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2020 March

April 1st, 2020

Globe Mallow, Cedar Mesa, Utah                                                                                                              (Mike Painter)

 
March 31, 2020

Dear CalUWild friends—

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

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

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

 
Best wishes,
Mike

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

IN COLORADO
2.   Wilderness Bill Introduced for Southern Colorado

IN IDAHO
3.   Job Opportunity: Western Watersheds Project

IN GENERAL
4.   The Pandemic and Public Lands

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
IN COLORADO
2.   Wilderness Bill Introduced for Southern Colorado

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

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

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

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

 
IN IDAHO
3.   Job Opportunity: Western Watersheds Project

Our friends at Western Watersheds Project are looking for …

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

Full details are on WWP’s website here.

 
IN GENERAL
4.   The Pandemic and Public Lands

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The California Academy of Sciences has Academy @ Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Administration

An article from the New York Times: Coronavirus Doesn’t Slow Trump’s Regulatory Rollbacks, as mentioned in the introduction.

Specifically related to the BLM headquarters move:

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

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

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

Utah

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

The Atlantic published a photo essay on Utah.

Nevada

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

Wyoming

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

Related to Coronavirus and Public Lands

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

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

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

Public Lands in General

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

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

 
 
 
 
 

Support CalUWild!

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

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

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

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

Either way, mail it to:

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

 
 
 

As always, if you ever have questions, suggestions, critiques, or wish to change your e-mail address or unsubscribe, all you have to do is send an email. For membership information, click here.

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

 

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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 June

July 4th, 2018


Mountain Juniper, Yosemite National Park                                                                                                           (Mike Painter)
 

July 2, 2018

Dear CalUWild friends—

There are no new Action Items this month, so this Update consists of links to articles and other items of interest. Some of the subjects are developments in stories we’ve mentioned before, and some are new. However, if you haven’t contacted your representatives or senators in regard to the bad San Rafael Swell/Emery County, Utah bill discussed in last month’s Update (ITEM 1), please do so!

Thanks to those who responded to our announcement last month of the generous offer by Patrick Dengate to contribute half of the proceeds from the sale of his paintings. You can still have the chance to own some nice art and support CalUWild. Click here to see a catalog of paintings or go to Patrick’s website for more. And don’t forget that Margie Lopez Read sells her art solely in support of nonprofit organizations, including CalUWild. Check out her website and contact Margie for more information.
 

Best wishes,
Mike
 

IN UTAH

The biggest news this month was that a Canadian company made several mining claims in an area of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, near Capitol Reef National Park, that was taken out by the administration. It’s not clear yet how big a threat this poses. The BLM has said the area will continue to be managed under the original monument management plan until a new plan is in place. We’ll keep you posted as things develop. Here’s the Salt Lake Tribune’s report: A Canadian firm wants to start mining on Utah lands that used to be part of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

The local politics in San Juan County, where the Bears Ears National Monument is located, are shifting as the result of redrawn districts for local commissioners, following a voting rights lawsuit. Two out of the three districts now have Navajo majorities. An article in Indian Country Today: One election winner this week: Bears Ears

The New York Times published an article today about Arches National Park, containing significant discussion of Edward Abbey and his book Desert Solitaire, which was published 50 years ago: The Balancing Act of Arches

IN CALIFORNIA

Friends of the Inyo has their Summer Events Calendar online. Check it out for hikes, service projects, and other happenings.

An article appeared in the New York Times about the restoration and reopening of the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias in Yosemite National Park: A Renewed View of Some of the World’s Oldest Trees.

Forbes has an article, The Most Beautiful Sunsets In The World, about the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument.

Some promising news in the Los Angeles Times: Born in a zoo, released into the San Gabriels, a rare Los Angeles frog bounces back

Tech arrives at the national parks, as the Los Angeles Times reports: Yosemite now accepts electronic entrance passes that can be scanned from your cellphone

IN THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

The Department of the Interior and Secretary Ryan Zinke continue to be the focus of scrutiny by the press and Congress.

Politico reported in a series of articles on a possible conflict of interest with a proposed commercial development in Whitefish, Montana and foundation run by his wife:

Politico also reported further on the controversy surrounding Secty. Zinke’s purported threats of retaliation against Alaska, attempting to pressure Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R) into voting to repeal Obamacare. Watchdog closes Zinke threat probe, citing lack of cooperation from Interior

In Outside Magazine, an article on the Land & Water Conservation Fund: Ryan Zinke Is Sabotaging Our Best Public Lands Program

Our friends at the Center for Western Priorities detailed misstatements that Secty. Zinke made to the press on a recent trip to his home state of Montana: The biggest whoppers from Ryan Zinke’s softball media tour of Montana

FactCheck.org posted about Secty. Zinke’s claim that the Navajo living near the Bears Ears National Monument “were all in support” of the Administration’s decision to reduce the monument’s size: Navajo Didn’t Support Shrinking Bears Ears

Many in the Interior Department failed to properly fill out conflict of interest forms: These Trump Staffers — Including an ex-NRA Lobbyist — Left Their Financial Disclosure Forms Blank

Secty. Zinke is trying to reassign Yellowstone’s superintendent on the eve of his retirement. Many suspect retaliation in the move. National Parks Traveler reports: Dan Wenk Being Forced Out Of Yellowstone National Park. Read one Park Service employee’s letter to Secty. Zinke, reacting to the news here.

Lastly, some good news, and unexpected, too, since Secty Zinke had included the program in a list if things contributing to budget problems in the department. National Parks Traveler reports: Secretary Zinke Reauthorizes Every Kid In A Park.

IN GENERAL

Headwaters Economics has developed an extremely useful website, with data on visitation, spending, jobs, and income for each unit of the National Park Service: Economic Impact of National Parks

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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 May

May 27th, 2018


Juniper & Overlook                                                                                     (Patrick Dengate, oil on wood panel, 9″ x 12″)
 

May 26, 2018

Dear CalUWild friends—

It’s the Memorial Day Weekend, the traditional start of the summer vacation season. Our national parks are more crowded (and more popular) than ever. That shouldn’t necessarily dissuade you from visiting, but remember that there are many other federal public lands out there, uncrowded and worthy of visitation. Find some time this summer to enjoy them!
 

