Senate bill treasures state’s wilderness

The Modesto Bee
Thursday, January 29, 2009

The U.S. Senate is hiking the right trail in approving the Omnibus Public Lands Bill

The U.S. Senate is hiking the right trail in approving the Omnibus Public Lands Bill (“Public lands bill passed by Senate,” Jan. 16,

Page B-2), including eight new wilderness areas in California — places like the Owens River Headwaters, White Mountains, and Granite Mountain in the Eastern Sierra and Beauty Mountain in the vast and rugged California desert.

Eleven existing wilderness areas in California, such as the legendary John Muir Wilderness, will be expanded. Wilderness enjoys a long and rich tradition in the Golden State; the areas in the current bill will continue and expand on that proud tradition.

Once these treasured wild places are included in the National Wilderness Preservation System, the Student Conservation Association will work alongside the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to implement wilderness status on the ground — signing boundaries, building and maintaining hiking and riding trails, inventorying campsites, removing unwanted and incompatible structures. Our college-age Conservation Interns and high school Conservation Crews are the boots on the ground serving alongside agency professionals as volunteer stewards in new wilderness areas. We look forward to engaging more young Americans in caring for the land we all own.

JAY THOMAS WATSON

Western Regional Director, Student Conservation Association

Oakland