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2004 May

May 27th, 2004

May 27, 2004

Dear CalUWild friends and supporters –

Another Memorial Day Weekend is upon us, the traditional start of the Summer holidays, the time when many Americans take trips to see the natural wonders of the West.

I got an early start this year, spending the last week of April and the first two weeks of May in Utah on two river trips. The first trip was to the drowned remnants of the Colorado River in Glen Canyon. The second the San Juan River, the upper part of which is very much alive, before it, too, is stopped by Glen Canyon Dam.

A drought, now in its sixth year, has lowered the level of “Lake” Powell by 116 feet. Many of the side canyons are re-emerging, and nature is beginning to reclaim them. Already there are willow saplings, eight feet tall in some places. Cattails and native grasses are sprouting everywhere. The infamous bathtub ring is peeling off in some places, and is being covered up with red and black streaks from above in others. One still sees the skeletons of drowned cottonwoods in the canyons, an eerie sight. But the overall impression I was left with was an appreciation for the rapid restorative powers of nature. Someday this might qualify as wilderness.

The excursion on the San Juan River was an eight-day raft trip, putting in at Bluff and taking out at Clay Hills Crossing, a distance of 85 miles. The river is bordered on the south by the Navajo Indian reservation, but the northern bank is largely BLM land and a narrow strip of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, with BLM land behind it. Much of this BLM land is included in America’s Redrock Wilderness Act, H.R. 1796. It is a relatively untouched area, full of canyons and archaeology.

Rafting is the perfect way to spend time exploring wilderness. It provides a relaxing way to cover distance under your own power, aided by the current of the river. You can stop and investigate things at your leisure and then continue downriver. It is also a good way for persons with more limited mobility to get out into wildlands.

Being out and about in these wild areas makes one appreciate what we Americans have been blessed with. But we cannot take it for granted that these places will stay wild forever, especially given the path the current administration is on. Visiting these lands, they become a part of you, and you return wanting to work doubly hard to protect them.

I strongly recommend an excursion out to the wilds-soon!

Thank you for everything you are doing to help.

Best wishes,
Mike ======================================

IN UTAH

1. Cedar Mountains Wilderness Bill
Passes Resources Committee

2. First R.S. 2477 Disclaimer Application Falls Apart

IN CALIFORNIA

3. Wild Heritage Campaign
(Action Item)

IN GENERAL

4. “Parks Only” Fee Demo Bill
Passes U.S. Senate (Action Item)

5. CalUWild Slide Shows in June

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

IN UTAH

1. Cedar Mountains Wilderness Bill
Passes House Resources Committee

The House Resources Committee last week unanimously passed H.R. 2909, Utah Rep. Rob Bishop’s wilderness bill to designate the Cedar Mountains, west of Salt Lake City, as wilderness. Rep. Bishop has been no friend of wilderness in the past, and this is the first time an acceptable wilderness bill has come from a Republican in the Utah delegation.

The main impetus behind the legislation, however, was not to protect wilderness, but to stop a possible rail line to the Goshutes Indian Reservation, where a nuclear waste dump has been proposed. The railway could still be built, it would have to pass over state land, subject to state regulation. Much of Utah is opposed to a waste dump there. Bishop claimed that stopping the waste dump was necessary to allow military flights at the Utah Test and Training Range (of which the Cedar Mountains are a part) to continue.

Rep. Bishop’s bill includes areas in the Utah citizens proposal in addition to lands inventoried by the BLM, and the boundaries align substantially with those in America’s Redrock Wilderness Act. In addition, Rep. Bishop addressed conservationists’ concerns regarding communications facilities in the wilderness, agreeing that neither their number nor their “footprint” would be increased. Finally, only three acres of land were “released” from wilderness consideration.

The bill must still be voted on by the full House, and as of yet there is no corresponding bill in the Senate.

2. First R.S. 2477 Disclaimer Application Falls Apart

The Weiss Highway in Juab County, Utah, was supposed to be the poster child for the state’s R.S. 2477 right-of-way claims. The state had signed a “memorandum of understanding”(MOU) with the Department of the Interior, setting out a process for settling claims to dispute roads.

However, the process has hit a couple of speedbumps.

First, the General Accounting Office (the investigative arm of Congress) issued an opinion in February that the Utah-Interior MOU was illegal.

Secondly, while investigating Juab County’s claim, evidence came to light that the highway had been built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, for the Division of Grazing (BLM’s predecessor agency), named after a CCC superintendent, using federal employees and federal funds. Additionally, a federal advisory board recommended its construction. And to top it off, in 1936 Juab County conveyed all of its interest in the construction, maintenance, and operation of the road to the federal government.

Hardly a stellar poster child for a county right-of-way.

The county has not withdrawn its application, though, and it’s not clear yet what the final outcome will be.

In other Utah R.S. 2477 news, Utah Deputy Attorney General Ralph Finlayson stated this week that his office now questions the legality of the MOU, and that he has “no present intention” of filing more R.S. 2477 claims under the MOU. However, he has threatened to sue the Department of the Interior to force the granting of rights-of-way. That remains to be seen, and we’ll keep you informed as the situation progresses.

