Pew Supports California and Oregon Conservation Bills

Pew Supports California and Oregon Conservation Bills

On October 8, The Pew Charitable Trusts’ U.S. public lands project submitted testimony regarding the California Coastal National Monument Expansion Act, the California Desert Conservation and Recreation Act, and the Frank Moore Wild Steelhead Sanctuary Act of 2015 to the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining.

Download the Testimony (PDF)

Statement of The Pew Charitable Trusts Regarding S. 1971, S. 414, and S. 1448

Submitted to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining

For the Record of the Hearing held on October 8, 2015

The U.S. Public Lands program at The Pew Charitable Trusts seeks to preserve ecologically and culturally diverse U.S. public lands through congressionally-designated wilderness, the establishment of national monuments, and administrative protections.  We appreciate the opportunity to submit these views for the record.

S. 1971 - California Coastal National Monument Expansion Act

The Pew Charitable Trusts supports S. 1971, the California Coastal National Monument Expansion Act, sponsored by Senator Barbara Boxer.  The legislation would add approximately 6,200 acres of federal public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) as new units within the existing California Coastal National Monument.  We commend Senator Boxer for her dedication and commitment to protecting these ecologically important and scenic lands along the California coast. 

The California Coastal National Monument was established in 2000 by former President Clinton using his authority under the Antiquities Act—protecting some 20,000 small islands and other geological formations along the entire 1,100 miles of California’s coastline.  The monument’s rocks and small islands serve as important habitat for various seabirds and marine mammals, as well as many other species of plants and animals.  In 2014, President Obama added the 1,600 acre Point Arena-Stornetta area to the unique Coastal monument.

Senator Boxer’s legislation would designate six significant areas along California’s coast to be part of the California Coastal National Monument:   Trinidad Head, Lost Coast Headlands, and Lighthouse Ranch in Humboldt County; Cotoni-Coast Dairies in Santa Cruz County; Piedras Blanca in San Luis Obispo County; and Rocks and Islands in Orange County.  These lands, each with varied histories and values warranting permanent safeguards, will benefit from monument designation.   Such benefits include enhanced management for the lands, improved public-private coordination and consultation, and increased recreational opportunities.  Additionally, the state and local communities are likely to see increased economic activities associated with increased visitation to the region.

Again, we thank Senator Boxer for her vision and leadership in seeking to protect these special public lands in California and we urge the Committee to quickly approve S. 1971.  

S. 414 - California Desert Conservation and Recreation Act

The Pew Charitable Trusts fully supports S. 414, the California Desert Conservation and Recreation Act (CDCRA), introduced by Sen. Feinstein.  We applaud the Senator for her tireless efforts on behalf of the California desert, and ask that the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources proceed with expedited consideration and approval of S. 414. 

Senator Feinstein has crafted comprehensive, fair legislation designed to balance the differing interests and views of those who live, work, or visit the greater California desert region.  The CDCRA would protect areas that are part of America’s natural and cultural heritage, areas that contribute to the regional economy, and areas that promote recreation and public enjoyment of shared resources. 

Building on her landmark California Desert Protection Act of 1994 achievement, S. 414 seeks to establish and protect two new national monuments, several new wilderness areas and wilderness additions, special management and recreation areas, several wild and scenic rivers, and would expand Joshua Tree and Death Valley National Parks and the Mojave National Preserve.

Specific provisions are:

  • Sand to Snow National Monument (135,000 acres)
  • Mojave Trails National Monument (965,000 acres)
  • Wild and Scenic Rivers (77 miles)
  • Death Valley National Park expansion (39,000 acres)
  • Joshua Tree National Park expansion (4,500 acres)
  • Mojave Trails National Preserve expansion (22,000 acres)
  • New Wilderness areas (250,000 acres)
  • Alabama Hills National Scenic Area (18,610 acres)

If enacted, S. 414 will ensure that spectacular scenic vistas, varied and threatened desert wildlife and plants, and important Tribal and American history of the region are preserved for this and future generations to enjoy, appreciate, and to learn from.  Protection of these landscapes will also be a further boost to tourism, which is an important component of local economies such as Imperial, Inyo, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties.  In San Bernardino County alone, visitors generated $52.5 million in local tax receipts in 2010, providing much-needed revenue to the county and its cities.

