill again. They plan on doing so in mid-April. Already in the House there are 66 cosponsors on the bill and 6 in the Senate. In the House, 16 are from California, more than half of the number from our state who were cosponsors in the last Congress. Rep. Jerry McNerney, who replaced Rep. Richard Pombo, is among them.

Here is the list as of yesterday:

Eshoo (D-14)
Farr (D-17)
Honda (D-15)
Lantos (D-12)
Lee (D-9)
Lofgren (D-16)
McNerney (D-11)
Miller (D-07)
Napolitano (D-38)
Sanchez, Loretta (D-47)
Schiff (D-29)
Sherman (D-27)
Solis (D-32)
Stark (D-13)
Tauscher (D-10)
Waxman (D-30)

If your representative is named, please call and thank him or her. If not on the list, then ask him or her to cosponsor right away. At this point, neither of California’s senators is a cosponsor. Sen. Boxer always has been in the past, and Sen. Feinstein was once, but not again. They could both use calls.

You can find contact information for your representatives and senators on the House and Senate websites.

The Salt Lake Tribune published a letter to the editor this week from me about the bill. You can read it online (for a while, at least).

2. Protect Arch Canyon
DEADLINE: April 6
(ACTION ITEM)

The following alert comes from the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

Below the flanks of the Abajo Mountains on southeastern Utah’s Cedar Mesa lies Arch Canyon, a virtual treasure trove of Native American archaeological sites, most of which have never been surveyed by the BLM. Last December, a broad coalition of conservationists, Navajo Tribal leaders, and local business owners filed a formal Petition to Preserve Arch Canyon’s Natural and Cultural Resources. Three months later, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is taking steps in the opposite direction. Instead of acting on the petition, which is supported by independent scientific research, the agency is preparing an Environmental Assessment in order to issue multi-year permits for destructive off-road vehicle (ORV) events in the canyon.

In response, the Navajo Utah Commission has submitted a formal letter to the BLM explaining the cultural significance of Arch Canyon and urging the agency to prohibit motorized vehicle use there. The Hopi Tribe has also asked the BLM to institute an immediate interim closure of the canyon due to the cultural resource concerns raised in the Arch Canyon Petition.

A professional archaeologist who surveyed Arch Canyon in connection with the petition estimates that there are over 100 undocumented sites in the area and concludes that unmanaged ORV access threatens the centuries-old structures and other artifacts that make this place important for scientific study. The National Trust for Historic Preservation has asked the BLM to prohibit ORV use in Arch Canyon until a comprehensive archaeological survey has been completed and a management plan that provides for protection of cultural artifacts can be implemented.

In addition to its cultural significance, Arch Canyon shelters a year-round stream that supports three species of native fish, including one species the State of Utah considers sensitive (and which could soon be petitioned for listing under the Endangered Species Act). ORVs cross this stream 60 times in the approximately 8-mile trip from the mouth of the canyon to the U.S. Forest Service boundary where ORV use is prohibited. That’s 120 stream crossings for each round trip. Not surprisingly, such intense ORV use damages and pollutes the stream, harming important fish habitat.

Arch Canyon is proposed for wilderness in America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act. It deserves protection, not exploitation as an ORV obstacle course.

How You Can Help:

Tell the BLM that you want Arch Canyon and its outstanding, irreplaceable resources preserved, and that you do not want ORVs to be allowed in the canyon, putting the cultural and natural resources in harms way. Please try to comment before April 6, 2007.

• To send your own personal letter by postal or electronic mail (this type of comment letter is best), write to:

Sandra Meyers, Manager
Brian Quigley
BLM–Monticello Field Office
435 North Main Street
P.O. Box 7
Monticello, UT 84535

Email: sandra_meyers@blm.gov
brian_quigley@blm.gov

If you send your own letter, please let us know by dropping us a quick note at alerts@suwa.org. For help composing your letter, see our suggested talking points.

Thank you for taking action to protect Arch Canyon!

3. Oil & Gas Drilling in Glen Canyon NRA Denied
Thank You Letters Needed
(ACTION ITEM)

In our June 2005 Update, we wrote about plans to explore for oil & gas in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Good news came this month when the Park Service and BLM turned down the application to drill in the NRA.

The Deseret News reported: “The agencies said they were unable to complete the environmental assessment because critical information about the project was not provided, so the request was denied. Viking’s lease also expired Feb. 28.”

Officials always hear from us when we want something, but only rarely do they hear afterward, so it’s always important to write a letter when they do something we approve of. Please write a letter of thanks to:

Ms. Kitty Roberts
Superintendent
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area-
P.O. Box 1507
Page, AZ 86040-1507

You can fax it to: 928-608-6259

Or send an email.

Or call: 928-608-6200

IN CALIFORNIA
4. Resolution on Public Land Fees Introduced
(ACTION ITEM)

It has been an ongoing struggle to keep fees away from public land use. The federal government over the years has continued to cut the budgets of the land management agencies, so they have instituted charges for hiking and other non-consumptive uses in sites all over the West. These were finally passed into law in 2004 with the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA).

A resolution opposing has been introduced in the California State Assembly and deserves your support.

The following alert (slightly edited) comes from Keep Sespe Wild, the organization in California leading the fight against recreational fees.

AJR 21 (which stands for Assembly Joint Resolution), authored by Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-Pasadena), will come before the Assembly’s Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee quite soon – maybe by the end of March. Then it will go to the Assembly floor for a vote.

