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2018 October

October 31st, 2018


Grandstaff Canyon, Utah                                                                                                                                        (Mike Painter)

 
October 31, 2018

Dear CalUWild friends—

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks in advance!

 
Best wishes,
Mike

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
2.   Emery County Bill Update
          URGENT
          (ACTION ITEM)

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

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

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

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

Contact information for California’s senators:

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

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

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

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

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

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

From our friends at Cal-IPC:

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

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

Full program online
Register

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

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

From our friends at Great Old Broads for Wilderness:

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

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

Start surfing now at auction.greatoldbroads.org.

 
5.   Job Listings
   a.   Western Environmental Law Center

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

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

Full listing here.

 
   b.   Southwest Environmental Center

Our friends at SWEC sent this out last week:

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

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

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

The Department of the Interior & Secty. Zinke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Public lands in general

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

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

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

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

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

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

Outreach

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

 
 
 
 
 
 
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2017 October

November 4th, 2017


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

November 1, 2017

Dear CalUWild friends –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finally, a couple of administrative items:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IN MEMORIAM
13.   The Colorado River’s Katie Lee

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

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

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

Sen. Hatch said in a statement:

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

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

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

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

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

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

White House comment line:   202-456-1111

Interior Department comment line:   202-208-3100

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4.   Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke
          Continues to Cause Controversy

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

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

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

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

Articles in the Washington Post:

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

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

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

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

An article in Politico: Zinke funneled millions to questionable PACs

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

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

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

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

Check it out!
 

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

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

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

The BLM lays out four options for this proposal:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

•   The area is prized locally for deer hunting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can read the Draft Environmental Assessment here.

Comments may be submitted:

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

by Fax:   760-384-5499

by U.S. Mail:

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

or via the BLM ePlanning website

Again, the deadline for submitting comments is November 20.
 

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

And now for some good news.

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

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

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

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

IN OTHER NEWS

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

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

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

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

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

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

10.   ARIZONA: Grand Canyon Confluence Tramway Project Killed

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

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

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

12.   UTAH: Recapture Canyon ATV Protest Conviction Upheld

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

IN MEMORIAM
13.   The Colorado River’s Katie Lee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
 
 
 
 
 

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

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

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2016 October

November 3rd, 2016

dsc_1224a3a
The Bears Ears, Proposed National Monument, Utah                                                                  (Mike Painter)

 
October 2016

Dear CalUWild friends-

Last month I attended two events with our partner organizations, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and Great Old Broads for Wilderness, visiting areas proposed for protection under America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act and a Bears Ears National Monument. We’ve written about both topics many times over the years. It was good to see the numbers of people dedicated to protecting our wild places in the West and spend time with them. Not much occurred in September or earlier this month, so I decided to wait with the Update for October. As you’ll see, a few items came up, including not guilty verdicts in the Oregon Bundy trial.

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

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

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

Thanks in advance!

Also, if anyone has access to a legitimate copy of Adobe Creative Suite that they would be willing to share, either on disc or by download key, it would be much appreciated. (It doesn’t have to be the latest version.) Photoshop and InDesign are important tools for our work, and our current versions are unusable on newer Mac OS machines.

Thanks, as always, for your support and interest!

 
Best wishes,
Mike

 
IN UTAH
1.   Bears Ears Monument Proposal
          Support Still Needed
          (ACTION ITEM)
2.   Zion National Park Visitor Use Planning
          DEADLINE: November 23
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN OREGON
3.   Defendants in Malheur Refuge Occupation Case
          Found Not Guilty of Conspiracy

IN GENERAL
4.   “Every Kid in a Park” Program Renewed
5.   Great Old Broads for Wilderness Annual Online Auction
          October 30 – November 13
          (AUCTION ITEM)

IN MEMORIAM
6.    Marge Sill, Advocate for Nevada Wilderness

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

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

IN UTAH
1.   Bears Ears Monument Proposal
          Support Still Needed
          (ACTION ITEM)

The campaign for a presidential designation of the Bears Ears as a national monument continues. If you haven’t contacted the White House or Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, there’s still the opportunity to do that. And if you have, there’s no harm in repeating your request, since it is more important than ever to show support for public lands with the first Bundy trial over.

Another event highlighting the need for the designation took place this month when the State of Utah sold off a square-mile parcel of land included in the proposal to a private party. The buyer, Lyman Family Farms, has a history of buying lands near parks and protected areas, but it’s not clear what their intentions are. The Hole-in-the-Rock Foundation had nominated the parcel for sale, saying it wanted to run educational history programs there, but in the end, it was not the successful bidder.

Other threats to the area include vandalism to archaeological sites as well as oil and gas and mineral development.

Here is contact information for the Administration:

Pres. Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500

Comment line:   202-456-1111
Online comments here
Message via Facebook page

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

Comment line:   202-208-3100
Email address:   feedback [at] ios [dot] doi [dot] gov

Here are two press items related to the Bears Ears:

An article in the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel: CMU students learn about Bears Ears area

An editorial in Los Angeles Times: The Bears Ears National Monument would be the bee’s knees

 
2.   Zion National Park Visitor Use Planning
          DEADLINE: November 23
          (ACTION ITEM)

Visitation to the national parks has been hitting record numbers the last few years, especially in this 100th Anniversary year. Many of the parks are finding themselves at their limits, among them Zion in Utah. That park is beginning to develop a plan to manage visitor use and is seeking your input. Here is the Park’s announcement:

Visitor Use Management Plan and EA

Visitation to Zion National Park has been increasing for decades, but especially significant increases have been experienced in the last few years. In 2015, 3,662,220 people visited the park, which was 450,624 more visitors than in 2014 which was also a record year. The peak season in the park has now extended into early spring and late fall. During the height of the summer season it is now common for visitors to wait in long lines to enter the park and board the park shuttle. Parking is routinely full in the park by 9:30 a.m. daily which adds to the parking congestion in Springdale. This increase in visitation stresses park infrastructure, can degrade natural and cultural resources, and adversely affects the visitors’ park experience.

In order to address these issues the park is beginning a Visitor Use Management (VUM) planning process. Through the VUM process, park managers will devise measures to be taken that provide an enjoyable and safe visitor experience while protecting the park’s fundamental resources and values. Various measures will be tested and important information collected during the planning process to help inform the Plan.

The plan will focus on areas where the issues are most acute, principally the park’s front country areas, especially in Zion Canyon. However, due to the influence of any changes in the management of front country areas, the plan will need to analyze impacts associated with gateway communities and the park’s wilderness areas.

This collaborative process will include park partners; visitors; local, state, and federal agencies and governments; and the public. Continue to check this site throughout the process for planning updates for updates and how you can be involved.

More information, including the purpose and need, may be found on the Park Planning website. The page also includes possibilities for management schemes, including timed entry, reservations, elimination of first-come first-serve campsites, park entrance redesign, and more.

Comments should be submitted on this online form before midnight, November 23.

Comments may also be submitted by US Mail to:

Zion National Park
ATTN: VUMP
State Route 9
Springdale, UT 84767

 
IN OREGON
3.   Defendants in Malheur Refuge Occupation Case
          Found Not Guilty of Conspiracy

To the shock of just about everyone, defendants included, a jury in Portland returned verdicts of not guilty in the trial of Ammon and Ryan Bundy and five others. It seemed an open and shut case, given the very public nature of the 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southeast Oregon. In fact, some original defendants had pleaded guilty to those charges to avoid trial.

Conspiracy to prevent federal employees from doing their jobs was the main charge that the federal government brought against them, not trespass, firearms possession, or unauthorized use of government vehicles. Any of those would have been easily proven. Instead, it seems prosecutors went for a charge that carried a stiffer penalty. Unfortunately, it was one they couldn’t prove.

Ammon Bundy testified that the purpose of the occupation had nothing to do with the work of the Refuge; rather it was to make a point about supposed federal overreach. One juror, known only as Juror 4, sent a lengthy email to the Portland newspaper, The Oregonian, explaining that the verdict should not be seen as support for the Bundys, their actions, or their philosophy, but rather a sign that the prosecution was not able to prove its case that a conspiracy existed.

Other concerns for the jury included the FBI’s use of paid informants and the fact that all kinds of people, including politicians, were able to freely go to the Refuge during the occupation.

The Bundys still face charges in Nevada for their roles in the 2014 standoff outside Las Vegas. They were not released from custody, much to their lawyer’s dismay. He created such a scene in the courtroom that the federal marshals wound up using a taser on him.

More detailed information on Juror 4 and his comments may be found here, and a detailed analysis of the verdicts may be found here.

The controversy over federal agency management in the West is far from over, however, and we will continue to follow it and keep you informed.

 
IN GENERAL
4.   “Every Kid in a Park” Program Renewed

The National Park Service has extended its “Every Kid in a Park” program for a second year. The program gives fourth grade students, and those accompanying them, free access to more than 2,000 federally-managed lands and waters. Visit the program page to download the pass and obtain more information.

You may read the Interior Department’s announcement here.

 
5.   Great Old Broads for Wilderness Annual Online Auction
          October 30 – November 13
          (AUCTION ITEM)

It’s time for the Great Old Broads’ Online Auction, our sister organization’s annual fundraiser. Every year, there’s a wide variety of categories to choose from: art & photography, books, jewelry, outdoor adventure trips, vacation stays, and more.

CalUWild is happy to support the Broads in their efforts.

Click here to get started!

 
IN MEMORIAM
6.    Marge Sill, Advocate for Nevada Wilderness

Marge Sill, affectionately known to many of us as the “Mother of Nevada Wilderness,” died at her home in Reno last week at the age of 92. Marge was a tireless champion for protecting wilderness and public lands in Nevada and supported efforts in other states as well. She sometimes checked in here to let me know it was time for more news from Nevada, and it was always a pleasure to talk with her on the phone or at meetings.

Marge worked for nearly 50 years on wilderness and public lands protection, including the establishment of Great Basin National Park in eastern Nevada in 1986 and the passage of the Nevada Wilderness Protection Act of 1989, which established 13 wilderness areas. She lived a full life. To say she will be missed is an understatement.

 
IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
7.   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.

Utah land grab — two articles in the Deseret News

Attorneys general cast doubt on Utah land push

Group launches petition asking Reyes to nix battle over federal lands

An essay in High Country News: A visit to the Grand Canyon, without handrails — A wild river is “a necessity of the human spirit.”

Two Associated Press articles

Feds to launch expanded review of drilling in Chaco region

Debate simmers over Devils Tower’s name

 
 
 
 
 
 
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 October

November 5th, 2014

DSC_0799a3aLooking toward Carson Peak in the Ansel Adams Wilderness, California                            (Mike Painter)

October 31, 2014

Dear CalUWild friends-

I spent much of October attending (as well as traveling to and from) the Wilderness50 Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was an excellent opportunity to get together with people working for non-profit organizations, government agencies, academic institutions, and interested citizens-from across the country, and all with a passion for protecting wild places. The program was packed with interesting speakers and panels covering all aspects of wilderness policy, management, education, history, and more. It gave participants a lot to think about, and it will take a while to digest it all. The most gratifying thing, though, was simply seeing the number of people concerned about protecting and learning about wilderness and our public lands.

With the San Francisco Giants having just won the World Series, now is the perfect opportunity to link to star pitcher and MVP Madison Bumgarner’s public service announcement about wilderness, which he made for The Wilderness Society.

This just came in this week: The Center for Biological Diversity and Grand Canyon Wildlands Council are reporting that a radio-collared wolf has been spotted at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. If confirmed, this would be the first known wolf to visit there in some 70 years, most probably coming from the restored population in Wyoming, 800 miles away to the north.

A reminder: As we announced last month, Jeff Hunter from the Bodie Hills Conservation Alliance, of which CalUWild is a member, will be at three REI stores in the Bay Area to talk about the Bodie Hills Campaign. All presentations are at 7 pm. Click on the store links for details.

          Tuesday, Nov. 4: REI Santa Rosa
          Thursday, Nov. 6: REI Berkeley
          Tuesday, Nov. 11: REI Fremont

Thanksgiving is around the corner, which means that time is nearing for CalUWild’s Annual Membership Appeal. We hope you find the Monthly Updates and the information they provide useful. But the Update isn’t the only thing we do. We work with other organizations to plan and support strategies for wilderness and public land protection, write comments and letters to decision makers, inform congressional staff about issues, present slideshows, take part in other public events, and more-all with the goal of educating people about wilderness and how they can be effective advocates for its protection.

Please consider making a contribution so our work can continue.

We only make one request for contributions a year, and it will be going out toward the end of November. But you can help us save on printing and postage costs by sending in a contribution before then. Just print out a membership form and mail it with your gift to the address on the form.

As always, contributions are voluntary but much appreciated.

Finally, since CalUWild encourages participation in the democratic process (even with all its problems) as much as it seeks to protect wild places, please remember to VOTE on Tuesday, November 4. As one CalUWild member posted on her Facebook page: “Choosing not to vote isn’t Rebellion. It’s Surrender.