You can support CalUWild and own some artwork at the same time! Two CalUWild members have generously offered to contribute proceeds from sales of their art to CalUWild.

Patrick Dengate, whose painting is above and whom we’ve featured in the Update previously (here, here and here), is an artist and one of the founders of Michigan Friends of Redrock Wilderness. He works in various media and has a series of paintings of the West, including Juniper & Overlook. Patrick will contribute 50% of the sales price to support CalUWild’s work. Click here for a catalog of 14 paintings. Visit his website to see more of his varied work.

Margie Lopez Read is a longtime Utah wilderness activist and artist who splits her time between Utah and California. She sells her art strictly as a way to support worthy nonprofit organizations, and she would like to include CalUWild among those. Her website is here. Check it out, and if there’s something you might be interested in, contact Margie through her website for more information on pricing and payment.

Finally, we still have a very limited number of Wilderness Act 50th Anniversary posters, featuring a block print by renowned California artist Tom Killion. The poster measures 18″ x 24″, and the price is $10 apiece, plus postage and shipping ($5 for 1 or 2, $5.50 for 3). If you’re interested, send a check for the proper amount, along with your name and address, to:

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

 
As always, thanks for your interest in and support for our wilderness and public lands!
 

Best wishes,
Mike
 

IN UTAH
1.   Bad San Rafael Swell Bill Introduced
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
2.   Carrizo Plain National Monument Oil Exploration
          Letters Needed
          (ACTION ITEM)
3.   Ballot Measure Endorsement
          YES on Prop. 68
          Don’t Forget to Vote June 5
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN ALASKA
4.   Rep. Jared Huffman Introduces Bill
          To Stop Drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN GENERAL
5.   National Monuments Review Documents Released
          And Monument Photos Needed
          (ACTION ITEM)
6.   Job Announcements
          a.   Western Environmental Law Center
          b.   Oregon Natural Desert Association
          c.   Bay Area Wilderness Training
          d.   SUWA Service Project Volunteers

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

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IN UTAH
1.   Bad San Rafael Swell Bill Introduced
          (ACTION ITEM)

Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) and Rep. John Curtis (R) have introduced the Emery County Public Land Management Act of 2018, companion bills S. 2809 and H.R. 5727, in the Senate and House respectively. The legislation is a follow-up to Rep. Rob Bishop’s (R-UT) failed Public Lands Initiative (PLI) of 2016, but in reality it’s worse than what was proposed then.

The bill makes permanent all the existing routes in both the NCA and wilderness areas, meaning that the BLM will not be able to manage those areas with conservation and wilderness priorities. A management advisory council for the NCA will be created that allows for disproportionate local representation.

Although the act establishes the “San Rafael Swell Western Heritage and Historic Mining National Conservation Area” and the “Jurassic National Monument,” it only designates about one third of the wilderness included in America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act. This amount is even less than was in the PLI. Furthermore many of these areas already have some level of protection as wilderness study areas (WSAs) or natural areas. Important areas in the Swell, such as Muddy Creek, the Mussentuchit Badlands and Molen Reef are completely ignored. Labyrinth Canyon on the Green River receives protection only on its west bank, because it is in Emery County.

The bill also transfers management of federal land near Goblin Valley State Park to the State of Utah.

You may read the text of the House bill here.

The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance has a page with its analysis of the bill, and also photos of some of the spectacular affected areas.

It looks like we have a good fight ahead, either to improve the bill, as happened with the Washington County bill in 2009, or to defeat it totally. Complicating the situation is the fact that Sen. Orrin Hatch is retiring this year, so some members may feel influenced to give him a retirement “gift.”
 

Regardless, we oppose the legislation as it stands now. Please contact your senators and congressional representatives to let them know that.

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

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

If you live in a state other than California, contact information for your senators may be found here.

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

IN CALIFORNIA
2.   Carrizo Plain National Monument Oil Exploration
          Letters Needed
          (ACTION ITEM)

The following alert comes from our friends at Los Padres ForestWatch. Please write a letter to California State BLM Director Jerry Perez. Use the talking points below, but please, in your own words. If you have been to the Carrizo Plain, make sure to mention, saying what you found special about the place!

The Department of the Interior has approved a new oil well and pipeline at the base of the Caliente Mountains in the Carrizo Plain National Monument. This is the first new oil development approved in the national monument since it was established in 2001, and the approval comes just months after the Trump Administration considered revoking the Carrizo Plain’s protected status altogether.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) — the agency responsible for approving the new oil well — failed to consult with its sister wildlife agency, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, to examine ways to lessen impacts on rare plants and animals such as the San Joaquin kit fox, California condor, giant kangaroo rat, San Joaquin antelope squirrel, and Kern mallow — all critically endangered species. The BLM also approved the new well and pipeline despite the fact that neither are consistent with the Management Plan for the Carrizo Plain National Monument.

This decision is in stark contrast to a decision by the BLM two years ago to allow the oil company to abandon an existing well so that the agency could reclaim the oil pad and access road, remove its rusty equipment, and restore the area to natural conditions. The Trump Administration is now backtracking on those plans.

You can help stop the new oil well and pipeline from going forward. Send a letter to BLM State Director Jerry Perez to let him know that you are strongly opposed to new drilling on the Carrizo Plain National Monument and that the agency should instead move forward with their previous plans to restore the oil pad to natural conditions.
 

Talking points:

• This is the first new oil well and pipeline on the Carrizo Plain since the area was designated a national monument in 2001. Please reconsider this decision.

• The new well and pipeline aren’t consistent with the management plan for the Carrizo Plain National Monument. This plan was developed after years of public input, and its provisions should be followed.

• The well and pipeline would also be visible from the Caliente Mountain Wilderness Study Area and when driving along Route 166. These and other impacts require more robust review.

• BLM didn’t consult with federal wildlife agencies to ensure the protection of imperiled species like the San Joaquin kit fox, California condor, giant kangaroo rat, San Joaquin antelope squirrel and Kern mallow.

