The California Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA) recently sent a letter of support of Congresswomen Judy Chu’s (D-CA) San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act (H.R. 2215). Legislation that will add over 30,000 acres of wilderness, designate 45 miles of Wild & Scenic River and establish a National Recreation Area. Congressman Salud Carbajal’s (D-CA) Central Coast Heritage Protection Act (H.R. 2199). A bill that will add nearly 250,000 acres of Wilderness and designate 250 miles of Wild & Scenic Rivers and Congressman Jared Huffman’s Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act (H.R. 2250). Legislation that provides critical provisions that will support hunting, fishing, public access, recreational opportunities, fire resiliency and create economic opportunities in important communities throughout Northern California.
H.R. 2215 will add over 30,000 acres of wilderness, designate 45 miles of Wild & Scenic River and establish a National Recreation Area. These additional protections seek to maintain the untamed nature of the West, in limiting commercial activities and motorized vehicles while retaining critical hunting, fishing and existing outdoor recreational access within close proximity to a major metropolis.
The following proposed additions and protections in legislation H.R. 2215 is strongly supported by BHA:
- Expand the boundaries of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument to include the western areas of the Angeles National Forest, including areas of the Arroyo Seco, a watershed of the Los Angeles River once populated with Southern California Steelhead, just north of the Rose Bowl.
- Establish a new National Recreation Area, managed by the National Park Service and aimed at allowing resources to flow into the region and increase recreational opportunities for the surrounding communities traditionally lacking exposure to outdoor recreation.
- Designate portions of the San Gabriel Mountains area as components of the National Wilderness Preservation System and the Wild and Scenic Rivers System, including portions of the East and West Forks of the San Gabriel River still vital to the preservation of Southern California Steelhead genetics.
- Expand terrestrial habitat falling under the Monument and Wilderness protections that remain essential to the continued health of bighorn sheep, black bear, bobcat, coyote, deer, California and Mountain Quail, and our other small game species.
H.R. 2250 provides critical provisions that will support hunting, fishing, public access, recreational opportunities, fire resiliency and create economic opportunities in important communities throughout Northern California.
The following proposed additions and protections in legislation H.R. 2250 is strongly supported by BHA:
Title I: Restoration and Economic Development.
This title reduces wildfire risks and restores damaged forests and watersheds on public lands.
- Designates a 730,000-acre Restoration Area in the South Fork Trinity River, Mad River, and North Fork
- Restores public lands affected by illegal trespass marijuana grows by establishing a partnership of federal, state, and local entities to facilitate the recovery of land and waters damaged by illegal marijuana growing sites.
- Authorizes construction of interagency visitor centers in Trinity County and Del Norte County.
- Requires federal agencies to cooperate and coordinate fire management in northwestern California’s wilderness areas. This pre-fire planning is especially important in large wilderness areas managed by multiple agencies.
Title II: Recreation
- Designates the Horse Mountain Special Management Area and directs the development of a comprehensive long-term plan to ensure that existing uses are carefully managed for continued recreation and conservation.
- Explores the possibility of establishing a recreational Trinity Lake Trail.
- Authorizes a study for the Bigfoot National Recreation Trail, which would expand public access and highlight the immense ecological diversity of this region’s ancient forests and other unique landscapes.
- Designates the Elk Camp Ridge Recreation Trail for motorized and non-motorized recreation.
- Directs a trails study that would explore ways to improve motorized and non-motorized recreation trail opportunities, including mountain biking, in Del Norte, Humboldt, Mendocino, and Trinity Counties.
Title III: Conservation
- Designating federal lands as “Wilderness” and rivers as “Wild and Scenic,” this title provides the strongest levels of federal protection to old-growth forests and endangered salmon and steelhead river habitat in this region.
- Expanding nine existing wilderness areas and establishes eight new ones. It would protect important and unique biodiversity and would not substantially impact timber harvest that is still an economic driver for the local community.
- Designates 379 miles of new Wild & Scenic rivers, and mandates federal agencies to create management plans for 101 miles of existing wild and scenic rivers only on public lands.
H.R. 2199 is critical for California’s sportsman and women that live and recreate in Central California. With the threat of increasing urbanization along California’s coast and inland communities, it is vital that public land users from all backgrounds of economic and social class have access to outdoor activities. This legislative is a great step in securing protections to see that future generations are able to fish, hunt, hike and enjoy our public lands throughout Central California.
The following proposed additions and protections in legislation H.R. 2199 is strongly supported by BHA:
- Designation of Wild and Scenic Rivers by protecting an additional 250 miles of waterways.
- Designation of additional Wilderness adding 250,000 acres to the area.
- Conduct a study to improve nonmotorized recreation trail opportunities (including mountain bicycling) on land not designated as wilderness within the Santa Barbara, Ojai, and Mt. Pinos ranger districts.
These bills will provide California residents and its visitors with the future protections needed to provide countless generations recreational opportunities and access on our public lands and waters. These opportunities will contribute to our nation’s $887 billion annual outdoor recreation economy. The California Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is pleased to support the above bills and looks forward to working with the Representative’s respective offices in ensuring these bills cross the finish line.