Thanks, and best wishes,
Mike

IN UTAH
1.   One County Reaches Agreement on Land Protections
          (And Other News)

IN CALIFORNIA
2.   Pres. Obama Designates San Gabriel Mountains National Monument
          (ACTION ITEM)
3.   Pt. Reyes Seashore Oyster Farm Agrees to Close
4.   Yosemite National Park: Entrance & Camping Fee Increases Proposed
          COMMENT DEADLINE: November 20, 2014
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN GENERAL
5.   Great Old Broads for Wilderness Auction
          November 3 – 16, 2014
          (AUCTION ITEM)

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

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

IN UTAH
1.   One County Reaches Agreement on Land Protections
          (And Other News)

Last year, Utah Rep. Rob Bishop (R), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation, initiated a process to bring some sort of conclusion to some of the public lands issues swirling in some of Utah’s counties, including wilderness designations, recreation, and energy development. We haven’t reported much on it for several reasons: the process been confined mostly to meetings and field trips among Rep. Bishop’s staff, officials from various counties, and interested stakeholder groups such as the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Grand Canyon Trust, Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society, and Natural Resources Defense Council; the process is still ongoing; and finally, has there hasn’t been any real opportunity for people outside of Utah to participate. It is now showing signs of progress.

Many people greeted Rep. Bishop’s initial suggestion with skepticism, but the conservation community decided to show its good faith and participate anyway. The process continues, and Rep. Bishop has said he’s hoping to be able to introduce legislation early in the next Congress, when it is likely he’ll be chairman of the full Natural Resources Committee in the House, replacing retiring Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA), who has been exceptionally anti-wilderness in attitude.

This month, Daggett County (in the northeast corner of Utah, bordering Colorado and Wyoming) became the first of the counties involved to set forth a proposal for its public lands. Conservation organizations and Utah’s governor Gary Herbert endorsed the deal, which would, among other things:

– add 50,000 acres of wilderness to the High Uintas Wilderness, managed by the U.S. Forest Service;
– create about 30,000 acres of BLM-managed wilderness, most of the land that is included in America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act;
– designate 14 miles of the Green River below Flaming Gorge Reservoir as Wild & Scenic;
– create a national conservation area managed by the BLM, also about 30,000 acres in size;
– transfer state trust lands inside the various federal jurisdictional boundaries for other federal lands outside of the protected areas; and finally
– resolve county’s road claims under R.S. 2477 and provide continued access to off-highway vehicles outside of the protected areas.

Click here to read Rep. Bishop’s press release and here to read the announcement from SUWA. SUWA has also posted a map of Daggett County and the lands affected.

Daggett County is relatively small, with a population of slightly more than 1,000, so it remains to be seen if other counties in Utah will be able to replicate the process. However, the parties to the agreement were optimistic that it would serve as a model. Next up: Uintah and Emery Counties.
________

Briefly, in other Utah news, we reported last month (Item 2 in the Update) that five men had been charged in the Recapture Canyon OHV protest ride. This month they all pled not guilty. There’s been no trial yet, but we’ll keep you posted as the case progresses. Click here if you’d like to read the Salt Lake Tribune‘s article on the development.

IN CALIFORNIA
2.   Pres. Obama Designates San Gabriel Mountains National Monument
          (ACTION ITEM)

Following up on last month’s enormous expansion of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (Item 7, September Update, Pres. Barack Obama continued to make good on his promise to protect worthy public lands when on October 10 he designated the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument on the northern edge of Los Angeles.

The monument covers more than 345,000 acres of national forest lands, mostly in the Angeles NF, but also in the San Bernardino NF. It is the product of a citizens campaign that began years ago with proposals for a national recreation area, studies by the National Park Service, legislation by Rep. Judy Chu (D-27 and member of CalUWild’s Advisory Board), and finally a call by Rep. Chu for a presidential proclamation when her legislation went nowhere in Congress.

Many Angeleños hike and otherwise recreate in lands of the monument, as it provides some 70 % of the open space for Los Angeles. There was a great deal of support in the community for the protection of the area, expressed frequently during the public meetings and other comment periods held over the years.
Predictably, though, opposition to the designation came from the usual quarters. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-23) was quoted: “Once again this Administration is taking unilateral action without Congressional or public input by naming the San Gabriel Mountains a National Monument.”

However, Pres. Obama declared that he isn’t finished yet.

You can read the White House announcement here and the full proclamation here.

SCVTV in Santa Clarita, California published an op-ed piece by CalUWild friend Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel on the designation, which you can read here.

Click here to read the Forest Service’s page on the new monument.

Please thank the president by sending a letter or postcard to:

Pres. Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

You may also call the White House at: 202-456-1111 or use the online Webform.

3.   Pt. Reyes Seashore Oyster Farm Agrees to Close

We reported in Item 4 last month’s Update that a federal court in California had ruled against a coalition of business owners attempting to overturn the non-renewal of the Drakes Bay Oyster Company’s lease. This was just the latest in a series of setbacks for the company. Earlier this month, owner Kevin Lunny and his family reached an agreement with the National Park Service to cease operations completely, effective December 31, 2014.

As part of the deal, the Park Service agreed to remove all the facilities and infrastructure both on land and in Drakes Estero and also provide relocation and rental assistance benefits to some of the company’s employees who had lived on the premises. The Lunnys agreed to drop their claims against the Park Service and Department of the Interior. The district court approved the deal shortly after it was announced.

The Lunnys plan to open a restaurant along nearby Tomales Bay and continue selling oysters raised at other locations to retail customers.

You can read the agreement here.

4.   Yosemite National Park: Entrance & Camping Fee Increases Proposed
          COMMENT DEADLINE: November 20, 2014
          (ACTION ITEM)

Yosemite National Park sent out the following announcement this month. CalUWild is not taking a position on the proposal, but if you have opinions, we encourage you to weigh in. Details for commenting are included in the announcement.

Proposed Entrance Fee and Campground Fee Increases

Yosemite National Park is proposing to increase entrance fees into the park. The single vehicle entrance fee would change from $20 to $30 for a seven day pass. The park’s annual pass would increase from $40 to $60. The current rate of $10 per individual or motorcycle would increase to $15 for an individual and $25 per motorcycle. Interagency Passes, which are honored at all federally managed land units, are not affected by the proposed fee increase and will remain at $80 for the regular pass, $10 for the Senior Pass and free for the Access and Military passes. The current park entrance fees have been in place since 1997, when a seven day pass was increased from $5 to $20 per vehicle. According to the U.S. Bureau of labor and Statistics, $20 in 1997 is equivalent to $29.64 in 2014. This fee change will allow Yosemite to maintain consistent revenue while adjusting accordingly for inflation.

The additional revenue from the fee increase will be used to enhance visitor services, including repair and maintenance of park facilities, restoration and rehabilitation of visitor service buildings, additional park programs and transportation services, and increase resource protection.

Yosemite National Park is also evaluating current campground rates to determine if camping fees are adequate to sustain campground operations. The current campground rates have been in place since 2006 and range between $5 per night to $20 per night for family sites and $40 per night for group sites. The park is proposing to raise camping fees with fees ranging from $6 per night to $24 per night for family sites and $48 per night for group sites. The park will utilize comparable campground rates and public feedback to determine if an adjustment to campground fees is warranted.

A 30-day public engagement period on the proposed fee increase is open today, Monday, October 20, 2014 through Thursday, November 20, 2014. Feedback will be accepted via email at:

yose_planning [at] nps [dot] gov

and via U.S. Mail at:

Superintendent
Attention Proposed Fee Increase
P.O. Box 577
Yosemite, CA 95389

The public is also invited to an open house in the Yosemite Valley Auditorium, located behind the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center, on Wednesday, November 12, 2014 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., which will include public engagement.

The new fees could be implemented in early 2015. However, the implementation schedule may vary based on the results of civic engagement. The park will develop an implementation schedule that supports local communities and interested stakeholders.

The park is a strong economic engine for the region and local communities. Previous fee increases have had no negative effect on visitation levels. This fee increase is part of a larger National Park Service initiative to standardize fees in similar national parks across the country.

IN GENERAL
5.   Great Old Broads for Wilderness Auction
          November 3 – 16, 2014
          (AUCTION ITEM)

Sharp-eyed readers noticed that we jumped the gun on this item last month with a headline but no corresponding item. However, this month the Great Old Broads’ annual auction actually goes live. It’s their main fundraising event of the year. We work closely with the Broads and are happy to support their efforts. Full details can be found here.

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

If a link is broken or otherwise inaccessible, please send me an email, and I’ll fix it or send you a PDF copy.

From the New York Times

An article on efforts to name a wilderness peak in the Sierra after Henry David Thoreau: Wild and Craggy, Just Like Thoreau

An article on range conflicts in the West caused by wild horses

An op-ed piece, When the Ice Melts, about hiking with one’s son to see a glacier

A Salt Lake Tribune article: Legal scholars challenge underpinnings of Utah’s public lands campaign. Click here to read the abstract of the white paper being reported on and follow the link there to download it.

An op-ed piece from The New West: ‘Keeping the Wild’ challenges status quo

The Center for Western Priorities issued a report looking at Interior Secretary Sally Jewell’s accomplishments thus far and the opportunities for the Interior Department over these final years of the Obama administration.

Video link

Episode 6 in the Forest Service Restore series: Aspen Restoration on the Lassen National Forest

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

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2012 October

October 18th, 2012

Escalante scorpion pictographPictograph, Escalante River Canyon, Utah                                                                               (Mike Painter)

October 16, 2012

Dear friends of CalUWild –

There are a few action items this month and more news and press items as well, so I’ll keep the introduction brief.

The election is just three weeks away, and there has been little discussion of the environment, let alone wilderness and public lands, in the presidential race. But there is more to things than the White House. Congress and local officers and issues all play a part in protecting our public lands. Please vote on
November 6. The deadline for voter registration in California is October 22, and you can register online here.

Thanks for your interest and support!

Best wishes,
Mike

IN UTAH
1.   Utah’s Attempts at Federal Land Grab Continue
          (ACTION ITEM)
2.   Tim DeChristopher Loses Appeal
          But Will Be Released from Prison
3.   Great Old Broads Encounter Vandalism
          And Threats in San Juan County

IN CALIFORNIA
4.   Sequoia-King Canyon National Park
          Initiates Wilderness Management Plan Draft-
          Public Meetings in October
          (ACTION ITEM)
5.   California State Park News:
          a. East Bay State Park Renamed To Honor Sylvia McLaughlin
          b. Legislative Update

IN CALIFORNIA & COLORADO
6.   Pres. Obama Uses the Antiquities Act Again
          Chimney Rock in Colorado and
          César Chávez in California
          Designated as National Monuments
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN GENERAL
7.   U.S. Supreme Court Turns Down Roadless Rule Appeal
8.   Volunteer for Your Public Lands
          (ACTION ITEM)
9.   Great Old Broads Annual Online Auction
          (AUCTION ITEM)

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

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IN UTAH
1.   Utah’s Attempts at Federal Land Grab Continue
          (ACTION ITEM)

We’ve written before about Utah’s attempts to wrest control of the federal lands within its borders. The saga continues.

Congress is currently on recess and will not return until after the election. When it does, one item on the Senate’s agenda is likely to be action on Sen. Jon Tester’s (D-MT) Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 (S. 3525). The bill itself is somewhat controversial, but Utah’s Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) has introduced proposed amendments that go even further than the state legislation passed and signed by the governor in March of this year.

Sen. Hatch would require that all federal lands in Utah be turned over to the state, including the national parks! In addition, his amendments would make an exception to the Antiquities Act of 1906 for Utah, requiring that the designation or extension of national monuments in the state be done only by act of Congress, i.e., Presidents cannot designate a monument in Utah using their authority under the Antiquities Act. (Currently, only Wyoming is subject to that restriction.) An additional amendment would remove the gray wolf from the protection of the Endangered Species Act within Utah.

None of these amendments is in the interest of Americans and their public lands. Please contact your senators and ask them to convey to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) that these amendments are unacceptable and to not allow them to go forward.

Contact information for Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) may be found here and for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) here.

For other states, please visit your senators’ pages at the U.S. Senate website.

Scott Groene, Executive Director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, wrote an op-ed piece that appeared recently in the Salt Lake Tribune. It lays out clearly the issues surrounding the Utah land grab and its likely consequences.

2.   Tim DeChristopher Loses Appeal
          But Will Be Released from Prison

Last month, Tim DeChristopher lost his appeal before the 10th Circuit Court in Denver, Colorado. The University of Utah economics student was convicted in 2011 of interfering with a BLM lease sale that was held in December 2008 in the closing days of the Bush Administration. Despite the fact that a federal court ruled that the lease sale was improper and the Department of the Interior revoked the leases as well, DeChristopher was charged with placing improper bids.

At trial, the federal judge, Dee Benson, refused to allow DeChristopher to introduce a defense of necessity (that doing an illegal act was done to prevent a worse harm, i.e., destruction of the landscape and climate change). In sentencing Mr. DeChristopher, the Salt Lake Tribune reported that Judge Benson said that it was unlikely he would have been charged if he had not spoken out, and then used those activities to send him to prison. “The offense itself … wasn’t that bad,” said Judge Benson.

After sentencing, DeChristopher was immediately taken into custody. He wound up at a federal prison in California, rather than as requested in Colorado where his parents live. While in California, he was thrown into solitary confinement after an unidentified congressman complained about a email that DeChristopher sent. (See the March Update for details.) He was released after a huge outcry from across the country and then transferred to serve out his term in Colorado.

The Appeals Court said that the sentencing not a violation of DeChristopher’s First Amendment rights, and that Judge Benson “simply relied on those statements to determine the sentence necessary to deter Defendant from future violations and to promote respect for the law. Defendant’s statements that he would “continue to fight” and his view that it was “fine to break the law” were highly relevant to these sentencing factors.”

DeChristopher has said he will not appeal, since his defenses have been consistently disallowed.

Later last month, it was reported that DeChristopher would be released from federal prison October 24. He will serve out the rest of his two-year sentence living in a halfway house in Salt Lake City, where the Unitarian Church has offered him a job, making him eligible for the work release program.

