Congressman Elton Gallegly (R-CA 24) introduces recreation and land
for Santa Barbara and Ventura counties
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 29 , 2012
CONTACT: Laurel Williams, (O) 626-298-6424, (M) 909-260-8833, firstname.lastname@example.org
Washington, DC - Republican Representative Elton Gallegly who serves California's 24th Congressional District introduced legislation today that would protect many important wild places in the Los Padres National Forest (LPNF) in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.
The "Los Padres Conservation and Recreation Act of 2012" (LPCRA) proposes to protect over 63,000 acres (over 98 square-miles) of the LPNF as legally-designated wilderness. Once an area is designated as wilderness, it cannot be opened to road construction, oil drilling, logging or other forms of development, though people can still visit the area to hike, camp, fish, ride horses, hunt and enjoy other low-impact forms of recreation. The Forest Service is also still allowed to fight fires in wilderness areas and to conduct law enforcement and search and rescue operations. Representative Gallegly's bill would expand the existing Dick Smith Wilderness, Matilija Wilderness and Sespe Wilderness in the LPNF. It would also provide special protection for the Condor Ridge area that rises dramatically above the Gaviota Coast.
The LPCRA also proposes to protect upper Piru Creek, upper Sespe Creek, Mono Creek and Indian Creek as "wild and scenic rivers." When Congress designates a stream as a wild and scenic river, the watercourse cannot be dammed and the government-owned land along its banks must be protected to a significant degree.
"We're thrilled!" said Laurel Williams of the California Wilderness Coalition. "We're so grateful for all of the effort Mr. Gallegly and his staff have put into crafting this bill. These areas are wonderful places to hike, camp, and if you're lucky, you might even see a California Condor!"
While the California Wilderness Coalition enthusiastically supports Representative Gallegly's efforts to protect wilderness and wild rivers in the LPNF, there are some elements of the bill that we would like to see changed, including a proposal to build three new vehicle routes in the National Forest and a provision that would open six existing roads to various types of vehicles (for example, it would open some roads to public vehicles that are currently only open to the Forest Service for firefighting and other administrative purposes). "We look forward to working with Congressman Gallegly to resolve these concerns as the bill makes its way through Congress." Williams added.
The areas proposed for protection in the bill include some of the most ecologically and socially valuable places in the LPNF. These lands encompass expansive grasslands, chaparral covered slopes, rolling badlands, high elevation mountains, and deep, winding river canyons. Endangered Condors make their home here and unique plants like the Santa Ynez false-lupine exist here and nowhere else on earth.
The forest provides habitat for 468 species of wildlife and over 1,200 plant species, including over 90 species at risk of extinction, more than any other national forest in the state. Other critters residing in the forest include the San Joaquin kit fox, southern steelhead, Smith's blue butterfly, California spotted owl, bald eagle, California red-legged frog, arroyo toad, and California jewelflower. The forest is also the focus of efforts to reintroduce the California condor, one of the world's most endangered animals.
FEINSTEIN BILL TO PROTECT CALIFORNIA'S SPECTACULAR DESERT HERITAGE FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS- 1/25/2011
(Upland, CA) Senator Feinstein's office announced today the reintroduction of the California Desert Protection Act. The bill will increase protection of 1.6 million acres of desert landscapes that are important ecologically, culturally, and economically.
The California Desert Protection Act (CDPA) of 2011 will expand Joshua Tree and Death Valley National Parks, as well as the Mojave National Preserve; create two new national monuments (the Mojave Trails and Sand to Snow); designate 394,807 acres of wilderness; and protect important water sources as Wild and Scenic Rivers.
“Senator Feinstein has shown a tremendous commitment to both her legacy, and the legacy of California's desert, by reintroducing the CDPA,” says Monica Argandoña, the California Wilderness Coalition's (CWC) Southern California Conservation Director. The bill has a broad-base of local support and a diversity of stakeholders. “People come from all over the world to visit places like Death Valley, Joshua Tree, and the surrounding desert,” says Argandoña, “and the local communities that we work with have shown their support for the desert bill. Now it's time to make sure these places are permanently protected.”
About three million people visit California's desert each year. According to federal land managers (the Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service, and National Park Service) outdoor recreationists spend about $230 million a year while visiting the region. “More protection for this unique landscape translates directly into stronger rural economies,” Argandoña says.
