By Wendy Bertrand

I was there and experienced a rare community show of love for the public lands of Del Norte.

If I were a county supervisor, I would have followed up on (U.S. Rep. Jared) Huffman’s town hall meeting, where he introduced the legislation he is drafting to protect the North Coast’s spectacular wild places and rivers. On Aug. 15, an engaged crowd with standing room only filled the Crescent City Educational Resource Center to show interest, concern, and love of our glorious Del Norte County’s public lands.

Huffman’s website, https://huffman.house.gov/rep-huffmans-legislation-to-protect-the-north-coast-s-spectacular-wild-places-and-rivers-0, spells out three main points of the future bill: to restore and revitalize forests and watersheds, to conserve ecologically significant areas, and to expand recreation opportunities on existing federal lands.

I was so proud to be among the 200 or so people who turned out to welcome Huffman. We in Del Norte County showed our interest in federal land management, recreational opportunities and wild lands conservation. It was heartwarming to hear the many useful comments that were brought forward to help Huffman be successful in crafting his well thought out federal bill. Rather than a pro/con debate, this was a show of willingness to be sure this bill worked well for Del Norte County. For example, on the topic of trails many mentioned their love of the Kelsey Trail, some had specific knowledge of trails in Del Norte that needed to be respected, and many felt the name should acknowledge our history, geography, fish, tribes, and special beauty from Crest to Coast.

Huffman had already been to Humboldt County where the name “Bigfoot” has much play. However, I was glad to see the residents of Del Norte put in a plug for names that might better include the land and history of our county. Maybe the trail name should adapt to the county it travels through, “Ancient Peaks” or “Salmon Nation” were suggested? Or have a more general name that reflects the entire North Coast, not just Humboldt County.

The Triplicate (Aug. 17) reported some of the comments by members of the respectful and engaged audience. A dozen more comments were made on a variety of topics including the role the youth should play at every step of the way; how a tunnel will be the best solution to the threat of Caltrans taking our precious wild lands; a singing of the historic folksong “The Happy Wanderer”; and that the maps needed to be more detailed and would help animal corridors to be overlaid.

After each comment made, Huffman requested the person speaking write specific suggestions to his staff. The address, ca02publiclands@gmail.com, was on the handout Huffman gave of his draft Northern California Conservation and Recreation Act Section by section summary and is on his website above.

The comments said at the town hall meeting were important for others in Del Norte to hear. I sure felt good to see the love of place expressed so well. But I, too, must emphasize to those who spoke and those who have feedback, additions, suggestions or edits for this important bill for our public lands to email them promptly, as I don’t think anything said at the town hall meeting was recorded as official comment, although Huffman got a feel for the support from Del Norte for his bill. Words vanish. Writings remain.

I urge you to write to Huffman, so Del Norte’s concerns and identity are not left out, or overshadowed by the other more populated counties. Taking care of place is critical.

Wendy Bertrand lives in Gasquet.

18158976