Senate bill would establish N. Calif. conservation area
Written byJESSICA ESTEPA, Greenwire
Senate legislation that would designate as a national conservation area 319,000 acres of federal land in Northern California was introduced yesterday by Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).
The bill, S. 3375, is aimed at protecting and promoting the Berryessa Snow Mountain region in Lake, Mendocino, Napa and Yolo counties, Boxer said.
The area that includes Putah Creek, Lake Berryessa and Snow Mountain is ideal for hiking, camping, rafting and horseback riding, Boxer said on the Senate floor. The region, she added, is also home to diverse wildlife, including black bears and bald eagles.
"By unifying these individual places under one banner, my bill helps put the Berryessa Snow Mountain region on the map as a destination for new visitors," she said. "This region is one of the most biologically diverse yet least-known regions in California."
Identical House legislation, H.R. 5545, was introduced by California Democratic Reps. Mike Thompson, John Garamendi and Lynn Woolsey in May.
"The Berryessa Snow Mountain region is a unique national treasure and we have a responsibility to preserve it for our kids and grandkids," Thompson said in a statement. "Designating the region as a National Conservation Area will preserve the land, help our local economies and protect a wide variety of plants and animals. This is the right way forward for the region and our communities."
The designation will require the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation and the Forest Service to develop a multi-agency management plan for the area. This would allow the agencies to take a more coordinated approach to preventing and fighting wildfires, combating invasive species and water pollution, and stopping the spread of illegal marijuana growth, Boxer said.
The measure also creates a public advisory committee, which the bill's promoters say would encourage community input on resource management.
The proposal has support from several regional, state and national groups. Lake and Napa counties and the city councils of Winters, Davis, Clearlake, Calistoga and St. Helena have passed resolutions in support of the conservation area designation.
"Protecting Berryessa Snow Mountain is a win for California's land, water, people and economy," the Wilderness Society's Paul Spitler said in a statement.