IN CALIFORNIA

3. Wild Heritage Campaign
(Action Item)

H.R. 1501, the North Coast Wild Heritage Act, introduced by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-1), currently has 54 co-sponsors from around the country, and it continues to attract more every week. Below is a list of the California cosponsors. If your representative is listed, please write him or her a note of thanks. If not on the list, please write a note asking for cosponsorship right away.

On the Senate side, if you have not written Sen. Dianne Feinstein to thank her for her support of Rep. Thompson’s bill, please do so.

It is still better to send postal letters to local offices. If you wish to write to offices in Washington, DC, it’s better to fax your letter. Complete contact information for California’s congressional delegation can be found on CalUWild’s web site at

California Cosponsors of H.R. 1501

* Joe Baca (D-43)
* Xavier Becerra (D-31)
* Howard Berman, L. [CA-28)
* Lois Capps (D-23)
* Susan Davis (D-53)
* Calvin Dooley (D-20)
* Anna Eshoo (D-14)
* Sam Farr (D-17)
* Jane Harman (D-36)
* Michael Honda (D-15)
* Tom Lantos (D-12)
* Barbara Lee (D-9)
* Zoe Lofgren (D-16)
* Robert Matsui, T. [CA-5)
* George Miller (D-7)
* Grace Napolitano (D-38)
* Nancy Pelosi (D-8)
* 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)
* Maxine Waters (D-35)
* Diane Watson (D-33)
* Henry Waxman (D-30)
* Lynn Woolsey (D-6)

IN GENERAL

4. “Parks Only” Fee Demo Bill
Passes U.S. Senate
(Action Item)

The following comes from Keep Sespe Wild, one of the lead organizations in California fighting the Fee Demo program. We don’t get many chances to thank Wyoming Sen. Craig Thomas for anything, so this might be the perfect opportunity to do so. A phone call or short fax to his office in Washington is sufficient.

Phone: 202-224-6441
Fax: 202-224-1724

Dear Friends,

It’s been a long time coming, but last week saw the most important victory for Fee Demo foes since the program began in 1996.

The Senate passed, on Wednesday May 19, S. 1107, sponsored by Senator Craig Thomas (R-WY), which will make Fee Demo permanent ONLY for National Parks. It will allow Fee Demo to sunset on December 31st, 2005, its current termination date, for the US Forest Service, BLM and US Fish & Wildlife Service.

Not only did S. 1107 pass, it passed on the unanimous consent calendar (meaning, a time when uncontentious bills get passed in a package every so often). This is an extraordinary slap in the face for an Administration that has pushed hard for permanent multi-agency recreation fees.

(Historical note: Fee Demo support and Fee Demo opposition have always been bipartisan in Congress and in the White House. President Clinton pushed for permanent fees too, though not nearly as vigorously as has President Bush.)

Only a few months ago, the Administration was threatening to stop S. 1107 on the Senate floor, unless it was amended to include the other three Fee Demo agencies. But obviously there was no support for the Administration to latch on to. None whatsoever. Call it bluff and bluster on the Administration’s part, if you will, but please note that the Senate Energy Committee’s earlier (and also unanimous) passage of S. 1107 was largely in response to the many, many times so many of you have called and faxed DC on behalf of fee foes.

Clearly, the American public spoke with near unanimity too – Congress received hundreds of faxes from fee foes for the occasional one from a Fee Demo supporter.

Thanks also to all of you who have worked to win resolutions from counties and states, opposing Fee Demo. This has been extremely important.

There’s still the House of Representatives to deal with, and that’s coming right up. S. 1107 couldn’t have passed at a better time – the Senate drawing a line in the sand before the House acts. You know we’ll be calling on you soon enough…

But this weekend, friends, please visit your public lands, if you can, and relax in celebration of the US Senate’s being solidly on our side. Thanks to YOU.

5. CalUWild Slide Shows in June

CalUWild will be presenting two slide shows in June on wilderness issues, using Utah as a prime example. Both will be in the Bay Area.

Monday, June 14
Sierra Club, Loma Prieta Chapter Backpack section
Peninsula Conservation Center
Corner of East Bayshore Road and Corporation Way
Palo Alto
7:30 p.m.

Monday, June 28
Sierra Club, Loma Prieta Chapter
Saratoga Library Community Room
Corner of Saratoga and Fruitvale Avenues
Saratoga
Meeting begins at 7:30 p.m., slide show around 8 p.m.

Contact me for more information or if you’d like to schedule a slide show in your community.

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

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

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2003 May

May 9th, 2003

May 9, 2003

Dear CalUWild friends and supporters —

April saw the Bush administration busily rolling back wilderness protections, engaging in the most serious assault in many years. This is one of the most urgent situations we have ever written about here at CalUWild, and everyone who cares about the future of wilderness and public lands needs to contact his or her representative and senators in Washington as well as write letters to the editor of the local newspaper. Full details are in Item 1.

There are a few other general announcements this month.

