Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today reintroduced the Santa Ana Wash Plan Land Exchange Act to direct the Bureau of Land Management to exchange land with the San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District in the Santa Ana Wash at the junction of the Santa Ana River and Mill Creek. The bill is identical to legislation introduced last year.
The 4,500 acre Santa Ana Wash is a patchwork of land parcels owned by the water conservation district or BLM. The land exchange would help consolidate 1,347 acres of open space to preserve and protect habitat along the river’s floodplain as part of the broader Santa Ana River Wash Plan.
The area is also occupied by two mining companies that extract materials for cement and concrete production. The bill allows these commercial operations to continue in the Santa Ana Wash in an environmentally sensitive manner.
“This plan balances the economic needs of the surrounding communities with the necessary protections for sensitive areas of the Santa Ana Wash,” said Senator Feinstein. “Consolidating pristine land and moving mining operations to more suitable areas is a smarter way to manage the Santa Ana Wash to benefit the whole region.”
Under the Wash Plan, new land would be set aside for conservation purposes near land already managed by BLM. This bill lets the water conservation district exchange 310 acres of pristine land for 327 acres of degraded federal land managed by the BLM.
In addition to the 1,347 acres of protected habitat, the Wash Plan allows the development of 15 miles of public use trails, supports the recharge of local ground water aquifers through 77 recharge basins and allows mining operations to continue, supporting over $36 million in local annual payroll.
The companion legislation was reintroduced in the House of Representatives by Representatives Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) and Paul Cook (R-Calif.)