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PRESS RELEASES

Lawsuit Threatened to Protect Imperiled Bull Trout from Airstrip Expansion in Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness: 8/5/14
State-Sponsored Wolf Killing Ends in Idaho: 1/27/14
Conservationists Ask Court to Halt Wolf Extermination in One of Nation's Premiere Wilderness Areas: 1/7/14
Wildernesses Along Northern Border at Risk From Border Security Measures: 3/15/13
Fish and Wildlife Service Denies Alaska’s Wolf Killing Plan: 3/11
Wilderness Watch Co-Hosts Wild & Scenic Film Festival: 10/10
Forever Wild: A Celebration of Wilderness with Walkin' Jim Stoltz: 3/10
Controversial Water Developments Fail to Attract Desert Bighorn in Kofa Wilderness: 9/09
Rod Nash, Author of Wilderness and the American Mind, Speaks in Hamilton September 19: 8/09
Wilderness Watch Files Legal Appeal to Protect Kofa Wilderness: 2/09

August 5, 2014

Contacts: George Nickas, Wilderness Watch, (406) 542-2048
Gary Macfarlane, Friends of the Clearwater (208) 882-9755

Lawsuit Threatened to Protect Imperiled Bull Trout from Airstrip Expansion in Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness

Moscow- Wilderness Watch and Friends of the Clearwater have filed a 60-day Notice of Intent (NOI) to sue the US Forest Service and the US Fish & Wildlife Service over the potential impacts to imperiled bull trout and other rare species from the planned expansion of the Fish Lake Airstrip in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness of the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests. Bull trout are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Canada lynx, also listed under the Endangered Species Act, is found in the project area.

Fish Lake contains the only known adfluvial population of bull trout in the Lochsa drainage and according to scientists, is threatened with extinction. Adfluvial fish live in lakes and migrate into rivers or streams to spawn. Fish Lake is also one of a small number of lakes in western U.S. Wildernesses that naturally harbored fish, making it one of the most unique bodies of water in the northern Rockies.

According to a recent scoping letter by the Forest Service, the agency intends on expanding the current airstrip at Fish Lake from 2745 feet to 3100 feet.

"Biologists with the US Fish & Wildlife Service have stated in the past that habitat degradation and increased fishing access to the lake from the existing airstrip already poses a significant threat to the small population," said Gary Macfarlane with Friends of the Clearwater. "It makes no sense to go ahead and expand the airstrip and threaten the species further."

"As required by law, the Forest Service is supposed to identify and study the potential impacts to threatened or endangered species that may be potentially effected within the project area," continued Macfarlane. "Instead of preparing a Biological Assessment, the agency indicated that the project is going to fall under a Categorical Exclusion, meaning no potential impacts would be studied."

The groups are equally concerned with impacts to the area's wilderness character.

"Protecting this unique, rare aquatic system in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness is more important than trying to facilitate more aircraft use," said George Nickas with Wilderness Watch. "The Forest Service needs to do an adequate analysis and ensure the Wilderness is protected before this project moves forward.

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State-Sponsored Wolf Killing Ends in Idaho
Faced with looming court challenge, Idaho halts unprecedented program

NEWS RELEASE: January 27, 2014

Contact:
Gary Macfarlane, Wilderness Watch (208) 882-9755
Tim Preso, Earthjustice, (406) 586-9699

Faced with a looming deadline to defend its actions before a federal appeals court, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) announced this afternoon that it is halting its wolf extermination program in the Middle Fork region of the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness as of today.

The announcement represents a stay of execution for the remaining wolves that constitute the Golden Creek and Monumental Creek wolf packs, which inhabit the Middle Fork region. To date, nine wolves from the two packs have been killed by IDFG's hired hunter-trapper, who entered the wilderness and began his wolf extermination program in mid-December. It is unknown how many wolves remain in the two packs.

"IDFG's hunter-trapper killed nine wolves and we are happy to report that the rest no longer face the same threat," said Earthjustice attorney Tim Preso. "We are sorry it took an emergency injunction request to the court of appeals to get Idaho to halt this illegal program, and we hope that the federal government in the future will take more seriously its public trust responsibility to protect the wilderness from state efforts to exterminate native wildlife."

