Search CalUWild.org

2017 September

October 3rd, 2017


Lehman Caves, Great Basin National Park, Nevada                                                                   (Mike Painter)

 
October 3, 2017

Dear CalUWild friends —

Mid-September saw the leak of a draft memo from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to the president, setting out his thoughts and recommendations on the review of 27 national monuments he had been ordered to undertake in April. Last week, Secty. Zinke stirred up further controversy (see Item 2), so I decided to wait before sending out this edition of the Monthly Update, if there were further news to report.

The discussion of the memo and other happenings at Interior is pretty lengthy and detailed, and there are links to press items dealing with them as well. The “In the Press” section contains some articles updating issues we’ve written about before.

 
We don’t often comment on issues unrelated to public lands, but it turns out that the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act, the draft of which we wrote about in last month’s Update, also contains provisions to loosen restrictions on the sale of silencers for guns and armor-piercing ammunition, in addition to deleterious provisions affecting wilderness and public lands.

Given the horrific killings in Las Vegas two days ago, where policemen said that they were able to locate the gunman’s position quickly from the sound of the shooting, there is an even stronger reason to oppose the bill, though opinions seem to differ on whether the silencer provision would really matter in this case. Here’s an op-ed on the issue in Utah’s Deseret News, published before this last weekend’s events: The SHARE Act shares the potential for more gun violence.

Just before this Update was being sent out, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) announced that the SHARE Act is not being brought to the House floor any time soon. Regardless, PLEASE, call your Senators and Representatives in Washington to oppose the SHARE Act, H.R. 3668. Early opposition is the best defense.

 
Thanks for being interested and staying involved!
Mike

 
IN GENERAL
1. Interior Secty. Ryan Zinke’s National Monuments Memo Leaked—
          Proposes To Modify Ten Monuments
          (ACTION ITEM)
2. Secty. Zinke Causes More Controversy
          With Comments about Interior Department Employees
          And Disclosures over Taxpayer-Funded Travel
3. Brief Federal Legislative Cosponsorship Review
          (ACTION ITEM)

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

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

1. Interior Secty. Ryan Zinke’s National Monuments Memo Leaked—
          Proposes To Modify Ten Monuments
          (ACTION ITEM)

After not learning anything about the Interior Department’s plans for the 27 national monuments under review since April, details finally emerged mid-month in the form of a 19-page memo leaked to the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. The memo was marked “Draft Deliberative—Not for Distribution.” There has been no formal response from the White House (which was reportedly unhappy with the leak, naturally). The reaction from the press and most other quarters has been almost unanimously strongly negative. (Some examples follow the discussion of the memo.) The scanned memo may be read here.

For all its length and the preparation time involved, the memo was remarkably short on details. The Salt Lake Tribune’s Robert Gehrke characterized it as “read[ing] like a term paper a D-plus high schooler would have slapped together the night before it was due.” It recommended unspecified changes in boundaries for four monuments, changes in use or management for another four, and changes in use and/or boundary changes for an additional two.

The memo acknowledged: “Comments received were overwhelmingly in favor of maintain existing monuments and demonstrated a well-orchestrated national campaign organized by multiple organizations.”

Nowhere did the memo say that there would be no further recommendations forthcoming regarding other monuments, nor did it mention anywhere the six that had been completely “cleared” previously. Again, the memo was labeled “Draft,” so we cannot treat this as the final word on anything.

However, in total, the memo signals the largest-ever reduction in public lands protection, and if the administration or Congress makes changes to any monuments, it would open a Pandora’s Box.

Therefore, the critical message remains: An attack on one monument is an attack on all.

We’ll repeat our action call from last month: The best thing to do is to inundate the White House and Congress with comments supporting leaving the national monuments as they are—no changes!

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

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

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

 
Memo Details
The four monuments recommended for unspecified boundary changes are:

Bears Ears (Utah)
Cascade-Siskiyou (California & Oregon)
Gold Butte (Nevada)
Grand Staircase-Escalante (Utah)

The four monuments recommended for use or management changes are:

Katahdin Woods & Waters (Maine)
Northeast Canyon & Seamounts (North Atlantic)
Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks (New Mexico)
Rio Grade Del Norte (New Mexico)

The monuments with proposed management and/or boundary changes are:

Pacific Remote Islands
Rose Atoll (Pacific)

 
Mr. Zinke wrote many of the same objections for most of the monuments in the review. The most frequent misstatements, with respective rebuttals were:

MEMO: The proclamation should be amended, … or The boundary should be revised through the use of appropriate authority, including lawful exercise of the President’s discretion granted by the [Antiquities] Act …

FACT: These statements shows a fundamental lack of understanding of how presidential proclamations work—once published, they can’t be subsequently “amended.” Most scholars believe that the president has no discretion to reduce boundaries; only Congress has that power, as stated in the Federal Lands Policy & Management Act of 1976.

MEMO: The proclamation should be amended…to protect objects and prioritize…hunting and fishing rights.

FACT: Every proclamation states clearly the objects of interest to be protected and that that the particular designation does nothing to change the individual states’ management of wildlife. (States generally set their own hunting and fishing regulations; these aren’t matters of federal jurisdiction.)

MEMO: The management plan should be revised to continue to protect objects and prioritize public access…; traditional use; tribal cultural use; and hunting and fishing rights.

FACT: Most of these monuments were designated so recently that they have no management plans. Regardless, their respective proclamations already protect these things explicitly, so there is no need to revise anything.

 
Space doesn’t permit listing every problem or inconsistency regarding the specific monuments in the review, so I’ll just mention a few of the more blatant ones.

Bears Ears (Utah)

MEMO: [T]here is evidence that an unintended consequence of monument designation is an increased threat of damage or looting of objects due to higher visitation.

FACT: There is no evidence in the memo that there is in fact a connection. Looting has been going on for many, many years in the region. This is what led to the passage of the Antiquities Act of 1906 in the first place.

MEMO: The boundary should be revised … to … ensure the size is conducive to effective protection of the objects.

FACT:
There are many thousands of known archaeological sites in the Bears Ears monument, and many more have likely not been discovered yet. Shrinking the boundaries would leave many unprotected. (In fact, the designated monument was only about 2/3 the size proposed by the Inter-Tribal Coalition.)

 
Grand Staircase-Escalante (Utah)

MEMO: The boundary should be revised …

FACT: Congress already slightly modified the boundaries as part of a huge 1998 land exchange bill, wherein all the state school trust lands within the monument were exchanged for other lands in the state. Those lands reportedly have returned hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue to the state’s schools. The federal government also paid Utah $50 million as part of the deal and paid the Andalex coal company an additional $14 million.

MEMO: [T]he actual amount[sic] of cattle runs has decreased due to restrictions on activities that facilitate grazing, including moving water lines, vegetative management, erosion control measures, and maintenance of infrastructure such as fences and roads.

FACT: This is misleading, as the number of cattle grazing now is substantially the same as when the monument was designated in 1986.

 
Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks (New Mexico)

MEMO: [O]ne part … abuts the U.S.-Mexico border. Border security is a concern resulting from the designation.

FACT: The monument’s boundary was specifically drawn 5 miles north of the border, and on the north side of a state highway, to boot, precisely in order not to interfere with border enforcement. The Border Patrol has stated that there has been no interference with its operations, nor has it noticed any increase in unusual activity in the area.

MEMO: Legislation introduced in the 116th Congress would designate parts of the current boundaries … as wilderness and release other areas

FACT: First, the current Congress is the 115th, not the 116th. Secondly, in a preliminary report, Mr. Zinke said that one thing he wanted to investigate was how wilderness designation affected monument designation. He should know that wilderness is an overlay on any land management category and has absolutely no bearing on whether an area is designated a monument or not.

 
Rio Grade Del Norte (New Mexico)

MEMO: [R]oad closures due to monument restrictions have left many grazing permittees choosing not to renew permits.

FACT: No one has been able to find a single road that’s been closed.

When New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich (D) asked a BLM official about some of these errors at a Senate hearing, the official replied that BLM wasn’t asked to check any of the facts in the memo and the agency had little input overall. You may see a clip of that Q&A here.

 
Gold Butte (Nevada)

MEMO: The boundary should be revised…to protect historic water rights.

FACT: The proclamation states that “the monument is subject to valid existing rights, including valid existing water rights.”

 
Cascade-Siskiyou (Oregon & California)

MEMO: Motorized transportation was prohibited in the original CSNM designation.

FACT: The original proclamation allowed motorized us on existing roads, though off-road use was prohibited.

The list goes on and on, and it makes one wonder how and by whom this report was assembled and written.

 
Press Reaction (news articles and op-eds)

In the Los Angeles Times: Trump may strip protections from 10 national monuments

In The Guardian:

More national monuments should be opened for exploitation, Zinke says

Bears Ears is sacred to Native Americans. But heritage isn’t all equal for Trump

An op-ed in the Deseret News: Why does our country keep erasing history?

An op-ed in the Durango Herald: Zinke’s monument review betrays Roosevelt’s legacy

A story from the Associated Press: US Interior chief wants smaller monuments, but not at home, pointing out that Montana’s Upper Missouri Breaks was spared in the review, and Secty. Zinke actually proposed a new monument for his home state. There is speculation that Mr. Zinke may run for a U.S. Senate seat from Montana.

The Conservation for Economic Growth Coalition, a group of venture capitalists and entrepreneurs wrote a letter to Secty. Zinke, concluding with these words: Simply put, your recommendations to remove protections for our national monuments and the uncertainty created by those recommendations are bad for business. We urge the Administration to end the review process and announce as soon as possible that no public lands will lose their protection.

This long op-ed in Mountain Journal is well worth reading for the clarity with which it sets out the relevant issues. The Lords Of Yesterday Are Back And They Want America’s Public Land: Barry Reiswig—A Backcountry Horseman, Hunter, Angler and Civil Servant —Pushes Back Against “The Radical Agenda” of Ryan Zinke

 
2. Secty. Zinke Causes More Controversy
          With Comments about Interior Department Employees
          And Disclosures over Taxpayer-Funded Travel

In a speech last week to the National Petroleum Council, a federal advisory board, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke made the claim that almost one-third of the Department’s employees were not loyal to the administration. He based this on their perceived opposition to increasing leasing for oil, gas, and coal on public lands. “I got 30 percent of the crew that’s not loyal to the flag,” Mr. Zinke was quoted as saying. (He is using military jargon by referring to “the flag.” He’s referring to the president.)

Negative reaction to his comments was swift, as exemplified by this letter to the editor in the Washington Post: The civil service pledges loyalty to the Constitution, not the president and an op-ed in the Post yesterday.

Mr. Zinke was already under fire because of his efforts to reorganize staffing at the Interior Department. He had previously announced plans to cut nearly 4,000 employees and had reassigned 50 members of the Senior Executive Service (SES)—a classification of high-level employees who can take on important positions as needed in the Department. One of those SES employees was the director of the Office of Policy Analysis, who was advising Native Alaskan communities on climate change. He was abruptly transferred to an accounting position, for which he had no expertise. (You can read his account in an op-ed he wrote in the Washington Post.) The Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) has initiated an investigation into whether these reassignments were retaliatory and whether they complied with proper notice and other regulatory requirements.

Yet another OIG investigation into Mr. Zinke was begun this week, after news broke that he had billed taxpayers $12,000 to charter a flight from Las Vegas to Montana. He was giving speeches in both places, and he claimed that commercial flight schedules didn’t accommodate the two events.

The problem is that the Las Vegas event was not an official speech, but rather a political one, given to a sports team owned by one of his major contributors. If he had not been speaking there, he could have taken a commercial flight and arrived in time for the speech to the Western Governors’ Association, meeting in Whitefish, Montana. The OIG will also look at other questionable travel arrangements that Mr. Zinke has made.

Travel expenses are a recurring problem for Secty. Zinke, who ran into trouble in the military as a SEAL for charging personal travel expenses to the military. Mr. Zinke dismissed the current flap as “a little BS over travel.”

The travel issue is currently a sensitive one for the administration, and at least three other cabinet secretaries are under fire for travel expenses. One of them, Tom Price at Health & Human Services, resigned last week in the wake of the controversy.

 
3. Brief Federal Legislative Cosponsorship Review
          (ACTION ITEM)

Since our last Update, California Rep. Ted Lieu (D-33) has signed on as a cosponsor of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act (H.R. 2044). Please call his office to say “Thank You.”

DC Office: 202-225-3976

 
Another important priority is the reauthorization of the Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) is the Ranking Member (senior Democrat) on the House Natural Resources Committee. He has introduced a bill, H.R. 502, to permanently reauthorize the LWCF.

Unfortunately, not a single Republican member of California’s House delegation has signed on as cosponsor, though there are 24 GOP cosponsors nationwide, out of 197 total. All of California’s Democratic representatives except two are currently cosponsors of the bill: Karen Bass (D-37) and Juan Vargas (D-51). Both were cosponsors in the last Congress, and both have signed on to LWCF Appropriations letters in each of the past four years. It shouldn’t take much to get them signed on again.

Neither is a cosponsor of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act.

Please call their offices and ask them to cosponsor both H.R. 502, the Land & Conservation Act Reauthorization bill and H.R. 2044, America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act.

