Winter 2011

Volume 15, No. 2

Western Lands Project
P.O. Box 95545 Seattle, WA 98145-2545 (206) 325-3503 westernlands.org

Western Lands Board President Testifies in Congress

Y

ou can count on a Republican majority in the House of

In This Issue:

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Save Point Reyes; Utah pipeline corridor Skull Valley, Lochsa, Ivanpah updates Appreciation: Conway Leovy 011 By The Numbers

Representatives to come up with at least one proposal every session to sell off public lands at a massive scale. In response to the latest such scheme, Western Lands Project board president Erica Rosenberg testified in late October before the House Natural Resources Committee against HR 1126, the ”Disposal of Excess Federal Lands Act.” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) has introduced this bill to sell public lands and apply the proceeds toward paying down the federal deficit. The bill is based on the shaky pretext of a 1997 report to Congress that listed 3.3 million acres of BLM land potentially available for disposal. The 1996 Farm Bill included a provision that required an inventory of “disposable” public lands whose sale could be used to fund the massive Everglades restoration, and the report was the result. Chaffetz trotted out this 14-year-old document, complaining that the lands listed remain in federal ownership and should be privatized in order to generate tax revenues. Western Lands is the only organization in the country that actually tracks and evaluates BLM land sales, so in addition to fundamentally opposing privatization, we are uniquely qualified to address the flaws in Chaffetz’ s proposal and were called to testify as the sole witness (other than the BLM) opposing the bill. The lands the report listed came out of the BLM’s planning process under the Federal Land Policy & Management Act (FLPMA). Each BLM office must put together a Resource Management Plan every ten years or so to determine future uses of the land it manages, including identification of land potentially suitable for disposal through sale or Continued on page 

Western Lands Update • The Newsletter of the Western Lands Project • http://westernlands.org

Congress…
From page 1 exchange. Simply being so identified at the planning level, however, does not mean that a parcel will or should be sold—it may ultimately be found unsuitable for sale or may be undesirable for private purchase. As Erica told the Committee: “These parcels were not ‘ready to go’ even then. According to BLM ‘…many lands identified appear to have conflicts which may preclude them from being considered for disposal…’ Furthermore, the circumstances around much of the land listed … may have changed dramatically in the 14 years since it was compiled. Some parcels may already have been sold, while others may now be considered unsuitable for disposal—and all of them would have to undergo up-to-date appraisals and analyses, which cannot be done overnight.” Through our monitoring work, we know that despite the political rhetoric, communities value their public lands and don’t want to lose them. We were able to provide concrete examples—such as lands

managed by the Redding, California field office designated for disposal in the last RMP that are now being integrated into a trail network and will be kept in public hands. Erica testified: “In reality, those most likely to be adversely affected by a broad-brush, expedited disposal of federal land are not environmentalists and public-interest groups such as ours, but members of the community who have a day-to-day relationship with their public land.” Ironically, proposals to sell off public lands increase during economic downturns when demand is low, land value is depressed, and their sale would have the least effect on the deficit. Chaffetz would have us believe that communities and would-be purchasers around the West are clamoring for public lands to be put on the market, but demand is currently stagnant. The proposal may pass in the House, but it is unlikely to get anywhere in the currently Democratic Senate. Should the Republicans secure a majority in both chambers in 2012, the prospects of passage for schemes like this may greatly increase, and public land advocates will have to stay on their toes.

Janine has been invited to be part of a panel at a renewable energy conference in Long Beach, California in February. The Solar POWERGEN conference will be attended by solar manufacturers, investors, consultants, architects, and wonks. Janine will be participating in the panel “US Solar on Public Lands: Aligning Conservation and Development Interests,” and will be speaking about the impacts of Big Solar on public lands. 

