Today, the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests & Public Lands is holding a hearing on a slew of new recreation and conservation bills. These hearings are a first and very important step to protecting lots of new places that are important to the outdoor community and may be the foundation for what we hope will be the next public lands package.
You can read our full testimony, submitted in partnership with The Conservation Alliance and the Outdoor Industry Association, by clicking on the letter at right and check out all the maps below. Here’s a rundown of what some of these bills will do and why they matter to you:
Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (H.R. 2642)
The Wild Olympics legislation would protect 126,500 acres of Wilderness and 464 river miles as Wild and Scenic on the Olympic Peninsula adjacent to Olympic National Park. In addition to its conservation values, the bill protects hundreds of miles of trails, scores of climbing sites, dozens of whitewater paddling destinations, and valued backcountry ski terrain.
This bill would provide lasting protection to places valued by climbers, including scrambling and climbing objectives such as Mt. Washington, Mt. Pershing, Jefferson Peak, Mt. Ellinor, and the nearby Ellinor Towers. In the spring, Mt. Ellinor is known as a destination for backcountry skiers. For whitewater paddlers, the region is unique because the watersheds that radiate out from the Olympic Mountains receive several feet of precipitation each year, providing an incredible number of river miles in a small geographic area. And for mountain bikers, the mountain biking loop trail along the Dungeness River is included within the Wild and Scenic river corridor but outside of proposed Wilderness to protect and enhance the mountain biking experience alongside conservation values.
Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act (H.R. 2250)
From the fog-shrouded redwood forests of Humboldt County to the sunny oak woodlands and grasslands of Mendocino, and the soaring peaks of the Trinity Alps Wilderness to the turquoise waters of the Wild and Scenic Smith River, this region is home to spectacular landscapes and world-renowned recreational opportunities. This bill will conserve approximately 262,000 acres of public land as Wilderness, designate 379 miles of new Wild and Scenic rivers, and create a special restoration area of more than 700,000 acres.
The bill would establish the Elk Camp Ridge Recreation Trail, expanding mountain biking trails along the Elk Camp Ridge and in Del Norte County. It would permanently protect the South Fork Trinity River, and protect Wilderness climbing opportunities, including Land of the Lost—the closest sport climbing to Arcata and Eureka—in a special management area. In addition to the bill’s new Wild & Scenic designations for whitewater resources on the East Fork North Fork Trinity and Canyon Creek, it would protect more than 48,000 acres of public land within the proposed Wilderness areas surrounding already-designated Wild & Scenic watersheds on the Trinity, Eel, and Black Butte Rivers.
Central Coast Heritage Protection Act (H.R. 2199)
California’s Los Padres National Forest is a popular destination for people who love the outdoors and this bill would protect more than 262,000 acres of public land within the Los Padres Forest and Carrizo Plain National Monument, designate 159 miles of river as Wild and Scenic, and create two new scenic areas, Black Mountain and Condor Ridge.
The bill designates a 400-mile-long Condor National Recreation Trail, supporting through-hiking and backpacking opportunities across the entire length of the Los Padres National Forest, from Los Angeles to Monterey County. The bill would also protect important and threatened wilderness characteristics around popular rock climbing areas in the Sespe Gorge along Highway 33. Paddlers support adding more miles to the Wild & Scenic Piru Creek, a waterway rare for the region that provides outstanding whitewater less than an hour drive from downtown Los Angeles. The bill protects trail corridors for numerous high priority trails identified by local mountain bikers through the Central Coast Concerned Mountain Bikers (CCCMB), an IMBA local group, and CCCMB and IMBA have worked as part of a coalition to adjust proposed boundaries in order to protect corridors for the Mono Alamar trail, the McPherson Peak Trail, and the Rinconada Creek/Mine trails.
San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act (H.R. 2215)
The San Gabriel Mountains National Monument border Los Angeles in the Angeles National Forest and provide 70 percent of the open space in the Los Angeles region. Adding protections to this region will have enormous benefits for people who like to get outside in southern California, as well as protecting drinking water and public health in the area.
The bill is designed to protect both the landscape and popular recreation, providing frontcountry recreation for millions of Angelenos who otherwise have limited access to open space and outdoor recreation. The establishment of a 51,000-acre National Recreation Area along the foothills and San Gabriel River corridor and Puente Hills will not only help improve that access, but will also ensure that these highly-popular and heavily-impacted areas receive the resources they need to be managed and maintained in a sustainable manner for the safety and enjoyment of all. It will also expand the San Gabriels National Monument by nearly 110,000 acres, establish an 8,417-acre Condor Peak Wilderness and a 6,774 acre Yerba Buena Wilderness, and expand the San Gabriel Wilderness by 2,000 acres and Sheep Mountain by nearly 14,000 acres. The proposed Sheep Mountain Wilderness additions include a segment of the famous Pacific Crest Trail and the popular East Fork Trail. We are requesting a small boundary adjustment to an existing Wilderness area to correct an old mapping error and facilitate the re-connection of a potentially valuable mountain biking loop trail. You can read more in the letter at right.
If you’d like to write your lawmakers about these bills, you can do so using the tool below: