Protecting Berryessa Snow Mountain

 
Dec 16, 2014
By Jenesse Miller

This just in: another opportunity to speak up for permanently protecting California's public lands!

Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, will host a public meeting this Friday, December 19th (details and RSVP here), to discuss a proposed conservation area for the Berryessa Snow Mountain Region covering 350,000 acres of federal land in five Northern California counties. CLCV will be there alongside the many dedicated local, state, and national organizations working to protect the area in order to show our strong support.

According to the Woodland Daily Democrat:

The Berryessa Snow Mountain region stretches more than 100 miles from the lowlands of Putah Creek below Lake Berryessa, across remote stretches of Cache Creek, and up to the peak of Snow Mountain. It encompasses more than 350,000 acres across Napa, Mendocino, Lake, Solano and Yolo Counties. The area is rich in biodiversity, including bald and golden eagles, black bears, mountain lions, tule elk, and rare plants found nowhere else on Earth.

The Berryessa Snow Mountain region also includes numerous trails, open spaces, lakes and rivers. These resources provide recreation opportunities for hikers, bikers, hunters, campers, off-highway vehicle users, and both motorized and non-motorized boaters.

The public meeting will take place from 2 - 4 p.m. at the Napa Valley College Performing Arts Center. In attendance will be Thompson, Congressman John Garamendi, U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Robert Bonnie, and a representative for Senator Barbara Boxer. In addition to a panel discussion about the community's interest in protecting the area, public comments will be accepted.

If recent history is to be our guide, the high-level visit suggests the Obama administration is seriously considering protecting the area as a national monument under the Antiquities Act.

President Obama used his executive authority to permanently safeguard two major areas of wilderness in California this year. This past spring, Obama expanded the California Coastal National Monument to include the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands, and in October he designated 346,000 acres of public land in Southern California as the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument.

Rep. Thompson and fellow California members of Congress John Garamendi, Lynn Woolsey, and Jared Huffman have tried for years to get Congress to designate the area as a National Conservation Area. Last year, Thompson introduced House of Representatives Bill 1025, the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Conservation Area Act. Senator Barbara Boxer introduced a companion bill in the Senate, but Washington's notorious gridlock stopped the proposals in their tracks.

Thompson has since proposed that President Obama declare the area a national monument. He wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle:

"Despite bicameral support, the legislation has not been voted on in either the House or the Senate. If Congress will not act to protect this area, then President Obama should use his executive authority to designate the region as a national monument. Such action would achieve the goals of my legislation.

Under this designation, the region would be permanently protected, ensuring continued recreational opportunities while safeguarding the region’s beauty, wildlife, rare plants and waters — which include important sources of drinking water and irrigation for nearby communities.

Of course, national monument status would provide economic benefits to the region, too. A recent study found that increased visitation following a national monument designation would add up to $50 million in economic benefits for the local economy over a five-year period.

We hope to see you at the meeting, where we expect a huge show of support for protecting the area! And for more information about the Berryessa Snow Mountain Region, visit berryessasnowmountain.org.

 

 
 
 

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