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2019 August

August 24th, 2019


Fog at Drakes Bay, Point Reyes National Seashore, California                                                                             (Mike Painter)

 
August 24, 2019

Dear CalUWild friends—

This Update for August is coming out earlier in the month than usual so people who are able can attend one of the Park Service Open Houses on August 27 and 28 for the Point Reyes National Seashore Draft Management Plan. We have serious reservations about the plan and urge people to attend an open house if possible and to submit comments, regardless of whether they can attend or not. Full details are below in ITEM 2.

 
There are a few events in September to mention. Click on the links for more information:

The 6th Annual Visions of the Wild Festival, a film and arts festival in Vallejo that CalUWild has helped plan with the Forest Service and the Vallejo Community Arts Foundation since 2014. The theme this year is Transforming Fire, in recognition of Smokey Bear’s 75th anniversary.
September 12–15 in Downtown Vallejo

The 9th Annual Wine Country Optics & Nature Festival, featuring many conservation organizations and leading manufacturers of optical gear like binoculars for birding and wildlife viewing. (We won’t be there this year, unfortunately, because of the conflict with the Visions Festival.)
September 14 at the Sonoma Barracks on the Plaza, Sonoma.

35th California Coastal Cleanup Day. Not just the coast, but also other waterways in the state!
September 21

National Public Lands Day. Many organizations sponsor stewardship projects and most federal lands are admission-free.
September 28

 
As always, thank you for your support of America’s public lands!

 
Best wishes,
Mike

 

IN UTAH
1 .    Final Management Plans Released for the Areas
          Covered by the Original Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
          (ACTION ITEM)

IN CALIFORNIA
2.    Draft Management Plan Amendment Released for
          Point Reyes National Seashore
          Open Houses Aug. 27 & 28
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINE: September 23
          (ACTION ITEM)

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

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

IN UTAH
1.   Final Management Plans Released for the Areas
          Covered by the Original Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
          (ACTION ITEM)

The Bureau of Land Management yesterday released its Final Management Plans for the shrunken Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and the areas removed from it by the administration in December 2017. Since it is a final document, they will not be open for general public comment, although organizations that filed earlier comments will most certainly file formal protests. The best thing for citizens to do now is to contact their representatives in Congress—more on that below.

The Salt Lake Tribune published an article answering some questions about the plans. We await a more detailed analysis, but the coalition of organizations working on national monuments named their major flaws:

The plan opens up hundreds of thousands of acres of the original Monument (designated in 1996) to drilling and mining, while the administration’s illegal reduction of the Monument (decreasing it by nearly half) is still being actively litigated and while the Government Accountability Office is investigating whether the planning process itself is in violation of long-standing spending law.

It is the result of a rushed and closed-door process, opening up land for inappropriate development with little input from the public.

The plan changes standards for the management of all national monuments—affecting treasured places across the country—and doesn’t even protect what remains of Grand Staircase-Escalante.

You can read the entire press release here.

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) said: “This is a dangerous precedent for all our national monuments, and everyone who supports our public lands should be concerned about this shameless giveaway campaign.” You can read his entire statement here.

If you wish, you can read and download the following BLM Plan documents:

Executive Summary

Volume 1 (Chapters 1–4)

Volume 2 (Appendices A–W)

We’ll continue to keep you up to date as more information becomes available. In the meantime, please call your Congressional Representative and Senators and let them know you object to these plans and then either thank them for their cosponsorship of the two bills below, which we have discussed in the past, or ask them to cosponsor the bills of they haven’t already.

S. 367/H.R. 1050, the ANTIQUITIES Act of 2019, reaffirms that presidents lack the authority to rescind or diminish national monuments. It also codifies the 52 existing national monuments established or expanded under the Antiquities Act since January 1996 and expands protections for the Bears Ears, Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks, Rio Grande del Norte, and Gold Butte National Monuments. The bill would also create a $100 million fund to improvement the management and conservation of national monuments.