IDFG's action comes in the midst of an emergency proceeding before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in which conservationists were seeking an injunction to halt the wolf extermination program. The conservationists, represented by Earthjustice, sued IDFG and the U.S. Forest Service earlier this month, arguing that the state wolf extermination program would degrade the largest forested wilderness in the lower-48 states. After a federal judge in Idaho rejected a request to stop the program on January 17, the conservationists took their fight to the court of appeals, where they filed an emergency request for an injunction on January 23.

IDFG is halting trapping in the Middle Fork starting today and the trapper will take a few days to remove traps and snares from the area. Additional trapping in the area will cease, at least through the end of the state fiscal year, which is June 30.

In mid-December 2013, IDFG hired a hunter-trapper to pack into central Idaho's 2.4-million-acre Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness to eradicate two wolf packs, the Golden and Monumental packs, in the interest of inflating elk populations for outfitters and recreational hunters. The U.S. Forest Service, which administers the wilderness, approved the extermination program by authorizing use of a Forest Service cabin and airstrip to support wolf extermination activities.

The region of the Frank Church Wilderness where IDFG's hunter-trapper was killing wolves is a remote area around Big Creek and the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Even though this region hosts one of the lightest densities of hunters in the state, IDFG prioritized elk production over protection of the area's wilderness character. The Forest Service failed to object to IDFG's plans and instead actively assisted them.

"This gives the Forest Service the opportunity to realize its mistake and never approve this kind of proposal again. The Forest Service is responsible for preserving wilderness character in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness and wild wolves and an integral part of Wilderness," stated Gary Macfarlane, Board member of Wilderness Watch.

Earthjustice represented long-time Idaho conservationist and wilderness advocate Ralph Maughan along with four conservation groups—Defenders of Wildlife, Western Watersheds Project, Wilderness Watch, and the Center for Biological Diversity—in the lawsuit challenging the wolf extermination program.

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Conservationists Ask Court to Halt Wolf Extermination in One of Nation's Premiere Wilderness Areas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jan. 7, 2014
 
Contact:
Gary Macfarlane, Wilderness Watch, 208-882-9755           
Jonathan Proctor, Defenders of Wildlife, 406-214-5327
Timothy Preso, Earthjustice, 406-586-9699
Ken Cole, Western Watersheds Project, 208-890-3666
 
POCATELLO, Idaho – A coalition of conservationists, represented by the non-profit environmental law firm Earthjustice, today asked a federal judge in Idaho to halt an unprecedented program by the U.S. Forest Service and Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) to exterminate two wolf packs deep within the largest forested wilderness area in the lower-48 states.
 
In mid-December 2013, IDFG hired a hunter-trapper to pack into central Idaho's 2.4-million-acre Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness to eradicate two wolf packs, the Golden and Monumental packs, in the interest of inflating elk populations for outfitters and recreational hunters.  The U.S. Forest Service, which administers the wilderness, approved the extermination program by authorizing use of a Forest Service cabin and airstrip to support wolf extermination activities.
 
"A wilderness is supposed to be a wild place governed by natural conditions, not an elk farm," said Earthjustice attorney Timothy Preso.  "Wolves are a key part of that wild nature and we are asking a judge to protect the wilderness by stopping the extermination of two wolf packs."
 
Earthjustice is representing long-time Idaho conservationist and wilderness advocate Ralph Maughan along with three conservation groups—Defenders of Wildlife, Western Watersheds Project, and Wilderness Watch—in a lawsuit challenging the wolf extermination program.  The conservationists argue that the U.S. Forest Service's approval and facilitation of the program violated the agency's duty to protect the wilderness character of the Frank Church Wilderness.  They have requested a court injunction to prohibit further implementation of the wolf extermination program until their case can be resolved.
 
"Idaho's program to eliminate two wolf packs from the Frank Church Wilderness Area for perceived benefits to elk hunting is just the most recent example of the state bending over backwards to accommodate the wishes of people who hate wolves," said Jonathan Proctor of Defenders of Wildlife.  "Wilderness areas are places for wildlife to remain as wild as is possible in today's modern world.  If Idaho's wildlife officials won't let wolves and elk interact naturally in the Frank Church Wilderness, then clearly they will allow it nowhere. The U.S. Forest Service must immediately prohibit the use of national forest wilderness areas for this hostile and shortsighted wolf eradication program."
 
