By Charlotte Orr
Dec. 11 has been designated International Mountain Day. The day was created by the United Nations in 2003 to promote awareness about the importance of the world’s mountains and highlands.
Mountains are crucial to life, provide most of the world’s fresh water, harbor a rich variety of plants and animals, and are home to one in 10 people. Luckily in our back yard, you don’t have to go far to appreciate breathtaking mountains.
Nearby, there is Berryessa Peak, the highest point of Blue Ridge, a small mountain ridge east of Lake Berryessa. In September 2008, private landowners established a trail easement that opened up 9,100 acres of public lands and gave public access to the remarkable views and summit of Berryessa Peak.
Also worth mentioning is Snow Mountain, in the 37,000-acre Snow Mountain Wilderness in the Mendocino National Forest. The tallest peak, known as Snow Mountain East, is renowned for being the highest point in both Colusa and Lake counties. The hike to the top of East Peak is a moderate climb, providing stunning views of the Sacramento Valley and the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the east, Clear Lake to the southwest and the Mendocino National Forest to the north.
During the winter, the summits of Snow Mountain accumulate layers of snow, or a “snowpack,” that can last until June. These snowpacks are an important water source that feed into nearby streams and rivers as they melt.
As we celebrate International Mountain Day and the need to protect our majestic mountains, we also must bring attention to the lands that surround them. The Berryessa Snow Mountain region is a dazzling outdoor wonderland, with beautiful scenic views, a wide range of plants and wildlife and abundant recreational opportunities. The region and its mountains deserve to be permanently protected for the enjoyment and benefit of current and future generations.
There are currently bills in both the House of Representatives (HR5545) and the Senate (S3375) to permanently protect 320,000 acres of federal public lands in the Berryessa Snow Mountain region in Napa, Lake, Mendocino and Yolo counties. For more information on permanent protection for these lands, or to get involved, visit www.berryessasnowmountain.org.
In the meantime, remember International Mountain Day, and take some time out to explore and appreciate the beautiful mountain areas closest to your home and heart.
— Charlotte Orr, a member of the Tuleyome staff, is a UC Davis graduate in community and regional development with an emphasis in environmental policy and agricultural education.