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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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2016 November

December 4th, 2016

dsc_2166b3a
Aspens, Firs & Clouds, Great Basin National Park, Nevada                                                       (Mike Painter)

 
November 2016

Dear CalUWild friends-

The holiday season is upon us, and the electoral season is behind us, much to the relief and dismay of many. Given the amount of information that’s been thrown at everyone these last 18 months, this month’s Update will be short, with Item 1, below, being the only substantive one. It contains some thoughts on where things stand and how we need to respond going forward. As always, if you have questions or suggestions, please let me know.

There’s still hope for designations of the Bears Ears in Utah and Gold Butte in Nevada as national monuments, so please contact the White House and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to keep those prioritized for them. Contact information is in Item 1 of our October Update. Please write or call!

Our 2016 Membership Appeal was mailed out last week to previous contributors. The remainder will go out by email next week. Contributions of any size are appreciated, so please support CalUWild as generously as you can.

 
Best wishes,
Mike

 
IN GENERAL
1.   Thoughts on “What’s Next?”
2.   Fee-Free Days for National Parks in 2017

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

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

IN GENERAL
1.   Thoughts on “What’s Next?”

CalUWild turned 19 this month. We started out after Pres. Clinton’s designation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah, just three people who had been to the state and loved the redrock landscape there. When the Monument began its planning process, we decided to get friends and others involved and started Californians for Utah Wilderness. We soon became involved with the Utah Wilderness Coalition and supported its efforts to inventory and protect the wilderness-quality lands in Utah managed by the BLM. As time went on, citizens in other states around the West began their own wilderness inventories, and we realized we could be a voice in California for their efforts as well. It was then that we changed our name to reflect this expanded scope to Californians for Western Wilderness, though keeping the original “U-for-Utah” in our acronym.

But CalUWild had a second goal as well: To help citizens become effective advocates in our political system. I worked with the Green Belt Movement of Kenya and had seen the positive results achieved by them under the leadership of Wangari Maathai, linking environment and democracy. She was fighting against a brutal dictatorship while working with women to plant trees. Here in the U.S. we faced a different problem: Many people were cynical about government, very often with justification. But we believed that ordinary people could have an impact on decision-makers, if they knew how to work effectively and had the tools to do so. (Our Guide to Effective Advocacy is one example.)

So we combined the two ideas and have always said that CalUWild is as much a pro-democracy organization as it is pro-wilderness.

With respect to wilderness and public lands, regardless of who is in the White House or which party controls Congress, an active citizenry has always been important because these issues are rarely at the top of any politician’s agenda, though many people love the land. The results of the recent election will certainly make citizen involvement even more critical. The President-elect is not known as a friend of the environment, though he did say during his campaign that he was not in favor of selling off federal lands in the West. However, the names that have been floated around for Cabinet appointments are anything but environmentally friendly, though no one has been formally nominated yet.

CalUWild friend Erik Molvar wrote an op-ed in The Hill today, Trump’s Interior candidates would play Russian roulette with West, with an overview of some of the names apparently being considered as possibilities for Secretary of the Interior.

Given the Administration and the make-up of Congress, it is unlikely that major land protection legislation will make it into law. Rather, we can anticipate playing much more defense. Already, Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) is calling on the President-elect to “de-designate” three national monuments: the Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah, Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks in New Mexico, and Katahdin Woods and Waters in Maine. (Whether a president had the authority to undo a prior designation is doubtful, though it is the subject of debate. Regardless, it shows the thinking that is prevalent.)

One of the main tasks facing us, therefore, will be to keep public lands issues in the public eye and to keep elected officials constantly aware that protection of these lands is important to many Americans. That may be a difficult task, because the incoming Administration is likely to make controversial proposals regarding many issues at once-Obamacare, climate change, Iran, Social Security & Medicare, to name a few. Many people will view those as being more important, so politicians and the media might easily overlook public lands.

So as we move ahead into 2017, here are a few things to keep in mind:

•   Regardless of how dire a situation may seem, panicking won’t help. We will need to stay focused and analyze the issues clearly and thoroughly.

•   Get to know the public lands staff in your congressional representatives’ and senators’ offices. Go to open houses and town hall meetings and speak with elected officials directly if you can. Get on their email lists, which you can sign up for by going to their pages on the House or Senate websites.

•   Write letters to the editor of your local paper whenever specific issues arise and in support of public lands in general. Ask them to devote more coverage of these topics if necessary. Even if letters don’t get published, they can still influence editorial decisions at the publication.

•   Get your friends involved. Wilderness and public lands will need more active supporters. This doesn’t need to be burdensome. CalUWild has always asked for just one letter or phone call a month, and we provide all the necessary information to be effective. Our membership has been holding steady at around 850 members. If everybody reading this Updatetalked to just one other person and convinced them to join, we would double our impact.

•   When it feels like it’s getting to be too much, go for a hike! Being out in Nature is known to have positive effects on mood and thinking.

•   Remember Edward Abbey’s quote: Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul.

Preserving what remains of America’s wilderness and democratic heritage is too important to be left to others. Thank you for being part of the endeavor.

 
2.   Fee-Free Days for National Parks in 2017

The National Park Service has announced the following fee-free days for next year:

January 16: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
February 20: Presidents Day
April 15-16 & April 22-23: National Park Week weekends
August 25: National Park Service birthday
September 30: National Public Lands Day
November 11-12: Veterans Day weekend

Mark your calendars!

Other options for free or reduced price entrance fees to the national parks include passes for senior citizens (age 62+), military personnel, disabled citizens, and fourth-graders and their families. The $80 annual “America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Pass” also allows unlimited entrance to federally-managed recreation areas

 
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.

In Item 1 of last month’s Update, we wrote about the sale of a Utah state trust land parcel inside the proposed Bears Ears National Monument. The Salt Lake Tribune had an article about the buyer: ‘Family farm’ has spent millions buying acres of state land for unknown purpose.

More on the Bundy verdict (coverage was tapering off as the month progressed)

A New York Times op-ed piece: Bundy Verdict Puts a Target on the Backs of Federal Workers

A Washington Post article: In the Nevada desert, Bundy family warns of another standoff

An article in New Republic by historian Char Miller: The Bundy Standoff is a Sign of Things to Come

Standoff members’ beliefs also in mainstream politics-Others also seek to wrest control of federal lands

Return to Malheur: A Battle-Scarred Community Where Cowboys and Conservationists Are Working Together

A post on the Wilderness Watch blog by CalUWild friend Kevin Proescholdt, looking at the issue of mountain bikes in wilderness: Wilderness is Intended as Refuge from Bikes and other Mechanization

The Seattle Times reports on the death of one of our wilderness heroines: Polly Dyer, driving force for Northwest conservation, dead at 96

California Department of Fish & Wildlife reports: Two Gray Wolves Confirmed Present in Lassen County

An op-ed by CalUWild friend Jacques Leslie in the Los Angeles Times: The delta tunnels – a project only engineers can love

Book review

A gift idea: 100 Classic Hikes: Utah from Mountaineers Books, reviewed in National Parks Traveler

Video link

The Resource Renewal Institute (with whom I used to work and now CalUWild’s fiscal sponsor) has been producing a video series Forces of Nature: Environmental Elders Speak, in which significant people in the environmental movement talk about their lives and work. With this Update, we’ll begin including links to selected films. This month we feature a talk between RRI founder Huey Johnson and John Leshy, a law professor who has also worked in the Department of the Interior. The short film has a title appropriate for our first installment: Keep Public Lands Public

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

As always, if you ever have questions, suggestions, critiques, or wish to change your e-mail address or unsubscribe, all you have to do is send an email. For information on making a contribution to CalUWild, click here. “Like” and “Follow” CalUWild on Facebook.

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2015 November

December 4th, 2015

DSC_2082b3a
Looking West from the San Rafael Swell, Utah                                                                        (Mike Painter)

 
December 4, 2015

Dear CalUWild friends and supporters-

This issue of the Monthly Update is late because the computer was in the shop for a few days. Things are fixed, but a new computer and software are on the agenda for next year.

I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving-including being thankful for our wilderness and public land here in the West, available for recreation, watersheds, wildlife, and just knowing it’s there (every day, not just on the fourth Thursday in November). November is also CalUWild’s anniversary month, so I want to thank you for advocating for protection and learning about the issues involving these lands for the last 18 years. It is citizen involvement that keeps our representatives informed on the issues.

 
Congress is not doing much, and the country seems focused on the antics of many of the candidates, so there’s not a lot to report. Articles about some of the issues we’ve reported on in the past are linked to in Item 4: IN THE PRESS.

 
As mentioned last month, it’s time for CalUWild’s Annual Membership Appeal. Thanks to everyone who has already sent in contributions! Your support is much appreciated. If you haven’t sent your annual contribution in yet, and you’d like to beat the rush, please print out this form and mail it with your check to:

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

Otherwise, please watch your postal mail or email in the coming weeks for our notice.

Contributions made directly to CalUWild are not tax-deductible. If you’d like to make a tax-deductible contribution, please make your check payable to Resource Renewal Institute and mail it to our address above.

 
As always, thanks for your interest and support, and best wishes for the holidays to you and your families.

 
Best wishes,
Mike

 
IN CALIFORNIA
1.   Yosemite National Park Begins Wilderness Planning Process
          DEADLINE: January 29, 2016
          (ACTION ITEM)
2.   Christmas Bird Count for Kids

IN GENERAL
3.   Land & Water Conservation Fund Update

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

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

IN CALIFORNIA
1.   Yosemite National Park Begins Wilderness Planning Process
          DEADLINE: January 29, 2016
          (ACTION ITEM)

Many people think of Yosemite National Park as being the famous 7-square-mile Valley, but the Park actually covers a total of 1,190 square miles, of which 95% is wilderness designated by Congress. The Park Service is mandated to preserve it, according to the requirements of the 1964 Wilderness Act.

The Park just announced that it is undertaking a revision of its wilderness stewardship plan and is seeking public input as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The first stage is known as “scoping,” in which the public has the opportunity to recommend issues that the plan and accompanying environmental impact statement (EIS) should include and address. It’s also a good idea to make specific management suggestions for those issues if you have an opinion on them, so the Park Service can use them in preparing the alternatives required under NEPA.

Among the issues the Park should address are: carrying capacity and levels of visitor use; horse traffic on trails; the High Sierra Camps-which are historic commercial operations inside the wilderness area, but are increasingly unaffordable for many Americans and which need to be supplied by mule train-and how invasive and endangered species should be managed or restored.

The announcement came out just recently, so there are no talking points to pass along yet, but we’ll see what we can do for the next Update. In the meantime, though, the Park Service is making available several opportunities for the public to comment and learn more. It has scheduled two public open house meetings and three online “webinars.” Here’s the schedule so far:

Public Meetings

Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
REI Berkeley
1338 San Pablo Avenue
Berkeley, CA  94702

Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016
12:00 PM -2:00 PM
Yosemite Valley Auditorium
9035 Village Drive
Yosemite National Park, CA  95389

Webinars

Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
Webinar webex link

Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016
6:00 PM – 7:00 PM

The webinars require the webex app if using a mobile device, and they ask that people log in 15 minutes before the start. The webex link above for Dec. 16 is the only one posted so far, so please check back here as the dates draw near for full details on the others and for the public meetings as well.

You may also submit comments online or the old-fashioned way, by U.S. Mail, to:

Superintendent
Yosemite National Park
Attn: Wilderness Stewardship Plan
P.O. Box 577
Yosemite, CA  95389

For more information click here.

 
2.   Christmas Bird Count for Kids

There’s a lot of talk these days about how to get children away from their “devices” and out into Nature. One imaginative way we became aware of last year is the Christmas Bird Count for Kids (CBC4Kids), a project begun by Sonoma Birding. The traditional annual Audubon Bird Count has been geared toward adults, but several years ago they got a program going for families and kids, ages 8-16. It has spread to over 100 locations in the U.S. and Canada. Learn more about the Northern California CBC4Kids offerings and how to start your own community event at Sonoma Birding.

2015-16 Christmas Bird Counts for Kids (Northern CA)

Sat. Dec. 12, 2015 (8:30 am -12:30 pm)
Marin CBC4Kids
Sign up

Sat. Dec 19th, 2015 (8:30 am -12:30 pm)
Napa County CBC4Kids
Information

Sat. Jan. 2nd, 2016 (9:00 am – 1:00 pm)
Madrone Audubon CBC4Kids (Petaluma)
Contact

Sun. Jan 3rd, 2016 (9:00 am – 1:00 pm)
Sonoma Valley CBC4Kids
Contact

Sat. Jan 9, 2016 (10:00 am-3:00 pm.)
Point Reyes CBC4Kids
Contact    Pre-registration required

Sat. Jan. 9, 2016 (9:00 am – 1:00 pm)
Sacramento Audubon CBC4Kids
Contact

Sat. Jan. 16, 2014 (9:00 am – 1:00 pm)
Santa Rosa – Mayacamas CBC4Kids
Sign up

For more details about CBC4Kids and individual events click here.