Besides the classic threats to the desert landscape like mining, irresponsible off-road vehicle use, and the chronic nibbling of sprawl; the desert faces new stresses like climate change and the rapid growth of energy projects. “California's desert is sometimes seen as some kind of wasteland,” says Ryan Henson, CWC's Senior Conservation Director, “And so we find that rural communities are almost constantly defending their backyards from some kind of threat. But the reality is that California's desert contains a degree of ecological and cultural diversity that can only be found there. It's irreplaceable really.”
The newly reintroduced bill is largely unchanged from its previous version. It still expands some of the nation's most popular national parks, creates two additional national monuments (which will connect existing public land and provide crucial wildlife corridors) and protects close to half a million acres of California's desert as wilderness. A section of the bill dealing directly with renewable energy was removed. Instead those issues will be handled by other management processes like the California Energy Conservation Plan.
Among the lands to be preserved are some of the California desert's most beautiful and wild places:
The designation of the Avawatz Mountains Wilderness, the Soda Mountains Wilderness, and the Great Falls Basin Wilderness. Additions to the Kingston Range Wilderness, the Golden Valley Wilderness, the Indian Pass Wilderness, and the Palo Verde Wilderness Areas.
These areas contain unique terrain and are home to diverse and, in some cases, endangered wildlife. The landscape ranges from dried Pleistocene lakebeds with ancient Native American village sites, to valleys carpeted with desert wildflowers, to one of the largest desert woodlands left on the planet, to elegant sand dunes. Besides the iconic desert bighorn sheep and desert tortoise, these protect lands would also ensure the protection of unique species like the Colorado River toad, Yuma king snakes, old growth ironwood trees, cholla cactus, mountain mahogany, and others.
Follow our desert campaign at http://www.californiadesert.org
Bill would designate important wilderness in the California Desert and protect lands for recreation, wildlife and tourism
The California Wilderness Coalition along with community, business and conservation leaders from the California desert region are applauding a new proposal by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) that would increase protection for 1.6 million acres of desert landscapes celebrated both for their contributions to America’s national heritage and to the local economy.
The proposed legislation, known as the California Desert Protection Act of 2010 S. 2921, will designate 394,807 acres of wilderness from the Avawatz Mountains near Death Valley to the largest Sonoran woodland in North America along the Colorado River. The legislation would also create two new national monuments—the Mojave Trails and the Sand to Snow—and expand Joshua Tree and Death Valley National Parks and the Mojave National Preserve. It will also protect important waterways such as the Amargosa River and Deep Creek as Wild and Scenic Rivers.
“We applaud the leadership, foresight and vision that Senator Feinstein has shown in finding a common-sense way to protect our valuable desert wilderness for people and wildlife,” said Monica Argandoña, the San Bernardino County based Desert Program Director at The California Wilderness Coalition. She also noted that the proposal has strong local support from a diverse group of stakeholders throughout the desert region. “This proposal has truly been a local grassroots effort and has something for everyone.”
Read the rest of this article here and show your support for this important bill by writing a letter to Senator Feinstein
Lands Proposed for Conservation under the California Desert and Protection Act of 2010
Avawatz Mountains Wilderness (86,614 acres): Encompassing steep and rugged mountains that rise 6,100 feet above the Silurian Valley, these colorful eroded slopes are composed of Precambrian, Paleozoic, and Mesozoic-age sedimentary and igneous rocks with some Tertiary-age sediments. Lush desert oases around numerous springs provide water to desert animals like bighorn sheep, coyotes, bobcats, and roadrunners.
Buzzard’s Peak Wilderness (11,838 acres): Extending along the lowlands of the Colorado River, this Sonoran desert wash system serves as an important connective corridor for desert wildlife like desert bighorn sheep, mountain lions, endangered gila woodpecker, and the southwestern flycatcher. Desert plants such as the octotillo, cholla cactus, and palo verde tree dominate the landscape.
Golden Valley Wilderness Additions (21,633 acres): Beautiful rounded peaks sprinkled with Joshua Trees make up the additions to Golden Valley Wilderness. From a distance, the picturesque Black Hills appear “painted” due to black rocks that form streaked lines along the hillsides. The sweeping bajadas and lower elevations provide habitat for the endangered desert tortoise, Mohave ground squirrel, and several species of raptors. During the spring season, Golden Valley lives up to its name with a floral carpeting of magnificent Desert Sunflowers, the California Poppy, Mariposa Lilly, Bluebell and Mustard.