Rep. Karen Bass DC Office: 202-225-7084

Rep. Juan Vargas DC Office: 202-225-8045

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

New York Times articles

The Interior Department seems to have an incessant need to review everything undertaken by the Obama Administration. The sage grouse plan was the end result of a concerted effort among many interested parties and was specifically designed to keep the bird from being listed under the Endangered Species Act. It’s unlikely that this administration wants to see that happen, unless they also gut the requirements of the Act. Interior Department to Overhaul Obama’s Sage Grouse Protection Plan

Traditions Revived at a Tribal Culture Camp

The Mind of John McPhee: A deeply private writer reveals his obsessive process.

National Parks Struggle With a Mounting Crisis: Too Many Visitors

Related to the overcrowding article: A new organization forms, Hikers for an 8th Leave No Trace Principle

An article in High Country News: Sally Jewell defends Interior Department legacy

An article in the Washington Post: The National Park Service showed that its bottled water ban worked — then lifted it

An article in Pacific Standard: The Oil and Gas Industry’s Latest Scheme Would All But Privatize Public Lands

An article in the Albuquerque Journal: Archaeologists: More protections needed for Chaco region

An article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal: Ranchers criticize Southern Nevada water agency’s pipeline plan. We’ve written about this water grab before in March 2012, August 2012, and June 2013

An op-ed in the Los Angeles Times: What the Trump administration doesn’t understand about wildfires

 
 
 
 
 
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.

Tags: , , ,
Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

2015 September

September 30th, 2015

DSC_1131c3aMono Lake from the Bodie Hills, California                                                                              (Mike Painter)

 
September 30, 2015

Dear CalUWild friends—

There is quite a bit of news this month in addition to a few Action Items, so I’ll dispense with the introductory comments and go straight to a couple of short news items and an announcement.

 
In big news for Alaska and the Arctic, Royal Dutch Shell announced it was suspending offshore operations in Alaska “for the foreseeable future.” The decision was due to various factors, including the low price of crude oil and the fact that exploratory wells turned up disappointing results. But the company also had serious problems with a rig running aground and political pressure from conservation groups and citizens, including kayak blockades in Seattle and Portland. We welcome the news and hope it is permanent.

 
Last week, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced that the US Fish & Wildlife Service had decided not to list the Greater Sage Grouse as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), at least for the next five years. As rationale, Ms. Jewell pointed to the collaborative efforts undertaken by states to implement their own protection strategies. Sage Grouse are suffering severe habitat fragmentation from energy exploration, agriculture, and housing development across the West. Some conservation groups were concerned that a listing would precipitate an all-out attack on the ESA by anti-conservation forces. Many praised the collaborative effort. Other conservation groups are concerned that the state strategies are not based on sound science and may file lawsuits. Some representatives of the oil & gas industry and Utah Rep. Rob Bishop (R), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, say that the plans go too far in limiting development.

Of course, the Sage Grouse doesn’t care about the politics or the collaboration. If ecological conditions aren’t good, its numbers will continue to dwindle. We will have to see. I’ve included links to a couple of relevant articles in Item 7, below.

 
And this just in as this Update was ready to be sent out: We haven’t written about it before, since it has just been a proposal, but Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch’s (R) possible bill to expand the Utah Test & Training Range in the West Desert of Utah was not attached to the Defense Appropriations Bill. There were fears that it might have been, and since that is a “must pass” bill, the expansion would have gone through with it, and the President could not be expected to veto it. An expansion would likely make it more difficult to designate wilderness in the areas around the UTTR, not because of the boundaries themselves, but because the overflights might tend to detract from politicians’ support for those proposed areas. If the proposal becomes actual legislation, we’ll let you know.

 
Finally, our sister organization, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, is having its annual Online Auction coming up November 2-15. If you have anything you might consider contributing, especially some kind of tour or other “experience,” contributions will be gratefully accepted. Click here for full information.

 
Best wishes,
Mike

 
IN UTAH
1.   Red Rock Bill Cosponsor Update
          And CalUWild Presentation in Long Beach
          October 7
          (ACTION ITEM)
2.   Sen. Hatch Introduces Road Bill
          For the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area

IN CALIFORNIA
3.   House Bill Introduced Expanding Coastal National Monument
          (ACTION ITEM)
4.   Opposing House Bill Proposed for the Mojave Desert
          (ACTION ITEM)
5.   Visions of the Wild H2O
          Downtown Vallejo
          October 15-18

IN GENERAL
6.   Land & Water Conservation Fund Update
          (ACTION ITEM)

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

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

IN UTAH
1.   Red Rock Bill Cosponsor Update
          And CalUWild Presentation in Long Beach
          October 7
          (ACTION ITEM)

America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, the citizen-proposed bill to designate BLM wilderness in Utah, has long been CalUWild’s main legislative priority. As we’ve mentioned before, California Representative Alan Lowenthal (D-47) is the lead sponsor of the bill, H.R. 2430, in the current Congress. In the Senate, Illinois Senator Richard Durbin is the lead sponsor of S. 1375. Despite Congress’s record of inaction, the campaign to build nation-wide support for the bill continues, and we’re now up to 90 cosponsors in the House and 16 in the Senate.

Among the newest House cosponsors is California Rep. Julia Brownley (D-26). If you live in her district, please call one of her offices with a message of “thank you.”

DC:   202-225-5811
Oxnard & Thousand Oaks offices:   805-379-1779

House cosponsors from California in addition to Reps. Lowenthal and Brownley are:

Jared Huffman (D-2)
Doris Matsui (D-6)
Jerry McNerney (D-9)
Mark DeSaulnier (D-11)
Barbara Lee (D-13)
Jackie Speier (D-14)
Mike Honda (D-17)
Anna Eshoo (D-18)
Zoe Lofgren (D-19)
Sam Farr (D-20)
Lois Capps (D-24)
Judy Chu (D-27)
Adam Schiff (D-28)
Tony Cárdenas (D-29)
Grace Napolitano (D-32)
Ted Lieu (D-33)
Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-40)

We’d still like to see the following California House members cosponsor H.R. 2430:

John Garamendi (D-3) *
Mike Thompson (D-5) *
Ami Bera (D-7)
Eric Swalwell (D-15)
Brad Sherman (D-30) *
Raul Ruiz (D-36)
Linda Sánchez (D-38) *
Mark Takano (D-41)
Maxine Waters (D-43) *
Janice Hahn (D-44)
Mimi Walters (D-45)
Loretta Sanchez (D-46) *
Juan Vargas (D-51)
Scott Peters (D-52)
Susan Davis (D-53) *

* cosponsor in a previous Congress

If your representative is on the first list, please contact them to say “thanks.” If on the second list, please asking them to become a cosponsor, which they can do by contacting Rep. Lowenthal’s office.

In particular, we would like Reps. Peters (D-52) and Davis (D-53) to sign on.

A simple phone call will do, or send a note via an online comment form. Complete contact information for California offices may be found by following the links here.

 
In the Senate, Barbara Boxer (D) continues her longtime cosponsorship. If you haven’t already, please let her know your appreciation, too.

Phone:   202-224-3553
Other contact info

A full list of cosponsors nationwide may be found here.

 
As part of SUWA’s and CalUWild’s efforts to educate Californians about Utah wilderness and the Red Rock Wilderness Act, I’ll be doing a slideshow next week for the Long Beach Chapter of the Sierra Club, on Wednesday, October 7 at 7:30 p.m.

Long Beach Environmental Resources Building
2929 E. Willow St.

The program will consist of a video, narrated by Robert Redford, followed by a short slideshow, with ample time for questions and answers. If you’re in the area please join us, and pass the information along to anyone who might be interested.

 
2.   Sen. Hatch Introduces Road Bill
          For the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area

Utah’s Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) has introduced a bill, S.1783 to amend the Washington County bill of 2009, which designated some BLM wilderness in the southwest corner of the state and created the Red Cliffs NCA. The following description of the legislation comes from the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

Sen. Hatch’s bill would designate a northern transportation route through the Red Cliffs Conservation Area, otherwise known as the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve.

The Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 designated this Reserve as a National Conservation Area because of the presence of at-risk plant and wildlife species, including the Mojave Desert tortoise. A highway in the region would negatively affect the already limited habitat of those species.

The introduction of Sen. Hatch’s bill coincided with the BLM’s draft management plan for the conservation area, which did not recommend a transportation right-of-way. Hatch’s bill is based on claims that the BLM has not complied with a mandate within the Omnibus Land Management Act of 2009, specifically referring to the Washington County Comprehensive Travel and Transportation Management Plan, which allows for Washington County’s growing population. The text, however, reads that a route should be considered as an “alterative,” but does not explicitly describe it as “designated.”

By honing in on this specific mandate within the Omnibus Land Management Act, Sen. Hatch is attempting to rewrite history to allow for his desired transportation route, and, in the process, is threatening habitat established through the Washington Habitat Conservation Plan of 1996, which provided land for development and land for preservation.

At this point, the bill has not yet received a hearing or any cosponsors, but we are monitoring its activity on the Hill and briefing our allies there as well.

 
IN CALIFORNIA
3.   Senate & House Bills Introduced Expanding Coastal National Monument
          (ACTION ITEM)

In August, Sens. Barbara Boxer (D) and Dianne Feinstein (D) introduced a bill, S. 1971, to expand the California Coastal National Monument. This month, Reps. Jared Huffman (D-2), Anna Eshoo (D-18), and Lois Capps (D-24), three of California’s most conservation-minded representatives, introduced H.R. 3565, a companion bill in the House.

The legislation would add five new areas to the monument, which was designated by Pres. Bill Clinton in 2000, stretching the entire length of California’s coastline (more than 1,100 miles) and including more than 20,000 small islands, rocks and exposed reefs.

Rep. Huffman’s office released the following descriptions of the sites to be added:

Trinidad Head in Trinidad, CA (13 acres). Trinidad Head is a rocky promontory surrounded by sea stacks in Trinidad Harbor. The area offers breathtaking ocean views of the offshore rocks and islands of the California Coastal National Monument. Trinidad Head is currently managed by BLM.

Lighthouse Ranch near Loleta, CA (8 acres). Lighthouse Ranch is located twelve miles south of Eureka and five miles northwest of Loleta, situated on Table Bluff. The site overlooks the Eel River Delta, the South Spit of Humboldt Bay, and the Pacific Ocean, occupying a site of exceptional panoramic views. Lighthouse Ranch is currently managed by BLM.

Cotoni-Coast Dairies near Davenport, CA (5,780 acres). The Cotoni-Coast Dairies are home to rare species (such as the California Red-legged Frog, the American peregrine falcon, coho salmon, and steelhead trout) and are lined with coast redwoods, six watersheds, freshwater wetlands, rolling coastal terrace grasslands, and riparian corridors flowing directly into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The Cotoni-Coast Dairies are currently owned and managed by BLM.

Piedras Blancas Outstanding Natural Area in San Luis Obispo County (20 acres). The Piedras Blancas Outstanding Natural Area is home to the historic Piedras Blancas Light Station, first illuminated in 1875. The site is surrounded by the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, rocky shoreline, and large rocks of the California Coastal National Monument. This area includes coastal vistas, estuaries, wetlands, dune fields, and a large array of marine wildlife, including harbor seals, sea lions, sea otters, Bottlenose and Pacific White-Sided Dolphins, Gray and Humpback Whales, and Elephant Seals. The Piedras Blancas Outstanding Natural Area is currently co-managed by BLM and the California Department of Parks and Recreation.

Orange County Rocks and Islands along the coast of Orange County, CA (2 acres). A small number of geologic formations located off the coastline of Orange County in the Laguna Beach area, totaling approximately two acres, were not included within the California Coastal National Monument as they were covered by legislative withdrawals made in the 1930s intended to reserve the rocks for future lighthouses. Former Congressman John Campbell, who previously represented this area, repeatedly introduced legislation to add these rocks and outcroppings to the National Monument, as they provide important habitat for seabirds and marine mammals.

Maps for the additions may be found here.

This bill is in addition to H.R. 908, Rep. Eshoo’s California Coastal National Monument Santa Cruz Redwoods Expansion Act, which we wrote about in our February 2015 Update.

Please thank the senators and representatives for their support of the California Coastal National Monument. You can call their DC offices or click on their names for other contact information.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein:   202-224-3841
Sen. Barbara Boxer:   202-224-3553
Rep. Jared Huffman:   202-225-5161
Rep. Anna Eshoo:   202-225-8890
Rep. Lois Capps:   202-225-3601

 
4.   Opposing House Bill Proposed for the Mojave Desert
          (ACTION ITEM)

In our February Update we wrote about Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s bill to create two national monuments in the Mojave Desert, and last month we linked to a Los Angeles Times article reporting that, given Congress’s failure to act on the legislation, Sen. Feinstein had asked Pres. Obama use the Antiquities Act to designate the two monuments and an additional third, small one.

Last week, Rep. Paul Cook’s (R-8) office announced that he would be introducing a bill in the House that would not include some of the protective language of Sen. Feinstein’s bill, with the major difference being that Feinstein’s proposed Mojave Trails National Monument would be established as the Mojave Trails Special Management Area (SMA) instead. It would allow for some new mining claims and would expand three OHV areas by some 61,000 acres. (In contrast, Sen. Feinstein’s bill would formalize about 1,400 miles of existing OHV routes.) Finally, Rep. Cook’s proposal would prohibit the President from designating any national monuments in the SMA or ORV areas.

We believe Sen. Feinstein’s approach is far better and support her efforts, both legislatively and in her appeal to the White House.

