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Monuments Review 2

January 8th, 2020

National Monuments Under Attack

The administration undertook an unprecedented review of the monuments designated in the last 20 years, and despite the fact that 99% of the public comments submitted supported keeping all the monuments intact, they have cut the Bears Ears National Monument by 85% and Grand Staircase-Escalante by 50%.

Native American tribes and conservation organizations have taken the administration to court, and we’ll keep you updated as the cases progress.

An attack on one monument is an attack on all!

THANK YOU for speaking up in any way you can: to your legislators, the press, your friends and family!

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2018 October

October 31st, 2018


Grandstaff Canyon, Utah                                                                                                                                        (Mike Painter)

 
October 31, 2018

Dear CalUWild friends—

Everyone is anticipating the midterm elections next week. Remember: Please vote, and if there are people you know who need reminding, be the person to remind them. Not voting is not a protest; it’s surrender …

For a fun video, go to Voter RX, the same people who brought us Nature RX back in 2015.

 
Last week the administration designated its first national monument, Camp Nelson, a Civil War-era site in Kentucky. It began as a Union Army supply depot but later became a recruitment center for African American soldiers and a place of refuge for escaped slaves. You may read the monument proclamation here. The irony is that the administration is, at the same time, diminishing protection for the Bears Ears, a landscape sacred to Native Americans.

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

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

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

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

Thanks in advance!

 
Best wishes,
Mike

 
IN UTAH
1.   National Monument Comments Due
          DEADLINES: November 15 & 30
          (ACTION ITEM)
2.   Emery County Bill Update
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
3.   Wildland Volunteer Network: First Annual Meeting
          Saturday, November 3

IN GENERAL
4.   Great Old Broads Annual Auction
5.   Job Listings
   a.   Western Environmental Law Center
   b.   Southwest Environmental Center

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

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IN UTAH
1.   National Monument Comments Due
          DEADLINES: November 15 & 30
          (ACTION ITEM)

We are reaching the end of the comment periods for the shrunken Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. The deadline for Bears Ears is November 15, and for Grand Staircase-Escalante (GSENM), it’s November 30. Please submit your comments. They are especially pertinent if you have visited either area or hope to some day.

Item 1 in our August Update contains detailed talking points and the links and addresses for commenting on the plans. Please refer to it.

For GSENM, an additional, important issue has come to light recently—the Bureau of Land Management is proposing to re-open the Escalante River corridor to cattle grazing. There are two equally important reasons for opposing this proposal. The first is ecological: the corridor has undergone a tremendous amount of habitat restoration, removing non-native invasive plants such as Russian olive and tamarisk. Allowing renewed grazing would cause irreparable damage to the restored landscape. The second reason is both economic and equity-based: Years ago the Grand Canyon Trust purchased grazing permits from willing ranchers in order to remove cattle and retire the allotments permanently. BLM should not be allowed to circumvent those buyouts now.

If you’ve already submitted a comment, please submit a supplemental comment on this issue. It’s important.

The Utah national monument controversy continues to attract the attention of the press:

A feature story in National Geographic: Inside the New Battle for the American West (sign up for free access may be required)

The Salt Lake Tribune reports on one of the more bizarre comments ever made about public lands: ‘National monuments kill people’ — S. Utah commissioner’s comments draw criticism after park ranger shot a Navajo

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune: House Dems want to stop new management plans for Utah’s shrunken Bears Ears, Grand Staircase monuments, citing lawsuits

An op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune: While courts deliberate the future of national monuments, development must wait

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune: 115 arches were left out of the reduced Bears Ears and Grand Staircase national monuments. A University of Utah team is creating a digital archive to ‘preserve’ them.

An article in a new (to us) publication, Roads and Kingdoms, about Mark Maryboy, a Navajo leader in the struggle to preserve Bears Ears and other ancestral lands: Meet the Man Fighting To Preserve Rural Utah Lands

An article in Pacific Standard: Inside Utah’s Anti-Public Lands Agenda

 
2.   Emery County Bill Update
          URGENT
          (ACTION ITEM)

The Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources gave its approval to S. 2809, in its current House version. Unfortunately, the bill remains unacceptable. The only good news is that its supporters are now on notice that the bill is controversial.

For details on its provisions, please see Item 1 in last month’s Update.

Our best chance to stop it is in the Senate, so please call Sens. Feinstein & Harris. Not only should they oppose the bill itself, they should also oppose including it in any package of bills or attaching it to any other bill. Should that happen, they should then oppose the package, too. It’s that serious.

The main point to stress is that the bill is extremely one-sided, having not been negotiated in good faith with the conservation community. In fact conservationists were ignored at every turn.

Contact information for California’s senators:

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

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

Contact information for senators from other states may be found here.

Since there is the possibility that Sen. Hatch might try to include the Emery County bill in a larger package, it’s important that our friends in the House be aware of it and work to keep the bill out of any such package. So please also contact Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi with that message.

DC office: 202-225-4965
San Francisco office: 415-556-4862
   Online here

 
IN CALIFORNIA
3.   California Invasive Plant Council
          Wildland Volunteer Network: First Annual Meeting
          Saturday, November 3

From our friends at Cal-IPC:

Join fellow volunteer stewards on Saturday, November 3, beginning at 9 a.m., in beautiful Redwood Regional Park for the first Annual Meeting of the Wildland Volunteer Network. Part expert training, part planning session, part celebration – don’t miss this fun opportunity to strengthen volunteer weed management in the Bay Area and beyond! Featuring:

• Presentations from Bay Area Open Space Council, American River Parkway Foundation, EarthTeam, and East Bay Regional Parks
• Strategic planning for the WVN, with discussions on recruiting more volunteers and developing local weed lists
• Catered lunch with time to explore

Full program online
Register

The Wildland Volunteer Network helps strengthen volunteer connections in the Bay Area and beyond. Learn more about WVN.

 
IN GENERAL
4.   Great Old Broads Annual Auction
          Through November 11

From our friends at Great Old Broads for Wilderness:

Great Old Broads for Wilderness announces the 15th Annual Wild for Wilderness Online Auction, planned for October 28–November 11, 2018. You’ll find an ocean of auction pearls—from outdoor gear, vacation getaways and adventures to books, art, jewelry, and more.

As the organization’s largest fundraiser, proceeds support Broads’ work to train and inspire advocates (like us!) to protect wild lands and waters for future generations.

Start surfing now at auction.greatoldbroads.org.

 
5.   Job Listings
   a.   Western Environmental Law Center

Our friends at the Western Environmental Law Center are looking for an Administrative & Technology Coordinator

The Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) is a nonprofit public interest environmental law firm with a 25-year legacy of success using the power of the law to safeguard the public lands, wildlife, and communities of the American West in the face of a changing climate. We seek a dynamic and energetic Administrative/Technology Coordinator to join our team. This position provides administrative, finance, and IT support to ensure the effective operation of all WELC offices. This full-time position will be located in Eugene, Oregon and will be filled as soon as possible.

Full listing here.

 
   b.   Southwest Environmental Center

Our friends at SWEC sent this out last week:

We are looking for a full-time Membership Coordinator/Office Manager. The role of this position is to grow our membership, serve as a liaison to our members, and manage the daily operations of our facility. Click here for more details.

 
IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
6.   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 Department of the Interior & Secty. Zinke

A series of four articles in four days in the Washington Post:

1) HUD appointee abruptly moved to lead Interior Dept.’s watchdog unit amid Zinke probe

2) The following day, the Post reported: Trump administration does about-face on announcement that top HUD aide would lead Interior watchdog, (overwritten by the following)

3) The next day, that story was replaced with yet a third article in the Post: Interior Secretary Zinke’s approach to wife’s travels raised red flags, report finds. (The Inspector General’s report may be read here.)

4) Finally: Trump appointee tapped days ago to run Interior Department’s watchdog office resigns amid controversy

Then yesterday the Washington Post published this story: Zinke’s own agency watchdog just referred him to the Justice Department, followed by a story just this morning in The Hill, providing even more background: Interior watchdog referred Zinke probe to Justice days before move to replace agency IG.

An article in the Missoula Current: Montana group sues DOI for Zinke emails in search of unethical, illegal acts

An article in Outside describing the many instances that the Interior Department is trying to cut the public out of decision-making: Zinke and Trump Are Ignoring the Public

Public lands in general

Two pieces in The Hill on the Land & Water Conservation Fund—An op-ed: 9.52 million acres of public lands are entirely inaccessible to Americans and an article: Senate panel moves to renew expired park conservation fund

Good news, reported in The Guardian: Grand Canyon uranium mining ban upheld as supreme court declines to hear challenge

An article in Outside: Has Vandalism in Our National Monuments Gotten Worse?

An article in the New York Times: ‘Lifeboats’ Amid the World’s Wildfires. One important aspect of wilderness is that it also acts as a refuge in the wider landscape.

A New York Times article on aspens in Utah: Pando, the Most Massive Organism on Earth, Is Shrinking.

An article in the Casper, Wyoming Star Tribune: Federal judge rules against Wyoming’s ‘data trespass’ laws on First Amendment grounds

Outreach

We’re always looking for ways to reach new audiences for public lands protection, and sometimes they come to us. This month a camping enthusiast contacted CalUWild. She had recently written The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Camping and thought people might find it useful. It and other articles she’s written for the website Hobby Help provide good basic information on a variety of topics related to camping. Please share the page with people who might appreciate it! We’ll work with her to get more people involved in public lands protection. (Otherwise they may find themselves at some time in the future without many places to actually go camping.)

 
 
 
 
 
 
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.

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

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2018 April

May 3rd, 2018


Window, formerly in the Bears Ears National Monument, Cedar Mesa, Utah                        (Mike Painter)
 

May 3, 2018

Dear CalUWild friends –

This Update for April was delayed a few days because we thought that there might be news to share about new legislation for the San Rafael Swell in Utah. As it turns out, nothing happened, and Congress is on recess this week, but a bill could be introduced next week. The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance says it could be very troublesome. See this message from its executive director, Scott Groene, for more details. We’ll let you know what happens in the May Update.

Another reason for the delay was that we had a grant proposal due May 1. CalUWild receives some funding from foundations, but the bulk of it comes from our members. This last year, many members contributed generously, and we appreciate their gifts. If you haven’t contributed, please consider doing so. And please respond as generously as you can. As always, dues are not mandatory, but are appreciated.

Dues payable to CalUWild are not tax-deductible, as they may be used for lobbying. If you’d like to make a tax-deductible contribution, please make your check payable to Resource Renewal Institute, our fiscal sponsor. Click here for suggested membership levels. Either way, the address is:

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

Finally, if you’re going to be in Utah in May, you should stop by Kanab for the 12th Annual Amazing Earthfest, a celebration of Southern Utah through film, art, outdoor activities, and more. Click here for a complete schedule of events beginning May 13.
 

As always, thanks for your interest and support!
Mike
 

P.S. (ACTION ITEM) This just came in while proofreading, so I’m not incorporating it into the body of the Update.

Our friends at WildEarth Guardians just sent out an alert requesting letters opposing a BLM lease sale that includes lands within 1 mile of Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico. Please read the alert and follow the link to send a letter. Please personalize the sample they provide, and if you’ve been to Carlsbad Caverns (or hope to get there someday) make sure to mention that. Apparently there was a 10-day comment period on the proposal, which is obscenely short, so include an objection to that, too. Thanks!
 

IN UTAH
1.   National Monuments Update
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
2.   Visions of the Wild Festival Preview II
          Double Bill with Tim Palmer and
          A River’s Last Chance, a film about the Eel River
          Thursday, May 10, 7 pm
          Downtown Vallejo

IN COLORADO
3.   Wilderness Bill Introduced for San Juan Mountains

IN GENERAL
4.   Park Service Drops Huge Fee Increase Proposal
5.   Job Opening: Western Environmental Law Center

IN THE PRESS
6.   Articles and Other Items of Interest

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

IN UTAH
1.   National Monuments Update
          (ACTION ITEM)

The scoping comment periods have closed now for the new and shrunken Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante (GSENM) national monuments. We expect draft plans to be released late in the Fall, when comments periods will again be available. In the meantime, we’ll be watching for increased oil & gas leasing or other threats in the monuments. There has been little movement on the litigation. We’re still waiting for the federal judge to rule on a change of venue from Washington, DC to Utah. Just yesterday, San Juan County, where the Bears Ear is located, and Kane and Garfield counties, home to GSENM, made motions to intervene in the respective cases as defendants, claiming that their economic interests would be hurt if the monument revisions were overturned.

There was good news when Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) and 15 of his colleagues sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke urging him to stop work on the draft management plans for the monuments until the legal challenges to their modification are resolved. Additionally, the letter challenged BLM’s plans to not consider any of the comments received as part of last Summer’s review process.

You can read the letter here.

Both of California’s senators signed onto it. Please contact them to say thank you!

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

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

An while you’re at it, ask Sen. Harris to cosponsor America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, S.948, the comprehensive statewide Utah wilderness bill.

The press has kept on the issue. Here is a sample:

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune: In Utah canyons where an ancient civilization once flourished, the feds are now inviting oil and gas drilling

Outside magazine published a very interesting article looking at the Bears Ears litigation from the tribal perspective: The Tribes v. Donald Trump

And an article appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune looked at voting in San Juan County, where a court recently re-drew county district boundaries to remove gerrymandering. Southern Utah county’s targeting of Navajo candidate revives shades of Jim Crow

Throughout the month of May, the monumentsforall.org website is asking monument supporters to upload photos from places protected by the Antiquities Act. These photos will be compiled and delivered to key members of Congress to celebrate the anniversary of the signing of the Antiquities Act on June 8.

Also during May, please contact your congressional representative and senators to tell them of your support for national monuments and remind them: “An attack on one monument is an attack on all.”
 