Great Falls Basin Wilderness (7,871 acres): Just north of the quaint town of Trona, this local favorite spot for picnicking and camping has numerous springs, side canyons, and extraordinary rock formations. The area is important habitat for the Inyo brown towhee, a State-listed rare bird species. There is also historic use by desert bighorn sheep. The higher elevations host yucca, mountain mahogany, piñon pine and juniper trees.
Kingston Range Wilderness Additions (56,513 acres): The extremely varied terrain and unusual mineral formations contain one of the highest concentrations of endangered species and unusual plant assemblages in the California desert. A relict stand of white fir trees are found on the north slope, and other rare plants and animals like the giant Nolina thrive here. In the spring, the lower elevations are carpeted with purple and yellow flowers.
Indian Pass Wilderness Additions (9,334 acres): An important part of the traditional homeland of the Quechan tribe, Indian Pass has archaeological evidence indicating Native American use for at least 10,000 years. Prayer circles, shrines, petroglyphs and geoglyphs linked by ancient trails can still be found and the Quechan continue to visit this sacred land for spiritual practices. The area’s proximity to the Colorado River allows species that are not commonly found in California such as the Great Plains toad, Colorado River toad and tree lizard to make their home here.
Milpitas Wash Wilderness (17,050 acres): This area supports the largest Sonoran desert woodland in North America. Most of the trees are legumes: mesquites, acacias, palo verdes, ironwoods and desert willows. The abundance of old-growth trees, with most standing over 15 feet high, gives the area a lush character rarely found in the desert. Many important species like the endangered gila woodpecker can be found here.
Palo Verde Mountains Wilderness Additions (9,264 acres): Characterized by a variety of jagged peaks and unique buttes, this area is home to Desert bighorn sheep, desert tortoise, wild burros, coyote, dove, quail, mountain lions, and diamondback rattlers. The area also boasts one of the few California populations of saguaro cacti. For the trained eye, there is plenty of archeological evidence of use by Native Americans including cleared circles, rock rings, rock shelters, and ancient trails.
San Gorgonio Wilderness Additions (7,141 acres):
The wilderness additions reflect a unique transition between desert, coastal and mountain environments. Plants and wildlife thrive here, including dippers, yellow warblers, red-breasted sapsuckers, raccoons, two-striped garter snakes, quail, rainbow trout, brown trout, deer, mountain lion, and black bear. The steep chaparral-covered slopes descend into shaded canyons which support important riparian habitat. With large urban communities surrounding its borders, the San Gorgonio wilderness and additions are a haven for city dwellers seeking a respite from the heat.
Soda Mountains Wilderness (79,376 acres): A scenic, horseshoe shaped range, the Soda Mountains include gentle slopes and rugged, highly eroded, jagged ridges. Two intermittent lakes, East Cronese and West Cronese, provide habitat for wintering and migrating waterfowl and shorebirds like the endangered Yuma clapper rail and rare plants including the Crucifixion thorn.
Death Valley wilderness additions within the Park (32,186 acres total): The ‘Axe Head’ triangle shaped area in southern Death Valley National Park consists of low hills, desert washes and prime habitat for the threatened Desert Tortoise. It offers outstanding opportunities for solitude. It is bordered on the north by lightly traveled dirt roads. On the south it would be contiguous with proposed wilderness in the Bowling Alley addition to Death Valley National Park. The Ibex Hills are in the southwestern corner of Death Valley National Park and contain rugged mountains, remote canyons, tranquil desert washes, and habitat for the threatened Desert tortoise while offering outstanding opportunities for solitude. Its addition as wilderness would allow a connection between the small, isolated Saddle Peak Hills Wilderness managed by BLM with the larger Death Valley Wilderness area to the west.
Death Valley National Park “Bowling Alley” Wilderness Addition (32,611 acres): Located on the extreme southern boundary of Death Valley National Park, this narrow strip of land between the Park and Fort Irwin has a geological history dating back nearly two billion years. The diverse topography and vegetation support a variety of wildlife, including two protected species, the desert tortoise and the desert bighorn sheep.
Table Mountain Wilderness Addition to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (1,000 acres):
Surrounded on three sides by Anza Borrego Desert State Park, Table Mountain boasts views across the Imperial Valley to Arizona, beyond the Salton Sea and into Mexico. The red and orange shades of rock are distinctive, and the flat expanses of the summits support high-desert grassland. There's something special about this high, table-flat "island in the sky," something recognized by the Kumeyaay Indians, to whom the mountain is sacred. There is evidence of Kumeyaay tool-making, a documented village site and several pictograph sites within the proposed wilderness area.
