Del Norte County's congressional representative introduced a wilderness bill Wednesday that would authorize local mountain biking routes, establish an interagency visitor center in Crescent City and remove Ship Mountain and Blue Creek from earlier wilderness proposals.
Rep. Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) introduced the Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation and Working Forests Act, which includes new programs that increase fire resilience, restore forests and fish habitat, establishes forest stewardship programs and enhances recreational opportunities. The legislation wouldn't limit hunting or fishing, close any legally open roads or trails to vehicles and wouldn't affect access to private property, according to a press release from Huffman's office.
Sen. Kamala Harris introduced a companion bill in the Senate on Wednesday, according to the press release.
For a one-page summary of the bill, visit https://huffman.house.gov.
If approved, the bill would expand nine existing wilderness areas and establish eight new areas, protecting about 260,000 acres of federal public land, according to the press release. It would also establish 379 miles of new Wild and Scenic Rivers and would create management plans for 101 miles of existing Wild and Scenic Rivers.
In terms of recreational opportunities, the bill addresses trail improvements on national forest land in Del Norte, Humboldt, Trinity and Mendocino counties, according to the press release. It would direct a study and authorize the construction of mountain bike trails in Del Norte.
The bill would also study the possibility of establishing the Bigfoot National Recreation Trail, which would stretch from southern Trinity County to Crescent City, according to the press release.
If approved, the bill would also authorize the construction of a new interagency visitor center in Crescent City.
Huffman's proposed legislation also establishes a partnership of federal, state and local entities to clean up and restore public lands affected by illegal marijuana grows, according to the press release. Illegal marijuana grows, which include pesticide and fertilizer use, impact wildlife, water quality and pose a public safety threat, according to the press release.
The bill would also authorize old-growth restoration in Redwood National and State Parks through partnerships between the U.S. Department of the Interior, state and local stakeholders.
Federal agencies would also be required to cooperate and coordinate with each other when managing fires in wilderness areas if Huffman's bill passes, according to the press release.
The Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation and Working Forests Act is cosponsored by U.S. Reps. Salud Carbajal and Judy Chu.