 
IN GENERAL
3.   Land & Water Conservation Fund Update

As we reported last month, the Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) expired at the end of September, and Utah Rep. Rob Bishop (R), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee has vowed to “reform” it.

Rep. Bishop has released his proposal for a new LWCF, but it is far removed from the original intent of the Fund as legislated 50 years ago. A few “highlights,” as announced by the Natural Resources Committee:

• 45% of the funding would go to states as grants.• 20% would go to promote-and to streamline permitting for-offshore energy exploration, innovation, and education, including training of oil workers.

• 15 % would go to the Payment in Lieu of Taxes, program, which provides funding for counties that have large areas of federal land.

• 3.5% would go to federal land acquisitions, but only for inholdings, with no more than 15% of that for land west of the 100th Meridian (which is where most of the nation’s inholdings are, given that that is where the bulk of federal public lands are).

• 3.5% would go to eliminating the backlog of maintenance and infrastructure projects on federal lands. (There are $20 billion in projects and Rep. Bishop proposes no more than 3.5% of the funding from LWCF would go toward that. Also, the backlog exists to a large degree because Congress has consistently cut the funding for the land management agencies.)

LWCF has been a very successful and popular program, benefiting just about every congressional district in the country. So there is a growing backlash among many members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, against Mr. Bishop’s proposals. The Obama Administration has also come out against the proposal.

Given his proposals, it’s not surprising that there’s so much opposition. A study done by Energy & Environment Daily (no link, sorry-it’s behind a paywall) found that districts represented by Republican had received more than two-thirds of the funding and contained more than two-thirds the acreage preserved. (This is not surprising, since much of the rural West, where most federal public land is located, is represented by Republicans.) In fact, Rep. Bishop himself requested $500,000 for purchases in the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in his own district.

In the Senate, the Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved the Sportsmen’s Bill of Rights, S. 556, which contained an amendment for the permanent reauthorization of LWCF, worked out by Chairman Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA). That bill has not moved forward, but there is talk in Washington of attaching a reauthorization provision to an appropriations bill, and there is guarded optimism that it will be successful.

This just in: Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) introduced a bill in the House this week, H.R. 4151, which would permanently reauthorize LWCF, using the language of the Murkowski-Cantwell deal. Also just in, there’s an excellent op-ed piece, So-called ‘fix’ bill is a thinly veiled attempt to kill conservation fund, that minces no words on Rep. Bishop and his proposal.

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

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

The Bears Ears Monument Proposal

Bishop is wrong, Utah’s Native Americans want Bears Ears protected, an op-ed piece, by Herman Daniels, Jr., a Navajo Nation Council Delegate

Wilderness and Public Lands in General

The Washington Post Fact Checker on Ben Carson’s claim that the federal government should ‘return’ public land to states. (N.B.: CalUWild does not get involved in electoral politics, so this item is not included as a statement about Mr. Carson’s candidacy. Rather the article contains useful information and a rebuttal to the claims made by many politicians and others in the West about the history, ownership, and management of our public lands.)

The Center for Western Priorities issued a report, The Mining Burden: States Would Shoulder Significant Costs of Cleaning Up Abandoned Mines if They Take Over American Lands, estimating the cost of mine cleanup on federal public lands at as much as $21 billion, which states would be responsible for, should they be successful in gaining control of federal public lands within their borders. Click here for a summary and here to download the report.

Follow the links on this page for The Wilderness Society’s Third Assessment of the State of the National Conservation Lands, BLM’s landscape conservation system.

An essay by CalUWild friend George Wuerthner: Wildlands Protection: an Antidote for Climate Change

Wolf Recovery in California

A California Department of Fish & Wildlife press release on its Draft Gray Wolf Plan. For the complete draft, click here.

Interview

A conversation with outdoors writer Ted Williams, covering various topics

Book Review

Artist Tom Killion and poet Gary Snyder’s latest collaboration: California’s Wild Edge. It would make a nice gift for someone (or yourself!).

Video Links

Last month’s Forest Service’s Restore Series brought us to the last one. We’ll post installments as more are produced.

Another in the National Park Service series, America’s Wilderness. This time: Memoirs of a Cactus: Saguaro Wilderness

An 18-minute film from the Bay Area Open Space Council, Here and Now on partnerships between Native American tribes, open space districts, and others to restore some of the landscape of the South Bay Area

 
 
 
 
 
As always, if you ever have questions, suggestions, critiques, or wish to change your e-mail address or unsubscribe, all you have to do is send an email. For information on making a contribution to CalUWild, click here. “Like” and “Follow” CalUWild on Facebook.

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2014 November

November 28th, 2014

DSC_0838c3Big Flat with Drilling Rig, Utah                                                                                                     (Mike Painter)

November 25, 2014

Dear CalUWild friends and supporters—

Thanksgiving is here once more, so it’s time to look around and take stock of things.

CalUWild is celebrating its 17th anniversary this month, so we’re grateful to all the people who have supported us in various ways over the years. We thank everyone who takes the time every month to read the Update for information on the latest developments regarding wilderness and other public lands issues in the West. We thank those who use that information to write to government officials-whether in the land management agencies, Congress, or the White House-to influence decisions and better protect our natural resources. Finally, we’re grateful for the people and foundations who have given CalUWild support over the years, be it financial, equipment, or advice.

And personally, I’m thankful for the many people I’ve met and gotten to know over these years. It’s wonderful to work with such a dedicated and enthusiastic group, in whatever capacity it might be.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families and friends,

Mike

IN UTAH
1.   Last Chance in the 113th Congress
          For Red Rock Wilderness Act Cosponsorship
          (ACTION ITEM)
2.   SUWA and Sierra Club Appeal BLM’s Approval
          Of Gas Pipeline near Canyonlands National Park

IN CALIFORNIA
3.   Sen. Feinstein Considering Monument Requests for the Mojave
4.   “Threatened” Species Protection for the Fisher
          DEADLINE: January 5, 2015
          (ACTION ITEM)
5.   Christmas Bird Count for Kids

IN ALASKA
6.   Appeals Court Dismisses Pre-Emptive Lawsuit by Shell Oil
          Against Conservation Organizations

IN ARIZONA
7.   Park Service Confirms Wolf Sighting on North Rim of Grand Canyon

IN COLORADO
8.   BLM Reaches Deal on Roan Plateau

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

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

IN UTAH
1.   Last Chance For Red Rock Wilderness Act Cosponsorship
          In the 113th Congress
          (ACTION ITEM)

The current cosponsor count stands at 99 in the House and 14 in the Senate. With the 114th Congress starting in January, it’s worth making one more push to get a few more House cosponsors onto the Red Rock Wilderness Act (H.R. 1630). Here’s the list of current California cosponsors:

House
Jared Huffman (D-02)
Mike Thompson (D-05)
Doris Matsui (D-06)
Jerry McNerney (D-9)
George Miller (D-11)
Barbara Lee (D-13)
Jackie Speier (D-14)
Mike Honda (D-17)
Anna Eshoo (D-18)
Zoe Lofgren (D-19)
Lois Capps (D-24)
Judy Chu (D-27)
Adam Schiff (D-28)
Tony Cárdenas (D-29)
Grace Napolitano (D-32)
Henry Waxman (D-33)
Linda Sánchez (D-38)
Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-40)
Alan Lowenthal (D-47)
Susan Davis (D-53)

Senate
Barbara Boxer (D)

If your representative is on the list, please thank him or her by phone or through the office’s website. Also ask that they look out for the bill’s reintroduction in the 114th Congress and let them know that you hope they’ll cosponsor again.

If your representative is not on the list, please contact the office by phone or through the office’s website and ask that they cosponsor before the end of this Congress. They should contact Rep. Rush Holt’s office to do so.

The following representatives are still potential cosponsors from California:

Sam Farr (D-20)
Julia Brownley (D-26)
Brad Sherman (D-30)
Xavier Becerra (D-34)
Raul Ruiz (D-36)
Karen Bass (D-37)
Mark Takano (D-41)
Loretta Sanchez (D-46)

If you’re not from California, a complete list of House and Senate cosponsors may be found here.

Contact information for all representatives may be found by going to your representative’s pages on the House website.

2.   SUWA and Sierra Club Appeal BLM’s Approval
          Of Gas Pipeline near Canyonlands National Park

The last couple of years have seen a rapid expansion of oil and gas development near Moab, on Big Flat, just outside the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park. Leases covering much of the area have been sold by the BLM and well sites are appearing. Many oil wells simply flare (burn) off the natural gas they produce, wasting a useable resource. The energy company, Fidelity Exploration, was required by Utah state regulators to install a pipeline to collect the gas from its wells.

In a follow-up project the company wants to install close to 20 additional lines going to new wells, and the BLM approved the proposal last month. An environmental analysis of the two parts of the project together, however, was never undertaken. Because of this piecemeal approach, the combined effects of the full development have never been looked at. Furthermore, BLM is expecting another 50 or so wells to be drilled in coming years in the area, which receives more than 500,000 visitors a year.

The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and the Sierra Club filed an appeal of the decision with Utah State Director Juan Palma, asking that a full Environmental Impact Statement be completed for development in the Big Flat area.

This is the scale of resource extraction that a Greater Canyonlands National Monument designation would protect against. We’ll keep you posted as things develop.

IN CALIFORNIA
3.   Sen. Feinstein Considering Monument Requests for the Mojave

In our January 2010 and January 2011 Updates, we reported on legislation authored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) that would create two national monuments in southern California.

The legislation has gone nowhere in Congress. Earlier this month, Sen. Feinstein announced plans to reintroduce the legislation in the next (114th) Congress. At the same time, she expressed frustration with the lack of progress and said that if nothing changes in the next 12 months, she will request Pres. Obama to designate the two monuments, using his authority under the Antiquities Act of 1906.

The Mojave Trails National Monument would protect old railroad property and federal land along old Route 66 between Needles and Ludlow, almost 105 miles long and covering more than 900,000 acres. The proposed Sand to Snow monument is located between San Bernardino National Forest and Joshua Tree National Park east of Riverside.

Sen. Feinstein’s proposed bill would also add almost 40,000 acres to Death Valley National Park, 30,000 to the Mojave National Preserve, and 4,500 to Joshua Tree National Park. Those additions could not be accomplished, however, by presidential proclamation, as only Congress has authority over national park boundaries. Her legislation would also establish a National Scenic Area in the Alabama Hills in Inyo County.

Rep. Judy Chu (D-27) took the same approach in securing the designation of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument last month, having introduced unsuccessful legislation. Pres. Obama has indicated he will use his authority where he can, and has voiced similar frustration with congressional inaction. Coupled with the fact that presidents often focus on their “legacy” in their last two years (and national monuments generally are permanent) there’s a good chance Pres. Obama would proceed if asked.

We shall see.

4.   “Threatened” Species Protection for the Fisher
          DEADLINE: January 5, 2015
           (ACTION ITEM)

Since a full complement of animal species is fundamental to the definition of wilderness, from time to time we include relevant news and information on wildlife issues. The following is adapted from an alert we received from our friends at Forests Forever.

Logging will destroy fisher habitat unless the public acts!

Once again the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has proposed listing the Pacific fisher (Pekania pennant) as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act.

Not coincidentally, timber companies in California are girding for large-scale logging operations in fisher habitat.

Their intention is to get out the cut before any critical habitat designations restrict logging!

Please urge the FWS to act promptly in listing the fisher as threatened. Your comments can make all the difference! Because the FWS listing is not yet final-with public comments still coming into the agency through Jan. 5, 2015- timber companies are gearing up to log apace, with plans for operations in ranges known to be inhabited by fishers.

For instance, not far from Castle Crags State Park, west of I-5 near Dunsmuir, Calif., a company is planning some 450 acres of clearcuts in forests of Douglas-fir, ponderosa pine, white fir, incense cedar and sugar pine: prime fisher country.

The fisher is a member of the weasel family and is highly dependent on old-growth forests. Adults weigh about 10 pounds and are about three feet long. This scrappy little animal is the only one known to regularly prey on porcupine.

The FWS has previously put off listing the fisher, citing other priorities for its resources, even though its research concludes the animal is in dire need of protection. The public must come to the fisher’s rescue!

Here are a few talking points (but please use your own words):

– On both private and federal lands, habitat loss has led to the likely extirpation of the fisher in all but a few remaining areas. Listing the species as threatened will help preserve the habitat needed for the fisher to make a comeback.

– Well-documented scientific studies indicate that the logging of late-successional forests-the preferred habitat of the Pacific fisher-is the chief culprit behind the species’ steep decline. Logging activities in the Sierra Nevada have stripped large portions of the landscape of the large trees, snags, downed logs, and multi-layered canopies that shelter the animal.

– Other activities, most recently including illegal backwoods marijuana grows, have led to a steep fisher decline.

– Logging throughout the Sierra Nevada has destroyed specific fisher habitats while favoring “generalist” species such as gray fox and striped skunk that displace and compete with the fisher.

To comment online, click here.