The Salt Lake Tribune published an op-ed piece on the case by one of its reporters (before his release was announced).

A documentary film, Bidder 70, has been released that follows the all these events. It was shown at the Mill Valley Film Festival in California recently, and it is quite an indictment of the way things are done here. What comes through clearly is DeChristopher’s strength in doing what he believes in and willingness to take the consequences.

For more information about the film go to bidder70film.com. For a list of screenings, click here.

3.   Great Old Broads Encounter Vandalism
          And Threats in San Juan County

Our sister organization Great Old Broads for Wilderness has long been a powerful voice for the protection of our public lands and wilderness across the country. They are involved in many ways-though advocacy, on-the-ground monitoring, and occasional demonstrations and broom brigades to clean up after other users.

Several times a year the Broads hold a “Broadwalk,” a weekend campout where they hike and learn about the issues affecting a particular vulnerable area. The latest Broadwalk was two weeks ago in support of the Greater Canyonlands Campaign, of which CalUWild is an active partner.

The local Blanding paper Blue Mountain Panorama published an unsigned, inflammatory “article” which appeared early in September, giving the details about the Broads’ planned event. They were camped out on private land near Canyonlands National Park, where they had someone unknown visitors. On Friday evening their banner was spray-painted and slashed. Sometime Saturday night the gate to the property was padlocked and a fake-bloody mask of an old woman attached to a fence post. Fortunately there was no emergency requiring immediate exit from their camp, and the Broads were able to get the gate opened.

I spoke with Broads’ Executive Director Ronni Egan last week, and she said that although though the situation could have been dangerous had there been an emergency of some kind, there were no serious problems, and they all handled it with humor. That’s the spirit!

It’s not the first time the Broads have been on the receiving end of threats. Several years ago they discovered an illegally-constructed ATV trail outside of Blanding, The BLM closed the trail when vandalism was discovered at archaeological sites along the trail. The Broads were blamed and “Wanted Dead or Alive” posters appeared in San Juan County.

High Country News has a lengthy blog post, including photos, on these incidents, which you can read here. Please feel free to post a comment there.

See Item 9 for an announcement of the Broads’ fundraiser, the Annual Online Auction.

For more information and details about the Greater Canyonlands Campaign, go to greatercanyonlands.org or the Sierra Club’s Utah Team page.

IN CALIFORNIA
4.   Sequoia-King Canyon National Park
          Initiates Wilderness Management Plan Draft-
          Public Meetings in October
          (ACTION ITEM)

Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park (two national parks, but managed as one unit) has begun the process of drafting a new wilderness management plan. It has some preliminary alternatives prepared and is seeking public input before publishing a formal Draft Plan. The following announcement (formatting slightly edited) came from Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park. Following that I’ve also included a few general comments from the Sierra Club for discussion in your comments.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Seek Public Input on Preliminary Draft Alternatives for a Wilderness Stewardship Plan

From October 3, 2012 through November 19, 2012, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks is seeking public input on preliminary draft alternatives for a Wilderness Stewardship Plan. Topics which may be addressed in the plan include: day and overnight use; permitting and quotas; party sizes; campfires; food storage; camping and campsites; human waste management; pack stock and grazing management; scientific research; natural and cultural resource management; maintenance of signs, trails, bridges, and other recreational infrastructure; administrative infrastructure; education and outreach; the extent to which commercial services are necessary to fulfill the purposes of wilderness; and front-country support facilities.

To learn more about the Wilderness Stewardship Plan, including how to comment and about upcoming public workshops in the last two weeks of October, visit the National Park Service’s Planning, Environment, and Public Comment website (PEPC) at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/sekiwild. At a workshop, you can listen to a presentation by National Park Service staff and meet with them to discuss your ideas.

Upcoming workshops include:

Thursday, October 25, 2012
7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Eastern Sierra Tri-county Fairgrounds, Patio Building
Sierra Street and Fair Street
Bishop, CA 93514

Friday, October 26, 2012
7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Los Angeles River Center
California Building Atrium
570 West Avenue 26
Los Angeles, CA 90065

Monday, October 29, 2012
7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
East Bay Regional Parks
Redwood Regional Park
Richard C. Trudeau Training Center
Main Conference Room
11500 Skyline Blvd
Oakland, CA 94619

Tuesday, October 30, 2012
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Visalia Marriott Hotel
Main Ballroom
300 South Court Street
Visalia, CA 93291

In addition, park staff will present information about the preliminary draft alternatives for the Wilderness Stewardship Plan at the Three Rivers Town Hall meeting on:

Monday, November 5
7-7:45 p.m.
Three Rivers Memorial Building
43490 Sierra Drive (Highway 198)
Three Rivers, CA

In order to ensure that your comments are considered, you may use either of two methods to comment during the alternative review process. If you wish to comment electronically, you may submit your comments online to the PEPC website by visiting http://parkplanning.nps.gov/sekiwild, clicking on “Open for Comment,” and then clicking on the link to the document. The National Park Service encourages commenting electronically through PEPC, but if you wish to submit your written comments in hard copy (e.g., in a letter), you may send them by U.S. Postal Service or other mail delivery service, or hand-deliver your comments to:

Superintendent Karen F. Taylor-Goodrich
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
Attn: Wilderness Stewardship Plan
47050 Generals Highway
Three Rivers, CA 93271

Faxed comments will be accepted at (559) 565-4202.

Written comments will also be accepted during public workshops.

Comments in any format (written or electronic) submitted by an individual or organization on behalf of another individual or organization will not be accepted. Anonymous comments will not be accepted.

It is the practice of the National Park Service to make all comments available for public review. Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment – including your personal identifying information – may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

From the Sierra Club come the following general talking points for your comments at the meetings or in writing.

• Thank the Park Service for its overall good management of the Parks’ wilderness area.

• Wilderness ought to be accessible at no charge.

• Refrain from “zoning” wilderness. Compartmentalizing wilderness into “zones” of differing amounts of use of levels of intense management or amounts of degradation permitted may be well-meaning but it can lead too easily to allowing inappropriate uses in the “lesser” zones, and managers thinking: “It’s ok here as long as we keep it out of the most protective, or remote zones.” This can lead to de facto higher “classes” and lower of wilderness. The Wilderness Act doesn’t differentiate between different classes of wilderness.
Obviously, areas near access points, edges of wilderness, trail, campsites, popular scenic features will get heavier use. Each of these can be separately documented and assigned for restrictions or whatever management controls are deemed necessary. That is simply practical and differs from a sweeping division into zone classifications.

• No imposition of user fees for wilderness visits. Sequoia Kings Canyon has recently imposed a “wilderness camping fee” for overnight wilderness permits. The Sierra Club generally opposes the relatively new fees structures (starting in 1996 with fee demo, and presently under authority of the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act). We support fees for developed areas like campgrounds, marinas, which are customary, and do not oppose National Park System unit entry fees, which also are long standing. But there should be no fee on top of that to go into wilderness. An advance “reservation” fee in popular wildernesses, such as the Sierra, is justified to assure one’s permit ahead of time; but free permits should be available for people who just come in to pick them up. It is still that way in Yosemite, as it should be.

• There must be sensible management of packstock use, in particular in meadows and riparian zones, to protect habitat and trails.

5.   California State Park News:
          a.   East Bay State Park Renamed To Honor Sylvia McLaughlin

Two weeks ago, the California State Park and Recreation Commission approved a resolution renaming Eastshore State Park along San Francisco Bay in honor of Sylvia McLaughlin. The park’s official name is now McLaughlin Eastshore State Park. Sylvia is one of the founders of the Save San Francisco Bay Association (now Save the Bay), which was formed in the early 60s to fight proposals for massive filling projects in the Bay. Sylvia also led the campaign to establish Eastshore State Park, which follows the East Bay shoreline from Richmond to Oakland. Sylvia is a longtime friend and supporter of CalUWild, and has long been active in many other Bay Area environmental issues. It is wonderful to see her honored.

The park is jointly managed by the State of California and the East Bay Regional Parks District.

          b.   Legislative Update

California Governor Jerry Brown signed two bills last month dealing with the state parks crisis. Both were authored by Assemblyman Jared Huffman (D) of Marin County. The first requires the Park System to develop a plan for increasing revenues and collecting unpaid user fees, as well as transparent accounting of all funds. The second guaranteed that the recently discovered hidden funds (which we reported on in August) were used for state park purposes and placed a two-year moratorium on park closures, among other funding items.
Mr. Huffman has been a strong advocate for the parks and the environment in general. He is a candidate for the congressional seat being vacated by retiring Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, who was always a strong supporter of wilderness and public lands. Under California’s new redistricting scheme, the district now runs from the Golden Gate Bridge all the way to the Oregon border.

One consequence of the discovery of funds during the summer is that some people who contributed to efforts to keep some of the parks open feel betrayed by the accounting scandal. To read how that is playing out at Henry Coe State Park, south of San Jose, click here.

IN CALIFORNIA & COLORADO
6.   Pres. Obama Uses the Antiquities Act Again
          Chimney Rock in Colorado and
          César Chávez in California
          Designated as National Monuments
          (ACTION ITEM)

Pres. Obama has used his authority under the Antiquities Act of 1906 to designate two more national monuments, the third and fourth of his administration.

In September, he announced the designation of Chimney Rock, an important Chacoan archaeological area in southwestern Colorado. CalUWild has long been active in the campaign to have the site protected, whether administratively or through congressionally. The monument will be managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Up until now, tours of the site have been May 15 – September 30. The Forest Service must now embark on developing a management plan for the monument.

You may read the presidential proclamation here.

The Chimney Rock Interpretive Association’s website is here.

Last week, the President designated César E. Chávez National Monument in Keene, California. The designation provides designation for Nuestra Señora Reina de la Paz (Our Lady Queen of Peace), or La Paz, Mr. Chávez’s family home and the original site of the United Farm Worker’s Union headquarters. The monument will be managed by the National Park Service along with the National Chávez Center and the César Chávez Foundation.

Though not strictly a public lands issue, CalUWild supports this designation. Before becoming Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solís was the chief House sponsor of the California Wild Heritage Act, the statewide wilderness bill, and we worked with her office on several issues. She was always a strong supporter of wilderness and other environmental legislation, so when she introduced a bill to start the monument process we were happy to support it in turn.

To read the presidential proclamation for the new monument, click here.

Mr. Obama’s two previous monument designations were Ft. Monroe in Virginia and Ft. Ord in California. Every time the Antiquities Act is used, it is strengthened against its opponents. We’re happy to see the President continue to move forward.

Please send a thank you message to Pres. Obama, and while you’re at it, please request that he use his authority to protect Greater Canyonlands in Utah (see the links at the end of Item 3). Here is contact information for the White House:

Telephone comments:   202-456-1111
Online comment form

IN GENERAL
7.   U.S. Supreme Court Turns Down Roadless Rule Appeal

The Supreme Court got its new term off to a good start on the first Monday in October when it rejected an appeal by Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, Alaska, North & South Dakota, Michigan, Alabama, and Virginia joined Wyoming and industry groups in an unsuccessful attempt to overturn the rule.

The states and groups repeated their oft-rejected claims that the rule was adopted in violation of federal environmental laws and that the Roadless Rule represented a de facto illegal creation of wilderness.

By denying the appeal, the Court will have hopefully put an end to the endless controversies surrounding the rule, which went into effect in the closing days of the Clinton Administration, i.e., 2000.

8.   Volunteer for Your Public Lands
          (ACTION ITEM)

Click on the links below to be connected to volunteer opportunities around the West, sponsored by some of our friends.

California Wilderness Coalition
Saturday, November 3
Stornetta Public Lands Day Event
10:30 AM to 3:30 PM

Folks from far and wide and staff of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the California Wilderness Coalition (CWC) and other organizations will enjoy a day of hiking, whale watching and volunteering on the coastal bluffs just north of Point Arena, California in Mendocino County. Learn more and sign up here.

Wilderness Volunteers
Our good friends at Wilderness Volunteers have published their Spring-Early Summer 2013 schedule, with projects all over the West, including Alaska and Hawaii. Click here!

9.   Great Old Broads Annual Online Auction
          October 29 – November 11
          (AUCTION ITEM)

Mark your calendars! Great Old Broads is having its annual online auction, their biggest fundraising event of the year. Check their website beginning October 29.

If you’d like to donate an item for the auction, click here.

IN THE PRESS
10.   Links to Articles of Interest

New York Times

Article on the San Francisco Hetch Hetchy election controversy

(Related article in the San Jose Mercury News)

Timothy Egan writes on The Geography of Nope

Why the Beaver Should Thank the Wolf, op-ed piece on ecosystem interconnectedness

Scientists at work blog: In Utah, A 210-Million-Year-Old Puzzle

An interesting perspective on nature photography (Maybe it will encourage people to actually get out!)

High Country News

Don’t ever forget Cecil Garland, remembering an early Montana wilderness advocate

Abbey’s Road: Retired BLM chief gives one last look across the range, interview with Bob Abbey

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2011 October

November 8th, 2011


Muley Point, Utah                                                                                                                            Mike Painter

October 31, 2011

Dear CalUWild friends and supporters—

There’s some good news today, as reports are filtering out of Washington that Pres. Obama for the first time is going to use the Antiquities Act of 1906 to designate a national monument. It won’t be out West but rather at Ft. Monroe on Chesapeake Bay in Virginia. Though not wilderness by any means—it’s a Civil War Fort—CalUWild has lent its support to a coalition of groups working to protect it and other historic places across the country. While this is a relatively non-controversial designation, it is a good first step. Maybe it will encourage the President to exercise his authority to protect more special places across the country, including out West.

