Environmental Groups Ban Together to Secure Wilderness in California
By Julie Gengo
After our recent trip to Mt. Baldy (located in the scenic San Gabriels Mountains that surround Los Angeles County) with The California Wild Heritage groups and their members I decided to fill you in on what it means to be Wild. By the way, these photos were taken along our hikes.
“The California Wild Heritage Campaign is a coalition with one goal – to preserve California’s unprotected wilderness and wild rivers for future generations.” The Wild Heritage Campaign is a California-based wilderness protection organization that was started by a group of passionate citizens in 2000 after they spent three years putting together a list of potential wilderness areas including wild and scenic rivers. They found 7.5 million acres of unprotected public land and about 4,000 miles of wild and scenic rivers. Guided by its mission is to “ensure the permanent protection of California’s remaining wild public lands and rivers,” Wild Heritage coalition has grown to include a few hundred support groups including environmental groups, outdoor industry and organizations, businesses, faith groups and more.
Recently The California Wild Heritage coalition celebrated the passage of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (H.R. 146), protecting over 700,000 acres of California wild lands and rivers. This monumental bill is the fourth largest designation of wilderness in California since the Wilderness Act was established in 1964.
When an area is declared Wilderness, it is protected from development, mining, drilling, timber harvest, new grazing and closed to motorized and mechanized vehicles. We like this. In fact we love this and if we don’t rally for designated wilderness, you can only imagine what big business will do to it.
The process of establishing wilderness can be complex and take many, many years to achieve. According to Wilderness.net, the process starts with wonderful people like you and me who are members of advocacy groups (but that is not a requirement) along with state or federal land management agencies. We then recommend which areas need this status by submitting reports, statistics and other stuff that will convince Congress to grant these areas this protection status. Yes, it takes an act of Congress to designate an area as Wilderness and we all know that that can sometimes take forever. The President ultimately has the final say as he signs the bill into law.
Here is a simplified chart:
In essence you can make a difference. Your support of groups like The Wilderness Society, The Sierra Club or Friends of the River for example can help preserve our beautiful open spaces that are filled with intrigue, vibrant energy and amazing graces. After all, keeping Wilderness around forever just as it is, is a nice thing in itself.