• BLM should proceed with the 2016 plan to remove abandoned equipment from this same area where the new oil well and pipeline would be installed and restore the area to natural conditions. This would be consistent with the Carrizo Plain’s management plan, which requires prompt abandonment and reclamation of non-producing facilities in the national monument.

Letters should be addressed to:

Mr. Jerry Perez
California State Director
U.S. Bureau of Land Management
2800 Cottage Way, Suite W1623
Sacramento, CA 95825

Via email: castatedirector@blm.gov
 

3.   Ballot Measure Endorsement
          YES on Prop. 68
          Don’t Forget to Vote June 5
          (ACTION ITEM)

Statewide, voters are being asked to approve a bond measure, Proposition 68, in support of the state parks and other parks, as well as other environmental needs. Our parks are always underfunded and we have many other long-term needs, both conservation-related and in the general environment. If passed, 15 – 20% of the bonds’ funds would be dedicated to projects in lower-income communities. All the major newspapers and conservation organizations in the state support Prop. 68.
 

IN ALASKA
4.   Rep. Jared Huffman Introduces Bill
          To Stop Drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge
          (ACTION ITEM)

This week, California Rep. Jared Huffman (D-2), one of strongest congressional supporters of wilderness and public lands, introduced the Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act. The following information is taken from an alert sent our by our friends at the Alaska Wilderness League.
 

Representative Jared Huffman has introduced the “Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act” to keep oil rigs out of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Arctic Refuge drilling only passed as part of December’s heinous tax bill because Republican leadership used it to lock up Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski’s swing vote. Drilling and the tax bill remain deeply unpopular with the American people.

The “Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act” repeals Arctic Refuge drilling from the tax bill. It prevents the sacrifice of our wildest landscape so that oil companies and billionaires can get even richer.

Stand up for the Gwich’in people who rely on the Arctic Refuge and the calving caribou that raise young there. The Arctic Refuge and its coastal plain also supports denning polar bears and their cubs, wolves, foxes, muskoxen, and more than 200 migratory and resident bird species. This is not a place to drill for oil.

CalUWild friend Erik DuMont wrote an op-ed piece in The Hill this week about the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge and Rep. Huffman’s bill.
 

Please contact your representative and ask them to support Rep. Huffman’s bill. Full contact information for California members may be found by following the links here, and for other states by following the links here.

Please also contact Rep. Huffman’s office to thank him for introducing the bill.

Washington, DC office:

1406 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-5161

For Rep. Huffman’s local offices or to comment via webform, follow the links here.
 

IN GENERAL
5.   National Monuments Review Documents Released
          And Monument Photos Needed
          (ACTION ITEM)

As the result of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, the Department of the Interior has released a large number of documents related to the national monument review process and the president’s executive order mandating it.

It can all be found here. Here are the monument- and content-specific links.

Monument/Topic Specific FOIA Docs (May 2018)

Basin and Range NM
Bears Ears NM
Bears Ears Zinke Staff Correspondence
Carrizo Plain NM
Giant Sequoia NM
Gold Butte NM
Grand Staircase-Escalante NM
Katahdin Woods and Waters NM
Meetings Held by Zinke Staff
Mojave Trails NM
National Monument Report
Northeast Canyons and Seamounts NM
NRDC
Process for Reviewing Public Comments
Public Comment Review
Review of National Monuments under EO 13792

One of the more notable revelations, though not really that surprising, is that one of the officials involved in the review, Randal Bowman, said—one week after the initial executive order was released— that it was very unlikely that they would learn anything new from the comments submitted. “Essentially, barring a surprise, there is no new information that’s going to be submitted,” Bowman is quoted as saying.

In other words, the fix was in from the beginning. You can read more details in this article in The Hill.
 

And a reminder from last month: Throughout the month of May, the monumentsforall.org website is asking monument supporters to upload photos from places protected by the Antiquities Act. Pictures with people enjoying and exploring our monuments are especially welcome. Also pictures of historic and cultural monuments, not just landscape monuments, are particularly needed.

Deadline: May 31

Thanks for your submissions!
 

6. Job Announcements
          a.   Western Environmental Law Center

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, experienced attorney to join our team. This position will use a full complement of legal advocacy tools to: (1) protect public lands, wildlife, and communities from fossil fuel projects; (2) engage federal and state legislative, policy, and rulemaking processes to advance climate action; and (3) support a just transition for communities away from fossil fuels. This full-time position will be located in our Taos, New Mexico office and will be filled as soon as possible.

Requirements and qualifications for the position include:

• Deep familiarity with Western U.S. climate, fossil fuel, and public lands legal issues, with knowledge of New Mexico’s legal framework, communities, and lands a significant plus.
• At least six years of litigation experience, with administrative advocacy and strategic/policy campaign experience a significant plus.
• Ability and willingness to use a complete set of legal advocacy tools including litigation, collaboration, administrative engagement, and rule and policy development.
• Admission to and good standing with a state bar and willingness to obtain membership to the New Mexico bar, if not already admitted, at the earliest opportunity after hiring.
• A science or technical background in climate, energy, or public lands-related issues is a significant 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 and to WELC’s mission and strategies.
• Demonstrated commitment to conceptualizing and executing legal strategies that further WELC’s commitment to equity, inclusion, and justice.
• A positive, friendly, and enthusiastic attitude towards making the world a better place.
• A love and respect for the public lands, wildlife, and communities of the Western U.S.

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis beginning June 6, 2018 until the position is filled, with a start date no later than September 2018. 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; and
(3) minimum of three references

Cover letters should clearly communicate the applicant’s commitment to WELC’s mission and advocacy and their motivation to work in the public interest legal field. Please do not reiterate qualifications communicated by your resume. 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.
 

          b.   Oregon Natural Desert Association

From the Oregon Natural Desert Association:

Oregon Natural Desert Association Executive Director Brent Fenty will be shifting into a new role as head of the Oregon Desert Land Trust and ONDA’s board of directors has launched a nationwide search for our next leader.

Our executive director job description is now ready.

