Action Alert Archives
March 25, 2009
California Wilderness Coalition Applauds Passage
Of Historic Public Lands Bill
California Wilderness Coalition celebrates long-fought victory to preserve California’s precious wild lands and rivers. The U.S. House overwhelmingly passed today a major public lands protection act that will preserve some 700,000 acres of wild lands and 108 miles of Wild and Scenic rivers in the Golden State.
"We are thrilled that this long process has ended in victory" said Barbara Hill, executive director of the California Wilderness Coalition. “Today’s challenging economic times seems to reinforce the public’s desire to protect wild public lands and the solace they provide.”
The California Wilderness Coalition has worked since 2001 to win passage of the California Wild Heritage Preservation Act to protect areas in H.R. 146 and other threatened wild landscapes in California.
“We are grateful for the leadership of the California Congressional members who never gave up even when facing formidable opposition from special interests,” said CWC Policy Director Ryan Henson.Henson has played a pivotal role in the process from the beginning, helping to craft bill language and address the concerns of diverse constituencies.
The California areas to be protected are in Riverside County, the Eastern Sierra and Northern San Gabriel Mountains and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. The Riverside and Sequoia-Kings Canyon bills passed the House of Representatives during the last Congress, and the Eastern Sierra/San Gabriel bill was approved by a key Senate committee last fall.
The measure also would authorize $88 million in funding to launch an ambitious effort to restore the San Joaquin River, which has been drained for decades to supply Central Valley farms. More water would be left in the river, and populations of spring-run Chinook salmon would be returned under terms of a legal settlement in a long-running environmental battle over the river.
California Congressional leader Senator Barbara Boxer worked diligently with Congressman Howard "Buck" McKeon (R-Santa Clarita), Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack (R-Palm Springs), and Congressmen Jim Costa (D-Fresno) and Devin Nunes (R-Visalia) to introduce these bills. Senator Diane Feinstein has also cosponsored all three bills.
Key bill measures include:
- The California Desert and Mountain Heritage Act will protect approximately 190,000 acres of pristine and ecologically sensitive land in Riverside County as wilderness, including parts of Joshua Tree National Park, and four wild and scenic rivers totaling 31 miles.
- The Eastern Sierra and Northern San Gabriel Wild Heritage Act will preserve nearly 450,000 acres of wilderness and four wild and scenic rivers totaling 73 miles near Santa Clarita and in the magnificent Eastern Sierra, including the White Mountains.
- Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Wilderness Act of 2008 will protect close to 70,000 acres of wilderness, including the new John Krebs Wilderness, named for the former Congressman and conservationist who worked to protect these lands in the Mineral King Valley.