IN CALIFORNIA
2.   Visions of the Wild Festival Preview II
          Double Bill with Tim Palmer and
          A River’s Last Chance, a film about the Eel River
          Thursday, May 10, 7 pm
          Downtown Vallejo

2018 is the 50th Anniversary of the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act and National Trails Act. For the fifth year in a row, CalUWild is working with the U.S. Forest Service and the Vallejo Community Arts Foundation to plan Visions of the Wild, a festival with films, art exhibitions, field trips, and other events. While most events are taking place in September, a few “preview” events are planned. The next one will be Thursday, May 10, with a double bill featuring:

• A talk and film by Tim Palmer, a renowned river advocate, author and photographer. He will speak about America’s Wild & Scenic Rivers.
• A screening of A River’s Last Chance, a new film about the Eel River in northern California.

Tim Palmer is the award-winning author of 26 books on rivers, conservation, and the environment. He is also an accomplished photographer with one of the most complete collection of photos of rivers in the United States. For over 40 years, Tim’s writing and photography work have braided together his love of rivers and nature with his drive for creative expression and his deep commitment to conservation. A primary focus of Tim’s work is public speaking. He has been featured at hundreds of national, statewide, and provincial conferences, conservation gatherings, and at colleges and universities nationwide. An inveterate river-lover, Tim has canoed or rafted on more than 300 rivers in the United States and western Canada. He lived for 22 years as a nomad in his van, traveling throughout the country to do research, writing, and photography for his book projects.

Plus there will be a screening of the short film PROTECTED: A Wild & Scenic River Portrait.

Follow river paddler, author, and conservationist, Tim Palmer, through the enchanting waters of Oregon’s Wild Rivers Coast, which has the highest concentration of National Wild & Scenic Rivers in the US. With just a canoe, a camera, and an old van, Tim finds his bliss and his calling on these rivers, and has found a way to share their beauty… while reminding us all about the significance of national Wild & Scenic Rivers program that protects beautiful rivers all across the country. Produced in Partnership with the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.

This will be followed by A River’s Last Chance (67 minutes).

The Eel River in Northern California is arguably the best opportunity for wild salmon recovery on the entire west coast. The river and salmon have weathered decades of over-fishing, abusive logging, catastrophic floods, droughts and a dam that diverts water and blocks fish passage. Today, the Eel’s recovering wild salmon compete for water with the region’s lucrative wine and underground cannabis economies. This film shows we can live symbiotically with our watersheds and encourage both a river’s recovery and economic future.

The program takes place

Thursday, May 10
7 pm
Empress Theatre
330 Virginia St.
Vallejo, CA 94590

Tickets are $10. Advance tickets online here.

The California Wilderness Coalition will also be showing A River’s Last Chance

Monday, May 7th
6:30 pm-8:30 pm
GU Energy Labs Headquarters
1609 – 4th St.
Berkeley, CA 94710

Tickets are $20. Find out more and RSVP here.

Finally, it’s being shown at the DocLands Documentary Film Festival

Friday, May 4
9:00 pm
Christopher B. Smith Film Center
1118 – 4th St.
San Rafael, CA 94901

Tickets are $15. Buy them online here.
 

IN COLORADO
3.   Wilderness Bill Introduced for San Juan Mountains

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) has reintroduced the San Juan Wilderness Act, a bill to protect lands in the San Juan National Forest in southern Colorado. If passed, it would designate 61,000 acres in the San Juan Mountains as wilderness, including Mt. Sneffels and Wilson Peak. Ten other wilderness or other special management areas would be expanded or designated, as well.

Although Sen. Bennet consulted closely with the local count commissioners to draft the bill, the local congressman, Scott Tipton (R), says that there isn’t widespread consensus in support of the proposal, but Mr. Tipton is not generally known as a strong supporter of public lands. The Colorado Snowmobile Association is concerned it will close trails and cut off access to others.

We’ll see how the bill progresses and keep you posted.
 

IN GENERAL
4.   Park Service Drops Huge Fee Increase Proposal

In our October Update we wrote about Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s proposal to drastically increase entrance fees at 17 of the most popular national parks during their 5 months of highest visitation. During the 30-day comment period, more than 100,000 comments were submitted, with 98% of them opposed to raising fees.

In April, Secty. Zinke announced that he had heard what the people said and so has decided not to proceed. (Why he didn’t hear what the people said when they spoke out overwhelmingly in support of preserving national monuments is a good question, though.) Instead, fees will be going up, sometimes by as much as $5, at parks that charge entrance fees, beginning in June.

According to our friends at the Western Slope No Fee Coalition, though, the battle against higher fees isn’t over yet:

The NPS is considering a long list of other fee-increase possibilities that have been proposed in the past by the National Park Hospitality Association, which represents the private concessionaires doing business in the Parks, including:
•          Per-person entrance fees instead of per-carload
•          Charging daily fees, vs. the current weekly price
•          Lowering the age for free entrance from 16 to 12
•          Charging a fee for disabled visitors (including disabled veterans), who currently are entitled to free entry
•          Charging foreign visitors premium fees
•          Variable pricing – lower on advanced purchase, higher on same-day entry

We keep following the issue as it moves forward.
 

5.   Job Opening: Western Environmental Law Center

The following comes from our friends at the Western Environmental Law Center in Eugene, Oregon.

Career Opportunity: Shared Earth Wildlife Attorney

The Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) is a nonprofit public interest environmental law firm with a 25-year legacy of success using the power of the law to safeguard the public lands, wildlife, and communities of the American West in the face of a changing climate. We seek an attorney with 0-4 years of experience to join our team on a full-time basis beginning September 2018 for a two-year period with the prospect of an extension or permanent position contingent on funding and performance. Our preference is to locate this position in Eugene, Oregon but we will also entertain applicants interested in either our Taos, NM, Seattle, WA, or Helena, MT office locations. The position will defend and advocate for federal wildlife and public lands conservation protections across the Western U.S.

Requirements and qualifications for the position include:

•          Familiarity with Western U.S. federal wildlife conservation and public lands law and issues.
•          Willingness to use a complete set of legal advocacy tools including collaboration, administrative engagement, policy development, negotiations, and litigation.
•          Some measure of litigation, administrative advocacy, or strategic/policy campaign experience, e.g., through attorney, clerkship/internship, or advocacy positions.
•          Admission to and good standing with a state bar as of the position’s start date or soon thereafter.
•          A biology or science background is a plus.
•          Creative, strong-willed capacity to achieve objectives in the face of adversity.
•          Exceptional research, writing, and oral advocacy skills.
•          Strong interpersonal skills to foster relationships with our clients, partners, funders, and allies.
•          Demonstrated commitment to the public interest; to equity, inclusion, and justice; and to WELC’s mission and strategies.
•          A positive, friendly, and enthusiastic attitude towards making the world a better place.
•          A love and respect for the wildlife and public lands of the Western U.S.

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis beginning May 14, 2018 until the position is filled. To apply, please email the following as PDF attachments to jobs@westernlaw.org.

(1) cover letter addressed to Erik Schlenker-Goodrich, Executive Director;
(2) resume;
(3) minimum of three references; and
(4) writing sample involving, ideally, federal wildlife conservation or public lands law and policy.

No phone calls or in-person visits please.

Western Environmental Law Center is an equal opportunity employer. We value diversity and our programs and employment are open to all. We offer a friendly, team-based environment, highly competitive salaries, and an excellent benefits package.
 

IN THE PRESS
6.   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.

Out West

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune, Proposed highway sparks concern over threatened tortoise
regarding a road through the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area in St. George, Utah.

An article in the New York Times travel section: At Basin and Range National Monument, Landscapes, Art and Aliens

Congress & the Administration

An op-ed in The Hill by our friend José Gonzalez at Latino Outdoors: Diversity is essential when it comes to stewarding public lands

An article in The New Yorker: The Interior Secretary, one of President Trump’s most loyal allies, sees public lands as the key to an “energy dominant” future. So why isn’t the petroleum industry more interested in buying them up? Ryan Zinke’s Great American Fire-Sale

An article in the New York Times, Ryan Zinke Is Opening Up Public Lands. Just Not at Home. , wondering why Montana seems to be spared.

The Washington Post has an article, Interior agency blocks group of archaeologists from attending scientific conference about the BLM not allowing many of its employees to attend the annual Society for American Archaeology meeting.

An op-ed in the New York Times: Stop the G.O.P.’s Conservation Demolition Crew

An article in The Guardian: Democratic senators scrutinize Koch brothers’ ‘infiltration’ of Trump team

An article in the Sacramento Bee: Trump administration sues California again, this time over rights to sell public land

The Outdoor Industry

The Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) has released Outdoor Recreation Economy reports for each of the 435 congressional districts. It’s useful information to have to access to when needing to use economics as a reason to protect public lands.

An article in The Guardian: ‘We have to organize like the NRA’: outdoor industry takes on Trump

 
 
 
 
 
 

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.

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

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2018 March

April 3rd, 2018


Looking over Cedar Mesa, “Former” Bears Ears National Monument, Utah                              (Mike Painter)

 
March 30, 2018

Dear CalUWild friends—

With Congress’s focus on the spending bill, there’s not much to report from Capitol Hill this month. Likewise, the administration has not made any further announcements on the fate of other national monuments. So this month’s Update is relatively short (especially if you’ve already submitted comments on the management plans for the shrunken monuments in Utah—see ITEM 1).

This was a very busy month for the press, however, examining Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on many different issues. It seemed that every day some new controversy reared it head. Thus there is quite a large collection of news articles in ITEM 3, IN THE PRESS. It is encouraging to see the press covering these issues in detail, though the sheer number of different problems they report is discouraging. Please read the articles to bring yourself up to date on those topics. When you’re done reading, share your thoughts with your elected officials in Washington and with the editors of your newspapers!

 
National Parks Week is April 21-29. This year, there is free admission to all Park Service fee sites on April 21. (Secretary Zinke blames too many fee-free days for some of the budget woes of the Park Service, but enjoy it if you can.)

 
As always, your enthusiasm and efforts to protect our wilderness and public lands are much appreciated!

 
Best wishes,
Mike

 
IN UTAH
1.   National Monuments Planning Update
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINES: April 11 for Bears Ears
          April 13 for Grand Staircase-Escalante NM
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
2.   Early Kickoff for the Fifth Annual
          Visions of the Wild Festival
          Downtown Vallejo: April 12

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

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

IN UTAH
1.    National Monuments Planning Update
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINES: April 11 for Bears Ears
          April 13 for Grand Staircase-Escalante NM
          (ACTION ITEM)

As we mentioned in our last two Updates (January and February), the BLM is currently undertaking planning processes for the replacements for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah.

BLM held four public meetings this week in Southern Utah and the deadlines for comments were extended 15 days beyond the last meetings for each. If you haven’t submitted comments yet, please do so. Detailed talking points are below. They are verbatim what we included last month.

(If you have submitted comments, you may skip to the press articles on the Utah monuments at the end of this section.)

 
According to High Country News, the BLM offices have been instructed to ignore comments demanding that they put off planning until litigation is finished. You should include that point, regardless. It lets BLM know that people are paying attention, and it gets the illegality and waste of planning resources into the public record, which may be useful publicity in the likely case that the administration loses in court.

Please use your own words, and if you have been to any of the areas under discussion, please say so and explain why they are important to you.

 
For both Bear Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments

— The proclamations issued to shrink the original monuments are illegal. The president has no authority under law to reduce monuments once they have been designated. Only Congress has that authority. Most legal commentators agree with that position.

— These rollbacks have been challenged in federal court. It is not appropriate to be undertaking large-scale planning because of this ongoing litigation. Should the plaintiffs win their cases, there will be a large waste of time and money. In times of reduced budgets, that is doubly inexcusable.

— Citizens do not support these rollbacks. See the overwhelming support for all our monuments shown by the 2.7 million comments submitted during last summer’s review. 97% recommended that all monuments remain intact.

 
Bears Ears National Monument — April 11

— Any interim actions planned within the original and legitimate Bears Ears National Monument boundary should only be done for the purpose of protecting Monument resources as set out in President Obama’s proclamation, Proclamation 9558 (December 28, 2016). This includes vegetation removal projects for supposed grazing range enhancements.

— In developing a management plan for the Shash Jáa and Indian Creek management units—and in order to ensure protection of cultural and natural resources—BLM must consider alternatives that permanently close Arch Canyon, Lavender Canyon, and Davis Canyon to motorized vehicle use.

— In order to ensure adequate public review and comment, the public comment period should be extended to 90 days after the last BLM or Forest Service public hearing.

— In addition to Bears Ears National Monument gateway communities, public hearings should also be held in Salt Lake City, Utah; Flagstaff, Arizona; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Denver, Colorado; and Washington, D.C.

The planning homepage is here and the direct link to the online comment form is here.

By Email: blm_ut_monticello_monuments [at] blm [dot] gov

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

Attn: Field Office Manager
Monticello Field Office
Bureau of Land Management
P.O. Box 7
Monticello, UT 84535

 
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument — April 13

— Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was designated in 1996, with its primary purpose to protect the incredible scientific, ecological, and paleontological resources within its 1.9 million acres. Any interim actions within the original and legitimate Monument boundary should only be done for the purpose of protecting Monument resources as set out in the original proclamation.

— BLM’s 1999 Monument management plan was the result of a deliberate and collaborative process that involved scientific scrutiny and intense public participation. Any interim actions within the original and legitimate Monument boundary must comply with the 1999 management plan.

— All motorized travel routes within the original Monument boundary that were closed or limited under the 1999 Monument management must continue to be managed pursuant to the management plan. For example, the Paria River—a fragile riparian corridor within a Wilderness Study Area that was purposely excluded from President Trump’s monument boundaries in order to facilitate ATV use—must remain closed to all motorized vehicles.

— Contrary to what some have said, the designation of GSENM has been important for local communities, which have grown economically more than other rural counties in this region. The monument as is, is a critical factor in the local community. There are proposals to allow coal mining in original GSENM. However, coal is dead in this region, as demonstrated by the upcoming closing of the nearest coal-fired power plant and the fact that other states, such as California, are not interested in providing a market for it, or even providing shipping facilities for export, as is the case in Oakland, California. No coal mining in the area should be considered. The future is in taking care of these remarkable lands and bringing renewable energy to local communities.

