Sen. Boxer's California Wild Heritage Act to protect threatened wild places

California Wilderness Coalition applauds landmark bill

provided by California Wilderness Coalition


he California Wilderness Coalition thanked Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) for her reintroduction of the California Wild Heritage Act earlier this month – landmark legislation representing the most diverse, accessible array of wild places ever protected in a single bill. The Coalition represents some 3,500 individual members and 200 conservation groups and business sponsors in California.

    “This bill will do more than safeguard wilderness and wild rivers – it will rescue some of California's critical wild places slated for destruction by the current Administration,” noted Mary Wells, executive director of the California Wilderness Coalition. “Places like Duncan Canyon and the Los Padres National Forest may be logged or drilled imminently if they don't get the wilderness protection they deserve – we thank Senator Boxer for riding to the rescue.”

    The Forest Service has proposed to log Duncan Canyon in the Tahoe National Forest, including the Duncan Canyon Wilderness proposed in Senator Boxer's bill. Wilderness designation would protect it from logging.

    Similarly, the Forest Service plans new oil and gas leasing on thousands of acres of proposed wilderness in the Los Padres National Forest that are habitat for 20 threatened or endangered species, including the critically endangered California condor. The Forest Service could begin leasing this fall; Senator Boxer's legislation would protect the threatened wilderness.

    In addition, the California Wild Heritage Act would permanently protect wilderness and salmon restoration areas in the Klamath River Basin, a critical step toward rescuing Klamath salmon from the threat of extinction. More than 30,000 salmon died last fall when the Bush Administration diverted river flows to agricultural fields in the northern basin.

    To learn more about these threatened areas, see the CWC's report California's 10 Most Threatened Wild Places 2003 at: www

Prospects are good


    Congressman Mike Thompson (D-Napa) and Congresswoman Hilda Solis (D-El Monte) are expected to introduce companion California Wilderness and Wild Rivers legislation in the US House of Representatives when Congress reconvenes in early September. On March 27, Congressman Thompson introduced H.R. 1501, the Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act of 2003, which contains wild places in his coastal First Congressional District. Senator Boxer introduced a companion bill, S. 738, in the Senate the same day.

    Conservation advocates are optimistic about the passage of wilderness bills in this Congress despite the anti-environment tone set by the Bush Administration. “While the White House is busy polluting Clear Skies and logging Healthy Forests, we look over at Capitol Hill and see wilderness protection consistently appeals to legislators on both sides of the aisle,” said Keith Hammond, spokesman for the Coalition.

    Last November, the Big Sur Wilderness and Conservation Act of 2002 became law. Sponsored by Representative Sam Farr (D-Santa Cruz) and Senator Boxer, that bill provided wilderness protection for areas of Big Sur and Los Padres National Forest in San Benito and Monterey counties, which were included in Boxer's original California Wild Heritage Wilderness Act of 2002.

Why protect wilderness?

    More than 60% of our state's clean drinking water comes from California's wild lands and free-flowing rivers. But over the past 20 years, nearly 700,000 acres of our state's unprotected wilderness – an area nearly the size of Yosemite National Park – have been lost.

    Studies have shown significant economic benefits for communities near a protected Wilderness or Wild and Scenic River. According to a 2002 regional economic study in the Eastern Sierra, wild lands support more than 2,800 jobs and contribute between $125 million and $171 million in local revenues.

    Support has been continually building for the California Wild Heritage Act since its original introduction in May of 2002. Currently, more than 3,000 businesses, scientists and civic leaders, nearly 200 elected officials, several state constitutional officers, and the California State Senate & Assembly believe we should act now to protect our remaining wild places.

    Following are some of the outstanding wild places that will be protected in this landmark legislation:

  • Northern California: The King Range contains the longest stretch of undeveloped coastline in the contiguous United States.
  • Northern Sierra: The Feather Falls area in the Plumas National Forest contains the sixth highest waterfall in the United States.
  • Western Sierra: Duncan Canyon is a rare and spectacular ancient forest haven in the Sierra.
  • Central Sierra: The Clavey River is considered by scientists to be one of the healthiest watersheds in the Sierra Nevada.
  • Eastern Sierra: The White Mountains, America's highest desert mountain range, are home to the oldest living trees in the world – bristlecone pines.
  • Central Coast: The San Rafael Wilderness Additions in the Los Padres National Forest serve as vital habitat for the reintroduction of the endangered California condor.
  • California Desert: The Avawatz Mountains are enjoyed by rock-climbers, hikers, and equestrians seeking solitude, and provide a spring-watered stronghold for desert bighorn sheep.
  • Southern California: The Upper San Diego River is one of the most remote areas in Southern California, and is vital for protecting water quality for San Diego.

    For more information on these, and other wild areas and rivers that will be protected if this legislation passes, please visit www

    The California Wild Heritage Campaign is a statewide coalition of more than 380 member groups that includes The Wilderness Society, Sierra Club, California Wilderness Coalition, Friends of the River, League to Save Lake Tahoe, Republicans for Environmental Protection, National Hispanic Environmental Council, American Whitewater, and the Northern California Council Federation of Fly Fishers.

    For additional contact information in your area:

Northern California: Ryan Henson, California Wilderness Coalition, 530-902-1648

Tehama/Butte/Northern Sierra: Jessica Rios, Friends of the River, 530-228-9542

Central Coast/Bay Area: Dave Westman, Sierra Club, 510-459-4137

Western Sierra: Tina Andolina, California Wilderness Coalition, 530-902-1649

Eastern Sierra: Paul McFarland, Friends of the Inyo, 760-647-0079

California Desert: Keith Hammond, California Wilderness Coalition, 530-848-6265

Santa Barbara/Ventura: Erin Duffy, California Wild Heritage Campaign, 805-252-6547

Los Angeles/San Bernardino: Tim Allyn, Sierra Club, 323-314-4514

San Diego: Geoffrey Smith, California Wild Heritage Campaign, 858-442-1425

    California Wilderness Coalition; 2655 Portage Bay East, Suite 5; Davis, CA 95616; (530)-758-0380x109;