Of course, that won’t be easy, given the attitudes of some. Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests & Public Lands told the Western Republican Leadership Conference meeting that it’s unconstitutional for the federal government to own land, though he’s willing to allow national parks, since they don’t make money anyway. You can here an audio clip of Bishop’s comments here.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) says that much of the public land in the West should be “returned to private ownership,” according to this article in the Salt Lake Tribune. The fact that none of the federal land in the West was ever private doesn’t seem to faze him in the least. The Tribune ran an op-ed piece looking at Rep. Chaffetz’s claims here.

In other public lands news … The Interior Department has announced days in 2012 when admission fees will be waived in the national parks:

          Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, January 14 to 16
          National Park Week, April 21 to 29
          Get Outdoors Day, June 9
          National Public Lands Day, September 29
          Veterans Day, November 10-12

The BLM, Forest Service and Fish & Wildlife Service will also have free days on the above dates (except April 21-29). The Bureau of Reclamation will waive fees on September 29 and November 12. FWS will have an additional free day for National Wildlife Week on October 14.

Mark your calendars!

CalUWild’s Annual Membership Appeal is coming up at the end of November. If you’re a new member or have contributed in recent years, please watch your mailbox. If you would like to help us save us on printing and postage costs, please print and fill out the form at the end of this Update and mail it in with your contribution.

Financial support from our members has been invaluable over the years. We also recognize that these are difficult financial times for many. Your generosity is, therefore, doubly appreciated.

Thanks,
Mike

IN GENERAL
1. Great Outdoors Giveaway
          (ACTION ITEM – URGENT)
2.   Other Congressional Action
          a.   Wilderness Bills
          b.   National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act
3.   Roadless Rule Upheld by Appeals Court

IN UTAH
4.   Red Rock Wilderness Bill
          Cosponsorship Update
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
5.   San Joaquin River Gorge
          Nominated for Wild & Scenic Status
           DEADLINE: December 9
           (ACTION ITEM)
6.   San Gabriel Mountains Special Study Released

ONLINE
7.   Great Old Broads Annual Auction
          October 31 – November 20
          (AUCTION ITEM)

CalUWild MEMBERSHIP FORM

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IN GENERAL
1. Great Outdoors Giveaway
          (ACTION ITEM – URGENT

We’ve reported in the past on California Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s (R- 22) bill (H.R. 1581) to release all BLM wilderness study areas and Forest Service roadless areas not recommended by the agencies for wilderness status. The bill is the biggest threat to wild  lands in many years, and it continues to arouse controversy. For a revealing map of the lands covered, click here.

The House Subcommittee on Parks & Public Lands held a hearing over the summer and the full Natural Resources Committee may vote on it sometime in the next few weeks. Therefore, it’s urgent that people make their opinions known to the Committee. All conservationists, as well as the Administration, oppose the bill. Some local officials, even those generally not supportive of wilderness designations, oppose the bill, too, saying that it applies the very same “one-size-fits-all” approach that those anti-conservation forces dislike about other directives coming from Washington, DC.

California Rep. Jim Costa (D- 20) sits on the Natural Resources Committee. The word is that he has heard from many supporters of Rep. McCarthy’s bill. He needs to hear the other point of view now, too.

Talking points:
—   If you do not live in Rep. Costa’s district, say at the outset that you’re from California and calling because he’s on the Natural Resources Committee.
—   Rep. Costa should vote against H.R. 1581.
—   Many of the inventories are now considered out-of-date.
—   In many cases, recommendations against wilderness were influenced by pro-development and pro-extraction attitudes.
—   Attitudes about the balance between landscape preservation and resource extraction have changed in the intervening years. If the inventories were re-done today, the agencies might very well recommend those very same areas for wilderness now
—   Finally, many of those areas not recommended by the agencies have been included in citizens proposals and have been in fact designated as wilderness by Congress. These lands should also be given that chance.

Contact information for Rep. Costa:

          DC:   202-225-3341
          Fresno:   559-495-1620
          Bakersfield:   661-869-1620
          Web Form:   click here

Because it’s not known exactly when a vote will be taken in the full House, it’s also important to call your own representative and urge him or her to vote against the bill. Contact information for House members may be found on their pages at www.house.gov.

2.   Other Congressional Action
          a.   Wilderness Bills

Two California wilderness bills were among six given hearings last week by the Subcommittee on Parks & Public Lands. The Angeles and San Bernardino National Forest Protection Act (H.R. 113), introduced by Rep. David Dreier (R-26) would add about 18,000 wilderness acres to the Sheep Mountain, Cucamonga, and San Gabriel Wilderness areas in those forests.

Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-49) Beauty Mountain & Agua Tibia Wilderness Bill (H.R. 41) would protect more than 21,000 acres along the border between San Diego and Riverside counties.

Other wilderness bills considered at the hearing were: Manzano Mountain Wilderness expansion in New Mexico; expansion of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness in Washington and to designation of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River and Pratt River as wild and scenic; designation of land in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan; and the Devil’s Staircase Wilderness Area in Oregon, as well as designation of segments of Wasson and Franklin Creeks as wild or recreation rivers.

These were the first wilderness bills to have hearings before the subcommittee in the 112th  Congress. No votes were taken on the bills.

          b. National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act

Earlier this year, Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) introduced H.R. 1505, the National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act. This law, if passed, would allow the Secretary of Homeland Security to waive the operation of more than 35 laws within 100 miles of either the Canadian or Mexican border including the:

          National Environmental Policy Act
          Endangered Species Act of 197
          Wilderness Act of 1964
          Antiquities Act of 1906
          Federal Land Policy and Management Act
          National Park Service Organic Act
          National Historic Preservation Act
          Migratory Bird Treaty Act
          Clean Air Act
          Safe Drinking Water Act
          Wild and Scenic Rivers Act
          National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act

The need for the bill is not at all clear, since the Border Patrol has said in the past that environmental laws do not significantly hinder its operations, and in fact, the agency has good working relations with land managers. The Natural Resources Committee approved the bill by a party line vote of 26-17 earlier this month. We’ll keep you posted on its progress.

3.   Forest Service Roadless Rule Upheld by Appeals Court

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously overturned a Wyoming District Court’s 2008 ruling that blocked the Clinton-era Forest Service Roadless Rule. Thus the Rule’s general ban on road building and timber harvesting in the inventoried roadless areas is now reinstated. The Ninth Circuit had previously ruled that the Roadless Rule was proper, so with no conflict between circuits, the Rule can now be implemented.

It’s not clear whether Wyoming will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, or whether anti-environmental members of Congress will introduce legislation overturning the Rule.

Wyoming had claimed that the public process in developing the Rule was improperly handled, saying that the outcome was pre-ordained. It also claimed that the Rule created de facto wilderness, and since only Congress can designate wilderness, the Rule was illegal. The Court rejected both of these claims, specifically pointing out that Roadless areas “will allow a multitude of activities including motorized uses” and “imposes no prohibition on mining or mineral-development activities.”

The ruling is available online here.

The New York Times published an editorial in support of the ruling.

IN UTAH
4.   Red Rock Wilderness Bill
          Cosponsorship Update
          (ACTION ITEM)

Since our July Update, we’ve added one new California House cosponsor to America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act (H.R. 1916):

          Henry Waxman (D-30)

He joins the following California representatives:

          Mike Thompson (D-01)
          Doris Matsui (D-05)
          Lynn Woolsey (D-06)
          George Miller (D-07)
          Barbara Lee (D-09)
          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)
          Judy Chu (D-32)
          Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-34)
          Laura Richardson (D-37)
          Grace Napolitano (D-38)
          Bob Filner (D-51)

          Sen. Barbara Boxer (D)

Please send a note of thanks to your representative if he or she is on the list above.

We’d still like to see the following sign on. If your representative is on the following list, please contact him or her, asking them to cosponsor America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act.

          John Garamendi (D-10)
          Anna Eshoo (D-14)
          Brad Sherman (D-27)
          Xavier Becerra (D-31)
          Karen Bass (D-33)
          Maxine Waters (D-35)
          Linda Sanchez (D-39)
          Loretta Sanchez (D-47)
          Susan Davis (D-53)

Contact information may be found on representatives’ pages at www.house.gov.

IN CALIFORNIA
5.   San Joaquin River Gorge
          Nominated for Wild & Scenic Status
           DEADLINE: December 9
           (ACTION ITEM)

The following alert comes from our friends at the California Wilderness Coalition  and the Friends of the River.

BLM Recommends Wild River Protection For San Joaquin River Gorge!
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is recommending protection of the magnificent San Joaquin River Gorge as a National Wild & Scenic River. The agency’s recommendation is gutsy given that it defies the intent of several members of Congress and a fellow federal agency to build the proposed Temperance Flat Dam, which would flood the Gorge and destroy its outstanding attributes.

Dam proponents will be mobilizing to oppose the agency’s recommendation for Wild & Scenic protection. Conservationists need to speak out in favor of protecting the Gorge at upcoming public meetings and in written comments to the BLM. The deadline for public comments in Dec. 9, 2011.

Background
The Wild & Scenic recommendation for the San Joaquin River Gorge is included in the BLM’s draft Bakersfield Resource Management Plan (RMP), which proposes management direction for 400,000 acres of public lands in the southern Central Valley and Central Coast. The RMP also recommends protection for a segment of the North Fork Kaweah River and identifies several other streams as eligible for protection. Federal law requires the BLM to identify, study, and recommend rivers for potential Wild & Scenic status as part of its planning process.

The San Joaquin River Gorge is located upstream of the existing Friant Dam and Millerton Reservoir in the Sierra Nevada foothills northeast of Fresno. The BLM manages about 5,000 acres of public land in and surrounding the Gorge for public recreation, open space, and wildlife habitat. A network of trails in the Gorge provide opportunities to hike, mountain bike, ride horses, view wildflowers, hunt, fish, and camp in some of the most spectacular scenery in the central Sierra foothills. The Gorge is also rich in Native American cultural values.

In the draft Bakersfield RMP, the BLM found 5.4 miles of the San Joaquin River Gorge between PG&E’s Kerckhoff Dam and Kerckhoff Powerhouse to be eligible and suitable for Wild & Scenic protection because of the river’s outstandingly remarkable scenic, wildlife, and Native American cultural values. A shorter 3-mile segment of the river downstream of Kerckhoff Powerhouse was also found eligible, but BLM was unable to recommend protection for this lower segment because the Bureau of Reclamation has a claim on this segment to allow for possible enlargement of Millerton Reservoir (as an alternative to building Temperance Flat).

The BLM’s Wild & Scenic recommendation for the San Joaquin River Gorge directly defies the intent of several members of Congress from the southern Central Valley and the Bureau of Reclamation to build the Temperance Flat Dam, which in its largest configuration could flood the Gorge all the way up to Kerckhoff Dam. Ironically, the proposed Temperance Flat would not contribute significantly to the state’s water supply since existing storage reservoirs already capture about 98% of the San Joaquin’s annual run-off. Based on 80 years of flow records, the Temperance Flat Dam would only store some water one year out of three. But this hasn’t stopped dam proponents, who hope to convince the taxpayers to pay for this outrageously expensive $3 billion dam.

Whether a river should remain free flowing and undammed is exactly the question the National Wild & Scenic Rivers Act was intended to answer. When it approved the nation’s foremost river conservation law in 1968, Congress explicitly stated its intent of balancing the nation’s existing policy of developing many rivers for their water supply and hydropower potential by adopting a new policy stating that some free flowing rivers with outstanding natural and cultural values should remain undammed and free flowing. In addition to prohibiting dams, the federal lands through which Wild & Scenic Rivers flow are to be managed specifically to protect the free flowing character of the river and its outstanding values.

In addition to recommending protection for the San Joaquin River Gorge, the BLM proposes to protect 2.5 miles of the North Fork Kaweah, as it flows out of Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park into BLM lands. Unfortunately, the BLM is not recommending protection for eligible segments of the East and Middle Forks of the Kaweah River, even though the National Park Service proposes Wild & Scenic status for upstream segments. Similarly, the BLM has not recommended a 3.2-mile segment of the lower Kern River below Isabella Dam, even though the Forest Service considers another 26 miles of the river on downstream National Forest lands to be eligible. In addition, the draft RMP does not recommend protection for segments of Chimney Creek, South Fork Kern River and the Salinas River.

Take Action!
The deadline for written comments is Dec. 9, 2011. Please send an email to BLM Bakersfield Field Manager Tim Smith today thanking him for recommending the San Joaquin River Gorge as a Wild & Scenic River and urging him to protect this river and its public lands from drowning by the Temperance Flat Dam. Also urge the BLM to recommend Wild & Scenic protection for the North, Middle, and East Forks of the Kaweah River, Lower Kern River, South Fork Kern River, and Chimney Creek.

Email your comments by Dec. 9 to cacalrmp@blm.gov.

and/or mail a hard copy to

          Tim Smith
          Attn: Bakersfield RMP
          3801 Pegasus Drive
          Bakersfield, CA  93308.

You can review a copy of the RMP by visiting:

http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/bakersfield.html

For more information, contact Steve Evans, Wild Rivers Project Consultant for Friends of the River and the California Wilderness Coalition, phone: (916) 708-3155, email: sevans@friendsoftheriver.org.

