|10-21-2003, 03:13 PM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jan 2001
Member # 2787
Location: Shingle Springs, CA
40,000 acres for wilderness area?
October 18, 2003
40,000 acres for wilderness area?
Off-road userswant land left for recreation
A proposal to turn almost 40,000 acres of two popular Nevada County recreation areas into wilderness does not please two local off-road motorcyclists who fear the new designation would infringe on their past time.
"The closing of any land with undue diligence is a bad thing," said Nevada County Woods Riders President Joseph Cochran Friday. "It doesn't give all users a fair shake."
Two bills from Sen. Barbara Boxer and Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, would designate the Grouse Lakes and Castle Peak areas as wilderness. Those areas in the high country east of Nevada City are on the Tahoe National Forest, as are four more proposed wilderness areas on the forest in Placer County, Duncan Canyon, the Black Oak area, a stretch of the North Fork of the American River and an addition to the Granite Chief Wilderness near Lake Tahoe.
"There's so much already in wilderness," American Motorcycle Association representative Dick Wixson said. "Why close off more areas from the majority of the public for a minority of the public?"
Wixson said off-road enthusiasts using horses, mountain bikes and motorized vehicles keep old logging road and trails in good condition in the Sierra.
"They don't go roaming all over," Wixson said. "There's existing logging trails all over that area. We can all enjoy it. We all want to enjoy the beauty of nature. Why cut if off?"
Boxer's bill is a reintroduction of one she first tried in the Senate in 2002. Cochran's is the House version, and both would add thousands of acres of official wilderness to the Sierra.
The Nevada County Board of Supervisors backed Boxer's bill in 2002 but reversed itself earlier this summer after conservatives Drew Bedwell and Robin Sutherland joined Chairwoman Sue Horne against the idea. Supervisors Peter Van Zant and Barbara Green voted to back the plan. The Bicyclists of Nevada County have also opposed the plan, and it was the mountain bike group's June request the supervisors acted on.
Nevada County wilderness activist Don Rivenes lobbied for the plan then, as did cross-country skier Harry Wyeth, who said snowmobiles and his activity do not mix.
They were joined this week by the California Wild Heritage Campaign. "Overall, we have a significant amount of support," campaign spokeswoman Pamela Flick said.
Flick said an area near Downieville was dropped from the plan to accommodate mountain bike riders. Overall, "we dropped 300,000 acres for mountain bike riders," from Boxer's original plan, Flick said.
Calaveras County Supervisor Merita Callaway also endorsed Thompson's bill, called the Northern California Wild Heritage Wilderness and Wild Rivers Act of 2003.
"The time has come to protect our state's last wild lands and rivers, before it's too late," Callaway said. "Horseback riders, campers, hikers, whitewater enthusiasts and many others seek the recreational opportunities and solitude that these pristine lands and rivers provide."
According to the heritage campaign, the Grouse Lakes area several miles north of I-80 and Lake Spaulding has many wildflower species around an array of 40 lakes that support eagles, deer, bear, box and pine martens.
The campaign said the Castle Peak area two miles from Donner Summit is home to Lahontan Cutthroat Trout and a large area of old growth red fir.
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