ACTION ALERT: BLM Public Meetings in NW CA

ACTION ALERT: BLM Public Meetings in NW CA 960 638 California Wilderness Coalition

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Field Offices in Arcata and Redding are seeking public input on the future management of nearly 400,000 acres of federally managed public lands in northwest California (Butte, Del Norte, Humboldt, Mendocino, Shasta, Siskiyou, Tehama and Trinity Counties). These diverse lands include such iconic landscapes as redwood forests, rocky coastlines and beaches, oak woodlands, unique soils supporting rare plant communities, and several rivers and streams supporting salmon and steelhead.

All BLM lands are managed according to documents called Resource Management Plans (RMPs). The Arcata and Redding Field Offices’ existing RMPs are more than 20 years old and must be updated. The BLM is calling this revision process the “Northwest California Integrated Resource Management Plan” (NCIP). BLM must address many issues in the updated RMP, including how they will: protect lands with wilderness characteristics; identify and recommend eligible free flowing streams and rivers as wild and scenic rivers; protect sources of clean water and important habitats for wildlife; plan for recreational opportunities for locals and visitors; and conserve cultural and historic sites important to Native American tribes. Click here to visit the e-planning page.

Because the BLM will use public comments to draft the updated RMP that will dictate how these lands will be managed for the next 15 to 20 years, we strongly encourage our community to get involved in this important process.  If you care about public lands in this region, make your voice heard!

As you might recall, BLM began its development of the NCIRMP in 2016. Work was stopped in 2018 while the BLM staff focused on recovery from the catastrophic Carr and Camp wildfires and other significant blazes. They are now resuming that process.

The meetings, all virtual via Zoom, require pre-registration. After registering, participants will receive an email with instructions and a link for joining the meeting. Meetings will be held as follows:

The introductory and overview information will be identical at each meeting. Participants may attend as many meetings as they desire. Anyone having difficulty registering or participating in a meeting should email victoria.arling@empsi.com for assistance.

Please plan to attend one or more of the virtual public meetings, so that you can speak up for your wild lands and let BLM know that you would like to see them safeguard places that are special to you.

Suggested talking points for the public meetings can be found below. However, it is equally important for you to let the BLM know why public lands are important to you.

Sacramento River 2_Steve Evans

Sacramento River Recreation Area. Photo by Steve Evans.

Please ask BLM to:

  • Accept and implement CalWild’s nominations for new areas of critical environmental concern
  • Protect areas identified as lands with wilderness characteristics from development or vehicle use