6.   San Gabriel Mountains Special Study Released

The National Park Service has issued a draft study, begun in 2005, that analyzes various options for protecting the San Gabriel Mountains above Los Angeles. The draft looks at a “no action” alternative and 3 others. National Parks Traveler  is an excellent source of daily news on issues related to the Park System. It published a quite comprehensive article reporting on the draft here. So we’ll point you there rather than repeat it here. While you’re at it, look over the website for other news of interest.

You may read or download the Park Service report and other materials from the study website.

The Park Service held a kickoff meeting this past weekend and will be hosting a series of public meetings on the proposal the third week of November:

          Palmdale
          Monday, November 14
          7 p.m. – 9 p.m.
          Larry Chimbole Cultural Center,
          Joshua Room
          38350 Sierra Highway
          Palmdale, CA 93550

          Pomona
          Tuesday, November 15th
          7 p.m. – 9 p.m.
          Agriscapes Center, California Polytechnic Institute Campus
          4102 S. University Drive
          Pomona, CA 91768

          Santa Clarita
          Wednesday, November 16th
          7 p.m. – 9 p.m.
          George A. Caravalho Activities Center
          Santa Clarita Room A
          20880 Centre Point Parkway
          Santa Clarita, CA 91351

          Tujunga
          Thursday, November 17th
          7 p.m. – 9 p.m.
          Northeast Valley City Hall Auditorium
          7747 Foothill Blvd
          Tujunga, CA 91042

ONLINE
7.   Great Old Broads Annual Auction
          October 31 – November 20
          (AUCTION ITEM)

Great Old Broads for Wilderness is holding its annual fundraising auction. Help support them and their excellent work by checking out and bidding on wonderful items of all sorts.

The auction site is here.

CalUWild 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 October – Interim

October 18th, 2011


Clouds above Sevier Dry Lakebed, Utah                                                                                          Mike Painter


October 29, 2010

Dear CalUWild friends-

Here’s the second half of the October Update, after last week’s California-only edition. One additional California item is included below, ITEM 3.

A couple of points regarding last week’s item on Pt. Reyes National Seashore and the Drakes Bay Oyster Company: Not everyone was able to go directly to the comment form using the link provided. Here’s a new link for the comment form. I also mentioned some of the other issues that have been drawn into the debate by various parties. Those were mentioned solely to provide more context, and none of them changes CalUWild’s position that the lease should not be extended beyond 2012. Drakes Estero is the only West Coast estuary with any kind of wilderness status. Congress spoke clearly in 1976 when it designated it as potential wilderness, expecting it to automatically become part of the Phillip Burton Wilderness when the lease expired. The Park Service and Secretary of the Interior should use their authority to put that intent into effect in 2012. Again, the comment deadline is November 22.

As always, thanks for your interest and efforts!
Mike

IN UTAH
1. BLM Proposes Massive Potash Leasing
          On Sevier Dry Lake
          COMMENTS NEEDED
          (ACTION ITEM)
2. Two New Dinosaurs Discovered in Grand Staircase-Escalante NM

IN CALIFORNIA
3. San Diego Wilderness Hikes

IN GENERAL
4. Forest Service Loses Fee Payment Case in Federal Court
5. Great Old Broads Annual Online Auction
          Through Sunday, November 14
          (AUCTION ITEM)

IN THE PRESS
6. Links to Online Articles of Interest

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

IN UTAH
1. BLM Proposes Massive Potash Leasing
          On Sevier Dry Lake
          COMMENTS NEEDED
          (ACTION ITEM)

Everyone who has driven from Nevada to Delta, Utah on US Highway 50/6 has driven past Sevier Dry Lake, at the base of the House Range and Notch Peak. It is a playa, onto which the Sevier River empties (when it contains enough water to get there-most of the water in the river is diverted for irrigation). The river has its headwaters in Southern Utah, west of Bryce Canyon National Park. It flows northward past Richfield and Salina, continues a bit further, and then bends west and finally flows southwest into the lake. Playas are the dry lakebeds that accumulate salts as water flows in and then evaporates.

The Bureau of Land Management in Utah recently released an Environmental Assessment that looks at leasing Sevier Lake for potash (potassium salts) mining. “The purpose of this project is to provide the public an opportunity to competitively lease the potash resources in the Sevier Lake playa, with the outcome of providing local income and jobs, and adding to the global supply of potash.”

That’s a very strange use of the term “public.” The public hikes, the public votes, but the public does not generally lease lands for minerals (an exception being Tim DeChristopher, who bid in December 2008 for oil & gas parcels to protest the lease sale in wild areas and call attention to climate change). Additionally, the U.S. provides only a small percentage of the world’s potash supply (maybe 3.3%, according to the USGS), so this project will do nothing to significantly increase the world’s production.

BLM says that under its proposed alternative, the entire dry lakebed would be open for leasing, using the entire lake surface for the production of brine. It estimates that the life of the mine would be six and a half years, in addition to two – three years for construction and three – five years for reclamation. It lists the following as likely facilities:

• 47,000 acres of solar ponds on lease

• 300 miles of collection ditches

• 250 miles of pond berms and dikes; pond walls and berms would be constructed on lease from onsite and offsite borrow materials.

• Pipelines as needed to transport water from site to site; pipelines would extend off lease

• 120,000 acre-feet of brine (39 billion gallons) with some of the water supplied from on-lease deep brine wells

• 900 acre-feet of fresh water-estimated 200 acres for rights of way for 7 off-lease wells

• 500 acres for a crushing, drying and bagging facility-may or may not be sited on lease

BLM claims that the project would not be very visible from Highway 50/6. However, if the entire lakebed were leased, it’s not clear how that could be true, as the playa is very visible to the east and south for some miles after coming over Skull Rock Pass. The EA says that “visual impacts from development of facilities on lease would be minor to moderate, and long term. … Whether the impacts are negative, positive or neutral is the perception of the viewer.” You can decide!

In any event, these impacts are large for such a short-term operation.

You may download a copy of the full proposal here.

In response to the EA, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance sent out the following alert:

Despite its harsh surroundings and intermittent nature, the Sevier Lake is a key component of the Great Salt Lake-which is one of the more important shorebird sites in the Western Hemisphere-migratory pathway for shorebirds. Undeveloped and remote, it sits bookended by proposed wilderness on both the west and east. Unfortunately, the Bureau of Land Management is now considering leasing this entire area for potash development, an industrial process requiring large dike networks and holding ponds. Such development would ruin the natural beauty of this area and potentially compromise its important ecological function.

Please take a moment to let the BLM know that you oppose its current plan to lease the Sevier Lake bed for potash development

• BLM should adopt the No Action Alternative (Alternative B) in the Sevier Lake Competitive Potash Leasing Proposal

• The EA does not fully account for the impacts to shorebirds that depend on this area.

• Furthermore, the proposal does not consider the impacts to the air quality and snowpack of the Wasatch Front from ground disturbance.

Please send comments, in your own words, incorporating your own experiences and impressions of Sevier Lake (if any) with some or all of the points above to:

          Mr. George Cruz
          Natural Resource Specialist
          US Bureau of Land Management
          Fillmore Field Office
          35 East 500 North
          Fillmore, UT 84631

          FAX: 435-743-3135
          Email: George_Cruz@blm.gov

Please send a copy of your comments to:

          Mr. Juan Palma
          State Director
          US Bureau of Land Management
          Utah State Office
          440 West 200 South, Suite 500
          Salt Lake City, UT 84101

          FAX: 801-539-4013
          Email: Juan_Palma@blm.gov

2. Two New Dinosaurs Discovered in Grand Staircase-Escalante NM

A scientist at the Utah Museum of Natural History last month announced the discovery of fossils from two new dinosaur species in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument of Southern Utah.

Utahceratops, a plant-eater nearly 20 feet long, had a seven-foot long skull. A somewhat smaller species, Kosmoceratops, had 15 horns on its skull, the most ever found on a horned-skull dinosaur. The Monument is turning up important paleontological and other scientific finds with great frequency, showing the good thinking behind its designation in 1996.

An interesting four-minute video by the discoverer of the fossils, describing the fossils and some of their scientific implications, can be found here on YouTube.

IN CALIFORNIA
3. San Diego Wilderness Hikes

Geoffrey Smith continues his series of hikes to proposed wilderness areas:

DAY HIKE TO AGUA TIBIA ON PALOMAR MOUNTAIN
Saturday, November 6, 2010

9:00 am
5 miles, moderate difficulty
RSVP (required) to Leader: Geoffrey Smith, yourpartners@partners4nature.com

Meeting location: The general store in Aguanga on SR79 at the intersection with SR371

The Agua Tibia proposed wilderness on Palomar Mountain is characterized by deep canyons cloaked primarily in coastal sage scrub habitat. Here and there in deep pockets, north-facing slopes and other sheltered places small groves of old-growth forest endure the hot, dry summers. Willow, cottonwood and other hardwoods grow along the larger streams and provide a cool refuge for wildlife. The rugged Cutca Trail traverses the area from east to west. The 7,834-acre proposed additions are recommended by the Forest Service for wilderness designation. This outing is sponsored by Friends of the River and The North San Diego Wild Heritage Campaign.

DAY HIKE TO BEAUTY MOUNTAIN
Saturday, November 13, 2010

9:00 am
5 miles, moderate difficulty
RSVP (required) to Leader: Geoffrey Smith, yourpartners@partners4nature.com

Meeting location: The general store in Aguanga on SR79 at the intersection with SR371

At 14,249 acres, the Beauty Mountain Proposed Wilderness Addition is a scenic jewel draped in chaparral, fascinating rock formations and oak woodlands, in the shadow of Palomar Mountain. The area is a transition zone between Anza-Borrego Desert State Park to the east and the endangered coastal sage scrub of the Coast Range to the west. The California Riding and Hiking Trail crosses the area. On warm spring days, visitors are greeted with the heady scents of sage, manzanita, and California lilac while hill after misty hill rises in the distance, presenting an unbroken view of wild country. Our hike will approach the summit from the north side. This outing is sponsored by Friends of the River and The North San Diego Wild Heritage Campaign.

IN GENERAL
4. Forest Service Loses Fee Payment Case in Federal Court

The issue of user fees on public lands does not want to go away. In 2005 Congress passed the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, which spelled out the conditions for which public lands agencies are allowed to charge citizens for access to public lands. Overall, with a few exceptions clearly spelled out, parking and general access to public lands was to be free.

The agencies (Forest Service and BLM mostly) have not been eager to comply with the new requirements and continue to collect fees under circumstances not allowed by the law. Some citizens are fighting back and winning, as the following item from the Western Slope No Fee Coalition in Colorado describes:

An important decision has been handed down by Federal Magistrate Judge Mark Aspey in Flagstaff, Arizona. He granted a motion by Sedona resident Jim Smith to have his ticket for failure to pay a Forest Service recreation fee (i.e. have a Red Rock Pass) dismissed.

Jim parked overnight at the Vultee Arch Trailhead, a dirt parking lot with no amenities accessed by a rough dirt road. He backpacked into the Coconino National Forest, camped in an area with no amenities, and returned to find a ticket on his car because it did not display a Red Rock Pass.

The Red Rock Pass fee program is one of the most notorious in the nation, requiring an access fee for 160,000 acres of federal public land, much of it dispersed undeveloped backcountry.

Jim challenged the Forest Service’s authority to levy a fee at Vultee Arch Trailhead because the law governing recreation fees specifically prohibits fees for parking, general access, walking through federal land without using facilities and services, camping in dispersed undeveloped areas, or in any location that does not offer reasonable access to six specific amenities: permanent toilet, permanent trash container, picnic table, developed parking, interpretive signage, and security services. The Vultee Arch Trailhead offers none of these amenities – it only serves as a place to park and enter undeveloped backcountry, both of which are activities the law says must be free of charge. The nearest toilet is 7 miles away and the nearest trash can is 10 miles away.

Jim represented himself, and he was up against the full might of the federal government, but he won because he proved to the judge that the way the Forest Service is implementing fees in the Red Rock Pass area is not a reasonable interpretation of the law. In fact the decision describes the Forest Service’s interpretation as “absurd”:

In addition to the plain language of the statute prohibiting the Forest Service from charging for parking or access or undeveloped camping, and the plain language of the statute prohibiting the Forest Service from charging an amenity fee at a site where specific amenities were not provided, Congressional intent and legislative history indicate that the Forest Service’s construction of the relevant statutory section would thwart Congressional intent and result in an absurd construction of the relevant statutory scheme. [decision p. 29]

This is a very important decision, with national implications. There are almost 100 places around the country where the Forest Service has created “High Impact Recreation Areas” or HIRAs. Within a HIRA they have been claiming the authority to charge a fee for any activity at all as long as the six amenities exist somewhere in the HIRA, no matter how scattered or how far away. This interpretation has resulted in visitors being charged fees to access millions of acres of dispersed undeveloped backcountry.

Judge Aspey says nix to all that.

Among other things, this decision renders moot the signs in the Red Rock Pass area that say you have to buy a pass to park anywhere on the National Forest, and makes it unlikely that the Coconino – or any other National Forest – can ever again successfully prosecute someone for not having a pass at trailheads or dispersed camping areas.

You can read more about the case, including all the legal briefs and the judge’s decision, at our website. For a direct link to the decision CLICK HERE.

Follow-up from the Western Slope NFC (slightly edited):

RED ROCK PASS DECISION STANDS FIRM

The Forest Service allowed the deadline for filing an appeal in the case of U.S. v Smith to expire without acting.

This confirms the decision by U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Aspey that the Red Rock Pass fee area surrounding Sedona, Arizona is significantly out of compliance with federal law.