— Do not allow current and future vegetation removal projects, in particular “chaining,” within the original Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. This practice negates BLM’s obligation to protect natural resources and wilderness values from irreversible human-caused harm.

The homepage for the project is here, and comments may be submitted here.

By Email: BLM_UT_CCD_monuments [at] blm [dot] gov

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

Attn: Monument Manager
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Bureau of Land Management
669 S Hwy. 89A
Kanab, UT 84741

 
Utah monument press

The New York Times filed a Freedom of Information Act request and then had to sue the Department of the Interior to obtain release of documents relating to the national monuments in Utah. It received some 25,000 pages of emails and other correspondence. 20,000 were from the Obama administration regarding the creation of the monuments, and the remainder from the current administration’s attempts to roll them back. The Times analyzed them and on March 2 published the following report: Oil Was Central in Decision to Shrink Bears Ears Monument, Emails Show.

This confirmed what many suspected. It also showed that the office of Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) had approached the administration in March 2017 about reducing the size of the Bears Ears, more than a month before the executive order authorizing the review of the monuments. The documents also show that a major reason for the attempt at splitting up the Grand Staircase-Escalante monument was the presence of the large coal reserves in the Kaiparowits Plateau.

You may download the complete document trove (all 38.6 MB of it) here. A selection of documents relating only to the Bears Ears may be found here.

High Country News had an article looking behind the scenes at other issues related to the monuments in Utah: The danger of local hands on public lands: When it comes to monuments, Utah lawmakers have conflicts of interest

 
IN CALIFORNIA
2.   Early Kickoff for the Fifth Annual
          Visions of the Wild Festival
          Downtown Vallejo: April 12

CalUWild is working with the U.S. Forest Service and the Vallejo Community Arts Foundation for the fifth year, planning and hosting the Visions of the Wild Festival in downtown Vallejo. It began in 2014 as a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act and has turned into an annual event, each with a different theme and focus. This year we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Wild & Scenic Rivers and National Trails System acts.

The main part of the festival will be September 21 – 23, but a few extra events are planned between now and then. The first will be the screening of two films, one on the Noatak River in Alaska and the second on Nevada City in California, by CalUWild friend and filmmaker John de Graaf.

The April 12 event has two segments:

First will be a presentation by Heather Bartlett and colleagues about the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge. They will talk how their Alaska preserve connects with our local San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge. We’ll show a short film about Wild & Scenic River in Alaska called the Noatak.

Explore the Noatak, one of Alaska’s wildest rivers, through the eyes of the people whose lives and livelihoods have long depended on its waters and wildlife, and discover the national conservation program that ensures that this and many other wild rivers will provide these values forever.

This will be followed by a screening of the film Redefining Prosperity: The Gold Rushes of Nevada City, followed by an in person discussion with the film’s director John de Graaf. This film features a segment on the Yuba River, a Wild & Scenic River in California.

Born in the California Gold Rush, Nevada City was once the scene of some of the most destructive environmental practices on earth. By the 1960s, the town was a backwater, its extractive industries dying. Then it was discovered by the “back to the land movement.” It was a second gold rush but with a different idea of gold based on nature, community and a sense of place. The Yuba River brought conflicting factions of the community together while different ideas about the meaning of wealth have led to changes in local food production, education, arts, music and a commitment to building community. Redefining Prosperity: The Gold Rushes of Nevada City includes two dozen of Nevada City’s most active citizens and their stories.

Details:

Empress Theatre
330 Virginia St.
Vallejo, CA 94590

Date: Thursday, April 12
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Tickets: $10

Online tickets are available here.

The film will also be shown in Nevada City the following weekend:

Nevada Theatre
401 Broad St.
Nevada City, CA 95959

Date: Sunday, April 15
Time: 7:00 p.m.

 
IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
3.   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.

California national monuments

The San Francisco Chronicle on the potential shrinking of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument: Along California-Oregon border, debate over protected lands is clash of values

The Los Angeles Times on the Sand to Snow National Monument: Feral cattle terrorize hikers and devour native plants in a California national monument

The Interior Department and other politics

Good news first: Zinke Cancels Chaco Canyon lease sale in the Albuquerque Journal. You may read the BLM press release here.

Unfortunately, this was followed by a lease sale in Southeastern Utah on lands containing many archeological sites and close to Hovenweep and Canyons of the Ancients national monuments. The Washington Post wrote this article: National Park Service warned lease sale Tuesday could harm national monument in Utah

Washington Post opinion columnist Dana Millbank wrote: All hail Ryan Zinke, our imperial viceroy

An article in The Hill: Zinke signed order in January making ‘acting’ directors official

An article in the Washington Post: A mining firm executive griped to Zinke about federal pollution rules. The secretary apologized.

CNN reported: White House scolds Cabinet officials after embarrassing ethics reports. Secretary Zinke was included among them.

A Washington Post article: Oversight panel seeks details on Interior’s pricey doors. The Interior Department plans to spend $139,000 to replace double doors in the Secretary’s office.

Our friends at the Center for Western Priorities report: Documents reveal Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke uses a private email address for official business

The Democrats on the House Natural Resource Committee released a statement stating that a letter held up by Secty. Zinke in a hearing was not what he claimed it to be, nor had such a letter ever been sent. Secretary Zinke Testified Falsely Today – Said Letter to Chairman Bishop Responded to Rep. Barragan’s Ethics Concerns

An article in The Hill: Zinke and his wife took security detail on vacation to Turkey, Greece: report

From CNN: Sources: Zinke tells employees diversity isn’t important

A Washington Post article: Zinke creates new outdoor recreation panel made up almost entirely of industry advisers

From CNN: Zinke says ‘Konnichiwa’ after hearing story about WWII Japanese internment

An article in Outside: Congress Just Ignored Trump’s Public-Land Cuts

An op-ed in The Hill by Peter Metcalf of Black Diamond: Secretary Zinke, you’re no Teddy Roosevelt

In Nevada

From Reuters: States’ rights rancher Ryan Bundy to run for Nevada governor

General

An op-ed in the San Jose Mercury News, by our friend Ryan Henson of the California Wilderness Coalition: Opinion: Trump’s ruthless attack on California’s desert lands

An essay in High Country News reflecting on Edward Abbey and the 50th Anniversary of the publication of Desert Solitaire: Balancing the pulls of domesticity and wilderness

 
 
 
 
 

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.

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

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2018 January

February 2nd, 2018

The Waterpocket Fold, Capitol Reef NP, Utah, from the air                                                (Mike Painter)

 
February 1, 2018

Dear CalUWild friends and supporters—

As 2018 begins, we’re looking ahead to continuing the fight to protect our national monuments, wilderness, and other public lands, as we have for the last 20 years.

But 2018 also gives us the opportunity to look back at a few notable achievements. This year we will be celebrating the 50th Anniversary of both the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act and the National Trails System Act—which authorized National Scenic Trails & National Recreation Trails. It’s also the 40th Anniversary of the National Parks & Recreation Act—which authorized the National Historic Trails.

Finally 2018 marks the 50th Anniversary of the publication of Edward Abbey’s “Desert Solitaire,” a book that has introduced many people to the wonders of the redrock country of the Southwest and the need to preserve and protect all of our remaining wild places. The New York Times published an op-ed by Douglas Brinkley commemorating the anniversary: President Trump, Please Read ‘Desert Solitaire’. Abbey’s book is still in print in various editions, often quite inexpensive at used bookstores. I encourage you to have an extra copy always on hand to give to some unsuspecting soul. You never know who might be inspired reading it.

 
A note about coverage in the Monthly Update: Almost every day now there is some new controversy within the Interior Department, with regard to either policies (national monuments, offshore oil, sage grouse, methane and fracking, you name it) or the Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke.

It is impossible to go into detail on every single one—I could write an item a day for the Update, but that would be overwhelming for all of us. However, these issues are critically important. Rather than ignore them, they will be included in our IN THE PRESS section, organized by topic, with links to items and brief descriptions of the issue if needed. We’ll see how this works for everyone …

 
As our Annual Membership Appeal draws to a close, a big “Thank You” once again to everyone who has contributed so generously to make CalUWild’s continued work possible. And if you haven’t contributed yet, please consider doing so at any time. It’s always appreciated. Click here for details.

 
Thanks for your ongoing enthusiasm,
Mike

 
 
IN UTAH (& IN GENERAL)
1.   National Monument Developments
          (ACTION ITEM)
2.   18 Senators Introduce The ANTIQUITIES Act of 2018
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
3.   Offshore Oil Drilling Hearing & Rally
          In Sacramento
          Thursday, February 8
          ALSO: Comments Needed
          DEADLINE: March 9, 2018
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN ALASKA
4.   Secty. Zinke Signs a Land Swap for Izembek Road
          Through Wilderness Wildlife Refuge—
          Lawsuit Filed

IN COLORADO
5.   Wilderness Bill Introduced

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

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

IN UTAH (& IN GENERAL)
1.   National Monument Developments
          (ACTION ITEM)

There are three developments of note regarding the national monuments in Utah.

A.)   As we reported last month, the administration issued two new proclamations severely shrinking the Bears Ears and the Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. Native American tribes and conservation groups immediately filed suit in Washington, DC, and the administration has filed motions to transfer the cases to Utah, where they would hope to get a more sympathetic court. The tribes argue that they are sovereign nations and the conservation groups argue that the decisions were made in Washington and their legality has a broader impact than just Utah; therefore, the District of Columbia is the appropriate venue.

And this just in: The federal judge in DC has decided to consolidate the five separate lawsuits into just two: one dealing with Bears Ears, and the other wit Grand Staircase-Escalante. She has yet to rule on the change of venue.

B.)   While that was going on, two Utah Congressmen introduced bills that would codify the changes made in the new proclamations. (This indicates that they recognize some doubt that the administration’s unilateral moves will hold up in court.)

Rep. John Curtis (R) introduced H.R. 4532, the “Shash Jaa and Indian Creek National Monument Act.” It sets up a management council appointed, not by the local tribes, but by the president in consultation with the Utah congressional delegation—who have never supported the monument from the outset. This shifts management to interests who rarely, if ever, take broader, national interests into account, and represents one more step toward state and local control of lands belonging to all Americans.

The bill had a quick hearing before the Subcommittee on Public Lands, but the witness list so was so skewed against supporters of the existing monument that the Democrats on the subcommittee forced a second hearing that included five representatives of the Inter-Tribal Coalition.

Rep. Chris Stewart (R) introduced H.R. 4558, the disingenuously-named “Grand Staircase-Escalante Enhancement Act.” It contains the odd feature of establishing a national park in the Escalante Canyons portion of the monument, but one open to hunting and grazing, which are generally not allowed in parks. It also sets up a locally-dominated management council, and the federal managers would be obligated to follow its directions. Lands outside the new park, but inside the three monuments would be open to mineral development.

Neither bill has companion legislation in the Senate, and the only cosponsors so far are other members of the Utah congressional delegation.

C.)   In a third development, the Bureau of Land Management announced that it would initiate management plans for the new monuments. This seems to be a cynical ploy, given that the proclamations are the subject of litigation, and there is no guarantee that the outcome will favor the administration. (Most scholars feel the law is against the administration here.) So it could turn out to be a complete waste of taxpayer money, especially when the agencies already have budget shortages.

The initial deadline for scoping comments is March 19. We will have more substantive suggestions for comments in the next Update, but for a start, it would be good to put the BLM on notice that citizens do not support these rollbacks, especially given the overwhelming support for all our monuments to remain intact during last summer’s review. Additionally, it is not appropriate to be undertaking planning because of the litigation and potential waste of time and money involved.

For Bears Ears National Monument, the planning homepage is here and the direct link to the online comment form is here.

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

365 North Main
P.O. Box 7
Monticello, UT 84535

For the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, the homepage for the project is here, and comments may be submitted here.

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

669 S Hwy. 89A
Kanab, UT 84741

ALSO: Keep up the pressure on your Members of Congress and Senators and by writing letters to the editor of your local papers.

The press continues to cover the monuments issue thoroughly. Here is a sampling:

Despite administration denials that the Bears Ears was shrunk in response to uranium mining interests, the New York Times published this: Uranium Miners Pushed Hard for a Comeback. They Got Their Wish.

An op-ed in the Times on H.R. 4558: A Trojan Horse Threatens the Nation’s Parks

An article in The Guardian: How Trump’s cuts to public lands threaten future dinosaur discoveries

This Salt Lake Tribune article gives more background on the tribes’ opposition to the Curtis bill: Tribal leaders slam Utah Rep. Curtis’ bill to redraw Bears Ears, say management plan is tribal ‘in name only’.

The Salt Lake Tribune also published an editorial: Opposition to Bears Ears monument isn’t about money — it’s about race

Even the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples issued a statement condemning the monument rollback.

 
2.   18 Senators Introduce The ANTIQUITIES Act of 2018
          (ACTION ITEM)

It takes real imagination to create the names of some the laws introduced in Congress, but this one is among the best: The America’s Natural Treasures of Immeasurable Quality Unite, Inspire, and Together Improve the Economies of States (ANTIQUITIES) Act of 2018, S. 2354.

Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), joined by 17 other senators, introduced this important response to the administration’s recent actions against our national monuments.

The other cosponsors are:

Richard Durbin (D-IL)
Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)
Ron Wyden (D-OR
Martin Heinrich (D-NM)
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
Brian Schatz (D-HI)
Kamala Harris (D-CA)
Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV)
Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)
Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Mazie Hirono (D-HI)
Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
Ben Cardin (D-MD)
Cory Booker (D-NJ)
Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)
Tina Smith (D-MN)
Michael Bennet (D-CO)

In addition, the five Bears Ears Coalition Tribes (Hopi, Navajo, Ute, Ute Mountain Ute, and Zuni) support the bill.