We need you and many others to make phone calls to your Assemblyman or Assemblywoman right away, to demonstrate support for AJR 21 and to urge the Committee and the Assembly as a whole to support it! Below you will find details on contacting members of the Assembly. The text of AJR 21 is available online.

Similar resolutions have been passed by legislatures in Idaho, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, New Hampshire and by the Alaska House of Representatives. Together, these resolutions show our legislators in Washington DC how unpopular the FLREA is – and help move them to repeal it soon. (The House Natural Resources Committee in DC has a list of topics in its website that they will be addressing, and it includes the FLREA.)

California’s Assembly and Senate have in fact already passed (unanimously) a resolution against the FLREA’s predecessor, the Recreation Fee Demo Program, back in 1998. The current resolution, AJR 21, will, when passed, reiterate the California legislature’s opposition to access fees on public lands managed by the US Forest Service, the BLM, the US Fish & Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Reclamation. (Please note, AJR 21 does not include a recommendation to repeal fees in National Parks.)

WHAT TO DO

Please call your local Assemblymember right away, and ask them to cosponsor AJR 21. Briefly explain why. If you don’t know your Assemblymember here is a map, where you can click on your home area and be directed to your Assemblymember’s website and contact information.

Please also call or email (by clicking on their names below) as many as you can, through mid April, of the Assemblymembers who sit on the Committee for Water, Parks and Wildlife. They will be the first to decide on AJR 21. The Committee members are:

Lois Wolk, Chair (D), (916) 319-2008
Bill Maze, Vice Chair (R), (916) 319-2034
Joel Anderson (R), (916) 319-2077
Tom Berryhill (R), (916) 319-2025
Anna M. Caballero (D), (916) 319-2028
Charles M. Calderon (D), (916) 319-2058
Jared Huffman (D), (916) 319-2006
Doug La Malfa (R), (916) 319-2002
Ted W. Lieu (D), (916) 319-2053
Gene Mullin (D), (916) 319-2019
Pedro Nava (D), (916) 319-2035
Nicole Parra (D), (916) 319-2030
Mary Salas (D), (916) 319-2079

To email your Assemblymember, use the following format:

Assemblymember.LASTNAME@assembly.ca.gov

SAMPLE PHONE MESSAGE TO COMMITTEE MEMBERS:

You can keep it brief. Remember, unlike Congress in DC, which is responsible for the unpopular FLREA, these Assemblymembers are just being asked to support a resolution against it.

“My name is (…). I’m calling from (City and/or County). Please support AJR 21 when it comes before the Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee.”

SAMPLE PHONE MESSAGE TO YOUR ASSEMBLYMEMBER

“My name is (…). I’m calling from (City). Please coauthor AJR 21, the resolution opposing access fees on federal public lands in California. I visit the (Los Padres/Angeles/etc.) National Forest to (hike, hunt, ride my horse, mountain bike, etc.), and I oppose fees for access to undeveloped areas. Thank you.”

5. Forest Service Decides Not to Appeal Emigrant Wilderness Case
Dams to be Allowed to Decay

A longstanding controversy in the Sierra has been plans by the Forest Service to maintain 18 dams in the Emigrant Wilderness of Stanislaus National Forest. The dams were constructed between 1920 and 1951 to help maintain streams flows for non-native trout. The Wilderness Act of 1964 prohibits structures in designated wilderness areas, and thus the Forest Service’s plans did not comply with the law.

CalUWild wrote about the dams in February and October of 2003. The Forest Service decided to maintain 11 of the dams and allow the others to degrade. Wilderness Watch and High Sierra Hikers Association sued the Forest Service, and as we reported last year (in an item that contained excellent quotes about wilderness philosophy), a federal judge ruled that the dams should not be maintained.

Earlier this month, the Forest Service announced that it would not appeal the ruling, without stating any reason. Residents of Tuolumne County responded that they would begin a campaign to have Rep. George Radanovich (R-19) of Mariposa introduce legislation protecting the dams. Mr. Radanovich reportedly has asked Pres. Bush to declare the dams national monuments. So it may not be over yet. We’ll keep you posted.

6. Cesar Chavez Resource Study
(ACTION ITEM)

It is sometimes tempting to think of wilderness as a topic in political isolation. But it is often connected to other issues, sometimes more directly than others. One very effective way of pushing for needed action is the building of coalitions of people and organizations who are willing and able to support a variety of proposals. One opportunity to broaden the environmental coalition recently came our way.

Rep. Hilda Solis (D-32) is the author of the California Wild Heritage Act in the House of Representatives and is a longtime friend of wilderness in California and the West. She is also strong supporter of linking environmental and social justice issues. In addition, the National Hispanic Environmental Council is actively working on behalf of wilderness protection in California. Rep. Solis has introduced the “Cesar Estrada Chavez Study Act” and has asked for support for the bill.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO) previously introduced the legislation in the Senate, where it passed by unanimous consent. A hearing was held before the House Parks Subcommittee this week, and a hearing before the full Natural Resources Committee is anticipated.

The bill, H.R. 359, would:

• Authorize a special resource study of sites in Arizona, California and other states significant to the life of Cesar E. Chavez and the U.S. farm labor movement;

• Seek a determination whether any of the sites meet criteria for listing on the National Register of Historic Places or designation as a national historic landmark;

• Encourage consultation with the Cesar E. Chavez Foundation, the United Farm Workers, and state and local historical associations;

• Require a report to Congress on the findings of the study and any recommendations for action.