The region of the Frank Church Wilderness where IDFG's hunter-trapper is killing wolves is a remote area around Big Creek and the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.  Even though this region hosts one of the lightest densities of hunters in the state, IDFG prioritized elk production over protection of the area's wilderness character.  The Forest Service failed to object to IDFG's plans and instead actively assisted them.
 
"As someone who has enjoyed watching members of the Golden Pack and spent time in the area where these wolves live, I am startled that IDFG thinks it is acceptable to kill them off.  If wolves can't live inside one of America's biggest wilderness areas without a government extermination program then where can they live?" asked Ken Cole of Western Watersheds Project. "The value of wilderness is not solely to provide outfitters elk to shoot," Cole added.
 
"The 1964 Wilderness Act requires the Forest Service to protect the wilderness character of the Frank Church Wilderness," added Gary Macfarlane of Wilderness Watch.  "By allowing Idaho to exterminate wolves in the Frank Church Wilderness and degrade that wilderness character, the Forest Service is violating the Wilderness Act."
 
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Wildernesses Along Northern Border at Risk From Border Security Measures
FOR RELEASE: March 15, 2013                                                                       
CONTACT: George Nickas:  406-542-2048, or 406-531-2355 or Kevin Proescholdt: 612-201-9266
 
 A report released today by Wilderness Watch, a national wilderness conservation organization, warns that 73 U.S. Wildernesses in 12 states covering more than 32 million acres are threatened by border security measures along the Northern Border with Canada.  The threatened areas stretch from Maine in the east, westward to Minnesota and Montana, on to Washington on the west coast, and north to Alaska.  The 22-page paper, "Wilderness in Peril: Border Security Measures Threaten Wilderness Along the Northern Border with Canada," may be downloaded from Wilderness Watch at: http://www.wildernesswatch.org/pdf/Wilderness_Watch_Northern_Border_Paper.pdf.

"Wilderness in Peril" documents threats from a variety of sources, including legislation sponsored by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) and passed by the House of Representatives, which would waive federal laws within 100 miles of both the Northern Border as well as the border with Mexico.  But flying under the radar, and potentially having far greater impact, are actions by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its agencies like Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Border Patrol.  These agencies are seeking to replicate much of the infrastructure, construction, and motorized patrols used on the border with Mexico to the Northern Border via a 2012 Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS), and a flawed 2006 inter-agency Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that allows damage to Wildernesses along the Northern Border.

Even more insidiously, under existing law the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security can unilaterally waive any law he or she so chooses, with no prior consultation with Congress or the federal land-management agencies and with no ability for citizens to seek recourse in the courts.  "Congress should never have put so much power in the hands of a single, unelected bureaucrat," said George Nickas, executive director of Wilderness Watch, "and it's imperative that it put that power back in the hands of elected officials and the public process where it belongs."  Former DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff waived dozens of federal laws like the 1964 Wilderness Act in 2008 along the border with Mexico using this authority.  "Wilderness in Peril" documents damage to Wildernesses by border security measures along that border.

Wilderness Watch believes that our nation must protect our Wildernesses along the Northern Border, and that this can be done while still keeping our country safe.  The new paper suggests several ways that this goal can be accomplished.  "We must repeal the dictatorial power of the Secretary of DHS to unilaterally waive federal laws," said Kevin Proescholdt, Wilderness Watch's conservation director.  "We must correct the flaws in the 2006 MOU, revise DHS's Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for the Northern Border to safeguard Wilderness, defeat pending legislation like the Bishop Border Bill that would harm Wilderness, and restore wilderness protection to the national priority it deserves and formerly enjoyed."

The threatened Wildernesses within 100 miles of the Canadian border include some of Americaʼs most well-known and loved Wilderness areas: the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota, Montanaʼs Bob Marshall Wilderness, the Olympic Wilderness and North Cascades National Park's Stephen Mather Wilderness in Washington state, and iconic Alaskan Wildernesses like those in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Glacier Bay National Park, and Misty Fjords National Monument.