According to the announcement put out by Sen. Udall’s office, the bill protects and enhances national monuments in three main provisions:

— It officially declares Congress’ support for the 51 national monuments established by presidents in both parties between January 1996 and April 2017 under their authority established by the Antiquities Act of 1906. [It’s no coincidence that these are the dates of the monuments “under review” by the current administration—Mike]

— It reinforces that existing law clearly states that presidential proclamations designating national monuments are valid and cannot be reduced or diminished, except by an act of Congress.

— It further enhances protections for the presidentially designated national monuments by 1) requiring that they be surveyed, mapped and that management plans be completed in two years—in the same manner as congressionally designated national monuments—and 2) that they receive additional resources to ensure that they will continue to meet their full potential of providing unmatched economic, recreational, and cultural benefits to their states and to the nation.

Please contact Sens. Feinstein and Harris to thank them for their cosponsorship of this legislation. And remind Sen. Harris that this would be a good opportunity for her to become a cosponsor of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, too.

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

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

Feel free to call senators from states other than California to say thank you as well. Full contact information may be found here.

 
IN CALIFORNIA
3.   Offshore Oil Drilling Hearing & Rally
          In Sacramento
          Thursday, February 8
          ALSO: Comments Needed
          DEADLINE: March 9, 2018
          (ACTION ITEM)

Another of the many controversies enveloping the administration is the recent announcement that almost the entire coastline of the United States will be open again for oil & gas leasing. Interior Secty. Ryan Zinke caused further controversy when—in what appeared to be a political favor to Florida’s Gov. Rick Scott, who is considering running for the U.S. Senate—he announced that Florida would be exempt because the state is “unique and its coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver.”

Of course the same can be said for every state along the country’s coastline, and politicians from those states immediately said they deserved exemptions for precisely the same reasons.

Offshore drilling has long been a particular concern in California, ever since the disastrous Santa Barbara oil spill of 1969. (Of course, there have been other oil spills in the meantime, including the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico.) All of the rocks, reefs, and islands along California’s coastline are part of the California Coastal National Monument, so there is an additional “public lands” aspect to the issue here.

As part of the planning, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced a series of public hearings and the opening of a public comment period. The only hearing in California will be in Sacramento on Thursday, February 8. It will take place at the

Tsakopoulos Library Galleria
828 I Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
from 3 p.m. – 7 p.m.

A rally with speakers will take place preceding the hearing at 1:30 p.m. on the North Steps of the State Capitol, followed by a march to the hearing venue.

Turnout is critical!

CalUWild is supporting the efforts of partner organizations such as the Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, and others to ensure that interested people can attend. There are buses to the event in Sacramento leaving from the following cities. Tickets are free or at nominal cost ($5-$15 RT). Click on the city for more information and to make a reservation.

San Francisco
Oakland
Santa Rosa/Petaluma
Ventura

Seats are limited, so please sign up quickly!

More information on the rally may be found on its Facebook Event page.

Regarding the public comment period, the main page for the proposal is here.

BOEM says:

Helpful Comments:

— Are fact-based;
— Include links to data or research;
— Provide specifics regarding impacts to the ocean and coasts, the plants and animals, to people, and how people use the ocean; and
— Where and when the ocean is utilized.

For most citizens, the third and fourth categories are likely most relevant, though obviously, individuals may have information pertaining to the other two.

Online comment submission is preferred.

You can click on the Comment Now! button on the main page or go directly here.

Comments may be also be mailed (or hand delivered) to:

Comments for the 2019-2024 Draft Proposed National Oil and Gas Leasing Program
ATTN: Ms. Kelly Hammerle
National OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program Manager
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (VAM-LD)
45600 Woodland Road
Sterling, VA 20166-9216

Phone: 703-787-1613

 
IN ALASKA
4.   Secty. Zinke Signs a Land Swap for Izembek Road
          Through Wilderness Wildlife Refuge—
          Lawsuit Filed

Interior Secretary Zinke took advantage of last week’s three-day government shutdown to sign an agreement transferring land from the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, much of which is designated wilderness, to a Native Alaskan corporation, in order to build a road connecting the town of King Cove to Cold Bay.

The shutdown meant that reporters weren’t allowed at the signing. When questioned by reporters afterward, Mr. Zinke refused to release any documents but told them they were free to submit Freedom of Information Act requests. There was no public involvement in this decision.

The town and Alaska politicians claim that the road is needed for medical emergency evacuations, to reach an airstrip at Cold Bay, but as this op-ed, published last year in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (and posted by our friends at Wilderness Watch), demonstrates commercial considerations were the only ones mentioned when the road was first proposed, in order to link a fish cannery in King Cove to that airstrip.

Yesterday, a coalition of groups (including Wilderness Watch) filed suit against Mr. Zinke and the land exchange proposal. The claim is that it violates both the Wilderness Act (which gives authority over wilderness boundaries to Congress only) and the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, which designated Izembek as wilderness.

If you would like more detailed information, the Washington Post has run these two stories:

Zinke signs land-swap deal allowing road through Alaska’s Izembek wilderness

Environmental groups sue to block road through Alaska refuge

 
IN COLORADO
5.   Wilderness Bill Introduced

Last week, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D) and Rep. Jared Polis (D) introduced the Continental Divide Recreation, Wilderness and Camp Hale Legacy Act (S. 2337 in the Senate and H.R. 4883 in the House).

The bills would designate three new wilderness areas at Hoosier Ridge, in the Tenmile Range, and in the Williams Fork Mountains. It expands three existing wildernesses: Eagles Nest, Holy Cross, and Ptarmigan Peak.

A novel aspect of the bill is the creation the Camp Hale National Historic Landscape, which would be the first in the country. Camp Hale was the training ground for the storied 10th Mountain Division, which fought in the Italian Alps during World War II. David Brower, former Executive Director of the Sierra Club and founding member of CalUWild’s Advisory Board was a veteran of the division, as were other notable outdoor recreationists and leaders.

The Denver Post has run two articles examining the proposal:

Michael Bennet, Jared Polis put forth bill to bolster protection for more than 98,000 acres of federal land in Colorado

and an article back in 2016 giving more background on Camp Hale and the 10th Mountain Division.

We’re happy to see another real wilderness bill introduced, and we support their efforts.

 
IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
6.   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.

Interior Department & Secty. Zinke

An op-ed on Secty. Zinke by Timothy Egan of the New York Times: The Mad King Flies His Flag

The Washington Post published an editorial: Is Ryan Zinke cynical or incompetent?

A look at the legal procedural issues surrounding many of the recent Interior Department decisions in the New York Times: Trump’s Environmental Rollbacks Were Fast. It Could Get Messy in Court.

During the shutdown, Secty. Zinke said that national parks would stay open, even without staff. Fears of potential resource damage were confirmed. An article in the Washington Post: While Yellowstone’s staff was furloughed, a snowmobiler got way too close to Old Faithful

Mid-month, nine out of the twelve members of the National Park Advisory Board resigned. The New York Times ran this article: Citing ‘Inexcusable’ Treatment, Advisers Quit National Parks Panel

and High Country News did a follow-up article and interview with Board chairman Tony Knowles: Why the National Park advisory board imploded.

The Bundy Case in Nevada

An article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal: Congress expected to hold hearings on dismissal of Bundy case

Public Lands in General

The Guardian announces “a major expansion of [its] series This Land is Your Land, which will provide coverage of these unique and threatened places” with a grant from the Society for Environmental Journalism: The threat to America’s public lands is increasing – and so is our coverage

Wilderness Philosophy

In the NY Times ongoing philosophy series “The Stone:” Keep Our Mountains Free. And Dangerous.

 
 
 
 
 
 
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.

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

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2017 December

January 3rd, 2018


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

 
New Year’s Eve 2017

Dear CalUWild friends—

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
Bears Ears National Monument

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

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

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

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

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

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

•   You can see a map of the changes here.

 
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

•   The protected area was reduced by about 50%.

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

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

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

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

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

•   You can see a map of the changes here.

 
Lawsuits

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
Related News

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

 
Further Reading

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

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

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

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

 
What Action to Take

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

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

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

California’s senators may be reached here:

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

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

The general page for Senate contact information is here.

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

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

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

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

Mark your calendars.

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

 
3.   Job Announcements

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

 
          a.   Conservation Lands Foundation:
                    Associate Southern California Director

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

Conservation Lands Foundation Associate Southern California Director

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

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

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

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

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

Applications can be submitted here: https://usaconservationstaff.applicantpool.com/jobs/196507.html

 
          d.   Wyoming Outdoor Council:
                     Conservation Advocate

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

https://wyomingoutdoorcouncil.org/about/job-opportunities/

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

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

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

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

News about the Department of the Interior

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

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

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

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

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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.

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

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2017 November

December 2nd, 2017


In the Devil’s Garden, Grand Staircase-Escalante NM, Utah                                                   (Mike Painter)
 

November 30, 2017

Dear CalUWild friends —

It’s hard to believe, but Californians for Western Wilderness is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this month! Ever since the start of the management planning process for the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah, CalUWild has been providing citizens with information and tools that they can use to protect our wild places in the West.

Right now, we’re going through a time when there’s much to feel cynical or despair about, on many fronts. Action is the best antidote to despair, however. So we look forward to the years ahead showing people how to be effective advocates for the places they love, and at the same time hoping to dispel some of the cynicism felt by so many. Thanks for your interest and support over the years.

Special thanks go also to Vicky Hoover and Keith Hammond who, with me, founded Californians for Utah Wilderness, as we were known back then, in 1997. Additional mention must be made of our Advisory Board members, the staff—too numerous to name—at other conservation organizations who have provided support and information, and in Congressional and agency offices who have listened when we’ve brought our concerns to them. It’s been a joint effort, with many different participants.

I’m certain that in the long run we’ll be successful, because we have the majority of Americans on our side in support of wise protections for our public lands.
 

As we mentioned last month, it’s time for CalUWild’s Annual Membership Appeal. Because so much time has been spent on the national monuments review this month, our mailing hasn’t gone out yet. Please watch your mailbox or email INBOX for the next week or two. And please respond as generously as you can. As always, dues are not mandatory, but are appreciated!

Dues payable to CalUWild are not tax-deductible, as they may be used for lobbying. If you’d like to make a tax-deductible contribution, please make your check payable to Resource Renewal Institute, our fiscal sponsor. Click here for suggested membership levels. Either way, the address is:

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

 
Best wishes,
Mike
 

IN UTAH
1.   President Going to Utah
          To Announce Reductions in Bears Ears &
          Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monuments.
          Rallies Planned in
          Salt Lake City, San Francisco & Elsewhere
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN GENERAL
2.   National Park Entrance Fee Increase
          Comment Period Extended
          NEW DEADLINE: December 22
          (ACTION ITEM)
3.   Job Listing: Western Watersheds Project
          California Director

IN MEMORIAM
4.   Rep. Maurice Hinchey
          Long-Time Lead Sponsor
          Of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act

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

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

IN UTAH
1.   President Going to Utah
          To Announce Reductions in Bears Ears &
          Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monuments.
          Rallies Planned in
          Salt Lake City, San Francisco & Elsewhere
          (ACTION ITEM)

The White House has announced that the President will travel to Salt Lake City on Monday, December 4 to announce the Administration’s proposals on the two Utah national monuments that interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has proposed for drastic reductions, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. There have been no details released formally by the Administration in advance of the trip, but the Washington Post published an article today containing information that was leaked to it. That article says:

Grand Staircase-Escalante would be split into three areas known as Grand Staircase National Monument, Kaiparowits National Monument and Escalante Canyons National Monument. Bears Ears will be divided into Indian Creek National Monument and the Shash Jaa National Monument, the latter of which will include two well-known ruins, Moon House and Doll House.

Some changes might still be made before Monday’s formal announcement, however. Two maps were also leaked, which you can see here:

Bears Ears Boundary Modification
GSENM Boundary Modification

Acreage-wise this means that Bears Ears would from 1.35 million acres to 201,397 acres and Grand Staircase-Escalante from shrink from 1.9 million acres to 997,490 acres.

Two short proclamations reflecting these maps were also leaked, and the action will be almost immediately challenged in court by Native American tribes and conservation organizations. Legal arguments include that the Antiquities Act only allows the president to designate monuments, not shrink them; the Federal Lands Policy and Management (FLPMA) states that Congress, not the administration, has the sole power to make changes to monuments. In addition, with regard to Grand Staircase, it was the subject of Congressional land exchange legislation and a payment of $50 million to the state of Utah, along with some minor boundary changes, so Congress has already ratified it. The Constitution grants Congress the sole authority to manage the federal lands (Article IV, section 3., clause 2), so even though Congress delegated some of its authority to the president via the Antiquities Act, once it’s passed a law, the executive branch can’t bypass it.

It’s not clear at this point whether the President will make any announcements regarding Cascade-Siskiyou NM in Oregon and California and Gold Butte NM in Nevada, the two other monuments recommended for downsizing.

Several rallies in support of our national monuments are being held around the country this weekend and next week.

In anticipation of the announcement, Utah Diné Bikéyah, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, and other organizations will be holding a “Rally Against Trump’s Monumental Mistake” in Salt Lake City:

Saturday, December 2
Utah State Capitol
1 PM – 2:30 PM MST

A weeklong series of rallies is planned in support of national monuments, beginning Saturday, December 2. Major ones in California are planned for:

San Francisco
Monday, December 4

Bank of America Building
555 California St
12 Noon

Berkeley
Saturday, December 2

Banner Event
University Ave. pedestrian overpass over Hwy. 80
University Ave. at Western Frontage Road
Berkeley, CA 94720
2:00 PM

Los Angeles Area
Saturday, December 2, 2017

Paramount Ranch
Cornell Road
Agoura Hills, CA 91301
9:30 AM
Host contact info: bongodrum [at] gmail [dot] com

San Diego
Sunday, December 03

Cabrillo National Monument
1800 Cabrillo Memorial Dr.
San Diego, CA 92106
11:00 AM
Host contact info: Rae Newman, dancingriver [at] Hotmail [dot] com

A map with these and other events in California and across the country may be found here. Please confirm event location and other information with any listed event hosts before heading out!

