California could get 600,000 new acres of federally protected wilderness under legislation presented to the US Senate on Monday. The designation would ensure that the land would remain free from development, vehicles and commercial activities.
In total, the package introduced by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-California) and co-sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) would extend protections for more than one million acres of public land in the state, said officials. .
“Our public lands and natural spaces are indeed our country’s greatest treasures,” Padilla said Monday at a press conference at the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area in Irwindale. If the legislation is successful, the site will be the center of a new 50,000-acre National Recreation Area spanning the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and portions of the San Gabriel River and Rio Hondo.
“These lands are not only precious for their stunning landscapes, but also for their important biodiversity and the role they play in keeping our environment strong and resilient,” said Padilla.
The package, which consists of three bills approved by the United States House in February, would add more than 109,000 acres to the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument and designate 30,000 acres of wilderness, about half of which is in one region. at its western end which has been left out. when then-President Obama designated the monument in 2014.
It would also designate more than 583 miles of river – including 45 miles from tributaries of the San Gabriel River, as well as Little Rock Creek – as “wild and scenic rivers,” a protection that prohibits dams or new mining activities.
About 17 million people – or one in 20 Americans – live within a 90-minute drive of the San Gabriel Mountains, but for many communities of color, those open spaces remain inaccessible, the Los Angeles County supervisor said, Hilda Solis.
“An incredible 82% of communities of color in the county lack green space and many suffer from air pollution, asthma, childhood obesity and other ailments,” Solis said. “The San Gabriel Mountains represent 70% of LA County’s open space and provide critical open space for all of these affected communities.”
Additions to protected lands will ensure that these resources are developed and preserved for generations to come, she said.
All of the legislation would also designate roughly 262,000 acres of public land in Northwest California and 288,000 acres of land in the Los Padres National Forest and Carrizo Plain National Monument as a wilderness area, as well as the settlement. a 400 mile long Condor National Scenic Trail. from Los Angeles to Monterey County.
The legislation advances a goal endorsed by President Biden and backed by California Governor Gavin Newsom to conserve 30% of the country’s land and water by 2030, said Wade Crowfoot, California’s natural resources secretary.
He noted that protecting one million acres of California land equates to one in 100 acres in the state.
“Simply put, it’s a big deal,” he says.