Del Norte’s congressional representative introduced a bill Friday seeking to guard local communities against wildfire, provide jobs, restore lands impacted by illegal marijuana growing operations and protect the region’s wilderness areas and streams.
Congressman Jared Huffman’s Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation and Working Forests Act was created following consultation with community leaders, tourism representatives and outdoor recreation groups, tribes, county supervisors, the timber industry, forestry experts, fisheries scientists, fire ecologists, business owners and those who specialize in restoring wild lands, according to a press release from the congressman’s office.
Huffman also received more than 200 letters of support for the bill and received input at public meetings in Eureka, Crescent City, Weaverville and Ukiah, according to the press release.
If approved, the bill would not limit hunting or fishing, close any legally opened roads or trails to vehicles or affect private property, according to Huffman.
According to Huffman, the proposed bill would add law enforcement from federal land management agencies, the National Guard Counter Drug Program and scientific experts in the remediation partnership that addresses illegal marijuana grows, according to the press release.
The proposed bill would authorize old-growth redwoods restoration in Redwood National and State Parks through partnerships between the Department of the Interior and state and local stakeholders. The bill would require federal agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service to cooperate and coordinate in managing fires in wilderness areas.
The Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation and Working Forests Act would also designate a 730,000-acre restoration area in the South Fork Trinity River, Mad River and North Fork Eel watersheds in Trinity and Humboldt counties.
Huffman’s proposed bill would also protect about 260,000 acres of federal public lands as wilderness by expanding nine existing areas and establishing eight new ones. The bill also proposes designating 379 miles of new wild and scenic rivers and mandating that federal agencies create management plans for 101 miles of existing wild and scenic rivers.
The act also calls for the removal of Ship Mountain and Blue Creek from wilderness proposals and remove all wilderness boundaries 200 feet away from private timber parcels, according to the press release.
The bill also proposes expanding recreational opportunities including directing federal agencies to work with each other, local communities and other “interested parties” to assess trail improvements on national forests in Del Norte, Humboldt, Trinity and Mendocino counties, according to Huffman’s press release.
The proposed bill would require federal agencies to study the possibility of establishing Bigfoot National Recreation Trail, which would run from southern Trinity County to Crescent City and would direct a study and, if feasible, construction of mountain biking routes in Del Norte County, according to the press release.
The bill would also authorize the construction of interagency visitor centers in Crescent City and Weaverville, according to the press release.
To explore a map of these proposals, visit https://www.arcgis.com/apps/SimpleViewer/index.html?appid=4788a22107714e9b9c6664a36ba832da.