Resources Panel Holds Hearing for Northern California Wilderness Bill

Jul 14, 2005
Press Release
Hearing Marks Significant Step Forward for the Legislation

A Congressional Subcommittee held a long awaited hearing on the Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act (H.R. 233) today with local elected officials and wilderness advocates testifying on its behalf. North Coast Congressman Mike Thompson, the bill's sponsor, testified on its behalf before the Forests and Forest Health Subcommittee of the House Resources Committee.

“The public lands covered in this bill are some of the most beautiful in our country and are truly deserving of wilderness designation,” Thompson said in his testimony. “We worked in a bipartisan manner with stakeholders in every county of the 1st Congressional District to ensure all concerns were considered and we drafted a bill that balanced all interests.”

California Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein introduced the legislation in the Senate earlier this year. The bill has been approved by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and is awaiting approval by the full senate.

"California's wild beauty is an essential part of its identity," said Senator Boxer. "If Congress acts this year and passes this bill, future generations will be thanking us for preserving places like the King Range and the remaining stunning, wild, and unspoiled Northern California coast. I would like to thank Representative Thompson, who has been leading the effort on the House side for this bill, and Senator Feinstein, whose hard work on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has been invaluable."

“Today's hearing moves us one step closer to passing this bill and protecting this environmental treasure for future generations,” Senator Feinstein said. “Congressman Thompson, Senator Boxer, and I have spent countless hours working to ensure that this bill strikes the right balance - especially with regard to preventing catastrophic fire and protecting property and grazing rights. I look forward to working with the Committee to ensure that the bill moves forward and is enacted into law.”

Mendocino County Supervisor Jim Wattenburger and Del Norte County Supervisor Martha McClure testified in support of H.R. 233. They were joined in Washington by a number of local officials and wilderness advocates who are lobbying on behalf of the legislation.

“As a pro-business Republican and member of the Ukiah Chamber of Commerce, the economic benefits of this proposal are also clear to me,” Supervisor Wattenburger said. “Tourism is an important part of our economy along with timber, fishing, agriculture and retail. The areas proposed for protection are considered poor candidates for logging but are well suited to attract visitors who want to hike, boat, hunt and fish.”

“I thank Chairman Pombo and Subcommittee Chairman Walden for holding this hearing and appreciate Congressman Thompson's diligent effort in crafting this bill that considers the impacts to local citizens and addresses their concerns,” Supervisor Martha McClure said. “I support this bill because there is no land being taken off the tax roll and no roads will be closed.”

During the hearing Rep. Thompson addressed concerns about fire management policies, road closures and timber management policies. “We adjusted the proposed wilderness boundaries to keep roads open and minimize the impact on future logging,” Thompson said. “H.R. 233 also strengthens the land managers ability to prevent and fight fires on wilderness land.”

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