We’re seeking candidates who are:

• Passionate about Oregon’s high desert
• Solutions-oriented with a strong work ethic
• Committed to celebrating teamwork and maintaining the organization’s unique and effective culture, based on mutual respect, trust, and the beliefs of the organization
• Proficient in fundraising, communications and development
• Knowledgeable about conservation issues, policies and practices

View Job Description

Anyone interested in applying for this position should contact The Forest Group, by emailing Mary Mallif, mary@theforestgroup.com.

With a committed and growing membership base, a seasoned and passionate board and staff, and a slate of compelling initiatives, ONDA is an effective and thriving organization. We look forward to interviewing candidates who will help us become an even stronger force for conservation.

P.S. For future opportunities to work at or intern for ONDA, keep an eye on our careers page or follow us on LinkedIn.
 

          c.   Bay Area Wilderness Training

Our friends at Bay Area Wilderness Training have two job openings. Below are the position summaries, with links to further information.

Program Director
The Program Director, who reports directly to the Executive Director, has broad and deep responsibilities to ensure that Bay Area Wilderness Training is fully meeting the goals set forth in the organizations mission and vision. It has been said that the Program Director is the “heart beat” of the organization and as such they play a key role in supervising and hiring program staff, creating and ensuring high quality programs, and maximizing organizational reach, capacity, and efficiency. Top areas of responsibility include supervision and management, program development, oversight of client services, partnerships, growth, data tracking and reporting, and support of organizational operations. Currently, the Program Director oversees a team of four staff with the potential to grow.

For more information on the position and qualifications, click here.

Program Associate
Program Associate will directly report to the Bay Area Wilderness Training (BAWT) Gear Library & Operations Manager and will support ongoing operations of the Oakland, San Francisco, and South Bay (Milpitas) outdoor equipment gear libraries. The highest level of independence is expected. Initiative and a proactive approach are a must. The top priority responsibilities associated with this position are as follows: gear inventory control and maintenance, coordinating gear pick-ups and drop-offs, trip report & invoice tracking, client support and correspondence, client (teacher & youth worker) recruitment and relationship management, volunteer outreach and support, and efficient operations overall.

Learn more about the position here
 

          d. SUWA Service Project Volunteers

From our friends at the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance:

Into the Field: Volunteer with SUWA this Summer
Summer is upon us and our Field Crews are gearing up for a season of high elevation volunteering! Several spots remain open on our first batch of June-July-August Projects and I invite you to join the ranks of our 111 volunteers who have put in over 1,255 service hours to date in 2018! Scroll down this page for an overview of our early to midsummer project calendar.
 

IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
7.   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.

The Administration, Dept. of the Interior & Secty. Ryan Zinke

In the New York Times: Patagonia v. Trump

In the Washington Post: Trump administration moves to weaken protections for this unique American bird

In The Economist: The parable of the sage grouse

Good news: The 9th Circuit ruled that the he Bi-State population of sage grouse in the Mono Basin had been improperly delisted. See this article in Courthouse News.

An op-ed in the Washington Post: Walk with us, Ryan Zinke, and see the folly in what you’ve done

An article in MediaMatters: A timeline of scandals and ethical shortfalls at Ryan Zinke’s Interior Department

An op-ed in Mountain Journal: Ryan Zinke Now Claims To Be A Born-Again Conservationist

Scientific American and E&E News: Interior’s Handling of Science Gives Climate Advocates a Sense of Déjà Vu

An article in Science: Drilling boom threatens web of ancient roads in Southwest

The Los Angeles Times: The Trump agenda has Native American tribes feeling under siege

Other topics

The Sacramento Bee on the Klamath Basin: Can an uneasy truce hold off another water rebellion on California’s northern border?

An op-ed in the New York Times on ecological balance in the Great Basin: Let Mountain Lions Eat Horses

An op-ed in High Country News: The playground of Lake Powell isn’t worth drowned canyons

 
 

We haven’t been including links to videos recently because they trigger SPAM filters at various ISPs, and it’s very difficult to get around them. Sorry if you’ve missed them!
 
 
 
 
 

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 February

March 3rd, 2018


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

February 28, 2018

Dear CalUWild friends—

The administration continues its thinly-disguised reviews of monuments, plans, and regulations in the hopes of overturning many of the decisions enacted over the last few years. (See ITEMS 1 & 3.) Almost all of these had been made with substantial public input, and there is no rational reason for them to be revisited. The only explanation is that opponents of public land protection (and many other environmental issues) have the ears of the current administration and Congress.

We’re confident that they won’t be successful in all their attempts to roll back the clock, but it will require many people to be vigilant and active.

CalUWild remains committed to providing the information people need to speak out effectively in defense of our public lands, whether to Congress, the administration, or the press.

Thank you for your interest and efforts!
 

Best wishes,
Mike
 

IN UTAH
1. National Monuments Update
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINE: March 19
          (ACTION ITEM)
2. Central Wasatch National Conservation
          & Recreation Area Act
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
3. Desert Renewable Energy Plan Under Attack
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINE: March 22
          (ACTION ITEM)
4. 4 Wheel Bob — Film Showing in:
          San Rafael (March 18)
          Albany (March 21)

IN GENERAL
5. Job Listings
          a. Friends of Nevada Wilderness
          b. Mono Lake Committee

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

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

IN UTAH
1. National Monuments Update
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINE: March 19
          (ACTION ITEM)

As we mentioned in last month’s Update, the BLM is currently undertaking planning processes for the replacement national monuments in Utah. We have some more detailed talking points below. The deadline for comments is currently March 19, though if additional public meetings are scheduled, the deadline will be extended at least 15 days after the last meeting. But it’s better not to take any chances.

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

— 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@blm.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

An ironically-timed article appeared in the Washington Post: Spectacular fossils found at Bears Ears — right where Trump removed protections

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

— 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@blm.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

 
In ITEM 2 of last month’s Update we mentioned The ANTIQUITIES Act of 2108, S. 2354. Unnoticed in the information provided by Sen. Tom Udall and omitted from our discussion is a provision in the bill that would congressionally designate all 1.9 million acres of the original Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition proposal, rather than the 1.3 million that was designated by Pres. Obama. That’s even more reason to support it!
 

