A bill that would give wilderness protection to more than 300,000 acres of federal forest in Northern California and designate 21 miles of river as wild and scenic is moving forward in the United States Congress.

The Northern California Coastal Wilderness Act (S 738/HR 1501) is sponsored by Sen. Barbara Boxer and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA). The act was originally part of Sen. Boxer’s California Wild Heritage bill, which would protect 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 Northern California wilderness bill would protect wild areas in Mendocino, Siskiyou, and Six Rivers national forests, and more than 90,000 acres of forestland administered by the federal Bureau of Land Management.

The forests and rivers that would be protected by this bill are home to bears, eagles, 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 ensure that our children will be able to experience wild California.

But wilderness in this state is under constant pressure from logging, mining, and energy exploration. More than 4 million acres of roadless federal forests in California had been protected under the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, but a new proposed rule change by the Forest Service would effectively eliminate these protections. The Northern California Coastal Wilderness bill would help protect some of the wild lands left vulnerable if this new proposal is put in place.

The bill’s supporters hope to pass it this year. It is scheduled for a hearing by the House Resources Committee after the August recess.


Write to your congressional representative and urge him or her to support the Northern California Coastal Wilderness Act, S. 738/HR 1501. If you live in Rep. Mike Thompson’s district, you might want to write to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger instead, and urge him to support the bill; the backing of the governor of California will demonstrate to members of Congress that the bill has strong support in its home state.

You can find the name and contact info for your congressional representative at:

Write to Gov. Schwarzenegger at:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814


Dear _____:

I urge you to support the Northern California Coastal Wilderness and Wild Heritage Act, S. 738 / HR 1501.

This bill will protect some of the most spectacular wild places in California. It will safeguard the habitats of salmon, eagles, bears, and other threatened and endangered species.

By preserving these places as wilderness, this legislation will preserve an essential part of our heritage for future generations.

[If writing to Gov. Schwarzenegger, be sure to mention that his backing is important because it will demonstrate the broad support that exists for protecting the wild places of California.]

Thank you.

Your name
Your address


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

from Forests Forever Foundation
and the Center for American Places