Please contact Pres. Obama by mail, phone or webform (info below) and urge him to designate the three monuments Sen. Feinstein has proposed. The LA Times article referred to above provided this description of the three monuments:

Mojave Trails National Monument would encompass 921,000 acres of federal land and former railroad property along a 105-mile stretch of old Route 66, between Ludlow and Needles, and protect wildlife corridors linking Joshua Tree National Park and the Mojave National Preserve.

Sand to Snow National Monument, about 45 miles east of Riverside, would embrace about 135,000 acres of federal land between Joshua Tree National Park and the San Bernardino National Forest in San Bernardino and Riverside counties. The area includes roughly 24 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail and Big Morongo Canyon, a birding hot spot that was designated a federal Area of Critical Environmental Concern in 1982.

Castle Mountains National Monument would include a desert outback left out of the 1994 California Desert Protection Act due to an active gold mine that ceased operations in 2001. Located near the Mojave National Preserve, the area includes the historic mining town of Hart.

If you are familiar with any of the areas, please include that with your message.

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

Comment line:   202-456-1111
Online comments here

Thanks.

 
5.    Visions of the Wild H2O
          Downtown Vallejo
          October 15-18

The Second Visions of the Wild Festival will be taking place October 15-18 in Vallejo, California, and CalUWild has been once again involved in planning the event. This year’s focus is on water and watersheds. Since many upper watersheds are in wilderness and other undeveloped areas, learning about a local water supply can be an important way to learn about the value of wilderness, too.

The current schedule of films, art exhibitions, field trips, a Napa River cruise, and information booths can be found online here and the Festival flyer is on CalUWild’s website here. Information will be updated as planning progresses.

We’ll be tabling at the Farmers Market Saturday morning from 9-1, so please stop by!

 
IN GENERAL
6.   Land & Water Conservation Fund Expiring
          (ACTION ITEM)

We wrote in our April and June Updates about the reauthorization of the Land & Water Conservation Fund, the nation’s premier funding mechanism for acquiring public lands for recreation at the state and local levels, as well as for buying inholdings in national parks and wilderness areas. Despite the fact that it involves no citizen taxes-funding comes from royalties on offshore oil & gas production-and the Fund has widespread public and Congressional support, there has been no movement on either of the Senate bills (S. 338 and S. 890) to reauthorize and fund it. Likewise, nothing has happened in the House with regard to H.R. 1814, the companion bill to S. 338.

Barring a miracle, the Land & Water Conservation Fund will expire tonight at midnight, a victim of efforts to turn back the clock on environmental concerns by many in Congress.

This doesn’t mean LWCF is gone forever, but it will be more difficult to revive it, especially in its present form. Utah Rep. Rob Bishop (R), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, announced last Friday that he would not allow the program to be renewed unless significant changes are made to it. In a press release he stated:

“Both Republicans and Democrats support the original intent of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, but the program has drifted far from the original intent. Under my chairmanship, the status quo will be challenged. Any reauthorization of LWCF will, among other improvements, prioritize local communities as originally intended.”

“Special interests that seek to hijack LWCF to continue to expand the federal estate and divert even more monies away from localities conveniently claim the world is ending on September 30th. The only thing that expires on September 30th is the ability to accrue additional revenues into the fund, which currently has an unappropriated balance of $20 billion in taxpayer dollars. How many billions more do these special interests group need?”

Mr. Bishop didn’t say what specific changes he wanted to see, though last year that he said that it should be used to for “the education of future American energy industry workers,” among other things. And Mr. Bishop’s assertion that there are $20 billion to spend rests on shaky ground, too, since the Fund is authorized to receive $900 million per year, but has rarely been appropriated the full amount. Current funding levels run at about $300 million. It’s unlikely, given Mr. Bishop’s antipathy to conservation efforts, that unappropriated funding will ever be released. He always complains about the backlog of maintenance and other projects in our parks and public lands, but Congress has consistently cut the budget for the federal land management agencies at the same time.

Please call your representative and senators to express support for the Land & Water Conservation Fund and, if you wish, dismay at its expiration. Contact information may be found on their webpages at house.gov and senate.gov, respectively.

 
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.

 
Forest Fires

A New York Times article on changes in landscapes brought about by very large fires

A contrasting view in the Los Angeles Times: Nature replants its own burned forests, environmentalists say

An op-ed in the Sacramento Bee: End destructive practice of logging forests after wildfires

An op-ed in Science Magazine on how fighting wildfire eats up the Forest Service budget that could be used for research

 
Utah

An op-ed: Escalante is on the rise, and Grand Staircase is driving it in the Salt Lake Tribune, responding to the article we linked to last month, asking if Escalante was being stifled

An article in the Deseret News about Emery County’s proposal for Rep. Bishop’s Public Land’s Initiative: Legislative trip highlights old bones, new monuments and parks

An article on National Geographic‘s website on high school students doing paleontology on Comb Ridge and elsewhere in Utah

 
Sage Grouse

An article in The New Yorker by CalUWild friend Jacques Leslie

An article in The Nation examining the controversy over the sage grouse

 
The National Park Service’s website for the Every Kid in a Park program, allowing fourth graders and their families free admission to the national parks this year

A slideshow in The Atlantic‘s In Focus photoblog: Human Impact on the Earth: Lake Powell

 
Video links

Episode 16 in the US Forest Service’s Restore series: Invasive Species & Restoration

Another in the National Park Service series, America’s Wilderness. This time: Land in Motion: Point Reyes 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. “Like” and “Follow” CalUWild on Facebook.

Tags: ,
Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

2014 September

October 3rd, 2014

DSC_1249b3a
The Bodie Hills, from South Tufa, Mono Lake, California                                                            (Mike Painter)

October 3, 2014

Dear CalUWild friends-

September was a very busy month here with the actual 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act at the beginning, followed by the 4-day Visions of the Wild Festival in Vallejo. So the Update this month is a few days late. The Festival was a big success. It brought together many different people and organizations-government agencies, nonprofit organizations, artists, Native Americans, students, people with different cultural backgrounds, musicians, filmmakers, and more-to explore the varied ways that wilderness has impacted their view of the world. It also exposed areas where there are differences in understanding about the concept of wilderness and its relevance to different communities, particularly urban youth and the Native American and African-American communities.

The Vallejo Times-Herald published an article about one of the films that was shown, for which I was the follow-up speaker.

Our hope is that the event will be just the beginning of an ongoing project to broaden understanding and involve more people in the protection of wild places around the West. There is certainly much work to be done together.

A big THANKS to everyone who organized and attended the event.

There are quite a few news items this month, mostly updates on previously-reported items, so I’ll try to keep them brief.

Thanks as always for your support of CalUWild and our wild public lands,
Mike

IN UTAH
1.   Canyonlands Coalition Releases Cultural Resources Report
          Letters of Support Requested
          (ACTION ITEM)
2.   Recapture Canyon ORV Riders Charged
          In Trespass Case
3.   Appeals Court Upholds Salt Creek Ruling

IN CALIFORNIA
4.   Court Rules Against Allies of Oyster Farm
5.   Bodie Hills Conservation Alliance Presentations

IN COLORADO
6.   Wilderness Bill Degraded by Natural Resources Committee

IN GENERAL
7.   President Obama Designates World’s Largest Marine Sanctuary
          (ACTION ITEM)

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

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

IN UTAH
1.   Canyonlands Coalition Releases Cultural Resources Report
          Letters of Support Requested
          (ACTION ITEM)

The Greater Canyonlands Coalition, of which CalUWild is a member, released a report on the archaeological resources in the area we are proposing be designated as a national monument. As the report’s author, Jerry Spangler, wrote, “the area holds some of the most scientifically important cultural resources to be found anywhere in North America.”

The report traces the human history of the area from the earliest inhabitants of 11,500 years ago, to the Ancestral Puebloans, Spanish Explorers, and outlaws such as Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch.

You can read or download the paper here.

If you’re a professional archaeologist or have a serious amateur interest, please send a letter to Pres. Obama asking him to use the Antiquities Act to protect these resources by designating the Greater Canyonlands National Monument. Letters need not be long, but please explain your personal qualifications and interest in the area.

Address it to:

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

          Webform

Please cc: me on your letter, so the Coalition has it for its records.

Thanks!

In other Canyonlands news, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told Utah state officials last month that there would be no surprise designation of a national monument in Utah. It seems the Administration is content to see how the public discussion process taking place in many of Utah’s counties, started by Rep. Rob Bishop, proceeds. The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and other conservation organizations are taking part. A legislative proposal is expected in early 2015. Past experience has been that the anti-conservation forces have shot themselves in the foot, so whether a resulting proposal will be acceptable remains to be seen.

Regardless, the monument idea has been floating around for so long, that a designation will hardly be a “surprise” to anyone.

2.   Recapture Canyon ORV Riders Charged
          In Trespass Case

The U.S. Attorney for Utah filed charges last month against five people for the illegal ride in Recapture Canyon near Blanding, Utah (reported in our May Update). You may recall that the BLM had closed the area to vehicle traffic in 2007 to protect archaeological resources, but local townspeople and others have opposed the closure ever since. It appears that US is prosecuting only the organizers, since some 50 riders took part.

At the time of the ride, BLM made no arrests but said that they were watching who was taking part. The government is charging the five, including main organizer, San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman, with illegal riding on public lands and misdemeanor conspiracy.

A court date was set for October 17, and conviction could carry penalties up to $100,000 in fines and a year in jail. We’ll keep you posted.

PBS’s NewsHour did a segment on the dispute, which you can watch online here.

3.   Appeals Court Upholds Salt Creek Ruling

As we reported in our April Update, the Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver ruled against San Juan County and in favor of the National Park Service’s closure of Salt Creek in Canyonlands National Park to vehicle traffic. That ruling was by a panel of three justices. The county asked for a rehearing by the full court, but the request was declined.

Thus, the ruling stands, unless appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

IN CALIFORNIA
4.   Court Rules Against Allies of Oyster Farm

As we reported in July, several restaurants, another oyster company, and several individuals initiated another lawsuit against the Department of the Interior over its non-renewal of the Drakes Bay Oyster Company’s lease in Pt. Reyes National Seashore. This allowed portions of Drakes Estero to become protected as designated wilderness.

The same federal judge who heard the previous case told the plaintiffs they had no standing, “given the lack of merit” in the case, to request yet another injunction keeping the farm open. A previous request for an injunction had gone all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which rejected it. (One of the criteria for granting an injunction is whether there is a likelihood of success on the merits of the case. By rejecting the request for an injunction, the Court implied it did not think the complaint would succeed.)

The businesses have appealed this latest ruling, and the saga continues.

5.   Bodie Hills Conservation Alliance Presentations

Jeff Hunter, Organizer for the Bodie Hills Conservation Alliance, of which CalUWild is an active member, will be traveling around the state in the first two weeks of November.

Wilderness in the Eastern Sierra will be the topic of two presentations in Death Valley National Park to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the passage of the California Desert Protection Act, and of course, the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act.

These will take place at the Furnace Creek Visitor’s Center:

          Saturday, Nov. 1 at 7 pm
          Sunday, Nov. 2 at Noon

Jeff will then 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

IN COLORADO
6.   Wilderness Bill Degraded by Natural Resources Committee

Once again, the House Natural Resources Committee has amended a bill crafted by local stakeholders-which is precisely the process by which the majority wants land use bills to be developed-and stripped out protective language, nullifying the compromises that made the bill possible in the first place.

That bill, H.R. 1839, would create the Hermosa Creek Special Management Area, including 37,000 acres of wilderness. All sort of groups, from wilderness advocates, snowmobilers, anglers, mining interests, and local politicians supported the bill as originally introduced.

However, the Natural Resources Committee forced the adoption of an amendment that pretty much rewrote the bill. It included increased snowmobile access, strengthened vehicle access, and included “hard release” language (meaning that areas not included for wilderness designation this time could never be considered again). The hard release language was removed by yet another amendment, but the bill is still radically different from what was introduced. It passed out of the Committee on a 22-18 vote, with all Democrats voting against it but one.

This is the same thing that happened in the Pinnacles National Monument-to-Park bill when the wilderness provisions were stripped out, despite the fact that there was widespread local support for them and no opposition. A similar thing happened to a Nevada public lands bill that we reported on in January. (The Nevada bill, however, was subject to further negotiation and amendment, and passed the House in August in an acceptable form.)

These examples gives the lie to any claim by Rep. Rob Bishop that he’s genuinely interested in protecting public lands from abuse. We hope that the process in Utah that he’s shepherding comes up with a better result.

IN GENERAL
7.   President Obama Designates World’s Largest Marine Sanctuary
          (ACTION ITEM)

Last week, Pres. Obama enlarged by six times the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, originally created by Pres. George W. Bush in January 2009. The Council on Environmental Quality made the following announcement:

It is with great pleasure we announce that today, President Obama signed a proclamation designating the largest marine reserve in the world that is completely off limits to commercial resource extraction including commercial fishing.

The proclamation expands the existing Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, one of the most pristine tropical marine environments in the world, to six times its current size, resulting in 370,000 square nautical miles (490,000 square miles) of protected area around these tropical islands and atolls in the south-central Pacific Ocean. Expanding the Monument will more fully protect the deep coral reefs, seamounts, and marine ecosystems unique to this part of the world, which are also among the most vulnerable areas to the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification.

You may read the entire proclamation here.