2. Central Wasatch National Conservation
          & Recreation Area Act
          (ACTION ITEM)

Much of CalUWild’s work in Utah has focused on areas managed by the Bureau of Land Management. But Utah has significant national forest lands, as well, and some of it is even wilderness! One important area is the Wasatch Front, the mountains behind Salt Lake City and stretching south from there.

A Utah organization, Save Our Canyons, has put forward a proposal that would, in their words

protect 80,000 acres of public land through the designation of the “Central Wasatch National Conservation & Recreation Area.” Once passed, this legislation will connect fragmented land with areas currently under federal protection, designate additional wilderness areas, and limit future development in the Wasatch, all while protecting our shared values of natural places.

More information on the proposal may be found here, and a series of maps detailing various aspects of the proposal may be found here.

Finally, there is an online petition in support of the proposal. Please sign it here.

We’ll keep you posted as the proposal develops further, including any legislation.
 

3. Desert Renewable Energy Plan Under Attack
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINE: March 22
          (ACTION ITEM)

The Bureau of Land Management last month announced plans to review the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP), put into place after years of discussion and compromise among many interested parties. The administration said it would like to allow more renewable energy installations, off-road vehicle use, and mining and grazing. The DRECP covers almost 11 million acres of BLM lands in seven California counties: Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego. See below for more background on the DRECP.

BLM is holding scoping meetings at the following locations over the next week.

Friday, March 2, 2018
3pm – 5pm
Fairfield Inn & Suites
503 E Danenberg Dr., El Centro, CA 92243

Monday, March 5, 2018
1pm – 3pm
DoubleTree Hotel
2001 Point West Way, Sacramento, CA 95815

Tuesday, March 6, 2018
5pm – 7pm
Bakersfield Field Office
3801 Pegasus Drive, Bakersfield, CA 93308

Wednesday, March 7, 2018
5pm – 7pm
UC Riverside, Palm Desert Center, Auditorium
75080 Frank Sinatra Dr., Palm Desert, CA 92211

Please attend if you can!

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

ACTION ALERT: 4.2 million acres of protected desert lands under attack

Defending the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan

The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) is a visionary blueprint for balancing conservation, energy development, and recreation on our priceless desert public lands. While protecting desert lands for recreation and wildlife, the DRECP dedicates an area larger than the city of Los Angeles for renewable energy projects – which California energy regulators say is ample for meeting the state’s renewable energy goals. Despite this, the Trump administration claims that even more land may be required for development.

Re-opening the DRECP puts at risk over four million acres of protected conservation lands, including Silurian Valley, Chuckwalla Bench, Conglomerate Mesa, and Panamint Valley, and will undoubtedly harm the scenic vistas, dark skies, wildflower displays, and the myriad recreational opportunities these lands provide. Revising the DRECP could also greatly harm many iconic species such as desert bighorn sheep and desert tortoise.

During the more than eight-year planning process, federal, state and local governments, conservationists, energy producers, recreationists, and desert residents participated in about a dozen public meetings to help create the DRECP. In addition, BLM took into consideration more than 16,000 public comments when it finalized the plan. The fact that the DRECP was never challenged in court is a testament to the buy-in that was achieved as a result of this careful listening process. Please join our coalition members in declaring this process unnecessary, counter-productive, and ultimately detrimental to California’s precious desert lands and state efforts to grow renewable energy.

Talking points adapted from CWC:

— Oppose any attempt to re-open the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP). The DRECP should be implemented as is.

— There is no justification for re-opening this Plan that was only finalized about 17 months ago. Re-opening the DRECP to years of arguing, uncertainty, and litigation is a waste of taxpayer dollars and valuable government resources. I strongly urge the Department of the Interior to leave it alone.

— There was broad public support for the plan and more than eight years of collaboration between federal, local, and state government, energy producers, conservationists, and recreationists helped produce it.

— The Department of Interior must maintain protections for the special lands that were designated as California Desert National Conservation Lands and Areas of Critical Environmental Concern. These wild lands encompass many spectacular and outstanding values such as colorful wildflower displays, endangered wildlife habitat, and opportunities for recreation and solitude that should be preserved for future generations. The DRECP’s conservation and recreation aspects not only protect special places but also bring significant tourism dollars into California, which drives local economies.

Submit comments on issues and planning criteria

via Email to BLM_CA_DRECP@blm.gov

or by U.S. Mail to:

Mr. Jerry Perez
BLM-California State Director
2800 Cottage Way, Rm W–1623
Sacramento, CA 95825

 
In related news, the administration is also opening up 1.3 million acres of desert lands to mining, reversing a withdrawal that the Obama administration put in place in 2016. You may read details in this San Bernardino Desert Sun article: Trump administration opens millions of acres of California desert to mining
 

4. 4 Wheel Bob — Film Showing in:
          San Rafael (March 18)
          Albany (March 21)

One frequently hears from opponents of wilderness that its designation shuts out people who can’t hike. However, people are able to explore in various other ways, whether on horseback, canoes, rafts, or kayaks, or even wheelchairs (which are allowed, despite a general prohibition on mechanical transport). Here’s a film about one man’s adventure:

At the Smith Rafael Film Center:

Bay Area filmmaker Tal Skloot will present his film portrait of Bob Coomber, who will join him for discussion. 4 Wheel Bob follows Coomber, an intrepid adventurer who sets out to be the first wheelchair hiker to cross the 11,845-foot Kearsarge Pass in the Sierra Nevada. Bob had grown up in Piedmont in a family of avid backpackers and, while hiking in his early 20s, shattered his leg in a struggle related to juvenile diabetes and subsequent osteoporosis. After a period of depression, Bob adopted a philosophy of “no excuses” and, confined to his wheelchair, took increasingly strenuous hikes, using only his arms to get around. And as you will see, the Kearsarge Pass can be a dangerous climb. (2017) 72 min. plus discussion.

Click here to purchase tickets.

Sunday, March 18
1118 Fourth St, San Rafael, CA 94901
4:15 p.m.

The film will also be shown at the Albany Film Fest on

Wednesday March 21
Albany Twin Theatre
1115 Solano Ave, Albany, CA 94706
7:30 p.m.

Go to the film’s website to view a trailer. There are no other screening listed, but there is a mailing list you can join.
 