To comment by U.S. mail, send to:

Public Comments Processing
Attn: Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2014-0041
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Headquarters
MS: BPHC
5275 Leesburg Pike
Falls Church, VA 22041-3803

DEADLINE: January 5, 2015

5.   Christmas Bird Count for Kids

There’s a lot of talk these days about how to get children away from their “devices” and out into Nature. One imaginative way we’ve recently become aware of is the Christmas Bird Count for Kids, a project begun by Sonoma Birding. They recently sent out the following announcement:

2014-15 Christmas Bird Counts for Kids (Northern CA)

The “Christmas Bird Counts for Kids” established in Sonoma California in 2007, is now offered in over 100 locations across the US & Canada in Spanish, French, and English. The community-based holiday event is geared to families and youngsters, ages 8-16.The goal is to encourage kids to enjoy nature over the holiday season. Learn more about the Northern California CBC4Kids offerings and how to start your own community event at Sonoma Birding.

Northern California Events

Sun. Dec. 7, 2014 (8:30am -1:30PM)
Napa County CBC4Kids (Napa)

Sun. Dec 8th, 2014 (9:00 – 1:00pm)
Ft. Ross State Park CBC4Kids (Jenner)

Sat. Dec. 13, 2014 (8:30am – 1:00pm)
Mayacamas CBC4Kids (Santa Rosa)

Thurs. Jan. 2nd, 2015 (9:00am – 1pm)
Madrone Audubon CBC4Kids (Petaluma)

Sat. Jan 10, 2015 (10am-3pm.)
Point Reyes CBC4Kids (Pt. Reyes National Seashore)

Sat. January 10, 2015 (4th Annual)
Sacramento Audubon CBC4Kids (Carmichael)

Sun. Jan 18th, 2015 (9:00am – 1:00pm)
Sonoma Valley CBC4Kids (Sonoma)

For more details, including contact information and links to sign up for individual events, click here.

IN ALASKA
6.   Appeals Court Dismisses Pre-Emptive Lawsuit by Shell Oil
          Against Conservation Organizations

We reported in our March 2012 Update (Item 9) that Shell Oil had a filed a lawsuit against a slew of conservation organizations, seeking to prevent them from challenging its drilling plans in the Chukchi Sea, above the Bering Strait in Alaska.

Our comment at the time-“Lawsuits of this kind are rarely successful, because until a challenge is actually filed, there is nothing to contest.”-was borne out this month when the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals threw the lawsuit out. The court ruled that Shell had no basis for suing; since the BLM had approved Shell’s drilling plans, Shell was not “aggrieved” in any way. Nor did the company have any legal obligations to the organizations under the Administrative Procedures Act, the law that those organizations would use to sue if they decided to.

The Court was ruling on an appeal by the conservation groups of the lower court’s refusal to dismiss the original lawsuit and granting of summary judgment to Shell. The lawsuit seemed like a pretty clear attempt to intimidate the organizations and would have set a very bad precedent had it been successful.

IN ARIZONA
7.   Park Service Confirms Wolf Sighting on North Rim of Grand Canyon

Last month, we mentioned that it was likely that a wolf had been spotted on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. National Parks Traveler confirmed last week that the animal was a female wolf, through DNA analysis of a scat sample. Researchers will next try to determine where the wolf might have come from by comparing the DNA to other samples from known individuals.

It appears that the wolf traveled over 450 miles from the Northern Rockies, most likely in search of a mate. She is now protected under the Endangered Species Act. Wolves were nearly extinct in the early 1990s in the Lower 48, and a restoration program was begun in Yellowstone National Park in 1995. There are now about 5,500 wolves, but their territory is only about 36% of what it originally was, according to Defenders of Wildlife.

As we recently saw with the wolf that visited California for a while and now has a family in Oregon, they are slowly expanding their range naturally. Broad public education efforts will still be needed to reverse centuries of misinformation and antipathy toward the species if they are to live widely in their original habitat.

It will be interesting to see how the story develops.

IN COLORADO
8.   BLM Reaches Deal on Roan Plateau

The Roan Plateau in western Colorado, just north of the Colorado River, is one of the Intermountain West’s richest wildlife areas, but it also has bountiful oil & gas reserves that have been the subject of controversy and litigation for many years. (For background on the issue, see Item 7 in our February 2005 Update and Item 6 in our July 2012 Update.)

Last Friday, the BLM and the plaintiffs, which included The Wilderness Society, Environment Colorado, the Wilderness Workshop, Sierra Club, NRDC, hunter and angler groups, and others, announced a settlement in the case. According to Earthjustice, the lawyers for the groups, under the settlement the BLM “would cancel the majority of oil and gas leases on ecologically sensitive top of the Roan Plateau. In addition, the BLM will consider a management plan alternative that would allow for some limited development on remaining leases, precludes new leasing on top of plateau for the life of the plan, and conserves important big game habitat at the base of the Roan.”

A fact sheet regarding the settlement is online here and a map of the area here.

Congratulations to all involved.

IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
9.   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. Also, just as a reminder: Inclusion of an article in this section does not necessarily imply agreement with its viewpoint.

A New York Times article on climate change and its effect on Glacier National Park

From the Las Vegas Review-Journal: Nevada rancher Bundy waits as FBI probes

A Salt Lake Tribune article on The Story of My Heart, a 19th-Century book discovered and republished by CalUWild Advisory Board member Terry Tempest Williams and Brooke Williams. Adventure Journal published an interview with both of them about the book.

Three writers write in Audubon Magazine about a Spring 2014 visit to the Galapagos Islands:

Terry Tempest Williams

Rick Bass

Doug Peacock

From the Los Angeles Times

Will renewable energy ruin an ‘irreplaceable’ Mojave desert oasis?

John Muir’s legacy questioned as centennial of his death nears

Video Link

Episode 7 in the Forest Service Restore series: Urban Releaf

As always, if you ever have questions, suggestions, critiques, or wish to change your e-mail address or unsubscribe, all you have to do is send an email. For information on making a contribution to CalUWild, click here. “Like” CalUWild on Facebook.

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2013 November

December 6th, 2013

DSC_0023a3aJust West of the San Rafael Swell, Utah                                                                                                     (Mike Painter)


November 27, 2013

Dear CalUWild friends—

Thanksgiving is upon us once again, and among the many things to be grateful for are our Western wilderness areas and public lands, as well as the opportunities to enjoy them. I am grateful, too, for all of you who work to preserve and protect them, and for your support of CalUWild.

Last month I attended the 10th World Wilderness Congress in Salamanca, Spain. The most interesting and exciting aspect of the Congress was the large number of people from countries-both developed and developing-all around the world, working to ensure that nature is respected and allowed to function with minimal interference from humans.

One thing that emerged clearly is that the American concept of Wilderness is unique. Most of the world has had widespread and continuous human habitation over much of its landscape. In America, our Wilderness Act specifically requires that areas protected be unpopulated and untrammeled. (Indigenous people were no longer present on much of the land covered by the Wilderness Act.)

However, particularly in Europe, many rural areas are becoming de-populated as younger people abandon towns and move to cities. This is allowing nature to reclaim the landscape in some places and is providing opportunities for the restoration of wildlife populations, including top-tier predators such as bears and wolves. Thus “wilderness” is often viewed through the prism of wildlife habitat.

Another common focus worldwide is the need to get younger people out to experience the natural world. The conflict between their absorption with tech gadgets and experiencing nature firsthand was a common theme. It was, therefore, discouraging to come home to this ad from Toys R Us glorifying a visit to a toy store over a nature field trip. Author Chris Clarke wrote an interesting online essay analyzing some of the issues raised for conservationists. He did notice, though, that at least one kid in the commercial “was entranced by a way to see … nature more clearly” using a telescope.

As I was beginning to write this Update on the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, I came across an op-ed piece by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-2) in the Marin Independent Journal. Several paragraphs are worth quoting here.

An underappreciated part of Kennedy’s legacy is his commitment to the environment. JFK understood the grave implications of Rachel Carson’s landmark “Silent Spring” and tasked his Science Advisory Committee with investigating whether her findings were true (they were). Kennedy translated his love for the coast into strong public lands protections: he authored the Cape Cod National Seashore Act and signed it into law as president in 1961. And in 1962, he established the Point Reyes National Seashore, which I proudly represent today.
 
Kennedy cared enough about public lands to appoint a conservation champion, Stewart Udall, to his cabinet. Udall went on to become one of America’s greatest Interior Secretaries. He aggressively promoted expansion of public lands, including creating Redwood National Park which I also proudly represent. He helped pass landmark environmental laws, among them the Wilderness Act, the Endangered Species Preservation Act and the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.
 
In all of these areas, I cannot imagine so much environmental progress without President Kennedy’s bold declarations of purpose and leadership in setting the course. … Our challenges are different than in President Kennedy’s day, but no less imperative for our future. We would do well to remember his legacy, which proves that when we are inspired to think big and believe in ourselves, America can do extraordinary things.

America can do extraordinary things, but that requires effort by all of us. As CalUWild celebrates its 16th anniversary this month, it’s good to remind our members that CalUWild has two equally important goals: to protect wilderness and public lands and to give people the tools and information they need to effectively bring about change and influence decisions.

That brings us to a final point: Keeping on top of the issues facing our Western wildlands, both on the ground and in Washington, and getting the information out to our members and the public, takes a huge amount of time and effort. We can’t do it without the financial support of our members. It’s time again for CalUWild’s annual membership appeal. We will be sending out reminders in the coming weeks. If you’d like to save us the expense of printing and postage, please print out the online membership form and mail it in with your contribution. Many thanks!

Happy Thanksgiving,
Mike

IN UTAH
1.   Red Rock Bill Cosponsor Update
          (ACTION ITEM)
2.   BLM Lease Proposals Pulled
          In the San Rafael Swell
          (ACTION ITEM)
3.   U.S. District Court Strikes Down BLM
          Resource Management Plan

IN CALIFORNIA
4.   Parks Forward Commission Seeks Input
          On the Future of the State Parks
          (ACTION ITEM)
5.   Film Screening in Oakland
          A Fierce Green Fire: The Battle for a Living Planet
          Thursday, December 5, 6 p.m.
          FREE !!

IN GENERAL
6.   Interior Secretary Sally Jewell
          In the News
          (ACTION ITEM)
7.   Job Announcements
          a.   Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance
                     Utah Grassroots Organizer
                     Salt Lake City
                     DEADLINE: Friday, December 6, 2013
          b.   Great Old Broads for Wilderness
                     Communications Director
                     Durango
          c.   Earthjustice
                     Managing Attorney
                     San Francisco

IN THE PRESS
8.   Links to Articles of Interest

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

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

Since our last Update we’ve added another California cosponsor to America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act (H.R. 1630, S.769). Rep. Susan Davis (D-53) signed on last month.

If you live in her district, please send her a message of thanks.

DC Office: 202-225-2040
Webform (constituents only)

Additional cosponsors from California are:

House

Jared Huffman (D-02)
Mike Thompson (D-05)
Doris Matsui (D-06)
Jerry McNerney (D-9)
George Miller (D-11)
Barbara Lee (D-13)
Jackie Speier (D-14)
Mike Honda (D-17)
Anna Eshoo (D-18)
Zoe Lofgren (D-19)
Lois Capps (D-24)
Judy Chu (D-27)
Adam Schiff (D-28)
Tony Cárdenas (D-29)
Grace Napolitano (D-32)
Henry Waxman (D-33)
Linda Sánchez (D-38)
Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-40)
Alan Lowenthal (D-47)

Senate

Barbara Boxer (D)

If your representative is not on the list above, please contact them with the request that they cosponsor the bill. Contact information may be found at the House website.

Nationally, the number of cosponsors stands at 94 in the House and 21 in the Senate.

2.   BLM Lease Proposals Pulled
          In the San Rafael Swell
          (ACTION ITEM)

In our August Update we reported on a proposal by the Utah BLM to lease areas in the San Rafael Swell for oil and gas exploration. In September’s we reported that the proposal had generated quite a bit of protest. (The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance reports that more than 5,000 people contacted BLM opposing the lease plans.) This month we’re very happy to report that BLM has deferred its plans for nearly 100,000 acres of land in the Swell that was most sensitive.

While the parcels may be offered at some future date, the deferral will give the BLM an opportunity to inventory areas for archaeological and other resources, which it has not done.

Predictably, Utah politicians were unhappy with the decision. The Salt Lake Tribune quoted U.S. Sen. Mike Lee (R) as saying it was a “bait and switch” and proved that the BLM is “a vehicle for policies created by radical environmentalists.” The Tribune supported the decision in an editorial.

Please send Utah State Director a note of thanks for this decision.

Mr. Juan Palma
Utah State Director
US BLM
440 West 200 South, Suite 500
Salt Lake City, UT 84101-1345

Email:   utsomail [at] blm [dot] gov

3.   U.S. District Court Strikes Down BLM
          Resource Management Plan

More good news came from Utah this month as a federal judge in Salt Lake City invalidated portions of the BLM Richfield Field Office’s controversial Resource Management Plan (RMP).