Please also check the page as the week goes by, as other events will be added as they’re organized.

Stay tuned—there will be more to report in the weeks ahead!
 

IN GENERAL
2.   National Park Entrance Fee Increase
          Comment Period Extended
          NEW DEADLINE: December 22
          (ACTION ITEM)

Last month we reported that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had proposed raising entrance fees to 17 of the most popular national parks to as much as $70 for a private vehicle, $50 for a motorcycle, and $30 for a person on foot or bicycle.

The Interior Department opened a public comment, where we asked people to submit their thoughts. Originally, the deadline was November 23. At the last minute the Department extended it by 30 days, so they are now collecting comments through December 22 on the same Park Planning website.

So if you didn’t get around to commenting before Thanksgiving, click on the “Comment Now” button!

As we said last month:

The higher fees would be in effect during the five heaviest visitation months for each park, i.e., generally summer vacation for most Americans. According to Mr. Zinke, the fees collected, estimated at $70 million a year, would go toward reducing the backlog of infrastructure projects in the various parks.

The parks affected would be: Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Denali, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Olympic, Sequoia and Kings Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Zion national parks with peak season starting on May 1, 2018; Acadia, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, and Shenandoah National Parks with peak season starting on June 1, 2018; and Joshua Tree National Park as soon as practicable in 2018.

That reasoning is a stretch for a few reasons: First, the Interior Department has already proposed reducing its budget by several hundred million dollars for the next year. This would simply transfer a small portion of that decrease onto visitors. Secondly, the backlog is estimated to be close to 11 billion dollars; in other words, it’s a drop in the bucket. And finally, the cost of the “America the Beautiful” annual pass, allowing entrance to all national parks and fee areas, will remain at $80 per year. It is not at all clear that people would pay the single-entry fee every time they visited a park. (Skeptics are already saying that this will soon lead to a huge increase in the price of the annual pass, as well.)

We are also concerned that proposals (of any kind) that put national parks (and other public lands in general) more and more outside the reach of the general public will contribute in the long run to partial or even full privatization of our common inheritance of public lands.

Reaction to the proposed fee increases continued to be unanimously negative:

Attorneys general from ten states and the District of Columbia wrote a letter to Acting NPS Director Mike Reynolds objecting to the proposed fee hike, quoting John Muir: “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.” (The Yosemite) The San Francisco Chronicle reported that California Attorney General Xavier Becerra threatened to sue the Interior Department if it failed to comply with legal concerns about the process used to implement the proposal.

Timothy Egan wrote a column in the New York Times: National Parks for the 1 Percent

An op-ed was published in the Salt Lake Tribune: Higher park fees create a barrier to recovery from war. That column included a link to an article worth mentioning for its historic interest: Let’s Close the National Parks by Bernard DeVoto, appearing in Harper’s back in 1953.
 

3.   Job Listing: Western Watersheds Project
          California Director

We received the following from our friends at Western Watersheds Project.

Western Watersheds Project seeks a California Director to expand and continue WWP’s campaign to protect and restore public lands in California and parts of Nevada, particularly in the context of reining in 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.

JOB DUTIES:
• Coordinate and develop WWP’s public lands and waterways protection in California and Nevada and work with current staff on existing projects and threats posed by domestic livestock/sheep grazing on public lands across the West;
• Collect and track research documenting the impacts of livestock on public lands, and utilize a variety of tools to determine focal areas for protection emphasis;
• Submit data, public comments, and appeals and engage in discussions with the Forest Service and BLM about how to protect public lands from domestic livestock, including the use of grazing permit retirement;
• Work with WWP’s Public Policy Consultant to pursue legislative options specific to livestock grazing and predator defense issues;
• Participate in outreach opportunities including press releases, op-eds, position statements, newsletter articles, and blog posts;
• Meet with public lands livestock grazing operators to discuss options for conflict reduction;
• Visit public lands grazing allotments, documenting habitat conditions and management.

DESIRED QUALIFICATIONS:
• Educational background in science, law, or policy and/or advocacy experience;
• Affinity for and knowledge of remote and rugged areas in the West;
• Willingness to travel and camp alone in field sites;
• Highly organized and able to use GIS software, mapping tools, and basic database software;
• Strong oral and written communications skills;
• Desire to make a difference in protecting native species from livestock grazing impacts on public lands;
• Able to take direction and work as part of a team;
• Self-directed and accountable;
• Position will be located in California or Nevada, Reno preferred.

Please send a cover letter, resume, writing sample (preferably administrative or legal appeal) and 3 references in a single .pdf file by January 31, 2018 to jeremy@westernwatersheds.org. Position open until filled.
 

IN MEMORIAM
4.   Rep. Maurice Hinchey
          Long-Time Lead Sponsor
          Of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act

Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) died last week, four years after retiring from Congress, where he served ten terms representing Upstate New York. All through is long career in politics he was a champion of the environment, holding hearings on the Love Canal toxic pollution when he served in the state legislature, before being elected to Congress. We knew Rep. Hinchey because of his championship of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act in the House. He took on that mantle after Utah Rep. Wayne Owens retired in 1993, and he continued with it until his retirement in 2013. (Reps. Rush Holt (D-NJ) and now Alan Lowenthal (D-47) of California succeeded him as the lead sponsor.)

We extend our condolences to his family and former staff.

The New York Times published this obituary: Maurice D. Hinchey, Congressman and Environmental Advocate, Dies at 79
 

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.

Articles about the Interior Department and Secretary Ryan Zinke

An op-ed in U.S. News & World Report: A Tale of Two Zinkes: The interior secretary hasn’t turned out to be the defender of public lands many hoped for.

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune:‘We’ve gotten so bureaucratic’: Secretary Zinke plans to use his military experience as a blueprint for reorganizing his department

An article in The Hill: Durbin blocks Interior nominees from confirmation. Secty. Zinke eventually agreed to meet with Sen. Durbin, and two of the holds were lifted.

An article in High Country News: Interior Department mired in investigations

Other news from Washington:

An article in the Los Angeles Times: Under Trump, the lines are drawn for a battle over resources in the West

A Washington Post article about Utah Rep. Rob Bishop: Powerful lawmaker wants to ‘invalidate’ the Endangered Species Act. He’s getting close., followed by an article from the Center for Western Priorities: House committee chairman attacks reporter for doing his job

An editorial in the New York Times: Trump Attacks Teddy Roosevelt’s Grand Legacy

Other items

An article in the New York Times: Federal Trial Begins for the Nevada Rancher Cliven Bundy

An article in High Country News: Drones intrude on the outdoor experience

A long article in Mountain Journal: Holding The Line On Wild: Is The U.S. Forest Service Up To The Challenge?

And finally, two items that aren’t bad news

An article Washington Post: The Grizzlies Are Coming

A column in National Parks Traveler: Wanderings From Cable Mountain In Zion National Park

 
 
 
 
 

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.

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

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2017 October

November 4th, 2017


Notch Peak, Utah, from Great Basin National Park, Nevada                                                      (Mike Painter)
 

November 1, 2017

Dear CalUWild friends –

There’s a lot to cover this issue, especially with these three significant developments in October:

1) The administration announced it will attempt to shrink the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments;

2) Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) introduced a bill that would gut the Antiquities Act; and

3) The Interior Department announced plans to drastically increase entrance fees at 17 of the more popular national parks.

There was also movement on several other issues we’ve covered before, which also require citizen awareness.

It can feel overwhelming at times, I know, but if we want to have a future for our children and grandchildren, as well as ourselves, we need to speak up, loudly and together. So please make a list with your thoughts on all the various items below and make calls to the White House, the Interior Department, and Congress too. (In the interest of saving space, contact information for these is only given in Item 1.)
 

We’re proud to see that CalUWild Advisory Board Member composer John Adams’s new opera Girls of the Golden West, directed by Peter Sellars and taking place during the California Gold Rush, will have its premiere at the San Francisco Opera in a few weeks, with eight performances running through December 10. For more information, click here.
 

Finally, a couple of administrative items:

First: It’s an unfortunate fact that the barrage of attacks on specific places and general policy is increasing with this Administration. It’s impossible to include everything of interest in the Monthly Update, if we want to keep it to a manageable length, both for your reading and my writing. So this month, some issues to which we’ve devoted full items in the past are only updated with a link to a press article.

We do not want to send out numerous alerts during the month—we all get enough of those from other organizations. Therefore, we are trying to post more articles over the course of the month on our Facebook page. This is not due to any affection for Facebook itself, but it seems to be one place that many people pay some attention to. So if you’re on Facebook, please like and follow CalUWild there. (And if you have any other suggestions, please send me an email.)

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

Dues payable to CalUWild are not tax-deductible, as they may be used for lobbying. If you’d like to make a tax-deductible contribution, please make your check payable to Resource Renewal Institute, our fiscal sponsor. Click here for suggested membership levels. Either way, drop it in the mail to:

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

 
Thank you, as always, for your ongoing interest and support for wilderness and public lands!
Mike
 

IN UTAH
1.   Administration Announces Plans to Shrink
          Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante
          National Monuments
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN GENERAL
2.   Rep. Rob Bishop Introduces a Bill
          To Completely Gut the Antiquities Act
          (ACTION ITEM)
3.   Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke
          Proposes Huge Increases
          In National Park Entrance Fees
          COMMENT DEADLINE: November 23
          (ACTION ITEM)
4.   Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke
          Continues to Cause Controversy
5.   Great Old Broads for Wilderness
          Annual Auction
          Through November 12

IN CALIFORNIA
6.   Conglomerate Mesa Proposed Wilderness Area
          Under Threat of Gold Mining
          COMMENT DEADLINE: November 20
          (ACTION ITEM)
7.   Central Coast Heritage Protection Act Introduced
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN OTHER NEWS
8.     ALASKA: U.S. Senate’s Budget Resolution Allows
           For Possible Drilling in the Arctic Refuge and More
9.     ALASKA: Road through Wilderness in Izembek NWR
10.   ARIZONA: Grand Canyon Confluence Tramway Project Killed
11.   OREGON: Penalties for 2 Defendants in Malheur NWR Takeover
12.   UTAH: Recapture Canyon ATV Protest Conviction Upheld

IN MEMORIAM
13.   The Colorado River’s Katie Lee

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

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

IN UTAH
1.   Administration Announces Plans to Shrink
          Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante
          National Monuments
          (ACTION ITEM)

On Friday, October 27, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) announced that the President told him, “I’m approving the Bears Ears recommendation for you, Orrin,” after having met with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke that morning. No solid details were revealed, and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at a press briefing that the President would be traveling to Utah in December and would make an announcement then, if not before.

Sen. Hatch said in a statement:

I was incredibly grateful the President called this morning to let us know that he is approving Secretary Zinke’s recommendation on Bears Ears. We believe in the importance of protecting these sacred antiquities, but Secretary Zinke and the Trump administration rolled up their sleeves to dig in, talk to locals, talk to local tribes, and find a better way to do it. We’ll continue to work closely with them moving forward to ensure Utahns have a voice.

This is an “alternative fact,” of course, since it was the tribes who proposed the monument in the first place. Although some individuals within the tribes opposed the monuments, their governing bodies were almost unanimous in support of the monument through the Inter-Tribal Coalition.

To add irony to the announcement, it was made on the 159th birthday of Pres. Theodore Roosevelt, who designated the first national monuments, and whom Secty. Zinke claims as a role model.

Earlier in the week, 14 Democratic senators led by Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the lead sponsor of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, sent the President a letter urging him not to make any changes to either monument. It appears they’ve been ignored.

Aside from Utah politicians, who were generally pleased, the reaction has been negative across the country. The announcement was not unexpected, though, since the draft report was leaked, as we reported last month. (And don’t forget, the review was tainted from the very beginning, when the President said in announcing it that the designation of Bears Ears “should never have happened.”)

Call the White House and Interior Department and object before any final recommendations are made.

White House comment line:   202-456-1111

Interior Department comment line:   202-208-3100

Also call your Representative in the House and Sens. Feinstein & Harris:

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

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

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

And, please, write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, too.

California’s Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-47), lead sponsor of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, issued a statement “Blast[ing] Trump Administration Decision To Downsize National Monuments.”

CalUWild Advisory Board Member Stephen Trimble wrote this op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune: Mr. President, it’s not too late to save Bears Ears

Our friends at the Center for Western Priorities wrote this about the announcement: Trying to shrink Bears Ears, Trump makes it clear whose heritage he cares about.

In a more general vein, an article was published in Men’s Journal: Meet the Woman Who Knows Bears Ears Best and a reply appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune: No, that trail-runner in ‘Men’s Journal’ does not know Bears Ears ‘better than anyone living or dead’

The Los Angeles Times published an article on paleontology at Grand Staircase- Escalante NM: Remarkable dinosaur discoveries under threat with Trump plan to shrink national monument in Utah, scientists say

Since no formal action has been taken, such as issuing an executive order, no legal action can be taken at this time. But you can be certain that lawyers for the Indian Tribes and conservation organizations are preparing their arguments. We will keep you posted as developments arise.

In the meantime, speak up as often as you can in support of our public lands. And get your friends involved, too!
 

IN GENERAL
2.   Rep. Rob Bishop Introduces a Bill
          To Completely Gut the Antiquities Act
          (ACTION ITEM)

On October 6, Utah Rep. Rob Bishop (R), Chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, introduced H.R.3990, the disingenuously titled National Monument Creation and Protection Act. On October 11, just five days later, the bill was passed out of the Committee on a party-line vote of 23-17. No vote has been scheduled in the full House, and there is no companion bill in the Senate.