1. The California Wild Heritage Campaign has a full schedule of hikes and other trips throughout California. It’s a great way to see firsthand some of the wild areas proposed for wilderness protection and learn about what makes them such special places. Check out the full calendar at:

2. Just a friendly reminder: Although we run CalUWild on a tight budget, projects still do require funding. An appeal for support will be going out in the next few weeks to our members who haven’t contributed in the last year. The easiest way to avoid receiving this is to send in a contribution. Dues are voluntary, and we have different level of contributions:

Student ($15) Regular ($25) Supporting ($50)
Outstanding ($100) Other

Checks payable to CalUWild may support lobbying efforts and are not tax-deductible. Tax-deductible contributions should be made payable to Resource Renewal Institute . Either way, mail it to:

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

3. Finally, given the administration’s unrelenting assaults on our wildlands—that’s not hyperbole given what has happened in the last month—we need to encourage other people to become actively involved in efforts to protect wild areas. Please forward this Update (which is going out to more than 577 people) to three friends who might be interested—particularly if they live in Southern California. If you send us their name and e-mail address, we’ll send them the information they need to join up. Tell them we don’t send out numerous alerts (generally once a month), dues are voluntary (but appreciated), and we do NOT share personal information with ANYone for ANY reason, so they won’t be receiving unsolicited e-mail. It shouldn’t be hard to double or triple our membership. Please spread the word!

As always, if you have questions, comments, or suggestions, don’t hesitate to contact us at

Thank you for all your support and hard work.

Best wishes,
Mike

IN GENERAL
1. R.S. 2477 / Wilderness Rollbacks
(Action Item)
2. Energy Bill in the Senate
(Action Item)

IN UTAH
3. Redrock Cosponsor Update

IN NEVADA
4. Black Rock Desert/High Rock Canyon NCA
Draft Management Plan
DEADLINE: June 16
(Action Item)

IN CALIFORNIA
5. SWAT Teams in Wilderness Denied
(Action Item)
6. North Coast Wilderness Bill Introduced
7. Condors at Pinnacles
(Action Item)
8. Alaska Wilderness Coalition Position in California

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

IN GENERAL
1. R.S. 2477 / Wilderness Rollbacks
(Action Item)

In April the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) launched a three-part attack on wilderness. Two parts involved settlements with the State of Utah, effectively removing them from public or congressional review. The third was a directive from Secretary Gale Norton to the Alaska BLM office.

Part 1: R.S. 2477 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the State of Utah

Utah Governor Mike Leavitt and Secretary Norton announced an agreement on April 9 allowing the State of Utah and its counties to claim R.S. 2477 rights-of-way to routes under the recently established Disclaimer of Interest Rule (see CalUWild Update: January 2003 ). At the time the new disclaimer regulations were being developed, the Department of Interior vehemently denied that the rule had anything to do with R.S. 2477.

This MOU is the product of secret negotiations between Mr. Leavitt and the Interior Department.

The agreement:

• allows the state and counties to assert claims to “roads” across pristine public landscapes where no road actually exists;

• provides no real protection for National Parks, Wildlife Refuges or Wilderness areas, since the state of Utah, counties, and all-terrain vehicle groups are free to pursue these claims in federal court;

• provides for no public involvement until after BLM has made a decision to turn routes on public lands over to states;

• does not require any review of the potential environmental impacts of the wholesale give-away of routes;

• apparently will use loosen standards that could permit states to allege that cow paths and foot trails are “constructed highways” and thus subject to giveaways;

• invites other states and counties to apply for similar agreements; and

• leaves vulnerable much of Utah’s most precious land, including much of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, roadless areas identified by the BLM as having potential wilderness characteristics in its 1997 state-wide inventory, and other areas proposed for Wilderness designation in America’s Redrock Wilderness Act.

For more information on R.S. 2477, see:

Part 2: Wilderness Study Area and Inventory Settlement with Utah

On April 11, the Interior Department and Utah announced a settlement to a lawsuit brought by Utah challenging BLM’s authority to undertake wilderness inventories. Seven out of the eight original counts in the suit had previously been rejected by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. Two weeks before the settlement was announced, BLM apparently encouraged Utah to revise the remaining count and then agreed to settle.

In the settlement, the federal government agreed to abandon its wilderness inventories in all states and dis-establish any Wilderness Study Areas that had been administratively set up. The agreement also revoked the “Wilderness Inventory Handbook,” which former Secretary Bruce Babbitt had developed, governing the inventory process and the management of lands found to have wilderness character. These lands had strong protection until such time as Congress might act on making their protection permanent or releasing them.

The Interior Department “admitted” that it had no authority under the Federal Lands Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) to undertake such inventories, because sec. 603 required BLM to have undertaken wilderness inventories before 1991. Many of the inventories that BLM did before 1991, particularly in Utah, were deeply flawed, often excluding illegally areas that had any mineral or oil & gas potential.

The BLM continued its inventories or began reinventories under secs. 201 and 202 of FLPMA. Sec. 201 specifically states:

“The Secretary shall prepare and maintain on a continuing basis an inventory of all public lands and their resource and other values (including, but not limited to, outdoor recreation and scenic values), giving priority to areas of critical environmental concern. This inventory shall be kept current so as to reflect changes in conditions and to identify new and emerging resource and other values.”

