I urge President Barack Obama to take steps to permanently protect the Berryessa Snow Mountain region by declaring the area a national monument.
Thanks to a recent designation by President Obama, another piece of our country’s outdoor legacy will be preserved as the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in New Mexico.
The designation will preserve irreplaceable archaeological, prehistoric and cultural sites, while safeguarding outdoor recreation opportunities that are so important for the state. The designation, under the Antiquities Act, is the second by President Obama in New Mexico, after the creation last year of Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.
President Obama has recognized areas in California, too, adding Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands to the California Coastal National Monument earlier this year. The addition of Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands to the monument provides a boost to the rural coastal economy and the everyday lives of those of know and love the North Coast.
Across the state, protected public lands, like national monuments, help provide outdoor recreation opportunities that generate more than $6 billion for the California economy each year, according to the Outdoor Industry Association.
As a nation, we’ve seen time after time that communities flourish and local economies grow when nearby public lands are permanently protected. After designation, the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument drew 50,000 new visitors in 2013, overall a 40 percent increase in visitation over 2012. Closer to home, the counties around Giant Sequoia National Monument saw jobs grow by 11 percent and real personal income rise by 24 percent after the area was protected. That same potential is offered by the Berryessa Snow Mountain region.
Just a short drive from the Bay Area and Sacramento, the area between Lake Berryessa and Snow Mountain provides easily accessible opportunities to recreate and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors.
Whether it’s hiking to the 80-foot-high Zim Zim waterfall, fly-fishing in Putah Creek, or viewing wildflowers and wildlife, the Berryessa Snow Mountain region offers something for everyone. Visitors can take a relaxing horseback ride, spend quality time with family, or experience the adrenaline rush of a whitewater rafting trip through Cache Creek.
The Berryessa Snow Mountain region is one of the last remaining areas of undisturbed public lands in California, making it an ideal space for people to get outside. It’s also important for a host of wildlife that calls the area home, from bald eagles to endangered Pacific Fishers and rare plants.
I’m quite proud of this amazing place and our communities that have grown around it. It’s an area that deserves to be recognized and permanently protected. The benefits of such protection will extend far beyond the land itself to the surrounding areas, bringing new visitors to our towns as they take advantage of new recreation opportunities.
It’s a move that’s broadly supported, unlike recent legislative attempts in Congress to undermine the president’s ability to permanently protect special places like Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks, Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands, or Berryessa Snow Mountain. These attempts are out of step with public opinion, and attempt to limit one of our nation’s most valuable conservation tools – the Antiquities Act.
Permanently protecting Berryessa Snow Mountain is of course good for the local communities, but I think it will also benefit anyone who is able to come sample our piece of the outdoor wonder California is known for. The door, after all, is always open.
Linda Seifert is chairwoman of the Solano County Board of Supervisors. This column was endorsed as well by Yolo County Supervisor Don Saylor and Lake County Supervisor Denise Rushing.