Action Alert: Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument

by Victoria Brandon, Redwood Chapter Chair

Permanent protection of the Berryessa Snow Mountain region has been a top Redwood Chapter priority for a number of years. Only a short drive north of the San Francisco Bay Area in the Inner Coast Range, these very special 350,000 acres of federal lands contain lush forests, wildflower meadows, three designated Wilderness areas, and a Wild and Scenic River. The region is home to tule elk, river otters, California’s second largest population of wintering bald eagles, and the rare Pacific fisher. Berryessa Snow Mountain is a biodiversity hotspot and also a fishing, hiking, camping, birding and horseback-riding paradise.

Under the leadership of Congressman Mike Thompson and with strong support from Congressman John Garamendi, whose district now includes most of the area proposed for protection, we’ve been working for more than five years to persuade Congress to designate the region as a National Conservation Area — but that legislation seems to be stalled in Washington gridlock. So now it’s time to look for another quicker, surer route to the same destination, by asking the President to use his powers under the Antiquities Act to create a Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument.

Stating that “permanent protection of Berryessa-Snow Mountain will ensure the preservation of this special place and will grow the local economy by bringing visitors and jobs to the region year-round,” the national Sierra Club has created an online petition urging President Obama and Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to designate Berryessa Snow Mountain as a National Monument. Almost all of the Monument would be right here in Redwood Chapter, including portions of four of the Chapter’s six local Groups: please take a moment to add your name to the petition to help protect it for the enjoyment of future generations.

By the way, please also take a minute to check out a recent Sacramento Bee op/ed authored jointly by Lake County Supervisor Denise Rushing, Yolo Supervisor Don Saylor, and Solano Supervisor Linda Seifert. These local elected leaders are also urging the President to protect the Berryessa Snow Mountain Region — as a National Monument!

Thanks so much for your help! It really does make a difference.

Red Letter Week for Conservation

by Victoria Brandon, Redwood Chapter Chair

This has been a truly remarkable week for conservation here on the North Coast. The first big event came on the evening of Monday July 22, when Congressman Jared Huffman’s first-ever piece of federal legislation passed the House. HR 1411 would add the 1,255-acre BLM-managed Stornetta Public Lands on the Mendocino Coast to the Coastal National Monument and tap into mitigation funding from the Gulf Coast oil spill to acquire an additional keystone parcel that will allow creation of a 10-mile coastal trail from the town of Point Arena to Manchester Beach.

This spectacularly beautiful land includes many dramatic coastal features and is a famous pupping location for seals as well as providing habitat for several endangered species. The bill maintains current recreational, ranching and research uses and will boost the regional economy with an increase in tourism, the area’s largest employer. With no known opposition, passage would not ordinarily be remarkable, but these are not ordinary times: this bill is the very first public lands preservation legislation to pass the Republican-controlled House of Representatives in more than three years, so can be seen as a tribute to the adept political skills of our freshman Congressman. It moves on to the Senate next, where easy passage is expected.
 
Then on Tuesday July 23 the House Public Lands and Environmental Regulation subcommittee held a hearing on the proposed Berryessa Snow Mountain National Conservation Area Act (H.R. 1025), an important landscape-level conservation proposal that would permanently protect 350,000 acres of federal public lands with outstanding conservation values.  The bill, which is co-sponsored by all three members of Redwood Chapter’s congressional delegation (Congressmen Mike Thompson, John Garamendi, and Jared Huffman) covers land managed by three federal agencies in five counties,  including three Wilderness areas and a state Wild and Scenic River. Along with Congressmen Thompson and Garamendi, Napa county cattle rancher Judy Ahmann testified in its support. The hearing has been posted at http://naturalresources.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=342550

 
In the meantime, the Chapter has been watching with dismay as pressure on the over-allocated waters of the Klamath River system continue to mount. Large returns of fall Chinook salmon are expected again this year (a Good Thing), but if these spawning fish encounter low flows and warm algae laden water a fish kill on the scale of the one that occurred in 2002 is all too possible. Releases of Trinity River water offer the best chance of averting this catastrophe, so we were heartened to see a letter from Congressmen Thompson, Huffman, and George Miller to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell advocating this course of action. This excellent letter is also available on line at http://www.times-standard.com/guest_opinion/ci_23698708/plea-interior-department-prevent-fish-kill-trinity-klamath?source=rss