The Coconino National Forest responded with a press release that’s downright breathtaking in its audacity: “Red Rock Country Continues To Be A Fee Area

The press release disregards the Judge’s description of the Forest Service’s interpretation of the law as “absurd” and simply lists all the – supposedly wonderful – ways they spend the money.

That’s a little like a thief claiming it’s all right to steal if you also donate to the United Way.

The Coconino “is reviewing the area to determine appropriate changes in light of the court’s decision” so perhaps – in time – they will get the message and bring the Sedona area into compliance with federal law.

Meanwhile, anyone – in Sedona or anywhere else – who receives a Violation Notice, and who was not using a developed facility, would be well advised to read the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, review Judge Aspey’s Decision, and consider whether their circumstances warrant asking for their Violation Notice to be dismissed, citing U.S. v Smith as precedent.

Much more about NRFs in Bill Schneider’s latest piece for NewWest.net: Forest Service Moves To Intimidation To Collect More Entrance Fees.

5. Great Old Broads Annual Online Auction
          Through Sunday, November 14
          (AUCTION ITEM)

Broads 2010
Wild for Wilderness
On-Line Auction is LIVE!

Browse & Bid Now

This is our 6th Annual On-Line Auction and there are more than 300 wild items perfect for holiday gifts, next year’s vacation, a good read, a meal, or a hike in the park.

There are adventure trips, outdoor gear, clothing, jewelry, artwork, restaurant certificates, books, and lots of vacation stays from DC to Moab and from Normandy to San Francisco.

This auction has it all! Auction runs through the evening of Sunday, November 14.

Please, share the link! Post it on your website and Facebook pages, Twitter it, e-mail it to your friends!

          http://auction.greatoldbroads.org

The more you share, the more work we can do to protect and restore wilderness and wild lands!

Check in often! New items added daily.

IN THE PRESS
6. Links to Online Articles of Interest

NY Times columnist Timothy Egan’s reflections on the recent killing of a hiker by a mountain goat.

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2010 October

October 22nd, 2010


Gardisky Lake, Hoover Wilderness, California                                                                                  Mike Painter


October 21, 2010

Dear CalUWild friends—

There are a few California-specific items with imminent deadlines, so we’re sending out the October Update this week to deal with them on their own. We’ll send out another Update next week, covering other items of interest around the West.

Until then, thanks for your interest and efforts,
Mike

IN CALIFORNIA
1.   Point Reyes National Seashore Oyster Farm Permit
          Open Houses Scheduled in the Bay Area
          NEXT WEEK
          COMMENT DEADLINE: November 22
          (ACTION ITEM)

2.   Mono County Supervisors Vote To Take NO ACTION
          On Bodie Hills Resolution Supporting WSA Release
          (ACTION ITEM)

3.   Giant Sequoia National Monument Planning
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINE: November 3
          (ACTION ITEM)

4.   Public Lands Legislative Update:
          A.   Pinnacles National Monument
          B.   Sacramento River NRA
          C.   Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta National Heritage Area
          (ACTION ITEM)

5.   November 2 Election
          (ACTION ITEM)

6.   In the Press

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

IN CALIFORNIA
1.   Point Reyes National Seashore Oyster Farm Permit
          Open Houses Scheduled in the Bay Area
          NEXT WEEK
          COMMENT DEADLINE: November 22
          (ACTION ITEM)

We’ve reported over the years on the controversy regarding the Drakes Bay Oyster Company’s commercial permit in Pt. Reyes National Seashore. Here’s a brief historical summary:

Pt. Reyes NS was established in 1962. It contained working dairy ranches and an oyster farm on the shore of Drakes Estero; these were allowed to continue to operate. In 1972, the oyster farm was given a 40-year operating permit. In 1976, Congress created the Phillip Burton Wilderness. The land on which the oyster farm is located was included in the bill, designated as “potential” wilderness because of the pre-existing 40-year commercial lease on the land. The intent of Congress was clear: the land would become part of the wilderness area without further legislative action upon expiration of the lease, i.e., automatically.

The present owner of Drakes Bay Oyster Company bought the business in 2005, knowing that the lease would expire in 2012 and that the Park Service had no authority to renew it because of the wilderness legislation. Since that time, the owner has worked to have the lease extended by various means, most recently via a rider attached to the FY 2010 Interior Appropriations bill. This rider was never fully discussed by the Congress, and in our view was a backdoor method of getting legislation passed that might not otherwise have been approved in the normal committee process. The rider gave the Secretary of the Interior the authority to extend the permit (but did not require an extension, as had been originally proposed).

The Seashore recently announced that it will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on a possible 10-year extension of the Drakes Bay Oyster Company’s permit. The scoping period is open, and there will be three public open house meetings in the Bay Area next week where citizens can get more information, talk to officials, and submit comments.

All meetings run from 6 – 8 p.m.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Dance Palace Community Center
503 B Street
Point Reyes Station

Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Multi-Purpose Room, Bay Model Visitor Center
2100 Bridgeway
Sausalito

Thursday, October 28, 2010
Community Room, REI Berkeley
1338 San Pablo Avenue
Berkeley

CalUWild has no objection to the present operation of the oyster farm. Our concern is with the procedure that has been followed to try to extend the permit. Only Congress can designate Wilderness, and if there are to be changes to Wilderness status, then Congress must be the body to do it, through open, public discussion, not via riders that pass the final decision along to others.

We recognize that there are other issues involved, such as the importance of local agriculture, family businesses, and the historic or at least traditional use of the property. The Seashore, therefore, needs to look at all options, including the possibility relocation to nearby Tomales Bay, as it prepares its EIS. But it should not grant an extension of the commercial permit.

Pt. Reyes is not accepting comments via email. Comments may be submitted online here.

Comments may be sent by US Mail:

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

Written comments will also be accepted at the public meetings.

The comment deadline is November 22. You may download the scoping notice from this page.


2.   Mono County Supervisors Vote To Take NO ACTION
          On Bodie Hills Resolution Supporting WSA Release
           (ACTION ITEM)

On September 21, the Mono County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to take no action on a resolution to support H.R. 6129, the so-called Mono County Economic Development Act of 2010. The main provision of the bill would release the Bodie Wilderness Study Area from its protected status in order to allow a gold mining company to conduct further exploration in the area.

While the result is certainly favorable, it’s not a total victory. One supervisor said he would like to have the entire issue of WSAs in the area “resolved.” Several supervisors made it clear that they were irritated by rushed nature of the resolution, regardless of its merits, coming less than a week after the bill was introduced in Congress. The total lack of information about the mining company’s plans was also a factor.

On the other hand, people from all over the West sent in more than 300 letters opposing the resolution. One supervisor specifically commented how impressed he was that these letters were personalized and not just form letters. It was good to hear him comment this way. It shows that letters can have an impact, and in this case, they certainly did.

So, many thanks to all who wrote last month. If you haven’t written yet, please send Rep. McKeon a letter letting him know your views on the bill. Suggested talking points were in last month’s Update, which you can read by clicking here.

Because of irradiation, it’s best to send a fax to DC or send US mail to one of Rep. McKeon’s local offices. Full contact information can be found here. Please send a copy of your letter to both Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. Contact info can be found by clicking on their names.

We’ll keep you posted on further developments.


3.   Giant Sequoia National Monument Planning
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINE: November 3
          (ACTION ITEM)

We wrote in August about Giant Sequoia National Monument releasing a Draft EIS on its new management plan. We didn’t have any comments on the plan at the time, but we said we’d try to get information out in time for the comment deadline of November 3. The Sierra Club, which has long been involved in Monument issues, has prepared the following talking points. You do not need to mention every one, and please use your own words. If you have visited the Monument, write about your experiences.

Support the “Citizens’ Park Alternative” for the Giant Sequoia National Monument

A decade ago President Clinton designated the Giant Sequoia National Monument to forever protect the magnificent Giant Sequoia ecosystem. Unfortunately once again, this national treasure is under threat. After a failed attempt to provide a legally sufficient plan to protect the Giant Sequoia ecosystem, the Forest Service is apparently repeating the same mistakes as the past. The newly released draft Giant Sequoia National Monument Management Plan EIS continues to promote a failed logging agenda, with some proposed alternatives calling for more tree removal than prior to the monument’s designation.

Because of these past and present agency failures, citizens have now come forward with their own management alternative that will forever protect the Giant Sequoia ecosystem. Please tell the Forest Service to adopt the “Citizens’ Park Alternative.”

The “Citizens Park Alternative”

•   Restore the vision of President Clinton’s Proclamation and protect the giant sequoia ecosystem from continued proposals for logging and other dangers, as proposed in the Forest Service’s preferred alternative.

•   The Monument’s Giant Sequoias Groves and intertwined forest ecosystem should be managed in the same fine manner as Sequoia National Park.

•   This means that fire should be used as the preferred method of ecosystem restoration and fuel reduction treatments.

•   The plan must prioritize the protection and restoration of healthy habitats for sensitive wildlife species, including fisher, martens, owls, and goshawks.

•   Alternative C is not really a park style management alternative and goes too far by eliminating all dispersed recreation.

•   Historical recreation is OK, so long as it is consistent with protecting the Monument’s natural resources, including the use of trails and dispersed camping

•   Park style management should focus on ecosystem restoration, not recreation management.

•   Any mechanical thinning for fuel reduction should be focused in areas directly adjacent to structures.

•   Tree removal from the Monument is prohibited by the Clinton Proclamation, unless absolutely necessary, and must be scientifically justified for ecosystem restoration and maintenance or public safety.

•   This means that any larger trees that are cut should be left in the monument because they generally are not the type of material that causes unwanted fire behavior and are needed for ecosystem restoration.

•   Any removal of trees, tree limbs, and slash should be focused on small diameter material, which is the type of material that could cause unwanted fire behavior.

•   Salvage logging should be expressly prohibited because it is only done for commercial purposes and prohibited by the Clinton Proclamation.

•   The Forest Service should cancel the three remaining commercial timber sales in the Monument still under contract that were held illegal by the Federal Court:  Frog, Saddle, and White Mountain.

•   All Roadless Areas should be managed to maintain their Wilderness potential, and the Forest Service must keep its promise from the last plan revision to recommend the Moses Roadless Area as Wilderness.

Please write the Forest Service today and ask them to adopt the Citizens’ Park Alternative for managing the Giant Sequoia National Monument.

Email:   comments-pacificsouthwest-sequoia@fs.fed.us

On the Web: http://gsnm-consult.limehouse.com/portal

By US Mail:

GSNM – DEIS Comments
Sequoia National Forest
1839 S. Newcomb St.
Porterville, CA  93257


4.   Public Lands Legislative Update:
          (ACTION ITEMS)

There have been a few California public lands bills that had hearings in Congress or were recently introduced. Though not all involve wilderness, they nevertheless offer important protections for more of California’s natural heritage.

          

A.   Pinnacles National Monument

S.3744, Sen. Boxer’s bill to re-designate Pinnacles National Monument a national park (and companion bill to H.R.3444 by Rep. Sam Farr (D-17)), had a hearing last month before the Senate Subcommittee on National Parks. It was sent to the full Senate for a vote. In addition to renaming the monument, the bill would enlarge add several thousand acres to the new park and would designate more wilderness within it.

The Park Service supported the bill in the hearing, although last year it testified against the proposal at a House hearing on Rep. Farr’s bill.

B.   Sacramento River NRA

The following (slightly edited) comes from the California Wilderness Coalition:

Please thank Senator Barbara Boxer for introducing S.3879, the ”Sacramento River National Recreation Area Act of 2010.”

On September 29, 2010 Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) introduced S.3879 in the US Senate, the ”Sacramento River National Recreation Area Act of 2010,” a bill to designate 17,000 acres of public land south of Redding and east of Red Bluff as the “Sacramento River National Recreation Area” (NRA). Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) immediately signed on as a cosponsor.

The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) 17,000-acre Sacramento River Bend Area in northern Tehama County and southern Shasta County is the most undeveloped portion of the Sacramento River below Shasta Dam. The river twists and turns through the heart of the area, thus earning its “Bend Area” nickname. This stretch of the river includes the steep and highly scenic Iron Canyon and it hosts some of the best salmon and steelhead trout spawning grounds in California (the astounding “Salmonzilla,” an 85 pound, 51-inch Chinook salmon, was found dead in the northern part of the area in 2008).

Remnants of the great riverside forests that once followed the Sacramento from its source to the San Francisco Bay still exist in the area, and above the river blue oak woodlands and grasslands thrive. Seasonal wetlands dapple the grasslands and serve as rest stops for migrating waterfowl. The proposed NRA is a great place for horseback riding, canoeing, fishing, rafting, hiking, picnicking, scenic driving, wildlife viewing, hunting and mountain biking. The area is noted for its truly spectacular spring wildflower displays. To learn more about the area, visit the BLM’s website.

Designating the area as an NRA will ensure that the BLM’s current effective management continues into the future and that the agency receives additional funding for land acquisition and restoration. This is extremely important because private lands adjacent to the proposed NRA face increasing development pressure as the Shasta-Tehama region grows.

It is very important to thank our elected officials when they do something positive for California’s public lands. Please thank Senator Boxer for working to protect this important area, and thank Senator Feinstein for supporting her!

Please tell her that you strongly support her legislation to establish the Sacramento River NRA. If you have visited the Sacramento River Bend Area, please tell her what you did there and explain that you want others to be able to enjoy such activities in the future. Mention which of the proposed NRA’s recreational, scenic and natural values are most important to you.

