Action Opportunity: Comment deadline Monday, July 10, to say ‘hands off our national monuments’

I received this email from Jessica Strickland, Trout Unlimited’s Field Coordination here in California:

I’m sure you’ve heard of the Monument issue that’s going on and how San Gabriel NM is one of the ones under review.  TU has a huge campaign out right now.  We are working hard to protect the National Monuments being reviewed by the Executive Order to analyze all monuments designated after 1996.  There are six here in California under review, and we’ve been told the most at risk are Giant Sequoia and Cascade-Siskiyou National Monuments.  Giant Sequoia is being reviewed to decreased by 2/3’s in size, which would remove the current protections for many waterways (Upper Kings River, Tule River, and the headwaters of the North Fork Kern River).”

Trout Unlimited has a couple things going on:

National campaign form letter that’s sent to the Dept of the Interior found here: http://www.tu.org/action-center?vvsrc=%2fcampaigns%2f52695%2frespond

OR you can send your comment directly to the DOI here:

https://www.regulations.gov/comment?D=DOI-2017-0002-0001

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wrote about the efforts by TU and other conservation organizations back in May and asked readers  to write a letter. Here’s our last chance to voice an opinion. Check out this strong letter that appeared today as inspiration for your own letter.

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Re “Trump can topple national monuments,” Los Angeles Times Opinion, July 6

I’m a scientist and not a lawyer, so I won’t argue the legal claims made by attorneys from a conservative think tank. But the real “magical thinking” is to believe President Trump’s claims that he’s acting in the public interest by opening up dozens of national monuments for “review.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. This is a blatant attempt to industrialize these magnificent places, with the oil, gas, private water and logging industries as the beneficiaries.

The public is not calling for clear cutting in Giant Sequoia National Monument. It has not asked for drilling or fracking in Carrizo Plain or pumping underground water from underneath Mojave Trails. National monuments in California and other states enjoy devoted, widespread local support.

Ileene Anderson is public lands director and senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity in Los Angeles.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

 

Politicians and river advocates make it official: $100 million coming to LA River revitalization

California Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon, at the podium, confers with Irma Munoz, of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, before the beginning of today’s press conference in Marsh Park. Sen. Robert Hertzberg, left, Congressman-elect Jimmy Gomez holding his daughter, center, and Sen. Henry Stern all took turns to laud $100 million in new state budget funding to restore and revitalize the Los Angeles River. Although restoration details remained sketchy, the focus will be on creating parks and open spaces along its banks for the city’s most disadvantaged communities. (Jim Burns)

 

Press Release: Legislature passes $100 million in funding for LA River

Update: Below is a joint press release from Friends of the LA River and River LA, two advocacy groups. Here is a news story for a better perspective on what this money could mean, if Gov. Brown signs off on the funding. 

See you on the river, Jim Burns

 

 

Friends of the LA River and River LA congratulate California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate President Pro-Tem Kevin de León for their leadership and support for the Los Angeles River. Today, $100 million in Prop 1 funding passed the legislature and is on its way to the governor.

“We want one great 51-mile river and greenway,” said River LA‘s Executive Director Omar Brownson. “Having Pro-Tem de León and Speaker Rendon lead the way to bring together the various local agencies and stakeholders, along with the financial resources to make a difference is huge. There are 2,100 acres of land within the flood control channel that we want to unlock for increased public benefit. This investment is key to moving this vision forward.”

This is a momentous occasion that demonstrates the state’s commitment to partner with Southern California in transforming this vital resource to truly serve the needs of our region. These leaders, along with Mark Stanley and Joe Edmiston, Executive Directors of the Rivers and Mountains and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancies respectively, are helping to empower the community to create a healthy, more accessible, and vibrant public resources for all.

“This is a historic moment for the Los Angeles River,” said Marissa Christiansen, Executive Director of Friends of the Los Angeles River. “Pro-Tem de León and Speaker Rendon have demonstrated the type of unified, collaborative leadership that will ultimately lead to a thriving natural resource for all Angelenos. This funding comes at a pivotal moment in the river’s history and will truly make a meaningful impact in its progress forward. As we say, River restoration ‘takes a Friend.’ Today, we are thrilled to have a Friend in both these leaders.”

Friends of the LA River and River LA are working together towards the revitalization of the Los Angeles River. For almost a century, management of the river has been singular in focus: to protect the residents of the river basin from rare but potentially devastating floods. Now, the region is looking to transform this river of concrete into a healthy, resilient resource for all.

Hands off San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, NGOs say

Just as millions joined women’s marches around the country in January to protest the election of President Donald Trump, now more than 100 hunting and fishing business owners and sporting organizations, and a California state congresswoman are reacting to the president’s executive order to review the Antiquities Act.

While the earlier protests were shouted into megaphones and emblazoned on signs, this one is quieter, in the form of a letter to Congress and a renewed attempt at legislation.

” We are writing in support of the Antiquities Act of 1906 and to request that it be used responsibly and in a way that supports the continuation of hunting and fishing in America,” begins the letter, signed by multiple companies across the country, including Abel,  Charlton and Ross reels in Colorado, but only one firm in California.

Four NGOs have lead the effort, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, the National Wildlife Federation, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and Trout Unlimited.