Wilderness is one such resource to be inventoried. Sec. 202 requires BLM to use the results of its inventories in developing land use plans.

A coalition of wilderness organizations is attempting to intervene in the lawsuit.

Part 3. Wilderness Agreement with Alaska

Also on April 11, Secty. Norton ordered the BLM to stop any wilderness reviews in its land use planning, in spite of the fact that the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) allows them. Additionally she said that BLM could only consider wilderness in areas where it had significant support from local elected officials. Of course, this ignores the fact the BLM lands belong to all Americans, and all Americans have just as much say in their management as the citizens of the state in which it is located.

Press reaction to these developments has been widespread and overwhelmingly negative. Here is just a sample:

“No limit on wilderness”(San Francisco Chronicle, 04/25/2003) Editorial.

“The end of wilderness” (New York Times, 05/04/2003) Editorial.

“Bah, wilderness! Reopening a frontier to development” (New York Times, 05/04/2003) The Week in Review.

“The Economic Benefits of Protecting Utah’s Wilderness” (Salt Lake City Tribune, 05/04/2003).

“Land deal fought” (Salt Lake City Tribune, 05/06/2003).

ACTION:
It is critical that ALL wilderness advocates write to their elected representatives protesting these developments.

Specific items to mention to your House member:

• Please sign on to the Hinchey/Blumenauer/Udall letter to Secretary Norton protesting the R.S. 2477 decision and the wilderness rollbacks.

• If they are wilderness-friendly, please cosponsor H.R. 1639, Rep. Mark Udall’s (D-CO) bill on R.S. 2477.

Addresses for all California House and Senate members can be found in the CalUWild Guide to Effective Advocacy.

You should also write to Secretary Norton:

Hon. Gale Norton
Secretary
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20240

phone: 202-208-7351
fax: 202-208-6950
E-mail: Gale_Norton@ios.doi.gov

Finally, write a letter to the editor of your newspaper.

In any letter, remember to make it personal: say why the issue is important to you!

2. Energy Bill in the Senate

The U.S. Senate this week began debate on the Energy Bill, S. 14. The bill elevates oil and gas development to the dominant use of our public lands, above all other uses for which these lands are managed, including protection of water supplies, wildlife and its habitat, and recreation such as fishing, hunting, hiking, and camping. S. 14 would further accelerate drilling on our public lands by expediting permitting, reducing public input, and limiting environmental reviews. The bill would also continue taxpayer subsidies for damaging fossil fuel development technologies rather than promoting renewable energy technologies.

Debate will probably continue for the next several weeks. Sen. Barbara Boxer is expected to be a strong advocate for Western wilderness and environmental issues, but she needs to hear from constituents to be able to make a credible showing on the floor of the Senate. Calls and faxes to her office in support of the following expected amendments are therefore very important:

• Maintain Multiple Uses on our Public Lands. The law requires that federal public lands to be managed for a multitude of uses (wilderness, wildlife habitat, energy development, and livestock grazing). S. 14 moves away from multiple uses making energy development the highest priority.

• Protect the Private Property Rights of Surface Landowners. More than 30 million acres of privately owned lands in the West have federal minerals underneath. These are known as “split estates,” and these landowners have little say over the manner in which underlying minerals are developed. Nor do they have much recourse when energy development affects their interests: contaminating drinking water supplies, killing livestock, or degrading their property values and quality of life. Please support amendments to help protect ranchers and other landowners from these abuses.

• Preserve the Rocky Mountain Front. Montana’s 100-mile long Rocky Mountain Front in is the spectacular home to large populations of elk, grizzly bears, and bighorn sheep. The Blackfoot Tribe also considers it sacred ground. The Forest Service in 1997 stopped issuing new energy leases in the area. Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) will offer an amendment to continue this suspension for three years of in the area adjacent to Glacier National Park while studying whether to buy out the leases.

• Protect Indian Country. S. 14 currently removes federal guarantees for environmental review and public involvement in energy decisions made on tribal lands. The bill also waives all federal government liability from energy development. thus tribes are vulnerable to potentially huge damage claims. Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) plans to offer an amendment addressing these issues by reinstating federal oversight of oil and gas development on Indian lands. the amendment will also provide for continued grants and assistance to tribes to develop energy resources.

• Oppose Taxpayer Subsidies for Damaging Energy Development. Since it was enacted in 1980, Section 29 of the Internal Revenue Code has provided tax credits worth billions of dollars for non-conventional energy sources. Most of these have gone to coalbed methane (CBM—natural gas from coal seams). CBM has significant impacts on wildlife habitat, water supplies, and western ranches and other private landowners. Over 100,000 new wells are already being planned, and this subsidy is not needed. Yet S. 14 would continue this unnecessary support, costing taxpayers nearly $2.5 billion over the next five years. Please support Sen. Don Nickle’s (R-OK) amendment to end this giveaway.

Sen. Boxer can be reached at:

202-224-3553
415-956-6701 (fax in San Francisco)

You can also e-mail Sen. Boxer through her web site.