Please contact your representatives and let them know your thoughts on the subject.

For more information about this legislation or to provide support, please contact Megan Uzzell in Rep. Solis’s Washington, D.C. office at 202-225-5464 or by email.

7. California Wilderness Coalition Annual Celebration

Please join our friends at CWC!

SAVE THE DATE
Friday, April 13, 2007
Celebrating North Coast Wilderness

California Wilderness Coalition’s Annual Celebration

Join us in celebrating the passage of the Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act and honoring Congressman Mike Thompson with our Phillip Burton Wilderness Award.

6-8 p.m.
California Historical Society
678 Mission St.
San Francisco, CA 94105

Montgomery BART Station

IN ARIZONA
8. Webcams in Kofa NWR Wilderness Stopped
(ACTION ITEM)

Last month we reported on a proposal by the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge to install video cameras near guzzlers (artificial water supplies) for broadcast over the Internet.

The reaction from you and other wilderness supporters was swift, and within a few days the Refuge announced it would not proceed.

Therefore, please send a letter or make a phone call to the Refuge Manager, thanking him for deciding not to install cameras in designated wilderness.

Contact:

Mr. J. Paul Cornes, Manager
Kofa National Wildlife Refuge
356 W. 1st Street
Yuma, Arizona 85364

Email: paul_cornes@fws.gov
Phone: 928-783-7861
Fax: 928-783-8611

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Posted in Newsletters | Comments Off on 2007 March

2006 March

March 28th, 2006

March 28, 2006

Dear members, friends, & supporters of CalUWild —

It’s a wet Spring here in California, meaning that there are waterfalls to see all over the place. The wildflowers won’t be far behind once we get some sunshine and warmth. It’s a great time to get out and enjoy the world!

News this month warmed the hearts of many in the conservation community: Interior Secretary Gale Norton announced her resignation. Despite her vaunted “4 C’s” (“communication, consultation and cooperation, all in the service of conservation”), one of CalUWild’s BLM friends said recently that the 4 C’s were in fact “energy, energy, energy, and energy.” That has been the hallmark of Ms. Norton’s tenure: opening up more and more land to oil & gas leasing. She also rolled back the wilderness inventory process in the BLM and continues to try to make it easier to build roads into remote places. (See Item 5, below.)

President Bush has nominated Idaho governor Dirk Kempthorne to replace Ms. Norton. A former U.S. Senator, he is expected to win easy confirmation. However, given the last five years of anti-conservation policies, he may be in for some tough questioning when he appears before the Senate. Mr. Kempthorne is no friend of the environment, and he will probably continue Ms. Norton’s policies. Our relief at seeing Gale Norton leave may be short-lived—we’ll see.

In other news, the Republican Congressman Sherwood Boehlert from upstate New York has announced his retirement at the end of this Congress. This is bad news for conservationists, as Mr. Boehlert is one of the most reliable supporters of the environment in Congress. But he is a particularly valuable member because of his party affiliation—he is one of the few in his party willing to stand up to the Administration on conservation issues. The conservation movement will miss Rep. Boehlert.

In better news, in last month’s Update we mentioned the Administration’s proposal to sell off public lands to help meet school funding needs. We are happy to report that across the country this idea has received nearly unanimous negative reviews from citizens, politicians, and the press. So far, it seems to be going nowhere.

While on that subject, I should clarify that CalUWild is not opposed to all sales of public land. Another BLM employee wrote CalUWild pointing out that there are parcels that are small and difficult to manage, and every BLM and Forest Service office identifies these in its management planning documents as being potentially available for sale. We support the sale of these parcels only if the proceeds are used to purchase inholdings or other lands that have higher ecological value to the agency. These sales need to be done openly and with fair appraisals, something that has not always happened in recent years. However, the recent Administration proposal did not fall into that category; instead it was to fund ongoing expenses with a one-time sale of our natural heritage. This remains unacceptable.

In more good news, the Utah BLM office has, for the time being, withdrawn some of the lands in Labyrinth Canyon along the Green River, along the San Rafael River, and in the San Rafael Desert from consideration for oil & gas leasing. These were also the subject of an item in the February Update.

Finally, the California Wild Heritage Act was reintroduced this month in the Senate and House of Representatives. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) and Rep. Hilda Solis (D-32) are the principal sponsors. The North Coast Wild Heritage Act, authored by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-1), has passed the Senate and has had one House hearing. We’re hoping that it still moves in this session. We’ll keep you posted as these bills progress.

Comments, questions, and critiques are always welcome here, especially if they help us serve you better in your efforts to protect our wild places. Send them to info@caluwild.org.

Thanks for all you do!

All the best,
Mike

IN UTAH
1. Sen. Bennett Makes a Proposal
For the Zion-Mojave Wilderness
(ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
2. State Off Highway Vehicle Commission
Faces Governor’s Axe
(ACTION ITEM)
3. Walkin’ Jim Stoltz Brings a Wilderness Concert
To San Francisco State University April 15
(SAVE THE DATE)
4. BLM Offers Desert Volunteer Service Trips

IN GENERAL
5. Parting Shot:
Gale Norton Comes Out
With a New Policy on R.S. 2477
(ACTION ITEM)

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

IN UTAH
1. Sen. Bennett Makes a Proposal
For the Zion-Mojave Wilderness
(ACTION ITEM

Washington County in the southwest corner of Utah, around Zion National Park and the city of St. George, contains some of the most spectacular scenery in the state. It is also the place where the Mojave Desert meets the Colorado Plateau, making it an area of high biological diversity. But the area also has one of the highest growth rates in the entire U.S., and per capita water consumption is the highest in the country. Last week, Utah’s Sen. Bob Bennett released a long-awaited proposal that he is calling the Washington County Growth and Conservation Act of 2006.

