Agriculture + Environment

Bill seeks protection of 319,000 acres

By From page A12 | May 09, 2012

A bill introduced by Democratic lawmakers seeks to designate 319,000 acres of the Berryessa Snow Mountain region, including portions of western Yolo County, as a national conservation area.

House Resolution 5545 seeks to improved coordination between federal agencies, protect migratory corridors for wildlife, keep water clean and boost the chances for federal funding of projects addressing invasive plants, conservation, recreation and a multi-agency fire management plan.

“The Berryessa Snow Mountain Region is a unique national treasure and we have a responsibility to preserve it for our kids and grandkids,” Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, said in a news release. Thompson introduced the bill with Reps. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, and Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma.

“Designating the region as a National Conservation Area will preserve the land, help our local economies, and protect a wide variety of plants and animals,” Thompson said. “This is the right way forward for the region and our communities.”

The region in question stretches more than 100 miles from Putah Creek, below Lake Berryessa, across remote areas of Cache Creek to Snow Mountain, the highest point in Colusa and Lake counties. The area also would include land in Mendocino and Napa counties.

The designation would apply to land the federal government manages. It would not alter access to or use of private land, existing roads or trails, or hunting and fishing overseen by the state Department of Fish and Game.

The bill’s authors say the permanent protect for the region would lead to better management of trails, campsites and user education, drawing visitors to ride Cache Creek’s whitewater rapids, fish on Lake Berryessa or go hiking or horseback riding in the region.

Bald and golden eagles, black bears, mountain lions and tule elk are among the species that call the area home.

Among the backers of the bill: the Lake and Napa county boards of supervisors; the Winters, Clearlake and Calistoga city councils; 52 elected officials; 148 businesses in the affected counties; 29 landowners; and 28 conservation and recreation groups, including Tuleyome and the Yolo Audubon Society.

“We’re pleased that Representatives Thompson, Garamendi and Woolsey have recognized the natural wonders and recreational opportunities offered by the Berryessa Snow Mountain Region — and the strong desire by community members to protect this scenic treasure so that it can be enjoyed by future generations,” said Sara Husby, executive director of Woodland-based Tuleyome, in a news release.

The legislation was referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources, of which Garamendi is a member.

“This legislation will help preserve the region’s natural beauty, increase tourism and outdoor recreation, spur business growth, and create jobs in Northern California,” Garamendi said.

“By protecting the Berryessa Snow Mountain region, this common-sense bill gives visitors the ability to appreciate its splendor while providing economic opportunity for local communities.”

— Reach Cory Golden at [email protected] or (530) 747-8046. Follow him on Twitter at @cory_golden

Cory Golden

Cory Golden

The Enterprise's higher-education and congressional reporter. http://about.me/cory_golden
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