From: alra@governance.net
Subject: California Land Grab Deadline MONDAY!!

Land Rights Network
American Land Rights Association
PO Box 400 – Battle Ground, WA 98604
Phone: 360-687-3087 – Fax: 360-687-2973 – E-mail: alra@landrights.org
Web Address: http://www.landrights.org
Legislative Office: 507 Seward Square SE – Washington, DC 20003
Phone: 202-210-2357 – Fax: 202-543-7126 – E-mail: landrightsnet@aol.com

California Land Grab Deadline MONDAY!!

You can help save Don Fife from the Forest Service and the bureaucracy that has targeted him.  In the process, you can send a message that the grassroots WILL STANDUP for one person.

That is really important.   Lonely ranchers, miners, landowners, recreation advocates and lots of other kinds of users are confronted daily with threats and pressure from Federal land agencies.  

It is a lonely kind of battle.  The small landowners or operator against the government will all its money and legal support.

The bureaucrats say, “Sue Us” knowing most cannot afford to do so.  Power corrupts.

You, by responding to these e-mail messages, help build power for yourself and your allies in Congress and the Federal land agencies.  Eventually these bureaucrats will get the message that they cannot just deprive people of their property willy-nilly and have no fear of being held accountable.

The Don Fife issue is an opportunity for the grassroots to send a message that we will all stand together and fight for each other.  THE BUREAUCRACY WILL NOT CRUSH US.


To send comments, you must either fax or e-mail them by 4:30, Pacific Time.

It only has to be a letter on one page.  


CORRECT ADDRESS IS:   E-mail: seliason@fs.fed.us

*****NEW INFORMATION  -- ACTION ITEMS – add BLM to your e-mail list on this issue.  SEE BLM ADDRESSES BELOW.

> > >  >Your Immediate Attention Is Requested To These ACTION ITEMS:

-----1.  Call AND FAX Regional Forester Jack Blackwell.  He is the person who will make the decision about the future of  Don Fife’s Bright Star Quarry.  

Request Jack Blackwell to extend the comment period to the 90 days that others got in other withdrawals in the area.  Ask him to request a real Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).  The agency is only doing an Environmental Assessment on an issue affecting potentially billions of dollars, many workers and jobs and a huge amount of much needed economic activity.  This EA must be changed to a full EIS.  The withdrawal must be stopped.  Call him at (707) 562-9000.  His FAX number is (707) 562-9091.  His e-mail address is jblackwell@fs.fed.us       

Make sure you call Jack Blackwell and have as many others as possible do so also.  His phones must not stop ringing.  The same for his fax machine.  Even though e-mail is easier, send a fax.  

-----2.  Call and FAX Mark Rey, Assistant Secretary of Agriculture.  Request a full EIS to replace the skimpy Environmental Assessment.    He is the Bush Administration’s top official in dealing with the Forest Service.    His Phone number is (202) 720-7173.  His FAX number is (202) 720-0632.  

-----3.  Call and FAX Craig Manson, the Assistant Secretary of Interior in charge of the Fish and Wildlife Service to request a full EIS.  Phone:  (202) 208-5347.  FAX:  (202) 208-4684.

*****-----4.  BLM will be doing the process in the final aspects of the withdrawal.  It is unknown which if any, records the FS will include as part of the file it turns over to BLM.  BLM Desert District Manager Linda Hansen and State Director Mike Pool should receive copies of all "protests" and issues raised.
Copies should go to Mike Pool the BLM State Director at 2800 Cottage Way -1834, Sacramento, CA 95825.  You can e-mail them to tstead@ca.blm.gov att: Mike Pool.  
Linda Hansen, Linda_Hansen@ca.blm.gov the Desert District Manager should also get copies.   That is Linda underscore Hanson@ca.blm.gov

-----5.  Use the comment outline below to draft simple comments and get them in to the Forest Service quickly.  All you need to know is right there.  Please use the outline but put the comments in your own words.

The Withdrawal Notice was not published in Federal Register.  It was published in local papers.  


The whole controversy is based on a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity which  was settled with the Clinton Administration Forest Service in a sweetheart deal.  

The huge mineral withdrawal and lockdown in the San Bernardino National Forest was a result of this settlement and involved the Endangered Species Act (ESA). 

-----This case is about saving a small miner from the Forest Service bureaucracy.  The mineral withdrawal (by coincidence) spot zones almost exclusively the mineral discovery areas.  This must mean that the affected plants appear to grow better where there are ground disturbances.  Established science about these weeds indicates that is the case. That would seem to show that mining and human activity is good for these plants.    

-----Will the Bush Administration stand up for a small businessman who is not wealthy?

-----Will the grassroots allow the Forest Service to TARGET one individual.  By working together, you can keep this from happening.

-----It is about the willingness of the grassroots of America to stand up for one of their own.