IN UTAH
3. Redrock Cosponsor Update

Since the April Update, the following California representatives became cosponsors of H.R. 1796, America’s Redrock Wilderness Act:

Mike Thompson (D-01)
Brad Sherman (D-27)
Hilda Solis (D-32)
Maxine Waters (D-35)

This brings the total number of California House cosponsors to 27. We are still waiting for Loretta Sanchez (D-47) and Diane Watson (D-33) to renew their cosponsorship, as well as Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Sen. Boxer was an original cosponsor.

Nationally, there are now 149 cosponsors in the House and 13 in the Senate.

IN NEVADA
4. Black Rock Desert/High Rock Canyon NCA
Draft Management Plan
DEADLINE: June 16
(Action Item)

The BLM has released its draft management plan for the Black Rock Desert/High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trail National Conservation Area and Wilderness in northwestern Nevada. It is seeking public comment until June 16.

The following information comes from CalUWild coordinator Vicky Hoover and Friends of Nevada Wilderness.

BLM urges you to provide as specific comments as possible. A vague comment without any details will not get as much attention (because it is not as helpful) as one that is specific to certain portions of the DEIS and offers real suggestions for management. The DEIS and other documents, press releases, and more information can be found at the BLM’s web site.

Four alternatives are given in the DEIS:

• No Action;
• Alternative A (emphasis on natural process);
• Alternative B (emphasis on response to change); and
• Alternative C (emphasis on visitation and interpretation.

There is no one alternative that we should support overall. A combination of A and B seems to be the best approach. Some natural resource protection concerns are not addressed at all.

Your comments should emphasize the following general points (in your own words):

• It is important to keep the area as it is and not to allow development.
• Emphasis should be put on the conservation of the historical, cultural, and natural values of the area.
• Information should be offered to visitors at points outside the NCA with a detailed map showing roads, wilderness areas, and other features of interest and providing information as to possible hazards for the back-country visitor. New signs in the NCA should not be erected because they detract from the visual quality of the primitive experience. Alt. A is good in this respect.
• Adaptive management (fix only what needs fixing when indicated by triggers, using the Limits of Acceptable Change studies) should be applied when decisions are made. Changes should be based on resource damage rather than on convenience. The public should be involved with adaptive management decisions.
• Large events such as Burning Man should be confined to the areas where they are now conducted.
• Ranger presence is extremely important in this remote area, not only to monitor activities but to assist in an education program for the visitor.

Further detailed talking points:

Our preferred philosophy of management :

• Keep it like it is—wild , primitive, undeveloped—visitor experience to be self-guided;
• Protect and conserve the historic, cultural, scientific, and natural resources;
• Emphasize conservation more than recreation (note : the preferred alternative B does espouse this philosophy but doesn’t follow through in many of their proposed actions.)
• “Front Country” should remain where it is de facto now: limited to the far south playa & Steven’s Camp Rd. (All alternatives suggest too much NEW front country, where visitor developments can occur.)
• Grazing should continue under existing standards and guidelines, but no new areas should be opened, and no grazing in the fenced area of Soldier Meadows, as Alt. B proposes. Instead, the fenced area should be an exclusion in order to provide a scientific baseline.

This means that we do NOT want the following within the NCA, all of which would be allowed under the preferred Alt. B:

• New access roads or road upgrades, such as widening or paving;
• New on-site interpretation;
• New visitor services within the area;
• Developed campgrounds.

All of the above would have immediate, irreversible impact on the wild, primitive, undeveloped character of the place. They would hinder visitor opportunities for solitude, adventure, discovery, self-direction, self-challenge, and reliving the emigrant experience. Road upgrades would decrease safety, by increasing numbers and speed of vehicles, and increasing weeds and fire.

Actions to support:

• Designated OHV routes only—Alt. B represents good citizen input;
• Increased protection for the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout WSA. Alt. A would provide that by closing most vehicle routes, thus preventing silt in streams. Alt. B’s wild & scenic river designations would provide that, too, with benefits similar to the closures in Alt. A;
• Wildland fire as specified in Alt. B with these additions: prescribed fire MAY be used in Wilderness, but with extra guarantees that the Emigrant Trail segments be protected from bulldozers.

Concerns not appearing in any alternative:

• Road upgrades should be considered only through an Environmental Analysis (EA) process. All alternatives allow some upgrading without public input;
• Protection for the dune areas—no camping or OHV travel—unless/until such time that science proves that these do not impair their resource value;
• Increased protection for the hot spring habitat at Soldier Meadows and Black Rock Springs. This could include exclosures and a primitive campground;
• No alternative focuses on the need for additional BLM presence within the NCA in these forms: monitoring for limits of acceptable change, visitor contact, law enforcement, or inventorying of multitude of resources (historic, cultural, or scientific).

Send your comments to:

NCA Manager
Bureau of Land Management
Winnemucca Field Office
5100 E. Winnemucca Blvd.
Winnemucca, NV 89445

E-mail your comments to:

brhrcomment@bah.com

or comment on-line.