Please thank the president. Send a letter or postcard to:

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

Alternatively, you may call the White House at: 202-456-1111

or use the online Webform

IN THE PRESS & ELSEWHERE
8.   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.

An op-ed in the New York Times on Useless Creatures, something to keep in mind as more and more frequently, economic arguments are made for wilderness protection,

Essays on the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act

          Los Angeles Times op-ed by Roderick Nash: Why America’s wilderness matters

          Wilderness: The Next 50 Years?

Op-ed in The Hill on protecting public lands, particularly the San Gabriel Mountains

Salt Lake Tribune article on poll results showing the public overall (but not in Utah) supports keeping federal jurisdiction over present federal lands

Video Links

          Episode 5 in the Forest Service’s Restore series: Ecologicial Restoration Animation

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.

Tags: ,
Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

2013 September

September 28th, 2013

DSC_0041a2a
Hurd Peak, John Muir Wilderness, California                                                                                        (Mike Painter)

September 27, 2013

Dear CalUWild friends—

Congress is back in session but seems to be focused only on government finance and undoing health care legislation. That means there has been little to no attention paid to the environment, let alone wilderness. So there is little to report this month on the legislative front. And there are only a couple of Action Items, so this month’s Update is relatively short.

September 28 is the 20th Annual National Public Lands Day, a day to engage in a service project. The official NLPD website is here, where you can find a listing of projects across the nation. If you feel like a last-minute outing, check it out!

As we’ve been mentioning regularly, 2014 marks the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act. People across the country are planning events big and small: conferences, hikes and walks, film festivals, and more. If you’d like to organize an event, or just see what’s going on, check out the Wilderness 50th website. CalUWild is one of the organizations helping to plan events across the country. It’s a great way to get involved at whatever level you like!

Administrative notes: There won’t be an Update in October, but regular publication will resume in November. And if you use Facebook, please don’t forget to like CalUWild’s page.

Best wishes,
Mike

IN UTAH
1.   San Rafael Swell Leasing Plans Draw Protests
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
2.   Oppose Raising Shasta Dam
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINE: September 30
          (ACTION ITEM)

3.   Fish & Wildlife Service Hearing in Sacramento
          On Delisting Gray Wolves in the Lower 48
          October 2
          (ACTION ITEM)
4.   Appeals Court Rules against Oyster Farm Injunction

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

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

IN UTAH
1.   San Rafael Swell Leasing Plans Draw Protests
          (ACTION ITEM)

In last month’s Update we reported that the Bureau of Land Management was offering an oil & gas lease sale for eastern Utah in November. It will include nearly 80,000 acres in the San Rafael Swell. The Swell is one of the jewels of the Utah landscape.

Reaction against the proposal has been heated, coming from many quarters: citizens, conservationists, and the outdoor industry. On September 15, more than 200 people turned out for a rally in Salt Lake City to protest in front of the BLM’s state offices.

Unless the BLM withdraws the proposal, it can expect that more and more people will speak out against the sale.

The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance has set up an auto-comment page where you can send a message to BLM opposing the lease plans. Please use your own words to the extent possible.

Or you can send your own letter or email directly to the State Director. Use the SUWA letter as a guide. Talk about your own experience in the Swell.

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

Email:    utsomail [at] blm [dot] gov

We’ll keep following the story and let you know how it proceeds.

IN CALIFORNIA
2.   Oppose Raising Shasta Dam
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINE: September 30
          (ACTION ITEM)

Sorry for the short deadline on this comment period.

The Bureau of Reclamation is proposing to raise Shasta Dam in the mountains at the north end of the Sacramento Valley. The proposal has many negative effects, and we urge the Bureau to reject the proposal and change the way it manages the existing reservoir to benefit fish, wildlife and preserve Native American sites.

The following alert comes from the California Wilderness Coalition. Since CalUWild generally doesn’t provide sample letters, the talking points are extracted from CWC’s original alert. Please use your own words, and if you’ve visited Shasta Lake or any of the other affected areas, please mention that in your comments. Thanks!

Background

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is seeking public comments on a proposed raise of Shasta Dam and expansion of its reservoir that would flood segments of the McCloud and upper Sacramento Rivers. The agency has released for public review and comment the Shasta Lake Water Resources Investigation (SLWRI) Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). The public has until Monday, Sep. 30, 2013 to submit comments via email or in writing. Overall, the proposed project will seriously impact thousands of acres of public land that provide outstanding recreational opportunities and support sensitive, threatened, and endangered wildlife.

The Bureau is examining up to an 18.5-foot raise of Shasta Dam that would periodically flood nearly 1.5 miles of the McCloud and upper Sacramento Rivers. Both streams were identified by the Forest Service as potential National Wild & Scenic Rivers and the McCloud is protected under state law from dams and reservoirs. At stake are the rivers’ nationally significant wild trout fisheries, as well as outstandingly remarkable scenic, geological, and Native American cultural values (particularly for the McCloud).

The project will drown thousands of acres of the Whiskeytown-Shasta-Trinity National Recreation Area, which is managed by the Forest Service for public recreation and wildlife. These public lands harbor dozens of sensitive, threatened, and endangered wildlife species. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the proposed expanded reservoir will “result in the loss, degradation, and fragmentation of habitat” for eight threatened and endangered species, including the Shasta salamander.

Raising the dam will also modify flows downstream in the lower Sacramento River, with potentially significant impacts on the river’s public lands, riparian ecosystem, and wildlife. Modified flows could harm a 20-mile segment of the waterway upstream of Red Bluff determined eligible for Wild & Scenic River protection by the BLM. These BLM lands have been proposed for National Recreation Area designation in previous sessions of Congress. Flow modifications could also harm the 10,000 acre Sacramento River National Wildlife Refuge and more than 3,700 acres of State Wildlife Areas along the river between Red Bluff and Colusa. The project will also further reduce fresh water flows into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, increasing the mortality of the Delta’s endangered fish.

In a brazen and cynical attempt to justify this destructive and expensive project, the Bureau claims that the dam raise and expanded reservoir, which will cost taxpayers more than a billion dollars, will provide needed cold water for endangered salmon spawning downstream of the dam. But according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the benefits to salmon provided by the dam raise are “negligible.” And the Bureau admits in the DEIS that every drop of additional water stored behind the raised dam will be sold to water contractors.

You can review the DEIS online. You can also download a fact sheet concerning the dam raise.

Talking points

•   Thank the Bureau for soliciting public comments regarding its proposal to raise and enlarge Shasta Dam and Reservoir.

•   Oppose raising the dam and enlarging the reservoir. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says that the proposal will have “negligible benefits” for threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead in the Sacramento River.

•   Enlarging the reservoir will harm thousands of acres of public land managed for outdoor recreation and for wildlife habitat. The enlarged reservoir will drown segments of the McCloud and upper Sacramento Rivers identified by the U.S. Forest Service as eligible for National Wild & Scenic River protection. The project will violate state law protecting of the McCloud’s free flowing character and extraordinary wild trout values.

•   Enlarging the reservoir will further modify flows downstream in the Sacramento River, harming riparian and aquatic habitats and many threatened and endangered fish and wildlife species. These flow modifications will adversely affect:

— a segment of the Sacramento River upstream of Red Bluff identified by the BLM as eligible for Wild & Scenic protection and that has been proposed for National Recreation Area designation in previous sessions of Congress.

—the Sacramento River National Wildlife Refuge and State Wildlife Areas along the river between Red Bluff and Colusa.

—endangered fish, by increasing their risk of being killed by state and federal water diversions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

•   Several sensitive, threatened, and endangered plants and animals will be affected, including the Shasta salamander.

•   The dam raise will require the expensive removal or relocation of dozens of bridges, roads, and other structures, and will likely cost taxpayers more than 1.1 billion dollars.

•   It will also drown the remaining homeland of the Winnemen Wintu Tribe, including traditional cultural sites on the McCloud River still in use today.

•   The Bureau should adopt a “no-dam raise” alternative that restores salmon spawning and rearing habitat, improves fish passage, increases minimum flows, screens existing water diversions, and modifies the current operation of the reservoir to increase cold water storage for fisheries, as recommended by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

•   The proposed raise and enlargement of Shasta Dam and Reservoir will benefit water contractors more than it does endangered fish, public trust values, or U.S. taxpayers.

•   Please discontinue this unwise project and take steps immediately to better operate the dam to benefit fish and the public lands and sensitive ecosystems along the Sacramento River.

Send comments to:

Ms. Katrina Chow
SLWRI Project Manager
Bureau of Reclamation Planning Division
2800 Cottage Way
Sacramento, CA 95825-1893

Email:   BOR-MPR-SLWRI [at] usbr [dot] gov
Fax: (916) 978-5094

Please send Sen. Barbara Boxer a copy of your comments here.

Please also send Sen. Dianne Feinstein a copy of your comments here.

Thank you for taking action to help stop the Shasta Dam Raise!

For more information concerning this issue, please contact Steve Evans, Wild Rivers Consultant for the California Wilderness Coalition and Friends of the River, phone: (916) 442-3155 x221, email: sevans [at] friendsoftheriver [dot] org.

3.   Fish & Wildlife Service Hearing in Sacramento
          On Delisting Gray Wolves in the Lower 48
          October 2, 6 p.m.
          (ACTION ITEM)

We reported several time over the last two years on the lone gray wolf from Oregon that stayed in California until March of this year. Though he has gone back to his home state, wolves continue to be a topic of controversy across the country. The Fish & Wildlife Service has proposed removing most wolf populations in the Lower 48 States from the Endangered Species List.

The FWS is holding three hearings around the country to allow for public testimony. Interested persons can also submit comments online.

One of the hearings will be held in Sacramento next week:

Wednesday, October 2
Clarion Hotel
1401 Arden Way
6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Defenders of Wildlife is hosting a pre-hearing event beginning at 3:30 p.m. for people who want to learn more about the issue and who might wish to testify at the hearing. If you’re interested, please check out the details on this page and RSVP.

Similar hearings will be held in Washington, DC on September 30 and in Albuquerque, NM on October 4.

Information about the proposed rules, details of the hearings, and links to submit comments can be found on FWS’s website here.

The deadline for submitting comments is October 28.

4.   Appeals Court Rules against Oyster Farm Injunction

The Drakes Bay Oyster Company suffered another setback earlier this month in its quest to remain open. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco turned down the company’s appeal requesting an injunction that would have allowed the company to operate while its case proceeds. The court, in a 2-1 decision, said it had no jurisdiction to rule on then-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s decision not to renew the oyster company’s lease, since that decision was completely discretionary, and there was no evidence that Mr. Salazar had abused that discretion. The court further said that it was unlikely that the oyster company would prevail in its case, so the injunction was denied.

Kevin Lunny, the owner of Drakes Bay Oysters, has said he will petition for a rehearing en banc (before an 11-member panel of the court).

You may read the Oyster Farm ruling online here.

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

New York Times articles:

Op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof on public lands: Beauty and the Beasts

National Parks Try to Appeal to Minorities

The Sunday Magazine on wildfire

National Parks Traveler analysis of tourism income on federal lands in Utah

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

Tags: ,
Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

2012 September

September 8th, 2012

On North Dome, Yosemite Wilderness, California                                                                                (Mike Painter)

September 7, 2012

Dear CalUWild friends—

September can be a wonderful time to get away to enjoy some of our wonderful public lands. The weather can be cooler, though the days are shorter, and many places tend to be less crowded. September 29 is National Public Lands Day. See Item 3 for information on a service trip to Carrizo Plain National Monument, sponsored by the California Wilderness Coalition and other organizations.

This September 3 marked the 48th Anniversary of the signing of the Wilderness Act (Item 4) by President Lyndon B. Johnson. This brings us ever closer to 2014, the 50th Anniversary. Plans are being hatched for ways to commemorate that event and to continue promoting Wilderness as a viable and important concept in the 21st Century. People across the country are working to plan art exhibitions, slideshows, a national conference in Albuquerque, lectures, and new legislation, among other ideas. We can always use more ideas and people involved! Please get in touch if you’d like to participate or plan an event.

It’s been pretty quiet around here, with Congress on recess and many people taking August vacations, so there’s not much to report on.

Thanks to everyone for the very positive feedback on the photography and artwork included in the Monthly Update. It’s gotten us to thinking about a new participatory project. See Item 5.

Best wishes,
Mike

IN UTAH
1.   Court Upholds Interior Department’s Cancellation of Controversial Leases

IN CALIFORNIA
2.   Scientific Controversy Continues over Drakes Bay Oyster Farm
3.   Service Trip at Carrizo Plain National Monument
          September 29-30
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN GENERAL
4.   President Proclaims September as National Wilderness Month
5.   Western Wilderness Photography & Art Group
          Debuts on Flickr.com
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN THE PRESS
6.   Links to Articles of Interest

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

IN UTAH
1.   Court Upholds Interior Department’s Cancellation of Controversial Leases

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver upheld the dismissal of a complaint filed by energy companies and two Utah counties against Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. The plaintiffs had sued the federal government over the cancellation of 77 leases issued in the closing days of the Bush Administration. Secty. Salazar voided them, saying that the environmental analysis by the government was inadequate.

The December 2008 lease sale became (in)famous when it was disrupted by Tim DeChristopher’s protest bids. De Christopher is currently serving a two-year prison term for his protest.

