Senate Approves Boxer-Feinstein Legislation To Protect More Than 700,000 Acres Of California Wilderness
Jan 15 2009
Washington, DC - The U.S. Senate today passed the Omnibus Public Lands Package, which includes three bills sponsored by U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein (both D-CA) designating more than 700,000 acres of federal public land in California as wilderness.
Senator Boxer said, “Working with colleagues from both sides of the aisle, we have put together legislation that protects some of California’s and the nation’s most magnificent places and ensures that they will be preserved for generations to come. I commend my Senate colleagues for supporting these measures, and I look forward to their quick passage in the House.”
“The Senate today has put its stamp of approval on a major effort to establish lasting federal protection for roughly 735,000 acres of some of California’s greatest natural resources – including the rugged White Mountains, the spectacular High Sierras, majestic groves of Sequoias, the unique Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, miles of scenic Southern California rivers, and pristine desert lands,” Senator Feinstein said. “The legislation will give these extraordinary public lands a wilderness designation and ensure that they will be enjoyed by generations to come – while preserving the ability of horse enthusiasts to enjoy continued access to the public lands. I’d like to thank Senator Boxer and Chairman Bingaman for their leadership on these bills.”
The three bills were the California Desert and Mountain Heritage Act, the Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park Wilderness Act and the Eastern Sierra and Northern San Gabriel Wild Heritage Act.
The California Desert and Mountain Heritage Act, also introduced in the House by Representative Mary Bono Mack (R-CA-45), establishes approximately 200,000 acres of wilderness or wilderness study areas and 31 miles of wild and scenic rivers in Riverside County. The bill would designate or expand ten wilderness areas, add four parcels of land to the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument, and designate segments of four rivers as wild and scenic. These areas provide habitat for numerous endangered species including Peninsular bighorn sheep and desert tortoises.
The Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park Wilderness Act, also introduced in the House by Representatives Jim Costa (D-CA-20) and Devin Nunes (R-CA-21), designates approximately 85,000 acres of land within the Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park, in Tulare County, as wilderness. The bill expands the Sequoia-Kings Canyon Wilderness, which includes unique landscapes such as the largest Giant Sequoia grove in the park and one of the most extensive networks of caverns in the western United States. The centerpiece of the bill is the 39,740-acre John Krebs Wilderness Area, named in honor of the former Congressman who wrote the 1978 law transferring the Mineral King Valley to the National Park Service to protect it from development.
“This is a fitting honor for a man of great political courage and vision,” Boxer said.
The Eastern Sierra and Northern San Gabriel Wild Heritage Act, introduced in the House by Representative Buck McKeon (R-CA-25), provides wilderness designation to more than 470,000 acres of public lands in Mono, Inyo, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles Counties. The areas protected under this bill include the spectacular High Sierra lands and White Mountains. The bill also designates approximately 74 miles of wild and scenic rivers, including the ecologically-important Upper Owens River and the Amargosa River, which is the only major river flowing into Death Valley National Park.