Chapter supports Federal Bills to expand public access

The California policy committee recently submitted a letter of support for the legislative bill Protecting Unique and Beautiful Landscapes by Investing in California (PUBLIC) Lands Act (S. 3288). This bill by Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) will provide increased public access for recreational opportunities including hunting, fishing and hiking.

 

Feb. 18, 2020

The Honorable Lisa Murkowski                                         The Honorable Joe Manchin

Chairwoman                                                                                  Ranking Member

Committee on Energy and Natural Resources          Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

304 Dirksen Senate Office Building                                304 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510                                                         Washington, D.C. 20510

 

Dear Chairwoman Murkowski and Ranking Member Manchin:

On behalf of the California Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA), the voice for our wild public lands, waters and wildlife, we write in support of Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) Protecting Unique and Beautiful Landscapes by Investing in California (PUBLIC) Lands Act (S. 3288). We encourage swift consideration by the Committee on this package.

  1. 3288 incorporates three bills recently passed by the House. These measures include the San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act, the Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act and the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act. All three provisions enhance hunter and angler access to public lands and waters, improve habitat fragmentation and boosts our nation’s $887 billion outdoor recreation economy.

The San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act adds over 30,000 acres of wilderness, designate 45 miles of river to the National Wild & Scenic Rivers System and establish a National Recreation Area. These additional protections seek to maintain the untamed nature of the West by limiting commercial activities and motorized vehicles and retaining critical hunting, fishing and existing outdoor recreational access within proximity to a major metropolis. The legislation also expands the boundaries of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument to include the western areas of the Arroyo Seco in the Angeles National Forest—a watershed of the Los Angeles River once sustaining a healthy population of Southern California Steelhead. This expansion will conserve terrestrial habitat for bighorn sheep, black bear, California and Mountain quail and other game species important to hunters.

Similarly, the Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act includes critical provisions that support hunting, fishing, public access and other recreational opportunities, while initiating fire resilient management policies that benefit local communities in northern California. We support the inclusion of the following elements in particular:

  • Provisions that would improve wildfire management by requiring federal agencies to coordinate fire management practices in wilderness areas, especially in large wilderness areas managed across more than one jurisdiction.
  • Authorization of a study for the Bigfoot National Recreation Trail, which would expand public access;
  • Designation of 379 miles of new Wild & Scenic Rivers.

Finally, the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act expands existing wilderness to 250,000 acres and add 250 miles of waterways to the National Wild & Scenic Rivers System in central California. This will secure habitat critical for California’s wildlife while enhancing access and opportunities for sportsmen and women who face the challenges of encroaching urbanization along the state’s coast and inland communities. It is vital that people from all backgrounds and socioeconomic classes have access to public lands and outdoor recreation.

The PUBLIC Lands Act provides permanent protections for fish and wildlife habitat and creates greater certainty for the future of America’s outdoor traditions and our wild public lands and waters. We have a collective obligation to the generations that follow us to model thoughtful stewardship of our natural resources. Thank you for considering legislation that extends this heritage on behalf of all public landowners. The California Chapter of BHA looks forward to working with you to advance this meaningful legislation.

Sincerely,

Nick Fasciano

Policy Chair

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, California Chapter

Cc: Sens. Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein

About Nick Fasciano

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