Press release celebrating new legislation introduced by Congressman Jared Huffman:
A broad coalition of businesses, community leaders and conservationists today applauded the introduction of legislation by Representative Jared Huffman to better protect and restore some of Northwest California’s most unique lands and waters, improve the resiliency of the landscape to wildfire, and help local communities capitalize on the region’s reputation as one of the best areas for fishing, hunting, hiking, and other outdoor recreation in the West.
The Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act is the product of years of dialogue involving business leaders, conservationists, sportsmen, mountain bikers, and other stakeholders interested in the use and well-being of these iconic lands. The bill would conserve approximately 262,000 acres as wilderness, designate 379 miles of new wild and scenic rivers, and create a special restoration area of more than 700,000-acres. These forests and rivers are an important part of America’s natural heritage, a mainstay of the regional economy, and provide excellent public access to myriad outdoor recreation opportunities.
“Protecting our public lands is essential, because these natural landscapes are investments in the well-being of our communities,” said Humboldt County Supervisor Ryan Sundberg. “Northwest California’s public lands are critical to our community’s quality of life and to our local economy. This legislation will help ensure that this legacy is protected for future generations.”
Visitors come to this region from around the globe to fish for steelhead, salmon and trout, float the rivers, hike and mountain bike the backcountry trails, and find solitude in primeval redwood groves. The Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act will support the regional economy and enhance these and other outdoor recreation opportunities by spurring new infrastructure and upgrades to old roads, trails and camping facilities, and by improving forest health and resilience to wildfire.
“As a local business owner, I am glad to see the introduction of the Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act,” said Aaron Ostrom, co-owner of Pacific Outfitters. “My dad started our business in 1968 and my brother and I have continued the family tradition of helping people get the gear they need to explore, camp, fish, and hunt across our region. These beautiful places support all of our local businesses, since people come to the area to explore and shop while they are here.”
Outdoor recreation generates $92 billion in consumer spending and 691,000 direct jobs in California, according to the Outdoor Industry Association. Residents of California’s 2nd Congressional District spend $1.93 billion annually on outdoor recreation, while 134 outdoor companies are based here.
“This comprehensive bill ensures more opportunities for people to enjoy the many outdoor activities available in the region,” said Herb Burton, who along with his wife, Patty, owns Trinity Fly Shop. “Fishing our beautiful lakes and rivers is a way of life for us, the backbone of our 36-year family business and, undoubtedly, there is no better way for people to unwind from the daily rigors and become well acquainted with the beauty and wonders of the outdoors.”
The legislation would enhance recreation in the region by establishing the Horse Mountain Special Management Area and designating the Elk Camp Ridge Recreation Trail for off-highway vehicles and mountain bikes. The bill also calls for developing a Regional Trails plan and studying the feasibility of establishing The Bigfoot National Recreation Trail, which would highlight the world-renowned botanical and biological diversity found here.
Susan Molyneux, President of the Trinity Trails Alliance, a local chapter of the International Mountain Bicycling Association, said, “I am thrilled that Congressman Huffman’s legislation includes a feasibility study for a trail around Trinity Lake. This project has the potential to increase recreation tourism in our county for all trail users and directly benefit the local economy.
The legislation will reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire by prioritizing projects that reduce fuels through selective harvest, which would increase public safety, and calling for unified fire management across national forests.
“The integration of restoration and fire management in this legislation is critical to the health and safety of our forests in Trinity County,” said Kenneth Baldwin, a Registered Professional Forester. “By encouraging management prescriptions such as roadside shaded fuel breaks in his legislation, Congressman Huffman is helping our communities and firefighter safety.”
The Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act is a timely and sensible measure built from the ground up. It will better protect the unique scenery, ecology and water quality of Northwest California, enhance outdoor recreation opportunities, help safeguard local residents and communities from catastrophic wildfire, restore vital fish and wildlife habitat, and boost the regional economy.
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Press release from the California Wilderness Coalition:
Today, Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) introduced the Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act in the House of Representatives. The bill will restore forests and fisheries, protect wild lands and streams and improve recreation opportunities in Del Norte, Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity counties.
CalWild joins a broad coalition of businesses, community leaders and other conservationists applauding the introduction of legislation to better protect and restore some of Northwest California’s most unique lands and waters.
“This is an historic milestone in the effort to protect and restore the best remaining parts of our public land heritage in Northwest California,” said Ryan Henson, Policy Director for CalWild. “This bill proves that sustainable economic development, recreation and conservation can not only co-exist, but they complement one another.”
Visitors come to this region from around the globe to fish for steelhead, salmon and trout, float the rivers, hike and mountain bike the backcountry trails, and find solitude in primeval redwood groves. These visitors support the regional economy and enhance these and other outdoor recreation opportunities by spurring new infrastructure and upgrades to old roads, trails and camping facilities, and by improving forest health and resilience to fire.
Among other provisions, the Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act will:
- Promote fuel reduction and forest and woodland restoration on 729,000 acres of public lands in southern Trinity and western Humboldt counties. Any proceeds generated from tree removal will be used to fund additional restoration and fuel reduction.
- Protect 313,000 acres of federal public lands as “wilderness.” Wilderness is the strongest protection available for certain areas of public land available under federal law.
- Designate 379 miles of new “wild and scenic rivers” and mandates federal agencies to create management plans for 101 miles of existing wild and scenic rivers providing critical habitat for threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead.
- Direct federal agencies to explore ways to improve motorized and non-motorized recreation trail opportunities, including mountain biking, on national forest and adjacent Bureau of Land Management lands in Del Norte, Humboldt, Trinity, and Mendocino Counties.
- Restore public lands affected by illegal trespass marijuana grows.
- Authorize the construction of two public visitor centers in Trinity and Del Norte counties.
- Study the establishment of the “Bigfoot National Recreation Trail” from Crescent City to the southern Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness boundary that will highlight the immense ecological diversity of northwestern California’s ancient forests and other unique landscapes.
“This bill will likely be a model for the future of public lands bills. Our public lands have many users and advocates and building legislation by actively engages each of them is the way the conservation community will achieve new protections moving forward. We applaud Congressman Huffman for his visionary leadership on this effort,” said Chris Morrill, CalWild’s Executive Director.
Congressman Huffman worked for over five years to craft this innovative measure. Conservationists, like CalWild, are widely supportive and are prepared to work for as long as it takes to pass it.