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05/09/2012

Berryessa Snow Mountain Receives National Conservation Area Legislation

   P1010262 St. John Mtn as seen from near Little Round Mtn

  Three members of the US House of Representatives introduced new legislation yesterday that will designate Berryessa Snow Mountain as a National Conservation Area. Local environmental groups, recreatinists, and businesses applauded the long awaited decision for permanent protection of Berryessa, which is a prime recreation spot and home to a stunning array of rare plants and animals.

    Representatives Mike Thompson (CA-1), John Garamendi (CA-10) and Lynn Woolsey (CA-6) introduced HR 5545, which will establish the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Conservation Area. The area covers 319,000 acres and stretches 100 miles north from Putah Creek and Lake Berryessa in Napa and Yolo Counties to the Snow Mountain Wilderness in Mendocino County.


    “The Berryessa Snow Mountain Region is a unique national treasure and we have a responsibility to preserve it for our kids and grandkids,” said Rep. Thompson. “Designating the region as a National Conservation Area will preserve the land, help our local economies, and protect a wide variety of plants and animals. This is the right way forward for the region and our communities.”


    The white water rapids of Cache Creek, Lake Berryessa’s renowned bass fishery, hiking and horseback riding opportunities make the Berryessa Snow Mountain Region a major outdoor reacreational area. Permanent protection for the region would improve management of trails, campsites and other recreation opportunities. It would also increase user education and help draw visitors to the area year- round.

    “It’s a hidden jewel,” said Kathryn Phillips, director of Sierra Club California. “It’s no wonder so many different people and organizations have joined together to help elevate attention to this special place.”


     Outdoor recreation and protected lands are economic drivers. Recent studies by Headwaters economics have found that jobs and real personal income rose in local communities after nearby areas were permanently protected. That same potential is offered by the Berryessa Snow Mountain region. Designating the area would secure continued recreational opportunities in the area while safeguarding the region’s natural beauty, wildlife, rare plants, and waters—which include important sources of drinking water and irrigation for nearby communities. As one of the largest tracts of relatively undisturbed public lands in the state, the Berryessa Snow Mountain Region has been named a “biodiversity hotspot.” It provides habitat for one of the state’s largest populations of wintering bald eagles and some of the most unique butterflies in the state.


    “We are very pleased that these three members of Congress have introduced this bill. It is a critical step to make permanent protection of this special region a reality,” said Alan Pryor, an active Sierra Club volunteer in Yolo County. “Their foresight will ensure this natural jewel will be enjoyed by Americans for generations to come.”

    Lake County, Napa County, the Winters City Council, the Davis City Council, the Clearlake City Council and the Calistoga City Council all passed unanimous resolutions of support in favor of designating the Berryessa Snow Mountain region as an NCA. Also in support of the designation are  52 elected officials including former Congressman Pete McCloskey, co-author of the Endangered Species Act.148 businesses representing all four involved counties, 29 landowners and farmer, and  28 conservation and recreation groups including the Blue Ribbon Coalition, California Waterfowl Association and the Yolo Audubon Society.

 

photo courtesy of Tuleyome

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