From the viewpoint of CalUWild and our partners in the Utah Wilderness Coalition, the proposal is extremely disappointing. It does basically nothing for wilderness.

When they did their inventories, the citizens of Utah found that close to 302,000 acres of land in Washington County qualify for wilderness designation under the 1964 Wilderness Act. These are included in America’s Redrock Wilderness Act. Unfortunately, Sen. Bennett’s proposal does not include much of this acreage. For the most part he only includes areas that were made wilderness study areas (WSAs) in the BLM’s first flawed inventories. The proposal leaves out lands that the BLM itself has reinventoried and found to qualify. Additionally, some WSA land is even released from consideration.

However, Sen. Bennett gives the appearance of being wilderness-friendly by proposing designation for nearly 124,000 acres in Zion National Park. He also includes almost 170 miles of the Virgin River for designation as a Wild & Scenic River. These items look great on paper, and we support them, of course. However, national parks already have a high level of protection (although not complete by any means), and there are other lands under threat that need the protection more.

The proposal also authorizes the sale of 25,000 acres (40 square miles) of BLM land for development. The proceeds from this sale would finance new water pipelines and other development, inducing more sprawl in an area already suffering tremendously from it. Sen. Bennett also proposes the construction of a bypass through land that has been set aside for the protection of the endangered desert tortoise.

And if that all weren’t bad enough, the sale of these public lands would also fund the creation of a system of off-highway vehicle (OHV) trails in Washington County while doing nothing to control the explosive growth in OHV use. There are already 435,000 acres of BLM land in the county open to OHV use, yet the agency is seven years behind in its duty of preparing a comprehensive vehicle and recreation plan.

Sen. Bennett had portrayed this proposal as the result of a collaborative effort among all the interested parties. The wilderness community disputes this, since the UWC was invited to only a few meetings before the process broke down in 2004. Repeated requests for information during the further development of the proposal went unanswered.

Now is the time for his office to truly include everyone with an interest in the area. We hope that there will be public hearings in Utah on the proposal, and that Sen. Bennett will take a truly inclusive view of things.

If you live in the district of a Redrock Wilderness Bill cosponsor, please call him or her, reminding them of their commitment to the Red Rock Wilderness Act and voice your concern over this possible legislation. California’s cosponsors are:

In the House:

Xavier Becerra (D-31)
Howard L. Berman (D-28)
Lois Capps (D-23)
Susan Davis (D-53)
Anna Eshoo (D-14)
Sam Farr (D-17)
Bob Filner (D-51)
Jane Harman (D-36)
Michael Honda(D-15)
Tom Lantos (D-12)
Barbara Lee (D-09)
Zoe Lofgren (D-16)
Doris Matsui (D-05)
Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-37)
George Miller (D-07)
Grace Napolitano, F. (D-38)
Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-34)
Linda Sanchez (D-39)
Loretta Sanchez (D-47)
Adam Schiff, (D-29)
Brad Sherman (D-27)
Hilda Solis(D-32)
Pete Stark (D-13)
Ellen Tauscher(D-10)
Mike Thompson (D-01)
Maxine Waters (D-35)
Diane Watson (D-33)
Henry Waxman (D-30)
Lynn Woolsey (D-06)

Although she’s not a cosponsor, it would also be helpful to contact the House Minority Leader:

Nancy Pelosi (D-08)

In the Senate:

Sen. Barbara Boxer
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (not a cosponsor)

Complete contact information for these offices can be found on CalUWild’s Website.

IN CALIFORNIA
2. State Off Highway Vehicle Commission
Faces Governor’s Axe
(ACTION ITEM)

Off-highway vehicles are a major concern everywhere around the West, and California is no exception. This state has a commission that gives out grants, funded by gas tax monies, to organizations and agencies to deal with the many issues that OHV use brings with it. Currently, persons sympathetic to environmental issues hold four of the seven seats on the commission, so there has been an increase in funding for enforcement and habitat restoration programs. This has not always proven popular with OHV enthusiasts, and they are putting pressure on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to eliminate the Commission.

The slightly edited information in the following alert comes from our friends at the California Wilderness Coalition.

Act Now: Protect California’s Wild Places From Off-Road Vehicle Abuse!

The California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission provides crucial policy guidance for the management of off-road vehicles (ORVs) on public lands in California. It also provides an important forum for public input on the state’s ORV Program. As ORV abuse has exploded in recent years, the Commission has worked tirelessly to provide essential funds for law enforcement and restoration grants. These grants have helped to restore damaged areas, to protect pristine places from being harmed and to confine ORV use to the most appropriate locations.

Unfortunately, our public lands are threatened by ill-conceived proposals from off-roaders and the Schwarzenegger Administration to eliminate this important commission. Dismantling the commission would leave California’s streams, deserts, forests and other valuable public and private lands at risk from increased ORV abuse.

We need you to stand up for California’s wild places!

Let your Assembly member know that you support the renewal of the California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission.

Call, write, email or fax your state legislator today!

To identify and get contact information for your Assembly member, go to:

http://www.assembly.ca.gov/defaulttext.asp and click on “Find My District” on the left column.