Castle Mountain Addition to the Mojave National Preserve (29,412 acres): This “missing piece” of the Mojave Preserve is a critical linkage between the Paiute Mountains and the New York Mountains for plant-life, wildlife, scenic viewshed and watershed. These castle-like rock formations are currently the only remaining portion of the 340 mile Lanfair Valley watershed that is not yet part of the Preserve. The remote nature of this site protects the ability to enjoy an increasingly rare natural quiet.
Joshua Tree National Park additions (2,873 acres): Located just north and adjacent to Joshua Tree National Park, these parcels include Joshua tree woodland and habitat for the threatened desert tortoise, wildlife connectivity corridors for animals like bobcats and bighorn sheep, ancient junipers and pinyon pines, and seasonal washes that produce prolific blooms of spring wildflowers. Adding these areas to the Park is critical for the long-term health and survival of Joshua Tree National Park’s wildlife.
Amargosa Wild and Scenic River Addition (4 miles): Often called the crown jewel of the Mojave Desert, this river’s origins are in the southern Great Basin desert of Nevada. The river meanders 200 miles, sometimes underground but popping up sporadically to form more oases in Ash Meadows, Shoshone, Tecopa, and Amargosa Canyon. It finally winds its way to ancient Lake Manly on the floor of Death Valley at 282 feet below sea level.
Deep Creek and Holcomb Creek Wild and Scenic River (34.5 miles): This stunning tributary of the Mojave River is flanked by a chaparral ecosystem and beautiful rocky hills. Deep Creek is home to the endangered Southwestern Arroyo Toad and supports the greatest diversity of wildlife habitats of any drainage on the San Bernardino National Forest. Black bear, mountain lion, raccoon, ground squirrel, coyote, beaver, and bobcat visit the creek and numerous fish species are found in the water.
Surprise Canyon Wild and Scenic River (7.1 miles): A true rarity in the California desert, Surprise Canyon contains an abundant, year-round flow of cool, gushing water, falls, and thickets of willows and other riparian plant life. The canyon supports 15 square miles of bighorn sheep habitat, and the rare Panamint daisy among many other unique plants and animals.
Whitewater Wild and Scenic River (27.2 miles):
The Whitewater River flows from the slopes of Mt. San Gorgonio through San Gorgonio Wilderness where the Pacific Crest Trail briefly parallels and then crosses the river. The upper river segments provide important habitat for the rare Nelson’s bighorn sheep and California spotted owl, while the lower segments are home to the endangered arroyo toad. The rich riparian habitat along the river is also home to numerous neo-tropical songbirds, including the endangered southwestern willow flycatcher and least Bell’s vireo.
On December 14, 2009 Representative Darrell Issa (Republican, Vista), who represents northern San Diego County, introduced the "Beauty Mountain and Agua Tibia Wilderness Act of 2009" (HR 4304). CWC and local residents strongly support this bill because it would protect two of southern California's most important areas of open space as wilderness.
The Beauty Mountain and Agua Tibia Wilderness Act of 2009 would add over 7,796 acres to the existing Agua Tibia Wilderness and would expand the Beauty Mountain Wilderness by an additional 13,635 acres. Representative Issa's bill would build on successful legislation sponsored earlier this year by Senator Barbara Boxer (Democrat, California) and Representative Mary Bono Mack (Republican, Palm Springs) whose "California Desert and Mountain Heritage Act" established the Beauty Mountain Wilderness and enlarged the Agua Tibia Wilderness that was established in 1975.
Click here for details about the bill and to write a letter thanking Darrell Issa
Rep. Darrell Issa introduces Beauty Mountain Wilderness Bill for public comment, 7/12/09
Congressman Darrell Issa (R) presented draft legislation for public comment on Monday July 12th, 2009, that would designate over 20,000 acres of wilderness to the Beauty Mountain Wilderness and Agua Tibia Wilderness areas in San Diego County. This proposal marks years of effort from CWC in expanding wilderness areas throughout the desert in San Diego County. Read the full article from the North County Times here.
Citizens were given until August 17th, 2009 to provide comments on this proposed bill. Visit Representative Darrell Issa's website for more information and send public comments to: email@example.com
To read more of this article, visit our news section here.
Beauty Mountain Wilderness
An American avocet and two black-necked stilts forage along the northeastern edge of Agua Hedionda Lagoon in Carlsbad on Monday afternoon. (File photo by Bill Wechter - staff photographer)
To read more of this article, visit our News section here.
Beauty Mountain Potential Wilderness, 2009