Mr. Bishop has long been an opponent of the Antiquities Act of 1906, the law giving presidents the authority to designate object of historic or scientific interest as national monuments. (Courts have ruled that large landscapes, such as the Grand Canyon, qualify as objects of scientific interest under the Act.) Mr. Bishop was widely quoted as saying in 2015: “If anyone here likes the Antiquities Act the way it is written, die. I mean, stupidity out of the gene pool. It is the most evil act ever invented.” So it’s not at all surprising that he introduced this bill, which would:

–   Limit monuments to man-made objects and exclude natural or scientific objects.

–   Require approval by the county, state legislature, and governor, in the locale where a monument is designated, if it is larger than 85,000 acres.

–   Require environmental review for any designation larger than 640 acres.

–   Allow a subsequent president to shrink a previously-designated monument.

Mr. Bishop’s bill is completely contrary to the entire history and use of the Antiquities Act, which has been used by 16 presidents of both parties. The very first national monument, designated by Pres. Theodore Roosevelt, was Devils Tower in Wyoming in 1906. It’s a geological feature, not man-made, so it wouldn’t qualify. Four of Utah’s so-called (by the state tourist office) “Mighty Five” national parks, were originally national monuments, but wouldn’t qualify, since they are landscapes. In the draft monument review memo leaked in September, Secty. Zinke proposed the creation of a new Badger-Two Medicine monument in Montana. But at 130,000 acres, it wouldn’t qualify, either. In fact, estimates are that more than 150 present-day monuments would not qualify under Mr. Bishop’s bill.

Please contact your Congressional Representatives and Senators to oppose this bill. Defeating it is as critical to the future of our public lands as defeating the monuments review. (See links in Item 1.)

Press reaction was overwhelmingly negative. Here are just four examples:

A Los Angeles Times editorial: Land-grabbing Republican lawmakers are trying to gut the Antiquities Act. Don’t let them

The Harvard Crimson weighed in: Ecologically Critical National Monument Lands are Under Attack

An article in The Guardian: Is Congress about to wreck the Grand Canyon and other national park treasures?

Showing how broadly the debate has spread, here’s an article from Scientific American: Conservative Hunters and Fishers May Help Determine the Fate of National Monuments

Largely forgotten has been the concurrent review of the marine national monuments being undertaken by the Administration. Reports are that a report has been delivered to the White House, but so far there has been no information forthcoming (i.e., no leaks). The New York Times did run an article this week on those monuments, though: Loss of Federal Protections May Imperil Pacific Reefs, Scientists Warn. It has some wonderful underwater pictures, maps, and information.
 

3.   Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke
          Proposes Huge Increases
          In National Park Entrance Fees
          COMMENT DEADLINE: November 23
          (ACTION ITEM)

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke ignited a firestorm in mid-October when he proposed raising entrance fees to 17 of the most popular national parks to as much as $70 for a private vehicle, $50 for a motorcycle, and $30 for a person on foot or bicycle. The higher fees would be in effect during the five heaviest visitation months for each park, i.e., generally summer vacation for most Americans. According to Mr. Zinke, the fees collected, estimated at $70 million a year, would go toward reducing the backlog of infrastructure projects in the various parks.

The parks affected would be: Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Denali, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Olympic, Sequoia and Kings Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Zion national parks with peak season starting on May 1, 2018; Acadia, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, and Shenandoah National Parks with peak season starting on June 1, 2018; and Joshua Tree National Park as soon as practicable in 2018.

That reasoning is a stretch for a few reasons: First, the Interior Department has already proposed reducing its budget by several hundred million dollars for the next year. This would simply transfer a small portion of that decrease onto visitors. Secondly, the backlog is estimated to be close to 11 billion dollars; in other words, it’s a drop in the bucket. And finally, the cost of the “America the Beautiful” annual pass, allowing entrance to all national parks and fee areas, will remain at $80 per year. It is not at all clear that people would pay the single-entry fee every time they visited a park. (Skeptics are already saying that this will soon lead to a huge increase in the price of the annual pass, as well.)

Reaction was swift and almost unanimously negative. 12 Democratic senators, including California’s Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, sent a letter to Mr. Zinke objecting. The letter raises another point:

[A]t the same time as you propose to significantly raise fees for national park visitors, you have reversed efforts to charge fair market value for commercial development of resources on public lands. For example, in August the (Interior) Department repealed the Valuation Rule, allowing private companies to exploit valuation loopholes and ensuring that the American public is denied their fair share of the sale of publicly-owned resources. The administration should stop subsidizing oil, gas, and coal companies for the exploitation of public resources and instead work to ensure that taxpayers receive a fair value for the commercial use and development of public resources.

The Washington Post had at least two commentaries, the first on its Wonkblog: The Park Service’s proposal to double entry fees could fix its maintenance problem 161 years from now and the second, an op-ed making the important point that at a time when we’re trying to expand the attractiveness of the parks to communities who haven’t traditionally visited them Making national parks more expensive will only make them whiter.

Related commentary in The Guardian: National parks for all: that’s a populist cry we need

We do not need to have our national parks turned into gated communities!

The Interior Department is collecting comments through November 23 on the Park Planning website here. Click on the “Comment Now” button.

MoveOn.org has a petition to sign if you’re inclined, though a phone call to the Interior Department (see Item 1) is probably better.

Please thank Sens. Feinstein and Harris for signing the letter. (Contact info in Item 1.)

We’ll see if Mr. Zinke pays any more attention to the comments received this time than he did on the monuments review, where 99% recommended no changes to any of them.
 

4.   Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke
          Continues to Cause Controversy

The Secretary and the Interior Department continue to be in the headlines on multiple fronts. However, there have been no developments in the controversy over his use of private jets to travel, which we reported on last month. Rather than go into detail on each, I’ll post articles from the press ; the headlines pretty much speak for themselves.

We wrote in the September Update (Item 2) about Joel Clement, an upper level employee transferred from his science position to accounting. He resigned at the beginning of October. Here is more background:

An article in High Country News: What’s driving an Interior whistleblower to dissent?

An article in the Washington Post: Interior Department whistleblower resigns, calling Ryan Zinke’s leadership a failure. You may read his letter of resignation here.

Articles in the Washington Post:

Secretary Zinke gets four Pinocchios for obscuring reality about American energy production

Notes from closed meeting show how Interior aims to weaken environmental laws

Where’s Zinke? The interior secretary’s special flag offers clues.

Small Montana firm lands Puerto Rico’s biggest contract to get the power back on. Secty. Zinke, whose hometown is Whitefish, Montana, has denied any connection to the contract, calling it “fake news.” It turns out that the major investor in the firm, Whitefish Energy, is a large contributor to GOP politicians, including the current Energy Secretary Rick Perry, the former governor of Texas. The contract was just cancelled and various investigations have been requested, reported here in The Hill: Democrats call for investigation into Puerto Rico utility deal.

An article in Politico: Zinke funneled millions to questionable PACs

An article in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle: U.S. Senate candidate charged with nine Montana hunting violations. Secty Zinke’s wife is the chair of the campaign.

Meet the Interior Department official who wants to give away America’s public lands: By giving Todd Wynn a job, Ryan Zinke shows his true colors
 

5.   Great Old Broads for Wilderness
          Annual Auction
          Through November 12

Our sister organization is having its annual fundraising auction. You can find all sorts of fun and interesting items: artwork, books, meals, weekend stays, guided trips, and more—for yourself or to give— at http://auction.greatoldbroads.org.

Check it out!
 

IN CALIFORNIA
6.   Conglomerate Mesa Proposed Wilderness Area
          Under Threat of Gold Mining
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINE: November 20
          (ACTION ITEM)

Information in this item comes from our friends at Friends of the Inyo and the California Wilderness Coalition.

Conglomerate Mesa is a wild roadless area on the east edge of the Owens Valley, near Owens Lake and just north of the Malpais Wilderness. The Bureau of Land Management manages it, and last year it was designated as California Desert National Conservation Land. A Canadian mining company would like to conduct exploratory drilling for gold.

The BLM lays out four options for this proposal:

•   no-action
•   construction of an overland route
•   opening a previously closed mining route, or
•   a helicopter access alternative

Please write the BLM requesting it adopt the “no-action” option and deny any permitting whatsoever for this project. Pick several of the following talking points and put them in your own words. And if you’ve been in the area, be sure to mention that, too. (And if you haven’t, here’s a chance to learn about a new place.)

•   Conglomerate Mesa is a spectacular wilderness quality landscape of Joshua Tree and Pinyon woodland with elevations ranging from 3,800 to 7,100 ft. From the top of the mesa, visitors can see expansive views of multiple wilderness areas, Owens Lake, the glittering Sierra Nevada and into the expanses of Saline Valley and Death Valley National Park.

•   The area is a proposed wilderness addition to the Malpais Mesa Wilderness directly south of the project area.

•   Conglomerate Mesa is the first roadless area in California under threat of development by the Trump Administration. The BLM is proposing to allow SSR Mining Inc. to drill seven exploratory sites to locate gold deposits in the heart of the roadless area.

•   The ultimate objective of the project is an industrial-scale open pit (cyanide heap leach) gold mine. Such an operation would permanently damage the area’s wild character, degrade wildlife habitat, and pollute scarce local water systems. It’s well documented that cyanide heap leaching poses significant hazards to plants and animals from gold mining and related toxic water issues.

•   Local tribes oppose the project as the mesa is an important tribal site for traditional uses.

•   The historic Keeler-Death Valley trail, circa late 1800s, traverses the north end of Conglomerate Mesa and should be preserved for its cultural and historic significance.

•   Multiple special status and rare plant species are found within the proposed project area and will be harmed by drilling. The area provides habitat for rare plants like the Inyo rock daisy, as well as key species including bobcats, Mojave Ground Squirrels, Townsend’s Western Big-eared bats, Golden Eagles, Mule deer and mountain lions.

•   The area is prized locally for deer hunting.

•   The area is also rich in heritage resources including the remains of charcoal and stone masonry sites used in the late 1800’s to supply the Cerro Gordo mine.

•   Each year, millions of visitors come to experience the public lands of the Eastern Sierra and National Parks such as Death Valley. Fully protecting Conglomerate Mesa is key to the protecting our local tourism and recreation economies. These industries present increasing opportunities for gateway communities such as Lone Pine and Olancha.

•   Conglomerate Mesa is geologically significant, providing an unusually complete record that is key to unraveling the evolution of the continental edge of the southwestern US during the Permian and early Triassic periods (c. 247-300 million years ago). Several strata contain fossils (fusulinids, a type of plankton with calcite casings, and corals) that accurately date them. Some of the fusulinids are found only in the Conglomerate Mesa area. This record would be destroyed forever by open-pit mining and cannot be made right through back filling or reclamation.

•   Tourism and recreation remain the primary driver of Inyo County’s economy: total direct travel spending in the desert region in 2013 reached $6.2 billion. While mining comprises only 3% of employment in Inyo County, industries that include travel and tourism comprise 33%.

•   Mining operations are likely to provide only short-term local revenue and employment but lasting environmental damage that will not only scar the land and pollute our water, but also degrade Inyo County’s reputation as a scenic, outdoor recreation destination.

•   The BLM needs to fulfill its promise to protect the California Desert National Conservation Lands by choosing the “no action” alternative.

Remind BLM that protecting roadless, wild areas significantly improves the quality of our soils, drinking water, and air. They provide refuge for the wildlife that have been forced out of their natural habitat by development or climate change as well as corridors to other lands where they can thrive.

Also remind BLM that tourism and recreation remain the biggest drivers of Inyo County’s economy. When supporters of projects like this claim that they will bring new jobs, the comparison is weak when you consider that extractive projects often only supply short-term employment for a small number of people (only 13 in this case). In contrast, recreation is a growing industry that reflects local character and will stick around to help build communities in the long run.

Don’t let the floodgates open for more attacks on wilderness-quality lands in California. Tell BLM that Inyo County depends more on intact, healthy landscapes than compromised, hollowed-out ones.

You can read the Draft Environmental Assessment here.

Comments may be submitted:

via Email:   rporter [at] blm [dot] gov

by Fax:   760-384-5499

by U.S. Mail:

Attn: Mr. Randall Porter
Ridgecrest Field Office
300 S. Richmond Road
Ridgecrest, CA 93555

or via the BLM ePlanning website

Again, the deadline for submitting comments is November 20.
 

7.   Central Coast Heritage Protection Act Introduced
          (ACTION ITEM)

And now for some good news.

In mid-October, Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-24) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D) jointly introduced the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act. The bill would designate almost 250,000 acres of wilderness in the Los Padres National Forest and in the Carrizo Plain National Monument. It also establishes the Condor National Recreation Trail, running from Los Angeles to Monterey, a distance of almost 400 miles.

In the House, Reps. Julia Brownley (D-26) and Jimmy Panetta (D-20) are original co-sponsors of the bill, H.R. 4072. Los Padres NF is partly in their districts as well.

In the Senate, Dianne Feinstein is an original cosponsor and the bill number is S. 1959.

Please thank any and all of these legislators for their support of new wilderness in California! (See Item 1.)
 

IN OTHER NEWS

There have been developments regarding a few topics we’ve covered over the years. In the interest of saving space, here are press articles relating to them.
 

8.   ALASKA: U.S. Senate’s Budget Resolution Allows
           For Possible Drilling in the Arctic Refuge and More

An op-ed in the New York Times by renowned wildlife biologist George Schaller and Martin Robards: Protect Alaska’s Last Great Wilderness From Oil Drilling

From the Center for Western Priorities: The Senate just quietly opened the door for a massive sell-off of American public lands
 

9.   ALASKA: Road through Wilderness in Izembek National Wildlife Refuge

A Washington Post article: Interior looks at behind-the-scenes land swap to allow road through wildlife refuge
 

10.   ARIZONA: Grand Canyon Confluence Tramway Project Killed

The Navajo Nation Council voted 16-2 to defeat the proposal. Click here for details.
 

11.   OREGON: Penalties for 2 Defendants in Malheur NWR Takeover

From The Oregonian: Two who dug trenches at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to pay $10,000 each in restitution
 

12.   UTAH: Recapture Canyon ATV Protest Conviction Upheld

A Salt Lake Tribune article: Appeals court upholds conviction of San Juan Commissioner Phil Lyman for leading protest ATV ride
 

IN MEMORIAM
13.   The Colorado River’s Katie Lee

Just as this Update was being finished up, the sad news came in that Katie Lee, an actress in films and on radio, singer, and author, but most of all, a stalwart lover of the Colorado River in Glen Canyon, died October 31 at her home in Arizona at the age of 98. The Verde, Arizona, Independent published a lengthy article about her, with many details of her long and interesting life: Arizona icon, Jerome’s Katie Lee, dies at age 98

It’s worth reading, as are her books, especially All My Rivers Are Gone. Anyone who met Katie will remember the occasion. She will be missed.
 

IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
14.   Links to Articles 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.

There’s enough serious reading included this month, so we’ll include just two articles of slightly more general interest from the New York Times:

Measuring noise levels in the national parks: It’s One of North America’s Quietest Places. Along Came a Bear.

In Northern Minnesota, Two Economies Square Off: Mining vs. Wilderness

 
 
 
 
 
 

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2017 August

September 6th, 2017


Yosemite Wildfires, August 2017                                                                                                      (Mike Painter)

 
September 5, 2017

Dear CalUWild friends—

Technical difficulties, holidays, and heat delayed this issue of the Update, but we hope you’ll take a few minutes to make a couple of calls on behalf of wild places. As always, full details are included.

As we mentioned last month, the 4th Visions of the Wild Festival, Changing Landscapes, takes place starting Wednesday evening of this week in Vallejo, running through Sunday, September 9. All events— art exhibitions at several Vallejo galleries, lectures, films, a chalk art festival, and field trips—are FREE. Details for all activities and events may be found on the Festival homepage.

It being September now, many of our parks and public lands aren’t quite as crowded as during the height of Summer (though that’s been changing in recent years). Temperatures may be a bit lower, too, making it a good time to get away outdoors.

 
Thanks for your enthusiasm for our wilderness and public lands!
Mike

 
IN GENERAL
1.   No Final Word on the Administration’s
          National Monuments Review
          Proposed California Project Needs Opposition
          (ACTION ITEMS)
2.   Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act
          Poses Threat to Wilderness Lands
          (ACTION ITEM)

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

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

IN GENERAL
1.   No Final Word on the Administration’s
          National Monuments Review
          Proposed California Project Needs Opposition
          (ACTION ITEMS)

August 24, the deadline for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s national monuments review, has come and gone, and there is no final news about the fate of those 27 national monuments. The report has reportedly been delivered to the White House, but nothing about it has been made public.

It turns out that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was on vacation in the Mediterranean with his wife the week before the report was supposed to be completed, so it is likely that Deputy Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, a former lobbyist for extractive industries, was responsible for it.

We do know, however, that more than 2.7 million comments were sent in by concerned citizens across the country, and 99% of them stated that the monuments should be completely left alone.

Unfortunately, Secty. Zinke has handled the whole review like a reality television show, letting out dribs and drabs of information. This began with a preliminary report on Bears Ears, recommending that it be shrunk, but with no other details. Reports are that he might propose a 90% reduction! He also announced at times over the course of the review that there would be no changes to the following monuments:

Canyons of the Ancients (Colorado)
Craters of the Moon (Idaho)
Grand Canyon-Parashant (Arizona)
Hanford Reach (Washington)
Sand to Snow (California)
Upper Missouri Breaks (Montana)

On the face of it, this seems like good news, but the point to remember is that the entire review was a sham and unnecessary. An attack on one monument is an attack on all.

Right now, it seems the best thing to do is to inundate the White House and Congress with comments supporting leaving the national monuments as they are—no changes!

Online comment page here.
Comments by phone: 202-456-1111
By U.S. Mail:

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Follow the links here for contact information for the Senate and here for the House.

We mentioned in last month’s Update that Secty. Zinke faced criticism and calls for an investigation into threats he made to Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) regarding Interior Department policy toward Alaska should she vote against repealing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). The threats did no good, as she voted not to repeal the law.

The Interior Department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) called off the investigation when Sens. Murkowski and Dan Sullivan (R-AK) both declined to take part in it. “OIG does not believe that it could meaningfully investigate the matter further,” the office wrote, and “further investigation would prove unproductive.”

Sen. Murkowski and Secty. Zinke seem to have “made up;” they were photographed sharing a beer.

The Mojave Trails National Monument in California is under particular threat because of the proposed Cadiz water project. This would pump ground water from an aquifer adjoining the monument, and many scientists and others are concerned that it would severely alter the ecology of the area, which also includes the Mojave National Preserve and Joshua Tree National Park.

There is a bill in the California legislature right now, AB 1000, expressing opposition to the project, but a vote is being held up by the State Senate and Assembly. Sen. Feinstein, Gov. Brown, and Lt. Governor Newsom all support the legislation, in addition to all conservation groups in the state.

Please call and ask for the release from suspense of AB 1000 for a vote before the September 15 deadline. Contact:

State Senator Kevin de Leon
Speaker Pro Tempore
Capitol:   916-651-4024
Los Angeles   213-483-9300

State Senator Ricardo Lara
Capitol:   916-651-4033
Huntington Park:   323-277-4560
Long Beach: 562-256-7921

The Palm Springs Desert Sun had a comprehensive article about the issue, with beautiful pictures: Shrink this national monument in the Mojave Desert? Conservationists are appalled

 
Nationally, the press has spoken out almost uniformly in favor of leaving the national monuments alone. Here are just a few:

An op-ed in the Washington Post: Trump’s chilling contempt for future generations

Two articles in Outside: Four Lies We’ve Been Told About National Monuments and How Ryan Zinke Really Stacks Up to Teddy Roosevelt: American cowboy or posturing Trump enforcer?

In the Houston Chronicle, an op-ed by Theodore Roosevelt’s great-grandson: Roosevelt IV: Interior secretary must defend public lands

An op-ed in High Country News by outdoors writer Ted Williams: Hey hunters, don’t vote against protecting public lands: Hunting and angling groups said Trump would represent their interests—but they were wrong

 
2.   Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act
          Poses Threat to Wilderness Lands
          (ACTION ITEM)

The following comes from our friends at Wilderness Watch. Please contact your senators and representatives to oppose this proposal, even at the draft stage.

 
A new analysis by Wilderness Watch calls the discussion draft of the “Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act of 2017” nothing more than a thinly disguised measure to gut the 1964 Wilderness Act and the protections afforded to every unit of America’s 110 million-acre National Wilderness Preservation System.

The analysis corresponds with a leaked memo McClatchy obtained and reported on last week that found the Trump Administration has so far prevented the National Park Service from voicing its serious concerns over the National Rifle Association (NRA)-backed SHARE Act. When the Park Service shared such concerns in a memo to the Department of Interior (DOI), the DOI responded by crossing out the Park Service’s comments, and the agency was told not to go to Congress.

The SHARE Act would give hunting, fishing, recreational shooting, and state fish and wildlife agency goals top priority in Wilderness, rather than protecting the areas’ wilderness character, as has been the case for over 50 years.

The SHARE Act would allow endless, extensive habitat manipulations in Wilderness under the guise of “wildlife conservation” and for providing hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting experiences. The Act would also allow the construction of “temporary” roads in protected Wilderness areas to facilitate such uses and would allow the construction of dams, buildings, or other structures within Wildernesses.

“Taken in combination, the provisions in the SHARE Act would completely undermine the protections that wilderness designation should provide, and dramatically weaken wilderness conservation for the entire 110 million-acre National Wilderness Preservation System. These wilderness provisions in the SHARE Act must not be enacted into law,” explained Kevin Proescholdt, Conservation Director for Wilderness Watch.

The discussion draft of the SHARE Act was scheduled for a legislative hearing on June 14, 2017, but was canceled due to a shooting before the Congressional softball game.

The SHARE Act would also exempt road, dam, and building projects within protected Wilderness areas from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)—eliminating critical environmental analysis of potential impacts and alternatives, and public comment and involvement.

“Sadly, the SHARE Act would eviscerate the letter, spirit, and fundamental ideals expressed in the Wilderness Act,” said Wilderness Watch Executive Director George Nickas. “While the Wilderness Act prohibits the use of motorized vehicles or equipment and the building of roads and other structures, the SHARE Act essentially throws Wilderness areas wide open to motorized use by agency managers and a nearly unlimited variety of wilderness-damaging manipulations and developments. Make no mistake—Wilderness as we know it will cease to exist if the SHARE Act becomes law.”

 
IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
3.   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.

Several Bundy Family-related articles:

The latest verdict from Nevada for some of the participants in the ranch standoff: No Guilty Verdicts in Bundy Ranch Standoff Trial. Cliven Bundy and his sons still face trial in October on charges related to that standoff.

High Country News article: At Bundy Ranch trial, questions on guns and violence

In the New Yorker: Why the Bundys and Their Heavily Armed Supporters Keep Getting Away with It

Oregon Public Broadcasting: Travis Cox Sentenced For Role In Malheur Occupation

Other public lands articles:

From the New York Times: Let Forest Fires Burn? What the Black-Backed Woodpecker Knows

From the Los Angeles Times: China’s Gobi Desert feeds Yosemite National Park’s forest, study says

From the Washington Post: Cecil Andrus, defender of Alaska’s wilderness as Carter’s interior secretary, dies at 85

Also from the Washington Post: National parks put a ban on bottled water to ease pollution. Trump just sided with the lobby that fought it.

 
 
 
 
 
 

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2017 July

August 5th, 2017

Henry David Thoreau, whose birth bicentennial was celebrated July 12th               (U.S. Postal Service)

 
August 2, 2017

Dear CalUWild friends —

It’s summertime, so everything has slowed down a bit, including the writing of the Update for July. As you’ll see from the several items that just came in today, things are moving fast and furiously these days. Fortunately, though there is much to report on, there is nothing with too much deadline pressure.

As anyone who follows things knows, the political situation in Washington is getting more complicated and worrisome by the day, including on the environmental front. In addition to the ongoing national monument review we been writing about the last few months, there are rollbacks and budget cuts both planned and underway. But as we just saw last week with the health care debate, not everything proposed by either the administration or Congress gets through.

The reason is simple: Endless pressure, endlessly applied. That is the secret to effective citizen involvement.

We will need to keep the pressure up going forward if we want to protect our wilderness, national monuments, and other public lands. The best ways to do this are: Write or call your elected representatives; submit comments to agencies; and write letters to the editors of your local papers and comment to online articles.

But, don’t forget to take some time to get out and enjoy some of these places we’re working so hard to protect.

 
We’re happy to announce that Dan Gluesenkamp, Ph.D., Executive Director of the California Native Pant Society (CNPS), has joined CalUWild’s Advisory Board. We’ve known Dan and worked with him for many years as he worked with several conservation organizations. He brings a lot of knowledge, fresh ideas, and enthusiasm to everything he does. We look forward to having his further involvement with CalUWild, and us with CNPS. Welcome, Dan!

 
And as always, thank you for your continued interest and support,
Mike

 
IN GENERAL
1.   National Monuments & Marine Sanctuaries Review and More;
          Volunteers Needed to Help Tabulate Comments
          Comment Deadline Extended: August 15
          (ACTION ITEM)
2.    Public Lands Senior Pass: Huge Price Increase
          Deadline: August 27
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
3.   State Legislation
          a.   The Public Lands Protection Act
          b.   Off-Highway Vehicle Modernization & Reform
                 (ACTION ITEMS)
4.   Visions of the Wild Festival: Changing Landscapes
          Downtown Vallejo & Beyond
          September 6-10
5.   Bodie Stewardship Day
          Saturday, August 5

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

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

IN GENERAL
1.   National Monuments & Marine Sanctuaries Review and More;
          Volunteers Needed to Help Tabulate Comments
          Comment Deadline Extended: August 15
          (ACTION ITEM)

The comment period for the land-based national monuments review has closed. Conservation groups are reporting that people submitted nearly 2.7 million individual comments through the regulations.gov website. The Department of the Interior said there were far fewer (1.4 million) because it counted multiple comments as one, if they were submitted in a bundle with other comments by an organization or for other reasons.

Regardless of the count, preliminary analysis by the Center for Western Priorities indicates that 98% of the commenters supported leaving all monuments as they were designated. Only 1% favored shrinking any. 88% of the commenters identified as being from Utah supported leaving the Bears Ears National Monument alone.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has not announced any final decision with regard to the Bears Ears. He has, however, announced that he will not recommend any changes to Canyons of the Ancients in Colorado, Craters of the Moon in Idaho, and Hanford Reach in Washington would not be modified. And just today, he announced that he will not recommend modifying Upper Missouri Breaks in his home state of Montana.

Mr. Zinke has visited the Cascade-Siskiyou in Oregon and California and the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and Rio Grande del Norte in New Mexico. Last weekend, he visited Gold Butte and Basin & Range monuments in Nevada. As with his visit to Utah, Mr. Zinke’s Nevada visit was criticized for consisting of meetings mostly with monument opponents, though rancher Cliven Bundy’s wife complained that she wasn’t allowed to meet with him, either, though their ranch is adjacent to Gold Butte, which is where their cattle are trespassing.

August 24 is the date on which final recommendations are due, though they may come earlier, and we’re gearing up for any possible result. If the Administration follows the overwhelming sentiment of the comments submitted, it will simply say: “We’re leaving everything alone. The public has spoken.” From what we’ve seen so far, though, this is unlikely to happen.

 
The Interior Department also announced that the review of the marine national monuments originally begun along with the land-based monuments would be combined with another, similar review of expansions to national marine sanctuaries undertaken by the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The comment deadline for the monuments now coincides with that for the sanctuaries and has also been extended to August 15. Many people fear that the administration is looking to open the coasts to further oil & gas drilling.

Included in that list are four along the California coast:

Channel Islands
Cordell Bank
Greater Farallones
Monterey Bay

We strongly oppose any modification to any of these. All protect areas of great biodiversity and enjoy great local support. They were all approved with substantial opportunities for public input and comment.

Please submit comments via the Regulations website.

As always, including personal thoughts and experiences is best.

Again, the deadline for comments is August 15.

 
This came in from the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance as I was finishing the Update:

 
Here is a terrific hands-on way to help defend Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante and many more monuments across the country — volunteer to help analyze public input on Trump’s monument review.

The goal here is to ensure that the Trump administration does not misrepresent the truth about the overwhelming level of public support for protecting national monuments. The analysis that you would be part of will produce a report that honestly reviews the 2.7 million public comments submitted in response to Trump’s monument review, accurately summarizing things like the total number of comments, the percent supportive, geographic and issue breakdowns and other relevant information. This report is crucial to holding Trump and Zinke accountable.

Here are the two ways you can help.

FIRST: Volunteer to help a third party firm (Key-Log Economics) hired by the Wilderness Society conduct the review of the 2.7 million comments.  Much of the firm’s review will be accomplished with computer algorithms, etc., but the firm needs additional human power to complete some tasks.
•         To help out :    General Volunteer Registration
•         After you sign up, you will receive an email with instructions.
•         The email will come from team@keylogeconomics.com. If you don’t receive the email within 5 minutes of signing up, please check your spam filters.
•         The email will include a link to a brief video with step-by-step instructions. You can view the video here
•         In the email, it will include a link to the “Comment Review form from this link” — this is the form where you will submit your response. The email will also include a link to the comment for you to review.
•         Once you complete your first comment you will receive a link to review a second and so on. You can stop and restart at any time by following the instructions in your email.

SECOND: In addition, there is a need to review technical comments and those with attachments.
•         To learn more and register to help with this task, go to Expert Reviewer Registration

Thanks everyone!  And thanks to the Wilderness Society who has initiated this review and who will be sharing it with all of us working to defend monuments across the country.

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

Please help out if you can!

 
Interior Secretary Zinke found himself in hot water this last week over a phone conversation he had with Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) during the run-up to the health care votes last week. He threatened that the Administration might go against some of her proposals for road construction and oil & gas exploration in Alaska if she didn’t support the efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The threats didn’t work, because as everyone knows by now, she was one of three GOP senators to vote against the repeal.

What Mr. Zinke didn’t seem to take into account is that Sen. Murkowski is the chair of the Senate Energy and Environment Committee, as well as chair of its Appropriations Subcommittee. In other words, she oversees his department. Ms. Murkowski immediately delayed confirmation hearings on three Interior Department appointments, though she denied that was retaliatory.

There are calls for investigation into Mr. Zinke’s call, as the law prohibits Administration officials from lobbying Congress, particularly in areas outside their purview. While in Nevada last weekend, when a reporter said that his comments had been characterized as threats, Mr. Zinke said: “Uh, you know, the moon has been characterized as those things, too. So, I think it’s laughable.”

The moon … ?

 
There has been a lot of coverage in the press on the national monuments review and other public lands issues. Here is a heavy sampling:

The New York Times had three articles in its Travel section:

At Bears Ears in Utah, Heated Politics and Precious Ruins

At Berryessa National Monument, Wildflowers and Rebirth

In Gold Butte in Nevada, Ancient Rock Art and Rugged Beauty

An article in the Washington Post: Why Americans are fighting over a gorgeous monument called Bears Ears

The Salt Lake Tribune reports on former Interior Secretary Jewell jumping into the fray at the Outdoor Retailers show: Ex-Interior Secretary calls move to shrink Bears Ears illegal, on “the wrong side of history’

A New York Times article: A Call to Activism for Outdoor Apparel Makers

More from the Times: As Interior Secretary Swaggers Through Parks, His Staff Rolls Back Regulations

An article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal: Zinke caps review of Nevada monuments with Bunkerville visit

An article in High Country News regarding a speech by Secty. Zinke: The Interior secretary gave a closed-door speech to ALEC

This has to be a “first” for Utah’s governor, an article in the Salt Lake Tribune: Herbert asking BLM to ‘re-evaluate’ oil and gas leasing near Dinosaur National Monument.

Last week, the Senate confirmed David Bernhardt as Deputy Interior Secretary by a vote of 53-43. The Washington Post reported that he was confirmed

despite recent claims that he continued to represent a client as a lobbyist after his registration was deactivated. … Democrats called Bernhardt a “walking conflict of interest” for his previous lobbying work for energy interests, but Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) called the choice “excellent” because of his “extensive experience and knowledge of issues that are important to Alaskans and western states.”

Full story here.

High Country News had an article looking at the management history of Grand Staircase-Escalante NM: How Grand Staircase-Escalante was set up to fail.

And this just in today: Backcountry Hunters & Anglers has started an ad campaign aimed at the national monuments review and Mr. Zinke. First up, a 30-second TV spot wondering “What happened to Ryan Zinke?”. It’s a question many people are asking.

 
2.    Public Lands Senior Pass: Huge Price Increase
          Deadline: August 27
          (ACTION ITEM)

The price for the lifetime Senior Pass, covering entrance fees to federal lands, will jump from $10 to $80 on August 28. The pass is available to all US citizens and permanent residents age 62 and over, with proof of age and residency. Passes may be purchased in person, online, or by mail.

Click here for a listing by state of the numerous sites around the country selling the pass.

For online purchases, click here. USGS is reporting a 12-week backlog issuing passes (a good sign that demand is high), and they recommend buying in person. However, purchase confirmations will be honored until your pass arrives.

By mail, click here for a form. Your application must be postmarked August 27 or before.

NOTE: Online and “by mail” applications are subject to an additional $10 processing fee, bringing the total to $20.

A new $20 Senior Annual Pass will also be available. Buy four in a row and you can turn them in for a lifetime pass.

For more information on the various passes issued by the land management agencies, click here.

 
IN CALIFORNIA
3.   State Legislation
       (ACTION ITEMS)

CalUWild doesn’t often get involved in state legislative issues—the myriad federal issues keep us more than busy enough—but there are a couple of current bills that you should know about and support. Both of the following are headed to the Assembly, first to the Appropriations Committee and then the full chamber. Please contact the Committee members and your own representative to support both bills. You can do it with one phone call or message on their website.

          a.   The Public Lands Protection Act

After the last presidential election, California was quick to strongly assert its leadership on many environmental and other social and economic issues. In February, a trio of bills under the mantle of “Preserve California” was introduced in the California State Senate.

Because it deals with potential federal land transfers or sales, CalUWild has an interest in SB 50, The Public Lands Protection Act, introduced by Sen. Ben Allen (D-26). This measure establishes a new state policy to discourage conveyances of federal lands to private developers for resource extraction and directs the state Lands Commission to establish a right of first refusal by the state of any federal lands proposed for sale or conveyance to other parties.

In doing so, this measure would ensure (a) that the state reviews any transactions involving federal lands here in California to ensure those lands are protected, and (b) where feasible, important lands are protected via state action.

CalUWild joins Forests Forever and the California Wilderness Coalition (CWC) in supporting SB 50.

High Country News published an article on S.B. 50, extensively quoting our good friend Ryan Henson at CWC: A California counter-attack would ward off land transgfers.

 
The first of the three bills is SB 49, The California Environmental Defense Act, introduced by Sens. Kevin de Leùn (D-24) and Henry Stern (D-27). It makes current federal clean air, climate, clean water, worker safety, and endangered species standards enforceable under state law, even if the federal government rolls back and weakens those standards; Directs state environmental, public health, and worker safety agencies to take all actions within their authorities to ensure standards in effect and being enforced today continue to remain in effect; Federal laws in these areas set “baselines”, but allow states to adopt more stringent standards. This bill simply ensures California does not backslide as a result of rollbacks and damage done by the new regime in Washington DC.

The final bill is SB 51, The Whistleblower and Public Data Protection Act, introduced by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-19). Attorneys, engineers, scientists and other professionals working for federal agencies are often licensed to practice in California. US EPA attorneys and scientists who report cover ups, destruction of information, or other wrongdoing may have federal whistleblower protection but could still lose their professional certifications under California law.

This measure would ensure federal employees do not lose state licensure for revealing violations of law, unethical actions or dangers to public health and safety. It also would direct state environmental and public health agencies to protect any information or data under state law, even if parties in Washington DC order their censorship or destruction. In 2003, the Legislature passed a similar law to provide state whistleblower protections (see AB 2713 of 2002).  That bill was vetoed by then-Governor Schwarzenegger.

For more background about these and other state efforts to “preserve California,” please read the press release from Sen. de Leùn, from which the above descriptions are taken.

CalUWild supports both of these bills as well.

          b.   Off-Highway Vehicle Modernization & Reform

Off-highway vehicle (OHV) abuse has long been a problem on public lands, causing soil erosion, injuring or killing wildlife like the Desert Tortoise, raising dust, and intruding into wilderness. OHV use in California has been exploding, and the state has been unable to keep pace with regulation and restoration. California has an Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission, part of the State Parks Department, which oversees policy and grant funding for managing OHV recreation and restoration programs. The Commission has accumulated a $145 million surplus over the years but has not enforced habitat protection plans or monitored the resources under it jurisdiction.

Sen. Ben Allen (D-26), author of SB 50 (above), with the support of our friends at the California Native Plant Society (CNPS), introduced SB 249 to provide important OHV reform, focusing on three key areas:

1)    Greater Environmental Protection – SB 249 creates improved transparency and implementation of commonsense measures to protect our sensitive cultural and natural resources;

2)   Better Value for Our Dollars — Ensures OHMVR grant funding for federal lands goes toward improved enforcement and restoration; and

3)    Accountable Management – SB 249 clarifies State Parks organizational structure and guarantees transparency.

CalUWild joins CNPS and CWC in supporting S.B. 249.

 
Take action

The Assembly is currently on recess, but will return August 21. The bills will be voted on in committee between then and September 1 before going to the full Assembly. If passed, they go back to the Senate for concurrence and then to the Governor for his signature by September 14.

Members of the Appropriations Committee are:

Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (Chair, D-80)
Frank Bigelow (Vice Chair, R-5)

James Gallagher   (R-3)
Susan Talamantes Eggman   (D-13)
Rob Bonta   (D-18)
Adam Gray   (D-21)
Jay Obernolte   (R-33)
Vince Fong   (R-34)
Raul Bocanegra   (D-39)
Laura Friedman   (D-43)
Eloise Gùmez Reyes   (D-47)
Ed Chau   (D-49)
Richard Bloom   (D-50)
Eduardo Garcia   (D-56)
Ian Calderon   (D-57)
Reginald Jones-Sawyer   (D-59)
William Brough   (R-73)

Contact links for each may be found by clicking on the link in each member’s entry on the main Assemblymembers page. If you’re not sure who your Assmeblymember is, click here.

 
4.   Visions of the Wild Festival: Changing Landscapes
          Downtown Vallejo & Beyond
          September 6-10

What began three years ago as a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act has become an annual event in Vallejo every fall since. CalUWild has continued to work with the U.S. Forest Service Region 5 Office, the Vallejo Community Arts Foundation, and other environment and arts groups to plan this year’s festival. The theme for this year’s festival is “Changing Landscapes” with a look at how various natural and manmade forces affect the world around us.

Events include art exhibitions at several Vallejo galleries, lectures, films, a chalk art festival, field trips, information tables (including CalUWild—please stop by!) and two river cruises, one up the Napa River on Saturday, the other up Carquinez Strait on Sunday, as far as the “Mothball Fleet” in Suisun Bay.

All events are FREE, with the exception of the river cruises. Seating on those is limited to about 33 passengers, and tickets ($45 plus service fee) are sure to sell out quickly. Details for all activities and events may be found on the events page.

Please visit the Visions of the Wild webpage for more information.

 
5.   Bodie Stewardship Day
          Saturday, August 5
          Bodie State Historic Park
          Bridgeport, CA

If you need to make a quick getaway this weekend, consider going to the Eastern Sierra (or if you will be there anyway), where the Bodie Hills Conservation Partnership (BHCP), Friends of the Inyo, Bodie State Park, the BLM Bishop Field Office, and the Bodie Foundation are sponsoring a stewardship day. CalUWild is a member of the BHCP. Here is the announcement:

Join us August 5, 2017 at Bodie State Historic Park to help us steward these amazing public lands and spend a day in the Bodie Hills. We will help care for this unique and special place by removing unnecessary fences that disrupt wildlife movement. Please wear work appropriate clothing including long pants, hat, and closed toed shoes. Tools and gloves will be provided.

Volunteers will get a light breakfast, lunch, raffle prizes and a free entrance day to the park along with a free interpretive tour after lunch.

Meet at the Red Barn at Bodie State Historic Park at 8:30 am on Saturday August 5th.

For more information email: info@friendsoftheinyo.org or april@bodiehills.org or call (760) 873-6500

 
IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
6.   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.

Washington Post articles

An op-ed in the Washington Post: I’m a scientist. I’m blowing the whistle on the Trump administration.

Homeland Security will waive laws to build US border wall

National Parks

An article in the Los Angeles Times: Dark Sky designation puts Joshua Tree National Park in a new light

An article in Yale Environment360: How A Surge in Visitors Is Overwhelming America’s National Parks

Henry David Thoreau

At Walden, Thoreau Wasn’t Really Alone With Nature

An essay in the Book Review section of the New York Times by historian Douglas Brinkley: Thoreau’s Wilderness Legacy, Beyond the Shores of Walden Pond

A book review in the New York Times of a new biography of Henry David Thoreau. Buy from your local bookseller (or available on Amazon).

And yet another angle in the Los Angeles Times: Happy birthday to Henry David Thoreau, a great sleep scholar

The U.S. Postal Service issued a Forever stamp in Thoreau’s honor. (It never showed up at our local post office, but you can buy it online).

An article in High Country News: Bundy supporter gets 68 years

Video link

Episode 24 in the U.S. Forest Service’s Restore series: Culvert and Road Restoration

 
 
 
 
 
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.

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

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