This week, the House passed a package of public lands provisions known as the Natural Resources Management Act. The bill included the California Desert Protection and Recreation Act (CDPRA), a longtime legislative priority of Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Congressman Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley). The proposal is lauded by local government, recreation groups, and conservation activists for resolving land disputes between wildlife and off-road vehicle enthusiasts. The President is expected to sign the bill into law.
The CDPRA designates 375,000 acres of wilderness land that will be managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), along with other key provisions for California wilderness:
- Eight new wilderness areas that will be managed by the BLM totaling 280,360 acres;
- 88,000 acres for an expansion to the Death Valley National Park Wilderness;
- 7,141 acres to the San Gorgonio Wilderness within San Bernardino National Forest;
- 4,518 acres to the Joshua Tree National Park;
- 35,929 acres to the Death Valley National Park;
- 1,600 acres donated by the Mojave Desert Land Trust;
- Designates 18,610 acres of BLM land in Inyo County as the Alabama Hills National Scenic Area, preserving it for continued recreation and conservation;
- Designates 81,800 acres in Imperial County that provides for wilderness preservation, vehicular use on designated routes, and limitations on extractive uses of the land within the management area; and,
- Designates 77 miles of waterways in the San Bernardino Mountains near Death Valley as Wild and Scenic Rivers.
CDPRA also establishes approximately 200,580 acres of land reserved for Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Recreation Areas in the Johnson Valley, Spangler Hills, El Mirage, Rasor, Dumont Dunes, and Stoddard Valley. Acreage designated for OHV use will not be used for administrative purposes, natural resources, or other land management activities that would infringe on recreationists.
In addition to Senator Feinstein and Congressman Cook, the bill was cosponsored by Senator Kamala Harris, and Congressman Juan Vargas (D-San Diego), Congressman Raul Ruiz (D-Palm Desert), and Congressman Pete Aguilar (D-Redlands).