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Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. WALDEN of Oregon. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

H.R. 233, the Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act, was introduced by our colleague Congressman MIKE THOMPSON at the beginning of the 109th Congress.

Last July, the Resources Committee held a legislative hearing on this bill. Though Mr. Thompson worked hard to gain support for the bill, it was clear that some issues needed to be resolved before the bill could move forward. Since then, Chairman Pombo and Congressman Thompson have worked cooperatively to develop a compromise on H.R. 233.

The changes in the bill include a reduction of approximately 11,000 acres of proposed wilderness in Del Norte County because of community concerns; removing the Perkins Creek Trail portion of Cache Creek area to ensure that mountain biking, which is prohibited in wilderness under the 1964 act, could continue; and eliminating nearly 6,500 acres of proposed wilderness in the Mad River Buttes area to make certain motorized and mechanized recreation may continue in this important recreational area.

To ensure that not only wilderness but also recreation was protected, the bill codifies mountain bike and motorized recreation as a prescribed use in the 51,000-acre Cow Mountain Recreation Area. Because of concerns about access to wilderness areas, the bill will also mandate that all cherry-stemmed roads will remain open and mountain bike and motorized recreation access will continue on these roads. These measures will ensure that the public will have a variety of recreational options on the public lands.

Finally, the bill addresses a longstanding problem with surf fishing permits on the beaches of Redwood National and State Park. When the Redwood National Park was created in 1968, you may recall it was with the intent that surf fishing in the area would continue. Yet since then, many fishing permits have been canceled and will soon be completely phased out. This bill will put a stop to the phase-out by continuing 27 fishing permits for smelt. Surf fishing in this area is an important tradition within the community and the continuation of these permits will help to enhance a stagnant local economy.

On behalf of full Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo, I want to thank Congressman Thompson for his willingness to work with the committee to make this wilderness bill a bipartisan and broadly supported piece of legislation, and I urge my colleagues to support this balanced and bipartisan measure.

Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. WALDEN of Oregon. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Madam Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for that very kind comment. It has been a pleasure to work these through the floor with you as well.

I want to commend my colleagues from California, especially Mr. Thompson, who I know has passionately been trying to move this legislation forward, and his work with Chairman Pombo has brought about a bill that we all can support.

Madam Speaker, with that, I think we have concluded our business on this bill and others from the Resources Committee. I yield back the balance of my time and call on my colleagues to support this legislation.

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