June 9, 2008

Bono Mack Acts To Preserve Scenic Lands

California Political Desk
The California Chronicle

A view looking at Highway 74 from the trailhead for the South Fork of the San Jacinto River. The area is being considered for the nation's highest level of protection under a bill by Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R-Palm Springs.
The Press-Enterprise/William Wilson Lewis III

Washington, D.C. – Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack´s (CA-45) legislation that would preserve over 190,000 acres of scenic desert, forest, and river areas throughout California's 45th District. Broadly supported by local community leaders, elected officials, and local business owners, Bono Mack´s bill – H.R. 3682, the California Desert and Mountain Heritage Act – passed by voice vote today on the House Floor. The bill will now be considered in the U.S. Senate.

"I am thrilled that we are one step closer to preserving some of the most scenic and environmentally sensitive areas in our District," said Bono Mack. "Throughout history, these wild lands have drawn people to our region, and I am pleased that this legislation will help ensure that families and individuals can continue to enjoy the natural beauty of our desert, river and forest areas for years to come.

"Through a collaborative process, this bill was carefully crafted to meet the diverse needs of our community – from Native American tribes to those who enjoy hiking and biking throughout the area. I am thankful for the time and input of so many local groups and individuals that has brought us to this point.

"As our region experiences rapid population growth, it is critical that we protect these lands that have been such an important part of our cultural heritage. Years ago, President Gerald Ford recognized this need when he signed legislation that created over 400,000 acres of wilderness in what is now Joshua Tree National Park. I am proud that the California Desert and Mountain Heritage Act continues the dream of President Ford to protect our spectacular natural scenery for future generations."

The California Desert and Mountain Heritage Act would create four protected wilderness areas, add 31 miles of rivers to the National Wild and Scenic River system, and expand the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument, which was created legislatively by Bono Mack in 2000. The bill would protect over 190,000 acres of wilderness areas, including in Joshua Tree National Park, Cahuilla Mountain, the San Bernardino National Forest and the Pinto Mountains. The legislation is also written to clarify the ability of the U.S. Forest Service to effectively fight fires; protect renewable energy potential; and continue access to for visitors to enjoy all that the region has to offer, according to Bono Mack.