Additional Information and Talking Points

  • These public lands are stepping stones for wildlife migration and are among the most untouched in the region. The surrounding areas have suffered a long history of logging, mining, road construction and other development activities. In some places, these lands are all that’s left of a watershed.
  • Tucked between National Forest lands and private property, these “wild islands” are treasures to the northern California way of life as important habitat for wildlife, the source of clean drinking water, areas of recreation and places with cultural significance to Native Americans.
  • Connecting Islands of Habitat – These islands of public lands range from approximately 30,000 acres to as little as 40 acres. But the importance of these lands is outsized. They help connect habitat for bald eagles, river otters, salmon and steelhead, and many more species of wildlife.
  • Safeguarding Sources of Clean Water – The rivers and streams that originate or run through these public lands contribute to the region’s supply of water for drinking as well as what’s needed for municipal and agricultural use. Protecting these lands is an investment in the area’s water supply. These rivers and streams also provide habitat for salmon and steelhead and their conservation is critical for the region’s fisheries.
  • Experiencing the Outdoors – As the BLM updates their blueprint for the region, we have a chance to conserve sensitive public lands from development and enhance opportunities for people to experience the outdoors. These lands include places that are suitable for recreation activities like hiking, camping, mountain bike riding, horseback riding, kayaking, rafting and canoeing.
  • Recognizing Culturally & Historically Significant Lands – The public lands that will be considered during this process include places that are historically and culturally important for the region’s Native American tribes, including the Cahto, Karuk, Wintun, and Yurok nations and the peoples represented by the Round Valley Indian Tribes. Input from these communities will be critical during this process.
  • Due to the scattered nature of the BLM lands across northern California, it is essential that the planning process identify areas where the agency can consolidate public lands to protect natural resources and provide public access. Renewal of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and full funding of the Fund by Congress presents the opportunity to identify and prioritize willing seller acquisitions of lands to connect existing public parcels and to preserve lands with high natural resource and public access and recreation values.
  • The planning area includes segments of five National Wild and Scenic Rivers managed and protected by the BLM. This includes segments of the Klamath, Trinity, Middle Eel, North Fork Eel, and South Fork Eel Rivers. These were state rivers administratively added to the federal system in 1981 to protect their outstanding salmon and steelhead fisheries. In this planning process, we have the opportunity to identify and protect these rivers’ additional outstanding values, including scenery, recreation, wildlife, geology, historical/cultural, ecological, and botanical values.
  • These public lands offer a unique opportunity to experience the wild solitude of California that range from the North Coast to the Central Valley and the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. They include isolated redwood groves, oak woodlands, rivers and streams, and are home to bald eagles, salmon and steelhead, and sandhill cranes. The following are a few of the special wild lands and waters in the NCIRM Plan region.
    • Sacramento River Bend Area – In Tehama County just outside Red Bluff, visitors can experience what California’s Central Valley once looked like before it was developed for agriculture and cities. In this area, the river moves in dramatic switchbacks and is home to salmon and steelhead trout. At Jed’s Overlook, visitors hike in to experience views of Mt. Lassen, the Trinity Alps, and sightings of sandhill cranes and bald eagles. In the spring, vernal pools recede at the river’s edge and concentric rings of yellow, blue, and white wildflowers bloom.
    • Eden Creek – In Mendocino County, south of Round Valley and west of the Mendocino National Forest, runs Eden Creek. Eden Creek flows into Elk Creek, a major tributary of the Middle Fork Eel River. This connection is hugely important, as the Middle Fork Eel River hosts between one-third and one-half of California’s remaining summer-run steelhead trout population. These lands lack any significant protection, and are home to bald eagles and the world’s largest population of Sargent cypress that survive in the area’s harsh soils.
    • English Ridge – English Ridge is located in Mendocino County, and is made up of forested slopes covered with ancient Douglas firs and some the greatest diversity of oak trees in the state – nearly a dozen species in total. The Eel River bisects the western portion of English Ridge and provides the only access to the area via kayaking, canoeing, and rafting. Tributaries to the Eel River in this area – Fish Creek and Indian Creek – are important habitat for salmon and steelhead. In 2011, the Department of the Interior recognized these lands as among the “crown jewels” of wild places cared for by BLM.
    • Beegum Creek – Located in Tehama County, Beegum Creek rests in a deep and spectacular gorge that is accessible from Highway 36 west of Red Bluff. These lands include oak woodlands, grasslands, and chaparral, and are home to osprey and bald eagles. Conserving these lands and managing for sustainable recreation would benefit local residents and visitors as it is known for its swimming, fishing, cross-country hiking, and camping opportunities.
    • Lacks Creek –The public lands managed by BLM around Lacks Creek in Humboldt County protect open space in an area that is being heavily logged and developed. These public lands include important meadows, streams, and oak woodlands, and are popular for hiking and mountain biking. Protection of this place is critically important as it provides an easily accessible place to enjoy and experience the outdoors from nearby communities
    • Wild and Scenic Rivers – The planning area includes segments of five National Wild and Scenic Rivers managed and protected by the BLM. This includes segments of the Klamath, Trinity, Middle Eel, North Fork Eel, and South Fork Eel Rivers. These were state rivers administratively added to the federal system in 1981 to protect their outstanding salmon and steelhead fisheries. In this planning process, we have the opportunity to identify and protect these rivers’ additional outstanding values, including scenery, recreation, wildlife, geology, historical/cultural, ecological, and botanical values.
  • Under BLM’s local leadership, communities in Northwest California are the beneficiaries of many successful efforts to protect public lands and manage sustainable recreation. We hope this legacy will continue for decades to come and urge that this tradition of conservation is reflected in the BLM’s updated blueprint.
  • The BLM offices in Arcata and Redding mark among their accomplishments over the past three decades the establishment of the King Range National Conservation Area – a spectacular union of land and sea on the California coast and the nation’s first National Conservation Area – and the acquisition of Headwaters Forest, a place beloved for hiking and exploring the outdoors.
  • Locally, BLM should also be recognized for the conservation of the Trinity River – an effort that has brought millions of dollars into the local economy; the creation of 150 miles of hiking and biking trails around Redding; and the establishment of the Weaverville Community Forest – an innovative partnership to manage lands for conservation, sustainable use and recreation.
  • We urge the BLM to build on this legacy and update the RMPs, making them a guiding document for the next decade that protects sensitive areas from development like logging, mining, and road construction. We encourage the BLM to continue conserving important public lands in Northwest California – places where we can experience the solitude and wild of the great outdoors.
  • Due to the scattered nature of the BLM lands across northern California, it is essential that the planning process identify areas were the agency can consolidate public lands to protect natural resources and provide public access. Renewal of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and its full funding by Congress presents the opportunity to identify and prioritize willing seller acquisitions of lands to connect existing public parcels and to preserve lands with high natural resource and public access and recreation values.

We encourage our community to get involved in this important process. If you care about public lands in this region, make your voice heard!

 

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