In the last year of the Bush Administration, the BLM in Utah pushed through six field office RMPs that gave priority to energy exploration and off-road vehicle (ORV) use, without making any attempt to balance those against wilderness, archaeological, or recreational values. Conservationists objected, but the plans were approved anyway, so they took BLM to federal court.

The judge ruled that the Richfield BLM’s ORV route designations (4,277 miles of them) were invalid because BLM did not acknowledge or take steps to minimize the impacts of ORV use on streams, plants, wildlife, and cultural artifacts. The judge ordered BLM to undertake surveys of archaeological resources before allowing ORV use. Furthermore, the judge rules that BLM’s failure to designate the Henry Mountains as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) was illegal. Finally, the judge ordered BLM to re-evaluate its failure to designate Happy Canyon and other streams under the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act.

The ruling is important because important ecological and recreational areas such as Factory Butte, the Dirty Devil River, the Henry Mountains, and Muddy Creek are under the Richfield office’s jurisdiction. But it also has much wider significance because the other five RMPs issued at the same time suffer from the same defects. Their future is very much in doubt now, too.

The Salt Lake Tribune published an editorial in support of the judge’s decision. And for balance, I guess, just yesterday the paper published a letter from a leader of the ATV community disparaging the ruling. If you’d like to read the decision, click here.

IN CALIFORNIA
4.   Parks Forward Commission Seeks Input
          On the Future of the State Parks
          (ACTION ITEM)

One of the few non-federal land issues CalUWild has followed over the years is the ongoing saga of California’s State Park system and the controversy over its management. The Parks Forward Initiative has been holding hearings and gathering information to bee used in preparing recommendations for the future of the parks. The Initiative has set up a comment form on its website, and citizens are encouraged to submit suggestions and thoughts for the long-term health and survival of the park system.

The following information and talking points come from a letter recently submitted by the California Sierra Club’s Parks Committee. Please use your own words and feel free to add any ideas of your own.
California State Parks are California’s most valuable asset. They contain the largest and most diverse natural and cultural heritage holdings of any state agency in the nation. They protect and preserve over more than 1.4 million acres of our state. Both the land and the facilities must be managed and maintained to prevent degradation of these irreplaceable state assets.

California State Parks are a powerful economic engine accounting for upwards of $6 billion annual economic activity. Money spent on operating and maintaining State Parks is a wise investment. Previous studies have shown that for every one dollar spent from the General Fund on State Parks the same General Fund sees $2.35 in returned tax revenues.

•   Keep the parks open. All of the 280 park units, parks, reserves, recreation areas, beaches, and historic parks must be kept open. They are all irreplaceable assets and used by Californians and visitors alike. The state population is growing, and we need all our parks.

•   Repair and maintain facilities. Public facilities wear out over time and require replacement or significant restoration. Faced with inadequate funds, State Parks staff have extended facility life with a “band-aid” approach. A funding mechanism must be found to pay for this deferred maintenance. One method could be a state bond measure with the funds dedicated to deferred maintenance.

•   Keep the parks accessible to all Californians. The State Parks must be kept financially affordable to all, including those with limited incomes. Further raising access and parking fees will only deter visitation and preclude their use by many residents.

•   Establish long-term, dedicated funding. The State Parks must be allocated an adequate stable source of funding that does not depend on legislative appropriations every year. Possible sources include an extraction tax on oil and gas production, a vehicle tax with free access to Californians, or an addition to the gas tax. Parks Forward should examine what funding sources are used in other states that can be adapted to California.

•   Partnerships must serve the parks first. Partnerships with local non-profit public and private entities may benefit State Parks. The agreements must be carefully controlled to provide that the Park values and amenities are maintained for all visitors. However, partnerships with private for profit entities to manage parks are not appropriate. For-profit entities have limited experience and knowledge about park management, and their goals will be profits, not proper park management or stewardship. If there is a profit to be made from park management, it should inure to its owner the State, not to private entities.

•   Limit ORV Parks. No new ORV parks should be created and existing ORV parks should not be expanded. Opening parkland to ORVs creates severe unavoidable and unacceptable environmental damage to the resource, including large-scale destruction of vegetation and habitat, air pollution, CO2 discharge, and other detrimental environmental effects. ORV use makes the land unusable by any other user and by most wildlife and is contrary to basic purposes of state parks to serve the public and protect the resource.
To submit comments online, click here.

You may also contact the Initiative at:

Parks Forward Initiative
CA Natural Resources Agency
1416 Ninth Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

email:    info [at] parksforward [dot] com
phone:   916-653-7075

Thank you for helping preserve California’s legacy of state parks.

5.   Film Screening in Oakland
          A Fierce Green Fire: The Battle for a Living Planet
          Thursday, December 5, 6 p.m.
          FREE !!

The California State Bar, Environmental Law Section (though definitely not an attorneys-only event) is putting on a free screening of the acclaimed documentary A Fierce Green Fire about the history of the environmental movement. It will show in the auditorium at the

Elihu Harris State Building
1515 Clay Street
Oakland

Thursday, December 5

Near 12th Street BART and public transit.

Doors open at 5:30 and the film begins at 6:00. It will be followed by a discussion with the filmmaker Mark Kitchell, who also made “Berkeley in the 60s,” and Ruth Sakheim. You can learn more about the film here.

IN GENERAL
6.   Interior Secretary Sally Jewell
          In the News
          (ACTION ITEM)

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell made headlines last month when she gave a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. It was the first time she had spelled out the conservation priorities for Pres. Obama’s second term.

The most noteworthy part of the speech was her criticism of Congress for not having designated a single acre of wilderness or as national park in the last three years. She vowed that the administration would designate monuments if Congress fails to do so on its own: “If Congress doesn’t step up to act to protect some of these important places that have been identified by communities and people throughout the country, then the president will take action. There’s no question that if Congress doesn’t act, we will.”

While Secty. Jewell said the Administration wouldn’t be designating monuments in controversial areas, she said that she would be holding meetings with people in communities that have public lands that might be considered for monument designation.

Shortly after her speech House Republicans issued a letter requesting that she make public the names of places the Administration is considering for monument status. You can read the letter here.

Secty. Jewell held one such meeting the very next week in Pt. Arena, along the coast of Northern California. As we reported in our June and July Updates, the House of Representatives has passed legislation reintroduced by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-2) adding the Stornetta Public Lands to the California Coastal Monument. Secty. Jewell was impressed by what she saw of the landscape and the broad support the proposed monument has in the community. The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported on her visit. (The BLM’s website for the Stornetta Public Lands is here.)

In her Press Club speech, Secty. Jewell also called for increased funding for the Park Service and other agencies, as well as full funding of the Land & Water Conservation Fund, which comes from offshore oil & gas royalties, not taxpayers, and is used to buy land for parks and conservation purposes. She also criticized a report issued by Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R-OK) that called for a moratorium on new National Park Service land acquisitions until its maintenance backlog has been addressed. Ms. Jewell bluntly pointed out that the lawmakers making these recommendations are the very same people who vote to reduce the Park Service budget, causing the backlog in the first place.

Her entire speech was posted to YouTube.

While in California, Secty. Jewell also announced a major proposal to increase opportunities for younger people to become involved with and learn about public lands. Her goals include: developing outdoor recreation partnerships in 50 cities for outdoor play for more than 10 million young people; providing educational opportunities for at least 10 million of the nation’s students, kindergarten through high school; engaging 1 million volunteers annually on public lands, tripling the present number; and developing the next generation of lifelong conservation stewards by providing 100,000 work & training opportunities to young people within the agency. The Secretary hopes to raise an additional $20 million to support these youth work and training opportunities.

Outside Magazine contributing editor Bruce Barcott wrote an interesting and in-depth article based on an interview with Secty. Jewell.

“Thank you” is something that public officials don’t hear often enough. Besides simply showing appreciation, it encourages them to say and do more things in the future that we support. Please send Secty. Jewell a thank you for her comments and proposals.

You may comment via the Interior Department’s online comment page or call the Department at:

          202-208-3100

The email address is:

          feedback [at] ios [dot] doi [dot] gov

Her mailing address is:

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

7.   Job Announcements
          a.   Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance
                     Utah Grassroots Organizer
                     Salt Lake City
                     DEADLINE: Friday, December 6, 2013

SUWA is now accepting applications for its Utah Grassroots Organizer position. The Utah Grassroots Organizer works to advance the goal of building and maintaining cohesive statewide support for SUWA’s congressional and administrative efforts to protect Utah’s wilderness lands.

A competitive benefits package includes health care coverage, a retirement plan, and paid vacation and sick days. Opportunities for additional training are available. This position will work out of SUWA’s Salt Lake City office.

Applications are due by Friday, December 6, 2013. For a complete job description and how to apply, click here.

          b.   Great Old Broads for Wilderness
                     Communications Director
                     Durango

Great Old Broads for Wilderness seeks a full-time Communications Director to strategically guide communications, marketing, and public relations; manage and edit print and electronic communications; and develop creative membership outreach. Must be a team player with a sense of humor.

For job description, visit greatoldbroads.org/employment.

To apply, send cover letter, resume, and writing sample to admin [at] greatoldbroads [dot] org with “Communications Director Applicant” in the subject line.

If you know of someone who would bring creativity, brainpower, and boundless energy to this unique and scrappy organization, while being surrounded by fun and determined staff and members, please tell them of this opportunity.

Position is open until filled, so please submit applications soon!

          c.   Earthjustice
                     Managing Attorney
                     San Francisco

Earthjustice is a non-profit public interest law organization dedicated to protecting the magnificent places, natural resources, and wildlife of this earth, and to defending the right of all people to a healthy environment.

The organization has several offices around the country and is looking for a managing attorney for the San Francisco office. Click here for the job description and details.

IN THE PRESS
8.   Links to Articles of Interest

Articles about a Hearing Last Week in the Senate on Various Wilderness Bills:

Lake County News (CA)—Senate subcommittee holds hearing for Berryessa Snow Mountain conservation area designation

The Durango Herald (CO) —Lawmakers unanimous for Hermosa Creek: Proposed legislation would manage, protect 108,000 acres

Public News Service (NM)—Congress Considers NM’s Columbine-Hondo as Wilderness

Great Falls Tribune (MT)—Heritage Act comes before panel: Senate committee to consider protecting Rocky Mountain Front

An article about an excursion during the recent government shutdown. (N.B.: Mention of this article here does not imply CalUWild support for trespassing.)

As always, if you ever have questions, suggestions, critiques, or wish to unsubscribe, all you have to do is send an email. For information on making a contribution to CalUWild, click here.

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2012 November

November 19th, 2012


DuNoir Bonneville Pass, Shoshone National Forest, Wyoming
(photo: Wyoming Wilderness Association)

November 15, 2012

Dear friends and supporters—

CalUWild is celebrating its 15th Anniversary this month!

America’s wilderness and public lands are among our greatest treasure and blessings, so it’s fitting that our anniversary falls in the month that we celebrate Thanksgiving.

We’ve come a long way since we began work on the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument management plan in 1997. We soon began working to protect the other wild areas in Utah, working with the Utah Wilderness Coalition to support inventories and legislation. Other states stepped up their citizen wilderness inventories and other efforts, and CalUWild broadened its scope to support them as well.

At the same time CalUWild has kept a focus on how people can effectively use the (admittedly imperfect) political system in favor of public lands rather than succumb to the cynicism that often infects the country.

There have been some disappointments, but overall, we can report success. Our membership stands at over 800. The number of monuments has grown, too. And while no comprehensive wilderness bill for Utah has passed, several smaller ones have. We’ve also beaten back legislation that would have had negative impacts. Wilderness bills have passed in California, Nevada, and other states. The Clinton-era Forest Service Roadless Rule has finally been upheld. Opportunities for volunteer activities on public lands are increasing.

CalUWild is proud to be a part of these efforts, but the real success belongs to you. Thank you for your support, both of our wild places and for the organization.

Speaking of support for the organisation, November and December traditionally bring our Annual Membership Appeal.

We do need your financial support in addition to your phone calls, letters, and comments. It’s been a rough few years for everyone, but our expenses keep going up. (The Postal Service just raised the fee for our post office box by 25%, from $96 to $124, for example.) At the same time, support from foundations continues to decrease.

We continue to run as lean and responsibly as possible, but we need to ask you to help out. Dues have always been voluntary (but appreciated), and we’d like to keep it that way. We ask your understanding then as—for the first time in many years—we find it necessary to increase our suggested membership contribution levels.

You can help us save printing and postage costs by printing the online membership form and mailing it to us with your contribution before the Appeal goes out. Thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving,
Mike

P.S. (ACTION ITEM)
Just as I was ready to hit SEND, Jim Catlin at the Wild Utah Project and CalUWild Advisory Board member, forwarded a petition currently at SignOn.org that I think is worth including at the last minute.

If you’ve been to Moab, Utah, you have likely heard of and hiked in Negro Bill Canyon. The name has long been the subject of debate and embarrassment. The petition requests the USGS Board of Geographic Names, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Grand (Utah) County Council to formally change the name to Grandstaff Canyon (the correct spelling of his name). If you’d like to sign the petition, click here.