Talking points:

• Urge them to support the renewal of the California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission.

• The Commission helps promote responsible off-road vehicle recreation while preserving our public lands and waterways.

• The Commission provides transparency, public input and legislative oversight for California’s off-road vehicle recreation program.

• The Commission has successfully protected and restored many of California’s sensitive forests, deserts and streams from off-road vehicle abuse.

• The Commission oversees important law enforcement programs that protect local communities from ORV noise, air pollution, property damage and trespassing.

As always, include your full name and address.

3. Walkin’ Jim Stoltz Brings a Wilderness Concert
To San Francisco State University April 15
(SAVE THE DATE)

San Francisco will have a rare opportunity to meet America’s one-of-a-kind wilderness troubadour when Forever Wild 2006 comes to San Francisco State University. Tickets are free for this community-sponsored event, sponsored by the Sierra Club Bay Chapter, the San Francisco State University EcoStudents Association, Wilderness Exchange, and CalUWild.

7 p.m. on Saturday April 15
San Francisco State University
Gymnasium 147

Walkin’ Jim Stoltz has trekked from coast to coast, Mexico to Canada, Yellowstone to the Yukon, from high in the Arctic to deep in the Utah canyons. All those years in the wild places and 26,000 miles of walking have given him a great love and respect for America’s natural beauty. He shares that appreciation in his celebratory show, Forever Wild 2006. Walkin’ Jim sings in a deep bass voice, plays guitar, and tells stories about his travels while projecting spectacular images of the wilderness he has photographed on his travels.

“The road less traveled is not a road,” Walkin’ Jim says. “And we ought to stop building any more roads through our wildlands.” This year, with Forever Wild 2006, his goal is to visit all 50 states, perform 100 free events, and encourage 100,000 calls and letters in his personal crusade to save these wild places for the future. He is being joined by hundreds of other musicians, speakers and community groups across the nation.

Forever Wild 2006 is a project of Musicians United to Sustain the Environment (M. U. S. E.), a rapidly growing non-profit which heightens environmental awareness by raising funds for effective grassroots projects through CD sales, concerts and public donations. Its roster of performers includes Pete Seeger, Paul Winter, and Country Joe McDonald. For more information on the organization and its artists, see www.musemusic.org

Walkin’ Jim encourages people who hear about his tour to learn more about his “Call for Wild” program and how they can help by visiting www.foreverwild.info

For free tickets and more information about his show April 15 at San Francisco State’s Gymnasium 147, please call Vicky Hoover at Sierra Club, 415-977-5527, or Suzanne McNulty at EcoStudents Association, 415-405-0326.

4. BLM Offers Desert Volunteer Service Trips

If you’re looking for a good way to get out, see some wild places, and do some good all at the same time, service trips are a great opportunity to take a step beyond writing letters. Here’s a listing of upcoming projects with the BLM in the California desert, sponsored by various field offices (FO’s).

March 31-April 2nd
Dead Mountains Wilderness Sign Installation and Tamarisk Removal. We will be working in Picture Canyon to install a Dead Mountains Wilderness ID Sign and to remove some small tamarisk seedlings. One day of work, followed by a day of hiking. Contact Dan Abbe, Wilderness Coordinator Needles FO, at 760-326-7021 or Vicky Hoover at 415-977-5527.

March-April
Turtle Mountains Wilderness Garbage Removal. Join us in cleaning up this very special and spectacular place! Specific date not set yet. Contact Dan Abbe, Wilderness Coordinator Needles FO, at 760-326-7021.

April 1-3rd
Bright Star Wilderness Trespass Cabin Site Restoration. Structure has been dismantled and removed. Now we need to put the finishing touches on renaturalizing the site and restoring and fencing off the entrance to the site. Two days of work and one day of adventuresome hiking down one of the watered canyons in the area. Contact Marty Dickes, Wilderness Coordinator Ridgecrest FO, at 760-384-5444 or Craig Deutsche at 310-477-6670.

April 8th
Buzzard’s Peak Hike, El Centro Mystery Wilderness Area. Contact John Johnson, Wilderness Coordinator, El Centro FO, at 760-337-4442.

April 14-16th
Surprise Canyon Tamarisk Removal. We’ve had two trips here to pull up small seedlings below Chris Wicht Camp. This time we will do more sitting and pulling and weed-wrenching, as well as tackling the large seed trees up-canyon by cutting them down and applying herbicide to the stumps. Two days of work and 1 day of play involving a hike up Surprise Canyon to Panamint City or up one of the recently discovered old mining trails in the area. Contact Marty Dickes, Wilderness Coordinator Ridgecrest FO, at 760-384-5444 or Sue Palmer 818-879-0960 or Tom Budlong (310-476-1731).

April 22-23rd
Student Conservation Association Assault on Nellie’s Nip, Kiavah Wilderness. The SCA Wilderness Restoration Corp is joining hands with SCA Non-Wilderness Restoration Corp teams working in the Ridgecrest OHV areas to lay this ugly hillclimb and the illegal vehicle approaches to it to rest! All hands welcome! Contact Marty Dickes, Wilderness Coordinator Ridgecrest FO, at 760-384-5444.