"Wilderness in Peril: Border Security Measures Threaten Wilderness Along the Northern Border with Canada" can be downloaded at: http://www.wildernesswatch.org/pdf/Wilderness_Watch_Northern_Border_Paper.pdf.
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Fish and Wildlife Service Denies Alaska’s Wolf Killing Plan

Wilderness Watch NEWS RELEASE
For immediate release: March 9, 2011
Contact:
Fran Mauer, Alaska Chapter Chair, Wilderness Watch, (907) 455-6829
Kevin Proescholdt, Board of Directors, Wilderness Watch, (651) 649-1446

Fish and Wildlife Service Denies Alaska’s Wolf Killing Plan

Service cites public opposition and re-evaluation of Refuge laws in reaching its decision.

In a move lauded by Wilderness Watch and other conservation groups, the US Fish and Wildlife Service
(FWS) has decided to deny the State of Alaska’s proposal to shoot and kill adult wolves from the air and gas pups in their dens on Unimak Island. Part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, Unimak lies just off the tip of the Alaska Peninsula and is the largest and easternmost island of the Aleutian island chain. It’s home to waterfowl and shorebirds, brown bears, caribou, wolves, and wolverines. Ninety three percent (910,000 acres) is Wilderness.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service has made the right decision for the Unimak Wilderness. This predator
control plan would have violated the most fundamental principles of the Wilderness Act by allowing human intervention of the natural processes at work in the Unimak. And, it would have set a terrible precedent for predator control on National Wildlife Refuges and designated Wilderness elsewhere in Alaska,” said Fran Mauer, Alaska Chapter Chair for Wilderness Watch.

The FWS’s environmental assessment (EA) states the purpose for killing wolves on Unimak Island is to
increase the number of caribou for subsistence hunting. The caribou population has declined recently, but causes for the decline are not known, with caribou numbers on the island having significantly fluctuated in the past. According to subsistence studies, local hunters primarily hunt caribou from the nearby Southern Alaska Peninsula herd.

“Killing wolves to attempt to artificially boost caribou numbers is completely unacceptable in a National
Wildlife Refuge Wilderness. The goal of increasing caribou numbers for subsistence hunting is at odds with the reality that subsistence hunters don’t hunt here. All caribou killed in the past decade were killed by nonlocal and non-resident hunters, most of whom were commercially guided trophy hunters,” said Kevin Proescholdt, a Wilderness Watch Board member.

The Fish and Wildlife Service cited public opposition (95,000 people commented on the EA) and a reevaluation of applicable Refuge laws, regulations and policies as guiding its final decision to adopt the “No Action Alternative,” which was supported by Wilderness Watch. Citizens commented that the proposal violates the Wilderness Act and other federal laws and that the EA is inadequate. The decision memo states FWS’s initial inclination was to approve the State’s proposal. However, the agency concluded that killing wolves would negatively impact natural diversity and wilderness character, two purposes of the Refuge, and far outweigh the potential benefit of possible future subsistence hunting, a third purpose of the Refuge. The FWS also recognized that the use of helicopters would degrade wilderness character.

There's just one catch, however. Alaska has the option of translocating bull caribou to Unimak Island from the Southern Alaska Peninsula, pursuant to a permit issued in May 2010. Any such action, unfortunately, would still result in a manipulation of wilderness character and have impacts to natural diversity. The Fish and Wildlife Service approved this permit with a Categorical Exclusion, and it remains valid through 2012. This exception aside, Wilderness Watch applauds the agency's selection of the no action alternative here and its resulting preservation of the wilderness character of Unimak Island.
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Wilderness Watch and the Sustainable Business Council Team Up To Sponsor the 3rd Annual Wild & Scenic Film Fest
Wilderness Watch NEWS RELEASE
For immediate release: October 22, 2010
Contact:
Jeff Smith or Dawn Serra, at 542-2048

Wilderness Watch and the Sustainable Business Council Team Up To Sponsor the 3rd Annual Wild & Scenic Film Fest
Missoula, MT: Wilderness Watch is partnering with Missoula’s Sustainable Business Council to host the
third annual WILD AND SCENIC FILM FESTIVAL on December 2, 7 P.M., at the Wilma Theater in downtown Missoula. Tickets are $10 (students 2-for-1), available at Rockin’Rudy’s, the Trailhead, and Green Light and on-line at www.wildernesswatch.org.