This is really a chance for the grassroots throughout the country to let the Bush Administration know that small businessmen, families and communities throughout the country who are ordinarily picked off one by one by the Forest Service and other agencies can now expect help from all over the country.,

This is your chance to flex your muscles.  Don’t miss out.  Please follow through on the things we suggest below as ACTION ITEMS and know that you played a role in preventing Federal bureaucrats from running over local people.

The Forest Service  is carrying out a mineral withdrawal in California under the guise of saving endangered weeds and toads.  At risk are a number of small miners and billions of dollars in limestone other minerals, jobs, and economic activity in a huge, world class deposit.  It is an insider deal involving Clinton Administration Forest Service officials and the Center for Biological Diversity.

If we let the Forest Service get away with this, no small businessman will be safe from the Forest Service.  Their attitude is “if you don’t like this, sue us” knowing most small miners or businessmen don’t have the resources.



The San Bernardino N.F. in southern California is proposing to withdrawal from mineral entry a major portion of the Pacific Southwest's high-grade calcite limestone reserves including millions of tons classified and zoned by the State of California to protect it from incompatible land use or mineral withdrawals. 

This is the major source of calcite limestone (calcium carbonate) for petroleum-conserving filler-extenders that replace resin feed stocks in plastic, paints, rubber, putty, drywall, and other construction materials as well as having chemical and pharmaceuticals uses. Cement is 79% limestone. Each citizen uses 1,000 lbs. per year just to maintain our standard of living. It is also used in water and air pollution control.

Three existing mining companies were pressured into supporting the withdrawal by the USFS promise to exempt their permitted mining operations from the withdrawal. If the EA is approved, they would get a side benefit of the elimination of competition from small companies and individuals who own the greater part of the reserves in the proposed USFS withdrawal area. 

These mineral resources are needed to sustain the economy of the Pacific Southwest over the long term. The Desert Wilderness Act (S-21) that closed 10.6 million acres of the adjoining Mojave Desert has reduced the population of nearby Lucerne Valley by about 25%, or more than 2,000 inhabitants.

Ironically, this withdrawal does nothing to add to the protection of the ESA listed plants. They are already: 1) protected by their ESA listed status, 2) USFS surface regulations 36 CFR 228 subpart A, 3) USF&WS Critical Habitat Designation with a Carbonate Habitat Strategy (CHMS) plan in place. 

The Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife Services own Carbonate Habitat Management Strategy Report, Appendix D, dated April 29, 2003 admits that only about 5% (some 1,400 acres) of the 30,000 acres of carbonate habitat will have been disturbed in the next 75 years. About half of this is already disturbed from 50 years of mining. Reclamation will require habitat restoration of any new disturbance.

The NEW DEADLINE for comments on the EA is July 21, 2003. A copy of the EA can be obtained by calling Scott Eliason at the Mountain Top Range Station, Fawnskin, CA (909) 866-3437 his fax is 866-2867. E-mail: seliason@fs.fed.us

(Please put in your own words)
---1.  Under FLMPA a withdrawal of 5,000 acres or more requires Congressional Approval ------Therefore this is a Major Federal Action.  Any major federal action requires an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

---2.  Major impact to the human environment------When looking at San Bernardino County not much in Social-Economic Impact but when looking at local (Lucerne Valley) 500 jobs is a major impact.  

---3.  EA does not disclose that other methods of protecting the plants were given a proper evaluation.  The Forest Service Manual requires looking at other methods of protecting plants before designating a withdrawal.

------A.   Listing as endangered weeds and toads gives full protection under the ESA, the withdrawal is not necessary;

------B.   Designating the Critical Habitat gives special protection as defined in the ESA and the accompanying Regulations.  More reason the withdrawal is not necessary;

------C.  The implementation of the Carbonate Habitat Management Strategy give the Federal Government additional protection to the plants;    
------D.  The Surface Use Regulations 36 CFR 228 sub-part A require that Plans of operations provide protection to listed plants and animals prior to approval of the Plan of Operations;  and

------E.  The requirement of reclamation in surface disturbing activities was not given proper evaluation to assure that old habitat can be restored to support the plants.

---4.  By the Forests own admission only 5% of the identified habitat will be disturbed with or without the withdrawal.  Therefore the withdrawal does nothing to protect the habitat of the plants.

---5.  The EA is flawed in that it does not properly identify the withdrawal process.  It left out the major step of Congress.  It does not notify that the issue must go to Congress.

---6.  The whole process is beneficial to the large mining companies and is detrimental to small mining companies and individuals.  It flies in the face of Federal Policy to support small businesses and individuals.

---7.  Small miners in the area including Don Fife own reserves exceeding those owned by the three large mining companies who are giving in under duress.  They were bought off with the promise that they would not get critical habitat designated on or near their property.


