A bill that would give wilderness protection to more than 275,000 acres of federal lands in Northern California recently moved out of committee and could come up for a vote on the floor of the House as early as next week.

The Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Act, (H.R. 233) is sponsored by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA). Sen. Barbara Boxer and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced the bill in the Senate, where it was passed unanimously in July of 2005.

The measure would protect large parcels of land in the north state, including the King Range on the Lost Coast, the Cedar Roughs wilderness, the Cache Creek area, and an expansion of the Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness. The Black Butte River would be designated as a wild and scenic river.

As part of a compromise, some 25,000 acres of federal land in Del Norte and Humboldt counties, most of it in Six Rivers National Forest, has been excluded from the bill. The bill also added 79,000 acres of Burreau of Land Management land in Mendocino County for use by off-road vehicles and mountain bikes.

These changes were to allay concerns from Del Norte and Humboldt counties over the amount of wilderness proposed there, and to address the concern of off-road vehicle and mountain bike groups about losing access to trails on wilderness lands.

The act was originally part of Sen. Boxer’s California Wild Heritage bill, which protects some 2.5 million acres of wilderness and 22 wild and scenic rivers. Another part of this legislation was passed in 2002, giving wilderness protection to more than 57,000 acres of federal forests in Monterey and San Benito counties, including land added to the Ventana Wilderness near Big Sur.

The forests and rivers that would be protected by this bill are home to bears, eagles, elk, northern spotted owls, California brown pelicans, steelhead and salmon. They provide clean drinking water, and afford the irreplaceable experience of a landscape unaltered by human beings. By giving these lands wilderness protection, we will ensure that our children can experience wild California.

If passed by the House, the bill would go to the Senate, where a similar bill has twice been passed unanimously, and be voted on before the end of the session in October.


Write to Thompson and to Boxer and Feinstein, and thank them for their support of the Northern California Coastal Wilderness Act.

Sen. Barbara Boxer
312 North Spring St., Suite 1748
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 894-5000

Sen. Dianne Feinstein
One Post Street, Suite 2450
San Francisco CA 94104
(415) 393-0707

Rep. Mike Thompson
1040 Main Street, Suite 101
Napa, CA 94559
(707) 226-9898

Also write to your member of Congress and urge him or her to support H.R. 233. You can find contact information for your representative at:



Forests Forever:
Their Ecology, Restoration, and Protection
John J. Berger

from Forests Forever Foundation
and the Center for American Places