This year’s line-up of eight award-winning films promises lots of insight, adventure, and inspiration. Plus a spirited welcoming from Howie Wolke, wilderness outfitter, writer, and activist, and a visit from Holly Schroeder, a Missoula producer.

The Festival will feature a film by Annie Leonard, “The Story of Cap and Trade.” Two years ago her film, “The Story of Stuff,” caused a flap for a local high school teacher when she showed it to her class. Leonard’s new film takes on a climate-change strategy that failed to pass Congress this year even though it was favored by both Wall Street bankers and Washington D.C.-based environmental groups.

This year’s Festival also includes Missoula residents, Schroeder and Jane Grochowski’s film, “Big Rigs,” about the planned industrial transportation corridor through Missoula, a documentary on the endangered upper Flathead Basin, a film about climbing the Vindhya Mountains in India, and “Split Estate,” which won an Emmy Award this year and tells stories about what happens in the West when energy companies own the mineral rights beneath the land.

Another feature, “No Impact Man,” shows how a couple with a toddler learn to practice what they preach … no electricity, only local food, no garbage-making, no throw-aways, and no fossil-fueled taxis or elevators … in the middle of New York City. Behind the scenes, they are addressing a philosophical conundrum: Does change come first to those who join a movement or to those who nurture change within themselves?

Wilderness Watch is a national environmental organization based in Missoula for the last 21 years. We strive for proper stewardship of designated wilderness areas through citizen oversight, education, and continual monitoring of federal managers. The Sustainable Business Council (SBC) supports more than 230 businesses that pursue environmentally sustainable practices while enhancing their economic viability. Local sponsors include the Trailhead, the Good Food Store, the Green Light, ClearSky Climate Solutions, KECI TV, and The Trail 103.3. This event is certified carbon-neutral.
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“Forever Wild”: A Celebration of Wilderness

Wilderness Watch NEWS RELEASE
For immediate release: 2/5/2010
Contact:
Dawn Serra, dserra@wildernesswatch.org/406.542.2048

“Forever Wild”: A Celebration of Wilderness
Missoula, MT: Unique American folksinger and backcountry traveler Walkin' Jim Stoltz will bring his powerful multi-media show, “Forever Wild,” to Missoula’s Stensrud Building, 314 North 1st Street, on Saturday, March 6, 2010. A social hour begins at 6 p.m.; the program starts at 7 p.m. The mix of stunning photography, stories, and music makes this one-of-a-kind concert an inspiring journey into our nation’s last wilderness areas.

Walkin' Jim, a veteran performer of more than 30 years, gets his name from the nearly 27,000 miles he has walked through the wild country of North America. Carrying a guitar and writing his songs along the way, his lyrics express a great love and respect for the Earth and the wild places he knows so well. Known for his powerful baritone and emotion-packed vocals, Stoltz’s “Forever Wild” show is much more than a concert. It combines live music and poetry with stunning, multi-image slides to create a stirring
celebration of the natural world. In this year’s show, he will share images and songs from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, his Yellowstone to Yukon walk, the Utah canyon country, the Northern Rockies, and wild places all across America.

Walkin' Jim has toured extensively throughout the U.S. for the past 23 years. In 2006 he organized a 45-state outreach tour with other musicians and authors, and worked with hundreds of community organizations to gain support for clean water, roadless lands, and wildlife. Jim has been presented with the Environmental Protection Agency's Outstanding Achievement Award for his advocacy of nature and wilderness across America. Stoltz will have copies of his recent book, “Walking With the Wild Wind” to
sign at the event. His songs from nine different CDs get regular airplay on National Public Radio and will also be available. Visit his website at www.walkinjim.com

The concert is free and open to the public. This event is a benefit for the Last Best Place Wildlands Campaign (LBPWC), with beer sales going to support the cause and donations gratefully accepted. The LBPWC is a coalition of conservation organizations and citizens dedicated to wildlands protection, forest restoration, and the sound long-term management of America’s public lands legacy. Come celebrate the wild spirit of our public lands, and learn why Senator Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act fails to
protect them.