IN UTAH
1.   Outdoor Industry Association Letter
          Supports Greater Canyonlands Monument
          (ACTION ITEM)
2.   Quick Update on Tim DeChristopher
IN CALIFORNIA & BEYOND
3.   Election Results
4.   Lawsuit Filed over Fees in Four Southern California Forests
5.   This Just In: Gov. Brown Appoints
          New California State Parks Director
IN WYOMING
6.   Shoshone National Forest
          Management Plan Comments Due
          DEADLINE: November 26
          (ACTION ITEM)
IN GENERAL
7.   House Democrats Announce Resume Bank
IN THE PRESS
8.   Links to Articles of Interest


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

IN UTAH
1.   Outdoor Industry Association Letter
          Supports Greater Canyonlands Monument
          (ACTION ITEM)

The Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) and 113 outdoor businesses this week released a letter calling on Pres. Obama to designate a large area surrounding Canyonlands National Park in southeast Utah as a national monument. Calling Greater Canyonlands “without question a world class landscape deserving of the highest levels of protection,” the letter went on to say: “It is a place of unparalleled beauty, a geologic wonderland and a treasure trove of ancient cultural and archeological artifacts. Greater Canyonlands also offers superlative recreational opportunities that draw people from around the globe.”

Additionally, the OIA letter pointed out the large contribution that outdoor recreation makes to the U.S. economy, “generating $646 billion in national sales and services in 2011 and supporting 6.1 million jobs, powering the economy in a manner comparable to the financial services and insurance industries or outpatient health care.”

We welcome the OIA taking a strong position on this important conservation initiative!
For a map showing the monument proposal, click here.

To read the OIA letter, click here.

You can add your voice to those asking for a Greater Canyonlands National Monument by calling the White House at:

202-456-1111

You can also leave a comment on the White House website comment form.

2.   Quick Update on Tim DeChristopher

We reported last month that Tim DeChristopher, convicted of making illegal bids in a 2008 oil & gas lease sale, was eligible for a work-release program. It turns out that the Federal Bureau of Prisons decided not to allow him to work with the Unitarian Universalist Church on social justice issues, since they said his crime itself involved social justice—despite the fact that Federal Judge Dee Benson never permitted him to mention it in court. He wrote an article appearing in the current issue of the Unitarian magazine UU World, on the philosophy of activism. Click here to read it. A profile of Mr. DeChristopher also appears there.

Tim was offered a job working at a bookstore in Salt Lake City instead.

IN CALIFORNIA & BEYOND
3.   Election Results

The White House
As everyone knows, President Barack Obama was re-elected. In his first term he was not the strongest proponent of public lands, but he did reverse some of the worst policies of the previous administration. He designated four new national monuments, and two of them, Ft. Ord and César Chávez, are in California. The other two are Chimney Rock in Colorado and Ft. Monroe in Virginia. CalUWild was involved at some level in the campaigns to designate each of these.

It’s not clear at this point what changes will take place in the president’s cabinet. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has been reported to be hoping to return to Colorado, but has made no formal announcement. Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture (which oversees the Forest Service), has also made no announcement. His wife lost a bid to be elected to Congress from Iowa.

U.S. Senate
In California, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) easily won re-election. Sen. Feinstein has been a champion of California desert issues for many years. (Sen. Barbara Boxer is not up for re-election until 2016.) Overall, the Democrats picked up two seats and with three Independents likely to caucus with them they hold a 55 – 45 seat majority in the Senate.

U.S. House of Representatives
With newly redrawn House districts and an open primary system, California had an interesting election. Several races involved either incumbents running against each other or two candidates from the same party. Overall the prognosis for public lands looks good.
There are still some races that have not been decided, but nationally, it looks like the Republicans lost a few seats, though they retained their majority. Committee assignments have not been announced. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announced yesterday that she would seek to retain her position.

Here is a rundown of some races of note, using the new district numbers.

Dist. 1:   Jared Huffman (D) replaced retiring Rep. Lynn Woolsey. We thank Rep. Woolsey for always being a champion of wilderness and public lands. Mr. Huffman was an assemblyman prior to this election and had a good environmental record.

Dist. 3:   Rep. John Garamendi (D) was re-elected. He is a former Deputy Secretary of the Interior and also a longtime public lands champ.

Dist. 5:   Rep. Mike Thompson (D) was re-elected. Rep. Thompson was the chief sponsor of the North Coast wilderness bill, but he represents a more inland district now.

Dist. 7:   This race has not been finalized, but at this point, Rep. Dan Lungren (R), former California Attorney General and no friend of the environment is trailing Ami Bera (D).

Dist. 15:   20-term Congressman Pete Stark (D) lost his bid for re-election to fellow Democrat Eric Swalwell. Rep. Stark has been a longtime friend of the environment and a member of CalUWild’s Advisory Board. We thank him for his support over the years and wish him well!

Dist. 24:   Rep. Lois Capps (D), also a longtime wilderness supporter, was re-elected in a tight race against former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado (R).

Dist. 30:   Rep. Brad Sherman (D) defeated fellow Democratic Rep. Howard Berman. Both have been supporters of public lands and the environment in general. Rep. Sherman is also a member of CalUWild’s Advisory Board. We wish Rep. Sherman well and thank him for his support.

Dist. 35:   Gloria Neglete McLeod (D) defeated Democratic incumbent Rep. Joe Baca, who was not very strong on conservation issues.

Dist. 36:   Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R) lost her bid for re-election to Democrat Raul Ruiz. Rep. Bono Mack was the author of several public lands bills, including the creation of Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument and several wilderness bills. We appreciate her support over the years.

Dist. 51:   Rep. Bob Filner left Congress to be elected mayor of San Diego. Rep. Filner has also been a longtime champion of wildlands and environmental protection. Rep. Filner is a member of CalUWild’s Advisory Board, and we wish him well in his new role. Juan Vargas (D) was elected to fill the seat.

Dist. 52:   Rep. Brian Bilbray (R) lost his race to Democrat Scott Peters. We thank Rep. Bilbray for being the author of the Otay Mountain Wilderness Act in 1999.

In Utah:   Gov. Bob Herbert was re-elected, as was the entire congressional delegation. The state also gained a fourth congressional seat in the last census, and Republican Chris Stewart was chosen to fill it. Utah Rep. Rob Bishop may be in line to head the House Natural Resources Committee.

In Arizona:   Proposition 120, which would have amended the state’s constitution to claim sovereignty over all the land within the state’s borders, taking all federal lands away, failed by a two-to-one margin.

4.   Lawsuit Filed over Fees in Four Southern California Forests

In the February 2012 Update we reported that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled against the Forest Service and its fee program for simply parking or hiking in undeveloped forest areas in Arizona. In theory, the decision applies to the Forest Service in California, since it also lies in the Ninth Circuit. However, the Angeles, Cleveland, Los Padres, and San Bernardino national forests continue to require that an “Adventure Pass” be displayed on parked vehicles, even when people are only hiking and not using the types of developed facilities that the law requires.

Four Californians had enough and filed suit last month in District Court in Los Angeles to enforce the Ninth Circuit’s ruling. The following is an excerpt from the plaintiff’s statement when filing the suit:

“It should now be possible to go for a hike in your local forest without having to risk a ticket if you don’t pay an access fee,” says plaintiff Alasdair Coyne, Conservation Director of Keep Sespe Wild, a Los Padres watershed organization based in Ojai. “Eight months after the Arizona court ruling is quite enough time for the Forest Service to bring their other local fee programs into compliance. The Forest Service is not above the law.”

Recreation fees on federal land are governed by the 2004 Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, or REA. Fees are authorized under the REA for use of campgrounds and day use sites that meet certain minimum requirements, but fees are prohibited for some activities, even where those requirements are met. The activities for which fees are prohibited include parking, passing through without use of facilities and services, camping in dispersed undeveloped areas, and general access.

The hikers challenging the Adventure Pass are represented by public interest attorneys Matt Kenna of Durango, Colorado, and René Voss of San Anselmo, California, with support from the Colorado-based Western Slope No-Fee Coalition.

“The 9th Circuit ruling is quite clear that forest visitors who don’t use developed facilities can’t be charged a fee,” said Coalition President Kitty Benzar. “Yet fee signage across southern California’s four National Forests, as well as information on the Adventure Pass website, says you must pay just to park your car to access trails, rivers, lakes, and undeveloped backcountry. People are being intimidated into paying illegal fees under threat of federal prosecution. We are confident this lawsuit will put a stop to that.”

You may read a copy of the lawsuit here. The Forest Service has 60 days to respond.

5.   This Just In: Gov. Brown Appoints
          New California State Parks Director

Two days ago, Gov. Jerry Brown appointed retired Major Gen. Anthony Jackson (USMC) as head of the California State Parks System. We’ve reported regularly over the last few years on the funding and other challenges facing the parks. While we don’t know much yet about Gen. Jackson’s approach to these issues, we do know that he has his work cut out for him.

Click on the links below to read articles about the appointment.

Los Angeles Times

Sacramento Bee

San Francisco Chronicle

IN WYOMING
6.   Shoshone National Forest
          Management Plan Comments Due
          DEADLINE: November 26
          (ACTION ITEM)

We received the following alert from our friends at the Wyoming Wilderness Association, somewhat edited for space and formatting. If you’re interested in a map or more information and suggestions, go to WWA’s website.

Your comments will help keep our Nation’s FIRST National Forest & critical link to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem — a Wild Legacy for generations to come!

WWA encourages you to participate in the 90-day public comment period for the Shoshone National Forest Draft Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Writing in your own words and about your own experience in the wild and your own personal connection to these areas will have greater impact and be treated as an individual comment.

Important Wilderness Recommendations we urge the Agency to include in the Final Plan:

WILDERNESS: The Forest Service should recommend a few key wilderness areas (and they have not in their preferred alternative) in the Final Plan. We urge the agency to adopt wilderness recommendations for the DuNoir, the DuNoir Additions, Wood River, Franc’s Peak, and Trout Creek as outlined in Alternative D (learn more about these special areas inside).

ROADLESS AREAS: The Forest Service must not allow new motorized roads or trails in inventoried roadless areas. The agency must manage all 684,800 acres of primitive roadless areas as backcountry non-motorized (Management Area 1.3).

SPECIFIC WILD AREAS:

DuNoir Special Management Unit & Additions
•   38,000 acres, Rated HIGH in all wilderness criteria in 2008 & 2012 Forest Service Wilderness Evaluations
•   Long recognized for wilderness characteristics (recommended three times since 1970s). Now is the time!
•   Great public access & many diverse backcountry recreation opportunities from hunting to backpacking to horse packing & wildlife viewing & solitude;
•   Superb scenic values including the iconic Ramshorn Peak, Brook’s Lake Pinnacles, & Kissinger Lakes;
•   Prime elk habitat & critical elk calving grounds, home to grizzly bear, trout, & bighorn sheep; and
•   Existing wilderness characteristics are threatened by motorized & mechanized use which are inconsistent with management prescriptions.

Trout Creek
•   40,000 acres, Rated HIGH in all wilderness criteria in 2008 & 2012 Forest Service Wilderness Evaluations
•   Important lower-elevation habitat for bighorn sheep, mule deer, elk, & grizzly bear;
•   Prime opportunities for solitude & primitive recreation, no current motorized recreation;
•   Adjacent to North Absaroka Wilderness & bordered by private lands which help keep area intact; and
•   Spectacular view-shed in Trout Creek Basin with views of entire Big Horn Basin.

Wood River & Franc’s Peak
•   Wood River 57,000 acres, Franc’s Peak 68,000 acres, Rated HIGH or MODERATE in all wilderness criteria in 2008 & 2012 Forest Service Wilderness Evaluations;
•   Middle Fork of the Wood River recognized for wilderness protection since 1970s;
•   Rich cultural heritage highlighted by a few of the world’s most substantive prehistoric archeological sites; and
•   Critical lower-elevation habitat, including identified army-cutworm moth grizzly-feeding sites, coveted bighorn sheep hunt units, winter range for elk & even pronghorn!

You can see the plan here.

Submit your comments by email to: shoshone_forestplan [at] fs [dot] fed [dot] us.

or by U.S. Mail to:

Shoshone National Forest
Forest Plan Comments
808 Meadow Lane Avenue
Cody, WY 82414

Deadline for email and postmarks is November 26.
If you have any questions, please contact Sara at 307-455-2246 or sara [at] wildwyo [dot] org.

IN GENERAL
7.   House Democrats Announce Resume Bank

The following announcement arrived last week. Please pass it along to anyone you know who might be interested. If we hear of anything similar from the Republican side, we’ll be sure to send it out as well.