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White pelicans at Drake’s Estero, Point Reyes National Seashore. Rudi Dundas Schmidt photo

Our Work All Over The West
Point Reyes National Seashore, CA
We are following a permit extension request for commercial oyster farming on federal land within the Point Reyes National Seashore in California. Drake’s Estero is a large estuary, providing wetland and coastal habitat for a wide range of species, including the federally-listed endangered leatherback sea turtle and central California coast Coho salmon. Drake’s Bay Oyster Company is currently operating in the estuary under a 10-year permit that will expire this month. The current permittee was granted an extension from the 40-year permit “grandfathered” to the previous owner. Congressional intent at the time the National Seashore was created was that the permit would expire, the oyster farm would close, and the Estero would be designated as Wilderness. We submitted our comments to the National Park Service in support of ending this commercial use and in favor of Wilderness designation. continued on page 4

For more frequent short news updates visit our website at westernlands.org, and our Facebook page at facebook.com/ WesternLandsProject

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Rooftops of St. George, UT, where growth has swallowed land and water. Western Lands Project photo

Washington County, UT: Anderson Junction Reservoir–Ash Creek Pipeline
Washington County, Utah has been a hotbed of land exchanges and public land privatization since Western Lands first began our work. We recently came across a new threat to public land there. The Washington County Water Conservancy District, a political sub-agency tasked with buying and selling water rights, is seeking a right-of-way (ROW) on public land both for a pipeline and for a reservoir. We do not routinely monitor ROW projects, but we take interest in this type of proposal because a reservoir essentially entails permanent relinquishment of public land. We

are also concerned that the project was designed to accommodate anticipated growth now curtailed by the recession. With the project still in its initial planning phase, we submitted comments to the Bureau of Land Management. In an area with such rampant disregard for public land and its natural resources, and few people paying close attention, our work there is critically important.

Tooele County, UT: Skull Valley Land Exchange
Public lands in Utah’s Tooele County have been under attack for years – literally. The county is home to several weapons testing sites and a chemical depot. Back in 2000, Janine testified at a House subcommittee hearing about a bill seeking to

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privatize about 107,000 acres of land there – a deal passed using shaky appraisals and Congressional horse-trading. The latest proposal seeks an exchange of lands in the Skull Valley, 80 miles southwest of Salt Lake City. Under the exchange proposal, the BLM would trade about 14,060 acres of Federal land for about 14,400 acres of non-Federal land. The BLM is seeking public input on the potential impacts of the proposed exchange and Western Lands is already involved.

A Bizarre Proposal from the USFS on Lochsa Exchange
When it comes to the proposed Upper Lochsa Land Exchange in north Idaho, the Forest Service’s credibility has gone from bad (see Western Lands Update, Fall 2008) to worse. Western Pacific Timber initially sought to trade 39,000 acres of cut-over forestland in the headwaters of the Lochsa River for about 18,000 acres of National Forest parcels spread across six counties in northern Idaho. The exchange has met with vociferous opposition by locals on environmental grounds, and the Board of Commissioners for Idaho County complained that all the original alternatives would result in a net loss of private lands in that county, harming the tax base. Apparently in response to the latter complaint, the Clearwater National Forest has released a supplemental draft environmental impact statement (SDEIS) that analyzes an alternative under which the lands to be traded would be confined to Idaho County. Consistent with a request by the commissioners, the public and private lands would be traded on an acre-for-acre basis in order to maintain the tax base (counties cannot collect property taxes on publicly-owned land). Land exchange law doesn’t allow such a trade–the Federal Land Policy & Management Act (FLPMA) requires that lands be of equal market value, rather than equal

acreage. With the WPT lands recently logged, there is no way that an acre-for-acre exchange would yield equal market values. Nevertheless, despite its unworkability (and considerable time and expense), the agency chose to issue a new analysis. To make matters worse, the Forest Service has refused to analyze several reasonable (and legal!) alternatives that the public proposed in early input on the exchange. The Forest Service has clearly succumbed to parochial political interests to the detriment of a thoughtful, objective and legal exchange process. Western Lands and Friends of the Clearwater are taking action now to get the Forest Service to change course. The Forest Service is taking comments on the supplemental DEIS, available online

Areas of the Lochsa worked over by Plum Creek, now owned by WPT. Dr. John Osborn photo

at http://www.fs.fed.us/nepa/nepa_project_exp.php?project=26227. Comments can be submitted via email to commentsnorthern-clearwater@fs.fed.us (include “Upper Lochsa Land Exchange” in the subject line) and must be sent by January 17, 2012.