IN CALIFORNIA
5. SWAT Teams in Wilderness Denied
(Action Item)

In the March Update , we discussed a proposal by Tactical Firearms Training Team (TFTT) to conduct a course entitled “Combat Fieldcraft,” teaching survival skills and tactics in the Sacatar Trail Wilderness.

CalUWild received a letter dated April 21 from the BLM Bakersfield Office stating that it was turning down TFTT’s application for a Special Recreation Use Permit. BLM considered the application similar to that of an outfitter or trail guide and felt it didn’t impact wilderness values(!). However, BLM received sufficient comments from the public that it “felt the breadth of concern over this activity outweighed any public benefits.”

Thank you letters should be sent to:

Stephen Larson
Assistant Field Office Manager
U.S. BLM
Bakersfield Field Office
3801 Pegasus Drive
Bakersfield, CA 93308

E-mail: slarson@ca.blm.gov

6. North Coast Wilderness Bill Introduced

On March 27, Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA-1) and Senator Barbara Boxer introduced the Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act.

The House bill is H.R. 1501, and Sen. Boxer’s companion bill is S. 738.

The two bills cover 303,924 acres and 21 river miles in Rep. Thompson’s North Coast district—including some of the state’s most spectacular scenery and important fish and wildlife habitat.

The largest individual areas included in the bill are the Yuki proposed Wilderness—51,790 acres in Lake and Mendocino Counties, and the King
Range proposed wilderness—41,614 acres in Humboldt and Mendocino Counties—including the popular “Lost Coast” scenic hiking trail.

The Thompson/Boxer bills will preserve unique landscapes and diverse ecosystems of California’s coastal region by designating wilderness in 15 areas Humboldt, Del Norte, Mendocino, Lake, and Napa counties and designating segments of the Black Butte River in Mendocino County as a Wild and Scenic River.

7. Condors in Pinnacles NM
(Action Item)

This came in from Wilderness Watch:

Another chance to support a good decision…

Pinnacles National Monument will be a new release site for re-establishing endangered California condors, an icon of the once-wild coastline. The release site will entail construction of a large holding pen, water tanks, and an observation station, which would remain in place approximately 15 years as the lifespan of the project.

Originally NPS was considering building the release site inside the Pinnacles Wilderness and use helicopters for access to fill the water tanks, but now the preferred alternative is to construct the release facility in Grassy Canyon outside the Wilderness. Access will be by ATV and water trucks along an old jeep track.

Seeing giant condors soaring on thermals over the region will enhance the area’s wilderness character, and finding a means of achieving this without placing structures and using helicopters inside the wilderness is to be commended.

Please send a quick note supporting the Preferred Alternative E and supporting NPS’ decision to protect wilderness throughout the process:

Rebecca Leonard
Pinnacles National Monument
5000 Hwy. 146
Paicines, CA 95043

email: rebecca_leonard@nps.gov

phone: 831-389-4485 x 273

8. Alaska Wilderness Coalition Position in California

The Alaska Wilderness League (AWL) is looking for a California Organizer.

AWL is a Washington, DC-based education and advocacy group working to protect the wild lands of Alaska from development and to preserve them for future generations. AWL is an IRS registered 501-(c)(3) non-profit, charitable organization.

Job Description:

AWL seeks a field consultant to help cultivate support for protection of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in the state of California in key targeted Congressional districts. The consultant will help identify and recruit prominent CA citizens including politicians, labor, religious, and civic leaders to lend their support to the campaign. The consultant will help generate media, schedule presentations for a traveling slide show, and recruit citizens to travel to Washington, DC in September. Lastly, the consultant will build a coalition of local activists and leaders to remain active on the issue after the term of the contract.

This is a four-month contract position that could be extended based on mutual interest and needs. Salary from $2000 / month to be negotiated based on experience.

Eligible Candidates:

The successful candidate will have a demonstrated concern for the issue of oil development in our natural areas and a working background knowledge of the various aspects of the issue. Candidates with experience working with CA government officials, state level NGOs, or other local organizations will be given preference. Ability to speak Spanish a strong plus.

For information about applying, contact Erik DuMont, National Field Director, at:

erik@alaskawild.org

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Posted in Newsletters | Comments Off on 2003 May

2002 May

May 2nd, 2002

May 2, 2002

Dear CalUWild Members, Friends, and Supporters —

April was a very busy month here at CalUWild, and it brought with it some good news: The California Wilderness Bill is expected to be introduced in Congress in May (see Item 1, below).

On the comment front, there were 4 deadlines, April 19-23. CalUWild submitted its own comments on 2 issues: a bill in the House legitimizing an illegal road in Joshua Tree National Park’s wilderness (see Item 2), and the San Rafael Swell Route Designation Plan (see the URGENT Alert sent out in March).

We also worked with 2 different coalitions preparing comments on the Los Padres National Forest Oil & Gas Leasing DEIS (February UPDATE) and on BLM’s proposed rule-making on R.S. 2477 (rights-of-way and roads — March UPDATE). We signed onto comments addressing the legality and the procedural issues of the proposal as well as helped prepare comments specifically dealing with the issue here in California.

