Feinstein in the News
| Oct 25 2011
As a veteran I have served my country as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force. Much of my service was in San Bernardino, at Norton Air Force Base. Our region is also home to many veterans of all branches of service who choose to call this land their home when leaving the military. Knowing this also gives me an even greater reason to speak out to my fellow citizens about the importance of safeguarding these lands.
First, in order to protect these lands we will need strong leadership. This is why I support U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and her imaginative legislation, the California Desert Protection Act of 2011. The bill would create two new national monuments, expand already existing national parks such as Joshua Tree and the Mojave, and add beautiful lands to the wilderness preservation system. It would also help our regional economy.
The California desert is an area visited by citizens from all over this great country. They come here to experience the natural bliss that I speak of. The revenue generated by the tourism industry serves our area well and is easily in the millions of dollars each year. Sen. Feinstein's legislation would help to increasethese opportunities thus making our regional economy more robust.
Renewable energy is the future of California and our great nation. As someone who loves this land I want to see that these projects that will provide solar and wind energy systems to our energy portfolio are properly placed. According to the California Energy Commission there are 128,000 acres of land needed to ensure we meet our statewide renewable energy goals. Currently, there are over 300,000 acres available for these projects and none will be affected by the Mojave national monument. We can have renewable energy projects in Southern California while enjoying the benefits this bill will provide.
For my community, the veteran's community, we also see an important use to this land - the aesthetics and healing power that it offers. Many of our brave men and women return to bases in our region each day after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. All too present are the unfortunate wounds and scars they have received in battle. Some of these wounds are invisible. This land can offer a healing element that is truly invaluable to these men and women.
In light of this, it is also important to note that Sen. Feinstein worked extensively with the military community to ensure that her legislation would not serve as an impediment to military training and preparedness. At a time when our nation is in conflict it is important to ensure thoughtful consultation of our nations military leaders. This was done and as a veteran it only gives me that much more faith in her leadership.
Finally, Sen. Feinstein's bill is an example of coalition building. She brought all parties to the table and carefully listened to their concerns - from the business community and the military to recreational groups such as the off-road vehicle community. The formulation of this legislation has been totally transparent and one that we strive for our leaders in public life to follow.
We owe this legislation to our veterans and our children. They deserve a California desert that is a growth engine for the regional economy and a place that they can all enjoy.
David Raley is an Air Force veteran who served at Norton Air Force Base in San Bernardino. He lives in Calimesa and is a member of the Vet Voice Foundation.