“The outdoor industry accounts for $887 billion in consumer spending and 7.6 million jobs, making it one of the largest economic sectors in the country,” said Jen Ripple, editor in chief of DUN Magazine and a Tennessee resident. “Much of this economic output depends on public lands. Tools for conservation like the Antiquities Act will help ensure that America’s public lands remain not only a great place to hunt and fish but also an important pillar of the hunting and fishing industry.”

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, currently in Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, must produce an interim report in June and make a recommendation on that national monument, and then issue a final report within 120 days.

According to NewsMax,  Trump said the protections imposed by his predecessors “unilaterally put millions of acres of land and water under strict federal control, eliminating the ability of the people who actually live in those states to decide how best to use that land.”

The land-controls have “gotten worse and worse and worse, and now we’re going to free it up, which is what should have happened in the first place,” Trump said at a signing ceremony marking the executive order.

Trump accused Obama in particular of exploiting the 1906 Antiquities Act in an “egregious abuse of federal power,” adding that he was giving power “back to the states and to the people, where it belongs.”

In December, shortly before leaving office, Obama infuriated Utah Republicans by creating the Bears Ears National Monument on more than 1 million acres of land that’s sacred to Native Americans and home to tens of thousands of archaeological sites, including ancient cliff dwellings.

Meanwhile, closer to home the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, created by Obama in 2014, is one of 27 under review, which are mostly in western states. Last week, Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27) reintroduced the San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act, according to Pasadena Now.

“President Trump has declared an open assault on our nation’s natural resources and outdoor spaces in favor of energy companies and oil exploration. Well I will not let him threaten our rivers, forests, wildlife, and outdoor opportunities in the San Gabriel Mountains. That is why I am proud to be reintroducing this bill to establish a National Recreation Area and expand monument designation boundaries, Chu said.”

At the time of its creation, some local conservation groups, including the Arroyo Seco Foundation, wondered why the national monument borders precluded some areas of the San Gabriel Mountains.

In an interview with Jeff Vail, supervisor of the Angeles National Forest and the national monument, that appeared in Sunday’s Pasadena Star-News, readers got a taste for what changes have occurred within the monument.

“The first year, we had five field rangers, last year, we had eight or 10 and this year we are upping that to 14,” he told columnist Steve Scauzillo. “We have a volunteer coordinator, Chris Fabbro. He has been in place now for close to two years. We have new positions, a partnership coordinator and conservation/education coordinator.”

According to Vail, last year Congress appropriated $33 million to his budget, while corporations have donated $5 million since 2014.

If you want to weigh in on why this national monument so close to 14 million Angelinos is important, comments may be submitted online after May 12 at http://www.regulations.gov by entering “DOI-2017-0002” in the search bar and clicking “Search,” or by mail to Monument Review, MS-1530, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20240.

According to the Interior Department, this is the first-ever formal comment period for Antiquities Act monuments.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

West Fork S.O.S.: Comment period extended to Nov. 1, 2016

On a whim, I visited the West Fork very recently. The sun was hot in the mid-morning sky; a group of local teens pulled up alongside the parked mighty Prius and one asked me if I ‘biked much?” I said no, which is true, because I almost never take that rickety garage-sale contraption out of my garage, unless it’s to come here.

The rust on the chain tells the tale and could have answered the lad’s question before I ever did.

In the few hours I spent in the catch/release section, above the second bridge, two marvelous items happened: I spotted a pair of young foxes, and I caught a small trout on a size 16 hi-viz Parachute Adams after about 10 minutes casting to a shadowy hole.

Upon my return, I told my incredulous son I’d hooked up. I beamed, even as he questioned, “But, isn’t that pretty bad? Didn’t we used to hook up at least a dozen times up there.”

Yes, Will, yes, we did.

And that’s why I hope everyone who reads this will click this link and let the powers that be at the Angeles National Forest know your thoughts, for ANF is seeking public comments on a “Need to Change” analysis for the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. Trout Unlimited has launched a campaign to get fishers to comment before the comment period ends July 27.

Why is there a “need to change” recreational policies on the West Fork?  As the advocacy website Friends of the River explains the 44 miles of stream within the national monument are designated a “wild & scenic river.”

“The West, North and East Forks .. drain the largest watershed in the mountain range and provide thirsty downstream residents with clean drinking water. The West Fork National Scenic Bikeway Trail provides easy access to one of the few catch and release trout streams (bold added) in the region, while the upper West Fork is traversed by the Gabrieleno National Recreation Trail. The East Fork provides trail access to the Sheep Mountain Wilderness.”

As it stands, when you come upon the survey box at the beginning of the West Fork’s c/r area, it makes even the most obstinately optimistic fishers scratch their heads. I mean what kind of comment does a thinking person leave?

“Dear Ranger,

Fishing has plummeted on this wild & scenic river to levels probably never seen before. Help.

Sincerely,

A very concerned citizen and angler”

I’m not sure if the well-intentioned West Fork San Gabriel River Conservancy is still functioning, but much of its website dates to early 2014.

Anyway, to bone up on the problems this area faces from our 4 million brethren, there’s a load of information and reporting on the Internet, which means at least some of it is actually true.

The best way to refresh your political ire is to visit, yourself, put your $5-a-day Adventure Pass on your dashboard, bring your $47.01 valid fishing license, a few flies and a 2 weight. Grease up the chain on your aging bike, ride past the swimmers to the second bridge, and angle. This area is our area, and it is in desperate need of attention. At least, that’s what I’m writing to ANF.

See you on the river, Jim Burns