The current ruling in the case was based on the fact that the plaintiffs waited too long to file their complaint, rather than on the underlying merits. District Judge Dee Benson in Utah (who also sentenced DeChristopher) had dismissed the energy companies’ complaint, saying that they had missed a 90-deadline for filing. He also ruled that Secty. Salazar had overstepped his authority in withdrawing the leases, though a federal judge in Washington had also issued an injunction against them. Normally judges do not comment on the merits of cases if there are procedural grounds for dismissal. The 10th Circuit made no comment as to the propriety of Secty. Salazar’s actions.

Conservation organizations, including the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Sierra Club, and Natural Resources Defense Council, are still litigating over the six Resource Management Plans that the BLM developed in 2008 for much of Utah. Though current administration officials have been quoted as saying the plans are flawed, they have made no attempt to modify them. The plans opened large areas to off-road vehicle use, energy exploration and did not offer much protection of any kind for environmentally sensitive lands in the planning areas. We’ll keep you posted as those cases continue.


IN CALIFORNIA
2.   Scientific Controversy Continues over Drakes Bay Oyster Farm

Last week the National Research Council, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences, released another report in the ongoing dispute over the Drakes Bay Oyster Company’s use permit in Pt. Reyes National Seashore. The Council stated that there wasn’t enough data available to support the conclusions of environmental harm that the Park Service reached in its 2011 studies, although it also said those conclusions are reasonable on their face.

It’s not clear what impact the report will have, though it recommends that the Park Service be much clearer about many of the standards it uses to quantify impacts.

The ongoing scientific controversy and uncertainty is one reason that CalUWild has focused solely on the policy implications of Congress’s “potential wilderness” designation in 1976. We think that non-conforming and conflicting uses should be removed as soon as possible so that the area can become “full” wilderness. The soonest that could happen is when the special use permit expires in November 2012. It’s unfortunate that the scientific and environmental issues have been allowed to complicate the situation to this extent.

You may download a PDF of the report here.


3.   Service Trip at Carrizo Plain National Monument
          September 29-30
          (ACTION ITEM)

The following, slightly edited and shortened, comes from our friends at the California Wilderness Coalition.
September is a special month for our public lands. On September 3, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Wilderness Act into law. On September 28th, 1984, the California Wilderness Act and the Tuolumne Wild and Scenic River Act were signed into law, protecting over three million acres of California’s wild lands and more than 70 miles of the Tuolumne River. And on September 29th, we celebrate National Public Lands Day by lending a helping hand to take care of our public lands. Please join us in the Carrizo Plain on September 29th!

THE AREA
The Carrizo Plain, located between California’s Central Valley and the coast at San Luis Obispo, is one of the little known wonders of our state. The central plain is dry open grassland with the (dry) Soda Lake at its center. To the west are the Caliente Mountains rising to 5000 feet. A major branch of the San Andreas Fault runs along the base of the Temblor Range immediately on the east of the plain. When winter rainfall is sufficient shorebirds gather in Soda Lake. At all times of year raptors can be seen on fence posts and soaring over the plain.

The area became a National Monument in January, 2001. The specific intent of this act was to protect habitat for an unusually large number of endangered species. While visitors are welcome, there has been no significant effort to publicize the monument or to provide special accommodations. A management plan for the Monument was adopted early in 2010, and this event is one of the opportunities for volunteers to assist in the implementation of the plan. This outing also allows us to see the plains first-hand, and to consider its future.

OUR PROJECT
Saturday, September 29, is National Public Lands Day when federal land managers all over the country organize volunteer events in their area. We will be participating in this work with a number of other organizations and individuals. The tentative plan is to build a rail fence in a back-country area to prevent vehicle access to an area with resources in need of protection The Friends of Carrizo Plain organization provides lunch for the volunteers. One of the benefits of the weekend will be working along side other persons and groups who are committed to the area.

OUR SCHEDULE
Our trip will officially begin at the KCL campground in the Monument 10 AM on Saturday morning, September 29. The trip leader will be staying there Friday evening, and anyone who wishes to join then is welcome (see below for contact info). Bring work gloves, but other equipment and instruction will be provided by the monument staff. We will be car camping for the weekend, but conditions are primitive, so plan on bringing all the water that you will need for the weekend. We will be staying at the KCL campground on Saturday evening as well.

For those that are available and interested, trip leader Craig Deutsche will be leading a hike in the Monument on Friday, Sept. 28. The meeting for this will be at the KCL Campground at 8:00 AM. Almost certainly it would be convenient for hikers to meet Thursday evening at this campground rather than plan a long drive Friday morning. Directions for reaching the campground are given below. This hike is optional and entirely for recreation.

Sunday, September 30, is reserved for sightseeing in the monument. We may be able to visit Painted Rock, a well known rock art site. We may drive to the ridge of the Caliente Mountains for a long view over the plain. Certainly we will make a stop along Soda Lake on our way to the Wallace Creek site on the San Andreas Fault. Pictures of this site appear in every introductory geology book published in our country. It is a spectacle that everyone living in California ought to see for themselves. There are a number of old ranch sites with rather amazing collections of rusting farm machinery from the 30’s and 40’s which we may have time to visit. Binoculars are useful for bird watching, and of course we will hope to see the pronghorn. If the group is large we may be able to split the group with some visiting the better known “tourist” spots and others taking a longer day hike in the low mountains.

EQUIPMENT
We will be car camping. Bring what makes you comfortable. There is no water available to the public within the monument, so bring what you will need for the weekend. Make your own arrangements, either individually, or with others for food and cooking.

We will plan on a potluck meal for Saturday night. Bring a dish of some kind to feed perhaps six persons.

It is possible (but very unlikely) that temperatures at night would be chilly. Work shoes and gloves are on needed Saturday. If you wish to hike on Sunday, then bring good hiking shoes or boots, bring a day pack with the usual equipment, and bring two or three liters of water for the hike. Site-seeing by car on Sunday needs no special equipment. I will have any and all maps that we need.

There is no place to buy gasoline in the monument. Be certain to fill your gas tank at the last moment either along highway 101 or along Interstate 5 as you approach the monument.

RESERVE YOUR SPOT
This weekend is a unique opportunity. For detailed travel directions, more information, and to reserve your spot, call or email trip leader Craig Deutsche at 310-477-6670, craig [dot] deutsche [at] gmail [dot] com.


IN GENERAL
4.   President Proclaims September as National Wilderness Month

For the fourth year in a row, Pres. Obama has proclaimed September to be National Wilderness Month, in commemoration of the signing of the Wilderness Act on September 3, 1964. Here is the full text of his proclamation:

NATIONAL WILDERNESS MONTH, 2012
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION

For centuries, America’s dramatic landscapes have attracted people from around the world to begin new lives and develop thriving communities on our lands. Today, our wilderness areas reflect an essential part of our national character, and as a people, we are immeasurably richer for their presence. Protected wilderness areas are recreational escapes for families, natural classrooms for students, living laboratories for scientists, irreplaceable retreats for sportsmen and women, and historical treasures for the American people. These landscapes provide clean air, clean water, and essential habitats for fish and wildlife, and they serve as critical storehouses of biodiversity. From mountains and meadows to river valleys and forests, our lands and waters also help drive local economies by creating jobs in tourism and recreation. Our open spaces are more precious today than ever before, and it is essential that we come together to protect them for the next generation.

American conservation practices inspired countries around the world during the 20th century, and my Administration is working to carry that legacy forward during the 21st. In my first months as President, I was proud to sign a public lands bill that designated more than 2 million acres of wilderness, over 1,000 miles of wild and scenic rivers, and three National Parks. We also launched the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, which laid the foundation for a comprehensive, community driven conservation strategy that continues to engage Americans in protecting and increasing access to our natural heritage. Today, projects spanning from the Atlantic to the Pacific are helping create and enhance parks, renew and restore our rivers, and conserve our iconic open spaces.

Generations of visionary leaders and communities have given of themselves to preserve our wild landscapes, fulfilling a responsibility that falls to us all as Americans and as inhabitants of this small planet. During National Wilderness Month, let us celebrate the progress we have made toward meeting that essential challenge, and let us recommit to protecting the land we love for centuries to come.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 2012 as National Wilderness Month. I invite all Americans to visit and enjoy our wilderness areas, to learn about their vast history, and to aid in the protection of our precious national treasures.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of August, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.

BARACK OBAMA


5.   Western Wilderness Photography & Art Group
           Debuts on Flickr.com
          (ACTION ITEM)

With the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act coming up in two years, and the positive responses to the inclusion of photos and artwork to the Update, we’re announcing the formation of a Western Wilderness group on Flickr, the popular photo-sharing site. The description of the group on Flickr is: Photos, paintings, drawings, and other illustrations from wild places in the American West-whether designated formally as Wilderness by Congress, proposed for designation, or just simply wild.

This will be a new and, we hope, fun way to spread the word about Wilderness in the West. It will also provide an opportunity for people to share and publicize their own artwork.

We’ve started things off by posting the photos from the slideshow on CalUWild’s homepage. We’ll be adding other photos from the Update and the website as time goes on. Please share your own!

General guidelines for the group:

•   Group members may make up to 5 submissions per day.
•   Photos and artwork (paintings, drawings, illustrations) only (no videos).
•   Safe level (meant for general audiences).
•    In your description, please include personal experiences associated with the art or the trip on which it was made.
•   Geotagging is not necessary, though location information for designated or proposed areas would be useful in the photo’s title or description. However, specific location information for sensitive sites, such as rock art panels, will generally not be allowed.
•   Direct solicitation for sale of photos or artwork will also not be allowed, though a link to your own website is acceptable in the description.

You will need your own Flickr account to participate. Basic, limited accounts are free, and other accounts run $2/month. Flickr does not require a lot of personal information to register and, therefore, does seem to have the same privacy concerns that are associated with Facebook and other “social media” sites.

We hope you’ll give it your best shot. And invite your friends to join, too!


IN THE PRESS
6.    Links to Articles of Interest

New York Times: “Scientists at Work” blog goes to Utah!

          Traveling to Tropical Utah

          Separating the Dinosaurians From the Crocodilians

          Fossils in the First Days

          Cool Fossils and Hot Rocks

          Gone Fishin’

Tags: ,
Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

2011 September

November 8th, 2011


Muddy Creek WSA, San Rafael Swell, Utah, September 2011                                                          Mike Painter

October 3, 2011

Dear CalUWild friends —

I was in Utah and the Eastern Sierra for the second half of September, so this Update is arriving a few days later than usual.

There are a few items of interest this month. In general news, a few more wilderness bills have been or will be introduced shortly in Congress. We’ll try to have a rundown on them for you in the next Update.

As always, please let me know if you have any questions, comments, or critiques. Thanks for your interest and efforts to protect our wild places!

Best wishes,
Mike

IN UTAH
1.   Greater Canyonlands Protection Update
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
2.   Pt. Reyes Oyster Farm
          Draft EIS Released
          Comment Period DEADLINE: November 29
          (ACTION ITEM)
3.   California Wilderness Coalition Hosts
          Environmental Film Festival
          In Emeryville
          October 20

IN MEMORIAM
4.   Wangari Maathai, Green Belt Movement Founder

IN THE PRESS
5.   Links to Articles of Interest

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

IN UTAH
1.   Greater Canyonlands Protection Update
          (ACTION ITEM)

The boundaries of Canyonlands National Park are straight lines and “artificial,” not conforming in any way to ecosystem or geographical features. The Park lies within a basin, and the lands from the boundary to the basin rim are unprotected from off-road vehicle abuse and energy development. Earlier this year, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance submitted a petition aimed at protecting the Greater Canyonlands region. In September, the Department of the Interior announced that it would not open a public discussion on ways of protecting the area.

This is a major disappointment for several reasons: first and foremost, because the Administration isn’t willing to protect the area, let alone discuss the situation publicly. But secondly, when the Administration came in, it acknowledged the inadequacy of the resource management plans that the BLM had completed in the last days of the Bush Administration, allowing ORV routes and energy development in the area around the Park. Now the Interior Department is even defending those very plans against legal challenges.

This is just another example why so many conservationists (among others) are frustrated with the Administration—officials rarely seem to back up their earlier rhetoric with concrete action.

Anyway, we need to keep the pressure up.

The White House has a new petition site called “We the People,” and there is a Greater Canyonlands petition there. The White House says if it gets 5,000 signatures in the next 30 days, they will respond to the petition on the website. We don’t know what that means, but we might as well find out. Click here to sign. You’ll need to create an account at whitehouse.gov if you haven’t already. It’s a simple process, just asking for your name, email address, ZIP code, and a check box whether you wish to receive email updates from the White House.

After signing, please share the petition with friends. If you’re part of another organization, it would be great if you could post on your organization’s Facebook page & Twitter as well—the petition is not affiliated with SUWA or any other organization.

Thanks.

IN CALIFORNIA
2.   Pt. Reyes Oyster Farm
          Draft EIS Released by Seashore
          Comment Period & Public Meetings
          DEADLINE: November 29
          (ACTION ITEM)

Point Reyes National Seashore has released its draft environmental impact statement on the renewal of the operating permit of the Drake’s Bay Oyster Company. It is open for public comment through November 29.

The Seashore did not announce a preferred alternative, but will use the comments it receives on the draft to develop one, which will be reflected in the final EIS. There are three alternatives allowing for a 10-year extension of the permit under various conditions and levels of activity and a “No Action” alternative, under which the operating permit would not be renewed when it expires in November 2012, allowing the oyster farm to become part of the wilderness area.