IN GENERAL
5. Job Listings

          a. Friends of Nevada Wilderness

From our friends to the east:

Friends of Nevada Wilderness is hiring for the 2018 summer field season! We are happy to announce that we currently have 13 seasonal positions available. If you or someone you know would be interested in spending the summer in living and working in some of Nevada’s most wild areas, please consider applying for one of the positions listed here.

          b. Mono Lake Committee

From our friends at the Mono Lake Committee:

Mono Lake Committee seasonal jobs available

If you’ve always wanted to spend a summer at Mono Lake, now is your chance—we still have open seasonal staff positions for summer 2018, including Mono Lake Intern, Canoe Program Coordinator, Outdoor Education Instructor, and Information Center & Bookstore Assistant. Summer at Mono Lake is… the busiest and most activity-filled season, and seasonal staff jobs include leading interpretive tours, helping visitors in the bookstore, and canoeing on Mono Lake, among many other varied tasks. We accept applications from people of all ages, whether you’re looking for an internship between college semesters, or you’re interested in a post-retirement summer of work.

To apply, please send a cover letter and résumé to Office Director Jessica Horn, either by email or by mail to PO Box 29, Lee Vining, CA 93541.
 

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.

To see how deep the anti-public lands sentiment runs among Utah’s politicians, read this Salt Lake Tribune article: Bill seeks to limit how Utah city and local officials speak up in favor of public-lands protections

In response to one argument made by the federal pubic lands opponents, John Leshy, Professor Emeritus at UC Hastings and former Interior Department Solicitor has written this comprehensive law review article: Are U.S. Public Lands Unconstitutional. Follow the link on the page to see the full article. It’s long but the pages are short with lots of footnotes. It’s very readable.

An op-ed in the NY Times: Protecting America’s Last Great Animal Migrations

New national parks in Chile: Protecting Wilderness as an Act of Democracy

 
 
 
 
 

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.

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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.

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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

 
 
 
 
 
 

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 June

July 3rd, 2017


Sunrise over Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah                                         (Mike Painter)
 

June 29, 2017

Dear CalUWild friends and supporters—

Our last couple of Monthly Updates have focused heavily on the national monument review that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was ordered to undertake. The situation has become extremely complex, so please bear with us as we try to untangle the mess a bit. It will be the only topic addressed in this Update.

The review and recommendations already resulting from it are the broadest and most serious attacks on public lands we’ve seen in many years—an attack on one monument is an attack on them all. So if you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

It being the season for summertime reading, we’ve included many links, in both Items 1 & 2.
 

Thanks for your interest and involvement,
Mike
 

IN UTAH & ELSEWHERE
1.   Interior Secretary Zinke Issues Preliminary Bears Ears Report;
          Recommends Shrinking the Monument and
          Extends Comment Period.
          Comments Needed on All Monuments
          DEADLINE: July 10
          (ACTION ITEM)

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

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

IN UTAH
1.   Interior Secretary Zinke Issues Preliminary Bears Ears Report;
          Recommends Shrinking the Monument and
          Extends Comment Period.
          Comments Needed on All Monuments
          DEADLINE: July 10
          (ACTION ITEM)

As we reported in our last two Updates (April, May), the administration issued an executive order instructing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to undertake a review of more than 25 national monuments designated since 1996. He was given 45 days to issue recommendations regarding the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah and 120 days for the others. The Interior Department then opened a public comment period for all of them. The Department, however, is not undertaking the review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which has procedural guidelines for how comments are to be tabulated and analyzed. As you’ll see below, it is becoming more and more difficult to believe that the public comment period is anything other than just for show.

Two weeks ago Mr. Zinke issued a preliminary report on Bears Ears, and other information has come out from the Interior Department that is causing us to have to change our approach to the review. Yet it is important to keep the pressure up, by submitting comments to the department, as the public is able to read them online. This will provide support for the litigation that is sure to follow any formal attempt at revocation or boundary change. (Although presidents have the authority to designate monuments, the Antiquities Act does not give them the power to modify or de-designate them. This has not been tested in court, though … yet. If you are interested in a readable paper by four law professors from the U of Colorado, UC Berkeley, and UCLA, discussing the applicable law, click here.)

Some of the larger conservation groups have analyzed the comments submitted online, finding that over 90% support leaving all the monuments alone.

Secty. Zinke’s report recommends shrinking the monument, though he stopped short of outright de-designating it.

The report made four major points, listed below, along with responses to each, in italics. (The report can be read and/or downloaded here, free registration or sign-in required.)

1.) The boundaries of Bears Ears should be adjusted to be consistent with the intent of the Antiquities Act (i.e., the smallest area necessary to protect the objects of interest);

The interim report seems to imply that only some archaeological sites are worthy of protection and that these can be easily identified and given isolated protection. The truth is that there are many thousands of archaeological sites, large and small, as well as numerous historic sites, geological features, paleontological resources, as well as plants and animals worthy of protection. The original proclamation spells out these many values in detail. It is the landscape itself—viewed as sacred by numerous Native American tribes as their homeland—that is being protected, not just separate sites.

2.) Congress should authorize tribal co-management of designated cultural areas;

The tribes view this as an insult, given the recommendation that the monument be shrunk. Furthermore, Mr. Zinke said that the tribes were happy with his recommendations. They responded that this was a slap in the face. Minnesota Sen. Al Franken (D) questioned Secty. Zinke about this comment in a hearing. For a short video clip of their exchange, click here. Again, it is the landscape as a whole that they proposed to have protected and which Pres. Obama designated as a monument.

3.) Congress should designate selected areas within the current monument as national conservation or recreation areas;

That will never happen. Rep. Bishop’s Public Lands Initiative was widely recognized as being proposed solely to forestall a monument designation. The Utah congressional delegation has little, if any, interest in actually protecting the land. Congress is too busy with other things right now, anyway.

4.) Congress should clarify the intent of management practices of wilderness or wilderness study areas (WSAs) within a monument.