The above referenced withdrawal encompasses 44,760 acres of highly valuable mineral lands in the San Bernardino National Forest of Southern California.  It constitutes a major federal action that will adversely affect the regional economy and the human environment.

The Federal Land Policy Management Act (FLPMA) requires congressional action for withdrawals of more than 5,000 acres.  The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires the Forest Service to incorporate local and state planning documents in Forest Service planning and land use actions involving minerals. The State Surface Mine Reclamation Act (SMARA) has a provision classifying and identifying economic mineral in order to preclude incompatible land use that would make these resources unavailable to society. The State Mining Board has transmitted these documents to the San Bernardino National Forest.  

The Forest Service's EA ignores this requirement, and is locking up millions of tons of valuable minerals.

Many impacted and interested parties did not receive the EA in time to make informed comments. The companion Mineral Report is a 169-page document prepared by Forest Service Geologist Raj Daniel. It was not made available for at least a week after the EA was reportedly published in the San Bernardino Sun on June 2, 2003.  

This Mineral Report can be requested from the Forest Service on CD.

Proposed 44,570-acre Weed and Toad Sanctuary: An Economic Disaster

San Bernardino Mountains, Southern CA…  San Bernardino Forest Supervisor Gene Zimmerman’s Requested Withdrawal Area1 (RWA) to create a “Refugia” of more than 44,570 acres in the northern San Bernardino Mountains is well under way with the publication of a 30-day notice on June 2, 2003 of an Environmental Assessment  (EA) or negative impact statement.  This region is already protected under existing Forest Service regulations and a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFS) Critical Habitat Designation.

Impact on listed species
Upon approval this Request would allow restriction of access to virtually twice the 44,570 acres with the inclusion of adjacent BLM lands.  Much of Johnson Valley has already been closed in the Bighorn Mountain Wilderness by the Feinstein/Boxer (S-21) Desert “Closure” Act of 1994.  

The E.A alleges that mining and public access must be stopped to save listed endangered toads (the Arroyo toad) and weeds, including the allegedly limestone endemic plants that “only” grow in the San Bernardino Mountains.  There are no peer-reviewed scientific papers supporting these plants as either limestone endemic or unique to the San Bernardino Mountains.  However, there is evidence that these plants are not limestone endemic and that both they and the toad have a wide distribution well outside the San Bernardino Mountains.

Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Gardens has grown the two most prominent of the listed plants, oval leaf buckwheat and Parish’s daisy in sandstone, potting mix and decomposed granite as well as weathered limestone.  It appears that they require only a granular, well-drained soil.  Botanists planted these two weeds on a fresh road cut in granite more than 10 years ago; they are currently thriving and have expanded in this granite habitat.

These plants are invader species that require open space, disturbed soils and/or wildland fire for habitat expansion.  We usually refer to these as weeds.  Birds spread the seeds up and down the western flyways between Canada and Mexico.  The SBNF botanists have only looked at the 30,000 acres of the National Forest underlain by limestone or carbonate rock. 

A real scientific study would require examining the remaining 790,000 acres of the SBNF underlain primarily by granite or granite-derived rocks.  There is little or no known mineral resources in the remaining 790,000 acres.  How convenient to have a plant or animal that only grows on valuable mineral resources.

The real reason for withdrawal
This closure isn’t just about expelling mining from the region; it is about closing roads and public access.  The Wildlands Project (see www.unesco.org/mab/mabicc/1996/implemt.htm and www.sovereignty.net) identifies much of this area as a human exclusion zone.  This is one of the hidden agendas behind these closures. Had it been known that the entire California Desert was placed in a UN Man and the Biosphere Zone (MAB) in 1974,2 S-21 the Feinstein/Boxer Desert “Closure” Act might well have been defeated.

Since 1860 much of Holcomb Valley has been disturbed by thousands of miners, loggers, ranchers and Boy Scouts.  A recently published study by Brown (1994) debunks the alleged threat from limestone mining, documenting that only 5% of the 30,000-acre limestone terrain will be disturbed in the next 75 years.3  Under current reclamation laws, these 1500 acres will be restored to productive habitat.

The proposed 25-acre “playground” for mineral collectors in Holcomb Valley is an insult.  Why would any claimholder give up his rights to a 20-acre mineral-bearing claim just to play in a sandbox with no exclusive privileges?  Why would any small miner/prospector give up his rights to explore with his family in a National Forest and allow himself to be restricted to this 25-acre sandbox?

Economic Impact 
By virtue of its size alone, the proposed action is a major Federal Action that requires an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).  The economic impact of withdrawing millions of tons of high quality limestone and calcium carbonate from mineral entry and production would result in significant socioeconomic impact to the area of concern.  This impact will occur through the loss of both new and existing jobs for the citizens of San Bernardino County.  Existing mines will be allowed to deplete their current reserves, and then the local mining industry will die a slow death.

