Lake County News: Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument dedicated; effort honors vision for public lands in Lake, Napa, Yolo, Mendocino and Solano counties
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell on Saturday joined with hundreds of community members and local leaders to dedicate the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument, which was designated by President Barack Obama on July 10, 2015, to protect nearly 331,000 acres of public lands in Northern California.
The dedication and spring festival took place at Cowboy Camp, a popular recreation area for hikers, equestrians, mountain bikers, and wildlife enthusiasts near the town of Williams.
Secretary Jewell was joined by Bureau of Land Management Director Neil Kornze, California State Director for the Bureau of Land Management Jerry Perez, U.S. Representatives Mike Thompson and John Garamendi, California Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird, Sen. Lois Wolk, Assemblyman Bill Dodd and other community and conservation leaders.
“It’s a great day to celebrate the culmination of more than a decade of work to protect this stunning landscape so its beauty and richness will be passed on to future generations,” said Secretary Jewell. “The president’s action to recognize Berryessa Snow Mountain as a national monument is a testament to this community’s vision and dedication. We expect the designation will boost local economies through increased tourism from families and outdoor enthusiasts seeking adventure, recreation, and solitude that only nature can provide.”
“Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument provides an important balance between Northern California's urban environments of Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area and the wild, remote landscapes that surround the farms, ranches, orchards and vineyards that nourish our nation,” said Chief Tidwell. “The balance is important because it helps ensure these lands continue to serve the region and nation as a sustainable, working landscape that supports local economies and critical resources from fresh water and grazing lands to recreation areas and habitat for important plant, fish and wildlife species.”
The monument extends almost 100 miles from Berryessa Peak and other lands in Napa, Yolo, and Solano counties through the spectacular lands of Lake, Colusa and Glenn counties to the eastern boundary of the Yuki Wilderness in Mendocino County.
The landscape rises from near sea level in the south to over 7,000 feet in the north, and encompasses diverse landscapes including steep canyons, scenic rivers, rolling oak woodlands and elaborate springtime wildflower displays.
Miles of hiking, horseback riding, and designated off-road vehicle trails offer visitors views of the Sacramento Valley and Sierra Nevada Mountains to the east and the Coastal Mountains to the west, as well as panoramic vistas overlooking Clear Lake, Lake Berryessa, and the steep canyon of Cache Creek. Hunting and angling are popular activities year-round.
The Cache Creek, Cedar Rough and Snow Mountain wilderness areas provide opportunities for remote backcountry travel and Cache Creek provides the closest commercial whitewater rafting to San Francisco.
The new monument contains one of the greatest concentrations of biodiversity in California and is home to threatened and endangered plant and wildlife species including northern spotted owls, marten, and fisher. California Coastal Chinook salmon and Northern California steelhead spawn in the area’s waterways.
The region’s proximity to population centers such as Sacramento, San Francisco and Santa Rosa make the area an important recreation setting for millions of Northern California residents.
An independent study estimates an increase in visitors could bring up to $26 million in new economic activity to local economies over the next five years.
A study by the Winters Chamber of Commerce found protected public lands are major contributors to our country’s $646 billion outdoor recreation economy. In California alone, more than half of all residents participate in outdoor recreation each year, supporting more than 700,000 jobs and generating more than $6 billion for our state’s economy.
The proclamation allows for continued historic uses of the area, including hunting, fishing and livestock grazing, which will be managed under existing rules and regulations.
The designation does not alter or affect valid water rights, rights of way or existing special use permits or commercial activities on public land, as long as they are consistent with the care and management of the objects and resources protected by the designation.
The Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument will continue to be managed by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management and the Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service.
The agencies will jointly prepare a management plan for the monument in an open process with maximum public involvement from federal, state and local government, community members and interested stakeholders.
In December 2014, Secretary Jewell, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, and USDA Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Robert Bonnie visited the Berryessa Snow Mountain area at the request of U.S. Representative Mike Thompson to hear from the community about their vision for conservation in the region.
Since 2012, Congressman Thompson and U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer have introduced legislation to protect this area.
The boundary declared by the president’s designation follows the approach contained in legislation introduced in February of 2014, following extensive public outreach and engagement by the congressman.
“After years of tireless work by countless numbers of people, the Berryessa Snow Mountain region finally has the permanent protection it deserves,” said Congressman Thompson. “It was an honor to join those who have been incredible partners and supporters in this effort at today’s dedication ceremony.”
The Bureau of Land Management’s National Conservation Lands contain some of the West’s most spectacular landscapes.
They include more than 873 federally recognized areas comprising approximately 32 million acres of National Monuments, National Conservation Areas, Wilderness Areas, Wilderness Study Areas, Wild and Scenic Rivers, National Scenic and Historic Trails, and Conservation Lands of the California Desert.