This one is a mind-boggler: There has never been any question that wilderness and WSAs are to be managed according to one standard: to preserve their wilderness character, as defined by the Wilderness Act. It makes no difference whether the area is in a national park, national monument, national forest, national wildlife refuge, national conservation area, or under BLM management. The secretary displays a total lack of understanding of the law with this “recommendation.”

Mr. Zinke announced he would wait before issuing final recommendations on Bears Ears until after the comment period for the other monuments on the list closes on July 10. Further comments on Bears Ears will now be accepted until that date.

As mentioned above, other aspects of the commenting process have also come to light, calling into question the administration’s interest in broad public participation or accountability. For example:

— Last month, we passed along the recommendation from the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, the Sierra Club, and other organizations that people submit comments directly to them to be printed out, tabulated, and delivered to the Interior Department. They did so and were told that the comments would be counted as one single comment, rather than the number actually received, and regardless of how many unique comments there might be from each organization. (SUWA estimated handing in over 4,000 printed comments alone.)

The Interior Department says that 396,000 comments have been submitted as of June 26. Conservation organizations estimate that over 1,000,000 have been submitted.

— Department officials also said that in order to count, each monument under consideration must actually be named in a comment. Therefore, saying you think that all the monument designations should be left as they are, is useless. Also, comments that name more than one monument will likely be lumped together and not necessarily counted with comments pertaining to a particular monument.

 

SO, WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

If you previously submitted a comment specific to Bears Ears on the regulations.gov website …

… there is no need to resubmit it.

It would be a good idea, however, to submit an additional comment in response to one or more of the four recommendations above, following the instructions on the page. Then, click on the button requesting that they send you a confirmation email. You will also receive a confirmation number, which you may use to check on the status of your comment. Please forward the entire email you receive to SUWA at issues-action@suwa.org, so they can keep an accurate count.

The first point to make in any comment is that the administration has no authority under the law to make any modification to a monument designated by a president. Only Congress may do that.

If you submit multiple comments from the same email address, please be sure you receive a separate confirmation number for each comment. (There were reports that the site was not accepting such multiple comments, but when I tried, things functioned properly.)
 

If you previously submitted a comment via another organization’s website (SUWA, Sierra Club, Bears Ears Coalition, Monuments for All, etc.) …

… please resubmit it via the regulations.gov website.

Again, click on the button requesting a confirmation email, and forward that entire email to SUWA at issues-action@suwa.org.
 

If you have NOT previously submitted any comment on Bears Ears …

… please submit one via the regulations.gov website. Use the four talking points above as well as those discussed in Item 1 of the May Update.

Please note: There is a 5,000-character limit for comments pasted into the text window on the webpage. You may upload attachments, so maybe send a picture (or a document with more characters?).
 

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

The other monument squarely in the crosshairs of Mr. Zinke and his Utah delegation allies is the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM). Utah politicians have considered it a thorn in their side since the day it was designated by Pres. Bill Clinton in 1996. CalUWild has a special connection to GSENM, as we founded the organization in response to the development of the monument’s general management plan in 1997, 20 years ago.

Please submit a separate comment regarding GSENM to the regulations.gov website with a follow-up copy to SUWA, using the procedure outlined above.

The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance has sent out the following message, with some suggested talking points:

The Trump administration appears serious about eviscerating Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument. The Utah delegation is pressing the president to carve out a huge chunk of the 1.7 million acre monument for potential coal mining. And Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke seems to be listening! His visit to the monument in May focused on a driving tour to a coal seam!

It is important that your comments be in your own words. The Department of Interior will count them individually that way. What is most useful is your own statement about why Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is special to you and why ALL OF IT deserves to be protected. It’s fine if you keep it simple and from the heart.

To help you gather your thoughts, here are a few points of information (you can also click here to view our story map):

•    Grand Staircase-Escalante was designated in 1996. Since then, it has come to be known as the “Science Monument”—yielding several new species of dinosaur and other paleontological finds and providing habitat for 650 bee species, many that are endemic to the area.

•    Grand Staircase-Escalante has incredible camping, hiking and other recreational opportunities. Places like Calf Creek, Peekaboo and Spooky Canyon, Coyote Gulch, and the Hole in the Rock Road are known the world over. If you have your own favorites, be sure to mention them!

•    Polling shows more than half of Utahns want Grand Staircase-Escalante left alone. That’s added to the more than 80 percent of Westerners that the Colorado College Conservation in the West poll showed want existing national monuments left intact.

•    Reviewing any monument is a political act, but especially when it involves one that is more than two decades old and flourishing. No president has ever taken this needless step, and neither should President Trump.

Secty. Zinke commented, regarding Upper Missouri Breaks in Montana, another of the monuments under review, that he’d rather not “open up a wound” there (see next section). This same logic applies just as forcefully to GSENM. Although there was widespread opposition to GSENM initially, much of that has disappeared as the local economies in Kane and Garfield counties have by all measures improved greatly. Most people there, and in Utah as a whole, now favor the monument, despite what some of their politicians are saying. There is no need to open a wound that is healed (or healing).

The Deseret News reported that the Interior Department requested Kane and Garfield counties to draw maps with revised boundaries for Secty. Zinke’s recommendation. There was no mention made of public input to that process.
 

Other Monuments

The Billings (Montana) Gazette reports: Upper Missouri Breaks will keep its national monument status, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says. Mr. Zinke commented after speaking at the Western Governors’ Association meeting: “’My likely recommendation will be to leave the Missouri Breaks as is,’ Zinke said. ‘I think it’s settled to a degree that I would rather not open up a wound that has been healed.’”

Mr. Zinke has also indicated that Canyons of the Ancients in Colorado is likely not to be subject to changes, as is Katahdin Woods and Waters in Maine, despite some political opposition there. See, for example, this article: ‘Spiteful and petty’: Maine governor bans signs to Obama-designated monument.

If you have a specific interest in any of these three monuments, by all means, submit a comment in support anyway.

In California, we are especially concerned with the Mojave Trails, Giant Sequoia, and Berryessa Snow Mountain monuments, so please consider submitting separate comments on those.

Mr. Zinke has also just announced that he will visit Gold Butte and Basin & Range national monuments in Nevada in July. Gold Butte is of special concern because it is adjacent to the Cliven Bundy ranch, site of the armed standoff in 2014, and there has been vocal opposition from people to whom Secty. Zinke might be sympathetic.