May 8-13th
Inyo Mountains Wilderness Site Steward Inventory and Monitoring Trip, Little Hunter Canyon to Beveridge. This is the third of 5 trips to inventory and monitor cultural sites along segments of 19th century mining trails increasingly used by hikers and backpackers in the area. The trip will be extremely arduous, involving a 6-day backpack trip with heavy (water) loads, high elevation gains and drops, over steep, uneven terrain on nearly non-existent trails. Work involves tedious gpsing, mapping, and photographing of sites and artifacts in-place. Prefer experienced Inyo hikers who are committed to doing the work rather than simply touring the area. Trip is limited to 6 participants. Contact Marty Dickes, Wilderness Coordinator Ridgecrest FO, at 760-384-5444.

BLM is also looking for volunteer coordinators or groups to undertake the following projects.

PALM SPRINGS FIELD OFFICE
Contact Justin Seastrand, Wilderness Coordinator, at 760-251-4855.
1. Cleanup site Mecca Hills Wilderness.
2. Cleanup site Santa Rosa Mtns. Wilderness.
3. “Sting” Operations, unspecified wildernesses.

RIDGECREST FIELD OFFICE
Contact Marty Dickes, Wilderness Coordinator, at 760-384-5444.
1. Vehicle barriers & interpretative kiosk, El Paso Mtns. Wilderness.
2. Small tamarisk infestations, Argus Range Wilderness.
3. Sacatar Trail Site Steward cultural inventory and monitoring trip.
4. Small tamarisk infestations, Inyo Mountains Wilderness.
5. Argus Range Wilderness restoration on boulder-barricaded vehicle trespass sites.
6. Re-restoration and interpretative kiosk at Steam Well, Golden Valley Wilderness.
7. Wilderness “Sting” Operations: Opening of hunting season and Fall OHV-season.
8. Inyo Mtns. Wilderness east-side cleanup site and restoration on boulder-barricaded vehicle trespass sites.
9. Repeat treatment tamarisk infestation in Surprise Canyon.
10. 4th leg of Inyo Mountains Wilderness Site Steward cultural inventory and monitoring project, Beveridge to McEvoy Canyon.

IN GENERAL
5. Parting Shot:
Gale Norton Comes Out
With a New Policy on R.S. 2477
(ACTION ITEM)

As she goes out the door, Interior Secretary Gale Norton continues her assault on America’s public (and in this case private, too) lands. She refuses to let the R.S. 2477 issue go away.

To refresh your memory, R.S. 2477 is the Civil War-era statute that gave states the authority to construct highways over federal lands. It was repealed in 1976, but existing rights-of-way were grandfathered in. In efforts to defeat wilderness proposals and just generally to “get the federal government off their backs,” states and counties have been claiming rights of way on all sorts of lands, including private property, across the West in recent years.

This issue has been the subject of legislation, lawsuits, and proposed new regulations. But it never comes to an end. The latest turn is that the Department of the Interior last week proposed a new directive which it claims is in line with a recent 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decision in the lawsuit brought by the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

California’s Sen. Dianne Feinstein is writing a letter to be signed by other senators asking Secty. Norton to refrain from going ahead with this new directive.

It is important that we let our friends know when we approve the work they’re doing, so please take a minute to call Sen. Feinstein’s office and thank her for taking the lead on this letter. Her office in Washington, DC can be reached at:

202-224-3841

Sen. Barbara Boxer is a good friend of wilderness, so please contact her office, too, asking her to sign on to Sen. Feinstein’s letter. Her number in Washington is:

202-224-3553

Local contact information for both senators may be found on CalUWild’s website.

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2005 March

March 15th, 2005

March 15, 2005

Dear CalUWild friends-

There was good news on the environmental front this week as the key Senate Environment & Public Works Committee did not pass Pres. Bush’s controversial, so-called “Clear Skies” initiative on to the full Senate for a vote. It was a tie vote, with Republican Lincoln Chafee (RI) and Independent Jim Jeffords (VT) voting against the bill. While not dealing with wilderness, it shows that the Congress is willing and able to stand up to the administration’s misleading and harmful proposals. We hope that Congress will continue to stand firmly against opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling as well as protecting other special places around the West.

Many parts (but not all) of the West have received abnormally heavy rainfall this winter, and the wildflower displays are already spectacular, especially in the desert. If you have a chance, get out to see them. I don’t think you will be disappointed!

On the CalUWild administrative front, volunteer Kassi Sutherland has updated the roster of contact information for the California congressional delegation, federal administration officials, and major California newspapers. It will be posted on our website: https://www.caluwild.org/advocacy02.htm in the next day or two. Please bookmark and refer to it when making calls or writing to decisionmakers and editors. Thanks to Kassi and to our faithful webmaster Phillip Loughlin.

Also, a request regarding dues: Dues have always been optional for people receiving the UPDATE via e-mail. In the past we have limited our solicitations to one a year per member, both to save us the cost of mailing and you the aggravation of repeated reminders. However, we are finding that this approach doesn’t allow us to reach our goals.

CalUWild appreciates the generosity of those who do contribute faithfully, and that support keeps us going. But we really need the support of more of our members.

In addition to the direct support that would provide, a high level of participation has the added benefit of helping us attract funding from foundations and other sources. Currently the UPDATE goes out to 695 people. If everyone contributed an average of $20, CalUWild would be in a much better position to reach our collective goals.

So the next time you get a notice from us, please seriously consider sending a check. Or to save us the mailing expense, go to our web site at https://www.caluwild.org/membership02.htm, print out the coupon, and mail it with your contribution. Thank you very much.