H.R. 871, the Bears Ears Expansion and Respect for Sovereignty Act (BEARS Act—in the House only), proposes to expand the boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument to 1.9-million-acre boundary proposed by the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition. Its language is also incorporated into H.R. 1050.

There are a few new California cosponsors for these bills since our last Update, so please check our online California Congressional Information Sheet, where you can find contact information for all California offices and cosponsorship information on two other bills, as well.

 
IN CALIFORNIA
2.   Draft Management Plan Amendment Released for
          Point Reyes National Seashore
          Open Houses Aug. 27 & 28
          Comments Needed
          DEADLINE: September 23
          (ACTION ITEM)

The National Park Service this month released its Draft Management Plan Amendment for Point Reyes National Seashore. The current general management plan dates back to 1980. The present amendment is the result of a settlement reached after the Park Service was sued by the Resource Renewal Institute, the Western Watersheds Project, and the Center for Biological Diversity. You can read some of the details of the suit here. (Full disclosure: Resource Renewal Institute is CalUWild’s fiscal sponsor, handling tax-deductible contributions and grants, but CalUWild was not involved in the Pt. Reyes litigation, nor have we been involved with RRI’s project Restore Point Reyes National Seashore, to which we link below.)

Dairy and beef cattle ranching has a long history at Pt. Reyes, dating back to the 1800s. When the Seashore was established in the 1960s, there was opposition from the ranching families, but they eventually agreed to a buyout-leaseback arrangement with the National Park Service. It was never the intent that ranching would continue indefinitely. The fact is that there is no mention of ranching as being a purpose for the establishment of the Seashore in its enabling legislation:

In order to save and preserve, for purposes of public recreation, benefit, and inspiration, a portion of the diminishing seashore of the United States that remains undeveloped, the Secretary of the Interior ╔ is authorized to take appropriate action in the public interest toward the establishment of the national seashore.

Some people, however, are now claiming that it was Congress’s original intent that ranching continue, but note the quote in this article: “╘We just want to change the founding legislation ╔ so that ranchers are guaranteed they’ll always be able to farm out there. [emphasis added]'”

Legislation was later passed giving the ranchers leases for 25 years or for the life of the rancher, whichever was longer, with the possibility of lease extensions. The general expectation at the time was that ranching would be phased out. In the 1970s, Tule Elk were released into areas of the Seashore, and the cattle operations now cause conflicts with the expanding herds.

The Draft Plan’s Preferred Alternative proposes to protect cattle ranching at the expense of wildlife, specifically Tule Elk, and the overall landscape. While much of the press reaction has centered around the killing Tule Elk when they come in conflict with cattle, equally (if not more) important is the proposal to allow ranchers to remain permanently and actually increase their commercial operations at the Seashore to include the raising of other animals, such as turkeys and pigs, to allow growing vegetables and row crops, and to allow paying overnight guests at ranches.

Restore Point Reyes National Seashore provides more details as to what this means.

In short, this is not a balanced plan. The Park Service is offering the ranchers almost everything they asked for during the scoping process, as set forth in a letter from the Ranchers Association, which you can read here. The environment and the general public get little or nothing out of the Plan.

Therefore, CalUWild opposes all of these proposals.

The question comes down to this: What is a National Seashore for?

Is it “to save and preserve, for purposes of public recreation, benefit, and inspiration, a portion of the diminishing seashore of the United States that remains undeveloped” as its establishing legislation states?

Or is it to foster private businesses even after they’ve been bought out, especially when they have been shown to be damaging to the resources the Seashore was established to protect?

Two informational meetings on the proposal are planned in Marin County. You may submit comments at them.

Tuesday, Aug. 27
5–7 p.m.
West Marin School Gym, Point Reyes Station

Wednesday, Aug. 28
5–7 p.m.

Bay Model Visitor Center, Sausalito

CalUWild suggests the following talking points for your comments:

• Point Reyes National Seashore should be managed for those values it was originally created to protect: the landscape and its wildlife.

