Berryessa Snow Mountain National Conservation Area Re-Introduced
Only 4 months in, 2013 is turning out to be a big year for expanding California public lands protection. In addition to the bill introduced by Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) to protect Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands, a large portion of inland Northern California may also receive protection from Congress. A bill introduced in early March would designate nearly 350,000 acres as the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Conservation Area, which includes parts of four counties north of the Bay Area.
“We’re thrilled that Senator Boxer and Representatives Thompson, Garamendi, Huffman, Ami Bera, and Eshoo recognize the importance of permanently protecting our publicly owned lands in the Berryessa Snow Mountain region,” stated Sara Husby-Good, Executive Director of Tuleyome. “There is strong community support for protecting this area in a way that will ensure the continued use and enjoyment of these lands for future generations.”
The new National Conservation Area would cover lands stretching more than 100 miles from Putah Creek, below Lake Berryessa, up to the peak of Snow Mountain. The area provides a haven for hiking, camping, rafting and horseback riding and is home to a diverse array of wildlife including bald and golden eagles, black bears and tule elk. The legislation would unite all currently owned federal lands within the area under one management plan, allowing for better coordination among federal agencies to protect wildlife, restore habitat, improve water quality, expand recreational opportunities and prevent wildfires. The Bureau of Land Management would take the lead in managing the area. The new designation would also help raise the profile of the Berryessa Snow Mountain region, increasing tourism and business opportunities for local communities. The bill would create a public advisory committee so that local residents, outdoors enthusiasts and business owners can share their ideas for preserving and promoting the area’s wildlife and pristine rivers, forests, ridges, canyons and creeks.
One of the bill sponsors, Representative John Garamendi, pointed out the common sense foundation of this proposal. “The Berryessa Snow Mountain National Conservation Act is a way to reap the benefits of our modern world while also protecting and promoting the beauty, serenity, and healthy activity that the natural world offers.” He continues, “By conserving this natural setting, we are maintaining a prized commodity that will bring tourists, boost economic activity, and support local jobs. This bill will fully respect property rights and is a win-win for residents of our region and our entire country.”
Re-introduction of these bills follows nearly six years of work at the community level to permanently protect this special place. If signed into law, Snow Mountain-Berryessa would be among the nation’s largest conservation areas, and only the second one in California.