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

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

The Park Service provided the following information on participating in the current EIS process. Please note its requirements for submitting comments.

Getting a Copy of the Draft EIS
You can visit the National Park Service “Planning, Environment, and Public Comment” (PEPC) website at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/pore to download a copy of the Draft EIS.  Once there, click the “Drakes Bay Oyster Company Special Use Permit EIS” link.

A limited number of printed paper copies and CDs of the Draft EIS are available at Park Headquarters.

You may also request a hard copy or CD by contacting Melanie Gunn, Outreach Coordinator at (415) 464-5162.

Alternatively, reference copies of the Draft EIS are available at all Marin County   Branch Libraries, as well as the Petaluma Main, San Francisco Main, Oakland Main and Berkeley Central Libraries.

Submitting Comments
You may provide comments using any one of the following methods:

Comment online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/pore. Click on “Open For Comment,” then click on “Draft EIS DBOC SUP” and finally, click on “Comment on Document.”

You may also mail or hand deliver comments to:

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

Written comments will also be accepted at the public meetings (see dates below).

Please note that comments will not be accepted by FAX, e-mail, or in any other way than those specified above. Bulk comments in any format (hard copy or electronic) submitted on behalf of others will not be accepted. 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.

Public Meetings
During the comment period the National Park Service will hold three open house public meetings to gather your comments on the Draft EIS. The meetings are scheduled as follows:

          Tuesday, October 18, 2011, 6-8 pm  
          Dance Palace Community Center
          503 B Street
          Point Reyes Station, CA 94965

          Wednesday, October 19, 2011, 6-8 pm
          Ft. Mason Center, Building D
          Marina Boulevard at Buchanan
          San Francisco, CA 94123

          Thursday, October 20, 2011, 6-8 pm
          Tamalpais High School Student Center
          700 Miller Avenue
          Mill Valley, CA 94941

A Spanish language interpreter will be present at each of the above meetings.

Project timeline
Draft EIS released to the public: September 23, 2011
Public review and comment on Draft EIS: September 23-November 29, 2011
Final EIS completed and released: June 2012
Record of Decision signed: July 2012

Additional background information is also available on the park’s website at http://www.nps.gov/pore/parkmgmt/planning_dboc_sup.htm. If you have questions regarding this process, please contact Outreach Coordinator Melanie Gunn at Point Reyes National Seashore at (415) 464-5162.  We appreciate your participation in this process.

Sincerely,

Cicely A. Muldoon
Superintendent

3.   California Wilderness Coalition Hosts
          Environmental Film Festival
          In Emeryville
          October 20

Help support our friends at the California Wilderness Coalition as they host the Bay Area Wild & Scenic Film Festival, celebrating activism and its diversity of voices.

Three films (18 – 30 minutes in length) will be shown in addition to two shorts. Click on the links to see a short trailer for each.

Walking the Line
What’s it like to walk 500 miles of a proposed transmission line, a line that will run through some of the West’s most remote landscapes? World-class thru-hiker, Adam Bradley hiked it to help the Nevada Wilderness Project find out how our country’s transition to renewable energy will affect the land, wildlife and people.

WildWater
Journey into the mind and soul of whitewater, into the places only river runners can go, places of discovery, solitude and risk. Meet the riverpeople from multi generations who share a deep passion for wild places, rivers and running whitewater. We cross beyond generational and experiential boundaries, even beyond whitewater, to look at the soul of adventure sports and what they mean to all of us as a practice that is about far more than just fun. Best Adventure Film, Kendal Mountain FF; Best Short Film, Salem FF

Witness
Notable anthropologist Jane Goodall, National Geographic Editor-at-Large Michael Nichols, and International League of Conservation Photographers president Cristina Mittermeier, among many others, share candid thoughts on the power of photography and its value as an effective conservation tool. The narrative is accompanied by stunning photographic contributions from over 40 conservation photographers to illustrate the convergence between the conservation and photography realms.

Regular admission ($20) includes free beer and food, plus live music by the ClifBar Band, so buy your tickets today–this event sells out quickly!

Better yet, purchase a $35 ticket becoming a member of the CWC helping to ensure the strongest protection for California’s wild places, such as Big Sur, Joshua Tree, Beauty Mountain and the Los Padres National Forest.

To purchase tickets, go to http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/194377

IN MEMORIAM
4.   Wangari Maathai, Green Belt Movement Founder

On Sunday, September 25, Dr. Wangari Maathai, the founder and coordinator of the Green Belt Movement of Kenya, died at the age of 71. She was a remarkable woman on many levels, as this New York Times article and blog post recount. Wangari was a winner of the 1991 Goldman Environmental Prize and later the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize. I had the privilege of knowing Wangari when I handled some of GBM’s international operations while working for Resource Renewal Institute (CalUWild’s fiscal sponsor) in the 1990s.

Wangari saw governance, democracy, and the environment as being inseparable. Her approach to her work and its relationship to political systems laid the foundation for much of CalUWild’s own philosophy. We’ve said from the beginning that our organization is as much a pro-democracy organization as pro-wilderness. Democracy can flourish and function only when informed citizens are willing to participate effectively. Decisions are often a reflection of how they are made. So we’ve made effective advocacy for wilderness be the cornerstone of our approach, in the hope that people use the tools we provide to become advocates in other areas of concern as well.

I saw Wangari run the GBM in a collegial fashion. As a reflection of that, she called herself the “coordinator” rather than the executive director, and when CalUWild was founded, that was title we decided to use.

Wangari worked tirelessly on behalf of the natural environment, democracy, and the women of Kenya and the world. She inspired many people and will likewise be missed by many.

IN THE PRESS
5.   Links to Articles of Interest

All from the New York Times. If you’re unable to access any of them, send me an email.

          Nicholas Kristof: We’re Rich! (In Nature.)

          Michael Lipsky: A Well-Regulated Wilderness

          Timothy Egan: Sometimes the Bear Gets You

Tags: ,
Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

2010 September

October 18th, 2010

The Bodie Hills                                                                                                      John Dittli, used by permission


September 16, 2010

Dear CalUWild friends & supporters:

We try not to send out emergency alerts, but sometimes it’s unavoidable.

So the September Update is coming out a bit earlier than usual this month, as we just got word that legislation was introduced yesterday in Congress to release the Bodie Wilderness Study Area (WSA), north of Mono Lake in California. The Mono County Board of Supervisors will consider a resolution in support of this legislation next TUESDAY, September 21, 2 p.m., in Bridgeport, the county seat. Details are in ITEM 1, below.

The hearing creates the perfect excuse for an unplanned, early-Fall visit to the Eastern Sierra!
Thanks for your support and help on this and all the other issues we work on,

Mike

IN CALIFORNIA
1.   Bodie WSA Release Legislation Introduced
          Mono County Supervisors Hearing
          September 21 in Bridgeport
          Letters Needed (& Attendees)
          DEADLINE: Monday, September 20
          (URGENT ACTION ITEM)

IN THE PRESS
2.   More reaction to the New York Times
          “Wilderness” Op-ed Piece

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

IN CALIFORNIA
1.   Bodie WSA Release Legislation Introduced
          Mono County Supervisors Hearing
          September 21 in Bridgeport
          Letters Needed (& Attendees)
          DEADLINE: Monday, September 20
          (URGENT ACTION ITEM)

Over the course of the year we’ve written about the leaked Interior Department memo that mentioned 14 areas in the West as possibilities for national monument designation. One of those is California’s Bodie Hills, north of Mono Lake and east of Yosemite National Park.

A threat to permanent protection for the area (whether via monument designation or other means) arose yesterday when California Rep. Buck McKeon (R-25) introduced H.R. 6129, the Mono County Economic Development Act of 2010. The main provision of the bill releases the Bodie WSA from its protected status as a WSA in order to allow a gold mining company to conduct exploration in the area.

The Mono County Board of Supervisors will consider a resolution supporting the bill at a meeting next Tuesday, September 21, 2 p.m. at the Mono County Courthouse in Bridgeport. Letters opposing the resolution are needed by the close of business on Monday, 9/20.

Because of the very short time frame, emailing or faxing letters is best.

Email your letter to:

Mono County Board of Supervisors
lroberts@mono.ca.gov
P.O. Box 715
Bridgeport, CA  93517

Fax:   760-932-5531

Please send a copy your letter to your Congressional representative and to Senator Dianne Feinstein, Senator Barbara Boxer, and Rep. McKeon. Their addresses can be found on their websites. Because of irradiation requirements, please send letters to their offices in California rather than Washington, DC.

Attached is a PDF containing the resolution, Rep. McKeon’s bill, and 2 letters already sent to the supervisors—one “pro” and one “con.” The background information and talking points below come from Sally Miller, Eastern Sierra Representative of The Wilderness Society:


BACKGROUND
The remote and spectacular Bodie Hills are tucked between the Sierra Nevada and the Great Basin in our backyard, and comprise some 200,000-plus acres of mostly public land, managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service. Bodie State Historic Park, the state’s official ghost town and one of our most popular state parks, lies in the center of the Bodie Hills. The area contains an amazingly high level of biological diversity (think pika, sage grouse, antelope, pinyon pine, juniper, lodgepole pine, and a million wildflowers) and one of the highest concentrations of archaeological resources in the Great Basin.  There are three BLM Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) in the Bodie Hills totaling approximately 50,000 acres, attesting to the area’s wild and largely pristine character.

The newly-formed Bodie Hills Conservation Partnership is a coalition of groups organized to advocate for the permanent preservation of wildlands in the Bodie Hills.  Founding groups include Friends of the Inyo, National Trust for Historic Preservation , Conservation Lands Foundation, Trout Unlimited and The Wilderness Society. Our organizations share a commitment to seeing this amazing landscape permanently preserved in a manner that protects the region’s natural, cultural and recreational resources. The Bodie Hills were included on an internal Department of Interior list of possible National Monument candidates which was released earlier this year. While our coalition does not have a NM proposal, we strongly support the area being preserved via some special Congressional designation which recognizes & protects the area’s exemplary values. What form a designation takes should be up to a broad dialogue among all stakeholders in the public lands of the Bodie Hills (local, regional, national).  We are developing a website www.bodiehills.org, which we hope will be live within a day or so.

Meantime, the world’s largest mineral exploration company, Electrum, and the company that owns Electrum, Tigris Financial, want the Bodie WSA, the ecological and cultural heart of the Bodie Hills, “released” from protection as a WSA, so that they can explore for (and market?) gold unfettered by agency regulations. The WSA contains extensive cultural resources, antelope and sage grouse habitat, candidate Wild & Scenic Rivers and unparalleled Great Basin scenic beauty. The existing regulations would ensure these resources are protected while still allowing mineral exploration.

The WSA status is the ONLY handle BLM has to try to protect the area’s outstanding values. Absent WSA protection, Electrum can build roads and do what it wishes to do in the name of mineral exploration and/or development without encumbrances. Yet, under WSA protection, Electrum can still explore, but must do so in a more careful, environmentally sensitive manner. We don’t even know if there is any “there” there as far as gold. No one has seen any plans from the mining company. Why give Electrum carte blanche to muck up some of the most sensitive public lands and resources within the Bodie Hills?

TALKING POINTS
·          The Bodie Hills, and the Bodie WSA in particular, contain outstanding natural and cultural values that deserve special protection.  The Bodie Hills also provide important recreational opportunities including hiking, birdwatching, hunting and roadside exploration of the area’s extensive cultural and natural history.

·          Extensive mineral exploration or development activity, particularly in the Bodie WSA, would irreversibly harm the Bodie Hills and directly threaten antelope, sage grouse and other fish and wildlife habitat as well as the area’s many cultural resources and extensive recreational values.

·           “Release” of the Bodie WSA by Congress is not necessary for mineral exploration.  The mining company can and should conduct lawful mineral exploration under agency regulations governing the WSA to ensure its values are protected from damage.  If sufficient gold is found to warrant further development, then there needs to be a dialogue involving the broad community of local, regional and national stakeholders to determine appropriate future land uses for the public lands in the Bodie Hills.

·          A “partial” release of a portion of the WSA, which may be proposed, is unacceptable.  The area the mining company is interested in seeing “released” to allow unfettered mineral exploration is that part of the WSA that holds some of its most important natural and cultural resources.  (What’s more, it’s not necessary.)

·          Explain your connection to the Bodie Hills.  Mention any experiences you have had exploring the wildlands around Bodie, be it hiking, mountain biking, hunting, auto-touring, photography, birdwatching  or enjoying the area’s spectacular summer wildflowers.

·          Ask the Mono County Board of Supervisors to support permanently preserving the natural and cultural values of the Bodie Hills, and to oppose any proposals such as WSA release that would facilitate new mineral exploration and development, absent a broad discussion among the varied stakeholders of the public lands about the future of the Bodie Hills.


IN THE PRESS
2.   More reaction to the New York Times
          “Wilderness” Op-ed Piece

Letters to the Editor of the NY Times

From Oklahoma!

(Original op-ed piece here.)

Tags: ,
Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

2009 September

September 19th, 2009

September 19, 2009
Hidden Splendor, San Rafael Swell, Utah

Dear CalUWild friends and supporters —

There’s no better place from which to be writing this Update, given the news this last week from Congress: For the first time since its introduction in 1989, a Congressional committee will hold a hearing on America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act. The nationwide citizens campaign that you’ve been a part of continues to move forward in its efforts to protect the wild places of Utah. See Item 1 for more details.

