The Clear Creek National Recreation Area and Conservation Act (H.R. 1913) would direct the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to reopen the 63,000-acre Clear Creek Management Area in San Benito and Fresno counties in California for use by off-highway vehicles.
Trail riders at the Clear Creek Management Area in 2007. Photo courtesy of Don Amador
Introduced by U.S. Reps. Jimmy Panetta (D-Carmel Valley), David G. Valadao (R-Hanford), Jeff Denham (R-Atwater) and Paul Cook (R-Yucca Valley), the legislation also would protect 21,000 acres of BLM land adjacent to Clear Creek by designating the area the Joaquin Rocks Wilderness.
A similar bill, H.R. 1838, was introduced in 2015 by then-Congressman Sam Farr.
Once considered a premier off-highway-vehicle recreation site, Clear Creek was temporarily closed to the public in 2008 after a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency analysis of the risk created by naturally occurring asbestos.
The current bill instructs the BLM to develop a rigorous plan to minimize the risk from asbestos exposure and educate visitors about the naturally occurring asbestos. The BLM also would be required to find ways to reduce the impact of off-road vehicles to protect the area’s habitat.
“As a Californian on the Natural Resources Committee, it is important to me to protect and preserve California’s public lands for future generations,” Panetta said. “This bipartisan bill not only bolsters our area’s conservation efforts, it also promotes recreation and tourism in our region. When this bill passes, locals and visitors will no longer be restricted from enjoying all that Clear Creek Management Area has to offer.”