Protecting Northwestern California’s Public Lands
The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Arcata and Redding Field Offices are tasked with caring for about 400,000 acres (roughly 625 square-miles) of federal public land in Mendocino, Humboldt, Del Norte, Trinity, Siskiyou, Shasta, Butte, and Tehama counties on behalf of the American people. The BLM is currently determining how these lands should be managed over the next decade or more. If you care about how the BLM’s holdings in these counties are managed, this is your opportunity to make your voice heard.
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” or NCIP. BLM must address many issues in the updated RMP, including how they will:
- protect “lands with wilderness characteristics” (BLM term for the wildest and least developed tracts of land);
- conduct a robust inventory if potential Wild and Scenic Rivers to protect their water quality, free flowing character, and outstandingly remarkable scenery, recreation, fish, wildlife, geology, historical, cultural, and other values;
- review boundaries, corridors, and management plans for segments of the Eel, Trinity, Klamath, and Van Duzen Wild and Scenic Rivers managed by the BLM and identify additional outstanding values for these rivers; identify and protect “Areas of Critical Environmental Concern” (ACECs) (lands that are prioritized for special management by the agency for conservation or other important purposes);
- review boundaries, corridors, and management plans for segments of the Eel, Trinity, Klamath, and Van Duzen Wild and Scenic Rivers managed by the BLM and identify additional outstanding values for these rivers;
- plan for equitable recreational opportunities for locals and visitors; and
- conserve cultural and historic sites important to Native American tribes and others.
Click here to visit the BLM Planning Page for NCIP.
The BLM will take public input into consideration as it updates the RMP. Once approved, the new plan will dictate how agency lands are managed for the next 15 to 20 years. If you care about public lands in this region, make your voice heard.
What you can do
If you would like to be notified of opportunities to get involved in the NCIP process, please click here and choose the NCIP list, along with any other CalWild-related emails you’d like to receive. You can also submit comments before June 28, 2022 by clicking here.
Special places managed by the BLM Arcata and Redding field offices
The most well-known BLM lands in northwestern California are the King Range National Conservation Area in Humboldt and Mendocino counties and the Headwaters Forest Reserve in Humboldt. Since both special places have recently completed RMPs, they will not be covered by the NCIP. So, what kinds of places will be affected by the plan?
Eden Creek in Mendocino County south of Round Valley and west of the Mendocino National Forest is one such place. Eden Creek flows into Elk Creek, which in turn is a major tributary of the Middle Fork Eel River. In addition to offering challenging whitewater boating, the Middle Fork Eel is a nationally recognized “Wild and Scenic River” that hosts between one-third and one-half of California’s remaining summer-run steelhead trout population. The BLM holdings at Eden Creek have harsh “serpentine” soils where only specially-adapted plant communities can survive. Among the multitude of rare and unique plants identified in the area is the world’s largest population of Sargent cypress. The area is also home to bald eagles that fish the Middle Fork Eel River and Elk Creek. While conservationists believe that the BLM lands at Eden Creek should eventually be protected as part of the nearby Yuki Wilderness, this requires an act of Congress. In the meantime, the BLM lands at Eden Creek lack any significant protection, but the NCIP can change that if the public demands it.
Some of the other special places that will be covered by the NCIP include:
- Lacks Creek, a tributary of Redwood Creek in Humboldt County, which has important meadows, streams and oak woodlands and is popular for hiking and mountain biking;
- Willis Ridge in Mendocino County, which has spectacular unlogged forests and oak woodlands in the Eel River watershed;
- BLM lands in the North Fork Trinity River watershed near the ghost town of Helena, including areas that one day could be protected as part of the existing Trinity Alps Wilderness;
- Beautiful Beegum Creek in Tehama County, which has a deep and utterly spectacular gorge that is accessible from Highway 36 west of Red Bluff; and
- The popular “Sacramento River Bend Area” in Tehama County just outside of Red Bluff where visitors can get an idea of what California’s great Central Valley once looked like before it was developed for agriculture and cities.
If you care about these and other lands in northwestern California that are managed by the BLM, please make your voice heard!
Why these lands are important
- These public lands are steppingstones for wildlife 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.
- These public lands offer a unique opportunity to experience the wild solitudes 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.