In another bit of interesting news, the Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that the Justice Department has launched an investigation of former Interior Secretary Gale Norton. The investigation is looking into possible illegalities in the awarding of three oil shale leases to Shell Oil. Ms. Norton went to work for Shell shortly after resigning unexpectedly as Interior Secretary. It would have been illegal for her to be having any discussion with Shell about a job for herself at the time she awarded the leases. The investigation began in the Interior Department during the previous Administration, and the department recently made a criminal referral to the Justice Department. It will be interesting to see where the investigation leads.

September 26 is National Public Lands Day. I hope you’re able to get out and enjoy them!

Best wishes,

Mike

IN UTAH

1. House Subcommittee Hearing on Red Rock Bill

October 1

(ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA

2. Photo Exhibition at San Francisco International Airport

IN CALIFORNIA & NEVADA

3. Desert Trips

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

IN UTAH

1. House Subcommittee Hearing on Red Rock Bill

October 1

(ACTION ITEM)

The Subcommittee on National Parks and Public Lands of the House Natural Resources Committee will hold the first-ever hearing on America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act on October 1. This is a big step toward protecting Utah’s wild places.

We have two California cosponsors on the subcommittee, and it would be good to let them know of our support for the bill, and encourage them to ask good questions at the hearing.

Grace Napolitano

DC: 202-225-5256

Lois Capps

DC: 202-225-2095

Rep. George Miller is another Californian on the full committee (but not the subcommittee). He has been a longtime champion in the bill and is interested in its progress. His DC phone number is: 202-225-2095

The bill’s main sponsor Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) is on the Subcommittee and chairman Raul Grijalva will certainly attend. They deserve our thanks for their long-term support of the bill and for bringing it to a hearing. You can find contact information for them at www.house.gov.

SUWA sent out the following talking points:

– Thank you for your continuing support for America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act (if the member is a cosponsor).

– There are great opportunities this year from both the new administration and in Congress.

– With the passage of the Washington County Wilderness Bill in the Omnibus Lands Bill and the cancellation of the Bush administration’s 77 controversial oil and gas leases sold at the end of last year – we hope to see more action like these taken to protect lands within America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act.

– A hearing has been scheduled on October 1, 2009 for America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act in the House Public Lands Subcommittee.

– We think it is a very important step for Utah wilderness to have this hearing.

– A hearing for the Red Rock Bill will increase national recognition of the bill, indicate support to the Obama administration for protection and motivate the Utah delegation to appropriately address the issue.

– At a time when scientists are focusing more and more on places like southern Utah and its role in mitigating the effects of climate change, we think promoting wilderness designation there is an appropriate action to take.

– We hope your boss, as a dedicated supporter of the Red Rock Bill (if a cosponsor), will attend the hearing and actively support the bill in statements and through the questioning of witnesses.

– The Utah Wilderness Coalition (Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Sierra Club, Wilderness Society, Natural Resources Defense Council and Earthjustice) are all available in D.C. to answer questions about plans for the hearing.

IN CALIFORNIA

2. Photo Exhibition at San Francisco International Airport

Long-time CalUWild member Chris Schiller has a solo exhibit of some of his black and white prints of trees at the SFO Airport Museums in the United Airlines terminal.

If you’re flying on United, or have extra time at the airport, check them out! (They’re inside the secure area, so only ticketed passengers are able to see them.) The exhibit runs until December.

IN CALIFORNIA & NEVADA

3.Desert Trips

The Sierra Club’s Desert Committee has an extensive listing of desert exploration and service trips on its website. Some are Desert Committee trips, but others are sponsored by the California Wilderness Coalition, Friends of Nevada Wilderness, and Desert Survivors.

For an updated listing of outings, visit the Desert Report website at www.desertreport.org and click on outings.

Tags: ,
Posted in Newsletters | Comments Off on 2009 September

2008 September

September 12th, 2008

September 12, 2008

Dear CalUWild friends —

Once again, it’s necessary to start off with a word about energy.

In September 2001, I was in Washington, DC with representatives of other conservation and ranching groups. We were there for meetings with congressional staffs regarding sensible energy legislation at the time of the attacks on the Word Trade Center and Pentagon. Seven years later, we still do not have legislation in place that would lessen our dependence on fossil fuels. Instead we were treated last week to the scene of an arena full of delegates shouting, “Drill, baby, drill,” as if there were any way we could meet our energy needs by drilling for oil and natural gas.

As has been pointed out numerous times, the United States has about 3% of the world’s oil reserves, yet we consume nearly 25% of the world’s supply. It doesn’t take a genius to see that this can’t be sustained, for all sorts of environmental and foreign policy reasons. Despite this imbalance, years-long controversies, and the knowledge that the cheapest barrel of oil is the one not used, we have been unable to come up with even minimal improvements in conservation and efficiency standards. Tax credits for renewable energy research have been allowed to expire, while breaks for fossil fuels are extended. Even politicians who generally favor environmental protection are jumping on the drilling bandwagon.

This focus on extraction has impacts on our public lands. Some politicians and citizens seem to favor turning the West into a national sacrifice zone in order to produce the last bit of energy possible from the ground. Given that fossil fuels are finite resources and that alternatives will be needed some time in the future—they’re needed now, actually—it makes no sense to try to get a few months’ worth of energy out, at the expense of a landscape that took millions of years to form.

ACTION ITEM:

Please contact Congress, asking them to craft a plan that provides realistic solutions to our energy problems while protecting those places we love. Contact information for California’s congressional delegation can be found on CalUWild’s website.

Thanks!

Mike

IN UTAH

1. BLM Releases 6 RMPs, Offering Little to No Protection

For Wild Places

2. Help Eradicate Non-Native Russian Olive in the Escalante

October 18 – 20

IN CALIFORNIA

3. Tell the Governor to Sign A.B. 2923

ACTION ITEM

4. CalUWild Slide Show in Petaluma

October 4, 5 p.m.

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

IN UTAH

1. BLM Releases 6 RMPs, Offering Little to No Protection

For Wild Places

We’ve been reporting for the last year or so on the development of six Resource Management Plans (RMPs) by BLM’s offices in Price, Vernal, Moab, Monticello, Richfield, and Kanab. These offices manage much of lands in the Citizens’ Wilderness Proposal for Utah. RMPs provide the basis for management decisions for 10 – 15 years after their adoption, so they are important documents

The process has been stacked against citizen participation because of the timeline that BLM pursued. The six drafts, each over 1,000 pages long, were released within a few weeks of each other, with 90-day comment periods. This made it difficult for any organization, let alone a private citizen, to fully review, evaluate, and comment on the proposals. Many people believe that this was a purposeful tactic by the BLM to force the plans through while the current administration was in office, given its pro-energy extraction focus. BLM denies this charge. The results, however, speak for themselves.

Clayton Daughenbaugh, Midwest Regional Organizer for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and Chairman of the Sierra Club’s National Wildlands Committee prepared the following summary.

The Bureau of Land Management has now completed each of the six Resource Management Plans (RMPs) it has been rushing through this year. The plans reveal how the agency intends to “take care of” much of the land that would be protected as wilderness via “America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act”.

Over the years the BLM has inventoried approximately 6 million acres of the land within the wilderness proposal. Under much pressure there was an initial 3.2 million acres set aside as Wilderness Study Areas to be managed as wilderness pending a decision by Congress. An additional 2.8 million were found to have wilderness character (note the corresponding confirmation of our own citizens’ inventory on which the legislation is based), but not given that level of protection. Cumulatively, the BLM’s six RMPs will provide limited protections for only 16% of that 2.8 million acres. The rest is given over to off-road vehicle recreation and oil and gas development. You can see some of the details by linking to the fact sheet in the “In The Spotlight” section on SUWA’s home page at www.suwa.org .

There is an appeals process in which Utah Wilderness Coalition organizations will participate. Likely, though yet to be determined, will be a court battle. 2009 will also likely see appeals to both administrative and legislative actions to reverse these plans – indeed the Salt Lake Tribune has already editorialized in favor of reversal in a very strongly worded editorial calling the BLM’s plans “ludicrous”.

Here are links to three recent Salt Lake Tribune editorials:

August 29, 2008

Inviting plunder: Vernal BLM plan caters too much to OHVs

September 8, 2008

Drill, drill, drill: BLM plan for Carbon, Emery counties goes for the gas

September 9, 2008

Open invitation: BLM Monticello plan invites destruction of relics

2. Help Eradicate Non-Native Russian Olive in the Escalante

October 18 – 20

Bill Wolverton is one of the unsung heroes of Utah’s wilderness, waging war against tamarisk and Russian olive wherever he finds them, as a backcountry ranger in Glen Canyon NRA. Every year he leads groups of volunteers to canoyons in the Escalante region, working their way downstream to effectively wipe out Russian olive trees, one of the introduced scourges of the Southwest. Join him, Vicky Hoover (CalUWild’s cofounder) and Jim Catlin (godfather of the Utah wilderness campaign) for the next expedition. It’s a great way to see the landscape and help restore it!

Here is Vicky’s announcement:

Join the October 18-20 Harris Wash Russian Olive celebration!

No, no, the Russian olives won’t be celebrating – WE will celebrate as we cut, saw, tear, rip, and otherwise demolish these pesky, ugly, exotic intruders in one of the loveliest of the Escalante River canyons. Savor the autumnal beauty of the area as you help legendary Russian olive warrior hero Bill Wolverton restore the canyon to its native species.

This service trip is the Xth Annual Sierra Club Russian Olive festival, cosponsored by national Utah Wilderness Task Force and Utah Chapter. Meet at the Escalante Visitor Center 9 a.m. Saturday, October 18, caravan to trailhead on Hole in the Rock road, backpack in three and 1/2 miles. Work Sat pm and Sunday, leisurely hike out and return home (or closer to home) Monday. Central Commissary for 2 breakfasts, 2 dinners provided by Vicky Hoover, Utah Task Force, for the exorbitant fee of $15/person.

To sign up, or for more info, including carpooling, contact Vicky (vicky.hoover@sierraclub.org) or Jim Catlin (jim@wildutahproject.org, or 801-328-3550 w).

Signed-up participants will receive gory details on equipment to bring, how to avoid Russian olive attacks or cold, wet feet, and more.

IN CALIFORNIA

3. Tell the Governor to Sign A.B. 2923

ACTION ITEM

Most of CalUWild’s work involves federal lands, but California has a state Wilderness Act as well. Under it, state agencies are supposed to conduct inventories of lands that qualify and then recommend which should be included in the state wilderness system. Unfortunately, not all the necessary inventories have been done, although there is land that would qualify. Much of it is adjacent to lands designated federal wilderness by the North Coast Wild Heritage Act in 2006, Rep. Mike Thompson’s bill. Therefore, California Wilderness Coalition worked with Assemblywoman Noreen Evans (D – 07/Santa Rosa) to introduce legislation this session requiring the State Lands Commission and the Resources Agency to prepare inventories and report on suitability. They would have until December 1, 2009 to do so.

The bill lists some specific areas in addition to its general requirements:

Henry W. Coe State Park.

Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve.

Austin Creek State Recreation Area.

Robert Louis Stevenson State Park.

Knoxville Wildlife Area.

Cedar Roughs Wildlife Area.

Cache Creek Wilderness.

South Fork Eel Wilderness.

Sanhedrin Wilderness.

Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness.

Yuki Wilderness.

Already opposition to the bill is mounting because some see this a wilderness bill. It’s important to note that this bill only requires inventories as to suitability and recommendations. Provisions include public hearings. The bill sets in motion the process for potentially designating areas, but it does not designate any areas itself.

Because of California’s budget mess, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has threatened to veto all bills coming to him (with the exception of the high speed rail bond measure). Nevertheless, it’s important for Californians to let him know their views on this legislation.

You can write the governor at:

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

State Capitol Building

Sacramento, CA 95814

or call him at: 916-445-2841;

or fax him at: 916-558-3160;

or email him via his website.

4. CalUWild Slide Show in Petaluma

October 4, 5 p.m.

As many of you know, the wild landscape of Utah has been an inspiration to painters, photographers, and writers for years. Few visitors fail to fall in love with the place.

Joan Hoffmann has made annual trips to Utah for more than 20 years, as have I-Joan prowling the landscape and painting the wildness on location, and I hiking numerous miles and taking countless photos. Joan is a recent lecturer at the University of Utah Museum’s show “Monet to Picasso” as well as being a recent Artist in Residence in Yosemite.

Please join Joan and me on Saturday October 4, at 5 p.m., as I share some of my slides and talk about the issues facing the spectacular wildlands of Utah. The slideshow is in conjunction with a showing of some of Joan’s oils, depicting some of the special places in that state. Enjoy Joan’s Gallery Exhibit of impressionist oils before or after the slide show. Her show runs until October 10th (Petaluma Gallery Walk evening).

Picture Perfect Gallery

21 Kentucky St.

Downtown Petaluma

October 4, 2008

Time: 5-7pm (slides at 5:30)

Refreshments

FREE, although contributions of any size are welcome

Please pass this invitation along to anyone you know who might be interested. Thanks!

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

2007 September

September 24th, 2007

September 24, 2007

Dear CalUWild Friends –

After last month’s dearth, we have four ACTION ITEMS this month. Each is important in it own right, so if you’re able to write on more than one, it would be a big help.