Whip Hoyer, House Democratic Caucuses Announce the Launch of House Democrats’ First Online Resume Bank

WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD), the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), the Blue Dog Coalition, the New Democrat Coalition, and the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) announced jointly today that they have launched a new resume bank at democraticwhip.gov/resumes where members of the public can submit resumes that will be viewable by all new and existing House Democratic offices. For the large freshman class of Democrats that will be joining the 113th Congress, this will be a useful tool as they set up their offices and hire staff members.

“The resume bank launched today will allow House Democrats to improve our hiring process and further strengthen our staff diversity,” said House Democratic Whip Hoyer. “It advances our commitment to openness, transparency, and equal opportunity by creating a new way for any citizen to submit a resume that will be shared with all House Democratic offices, including the large incoming freshmen class. We are excited to launch this new, unprecedented process, which we believe will be an invaluable resource to our Members as they prepare for the 113th Congress, and for applicants looking for a job on Capitol Hill.”

Members of the public can go online to democraticwhip.gov/resumes where they can fill out a form and upload a copy of their resume. That information will then be posted in a searchable, sortable resume bank on DemCom, the official intranet for House Democratic staff. Democratic offices will be able to browse candidates for open positions, and DemCom users will be able to recommend, endorse, or comment on submissions in the resume bank, either in their personal capacity, or on behalf of their office.

Democratic Whip Hoyer’s office manages DemCom, which has been in use for four years and is used regularly by over 2,000 House Democratic staffers. DemCom hosts all internal documents within the Democratic Caucus including “Dear Colleague” Member letters, Leadership fact sheets and talking points, organization position papers, and public sentiment from POPVOX.com, all organized by specific legislation.

IN THE PRESS
8.   Links to Articles of Interest

Salt Lake Tribune
Arches trying to cure 50 years of growing pains

Los Angeles Times
A High Sierra State of Mind

San Francisco Chronicle
Google cameras map popular Grand Canyon trails

Tags: ,
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2011 November

January 19th, 2012


Cathedral Peak, Yosemite Wilderness                                                                                      Mike Painter

November 30, 2011

Dear Friends of CalUWild —

We began last month’s Update with the news that Pres. Obama was going to finally use the Antiquities Act to designate a national monument. The reports of the impending action turned out to be true and he designated Fort Monroe National Monument in Virginia. The New York Times is running a series of columns marking the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. On November 1, they published a column discussing the history and significance of Ft. Monroe.

The designation was one of the projects of the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative. Later in the month, the White House made public a report that included list of 101 projects (two in each state) that it would be promoting. (The report can be downloaded at the link.) The two projects for California are the restoration of the San Joaquin River National Blueway and improvements to the Los Angeles and San Gabriel River Trails.

At last the Administration is taking some positive steps!

As mentioned last month, it’s time for CalUWild’s end-of-the-year membership appeal. We don’t do direct mail, we don’t mail out numerous letters during the year. But we do rely on contributions to help pay for phone and Internet, occasional travel to meetings, postage, and small salary, among other things. Unlike other organizations, dues have never been mandatory, but funding is still critical. A coupon is again at the end of this Update. Printing and mailing it in with your contribution will help us save on expenses. Your support and generosity are greatly appreciated.

Best wishes for the holidays,
Mike

IN UTAH
1.   Counties and State File More Road Claims

IN CALIFORNIA
2.   Pt. Reyes Oyster Farm Study Released
          Comment Deadline Extended
          NEW DEADLINE: December 9
           (ACTION ITEM)

IN GENERAL
3.   Secretary Salazar Recommends 18 New Wilderness Areas

FOR THE HOLIDAYS
4.   Friends of Nevada Wilderness 2012 Calendar

IN THE PRESS
5.   Articles and Other Links of Interest

MEMBERSHIP FORM

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IN UTAH
1.   Counties and State File More Road Claims

Kane and Garfield Counties, as well as the State of Utah, filed suit this month to claim more roads under R.S. 2477, the Civil War-era statue that granted rights-of-way for road construction. They are claiming title to pretty much all the “roads” on BLM and Park Service land (including in Grand Staircase-Escalante NM and Glen Canyon NRA) in each county that had not been included in prior litigation. Garfield County is claiming 94 roads, Kane County 710.

This litigation is just the latest round in the attempts by counties in Utah and the State to get title to roads across federal lands. We’ll keep you posted at the case progresses.

IN CALIFORNIA
2.   Pt. Reyes Oyster Farm Study Released
          Comment Deadline Extended
          NEW DEADLINE: December 9
          (ACTION ITEM)

The federal Marin Mammal commission issued a new report examining some of the environmental controversies surrounding the Drakes Bay Oyster Company’s operations Pt. Reyes National Seashore, particularly the effects on harbor seal populations. The verdict: more study is needed. For a detailed discussion of the issues in the report, the National Parks Traveler has an excellent overview. The report may be found online here.

To all allow time for people to read the report and incorporate it into their comments, the Park Service has extended the deadline for comments 10 days. The new deadline is December 9.

We see the environmental issues raised about the operation as being secondary to the intent of the law passed in 1972, which designated Drake’s Estero as potential wilderness, and therefore a distraction from that main issue. As we said in our September Update:

CalUWild supports the “No Action” Alternative A, based on procedural grounds. When Congress passed the bill creating the Philip Burton Wilderness, the oyster farm was designated “potential” wilderness with the expectation that the oyster farm would become part of the wilderness area when its permit expired in 2012. The present owner bought the operation knowing that. Pres umably that was reflected in the price he paid. Only later did he decide that he wanted to continue operations past 2012.

Since only Congress can designate wilderness, any changes to the 1972 wilderness law should have taken place in Congress, with full hearings. That never happened. Instead, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) introduced a rider to another bill mandating an extension, though it was later changed to an “authorization” to the Interior Secretary. This EIS is the result. Though an EIS process is a public process, it still does not comply with the 1964 Wilderness Act, giving Congress the final say in designating areas.

Comments may be submitted online. The direct link is:

          http://parkplanning.nps.gov/commentForm.cfm?documentID=43390.

You may also mail or hand deliver comments to:

          Draft EIS DBOC SUP c/o Superintendent
          Point Reyes National Seashore
          1 Bear Valley Road
          Point Reyes Station, CA 94956

Comments will not be accepted by FAX, e-mail, or in any other way than those specified above.

In response to the drawn-out saga of the Park Service’s relationship to the oyster company, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, chaired by California Rep. Darrell Issa (R-49), announced it would investigate the situation, beginning in November. Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-6), in whose district Pt. Reyes lies, spoke out against the investigation, saying it was politically motivated. Rep. Issa has opened numerous investigations into the Administration’s activities, so many in fact, that the NY Times has labeled Rep. Issa the Administration’s “annoyer-in-chief.”

We’ll keep following and reporting on the issue as it develops further.

IN GENERAL
3.   Secretary Salazar Recommends 18 New Protected Areas

Earlier this month, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar released a report nominating 18 areas that the Administration thinks are worthy of protection, either as designated wilderness or in national conservation areas. About half the areas are included in bills that have been introduced in this Congress. Some, like Gold Butte in Nevada, have been the subject of previously introduced legislation.

Nine of the 18 are in California and most are included in Sen. Feinstein’s Desert Bill and the Beauty Mountain and Agua Tibia Wilderness Act, introduced by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-49). In Northern California, the Secretary recommended wilderness designation for English Ridge, along the Eel River.

The areas recommended in other states are:

Colorado— San Juan Mountains/McKenna Peak Wilderness Study Area and Castle Peak Wilderness Study Area and Addition

Idaho—Jerry Peak Wilderness Study Areas in the Boulder-White Clouds Region.

Montana—Sleeping Giant and Sheep Creek Wilderness Study Areas

Nevada—Pine Forest Range—Blue Lakes and Alder Creek Wilderness Study Areas

New Mexico—Rio Grande del Norte National Conservation Area and Wilderness Areas

Oregon—Devil’s Staircase and the Wild Rogue River

Utah—Desolation, Westwater, and Mill Creek Canyons in Grand County

Washington—San Juan Islands National Conservation Area

The report is the Administration’s response to the furor that erupted earlier in the year over the Wildlands Policy. These particular areas were chosen because they have significant local and often bipartisan support. Recommendations for inclusion in the report originally came from officials and citizens in the states themselves. However, Secty. Salazar said that the list was meant as a starting point rather than a final determination that these are the only areas deserving of protection.

You can read the report online or download it here.

FOR THE HOLIDAYS
4.   Friends of Nevada Wilderness 2012 Calendar

Every year, Friends of Nevada Wilderness publishes a calendar featuring spectacular photos of the some of the wild areas in that state. Perfect as a gift or for your own use, the price is $12, which includes shipping.

You may order online, by phone (775-324-7667), or by mail:

          Friends of Nevada Wilderness
          P.O. Box 9754
          Reno, NV  89507

IN THE PRESS
5.   Articles and Other Links of Interest

Outside Magazine on Tim DeChristopher, who tried to buy Utah oil & gas leases:

          The Trials of Bidder 70

Editorials and Op-ed Pieces against H.R. 1581, the WSA Release Act

          The San Francisco Chronicle

          The Bakersfield Californian, by Jim Eaton, founder and former ED of the California Wilderness Coalition

          The Sacramento Bee, by Steve Frisch, president of the Sierra Business Council

Interview with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, in the Washington Post

National Parks Conservation Association Report on the funding needs of America’s national parks

MEMBERSHIP FORM

We share as much information as possible with our members via e-mail, but it may sometimes be necessary to contact you by mail or phone. This information will NOT be given out to ANYone for ANY reason.

Mr./Ms.:
Name:
Address:
City:
State:
Zip:
Phone:
Fax:
E-mail:
Congressional Representative:

DUES:

Dues are used to help offset some of CalUWild’s lobbying and other expenses. Dues are not tax deductible, and checks should be made out to “CalUWild“.

A tax-deductible contribution may be made payable to “Resource Renewal Institute“.

__  $15  Limited
__  $25  Regular
__  $50  Supporting
__  $100  Outstanding
__  Other  ________

Either way, please mail your check with membership information to:

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

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2010 November

October 24th, 2011

Sand Dunes, Death Valley National Park                                                                                       Mike Painter

November 30, 2010

Dear CalUWild friends and supporters —

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and the year-end holidays are upon us. I hope you have had opportunity this past year to get out and enjoy some of the West’s spectacular public lands. And as this holiday season moves along, let’s not forget to give thanks for the gift of them and re-dedicate ourselves to working for their protection—because with the election earlier this month, we’re going to have to redouble our efforts in the next Congress. See ITEM 1 for more.

Since we’re coming to the end of the year, it’s time for CalUWild’s Annual Appeal. Dues have never been mandatory at CalUWild because our main interest has always been to have members who are willing to write letters and be otherwise actively involved in public lands protection, regardless of their ability to contribute financially.

Our basic contribution levels have been $15 (Limited) and $25 (Regular) for many years—though of course, contributions of any size (larger or smaller) are always been welcome. If everyone receiving the Monthly Update were to contribute an average of $20, it would go a long way to covering our annual expenses. We realize times are difficult now for many, but when you receive your Annual Appeal, either in the mail or electronically, we hope you’ll consider helping out.

This month, CalUWild turned 13. It’s been an interesting and rewarding undertaking, and I hope you’ve found the information we provide useful and interesting. Our true effectiveness comes, though, from the many letters and phone calls that you, as citizens, write and make to elected and administrative officials, as well as to newspapers.

Thank you for all of your interest, support, and efforts over the years!

Mike

IN GENERAL
1.   Election Results & Analysis
2.   Omnibus Public Lands Bill Possible
          Calls Needed Immediately
          (URGENT ACTION ITEM)
3.   Interior Secretary Issues Order
          National Landscape Conservation System

ON THE BORDER
4.   GAO Issues Report on Public Lands Laws and Border Enforcement

FOR THE HOLIDAYS
5.   John Adams: At the San Francisco Symphony
6.   Howard Wilshire: The American West at Risk
7.   Tim Palmer: Rivers of California

AT THE MOVIES
8.   127 Hours

IN THE PRESS
9.   Articles of Interest

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

IN GENERAL
1.   Election Results & Analysis

The midterm elections earlier this month will change the political landscape in Washington and elsewhere for the foreseeable future.

The major shift took place in the House of Representatives, where the Republicans will be in control when the 112th Congress opens in January. Bills protecting public lands, other natural resources, and the environment in general will have a more difficult time getting passed. Instead, bills with negative consequences will likely be more common. Of particular concern will be energy development on public lands, whether oil & gas, oil shale, or tar sands. The Arctic Refuge may also once again be subject to legislative attack, to open it to oil & gas drilling. In addition, there is talk of amending the Antiquities Act of 1906, which gives the President the power to designate national monuments without the approval of Congress.

San Francisco’s Nancy Pelosi will no longer be Speaker, but as Minority Leader, she will still be able to use her influence among the Democrats to fight off what they can.