The proposed action would significantly reduce the tax base of San Bernardino County.  The economic and social impacts will be felt beyond San Bernardino County.  

The trucking companies that haul the limestone products from the mines to the processing plants and beyond will feel the impact of the reduced production that would result from the implementation of this action.  

The drivers of these trucks and their families will feel the impact of the proposed action.  

The wholesalers of the limestone products would lose this domestic source of product, and would have to add increased transportation costs into their pricing. Each citizen consumes of 1,000 pounds of high-grade limestone per year to maintain our standard of living.

The builders and manufacturers in southern California would experience increased costs of materials as a result of this proposed action, requiring price increases reflected in the cost of services and leaving less to support current jobs.

Violation of SMARA and FLPMA
This withdrawal is a clear violation of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in that it ignores the requirement to implement state mineral zoning under the state Surface Mine and Reclamation Act (SMARA). 

The state has classified and zoned mineral deposits in the proposed closure area as important economic deposits to preclude them from incompatible land use that would exclude mining.  The proposed action is requires congressional approval and is substantial and has far-reaching effects on the human environment, thus requiring an EIS under NEPA. 

The BLM is working with the SBNF to make the closure even bigger…it may wind up being a defacto 160,000-acre closure with the BLM lands included.  Under the Federal Land Management Policy Act (FLPMA), any withdrawal of more than 5,000 acres must be approved by Congress.

Human Exclusion
RS-2477 was part of the 1866 mining law.  If they get rid of prospectors and mining claims, they can close the roads.  

Something the SBNF doesn’t want us to know is that most if not all the withdrawal on the north side of the San Bernardino Mountains inside the SBNF didn’t become part of the San Bernardino National Forest until President Calvin Coolidge made it so in 1925 by an executive order.  This means that the basic RS-2477 road network existed in this area before it became a National Forest in 1925 and cannot be closed.

We urge San Bernardino County Supervisors Postmus and Hansberger, whose districts are affected, to continue to claim RS-2477 rights-of-way (www.rs2477.com) in the areas of USFS and BLM closure areas. The County of San Bernardino also must oppose not only this but also any future USFS and BLM land and RS-2477 closures.  

Because of the Feinstein/Boxer Desert Wilderness Bill’s restriction of mining and OHV use in the California desert, the population has dropped by almost 2,000 persons in Lucerne Valley alone5; this represents a loss of ¼ to1/3 of the town’s population.  The SBNF/BLM’s proposed closure would have even more adverse impact on the larger community.

We don’t need this protection
This closure and withdrawal wouldn’t be needed even if the plants and toads were truly endangered, because overlaying this area is an “official critical habitat” to “protect” this toad and alleged limestone or carbonate endemic vegetation4.  Reading between the lines, it appears that even if all the listed plants or animals were delisted, we would be stuck with a “Refugia,” or defacto national park, or a USFS Scenic Area similar to the one Forest Supervisor  Eugene Zimmerman helped to create in the Mt. Hood National Forest along the Columbia Gorge in Oregon and Washington (see Ron Arnold’s “Trashing the Economy” p. 218).

$92,000,000 taken out of the economy
A SBNF plan, approved several years ago, brags about USFS generating about $8,000,000 (eight million dollars) per year to the local economy.  However, it fails to consider that limestone mining in the SBNF generates on the order of $300,000,000 (three hundred million dollars) per year to that same local economy.  For each mining job, 27 “downstream” jobs are created in the local economy.  With these jobs, there is more than $1,000,000,000 (one billion dollars) per year added to the regional economy.  

At a time when California is carrying a deficit of some $38,000,000,000 (thirty-eight billion dollars), taking these jobs as well as the corporate tax income from the economy just doesn’t make sense.  

We recommend the NO-ACTION ALTERNATIVE outlined in the RWA.  

Don Fife (714) 544-8406
       Fax: (714) 731-3745

(Type Don Fife on www.google.com)

1. A copy of Zimmerman’s EA for this RWA can be obtained by calling the SBNF Mountain Top Ranger Station in Fawnskin (909) 866-3437.  Wildland Conservation Biologist/Botanist Scott Eliason is in charge of the closure.

2 This document is available at Joshua Tree and Death Valley National Parks.

3.  SBNF’s Carbonate Habitat Management Strategy (CHMS), Appendix D, April 29, 2003 admits there is no threat from mining and confirms Brown’s 1994 figures.

4.	Ernie Gommel, Lucerne Valley Chamber of Commerce

5 See Mr. Fife’s article, “Law Gone Loco” posted at http://www.prfamerica.org/DonFifeIndex.html and also published in the Lucerne Valley Leader. 

Donald L. Fife
10500 Christenson Road
LucerneValley, California 92356                                    (760) 248-6583 (714) 544-8406
 e-mail: donfife@earthlink.net


A one page letter will do.


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