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News Release

For Release: March 30, 2009     
Contacts:   John Dearing 916-978-4622 or Jan Bedrosian 916-978-4616

President Signs Legislation that Enhances Protection for Public Lands in California

President Obama today (Monday, March 30) signed into law an omnibus lands bill that enhances protection for public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management across the West, including California.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar hailed the bill as a “milestone for the stewardship of America’s natural wonders.  This legislation is the product of years of work in hundreds of communities across America, where citizens, elected officials, stakeholders and land managers have forged wise protections for our treasured landscapes that will boost local economies while protecting traditional ways of life.  The conservation areas, wild lands, and open spaces protected through this landmark legislation will be a proud legacy for generations to come.”
The BLM land designations include wilderness areas in California, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Oregon, and Utah; four new national conservation areas in Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah; one new national monument in New Mexico; and new wild and scenic rivers in Idaho, California, and Utah.

The legislation, cleared for the president’s signature after passage by the U.S. House on a 285-140 vote last week, also codifies the BLM’s administratively created National Landscape Conservation System, which consists of 850 federally recognized areas covering 27 million acres of BLM-managed land.

In California, the act designates more than 34,000 acres of BLM-managed land as the Granite Mountain Wilderness in the Eastern Sierra and another 23,000 acres to expand the White Mountain Wilderness administered in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service.  BLM and the U.S. Forest Service are also authorized to transfer jurisdiction in this area to consolidate and improve management. 

The act also designates 26 miles of the Amargosa River, often called the "Crown Jewel of the Mojave Desert," as a wild and scenic river.  The Amargosa is the only free-flowing river in the Death Valley region of the Mojave, providing a rare and lush riparian area in the desert.

In Riverside County, the bill designates approximately 84,000 acres of BLM-managed lands as wilderness including two new wilderness areas, Beauty Mountain and Pinto Mountain, as well as additions to five areas previously designated by Congress.    The bill also directs approximately 66 acres of BLM-managed land be taken into trust for the Me-Wuk Indians of the Tuolumne Rancheria.
“This landmark legislation represents years of grass-roots efforts involving all segments of the public in the regions,” said Jim Abbott, acting California state director for BLM.  “Thanks to these groups and the strong bi-partisan support from the sponsors, these outstanding landscapes will offer outstanding opportunities for solitude or primitive and unconfined recreation for current and future generations."  

– BLM –

California State Office - 2800 Cottage Way, Sacramento, CA 95825

Last updated: 04-01-2009