Lake County News, CA – Bill to expand Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument advances through Senate Committee

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Sunset over Condor Ridge in Northern California. Photo by Bob Wick.

The Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument expansion effort continues to move forward in Congress.

On Thursday, the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources passed the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument Expansion Act (S. 4080) with unanimous, bipartisan support.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA) with Sen. Dianne Feinstein as co-sponsor, is a companion to HR 6366, introduced by Congressman John Garamendi.

Lawyers and the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation are thrilled that this legislation, which would permanently protect a unique Northern California landscape, has received bipartisan support in the Senate.

“Glad to see my bill to expand Berryessa Snow National Monument and give tribal governments a seat at the table to better manage and care for these sacred tribal lands moving forward today,” said said Senator Padilla. “The sacred grounds in and around Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument are central to thousands of years of tribal origin stories. It is our duty to protect the abundant natural resources and rich history of Molok Luyuk for the children of today and for future generations, and I look forward to working to ensure that this bill carries its fruits.

The legislation would add 3,925 acres adjacent to the current monument, support tribal co-management, and change the name of additional wilderness lands from “Walker Ridge” at Molok Luyuk-Patwin to “Condor Ridge” – a name the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation provided.

“Molok Luyuk is home to both profound natural beauty and deep cultural significance. It’s a special place, so it’s only fitting that the Californian tribes and the US government create a special relationship to protect it,” said Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation President Anthony Roberts. “We commend Senator Padilla and Senator Feinstein for their work on this bill.”

In 2015, President Obama designated Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument with Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA05) introducing the original bill.

The monument, along with the proposed Molok Luyuk addition, is culturally significant to local Native American tribes and notable for its diverse habitats and wildlife, including endangered animals. The legislation would not affect private, state, tribal or non-federal lands.

“Molok Luyuk is a special landscape with fascinating geology, rich biodiversity, deep cultural significance and beautiful views. This place is worthy of the permanent protection proposed by Senator Alex Padilla and Representative John Garamendi,” said Sierra Club Redwood Chapter President Victoria Brandon.

Molok Luyuk includes public land adjacent to the existing monument which is administered by the Bureau of Land Management.

The ridge is home to great biodiversity, including over 30 species of rare plants, ancient blue oak forests, rugged rock outcrops, wildflower meadows and extensive stands of McNab cypress. The area also provides wildlife connectivity for many species including deer, cougar and black bear.

“This markup is an important step after decades of advocacy,” said Nick Jensen, conservation program director for the California Native Plant Society. “The bipartisan support for this legislation is a wonderful sign that we are on the right track to permanently protect an area that is biologically valuable and of great importance to Native American communities. We thank Senator Padilla for his outstanding leadership in the expansion of Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument and for honoring the deep significance of the area to our tribal partners.

The Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument Expansion Act would provide long-lasting and much-needed protection for the land, as well as requiring a management plan for the monument within one year.

The legislation also calls for cooperative management with tribes or tribal partners in developing the management plan and subsequent management decisions. The land is of considerable current cultural and religious significance to the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, and includes sites central to their origin. stories. The cooperative management provision would help safeguard this one-of-a-kind area in partnership with local indigenous tribes.

“Molok Luyuk is a rare gem. It is teeming with wild animals, rare plants and native treasures that local residents have long enjoyed. We are thrilled to see this legislation moving forward in the Senate and grateful for the leadership of Senators Padilla and Feinstein,” said Sandra Schubert, Executive Director of Tuleyome. “We are grateful that they supported the effort to protect Molok Luyuk from threats. current and future while respecting tribal stewardship of the land.”

The bill would also increase recreational access to nature and world-class outdoor activities for locals and visitors. Popular recreational activities on these lands include hiking, sightseeing, mountain biking, camping, horseback riding, and using off-road vehicles on designated routes. Integrating the area into the existing monument would improve land management, provide additional resources for building and maintaining trails, help improve public access, and protect sensitive wildlife and key habitats.

It will also help ensure equitable access to the outdoors in a county where 22% of residents identify as Hispanic or Latino.

“We admire Sen. Alex Padilla for being a reliable champion of public lands since taking office,” said Ryan Henson, CalWild’s senior policy director. “We are delighted to see the bill to protect Molok Luyuk take this step in Congress. This place is a public treasure and deserves permanent protection and improved management.

The expanded monument would also mark an important milestone in helping the state of California and the Biden administration achieve the critical goal of protecting 30% of U.S. lands and waters by 2030, added California program director Elyane Stefanick. for the Conservation Lands Foundation, in reference to California’s 30×30 initiative and America the Beautiful federal call to action.

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