The House Committee on Natural Resources will have a new chairman, likely Doc Hastings of Washington. He’s not known as a friend of the environment and has indicated the Committee’s priorities will be “to hold the Administration accountable and get much needed answers on a range of issues including the de facto offshore drilling moratorium in the Gulf, potential new monument designations and plans to lock up vast portions of our oceans through an irrational zoning process.” Utah’s Rep. Rob Bishop is likely to be chairman of the Subcommittee on National Parks and Public Lands. He is also no friend of wilderness, so it’s unlikely that any genuinely protective legislation will emerge from the Committee. Finally, don’t be surprised if the Natural Resources Committee changes its name to the “Committee on Resources,” as it did the last time the Republicans were in the majority.

California bucked the overall trend, though, and the balance of House seats between the two major parties remains the same here after the election: 19 Republicans and 34 Democrats.

The results from the House elections, though, do not spell the end for our public lands. Legislation must still get through the Senate and be signed (or vetoed) by the President. Many of our battles will more likely be defensive in nature, rather than proactive. The Democrats retained control of the Senate, though by a slightly reduced margin, making any filibuster attempt more difficult to overcome.

California’s Senator Barbara Boxer, a champion of wilderness in this state and around the West, retained her seat with 52.2% of the vote. Her main opponent, Carly Fiorina, received 42.2%. Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, a supporter of wilderness and one of the most thoughtful members of the Senate, lost his seat, a major loss on many fronts.

So we have our work cut out for us, but the situation is by no means hopeless. We’ll continue to keep you informed about how your actions can impact decision-making in Washington and on the ground in the West.

2.   Omnibus Public Lands Bill Possible
          Calls Needed Immediately
          (URGENT ACTION ITEM)

The word from Washington, DC this morning was that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) would be making up his mind in the next day or two whether to allow the Omnibus Public Lands Act of 2010 to come to a vote. The bill would consolidate some 60 wilderness and other public lands bills that have had committee hearings but have never come to the floor for a vote.

Please call Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein Wednesday urging them to give Sen. Reid their support for such a bill. (Sorry for the short timing on this.) Given the extremely low probability of any of these bills making it through on their own this session, and the even lower probability in the next Congress (see ITEM 1), this is their last chance.

Sen. Barbara Boxer

          DC:   202-224-3553
          SF:   415-403-0100
          LA:   213-894-5000

Sen. Dianne Feinstein

          DC:   202-224-3841
          SF:   415-393-0707
          LA: 310-914-7300

Highlights of a Possible Bill (including bills that CalUWild has written about in the past)

Utah has one bill for inclusion: The Wasatch Wilderness and Watershed Management Act, designating some 15,000 acres of wilderness and a slightly smaller acreage of Special Management Areas, in the mountains just east of Salt Lake City.

California has four bills likely to be included:

1.) Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s California Desert Protection Act, creating 2 new national monuments, expanding Death Valley and Joshua Tree National Parks, in addition to designating more wilderness.

2.)   Upgrading Pinnacles National Monument to a National Park and adding some 3,000 acres to its wilderness areas.

3.)   The Big Sur Forest Management Act, adding 2000 acres to the Ventana Wilderness in Los Padres National Forest, and designating several rivers and creeks as “Wild and Scenic.”

4.)   The Beauty Mountain Agua Tibia Wilderness Act would enlarge the present Beauty Mountain and Agua Tibia Wilderness areas near San Diego by about 2,000 acres.

Colorado has several bills as well:

1.)   The Eagle and Summit County Wilderness Preservation Act would designate 165,000 acres in the area around Vail—both new areas and additions to existing ones.

2.)   The San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act would add 33,500 acres to the Mt. Sneffels and Lizard Head Wilderness Areas, and create another new area.

3.)   The Colorado Wilderness Act of 2009, protecting 850,000 acres divided up among 30-plus areas.

New Mexico has two bills:

1.)   The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Wilderness Act would designate 270,000 acres of wilderness in the area around Las Cruces. An additional 110,000 acres would become a national conservation area.

2.)   The El Río Grande Del Norte National Conservation Area Establishment Act would encompass the 235,000 acres of the Rio Grande Gorge and designate 21,000 acres of wilderness in two areas.

The Omnibus Bill would likely also include legislation concerned with lands in Arizona, Michigan, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Washington, West Virginia.

3.   Interior Secretary Issues Order for
          National Landscape Conservation System

One of the highlights of the 2009 Omnibus Lands Bill was a section giving legislative permanence to the National Landscape Conservation System, a designation of lands of special significance, managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued an official order on November 15 officially outlining the management policy for the lands included in the System. Here is the most important part of the Order :

Sec. 4 Policy

a. The BLM shall ensure that the components of the NLCS are managed to protect the values for which they were designated, including, where appropriate, prohibiting uses that are in conflict with those values. If consistent with such protection, appropriate multiple uses may be allowed, consistent with the applicable law and the relevant designations under which the components were established.

b. The NLCS components shall be managed as an integral part of the larger landscape, in collaboration with the neighboring landowners and surrounding communities, to maintain biodiversity, and promote ecological connectivity and resilience in the face of climate change.

c. Components of the NLCS shall be managed to offer visitors the adventure of experiencing natural, cultural and historic landscapes through self-directed discovery.

d. Science shall be integrated into management decisions concerning NLCS components in order to enhance land and resource stewardship and promote greater understanding of lands and resources through research and education.

e. The NLCS shall serve as a place to build and sustain diverse communities of partners and volunteers dedicated to conserving, protecting, restoring, and interpreting our natural and cultural heritage.

f. The NLCS shall recognize the importance of a diversity of viewpoints when considering management options. Accordingly, the NLCS shall be managed from an interdisciplinary perspective. In so doing, the NLCS shall draw upon the expertise of specialists throughout the BLM, in coordination with the tribes, other Federal, state, and local government agencies, interested local landowners, adjacent communities, and other public and private interests. When seeking these viewpoints, the NLCS must consider the requirements of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, and any other applicable laws and regulations.

g. The NLCS shall endeavor to inspire the next generation of natural resource and public land stewards by engaging youth through education, interpretation, partnerships, and job opportunities.

The full text of the Secretarial Order is available online here.

ON THE BORDER
4.   GAO Issues Report on Public Lands Laws and Border Enforcement

One of the arguments that anti-wilderness legislators and others often raise against wilderness designation is that it interferes with the Border Patrol’s ability to patrol the country’s borders, particularly with Mexico. Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to do a study of how public lands laws, such as the Wilderness Act, NEPA, and other laws affect this situation.

In October, the GAO released a draft of the report. The main conclusion was: “Despite the access delays and restrictions, 22 of the 26 agents-in-charge reported that the overall security status of their jurisdiction is not affected by land management laws. Instead, factors such as the remoteness and ruggedness of the terrain have the greatest effect on their ability to achieve operational control.” (Emphasis added.)

Though there were some conflicts cited, in general there does not seem to be a problem. The entire report is available online here.

FOR THE HOLIDAYS

We sometimes highlight holiday gift ideas by members of CalUWild’s Advisory Board and other friends of the organization. This year the tradition continues. The books mentioned can be found at or ordered through your local bookseller (or online).

5.   John Adams: At the San Francisco Symphony

Advisory Board member, composer John Adams of Berkeley, is the distinguished artist of the San Francisco Symphony’s “Project San Francisco” this December. The Symphony will present a series of concerts of Adams’s works over the course of the next two weeks at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco.

Performances include:

John Adams conducting El Niño, a Nativity Oratorio, December 2, 3, & 4, with soloists and chorus

Michael Tilson Thomas conducting Adams’s Harmonielehre and works by Cowell and Mozart, December 8, 9, 10 & 11

A program of chamber music by Adams, December 12

For ticket and other information, go to the San Francisco Symphony’s website.

John won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2003, and he wrote an engaging autobiography and memoir, Hallelujah Junction: Composing an American Life, two years ago, which is still available.

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN-10: 0374281157

John’s own website is at http://www.earbox.com/.

6.   Howard Wilshire: The American West at Risk

Also two years ago, but still timely, is Advisory Board member Howard Wilshire’s The American West at Risk, written with Jane Nielson and Richard Hazlett. The book is a comprehensive look at the many issues facing the landscape of the West, including forestry, agriculture, grazing, and oil.

Howard also has website that contains an occasional blog with updates on the issues discussed in the book at http://www.theamericanwestatrisk.com/

Hardcover: 619 pages
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
ISBN-10: 0195142055
ISBN-13: 978-0195142051

7.   Tim Palmer: Rivers of California

CalUWild friend Tim Palmer has authored many books on the landscape of the West. His latest is about the many rivers of the Golden State. It includes many of Tim’s stunning photos. Tim says about the book: “With 174 color photos and 5 chapters of text, I tried to capture the essence, importance, and splendor of these watery places we all love.”

For more information, visit http://riversofcalifornia.blogspot.com/

Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Heyday Books
ISBN-10: 1597141291
ISBN-13: 978-1597141291

Also visit Heyday Books online. They are a California treasure!

AT THE MOVIES
8.   127 Hours

This film is not specifically holiday viewing, so we’re giving it its own category.

Aron Ralston was in the news seven years ago when he became trapped in a canyon in Utah’s San Rafael Desert and amputated his own arm to free himself. He wrote an account of his mis-adventure, Between a Rock and a Hard Place. Since that time, Aron has been actively involved in the campaigns to protect wilderness in Utah and Colorado. Now his book has been made into a movie, 127 Hours, starring James Franco and directed by Danny Boyle. It opened early in November and is playing at theaters nationwide. It’s gotten generally good reviews, despite the squeamish nature of its central event.

The New York Times had a lengthy review of the film, which you can read here.

IN THE PRESS
9.   Articles of Interest

Oprah Winfrey recently went to Yosemite at the invitation of Shelton Johnson, a ranger there. Shelton was made famous in Ken Burns’s PBS series on the National Parks last year. The New York Times published an article that begins to look at why park visitation is low among African Americans.

National Parks Reach Out to Blacks Who Aren’t Visiting

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2009 November

November 30th, 2009

November 30, 2009

Dear CalUWild Friends and Supporters —

Today is CalUWild cofounder Vicky Hoover’s last day on the staff of the Sierra Club’s Alaska Task Force, where she has worked for many years. But Vicky is not going anywhere; she’ll continue as a fulltime wilderness volunteer with the Club, chairing its California/Nevada Wilderness Committee and helping to plan the Wilderness 2010 Conference at UC Berkeley next April. Many thanks to Vicky for her past and ongoing work!

A quick followup on last month’s item regarding legislation introduced in the House for wilderness designations in southwest Colorado: This month, a companion bill to H.R. 3914 was introduced in the Senate, S. 2762, sponsored by Sen. Mark Udall (D) and cosponsored by Sen. Michael Bennet (D).

We are coming up on the end of the year, which means that it’s time for CalUWild’s Annual Membership Appeal. We’ll soon be sending out a letter to those members who have contributed in the past or for whom we have mailing addresses. CalUWild has always been run on a shoestring budget, but we need the support of all our members to keep the organization afloat. We understand that it may not be possible to contribute, given these difficult economic times. But if you can send in something, no matter what the size, please do.

Regular dues, payable to CalUWild, may support our lobbying efforts and are therefore not tax-deductible. If you wish to make a tax-deductible contribution, your check must be made payable to Resource Renewal Institute.

Either way, mail it to:

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

Thanksgiving is behind us, but one of the things to be thankful for every day is the land that belongs to each and every American. Thank you for your efforts to protect it and for your support of CalUWild’s efforts as well.

Best wishes,

Mike

IN UTAH

1.   Red Rock Update

(ACTION ITEM)

On November 10, Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), chief sponsor of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, asking him to extend administrative protections to the lands included in the proposal.

Among other things, Rep. Hinchey asked that the “No More Wild” agreement that then-Secretary Gale Norton concluded with then-Governor Mike Leavitt be repudiated. There is a growing recognition that this would be an important step — the New York Times even published an editorial in favor of the move.

Rep. Hinchey’s office issued a press release along with the letter that gives more background.

89 members of Congress signed the letter, including the following from California:

  • Lynn Woolsey (D-6)
  • George Miller (D-7)
  • Barbara Lee (D-9)
  • Jerry McNerney (D-11)
  • Jackie Speier (D-12)
  • Pete Stark (D-13)
  • Mike Honda (D-15)
  • Zoe Lofgren (D-16)
  • Sam Farr (D-17)
  • Lois Capps (D-23)
  • Howard Berman (D-28)
  • Adam Schiff (D-29)
  • Henry Waxman (D-30)
  • Laura Richardson (D-37)
  • Grace Napolitano (D-38)

If your representative signed on, please call him or her and express your thanks. Contact information can be found on the individual member’s website on the House of Representatives website.

Also, Representative Laura Richardson (D-37) recently signed on as a cosponsor of the legislation. She deserves thanks for that, too.

IN CALIFORNIA

2.   Rep. Farr Introduces Bill For Los Padres National Forest

Earlier this month, Rep. Sam Farr (D-17) introduced H.R. 4040, a bill that would designate areas in the northern portion of Los Padres National Forest as wilderness. The bill also designates stretches of Arroyo Seco, the Carmel River, and the San Antonio River as Wild & Scenic.