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The Lucy Gray Mountains at the southern end of the proposed Ivanpah ACEC. Chris Clarke photo

Grassroots Effort to Protect the Mojave Desert’s Ivanpah Valley
Basin and Range Watch, an effective grassroots group working on environmental problems impacting the Mojave Desert, has nominated the Ivanpah Valley as a Bureau of Land Management Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC). The Ivanpah Valley straddles the border of California and Nevada. Numerous land uses have been proposed on its public lands in the past few years. One industrial solar plant is under construction and at least three more are being planned. Other recent proposals include a high-speed railroad, mine expansion and new regional airport. Despite these plans, large portions of the Ivanpah Valley are still undisturbed and un-fragmented. Desert tortoise, desert

bighorn sheep, western burrowing owls and gila monsters still inhabit the valley and its fringing mountains. It is home to numerous rare plant species with very limited ranges, such as Mojave milkweed, desert pincushion, Parish’s club-cholla and Rusby’s desert mallow. The valley also contains a large number of prehistoric cultural artifacts. Both the Nevada and California State Offices of the BLM are currently considering the ACEC nomination. To voice your support, contact Needles, CA Field Office Manager Raymond Lee at r1lee@blm.gov and Southern Nevada District Manager Mary Jo Rugwell at mrugwell@blm.gov . Thanks! 

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Western Lands says goodbye to a friend

W

e were saddened by the pass-

ing in July of Conway Leovy, a friend and supporter of Western Lands and a strong advocate for public lands and the planet. Do a Google search and you will find that Conway was a giant in Atmospheric Sciences, a highly respected researcher, and a beloved teacher for 25 years at the University of Washington. I first knew Conway when he was Director of the UW’s Institute for Environmental Studies, whose program allowed me to design my own degree in Public Lands Management and Policy. He was a great proponent of environmental education. I re-met Conway years later when we were working against privatization of St. Edwards State Park at the north end of Lake Washington. A wiry, energetic, emphatic lover of the outdoors, his enthusiasm for

Western Lands’ mission always inspired me to work harder to protect public lands. – Janine

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Would you rather

Have you seen these bumper stickers around town? Western Lands Project is proud to be among the grassroots groups who receive a portion of the profits from the sale of these stickers. Found in museum shops or online at earthsticker.com, these stickers were created by artist Philip Krohn to help environmental groups working to protect biodiversity and wild nature. We are honored to have been chosen as a beneficiary of this great cause!
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not receive any mailings from Western Lands Project? Just send us a quick email at info@ westernlands.org or call (206) 325-3503.

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2011 by the numbers

O

ur year-end newsletter is a

chance to let you know about our current projects and our bank account. Like so many other nonprofits, we are feeling the impact of an economy that has forced families and foundations to pull back their giving. This year, the total number of donations has remained steady but the average gift is down significantly. As always, though, we’re scrappy – and we are confident that we’ll see the other side of this downturn. Our current cash reserves will keep us funded through July 2012, thanks to you – our committed and faithful donors. In the table below is a quick financial snapshot of how we’re doing. These numbers don’t tell the whole story. They don’t show how many of you have been with us since Janine first started fighting the Huck-

leberry land exchange in 1997. Or that our staff of three has been working at Western Lands for a combined 28 years – now that is loyalty! And they certainly don’t show the passion for public land that is at the heart of everything we do. I wish I could tell you exactly how many acres we’ve saved or how many species we’ve protected, but our work is more nuanced than that. So often, we’re behind the scenes, pushing the federal agencies to follow the law and prioritize the public interest. Other times, we’re teaching citizens how to fight their own public land battles in their communities. We’re honored that your belief in our work has kept us going for almost 15 years. With your ongoing support, we’ll keep doing what we do! Thank you all and Happy New Year!

