Gallegly bill to expand Los Padres wilderness draws mixed reviews - Pirate4x4.Com : 4x4 and Off-Road Forum
 
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Old 03-02-2012, 12:06 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Gallegly bill to expand Los Padres wilderness draws mixed reviews

WASHINGTON A proposal by Rep. Elton Gallegly to expand federally protected wilderness areas in Los Padres National Forest is getting mixed reviews from environmental groups.

Environmentalists are glad to see a plan to designate more than 63,000 acres of the national forest wilderness areas but worry about other provisions to build new vehicle routes and open up six existing roads to various types of vehicles.

"We certainly support the protection of more wilderness areas, wild rivers and scenic areas in Los Padres," said Jeff Kuyper, executive director of Los Padres ForestWatch. "But there are certainly several other provisions in the bill we can't support because they would degrade the forest and they would reduce outdoor recreation experiences for people who visit the forest to just get away from it all."

Gallegly, R-Simi Valley, filed the legislation Wednesday.

Called the Los Padres Conservation and Recreation Act of 2012, the bill would protect many wild places in the national forest in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

It would extend the current boundaries of the Sespe, Matilija and Dick Smith wilderness areas, increasing the size of those areas by 63,576 acres. It also would establish the 18,520-acre Condor Ridge Scenic Area along the crest of the Gaviota Coast in Santa Barbara County.

The legislation would protect 89 miles of backcountry rivers and streams under the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers system, including the upper Sespe and upper Piru creeks in Ventura County.

In addition, it would establish two officially sanctioned off-highway vehicle areas in the Ventura backcountry totaling 65,833 acres, where dirt bikes, all-terrain vehicles and four-wheel-drive vehicles would be permitted.

The bill also would open up 69 miles of remote forest roads that have been closed for decades because of law enforcement and public- safety concerns, wildfire risk and protection of sensitive resources. Plus, the measure would authorize the construction of three off-highway vehicle routes in remote forest areas.

Gallegly said in a statement Thursday that his office has been working for the three years with all stakeholders in the forest to draft a bill "that protects the recreational activities of forest users as well as the pristine parts of the forest."

"To ensure everyone's interests were protected, compromises had to be made," Gallegly said. "But the widespread support for the bill speaks for itself."

Kuyper, whose group led the campaign to add acreage to the wilderness areas in the forest, said before the new off-highway vehicle areas are created, the Forest Service should make certain it has a management plan in place and the resources to manage the increased traffic anticipated.

Environmental groups are concerned about another provision that would require the Forest Service to swap 440 acres of public land around Lake Piru to the United Water Conservation District. In turn, the water district would give the Forest Service 330 acres on a grassy hill used as part of a livestock grazing operation.

"It's not an equal trade. It's not fair to the public," Kuyper said. "The public is giving away these high-quality lands along the lakeshore and getting some lesser-quality land in exchange."

The water district runs a reservoir that partially inundates the national forest land. The land swap would give the water district all the remaining Forest Service property inundated by the water, which means it would no longer be subject to strict federal environmental rules.

The Wilderness Society and the California Wilderness Coalition praised the Gallegly legislation but expressed concerns about the provisions to build vehicle routes or reopen roads closed for safety or conservation.

"We look forward to working with Congressman Gallegly to resolve these concerns as the bill makes its way through Congress," said Laurel Williams of the California Wilderness Coalition.



Read more: http://www.vcstar.com/news/2012/mar/...#ixzz1nzYlbvv7
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Old 03-02-2012, 12:11 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Another article, this one shows maps

http://www.independent.com/news/2012...nd-dirt-bikes/

Wayne
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