Space limitations here prevent providing detailed information regarding all the monuments on the “hit list.” However, most of them have “Friends Groups” that support them in various ways. Look for information on their websites regarding comments specific to their monument. Our friends at The Wilderness Society’s BLM Action Center provided us with a list of the monuments and links to their associated Friends Groups.

   Basin and Range, Nevada: Friends of Basin and Range National Monument
   Bears Ears, Utah: Friends of Cedar Mesa
   Berryessa Snow Mountain, California: Tuleyome
   Canyons of the Ancients, Colorado: San Juan Citizens Alliance
   Carrizo Plain, California: Los Padres ForestWatch
   Cascade Siskiyou, Oregon: Friends of Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument
   Craters of the Moon, Idaho: Idaho Conservation League
   Giant Sequoia, California: Sequoia Forest Keeper
   Gold Butte, Nevada: Friends of Gold Butte
   Grand Canyon-Parashant, Arizona: ???
   Grand Staircase-Escalante, Utah: Grand Staircase Escalante Partners
   Hanford Reach, Washington: ???
   Ironwood Forest, Arizona: Friends of Ironwood Forest
   Mojave Trails, California: Mojave Desert Land Trust
   Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks, New Mexico: Friends of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks
   Rio Grande del Norte, New Mexico: Rio Grande del Norte Coalition
   Sand to Snow, California: Mojave Desert Land Trust
   San Gabriel Mountains, California: San Gabriel Mountains Forever
   Sonoran Desert, Arizona: Friends of the Sonoran Desert National Monument
   Upper Missouri River Breaks, Montana: Friends of the Missouri Breaks Monument
   Vermilion Cliffs, Arizona: Friends of the Cliffs

You can also find more information at monumentsforall.org.
 

What else?

Encourage your family and friends to submit comments.

Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.

Post your thoughts and relevant articles on Facebook or Twitter—these are increasingly important means of communication.

Contact your senators and congressmen/women, letting them know your concerns about the monuments review. Encourage them to cosponsor America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act if they haven’t, and thank them if they have. (Cosponsorship creates a pool of people who are willing to publicly defend areas in the bill against threats that might arise, such as bad legislation, threatened oil leases by the BLM, bad land exchanges, etc.)

House cosponsors from California in addition to chief sponsor Rep. Alan Lowenthal are:

Rep. Jared Huffman (D-2)
John Garamendi (D-3)
Doris O. Matsui (D-6)
Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-9)
Mark DeSaulnier (D-11)
Barbara Lee (D-13)
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-14)
Eric Swalwell (D-15)
Ro Khanna (D-17)
Anna Eshoo (D-18)
Zoe Lofgren (D-19)
Julia Brownley (D-26)
Adam Schiff (D-28)
Grace Napolitano (D-32)
Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-40)
Nanette Barragán (D-44)

Since our last Update, John Garamendi (D-3) has signed on. If you live in his district, please contact his office to say Thank You!

Congress will be on recess for the week of the 4th of July, as well as the month of August. These are not vacations, but times to be working in-district, directly with constituents. Get office meetings set up or attend townhall meetings (with those reps brave enough to still hold them).
 

Press Coverage

There has been an incredible amount written about the monument review. Here is just a sampling.

Utah Monuments

The New York Times: Interior Secretary Recommends Shrinking Borders of Bears Ears Monument

An op-ed in the Los Angeles Times by Utah writer and photographer Stephen Trimble. Steve has joined CalUWild’s Advisory Board. Shrinking Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument would be one more broken promise to Native Americans

An article in the Pacific Standard: The Unprecedented Dismantling of a National Monument: After recommending that Bears Ears National Monument be reduced in size, one thing is clear: Ryan Zinke is nothing like Teddy Roosevelt.

An article in Astronomy about a site in the Bears Ears: Is The Moon House an American Stonehenge?

An article in Inside Science: Contested National Monuments in Utah House Treasure Troves of Fossils

An op-ed in the Deseret News: The fossils from Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument have made Utah world-renowned

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune on vandalism in the Bears Ears NM: BLM guard station burns in Bears Ears

In General

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra stated his support for the existing national monuments in California and other states. He sent Secty. Zinke this letter.

SUWA took out a full-page ad in the NY Times and Washington Post.

An op-ed in the New York Times: Keep America Wild

 

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

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

Public Lands & Politicians

An article in Outside about Utah Rep. Rob Bishop: Environmentalists’ Public-Lands Enemy Number One

Just as the previous Update came out, Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R) announced he would retire at the end of June. The Washington Post published this article at the time. The Post published this piece in response to Fox News’s announcement yesterday that Mr. Chaffetz would be a contributor for the network: Jason Chaffetz won’t need a housing stipend after new Fox News gig.

The Center for Western Priorities takes a look at a potential nominee for Director of the BLM: Three reasons Karen Budd-Falen is unfit to lead the Bureau of Land Management.

In the last couple of years, The Guardian, one of Britain’s major newspapers, has ramped up its coverage in the United States. They now publish an online US edition. They recently announced they are devoting an entire section to coverage of public lands issues in this country: This Land is Your Land, prominently displayed on the homepage.

High Country News is always good reading: Why the next generation needs public lands and Archaeologists are the last line of defense against destruction

Another Loss for the Land-Grab Campaign

Other News

Our friends at WildEarth Guardians write about a BLM report on increased protections for the Chaco Canyon region. The Final Scoping Report my be downloaded here.

A Salt Lake Tribune article: FBI agent charged with lying about LaVoy Finicum’s death in Oregon public-lands standoff

Two articles on the Colorado River: Calls to Rethink the Colorado River’s Iconic Dams Grow Louder and from The Conversation: Climate change is shrinking the Colorado River

Video Links

Episodes 22 & 23 in the US Forest Service’s Restore series:

Another in Resource Renewal Institute’s Forces of Nature: Environmental Elders Speak series: Jacques Leslie: Hell or High Water. We frequently include Jacques’s writings in the Monthly Update.

 
 
 
 
 

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.

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