No sooner were the Los Padres comments turned in when stories appeared in the press that the California Condor chick that had hatched just before the deadline was already covered with petroleum. Apparently its father had put his head into a puddle of oil near a well and carried the contamination back to the nest, getting some on the chick. It’s not believed to threaten the health of the chick, but it does underscore the absurdity of increasing oil & gas exploration in an area so close to where their population is recovering.

It’s not all bad news, though: We all know that oil & gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was turned down by the Senate. Also, the Interior Department’s Board of Land Appeals recently upheld an appeal by several Wyoming groups on coal bed methane (CBM) leases in the Powder River Basin. There, BLM had issued leases based on an EIS that didn’t even mention CBM. (That happened under the Clinton administration.) And EPA just gave a failing grade to BLM’s Draft EIS for a huge increase in CBM development (39,000 new wells in the next 8 years) in the same area.

This success is due to the active involvement of citizens who are willing to stand up for their public lands. Our principal goal here at CalUWild is to promote and facilitate that type of involvement by Californians. We welcome your comments and suggestions.

There are a couple bits of organizational news. First, CalUWild has its first intern, Chris Heintzelman, a senior attending Sir Francis Drake High School in Marin County. Chris is following some of the press around the West on the Internet, looking for items of interest. He is also helping prepare the UPDATE; his first item regarding the Park Service snowmobile ban appears below (Item 5). Welcome, Chris!

Secondly, Phillip Loughlin has agreed to take on the duties of CalUWild Webmaster. As you may have noticed, we’ve been having server problems lately, and due to unforeseen circumstances Webmaster Sharon Stafford has been unable to keep up with things. Sharon did a great job hosting the web site and getting it up and running. We thank her and look forward to her continued involvement with CalUWild. Welcome, Phillip!

As always, thanks for your enthusiasm and involvement.

Best wishes,

Mike

IN CALIFORNIA

1. California Wilderness Bill Introduction (ACTION ITEM)

2. Mary Bono Bill for Joshua Tree NP Wilderness

IN UTAH

3. Rep. Hansen Attacks Utah Wilderness (Again)

4. San Rafael Swell National Monument

IN GENERAL

5. Snowmobile Ban in Yellowstone and

Grand Teton National Parks Revisited

Deadline: May 29, 2002 (ACTION ITEM)

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

IN CALIFORNIA

1. CALIFORNIA WILDERNESS BILL INTRODUCTION (ACTION ITEM)

Mark your calendars for a Kickoff and Celebration here in San Francisco, Saturday, May 11 at noon, celebrating the imminent introduction of the wilderness bill for California. Details will follow next week for CalUWild friends living in the Bay Area. If you’re not in the Bay Area but want to attend, send me an email , and I’ll include you on the list.

We’d like to have a big crowd at the event, so if you’d like to help out, the California Wild Heritage Campaign could use you!

The most important part of any successful campaign is the behind-the-scenes volunteer work. CWHC will have 2 evenings of phone banking at the Sierra Club offices in Oakland. Materials for sign-making will also be available if you’d prefer to do that.

DATES: Wednesday and Thursday, May 8 & 9

TIME: 6 – 9 p.m.

LOCATION: 827 Broadway, Suite 310, Oakland

TRANSPORTATION: BART, 12th Street Oakland City Center Station.

If you can help out, please contact Ilysia Shattuck at 510-622-0290 x220 or .

(Pizza will be provided.)

2. MARY BONO BILL FOR JOSHUA TREE NP WILDERNESS

Rep. Mary Bono (R-44) recently introduced a bill (H.R. 3718, The Little San Bernardino Mountains Right-of-Way Act) which would legalize a road illegally constructed through the Joshua Tree National Park Wilderness, by granting it a right-of-way.

There was a hearing on the bill recently and an accompanying public testimony period. We were not able to include it in an UPDATE, but CalUWild did submit testimony opposing the entire concept of the bill. There was no vote taken, and to date there has been no further action on the bill.

In 1987 a 0.7 mile was bulldozed to a communications tower belonging to station KPLM, through a corner of the Joshua Tree Wilderness, which designated in 1976. The owners of the tower say they didn’t know it went through a wilderness area. Nevertheless, this was an act of trespass.

It appears that the road can not be easily reclaimed or moved. It would be far better that the offending road and the smallest area necessary surrounding it be de-designated as wilderness and an equal, or even larger, area be added to the Joshua Tree Wilderness somewhere else.

It would set a bad precedent to create a new right-of-way. In fact, NPS Management Policy 6.4.8 states: “The Service will not issue any new rights-of-way or widen or extend any existing rights-of-way in wilderness.”

We’ll keep you posted on the bill’s progress.

IN UTAH

3. REP. HANSEN ATTACKS UTAH WILDERNESS (AGAIN)

Jim Hansen is at it again.

This time he has inserted wording into the Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 4546, Title XIV) to create wilderness on lands under the airspace of the Utah Test and Training Range. An attempt by Mr. Hansen to insert these provisions into the bill was rejected in an Armed Services subcommittee hearing recently. But they have reappeared in the version of the bill known as the “Chairman’s Mark,” which is a bill put together by the committee chairman and the one which will move forward. At a hearing yesterday, a motion to remove Title XIV was defeated by a vote of 34-22.