For more information, contact Ryan Henson of the California Wilderness Coalition at rhenson@calwild.org or 530-365-2737.

C.   Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta National Heritage Area

Rep. John Garamendi (D-10) and Sens. Feinstein and Boxer introduced legislation  in the House (H.R.6329) and Senate (S.3927) to create the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta National Heritage Area. The bill is designed “to protect and promote the cultural, historical, and natural assets of the region” according to Rep. Garamendi’s office. The bill would set up a framework for federal agencies to cooperate with local governments on such efforts, and authorize appropriations to do so.

For a map and more information, click here. A press release is here.

Reps. George Miller (D-7), Doris Matsui (D-5), Jerry McNerney (D-11, and Mike Thompson (D-1), all the representatives of districts included in the proposed NHA, cosponsored the House bill.

If you wish to write to any of the legislators sponsoring the above bills, contact information for them can be found by clicking on:

Barbara Boxer
Dianne Feinstein
John Garamendi


5.   November 2 Election
(ACTION ITEM)

Proposition 21 would provide permanent dedicated funding for California’s State Park System by adding an $18 annual surcharge on vehicle registration. 85% of the funds raised would go to a trust fund for the state parks. A small amount would go toward administration of the fund, and the remainder to other wildlife and conservation programs. In exchange, personal vehicle registered in California would have free access to all state parks. (The surcharge would not apply to commercial vehicles.)

In an ideal world, the legislature and governor would appropriate adequate funds to maintain and expand our state park system. However, California’s State Park System has been woefully under-funded for many years, and in the last several budget cycles, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed closing many of them to save money. No one has come up with an alternative that preserves the ecological, recreational, and historic values that our state parks protect. As with all resource issues, once those values are degraded or disappear, it is extremely difficult or impossible to retrieve them.

We cannot afford to wait any longer. Prop. 21 may not be a perfect solution from a procedural point of view, but it provides funding for parks that benefit all Californians, and gives support to local economies. Just about all conservation organizations in the state, and CalUWild, too, urge a YES vote on 21.

Proposition 19 would legalize the cultivation and use of marijuana. There are many differing opinions about various philosophical and practical aspects of the proposal, and we’re not taking a position on it. We do want to point out one topic, though, that is sometimes overlooked: the huge impact that illegal “plantations” have on our public lands. Cultivated areas destroy natural habitat. Pesticide use is unregulated, and runoff poisons streams. Personal safety can be a concern for rangers and for hikers who unwittingly come across growing areas. Here’s just one example from  Sequoia National Park:

“On Wednesday, September 29, law enforcement rangers removed an illegal marijuana plot, with a total of 13,077 plants (worth over $52 million), from Sequoia National Park. In addition, rangers found several hazardous materials that can cause harm to the natural environment at the site, including trash, fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. The plot is believed to have ties to a Mexican drug trafficking organization. No arrests have been made yet. An investigation is ongoing. This law enforcement operation has reduced threats to visitors, park resources, etc.”

Please consider this aspect when deciding how to vote.

Proposition 23 would overturn California’s landmark greenhouse gas bill. While not directly a public lands bill, our best science indicates that climate change resulting from human-produced carbon dioxide and other gases is having and will continue to have a profound impact on our landscape. Rising sea levels and higher temperatures that force animal and plant species to migrate or become extinct are just two examples.

A list of the major donors in support of Prop. 23 may be found here. Major donors to the campaign opposed may be found here. It was just announced today that Bill Gates has contributed $700,000 to the campaign against the proposition. Interestingly, George Shultz, Secretary of State under Pres. Reagan, is the honorary co-chairman of the campaign opposing Prop. 23. He can hardly be considered a wild-eyed environmentalist!

CalUWild urges a NO vote on 23.

Please remember to VOTE on November 2 or by mail in advance!


6.   In the Press

An interesting look at science in the wilderness: research in Dusy Basin on the decline of the Sierra Yellow-Legged Frog

A brief look at the controversy over the development of solar power in the California desert

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2008 October

October 30th, 2008

October 30, 2008

Dear CalUWild friends —

The first rain of the Fall is coming down today in San Francisco. And the days are becoming shorter, so there’s less time to spend outside. So there is now more opportunity to read and write in support of wilderness and public lands.

The one thing neither weather nor darkness should stop any of us from is VOTING on November 4th (or earlier, if possible).

After a Summer when there wasn’t much to report on, this month’s Update is back to its normal complement of items. Please take the time to do one or two of the Action Items.

Finally, please pass this Update along to anyone who might be interested, and ask them to sign up for our distribution list. (We don’t share any names with anyone for any reason.) We’re also starting to look at our website, with an eye to enlarging its scope and making it easier to sign up and donate online. We’ll be sending out a member survey soon asking for your input. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions, please send me an email.

Thanks for all that you do for our wilderness and public lands!
Mike

IN UTAH
1. Washington County Bill Makes No Progress
(ACTION ITEM)
2. Utah Governor Calls ORV Abuse an “Abomination”
(ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
3. Volunteer for the Yuki Wilderness

IN NEVADA
4. Gold Butte NCA & Wilderness
(ACTION ITEM)
5. Friends of Nevada Wilderness 2009 Calendars Available

IN WYOMING
6. Administration Snowmobile Plan Overruled Yet Again

IN GENERAL
7. Omnibus Lands Bill
(ACTION ITEM)
8. SUWA page on Women & Wilderness
9. Great Old Broads Annual Auction
Runs Through November 16
(AUCTION ITEMS)
10. Job Listing:
Great Old Broads Development Director

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

IN UTAH
1. Washington County Bill Makes No Progress
(ACTION ITEM)

Utah Sen. Bob Bennett’s (R) Washington County Growth & Conservation Act has gone nowhere in the 110th Congress. It attracted little support and much opposition from various parties who were concerned about various aspects of the bill. Although improved over the version introduced in the 109th Congress, most egregious from our viewpoint is its selling-off of public lands for development, with many of the proceeds going to fund development in Washington County itself, including the possibility of a water pipeline to the Colorado River in Lake Powell. An additional concern is the lack of wilderness designation for significant areas that merit protection. A final concern is that it would induce too much growth around St. George, an area that is already one of the fastest-growing in the United States.

Although the bill had a hearing in the Senate, it was never “marked up,” or amended in committee. Furthermore, despite Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson’s involvement in developing the bill, he never introduced it in the House of Representatives. There was some last-minute maneuvering to attach the bill to other “must-pass” legislation, but both Senate and House leadership seem to have prevented that. This is a sign of the understanding that the leadership has of the Utah issues, due to the strength of the citizens wilderness movement that has grown up over the years.

Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), Senate Majority Leader, has said that he will re-convene the Senate for a lame-duck session after the election to consider a large “omnibus” public lands package (see ITEM 7). Since that announcement, the financial crisis has hit, making it more certain that both Senate and House will return to Washington. So far the Washington County bill has remained out of the omnibus bill, and it is important that it remain out.

Please contact Sens. Boxer and Feinstein, urging them to oppose any inclusion of the bill in the omnibus package. (But see ITEM 7 first!) Contact information for both may be found on CalUWild’s website.

2. Utah Governor Calls ORV Abuse an “Abomination”
(ACTION ITEM)

Early this month, Utah Governor Jon Huntsman (R), in a meeting with the Salt Lake Tribune editorial board, called the damage caused by off-road vehicles riding off trails “an abomination, an embarrassment.” He said that the state’s Department of Natural Resources would increase levels of enforcement on state lands.

Reaction from the ORV community was swift. The head of the Utah Shared Access Alliance, Michael Swenson, said: “The word ‘abomination’ is a pretty harsh word.” More disturbing, though, was that the Tribune quoting Mr. Swenson saying that off-roaders have an obligation to obey the law in most cases. “There are many cases where there is not a travel plan in place or there is one that was put together in such a fashion that the recreation community just cannot support it.”

So in other words, if you don’t like a law, it’s OK to break it. That’s not what our parents taught us when we were kids.

Needless to say, the conservation community was happy with the governor’s comments and the potential enforcement of ORV regulations. Gov. Huntsman deserves the thanks of everyone who values quiet recreation on our public lands.

Please send him a letter of thanks at:

Hon. Jon M. Huntsman, Jr.
Governor
P.O. Box 142220
Salt Lake City, UT 84114-2220

Phone: 801-538-1000 / 800-705-2464

Fax: 801-538-1528

To email him:
http://governor.utah.gov/goca/form_comment.html

IN CALIFORNIA
3. Volunteer for the Yuki Wilderness

On the second anniversary of the passage of the North Coast Wilderness Bill, introduced by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-1), there’s a great opportunity to get out and help implement the legislation. The following comes from our friends at the California Wilderness Coalition.

Many of you worked very hard to help win the passage of Representative Mike Thompson’s, Senator Barbara Boxer’s and Senator Dianne Feinstein’s Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act in 2006. As you know, the bill protected over 275,000 acres of land as wilderness and 21 miles of stream as a wild and scenic river in Napa, Lake, Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties.

Even as we approach the second anniversary of the passage of this historic bill, federal agencies still lack sufficient resources to fully implement it on the ground. They need to install wilderness signs, block illegal vehicle routes, survey existing recreation assets (such as trails and campsites) develop maps for the public, etc. To address this problem, the California Wilderness Coalition has partnered with the Student Conservation Association (SCA), the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to accomplish this critically important work in the years to come. WE NEED YOUR HELP TO MAKE THE NORTH COAST WILDERNESS BILL A REALITY ON THE GROUND!

With generous support from the National Forest Foundation and the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation, we have chosen the Yuki Wilderness in Lake and Mendocino counties as the focus of our 2008 efforts. The Yuki is jointly managed by the BLM and the Mendocino National Forest.

Are you willing to hike, camp or ride horses for a good cause? If so, WE NEED YOUR HELP IN THE YUKI! All tools and training will be provided.

If you’d like to help, please contact Samantha (“Sam”) Krause at 707-983-8509, or at samanthakrause@gmail.com. Sam can also come to your organization’s next meeting to describe the project in more detail.

The fires this year have significantly delayed our efforts, so Sam would appreciate all the help she can get!

IN NEVADA
4. Gold Butte NCA & Wilderness
(ACTION ITEM)

The following comes from the Friends of Gold Butte (somewhat edited):

New National Conservation Area in southern Nevada proposed: Gold Butte

Congresswoman Shelley Berkley (D-Las Vegas) has introduced legislation to protect Gold Butte, a wonderful, special Mojave Desert area tucked into southeast Nevada, between the Overton Arm of Lake Mead and the Arizona border. On Friday, Sept. 26 Congresswoman Berkley introduced the Gold Butte National Conservation Area Act. It includes the Gold Butte National Conservation Area of 362,177 acres and also designates more than 200,000 acres of BLM and Park Service wilderness within the outlines of Gold Butte.

This is a magnificent next step in our collective efforts to protect the remarkable geological, biological, cultural and quiet-recreation features in Gold Butte. While the outcome in this Congress is uncertain, we do know that with a potential lame duck Congress, our hopes for passage remain alive. What we need now is: lots of letters to the editor of the major southern Nevada newspapers.

Your letters to editor supporting the Gold Butte Conservation Act are needed to counter negatives about the legislation that we’ll be hearing: “Locking out the public,” “shutting people out,” etc.

National Conservation Area will bring a management plan written by all stakeholders and does not eliminate motorized vehicles! Already people are writing in comments to the article that wilderness shuts people out. If you enjoy hiking, backpacking, good care for cultural artifacts, and finding solitude in nature this is a place that you seek! The wilderness proposal does not include areas that have designated routes.

Please write! If you have visited southern Nevada, if you enjoy backcountry recreation in Nevada – please mention it in your letter.

Important Talking Points for letters from California:

— Californians care about the special values of Nevada’s wild public lands.

— The National Conservation Area designation allows for a comprehensive plan by stakeholders to manage for visitation, education and stewardship.

— The proposed wilderness does not interfere with any open routes designated in the Environmental Assessment recently finalized by the Southern Nevada BLM office. The primary acreage of wilderness falls within the already-protected desert tortoise Area of Critical Concern.

— The Conservation community is thankful to Congresswoman Berkley for her common sense approach to problem solving.

— The City of Mesquite has repeatedly expressed to the Nevada delegation its support for the Gold Butte NCA–including the Mayor and all City Council members.

— Congresswoman Berkley is a solution-oriented legislator doing what is best for the county and the land. We appreciate Congresswoman Berkley’s understanding of the pressures facing the resources in Gold Butte-the values that belong to all Americans and the need to maintain our ability for development throughout Clark County. Her work will benefit families economically and their quality of life.

Most important paper: Las Vegas Review Journal. Send email to:
letters@reviewjournal.com

Also to the Las Vegas Sun: letters@lasvegassun.com

and City Life: letters@citylife.com

THANKS!

5. Friends of Nevada Wilderness 2009 Calendars Available

Every year we announce the new Nevada Wilderness Calendar, available from our friends in the state just to the East of here. Nevada has many wonderful wild areas waiting to be federally designated. This is a good way to help support the efforts underway there.

Friends of Nevada Wilderness’ spectacular, full-color 2009 Wild Nevada Calendar is now ready for your personal enjoyment and Holiday gift-giving. Over the years, Friends’ annual wall calendar has been extremely popular throughout Nevada and with our members all across the country, and the 2009 edition is another handsome addition to the collection.

For pricing and to order calendars online click here. Orders can also be placed by phone (775) 324-7667 or by sending your check to:

2009 Wild Nevada Calendar
Friends of Nevada Wilderness
P.O. Box 9754
Reno, NV 89507

The proceeds from your calendar purchase directly support the protection of Nevada’s priceless wild places.

