Ryan Burns / Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017 @ 11:09 a.m. / Environment, Government
Huffman Unveils Bill to Protect and Restore Local Forests and Watersheds, and He Wants Your Feedback
From Congressman Jared Huffman’s office:
Washington, D.C.- Today, Rep. Huffman (D-San Rafael) announced he is calling for public input on his newly unveiled draft legislation to guard communities against wildfires, provide local jobs, restore lands impaired by illegal marijuana growing operations, and protect Northern California’s spectacular wild places and pristine streams on federal lands. Huffman’s draft legislation would restore forests and fish habitat, stimulate local economies through forest stewardship programs, enhance recreational opportunities, and reduce fire danger to protect communities. The draft legislation would not limit hunting or fishing, close any legally open roads or trails to vehicles, or affect access to or the use of private property.
“On the North Coast of California, we are privileged to live among some of the most stunning old-growth forests and pristine rivers in the world,” said Rep. Huffman. “But we can do more to manage these spectacular public lands to protect communities, restore forest health from illegal marijuana grows, and improve trails and recreational opportunities. I want to hear your ideas on how to protect our forests and watersheds while creating economic opportunities and safeguarding our homes. By putting our heads together, we can create collaborative solutions to protect our communities and the lands we value for generations to come.”
“I’m grateful to Congressman Huffman for his support of our public lands communities and our unique needs,” said John Letton, co-owner, Indian Creek Lodge, Trinity County. “I believe that the package he is proposing supports the importance of local voices in guiding the future of our public lands, while also prioritizing activities and management that will benefit the long-term economic future of the region.”
“We are fortunate to have a congressman who is aware of the many public lands needs in our region,” said Ryan Sundberg, Humboldt County 5th District Supervisor. “Congressman Huffman’s potential legislation would address fire management on our public lands while still protecting prime fish habitat. Additionally, it only would apply to public lands, would have no impact on private property, and would not close any roads.”
In addition to inviting constituents to provide comments online, Rep. Huffman will hold four public meetings to explain the draft legislation and take constituent questions and feedback. Interested individuals can attend the following meetings:
· August 14th – 5:30-6:30 p.m. – Wharfinger Building, 1 Marina Way, Eureka
· August 15th – 5:30-6:30 p.m. – Educational Resource Center – 400 West Harding, Crescent City
· August 16th – 5:30-6:30 p.m. – Trinity High School – 321 Victory Lane, Weaverville
· August 29th- 1:30 to 2:30 – venue to be determined
Huffman’s draft bill is supported by Northwest California’s Mountains & Rivers coalition.
Specifically, this legislation would:
· Restore and Revitalize Forests and Watersheds:
o Designate a 700,000-acre South Fork Trinity-Mad River Special Restoration Area in the South Fork Trinity River watershed and the Forest Service-portion of the Mad River watershed in southern Trinity and western Humboldt counties. Within this area, the ecological health of previously logged forests will be improved and the danger of unnaturally severe fires will be reduced through a careful program of individual tree-removal, especially within “shaded fuel-breaks.” Within these fuel-breaks, the trees with the greatest potential to provide the most shade over the longest period of time will be retained including, but not limited to, hardwoods like oaks and madrones. This will improve forest diversity, decrease fire danger along roads where most human-caused fires occur, and help young groves of trees develop into mature forest more quickly. Any proceeds generated from these projects will be returned to fund additional restoration in the Special Restoration Area, including steps to improve habitat for endangered salmon and steelhead trout.
o Establish a partnership of federal, state, and local entities that can help to clean and restore federal public lands in northwestern California affected by illegal trespass marijuana grows. Illegal marijuana growing on public lands has catastrophic impacts on wildlife and water quality and it poses serious threats to public safety. Experience shows that when illegal growing sites are fully cleaned up and restored that they are far less likely to be used again for trespass cultivation.
o Require federal agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service to cooperate and coordinate in managing fires in northwestern California’s wilderness areas. Therefore, even when a landscape such as the Trinity Alps Wilderness is managed by multiple federal agencies, these agencies must have a coordinated approach to managing fire in the area.
· Conserve Ecologically Significant Areas
o Protect over 326,000 acres of federal public lands as “wilderness” by expanding nine existing wilderness areas and establishing ten new ones. Wilderness is the strongest protection available for certain areas of public land available under federal law. While camping, hunting, fishing, horseback riding, and other recreational activities can continue in these areas, logging, mining, the construction of new roads and other development is prohibited. The appropriate management of fire, including fire-fighting with bulldozers and aircraft, can continue in these wilderness areas if it is deemed necessary to protect public safety.
o Designate about 485 miles of stream as “wild and scenic rivers.” Wild and scenic river status will protect our purest and wildest remaining streams from the construction of new dams or major new water diversions. Federal land managers will also be required to protect a half-mile wide corridor of federal public lands that border each of these streams. As with wilderness, the protection of wild and scenic rivers will not impair existing private property rights. Protecting streams and watersheds safeguards habitat for endangered salmon and steelhead populations and conserves vital sources of clean water for drinking, fishing, and recreation.
· Expand Recreation Opportunities
o Direct the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service to work collaboratively with each other, local communities and other interested parties to develop a regional trail development plan. This could offer a blueprint for increasing access to trails for hikers, equestrians, off-road enthusiasts and others throughout the region.
o Require federal agencies to study the possibility of establishing the “Bigfoot National Recreation Trail” that will run from southern Trinity County to Oregon. The trail will highlight the immense ecological diversity of Northwest California’s ancient forests and other unique landscapes.
o Authorize construction of specified mountain biking routes in Del Norte County, designate the Elk Camp Ridge Recreation Trail, and designate the Horse Mountain Special Management Area, which would enhance the recreational and scenic values of the recreation area while conserving the plants, wildlife, and other natural resource values of the area.
o Authorize the construction of an interagency visitor center in Weaverville in Trinity County.