Three U.S. representatives from California introduced a bipartisan bill that would designate or expand six OHV recreation areas in the California desert, create the 18,000-acre Alabama Hills National Scenic Area and designate 375,500 acres of wilderness in the California Desert.
Photo by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management
The bill (H.R. 376, California Desert Protection and Recreation Act) also would:
- Release 124,000 acres of existing wilderness study areas in the Cady Mountains and Soda Mountains;
- Add about 39,000 acres to the National Park System, including significant acreage at Joshua Tree National Park and Death Valley National Park;
- Establish the Vinagre Wash Special Management Area to protect 81,000 acres of public land in Imperial County, while preserving motorized recreation along designated routes;
- Designate or expand about 77 miles of wild, scenic and recreational rivers in the San Bernardino Mountains and near Death Valley;
- Prohibit the development of renewable energy generation facilities on 28,000 acres of BLM land near “Juniper Flats;”
- Convey 934 acres of BLM land to the State of California to be included in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park;
- Direct the Secretary of the Interior to negotiate with the California State Lands Commission on land swaps involving state school lands within the California Desert Conservation Area; and
- Establish a Desert Tortoise Conservation Center along the California-Nevada border.
The bill was introduced by Reps. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley), Juan Vargas (D-Imperial Valley) and Pete Aguilar (D-Redlands).
U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-California) introduced a similar bill (S. 67) in the Senate.