IN WYOMING
6. Administration Snowmobile Plan Overruled Yet Again

In news from September (after the month’s Update had already been sent out) federal judge Emmett Sullivan ruled against the Bush Administration’s plans to allow more snowmobiles in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.

The law requires the National Park Service to manage resources for recreation and enjoyment, but in such a way that those resources are left “unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” Judge Sullivan wrote that the current plan, which would have allowed 540 snowmobiles a day into the Parks “clearly elevates use over conservation of park resources and values.”

Studies done by the government’s own scientists have recommended far fewer snowmobiles in the parks, but political pressures have influenced the Park Service to ignore those findings. Conservationists advocate the use of snow coaches (vehicles with treads), which are much quieter and spew out less pollution per passenger during the winter months. Judge Sullivan ordered the Park Service to prepare another plan.

Let’s hope this time they get it right. We’ll keep you posted.

IN GENERAL
7. Omnibus Lands Bill
(ACTION ITEM)

As mentioned in ITEM 1, Congress will go back next month for a “lame duck” session before the new president and Congress take office in January. Sen. Harry Reid (D) of Nevada had proposed it in order to consider a package of public lands bills, even before the current economic crisis hit. For that alone, he deserves our thanks.

This “omnibus” bill contains over 140 separate bills, including 15 wilderness bills. Of these, three are part of California Wild Heritage Campaign efforts: Rep. Buck McKeon’s Eastern Sierra bill, Rep. Mary Bono’s Desert and Mountains bill, and Rep. Costa & Nunes’s Mineral King bill.

In addition, there are wilderness designations for (among others) Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument and Mt. Hood, Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, and the Owyhee Canyonlands (which has been controversial).

Also included is a bill to make permanent the National Landscape Conservation System, set up by then-Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt to somewhat formalize the system of national monuments managed by the BLM. Click here to read a New York Times editorial in favor of the omnibus bill.

A sticking point, though, is the bill to allow a road to be built through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Click here for a recent New York Times article and here for a Times editorial about the controversy. If passed, this bill would be the first time wilderness has been taken out of the National Wilderness Preservation System. This represents a terrible precedent—if this area can be de-designated, then no wilderness area is safe in future.

Please contact Sens. Feinstein and Boxer asking them to do everything they can to have this bill removed from the omnibus act. Contact information for both may be found on CalUWild’s website.

8. SUWA page on Women & Wilderness

The following came from our friends at the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance:

Simply put, most of us want to protect Utah’s wilderness because we care about the future of Utah’s amazing wild lands. In order to make that care and concern more visible, participants in the Utah based “Women Protecting Wilderness” project have been collecting short testimonials and pictures from people describing why wilderness matters to them. These testimonials are being turned into the “Wilderness Quilt” — a visually exciting, attention-grabbing exhibit comprised of over 100 photos and “testimonials” (transferred to fabric) — that will be displayed as a part of an outreach and wilderness education project at the Salt Lake City Main Library during the last two weeks of November.

So far we’ve collected more than 80 testimonials from Utah wilderness supporters all over the country. We need more to complete the display and would love your help! Please take a moment, and submit a testimonial now. (We welcome testimonials from men as well as women.) Here’s what we need:

— a 2-3 sentence statement (50 words or less) about why wilderness matters to you

— a digital photo of yourself (preferably in a favorite natural landscape)

— your name

— a word or phrase that describes what you do in the world

— the city and state where you live

Please send your picture and testimonial to deeda@suwa.org. To view sample testimonials click here, here, or here.

9. Great Old Broads Annual Auction
Runs Through November 16
(AUCTION ITEMS)

From our sister organization:

It’s time for the Wild for Wilderness On-Line Auction!

This is the Great Old Broads for Wilderness’ 4th Annual On-Line Auction and our donors are certainly the best on this great green earth.

There are Adventure Trips, Outdoor Gear, Clothes, Jewelry, Artwork, Books, Vacation Stays from DC to Moab and from London to San Francisco. This auction has it all!

Log In, Browse the Listings, and Place your Bids at http://auction.greatoldbroads.org

Auction runs through Sunday, November 16.

Share the Link!

The more you share, the more work we can do to protect and restore wilderness and wild lands!

Check in often! New items added daily.

10. Job Listing:
Great Old Broads Development Director

Great Old Broads for Wilderness is currently hiring for the following position:

Development Director:

This is a permanent, part-time/advancing to full-time position (32 hours per week to start) assisting the Executive Director and Associate Director in refining and implementing a comprehensive fundraising plan, including foundation, government, corporate and individual support, thereby allowing the organization to achieve its mission and positioning the organization for future stability and growth.

Click here for a full description.

Great Old Broads for Wilderness is a national non-profit membership organization based in Durango, Colorado that uses the voices and activism of elders to preserve and protect wilderness and wild lands.

Tags: ,
Posted in Newsletters | Comments Off on 2008 October

2007 October

October 31st, 2007

October 31, 2007

Dear CalUWild friends –

There are a few items of interest this month.

The most important, Item 1, requires a letter to the BLM in Utah asking it to take a much stronger protective stance in its Resource Management Plan (RMP) for the Moab Field Office. This is critical, because the RMP will set the direction and policies for the next 10-15 years. The Moab RMP is just the first of six to be released over the coming months. Commenting on these will keep us Utahphiles busy, writing about why Utah is important to us and why BLM needs to protect the treasures under its management.

Six comments periods will be a lot to keep track of, but by working with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and other groups, we hope to make it manageable for you. Additionally, your own experiences on the ground give you a unique perspective to write about the various issues. That’s what makes citizen participation so important. Please do what you can to help.

As always, if you have any question, comments, or suggestions, feel free to contact me at 415-752-3911 or at mike@caluwild.org

Thanks for all you do to keep our wildernesses and public lands protected for the enjoyment of our children and grandchildren.

All the best,
Mike

IN UTAH
1. Moab Draft Resource Management Plan
Comments Needed
DEADLINE: November 30, 2007
URGENT ACTION ITEM

2. Congress Sends a Letter to the Interior Secretary
Regarding ORV Management in Utah
Thank You Calls Needed
ACTION ITEM

IN CALIFORNIA
3. Two Wilderness Bills Introduced in Congress
Riverside County & Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park
Thank You Calls Needed
ACTION ITEM

IN GENERAL
4. Great Old Broads Annual Online Auction
A(U)CTION ITEM

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

IN UTAH
1. Moab Draft Resource Management Plan
Comments Needed
DEADLINE: November 30, 2007
URGENT ACTION ITEM

In last month’s Update, we asked our members to write letters requesting an extension of the public comment periods for the six Utah BLM Resource Management Plans being released in the near future. If you haven’t written a letter, it’s not too late to do so. Information can be found here.

Many people have written, and even the Salt Lake Tribune editorialized in favor of a 180-day extension. So far, the BLM has not responded, and with the original official deadline of November 30 on the horizon, it’s time to get comments in.

The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance has sent out an alert, below. It contains full information on how to submit comments. Please read SUWA’s fact sheet for details and comment on those aspects that appeal most to you.

Friend of the Redrock,

The public comment period for the Moab area Resource Management Plan (RMP) is quickly coming to an end. By submitting your comments to the BLM, you can influence the way these magnificent lands are managed over the next 20 years. The public comment period for this plan ends Nov. 30th, 2007!

Under the BLM’s proposed plan, wilderness landscapes will, in large part, become sacrifice zones for off-road vehicles. BLM proposes to designate 2,642 miles of ORV routes, many on lands within America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, including many which the BLM previously recognized as wilderness-quality (i.e., largely free from human impact). Damage from ORV use will be widespread, and peace and quiet will be extremely difficult to find: BLM’s proposal will result in 84 percent of public lands near Moab (those south of I-70 which attract most of the area’s visitors) being within 1/2 mile of a designated ORV route (see proposed route map on our website). At the same time, BLM has done no site-specific studies to determine the impact of these routes on Native American cultural sites or other natural resources like riparian areas or wildlife habitat. Science to back up the ORV route designations does not exist in this document.

The plan also fails to protect world-renowned scenic places from oil and gas development, including Fisher Towers, Goldbar Rim, Labyrinth Canyon, and lands surrounding Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. In many other states, these areas would be protected as natural wonders; here, the BLM would turn them into oil fields and off-road vehicle sacrifice areas. The flaws in the proposed plan would profoundly impact the future of this magnificent area and reflect the Bush administration’s single-minded focus on roads and development.

Here’s what you can do:
In order for the BLM to make substantive changes to their proposed management plan, they need to hear substantive comments from the public on the RMP’s proposed management initiatives. If you’ve visited places like Labyrinth Canyon of the Green River on a canoe trip, or if you’ve hiked Hell Roaring or Tenmile Canyons, or if you’ve ever been disturbed at your favorite quiet spot by the roar of off-road vehicles, please write to the BLM and tell them about your experiences. Make your comments as specific as possible. Share with the BLM experiences you have had in specific places and explain how the Moab Draft RMP fails to adequately protect these places. Especially salient are reports of user conflicts such as the drone of motors disturbing the peace of a float in Labyrinth Canyon.

Visit our website for more background on the Moab RMP.

Send Comments by Nov. 30 to:
Bureau of Land Management
Moab Field Office
RMP Comments
82 East Dogwood
Moab, UT 84532

Email: UT_Moab_Comments@blm.gov

Also, please send a copy of your comments to Scott Braden at the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance so we know which places are getting adequate comment coverage. Email or call for more information. Thanks!

Email: braden@suwa.org
Phone: (435) 259-0276

2. Congress Sends a Letter to the Interior Secretary
Regarding ORV Management in Utah
Thank You Calls Needed
ACTION ITEM

Yesterday, 93 congressional representatives sent a letter to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne asking him to protect Utah’s unique archaeological treasures from damage by off-road vehicles. The BLM’s proposed RMPs do nothing in this regard.

You can read the letter here.

Although the issue is non-partisan, of the 93 signers, only four were Republicans. This is unfortunate. However, 15 California Congressmen and -women signed on, and they deserve our thanks. If your representative is on the list, please make a quick call to his or her office expressing your appreciation.

Doris Okada Matsui (D-05) 202-225-7163
Lynn C. Woolsey (D-06) 202-225-5161
George Miller (D-07) 202-225-2095
Tom Lantos (D-12) 202-225-3531
Fortney Pete Stark (D-13) 202-225-5065
Anna G. Eshoo (D-14) 202-225-8104
Michael M. Honda (D-15) 202-225-2631
Zoe Lofgren (D-16) 202-225-3072
Sam Farr (D-17) 202-225-2861
Lois Capps (D-23) 202-225-3601
Howard L. Berman (D-28) 202-225-4695
Henry A. Waxman (D-30) 202-225-3976
Hilda L. Solis (D-32) 202-225-5464
Maxine Waters (D-35) 202-225-2201
Jane Harman (D-36) 202-225-8220

If you’re not from California, check the letter to see if your reps signed on and call their office if so.

Saying “thanks” is important – it expresses appreciation and at the same time lets your representatives know you’re paying attention to what they’re doing.

IN CALIFORNIA
3. Two Wilderness Bills Introduced in Congress
Riverside County & Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park
Thank You Calls Needed
ACTION ITEM

This month, California Rep. Mary Bono (R- 45) introduced the California Desert and Mountain Heritage Act, H.R. 3682. Sen. Barbara Boxer introduced a companion bill in the Senate, S. 2109.

The bill would designate four new wilderness areas and add to six existing ones in Riverside County. In addition, it adds almost 32 miles to the National Wild and Scenic River System and enlarges the San Jacinto-Santa Rosa Mountains National Monument.

Both Congresswoman Bono and Senator Boxer deserve our thanks!

Rep. Bono’s office phone numbers are: 202-225-5330 in DC
or 760-320-1076 in Palm Springs
or 951-658-2312 in Hemet.

Sen. Boxer’s office phone numbers are: 202-224-3553 in DC
or 415-403-0100 in SF
or 213-894-0500 in LA.

Another wilderness bill for California was introduced during the summer without much fanfare. Rep. Jim Costa (D-20) and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-21) are the sponsors of H.R. 3022, the Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park Wilderness Act of 2007. The bill would establish the 69,500-acre John Krebs Wilderness in the Mineral King area of the Park.

John Krebs was the congressman from Fresno who fought in the 1960s and 70s to keep Mineral King from being developed by the Walt Disney Productions as ski resort. Although Rep. Krebs prevailed in Congress in getting Mineral King transferred from the Forest Service to the Park Service, he was defeated at the polls by the voters in his district. Mineral King, however, was never developed, and this bill is a fitting tribute to him.

Sen. Boxer’s companion bill is S. 1774.

Rep. Costa’s office phone numbers are: 202-225-3341 in DC
or 559-495-1620 in Fresno
or 661-869-1620 in Bakersfield

Rep. Nunes’s office phone numbers are 202-225-2523 in DC
559-733-3861 in Visalia
559-323-5235 in Clovis

IN GENERAL
4. Great Old Broads Annual Online Auction
A(U)CTION ITEM

Every year, our sister organization, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, has an online fundraising auction. The Broads are a wonderful group of folks (mostly women, but they say: “Broadness is a state of mind”) who are effective in their work, but at the same time show us all how to have a good time.

It’s a great way to do some pre-holiday shopping and support wilderness at the same time. The auction just started this week and runs through November 18.

Click here to get started.

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Posted in Newsletters | Comments Off on 2007 October

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