As with all of Mr. Hansen’s wilderness bills, this one is not what it appears on the surface. Rep. Hansen’s amendment undermines the 1964 Wilderness Act by:

1) allowing unprecedented military access and development within the designated wilderness areas;

2) denying a federal water right for wilderness uses;

3) releasing hundreds of thousands of acres from future consideration for wilderness designation.

Furthermore, the language also allows the Dept. of Defense to control the BLM land under the Utah Test & Training Range (UTTR) to an unprecedented degree, going so far as to require the Secretary of the Interior to get permission from the Secretary of the Air Force and the Utah National Guard before amending or revising any Resource Management Plan for BLM lands beneath the UTTR airspace.

Finally, Mr. Hansen would only designate a fraction of the lands included in America’s Redrock Wilderness Act (450,000 acres out of 1.67 million acres). This acreage is also less than what he included in his own West Desert Bill of 1999.

Now procedural issues determine the fate of the legislation. The Rules Committee of the House must decide whether to issue an “Open Rule,” under which amendments can be offered on the floor of the House. The only hope is that moderate Republicans on the Committee are able to do this, as the House leadership does not heed minority concerns on these matters.

If an Open Rule is not developed, in these “patriotic times” it will be difficult for anyone to vote against the Defense Authorization Act. Then our only hope is the Senate.

4. SAN RAFAEL SWELL NATIONAL MONUMENT

The Salt Lake Tribune reported today that Pres. Bush has asked Interior Secretary Gale Norton to begin a process to collect input from the public on Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt’s proposal for a San Rafael Swell National Monument.

The Bush administration’s key criterion for public lands protection seems to be local input (at least when the local sentiment supports the Administration’s point of view), which somewhat negates its disdain for the 1906 Antiquities Act. Gov. Leavitt had proposed a 90-day public comment in his original proposal, which was made at the behest of the Emery County Commission.

Environmentalists are taking a wait-and-see approach to the monument idea. Were it to offer real protection from off-road vehicle use and abuse, it could be acceptable. But given the popularity of the Swell with ORV users and the antipathy of many in Emery County and other areas to any restrictions, the resulting monument proclamation may provide ineffective protection for the Swell’s many resources.

We’ll keep you posted as the proposal advances.

IN GENERAL

5. SNOWMOBILE BAN IN YELLOWSTONE AND

GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARKS REVISITED

DEADLINE: MAY 29, 2002 (ACTION ITEM)

The EPA said on April 29 that it wanted to ban all snowmobiles from Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, which neighbor each other. EPA said that even restricted snowmobile use would be enough to violate clean air standards and jeopardize the health of park rangers, wildlife and the wilderness itself.

The idea of banning snowmobiles in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks was originally put forth by the Clinton administration. In November 2000 the National Park Service released a report, after a three-year process, including 22 public hearings and 65,000 public comments, urging the ban of all snowmobiles from Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Despite overwhelming public support, Interior Secretary, Gale Norton, after pressure from the snowmobile industry asked the National Park Service to rethink its decision, saying that science and technology (of snowmobiles) had not been adequately studied in the original report. The Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) which was a result of this request, contained no new scientific or technological information and in fact points out that the snowmobile industry failed to provide the National Park Service with any significant evidence not already included in the original report.

The SEIS includes four alternatives to the original plan of phasing out snowmobiles completely, only two of which would implement the original plan. The four alternatives are as follows:

1) Phase out snowmobiles beginning in December, with a full ban effective in the winter of 2003-4.

2) Begin phasing out snowmobiles in 2003-4, with a full ban in 2004-5.

3) Cap the number of snowmobiles at 500 and make them meet stricter emission standards by 2005.

4) Cap the number at 330, require stricter emission standards and require snowmobiles to travel with a Park Service guide.

Obviously the latter two are not sufficient enough to protect our national wilderness.

If any number of snowmobiles were allowed into the national parks, the blue haze which can be seen on clear days would remain, the health of the park rangers, who were issued respirators to wear, would continue to be compromised along with that of wildlife (bison and elk.) The noise pollution would also remain, disrupting the peace so many seek in these natural wonders.

Please send comments to the Park Service (in your own words) reminding them that:

• Snowmobiles causes the health of park rangers and wildlife to be compromised and the peaceful atmosphere of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks to be disrupted.

• Bison, elk, and other wildlife should not be harassed by the noise these machines produce.

• Americans want Yellowstone and Grand Teton to remain calm, peaceful and beautiful areas, which was made obvious by the overwhelming support for the original plan.

• The original, science-based report calling for the phasing out of snowmobiles by the winter of 2003-4 should be implemented because it is the only way to protect our FIRST national park and neighboring Grand Teton.

The plan can be read online at:

Send comments to:

Winter Use SEIS

P.O. Box 352

Moose, WY 83012

or via e-mail to:

DEADLINE: May 29, 2002.

The decision on which plan to implement is expected in November.

We will keep you updated on any further developments.

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Posted in Newsletters | Comments Off on 2002 May

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