As a partner in the Campaign for the California Desert for nearly ten years, Pew has long supported Senator Feinstein’s work to protect the desert.  We  are proud to be a part of the diverse assembly of interests supporting this legislation—local business owners, chambers of commerce, city councils, county supervisors, off-road vehicle enthusiasts, hikers, community leaders, conservationists, and veterans.   The coalition in support of Sen. Feinstein’s legislation to protect the California Desert represents some of the most varied affiliations we’ve had the pleasure of working with.  This diversity is a testament to the Senator’s outreach and collaborative efforts.  

We appreciate the Senator’s continued commitment and leadership to protect critical recreational, ecological, historic, and economic values within the California desert.   We urge the Committee to approve S. 414 as soon as possible.  

S. 1448 - Frank Moore Wild Steelhead Sanctuary Act of 2015

The Pew Charitable Trusts is also pleased to support S.1448, The Frank Moore Wild Steelhead Sanctuary Act of 2015, introduced by Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley.  The legislation would designate approximately 104,000 acres of some of the best wild steelhead spawning areas in the Pacific Northwest and is named to honor Frank Moore, a legendary steward of the North Umpqua River and an American war veteran.   

From its origin high in the Mount Thielsen Wilderness of the Cascade Range in southwestern Oregon, the crystal-clear  North Umpqua River thunders westward toward the Pacific Ocean through a mosaic of Douglas fir, western hemlock, mountain meadows of wildflowers, and steep canyons of basalt.  Just west of Roseburg, the North Umpqua joins the South Umpqua, where they travel together to the Pacific Ocean.

The legislation safeguards approximately 104,000 acres of this high conservation value land and waters.  The watershed is identified as one of the most important ecological areas in the Pacific Northwest, providing over 50 river and stream miles of high quality habitat for summer and winter steelhead, Chinook salmon, Coho salmon, rainbow trout and other native species.  Steamboat Creek is recognized as a “Tier 1 Key Watershed” under the Northwest Forest Plan, a label used to describe waters with high quality for drinking and aquatic life.  Forests in the area are designated “Late Successional Reserves” under the Northwest Forest Plan, managed to protect and enhance conditions of late-successional and old-growth forest ecosystems and high quality aquatic habitat.  And the area is recognized in Oregon’s statewide Conservation Strategy as a priority “Conservation Opportunity Area,” and its rivers and tributaries are ranked in the highest category as “crucial aquatic habitat” by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.  

From the clean water to the wild salmon and steelhead trout that make their home in the river, to historic and cultural sites along the riverbanks, the area boasts a raw beauty that draws visitors from near and far.  Its flora and fauna are unique, boasting both moist and dry forest components, creating a home for several endemic and rare species. In addition to the multitude of fisheries, the area is also habitat for black bears and river otters, bald eagles and northern spotted owls, Roosevelt elk and grouse.  Historically, the combination of large salmon and steelhead runs and majestic scenery has attracted anglers from all over the world, but the area is also valued for its rugged recreational hiking and backcountry opportunities.  

No one has been a greater supporter or protector of this valuable landscape and river ecosystem than Frank Moore.  In 1944, newly married and 21 years of age, Mr. Moore enlisted in the United States armed forces to defend the ideals of the United Sates.  Alongside thousands of other young men, he landed on the beaches of Normandy, France for the D-Day allied invasion.  He recalls losing more than 1400 men in just 10 hours. This event, like it did for so many, would change him forever. 

After returning from the war and shaken from all he had seen, Frank built a very different life with his wife, Jeanne.  He found that fishing and spending time outdoors had what he has called “a marvelous healing” power.   As a result, in 1957, he and Jeanne started the Steamboat Inn in the North Umpqua watershed and Mr. Moore guided trips on this renowned river.  In 1966, he and a core group of anglers started the Steamboaters, a local organization that sought to preserve the natural resource of the Umpqua River.  Throughout his life, Mr. Moore has shared his passion for fishing, this river, and the outdoors with visitors from all over the world. 

We commend the Senators for their foresight and commitment to permanently protect this region for its critical ecological, economic, and recreation values.  We urge the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to approve S. 1448 quickly.

We appreciate the opportunity to submit these views for the Subcommittee’s consideration.  For additional information, please contact Marcia Argust, Project Director for the U.S. Public Lands Program, The Pew Charitable Trusts, at 202-329-0793 or [email protected].

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