• Dairy and beef ranching should be phased out as was originally intended.

• There should absolutely be no increase in the level of commercial activity allowed to leaseholders in the Seashore.

• Wildlife should always take priority over livestock.

In addition, Restore Point Reyes National Seashore suggests the following talking points:

• Restore the Seashore’s Pastoral Zone for wildlife habitat, native plant communities, scientific research and education.

• Repurpose historic ranch buildings for scientific research, interpretation and public education.

As always, when writing comments it is best to use your own words, to give your personal perspective on the issue, and to incorporate any experiences you have had that are noteworthy or influence your thinking.

You may also comment on the plan through September 23, by following the links here. You may also mail or hand deliver comments to:

GMP Amendment c/o Superintendent
Point Reyes National Seashore
1 Bear Valley Road
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956

For more information, check out these resources:

Restore Point Reyes National Seashore, mentioned above

The Center for Biological Diversity has a fact sheet contrasting the impacts of Tule Elk with cattle at Point Reyes.

An independent filmmaker investigated the conflict over Tule Elk, cattle ranching, and environmental impacts at Point Reyes. He produced a film about it, titled The Shame of Point Reyes. You can view it on the filmmaker’s website, which also has lots of information about Point Reyes, or on YouTube. You’ll see things you likely never knew anything about.

The Point Reyes Rewilding Network

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

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

The Interior Department & Administration

An article in Pacific Standard about yet another Interior Department official meeting with former employers: New Documents Reveal More About Alleged Ethics Violations at the Department of the Interior. In an unfortunate development, it was announced the day after this article appeared that Pacific Standard would be ceasing publication, after it major funder pulled the plug on it without warning. The Los Angeles Times had an article about it: Pacific Standard magazine is shutting down after losing its main financial backer

An editorial in the Washington Post on Acting BLM Director Pendley: William Perry Pendley did not have Senate approval. Congress should not stand for it.

An op-ed in The Hill on the Acting BLM Director: New Bureau of Land Management leader is not only unfit to serve, he’s a threat to Western values

An op-ed by NY Times writer Timothy Egan: The Great Western Public Land Robbery

An article in The Hill: Bureau of Land Management retirees fight plan to relocate agency out west

The PBS NewsHour had a segment: How Trump is shaping the future of America’s public lands

Utah

More on the Factory Butte situation that we’ve reported on recently, from the Deseret News: Environmental groups sue BLM over opening southern Utah area to off-road vehicles

California

An article in The New Yorker: A Trailblazing Plan to Fight California Wildfires

Alaska

An article in Courthouse News about the latest Izembek Wildlife Refuge land exchange promoted by the Interior Department: New Alaskan Land Swap Called Just as Illegal as the First One

Regarding the proposed Pebble Gold Mine, CNN reported: EPA dropped salmon protection after Trump met with Alaska governor. An article also appeared in Courthouse News: Commercial Fishermen, Indigenous People Unite to Fight Mine in Alaska

Nevada

An op-ed in Nevada Current: Public lands: It’s who we are as Nevadans

Public Lands in General

An article in Outside: The Controversial Plan to Protect America’s Trails

An article from The Guardian‘s “This Land is Your Land” project: Trump administration authorizes ‘cyanide bombs’ to kill wild animals. Five days later, the EPA reversed the decision after a huge public outcry, as reported here by the New York Times: E.P.A. Backtracks on Use of ╘Cyanide Bombs’ to Kill Wild Animals.

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

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

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Either way, mail it to:

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

 
 
 

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2017 August

September 6th, 2017


Yosemite Wildfires, August 2017                                                                                                      (Mike Painter)

 
September 5, 2017

Dear CalUWild friends—

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Several Bundy Family-related articles:

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

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

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

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

Other public lands articles:

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

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

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

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

 
 
 
 
 
 

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

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

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