"Jim Stoltz is a music man of exuberance and passion, with more to say in one song than Frank Sinatra
ever managed in a whole bloody concert." -- Edward Abbey
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Controversial Water Developments Fail to Attract Desert Bighorn in Kofa Wilderness
Wilderness Watch • Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility • Sierra Club - Grand Canyon Chapter NEWS RELEASE
For immediate Release: September 15, 2009
Contact:
George Nickas, Executive Director, Wilderness Watch, (406) 542-2048
Sandy Bahr, Chapter Director, Sierra Club - Grand Canyon Chapter, (602) 253-8633
Ron Kearns, Retired Kofa Wildlife Biologist, (928) 916-9682

Controversial Water Developments Fail to Attract Desert Bighorn in Kofa Wilderness
Phoenix, AZ: Remote cameras installed to detect bighorn sheep use at two controversial man-made water developments constructed in the Kofa Wilderness in 2007 suggest the tanks have completely failed to provide water for bighorns. The cameras, installed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) at the McPherson and Yaqui Tanks, captured photos of mule deer, hawks, doves, vultures, coyotes and bobcats, but not a single bighorn drinking from the tanks in the two years since their construction.

“Building these artificial water developments in an attempt to artificially inflate bighorn sheep numbers was contrary to preserving the area as wilderness,” stated George Nickas, Executive Director of Wilderness Watch. “We’ve felt all along that the project was wrong from both a legal and ecological standpoint. The camera data bear that out and they completely undermine the USFWS’ argument that the tanks are necessary in Wilderness.”

A coalition of local and national conservation groups, including Wilderness Watch, the Sierra Club, and the Arizona Wilderness Coalition, filed a lawsuit in June 2007 after learning the USFWS had constructed one 13,000-gallon tank within the Kofa Wilderness and was planning to install a second. In 2008, the District Court in Phoenix ruled in favor of the USFWS. The conservation groups have appealed that decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

“The agencies have failed to demonstrate that, despite many years of constructing artificial water
catchments, these catchments do anything to help the bighorn sheep,” said Sandy Bahr, Chapter Director for the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter. “They violated the laws that protect wilderness and provide for transparency in the public process all to build tanks that the sheep don’t use. We want to ensure that both the federal and state agencies are taking actions that have had public review and comment opportunity and that are truly in the best interest of wildlife, wilderness, and the greater public.”

The Arizona Game and Fish Department’s (AGFD) McPherson Tank Habitat Enhancement and Wildlife
Management Proposal lists species to benefit as: bighorn sheep 90% and mule deer 10%. AGFD’s website also lists both the McPherson Tank and the Yaqui Tank in a table of “waters considered to be critical to bighorn sheep, based on their locations in sheep habitat and documentation of sheep use from waterhole counts, aerial surveys, and remote cameras.” The data, however, clearly fail to support the Department and Service’s claims.

“Bighorn avoidance of these tanks is part of a disturbing failure of Arizona Game and Fish and the US Fish and Wildlife Service to understand critical needs of bighorn on the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge," said ecologist Daniel Patterson, Southwest Director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. Patterson is also an Arizona hunter.

“These waterholes were clearly constructed for desert mule deer as any wildlife biologist or hunter familiar with bighorn habitat would understand a priori,” stated retired Kofa biologist Ron Kearns. “McPherson Tank—especially—will artificially inflate mule deer populations that will likely compete for limited forage and finite freestanding water resources where their extensive home ranges overlap with the more restrictive ranges of Kofa bighorn. Importantly, this waterhole could help extend the home ranges and increase densities of mountain lions, while serving as a localized ‘prey trap’ for all predators.”

Congress designated the nearly 550,000-acre Kofa Wilderness in 1990. The Wilderness comprises more
than 80 percent of the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in
1939 as the Kofa Game Range.