Finally, help spread the word about the issues facing wilderness and public lands here in the West. Please pass this UPDATE along to people you know and encourage them to get involved in all of our efforts. We can never have too many wilderness defenders!

Thanks,
Mike

IN UTAH
1. Call-in Day for America’s Redrock Wilderness Bill
Wednesday, March 16
(ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
2. Los Padres National Forest Oil & Gas Exploration
Write to Gov. Schwarzenegger
(ACTION ITEM)

3. California Wild Heritage Campaign
Vote for a Slogan
DEADLINE: March 22

IN ALASKA

4. Arctic Wildlife Refuge Vote
(ACTION ITEM)

IN COLORADO
5. Roan Plateau Comment Deadline
Extended to April 11
(ACTION ITEM)

IN OREGON
6. Biscuit Fire “Salvage” Logging In Old Growth Reserve
(ACTION ITEM)

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

IN UTAH
1. Call-in Day for America’s Redrock Wilderness Bill
Wednesday, March 16
(ACTION ITEM)

This week the Utah Wilderness Coalition (UWC) sponsored a Wilderness Week in Washington, DC. Three Californians joined volunteers from around the country to learn about Utah wilderness issues and share their knowledge and enthusiasm for Utah’s wild places with staff on Capitol Hill.

To capitalize on the momentum of their efforts, the UWC is organizing a nationwide call-in day next Wednesday, March 16. The purpose is to garner cosponsors for America’s Redrock Wilderness Act, one of CalUWild’s major legislative focuses.

Because the legislation is not expected to move in Congress, cosponsorship is the one way that legislators can show support for it. And a high number of cosponsors also shows the administration that many citizens support the protection of wilderness values on the ground in Utah.

UWC sent out the following alert:

JOIN THOUSANDS IN A NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION: CALL YOUR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS ON MARCH 16TH !

As you read this message, there are vast tracts of land within the Citizens’ Proposal that are in danger of being lost forever due to the current Administration’s incessant energy exploration, off road vehicle abuse, and misguided land use planning. The only fail-safe way to protect these areas is through the passage of America’s Redrock Wilderness Act, soon to be reintroduced in the 109th Congress.

America’s Redrock Wilderness Act would provide permanent protection to over 9 million acres of pristine public land in Utah. In the face of the worst environmental administration this country has ever seen, your voice in support of Utah wilderness is more vital than ever. Now at the onset of the 109th Congress, we have a new opportunity to educate our lawmakers as to the importance of protecting our wild redrock heritage in Utah.

This March 16, we are calling on you to participate in a National Day of Action.

On this day, people from all over the country will call their Senators and Representative asking them to help us protect America’s Redrock Wilderness.

We need you to call in order to make this National Call-in Day a success!

Please call your Representative and Senators on Wednesday, the 16th and ask them to cosponsor America’s Redrock Wilderness Act in the 109th Congress. Together, with your phone calls, we can hold the administration at bay and ensure that America’s redrock splendor will be protected for all generations.

By the end of the last Congress, 162 Members of the House and 15 Senators had signed on to this bipartisan piece of legislation. Please urge your friends and colleagues to call or write to their representative s and senators to ensure that we gather similar support in this Congress, and forever protect Utah’s wildlands.

For more information please contact Angela Harper, UWC, at 801-486-2872 or Sean Saville, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, at 202-266-0472. Thanks so much for your support!

There are several ways you can get in touch with your member of Congress:

* Call your Representative and Senator’s office directly. Contact information for both California senators and all representatives is located on CalUWild’s web site at: www.caluwild.org/advocacy02.htm
* Call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be connected to the office.
* For those of you not in California, to find out your Representative’s direct line go to: www.house.gov
* For your Senators’ direct lines go to: www.senate.gov

IN CALIFORNIA

2. Los Padres National Forest
Oil & Gas Exploration
Write to Gov. Schwarzenegger
(ACTION ITEM)

For the last several years, CalUWild has been working with a coalition of organizations to stop oil and gas leasing in Los Padres National Forest, especially in areas proposed for wilderness designation and where populations of the endangered California Condor are being restored. The Forest Service has been working on a leasing plan, but so far it has not released it.

Following close on the heels of Gov. Schwarzenegger’s endorsement of the North Coast Wild Heritage Act, we hope he will come out in opposition to the proposals for leasing in Los Padres. Your calls and letters persuaded him on the North Coast bill. Now let’s see if we can do the same to protect Los Padres.

The following talking points are adapted from an alert sent out by The San Francisco office of The Wilderness Society:

* Thank you for your support of the Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act which provides permanent protection to numerous roadless areas in northern California. Please similarly work to defend vulnerable roadless areas in southern California.
* Numerous local leaders oppose new oil and gas development in the Los Padres National Forest.
* Over 70% of the lands that the US Forest Service is most seriously considering for development are within designated roadless areas – which means they are some of the most pristine forest lands remaining in California.
* The Los Padres National Forest is home to over 1,500 types of plants and animals and twenty endangered species, including the California condor.
* The forest is a critical source of clean drinking water for central coast communities and a favorite destination for hunters, anglers, and hikers who enjoy its natural beauty.
* The Forest Service estimates that the oil under the Los Padres is limited, at most, to a 10-day supply for the nation. Unfortunately the infrastructure needed to withdraw and transport it would be substantial and would cause air and water pollution, substantial noise, fire hazards, and habitat destruction.
* You have indicated to the Forest Service that you support the protection of California’s roadless areas. This proposed development presents the first challenge to this part of California’s natural heritage.