Best wishes,
Mike

IN UTAH
1. Moab BLM Resource Plan Released
Proposed Wilderness at Risk

Letters Needed to BLM and Utah Governor
(ACTION ITEM)
2. Monticello BLM Office Closes Off-Road
Vehicle Routes in Archaeology Zone
Thank You Letters Needed
(ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
3. Eldorado National Forest
Route Designation
Comments Needed
DEADLINE: October 22
(ACTION ITEM)

IN GENERAL
4. Oversight Hearings on Recreational Fees
Faxes and Calls Needed
(ACTION ITEM)
5. Job listing: Northern California Outreach
Organizer for Tuleyome

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

IN UTAH
1. Moab BLM Resource Plan Released
Proposed Wilderness at Risk
Letters Needed to BLM and Utah Governor
(ACTION ITEM)

We’ve been reporting over the last several years that the Bureau of Land Management in Utah has been updating its “Resource Management Plans” (RMPs). These are plans that each local office drafts to guide its management of the lands in its jurisdiction for the ensuing 10 – 15 years. These are drafted using the process spelled out in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and are subject to public review and input at various stages.

The Moab BLM office has just released it Draft Plan, and 5 other offices will be releasing their draft plans in the upcoming weeks. Each is scheduled to have 90 days during which the public may comment. For those of us who care about Utah’s wild areas and are committed to public involvement, this schedule presents a heavy burden, because each plan has it own complexities and the BLM needs to hear specific comments on each specific element of its draft plan.

It’s difficult enough to do this for one plan, but having six in such short order will be next to impossible. In its latest Alert, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) wrote: “While the BLM has taken the better part of seven years to prepare the six plans for eastern Utah’s public lands, it expects the public to comment on each of them within a 90-day deadline. This would be unreasonable for any one of the plans, but the BLM will release versions of all six plans in the coming weeks, creating significant overlap between comment periods, confusion and overwork for anyone with a stake in these magnificent lands.”

Therefore, SUWA is asking concerned citizens to contact the Utah State BLM Director and the governor to request a 180-day extension for public comment on these plans.

Their contact information is:

Ms. Selma Sierra
State Director
Bureau of Land Management
Utah State Office
P.O. Box 45155
Salt Lake City, UT 84145

Phone: 801-539-4001
Fax: 801-539-4013

Gov. Jon M. Huntsman, Jr.
State Capitol Complex
East Office Building, Suite E220
P.O. Box 142220
Salt Lake City, Utah 84114-2220

Phone: 801-538-1000
800-705-2464
Fax: 801-538-1528

Letters and faxes are always better than phone calls. As background, mention your interest in Utah, whether you’ve traveled there, that you’re a believer in a fair process, and one that will achieve the best results in the long term.

Please write or call right away.

The present deadline for comments is November 30, 2007. We will provide more details about the draft plan for Moab next month. In the meantime, if you’d like to take a look at SUWA’s analysis so far of the Moab Draft Plan, click here. A link to a PDF fact sheet is on the right side of the page.

2. Monticello BLM Office Closes Off-Road
Vehicle Routes in Archaeology Zone
Thank You Letters Needed
(ACTION ITEM)

In an action that it should have taken a long time ago, the BLM Monticello Office has closed an area to off-road vehicles that were damaging archaeological sites. Nearly two years ago, illegally constructed ORV trails were discovered in Recapture Wash, below the Recapture Dam Recreation Area near Blanding, UT.

The area has many archaeological sites that have never been systematically inventoried by the BLM. Many individuals and organizations such as Great Old Broads for Wilderness and SUWA tried ever since the discovery of these routes to have the area closed. The BLM balked until this month, when it finally closed the area off through an emergency decree.

We’re firm believers in saying thanks, even if the actions are delayed, if for no other reason than to remind officials that people are looking out for public resources.

So please send Monticello Acting Manager Nick Sandberg a message of gratitude, as well as State Director Selma Sierra.

Mr. Nick Sandberg
Acting Manager
P.O. Box 7
Monticello, UT 84535

Phone: (435) 587-1500
Email: Nick_Sandberg@blm.gov

Ms. Sierra’s contact information is above. Since this is a “thank you,” email is acceptable also (but it is preferable NOT to use email for Item 1).

Selma_Sierra@blm.gov

IN CALIFORNIA
3. Eldorado National Forest
Route Designation
Comments Needed
DEADLINE: October 22
(ACTION ITEM)

The following comes from Vicky Hoover at the Sierra Club.

The Forest Service, which has recently called unmanaged motorized vehicle recreation a major threat to America’s spectacular public lands, is changing over to a national off-road vehicle (ORV)-management system of allowing recreation off-road vehicle use on designated routes only, instead of general cross-country use anywhere except where specially prohibited. To make this major (and long needed!) change, the Forest Service has undertaken the enormous task of designating off-highway travel routes on all National Forests. Each forest is dong separate planning. Here in California, right now, the Eldorado National Forest (which is just south of Lake Tahoe and north of the Stanislaus National Forest) has released its Travel Management Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) to confine vehicle use to specifically designated roads and trails. The comment period for this plan ends Oct. 22.

The public has an unprecedented opportunity RIGHT NOW to write to keep motorized vehicles out of sensitive habitat, watersheds and unprotected wilderness. Here are some general talking points to put into your OWN words, to begin your comment letter, before you ask for adoption of Alternative E, with two important changes:

* The law requires the Forest Service to minimize damage from off-road vehicles. It does NOT require the Forest Service to fulfill ALL the demand for motorized routes that now exists or may ever exist.
* When figuring out where motorized routes of travel should be the Forest Service should keep in mind the needs of the MANY, many visitors to the Forest who do NOT come for motorized-vehicle recreation. They shouldn’t discriminate against people who wish to hike or families who want to go for a walk from a campground without being disturbed by noise, dust, or pollution of off-road vehicles. (There are two relatively small wilderness areas on the Eldorado Forest, the Desolation in the north, and the Mokelumne in the south. These don’t accommodate all the visitors who just wish for some short and quiet walking places, without the challenge of accessing wilderness.)
* The Forest Service must consider how any new motorized route they add to their travel system contributes to the problem of fragmenting habitat for wildlife. (Since wildlife cannot speak up for themselves, the Forest Service must take special care to assure that providing for human recreation minimizes the harm to wildlife, both plants and animals.) Special concern must be given to sensitive species.

In addition, the Forest Service must be careful not to allow more routes in the travel system than the agency has the staff and funding to monitor, manage, restore, AND enforce. One of the problems of off-road vehicle use has been precisely the lack of adequate monitoring, restoration of impacts, and enforcement of regulations. The agency must consider how THIS plan will facilitate those essential management actions.

Specifically: Urge the Forest Supervisor to adopt Alternative E, with the following important changes:

* Alternative E should adopt the seasonal closures and over-the-snow requirements of Alt. C: “Seasonal closure on all designated system trails and native surface roads from Nov. 1 through April 3. Wheeled motor vehicle over-the-snow travel allowed on surfaced roads only with 12 inches of snow or more and no ground contact.” These closure dates can be shortened by the Forest Supervisor if dry weather warrants opening the forest to vehicles.
* In the Rubicon River area, Hunters Trail (11E09), Gray’s (aka Frey’s) Trail (11E04), Deer Creek Trail (14E11) should not be designated for motorized use. Reason: The Rubicon Canyon is an historic hiking/backpacking/fishing area. Hunter’s is one of the most popular hiking trails on the Georgetown District. Because it is relatively level, it is one of the easier trails for the very young, the elderly or infirm. Fishermen use the trails to access the excellent trout fishing in the Rubicon. Motorized use conflicts with traditional quiet recreation in numerous ways. Dirt bike noise echoes in the canyon, spoiling the natural quiet. Tell the Forest Service motorized use of these trails will create/continue significant user conflicts.

Important: Point out that Alt. E also reduces damage from the other leading “threats” identified by the Forest Service: Fire, noxious weeds, and habitat fragmentation.

Comments on the Travel Management DEIS will be accepted until October 22, 2007. Comments may be submitted by mail to:

Forest Supervisor Ramiro Villalvazo
Attn: Travel Management DEIS
100 Forni Road
Placerville, CA 95667

By email to: comments-pacificsouthwest-eldorado@fs.fed.us

By fax: 530-621-5297

Or by leaving a message on the project hotline: 530-295-5666.

Click here for more information on the Eldorado’s DEIS.

IN GENERAL
4. Oversight Hearings on Recreational Fees
Faxes and Calls Needed
(ACTION ITEM)

The fight against user fees on public lands continues. CalUWild supports efforts to keep access to our public lands free for citizens. We support funding by Congress, through the annual budget process for all the land management agencies at a level adequate for the proper protection and restoration of our natural resources. CalUWild firmly believes that as citizens, we are the owners of the public lands, not the agencies’ customers. And while we have no objection to reasonable fees for developed facilities such as campgrounds and marinas, going for a hike in the canyons or the woods should be free to anyone.

The following, slightly edited, comes from Keep Sespe Wild, one of the groups working to end the fee structure on our public lands.

URGENT: Ask Senators to Hold Oversight Hearings on Public Lands Recreation Policy!

It’s the end of summer and the US Forest Service is releasing proposals to close thousands of developed recreation sites around the nation – campgrounds, trailheads, picnic areas, boat launches, and swimming sites – to charge new or increased fees at hundreds of others, and to remove facilities, reduce capacity, and shorten seasons at hundreds more.

These changes are outlined in documents known as Recreation Facility Analysis (RFA) Proposed Programs of Work (PPOW). Each National Forest is producing an RFA -PPOW and the bulk of them – around 140 – are due out in coming weeks.

The Western Slope No-Fee Coalition (WSNFC) has carefully gone over the 18 or so RFAs that are so far available to the public, and in just these 18 forests, the agency’s proposals over the next five years will

– close 407 campgrounds (17% of sites in these 18 forests);
– reduce capacity at 464 sites (20% of the total);
– remove amenities (toilets, tables, trash cans, fire rings) at 243 sites (10% of total);
– turn 225 sites over to concessionaires or partners (10% of total);
– implement new fees at 136 sites (6%)
– and increase fees at 170 sites (7%).

We don’t have time to wait until all the RFAs are published to alert Congress to these threats to our publicly-owned recreation sites! In some cases, the US Forest Service has already gone and removed water systems, toilets, picnic tables, and fire rings, and completely closed campgrounds and other developed recreation sites without ANY public notice at all.

For the WSNFC’s June 2007 update report on RFA/RSFMP plans go to

http://www.westernslopenofee.org/NoFee/RSFMP_update.pdf

PLEASE CONTACT CONGRESS

The RFA process was not authorized by Congress; the US Forest Service calls it an internal matter.

It is up to you and me to bring the RFA-PPOWs to Congress’s attention, by requesting that the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee hold oversight hearings on recreation policy, particularly on the RFAs and on the agencies’ implementation of the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA), the public lands recreation fee program.

Below you will find which Senators to contact and what to say.

CALL OR FAX THESE SENATORS ON THE ENERGY & NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE

At a Minimum: Contact the majority and minority chairs of the committee by calling the committee’s office number at – (202) 224-4971. Or you can fax your comments – the fax number for the two chairs is below. Faxes have the most impact, phone calls are next. Emails are not effective. Regular letters take too long because of security delays.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)
Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM)

fax (202) 224-6163

——————————————-

Neither of California’s senators sits on the committee. Other committee members are listed below. If you live are in their state or have family or friends who do, please be sure they get contacted.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO)
Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT)
Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY)
Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR)
Sen. Bernie Sanders (Independent-VT)

WHAT TO SAY
Mention the FIRST point at least, and then one or more of the following points. Please put them in your own words!

* Ask that the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee hold oversight hearings this fall on the FLREA / fee legislation and on the Forest Service’s Recreation Facility Analysis.
* State that you oppose Forest Service plans to close thousands of developed recreation sites.
* Support adequate public funding for public lands recreation sites that reaches sites on the ground (rather than going mostly to administrative overhead).
* Mention your opposition to the Forest Service’s High Impact Recreation Areas (HIRAs), where recreation fees are charged often miles away from any developed facilities.
* Say you want trailhead access to wilderness and undeveloped backcountry to be free from fees, as the FLREA requires.
* Oppose the BLM and Forest Service use of Special Recreation Permits for individual access to BLM lands.

—————————————————

FURTHER NO-FEE NEWS

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) is expected to introduce his bill soon to repeal the FLREA. We will send out a new action alert at that point in support of the bill.

Thanks, as ever, for your help in this truly grassroots effort.

Alasdair Coyne
Keep Sespe Wild

5. Job listing: Northern California Outreach
Organizer for Tuleyome

Outreach organizer: Tuleyome and the National Hispanic Environmental Council are hiring an organizer to work on the proposed Blue Ridge Berryessa National Conservation Area and outreach within the Latino community. This is a joint contract position for one and perhaps two years. The work requires demonstrated organizer experience, excellent communication skills, bilingualism in English and Spanish, and drivers license. Work is directed from Tuleyome’s Woodland office with travel throughout the Napa, Lake, Colusa, and Yolo regions. Contract amount starts $3,000 per month. For additional information go to http://www.tuleyome.org and email dchase@tuleyome.org.

Tags: ,
Posted in Newsletters | Comments Off on 2007 September

« Older Entries |