Following a decline in the desert bighorn sheep population in 2006, the US Fish & Wildlife Service
(USFWS) issued a Categorical Exclusion (CE) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to
construct the tanks. The agency provided no public notice of—or opportunity to comment on—the CE or
the decision to construct the tanks. AGFD and the Yuma Valley Rod and Gun Club partnered with the
USFWS in the building the tanks.

The conservation groups are asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to find that
construction of the tanks violated the Wilderness Act by harming the area’s wilderness character and
violating the Act’s prohibition on structures, installations and the use of motor vehicles. The groups also
allege the USFWS violated NEPA by failing to give public notice of, or prepare a public analysis of, the
environmental impacts of building the two tanks. The lawsuit asks the court to reverse the district court’s decision, vacate the USFWS decision to build the water development structures, and order their removal by non-mechanized means.

Wilderness Watch obtained the camera data through two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
The data included more than 650 photos taken at the McPherson Tank between October 2007 and July
2009 and more than 3,500 images taken at the Yaqui Tank from March through July 2009.
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Rod Nash, Author of Wilderness and the American Mind, Speaks in Hamilton September 19
Wilderness Watch NEWS RELEASE: August 26, 2009
Contact:
Jeff Smith 542-2048, x1

Rod Nash, Author of Wilderness and the American Mind, Speaks in Hamilton September 19
Hamilton, MT: Roderick Nash, Ph.D., author of Wilderness and the American Mind, will speak at the Civic Auditorium in Hamilton at 7 P.M. September 19. The title of his speech is “The Meaning of Wilderness and the Rights of Nature.”

Now in its fourth edition and 25th printing, Wilderness and the American Mind is Yale University Press’s all-time bestseller. MacMillian Publishing has called it the sixth most important book on the environment (Thoreau’s Walden is number five), and Outside Magazine named it one of the “Ten Books That Changed Our World.”

Nash’s book chronicles the 180-degree shift in America’s perceptions of nature, from the first settlers’ determination to “break the will” of all wildlands, to the first stirrings of appreciation of wilderness by mid-19th century landscape painters and writers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, to the great charismatic conservationists such as John Muir, Aldo Leopold, and Bob Marshall, whose activism culminated in the Wilderness Act. After eight years of hearings and debate and 65 rewrites, Congress passed the Wilderness Act in 1964 with one dissenting vote in the House and only 12 in the Senate.
Nash puts the book in context this way, “We always thought of growth as synonymous with progress but maybe bigger is not better if it creates a civilization that is unsustainable.”

The author of nine other books and over 150 essays, Nash is now retired after 30 years as history professor and founder of the environmental studies program at the University of California at Santa Barbara. He’s not your stereotypical academic but an outdoorsman and adventurer of considerable accomplishment: He’s a whitewater-rafted more than 40,000 river miles, including more than 50 runs through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River and numerous “first descents” on rivers in Alaska, California, and Peru. In his boat, “Forevergreen,” he’s explored the Pacific Coast from Mexico’s Sea of Cortez to Glacier Bay in Alaska. And he’s a life-long Powder Hound, who skis the highest reaches of the
Colorado Rockies from his home in Crested Butte.

Wilderness and the American Mind is a classic and is routinely required reading in college courses throughout the country. Harvard biologist and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Edward O. Wilson has said, “Americans in particular need this historical perspective to come to grips with their relation to nature and hence to the whole world.” Earth First! founder Dave Forman calls the book “a must-read for anyone who wants to understand wilderness” and “a peerless work and irreplaceable for everyone who cares for nature.”