Finally, the bill would also establish the area as a separately funded unit of the forest. Los Padres National Forest stretches from Big Sur all the way into Los Angeles County, and the issues faced in the north can be quite different from those farther south, so the bill makes sense in that regard.

Rep. Farr has posted more details about the bill on his website.

In other news from Rep. Farr’s district: As we reported in our August-September Update, Rep. Farr had introduced a bill, H.R. 3444, that would make Pinnacles National Monument a unit of the National Park System. At a Congressional hearing the National Park Service spoke out in opposition to the legislation. Steve Whitesell, associate director for park planning, testified, “The term ‘national park’ has generally been reserved for units that contain a variety of resources and encompasses large land or water areas to help provide adequate protection of the resources. Pinnacles National Monument does not include the full range of resources usually found in national parks.”

Mr. Whitesell also requested that committee delay renaming any units until the National Parks Second Century Commission has made its recommendations regarding simplifying the naming of units. NPS is hoping to reduce the number of titles for the lands that it manages.

In support of his proposal, Rep. Farr testified to the uniqueness of Pinnacles: “It is one of the few regions in the world that boasts a Mediterranean climate; it serves as home for dozens of federally protected species; it has a long, rich cultural history; it serves as a center for geological science, it’s an area of unspoiled beauty; and opening this summer thanks to the use of Land and Water Conservation Fund to purchase the Pinnacles Ranch the Pinnacles Campground is now within the boundaries of Pinnacles National Monument, and is managed by a concessionaire.” He also said that an adjacent landowner might be willing to sell 18,000 acres, bringing the monument’s size to 44,000 acres total.

IN THE MOJAVE

3.   Fast Track Solar Projects
Ask BLM to Extend the Comment Deadlines

(ACTION ITEM)

As we’ve mentioned in the past, there is a concerted push to build energy projects, many of them solar installations, on public lands across the deserts of the Southwest. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar recently released a list of projects in the Mojave Desert (California, Nevada, and Arizona) that BLM is putting on the fast track for development.

While the need to develop alternative sources of energy to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels is indisputable, the potential for destructive effects from that development is indisputable as well.

It is important that the public, the land managers (BLM, most frequently), and the companies wishing to build are aware of the consequences of these proposals and tradeoffs they require. That is why the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires the preparation of Environmental Impact Statements (EISs) with public comment periods. (If they are too unbalanced, then they should not be approved.)

The problem with the fast track announcement is that all the scooping comment periods ending between December 21 and January 4, the height of the holiday season. Whether this is a purposeful choice to exclude the public or not, the effect is the same — many people will simply not have the time to submit meaningful comments.

(This is exactly the same situation we faced two years ago with the six major Resource Management Plans prepared by BLM in Utah. All came due at about the same time, and the time constraints made it extremely difficult for conservation organizations, let alone the public, to prepare comments.)

Please contact BLM and ask for a 60-day extension (until mid-February) to allow meaningful input from the public.

Below is a list with links, provided by Basin & Range Watch. Although there are quite a few, the time issue is the same for all of them, so it should not be too difficult to prepare a template and then fill in the details for each one before sending them off.

The current list of fast tracking projects:

NextEra Ford Dry Lake Solar Power Plant/Genesis Solar Energy Project

(Riverside County, CA) — CAPSSolarNextEraFPL@blm.gov

Chevron Energy Solutions/Solar Millennium Palen Solar Power Plant

(Riverside County, CA) — CAPSSolarPalen@blm.gov

Chevron Energy Solutions/Solar Millennium Blythe Solar Power Plant

(Riverside County, CA — CAPSSolarBlythe@blm.gov

Solar Millennium Ridgecrest Solar Power Project

(Kern County, CA) —  CARSPP@blm.gov or Janet_Eubanks@ca.blm.gov

First Solar Desert Sunlight Power Project

(Riverside County, CA) — no place to send comments

Tonopah Solar Energy Project

(Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project, Nye County, NV) — crescent_dunes@blm.gov

Daggett Ridge Wind Farm

(San Bernardino County, CA) — cadaggettridge@blm.gov

Mohave County Wind Farm Project

(Mohave County, AZ) — KFO_WindEnergy@blm.gov

Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, California

(Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, Kern, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Inyo, Riverside, Imperial, San Diego, and Tulare Counties) — DRECP@blm.gov

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

Californians for Western Wilderness
P.O. Box 210474
San Francisco, CA  94121-0474
415-752-3911

info@caluwild.org

https://www.caluwild.org

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

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2008 November

November 25th, 2008

November 25, 2008

Dear CalUWild friends —

This week we celebrate Thanksgiving. We’re blessed many things to be thankful for here in the United States. Among the most important from CalUWild’s perspective is the fact that the country still retains large expanses of wildlands, despite the all development that has occurred over the centuries. In addition, there are many ordinary citizens willing to work to preserve them. (Thank you!) Finally, we have a system of government that gives citizens the possibility to speak out about their concerns (even if the government doesn’t always pay attention).

This Thanksgiving people who care about wilderness and public lands have something more to be thankful for: a president-elect who doesn’t see our natural heritage as simply being available to sell to highest bidder. Furthermore, Mr. Obama has an understanding of how the law is supposed to operate, and he seems to be interested in hearing all points of view before making a decision how to proceed on significant issues.

One of the most interesting things following the election was that he set up a website providing citizens with the opportunity to tell him and the transition team what they would like to see happen in the new administration. We should take him at his word. I encourage you to click on it and share your thoughts.

So far, the post-election news bodes well for wilderness in the new administration. John Podesta, the head of Mr. Obama’s transition team was quoted: “You see the Bush administration even today moving aggressively to do things that I think are probably not in the interest of the country. They want to have oil and gas drilling in some of the most sensitive, fragile lands in Utah that they’re going to try to do right as they are walking out the door. I think that’s a mistake.”

Mr. Obama’s new Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanual, was a co-sponsor of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act as a congressman from Illinois. (However, as a senator, Mr. Obama himself was not.)

Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D) of Arizona, chairman of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, and a long-time supporter of wilderness and environmental protection, is being mentioned as the possible nominee for Secretary of the Interior. His office has always been friendly, supportive, and cooperative. Last month his office published a report “The Bush Administration Assaults on our National Parks, Forests and Public Lands (A Partial List).” You can read it online here. (New Mexico governor Bill Richardson was also mentioned as a possibility, but it appears that he’ll be Secretary of Commerce.)

The news from Capitol Hill is also favorable. Although wilderness and environmental protection are non-partisan issues, it seems that Democrats are often in favor of— and Republicans opposed to—efforts to protect our public lands. In the House, Democrats now hold 256 seats, a gain of 21, and Republicans hold 175. 4 races are undecided. The Senate has 58 Democrats, a gain of 7, and 40 Republicans. 2 races remain undecided.

Other news of interest was California Henry Waxman’s (D-30) ouster of John Dingell (D-MI) from the chairmanship of the House Committee on the Energy and Commerce. Although generally supportive of environmental concerns, Rep. Dingell block much-needed legislation increasing fuel efficiency standards for automobiles and allowing states to adopt stricter auto greenhouse gas emission standards. Rep. Waxman has also been a longtime friend of wilderness protection, both in California and around the West.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) will likely continue as chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-09) and Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-06), both of California and long-time wilderness supporters, were elected co-chairmen respectively of the Congressional Black Caucus and Progressive Caucus.

Californians will be well-positioned to have their voices heard on important conservation issues in Washington.

In not-so-good news, it was reported that the Administration was quietly converting the positions of political appointees in some agencies into civil service jobs. This makes it potentially more difficult for the new Administration to carry out changes in policy. The Administration was also issuing many last-minute regulations, in an attempt to have them carry over into the future.

The end of the year is approaching, and that means it’s time again to ask our members for their financial support. It’s a difficult time economically for everyone, and small nonprofit organizations are no exception. Already funding from foundations and other sources is being cut back, making support from our members more important than ever. So when the membership appeal envelope or email arrives, please give as generously as you can. Or click here, print, and fill out the form, and send it in with your contribution. It will save us printing and postage costs. Thanks in advance for your generosity.

And thank you again for all your efforts on behalf of wildlands in the West.

Happy Thanksgiving,
Mike

IN UTAH
1. Administration Announces Oil & Gas Leases —
Post-Election Gift to U.S. Energy Companies
(ACTION ITEM)
2. Washington County Bill Appears Dead for Now

IN GENERAL
3. Omnibus Bill Also Dead for Now —
To Be Taken Up Early in the Next Congress
(ACTION ITEM)

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

IN UTAH
1. Administration Announces Oil & Gas Leases —
Post-Election Gift to U.S. Energy Companies
(ACTION ITEM)

On November 4, while the country had its attention focused on voting, the Administration announced it would hold a sale of oil & gas leases on December 19, the last of this administration. The leases total nearly 360,000 acres and are located near Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, Dinosaur National Monument, and Desolation and Nine Mile Canyons—in short, some of the most scenic, iconic, and culturally significant areas of the state.

The National Park Service complained bitterly that the BLM did not follow the normal procedure of informing it of the proposal, as is usually done three months before any sales affecting national parks.

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and seven other senators sent a letter to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne protesting the plans. (Unfortunately, neither Sen. Boxer nor Feinstein signed onto the letter, despite requests to do so.) Rep. Raúl Grijalva sent a similar letter to Mr. Kempthorne as well.

Click here to read the Washington Post’s editorial opposing the leases.

Today, the Park Service and BLM announced that some of the lease parcels nearest national parks would not be offered. Yet this does nothing to protect parcels such as those on wilderness-quality lands around Desolation Canyon or near Nine Mile Canyon, “the world’s longest art gallery.”

Please contact the following to oppose these last-minute leases, asking that the entire sale be postponed or, better yet, cancelled. You can write a letter to one of them and “cc” the other two.

Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne
phone: 202-208-3100
fax: 202-208-6950
email: dirk_kempthorne@ios.doi.gov

BLM National Director Jim Caswell
phone: 202-452-5125
fax: 202-452-5124
email: James_Caswell@blm.gov

BLM Utah State Director Selma Sierra
phone: 801-539-4001
fax: 801-539-4013
email: selma_sierra@blm.gov

2. Washington County Bill Appears Dead for Now

Our friends at the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance sent out the following update on the ongoing Washington County Bill today:

Improvements Likely for Washington County Bill
For going on five years, SUWA, our coalition partners such as the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council, and dedicated Utah wilderness advocates have worked enormously hard in the face of significant odds to create a Wilderness bill for the Zion-Mojave region of Washington County. Time and again we’ve called upon you to take action on this legislation, from demanding that Congress prevent passage of the flawed 2006 bill to passionately advocating that Sen. Bennett make the improvements you thought were necessary for this year’s version. None of this work has been easy.

Yet today, thanks to all of you, and also in part to the resolve of public land champions Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Russ Feingold (D-WI) — not to mention Sen. Bennett’s continued openness to making important changes — vastly improved legislation heads into next year with a far better chance of passage.

In October, legislation for Washington County had already been radically altered from the version unveiled in the spring of 2006. The amount of public land for sale was greatly reduced while the amount of wilderness quality BLM lands receiving protection had been greatly increased, though neither provision was good enough.

With time running out this Congress, and with hope of including his bill in an omnibus package of public lands bills that was to be considered in November, Sen. Bennett finally agreed to remove some troubling provisions — including one which directed 10% of the proceeds from the sale of public lands to Washington County for non-conservation oriented uses. By agreeing to make these important changes, Sen. Bennett is revealing the qualities that make him a strong leader in Congress.

Just before Congress returned last week, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced that the public lands package would have to wait until next year — and the 111th Congress — for a vote. This news provides us with time to work toward additional improvements to the bill. Currently, the bill continues to deny important wilderness-quality lands in the county any real protection. We look forward to continuing discussions with Sen. Bennett in an effort to get these lands the protection they deserve.

IN GENERAL
3. Omnibus Bill Also Dead for Now —
To Be Taken Up Early in the Next Congress
(ACTION ITEM)

Last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced that the massive Omnibus Public Lands bill would not be considered in the lame duck congressional session after all. Instead Reid said that the Senate would consider it as the first or second item on the calendar when the new Congress convenes shortly after New Year. He also said it will not need to go through the committee process all over again.

The delay was necessary because Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) has threatened to hold it up because he claims its passage will increase government spending and hinder development of domestic energy resources. Given the focus on the economy, Sen. Reid did not feel there was time to overcome Sen. Coburn’s objections in proper parliamentary fashion.

The bill still contains the objectionable provision of swapping land designated as wilderness in the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska in order to build a road. It would be good if this provision could still be eliminated. Calls to the following offices would help in the effort.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, chairman of the Environment & Public Works Committee
DC: 202-224-3553
SF: 415-403-0100
LA: 213-894-5000

Sen. Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader
DC: 202-224-3542

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, urging her to let Sen. Reid know that the Izembek Refuge provision should be left out before the bill is sent to the House.
DC: 202-225-4965
SF: 415-556-4862

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Posted in Newsletters | Comments Off on 2008 November

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