Financials: Jan. 1 – Nov. 30, 011
Income Individuals Foundations Total income Expenses 011 Budget 01 Budget $16,935 $137,500 $154,435 $183,778 $213,720 $193,225

“Our national lands are a rare space of utter democracy: the poorest citizen gets resplendent views that even a billionaire is not allowed to buy.” Nicholas D. Kristof
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Thank you, wonderful members!
Marlin Ard Jerry & Mildred Asker Molly Attell Dr. Gregory Bartha Dinah Bear Janine Blaeloch* Alan Blalock Dr. Bart and Martha Brown Linda Campbell Meg Campbell Irene Cannon-Geary, PhD Rob Castleberry Holly Coccoli Mark Collier Charles Couper Emily & Drew Crandall April Crowe Betsy Dennis Craig & Lynn Dible Patricia Donovan Linda Driskill Mark & Lois Eagleton George Early Joseph Lee & Susan Eisner Neil Elliott Prof. Robert Fischman Dot & John Fisher-Smith Michael Frome Linda Garrison Steve Gilbert Shaun Gonzales Charles E. Hancock Ginger Harmon Roger Harmon Dave & Corey Jacobs Dave Kaiser & Kristin Temperly* Thad King Keith Kopischke Fayette Krause Chris Krupp* Lisa Lefferts Ms. Constance Lonsdale Sandy Lonsdale Ann McConnell W. G. McElhinney Rick McGuire Mike Maloney* John Middleton Steve Munsell Tommy Murray Dorothy Musil Jan Naragon Andrew Nelson & Teresa Ward Charles Otterson Deborah Paulson Sandra Perkins and Jeffrey Ochsner Bill Powers Myra Bergman Ramos & Ben Rogers Hank Rate Marian Robertson Prof. Bill Rodgers Paul Rogland Erica Rosenberg & Daniel Sarewitz Lin Rowland Dr. Justin Schmidt Mary Ann Schroeder Bernadette M. Sonefeld Rose Strickland Paul Swetik David Tillotson Val & Mary Ann Tollefson Jeanne Turgeon Wolter & Anneka van Doorninck Sally Vogel Cathy Weeden* Edward & Victoria Welch Nat & Jean White Kim Wolborsky Steve Wolper Jennifer Yogi & Matt Adams Raymond Ziarno * monthly donors.

We are grateful for the foundations & businesses supporting our work! Anonymous Foundation Deer Creek Foundation Gividend Horne Family Foundation Leiter Family Foundation Maki Foundation New-Land Foundation The Seattle Foundation – Give Big Matching Gift Weeden Foundation White Pine Fund

The donations and grants shown were received between June 21, 2011 and December 5, 2011. If your gift was received after this date, you’ll be acknowledged in our next newsletter. Thank you for your support- we could not do our work without you! 

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Western Lands Project P.O. Box 95545 Seattle, WA 98145-2545

We’re scrappy… & we get the job done!
Making a donation is easy. You can give online or by mail – for yourself or to honor your Erica Rosenberg, Washington, DC (President) family and friends. No matter how you give, your generosity helps Western Lands Project keep public lands public. To make your donation today, please complete and return this form Marianne Dugan, Eugene, OR with your tax-deductible contribution. Steve Gilbert, Helena, MT

Board of Directors

David Gladstone, Snohomish, WA Sandy Lonsdale, Moab, UT Sandra Perkins, Seattle, WA Rebecca Rundquist, Portland, ME

Name: Address: City: State: Fax: regular $35 contributing $125 Send me your e-newsletter Email: student/optional low rate $20 Public Lands Advocate $500+ Zip: Phone:

Staff
Janine Blaeloch, Director blaeloch@westernlands.org Christopher Krupp, Staff Attorney krupp@westernlands.org Emily Crandall, Development Manager crandall@westernlands.org

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