You can reach the governor at:

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-445-2841
Fax: 916-445-4633
E-mail (least preferable): governor@governor.ca.gov

3. California Wild Heritage Campaign
Vote for a Slogan
DEADLINE: March 22

The California Wild Heritage Campaign is developing new materials and is looking for a slogan to put on stickers, buttons, and other items. The Campaign recently collected ideas and is now asking for input from interested wilderness activists around the state. So please pick you favorite from the list below.

* California: Red Wild and Blue
* Renew your spirit in California’s Wilderness
* California Wilderness — Naturally Wild
* Wilderness — No artificial ingredients needed
* Wild California — Let it be
* Keep California Wild

Send your choice to Tina Andolina (tina@calwild.org) by March 22.

IN ALASKA

4. Arctic Wildlife Refuge Vote
(ACTION ITEM)

Despite the fact that most major oil companies have stated that they are not interested in drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Bush administration continues its efforts to open up the coastal plain to oil & gas exploration. Those in favor of drilling are trying to include the revenues from development in the Federal Budget Resolution, which is not subject to the same procedural rules as normal legislation (i.e., no filibuster allowed).

A vote is expected next week, so it is imperative that citizens call their senators and representatives and ask them to oppose including drilling revenues in this year’s budget. See Item 1, above, for information on contacting Congress.

IN COLORADO

5. Roan Plateau Comment Deadline
Extended to April 11
(ACTION ITEM)

In last month’s UPDATE we passed along information regarding oil & gas proposals for Colorado’s wild Roan Plateau. BLM had originally set a deadline of March 4 for comments. No sooner had we sent out the UPDATE than the BLM extended the comment deadline to April 11. So if you didn’t submit comments before March 4, please do so now by April 11.

Full details can be found in the February UPDATE, online at: https://www.caluwild.org/docs/Feb_update.html#7

IN OREGON

6. Biscuit Fire “Salvage” Logging In Old Growth Reserve
(ACTION ITEM)

2002 saw a huge fire that burned through the rugged Kalmiopsis Wilderness and other areas of the Siskiyou National Forest in southwest Oregon. Some of the burn was actually a backfire set by the Forest Service, and now that backburned area is being subjected to salvage logging. Please call the Forest Service Regional Forester, the Forest Supervisor, Senators Boxer and Feinstein, and your representative to protest these activities.

The following information is taken from alerts sent out by the Siskiyou Project in Oregon.

Logging has begun in old-growth reserves in the Babyfoot Lake/Fiddler Mountain area and the Berry logging sale. The Forest Service is spending enormous amounts of taxpayer dollars to facilitate the logging of these areas prior to a court case that would test the legality of this extreme logging later in March. Logging is also happening above the National Wild & Scenic Illinois River on the road to Babyfoot Lake, one of the most beloved areas in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness.

Old-Growth Logging Destroying Habitat

Old-growth reserves were set-aside in the Northwest Forest Plan in order to safeguard habitat for rare plants and animals that depend on older forests to survive. In the Siskiyou Wild Rivers area, fire is a natural part of these forests, and the reserves that burned in the 2002 have begun rejuvenating naturally. The big, old-growth legacy trees created by the fire are a key building-block of this recovery and critical to protect soils and provide wildlife habitat, but the Forest Service is targeting them for logging. Doing so destroys critical habitat for birds and other wildlife, increases the risk of erosion, and puts the region’s fragile salmon and steelhead runs in danger.

Court Challenge to Logging May be Moot

The Siskiyou Project is leading a plaintiff group that has taken the Forest Service to court in order to bring justice back to our Siskiyou forests. However, the first case will not be heard until March 22 and a legal injunction lifted Monday allows for trees to be logged until a decision is rendered. By the time a court could decide that logging old growth in the Siskiyou is illegal, the case could be declared moot because the forests in question will be cut down. Twenty-three people have been were arrested this week in an attempt to delay the logging, and as 72 year-old Joan Norman said as she was being arrested, “We have no laws protecting our forests so we will be the law.”

Logging Roadless Forests

The Forest Service is preparing the Mike’s Gulch logging sale — the first roadless logging project since the popular Roadless Area Conservation Rule was created. Exploiting and abusing flexibility built into the Roadless Rule, the Forest Service is proposing to log thousands of acres of roadless forest across the Siskiyou Wild Rivers area, including parts of the North and South Kalmiopsis Roadless Areas. The South Kalmiopsis, Oregon’s largest unprotected roadless forest at 105,000 acres, would be sawed into by the Mike’s Gulch logging project. The Forest Service is busily preparing other roadless logging sales, and the Siskiyou Project is working hard to expose their plans and stop them before they start. Keep in touch with the Siskiyou Project to stay up to date on this important issue.

Ask elected officials and the Forest Service:

1. To immediately halt the logging of old-growth reserves in the Siskiyou and allow full judicial review.
2. To protect roadless Siskiyou forests by preventing the auction of roadless logging sales such as the Mike’s Gulch logging project.

Contact:

Ms. Linda Goodman
Regional Forester (Oregon & Washington)
Phone: 503-808-2200

Mr. Scott Conroy
Siskiyou National Forest Supervisor
Phone: 541-858-2210

Please also call Senators Boxer and Feinstein and your representative.

For more information, call the Siskiyou Project at 541- 592-4459 or visit them online at: http://www.siskiyou.org

====================================================================================================

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