Wilderness Watch, a national environmental organization located in Missoula, is celebrating the 45th anniversary of the signing of the Wilderness Act by sponsoring Nash’s talk. Wilderness Watch is America`s leading citizens` voice for protecting and ensuring the proper stewardship of our nation's Wilderness and Wild Rivers. Its website is www.wildernesswatch.org

The success of the wilderness idea continued earlier this year when Congress passed the Omnibus Wilderness Bill. In 1964, the U.S. National Wilderness Preservation System started out with nine million acres and now numbers nearly 110 million acres. There are wilderness areas in all but six states, 756 in all, with 3.4 million acres in 15 Montana wilderness areas.
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Conservation Groups Take Action to Protect Kofa Wilderness
Wilderness Watch • Arizona Wilderness Coalition• Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club • Grand Canyon Wildlands Council • Western Watersheds Project NEWS RELEASE
For immediate Release: February 18, 2009
Contact:
George Nickas, Executive Director, Wilderness Watch, (406) 542-2048
Kevin Gaither-Banchoff, Executive Director, Arizona Wilderness Coalition, (520) 326-4300
Sandy Bahr, Chapter Director, Sierra Club – Grand Canyon Chapter (602) 253-8633

Conservation Groups Take Action to Protect Kofa Wilderness
Construction of artificial water tanks violates the Wilderness Act

Phoenix, AZ: A coalition of local and national conservation groups, including Wilderness Watch, Arizona Wilderness Coalition, Grand Canyon Wildlands Council, Western Watersheds Project, and Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club, filed an appeal of the US District Court of Arizona’s ruling in favor of a US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) decision to construct water developments, called “guzzlers,” in the Kofa Wilderness. Conservation groups had filed a lawsuit in June of 2007 after learning that the USFWS had constructed a 13,000-gallon guzzler within the Kofa Wilderness and was planning to install another similar structure.

“Wilderness is a place where natural processes are allowed to operate without human interference, and
where motor vehicles and permanent structures are banned,” stated George Nickas, Executive Director of Wilderness Watch. “Constructing artificial water developments in an attempt to artificially inflate bighorn sheep numbers is contrary to preserving the area as wilderness. In doing so, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has clearly violated the Wilderness Act.”

Congress designated the 516,000-acre Kofa Wilderness in 1990. The Wilderness comprises more than 80 percent of the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, which was established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939 as the Kofa Game Range. The Refuge is home to such native wildlife as the desert tortoise, whitewinged dove, mountain lion, mule deer, and desert bighorn sheep.

Following a decline in the desert bighorn population in 2006, the USFWS issued a Categorical Exclusion
(CE) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to construct the guzzlers. The agency provided
no public notice of–or opportunity to comment on–the CE or the decision to construct the guzzlers.
Arizona Game and Fish and the Yuma Valley Rod and Gun Club partnered with the USFWS in the building the guzzlers. In 2008, the District Court in Phoenix ruled in favor of the USFWS. The court concluded that the USFWS appropriately balanced its refuge management goals with its responsibilities under the Wilderness Act. The ruling contrasts with other courts that have held the agency cannot compromise an area’s wilderness character when conducting its other refuge programs.

“Wilderness is a place for everyone to enjoy, including hunters,” said Kevin Gaither-Banchoff, Executive
Director for the statewide-focused Arizona Wilderness Coalition. “But this decision ignores the letter and
spirit of two historic environmental laws. The National Environmental Policy Act is meant to hold agencies accountable to the public for their actions, but this illogical ruling essentially says it’s okay to put our public resources into the hands of private interest groups.”

“The Kofa Wilderness is an amazing area with diverse species of plants and animals that thrive under the protection afforded by wilderness,” said Sandy Bahr of the Sierra Club. “The Wilderness Act gives these lands greater statutory and practical protection. The conclusion of the district court judge in this case–that the Refuge’s management guidelines trump the Wilderness Act–weakens those protections and undercuts this critical act.”

The conservation groups are asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to find that the action
of the USFWS violated the Wilderness Act in that:
1) The water developments fail to preserve the wilderness character of the Kofa Wilderness, as the
artificial structures alter wildlife species distribution and the area’s natural hydrology
2) The water developments violate the Wilderness Act’s prohibition against structures, installations,
and the use of motor vehicles; and
3) The USFWS violated NEPA by failing to give public notice of, or prepare a public analysis of, the
environmental impacts of building the two water development structures.
The lawsuit asks the Court of Appeals to reverse the district court’s decision, vacate the USFWS’s decision
to build the new water development structures, and order their removal by non-mechanized means.
The plaintiffs are represented by Peter M.K. Frost of Western Environmental Law Center, and Erik Ryberg, a Tucson, Arizona-based attorney.
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