A proposal is gaining steam to designate 330,000 acres of federal land in Napa and five adjacent counties as a national conservation area, with the goal of improving public management and public access.

The Berryessa Snow Mountain proposal would be a patchwork of federal lands stretching from Snow Mountain in the Mendocino National Forest to Cold Canyon in northeast Solano County.

The territory would include 55,000 acres in northeast Napa County that is under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Reclamation or the Bureau of Land Management.

The region contains habitat for dozens of wildlife species and is one of the largest swaths of relatively undisturbed public lands in California, according to Tuleyome, an environmental group backing the proposal.

The designation wouldn’t change the recreational uses allowed on the land, so the average user may not notice the change. But it would expand access to grant money, create an umbrella organization to do comprehensive planning and permanently enshrine land conservation as the area’s number one priority, said Victoria Brandon, a board member of Tuleyome.

“These days, to get anything done you have to have grants,” Brandon said. “It would give much better access to funding resources than we have now. This would enable more hikers and horsemen and kayakers. It would create a structure for management that we don’t have now.”

The area currently encompasses the Cache Creek, Cedar Rough and Snow Mountain wilderness areas, state land and private land.

In his budget for the next fiscal year, President Barack Obama requested that direct funding for national conservation areas be increased by $3 million, with another pot of possible grants increased by $6.3 million.

Bob Schneider, Tuleyome’s senior policy director, said it was too early to gauge how much money the territory could receive in grants or other awards.

The expanded conservation area is supported by U.S. Reps. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, and John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, but has been opposed by U.S. Rep. Wally Herger, R-Chico.

A spokesman for Herger, who announced he was retiring earlier this year, declined to provide a comment because the proposal was being revised and Herger had yet to see the revisions.

While the ultimate goal is to designate 500,000 acres of the wilderness area, Brandon said boundaries had been redrawn to include only territory in Thompson’s 1st Congressional District, and none of Herger’s 2nd Congressional District.

The 500,000-acre goal received a boost because the state redrew its congressional districts last year as part of redistricting, and Garamendi’s new district took over jurisdiction over the remaining 170,000 acres, Brandon said.

Brandon said the proposal has received the support of 40 elected officials, more than 100 businesses, and thousands of citizens. With that support, Schneider said his group’s hope are pinned on getting Thompson or another lawmaker to sponsor a bill.

“If we don’t have a bill we’re not going,” Schneider said.

A spokesman for Thompson said the expanded wilderness area was being talked about in Congress, but a formal proposal had not been crafted.

(17) comments

rod n gun

I'm for this initiative, because it'll make sure these lands stay the way they are now -- open for recreation and in good condition. I know some of the folks behind this proposal and they've gone out of their way to include all the users of this region in the discussion. It's my understanding that all present uses of the Berryessa-Snow Mountain complex of lands would continue if it receives National Conservation Area designation.

Some of my best hunts and fishing are in Wilderness areas -- these activities are totally legal there. Anyone who says otherwise is either misinformed or has another agenda. With the way this state is growing, I'd like to save some of our best public lands so my kids (17 and 13) will have the same opportunities in the outdoors I've had. That's really important to me.


Historically, BRC has not been supportive of traditional land-use proposals offered by preservationist groups that have resulted in severe bans or restrictions on OHV use.
Often those bills were created without any input from OHV groups. However, this proposal is different. A lot of credit should be given to Tuleyome for seeking
input from various user groups including OHV recreationists in the early stages. I believe Tuleyome understands and supports responsible OHV recreation on designated roads
and trails. From what I have seen and heard those access-friendly tenets are in the proposal. BRC will be supporting the proposal as long as the current pro-access tenets are part of the plan.

There are a number of modern NCA's that have actively managed OHV programs in them including the Gila Box NCA in AZ. I believe the current proposal has that same directive.


This is part of the "Wildlands Project" in which the end goal is little or no human access. Just say NO!!



This is all a scam!! The real plans have already been completed. Under Agenda 21 this exact area is "Red Zone" designated as "Core reservations & corridors, Little to no human use." Take a look at the Agenda 21 map!!



"The designation wouldn’t change the recreational uses allowed on the land, so the average user may not notice the change"

If this is the case then why change? I reread the article and find out it's all about the money.

Sorry, I don't trust this action.

I recall when the Duff ranch was taken over - with the aid of PUBLIC funds - that what was reported at the time in print that this would aid a hiking path to Angwin. But now that area is very restricted and you must jump through some hoops to hike there. And forget about any exploring of that neat area.

I vote - no change!


I've seen it many times before.....When land is given a "wilderness" designation soon the land is kept "from the public" instead of "for the public"! It sounds like more liberal agenda.

Check out the BlueRibbon Coalition http://www.sharetrails.org/ and see what it takes to fight against this continual land grab!


Give the land to the people.
Open it to homesteads like they use to!


[quote]mar584 said: "This area is one of napa counties best kept secrets. I would like to keep it that way...... I say leave it as it is now."[/quote]

Not only that, it'll create more jobs for the extra layer of cumbersome government to navigate through while they search for a fungus to protect.

I can't see much of a good side here yet.

I can't see much real good reason to change it, either. Minimize government. Do not complicate government with other branches of governments....they're just justifying their existence. Or trying to.


[quote]tsgets said: ".. BLM does a mediocre job of providing maps and services to people like me. Maybe this group can do better.http://www.tuleyome.org/images/stories/file/BSM%20NCA%20Proposal%2011%2024%202008%20sm.pdf"[/quote]

Maybe this group can better provide you a map is your rational?

Yea, I'm definitely opposed to this. It's redundant at best, and too little information is being put out as to the long term intentions of this group.


Yeah, just as I thought. If the moderators will allow me to post a link, follow the one below to the pdf file. Query hunting and you'll see that it will be allowed in accordance with state law. And for the record, as a hunter, BLM does a mediocre job of providing maps and services to people like me. Maybe this group can do better.



The story reads..."
The designation wouldn’t change the recreational uses allowed on the land, so the average user may not notice the change"

On that note, I am not sure what they mean by "Avergae". I'd also like to add that they aren't creating a preserve, but a wilderness area. Caribou Wilderness is located in Lassen, and with the correct tag, hunting is allowed. I highly doubt that they are going to close off all of that area to shooting sports. Thompson is a hunter and even though I didn't vote for him, I doubt he is going to go for something that closes off shooting sports. We shall see....


This area is one of napa counties best kept secrets. I would like to keep it that way. This new designation will attract all the outsiders who will want to change everything that we have. I say leave it as it is now.

Former Napan 2

IF they still allow us to hunt and ATV ride and just putt around on that land. I tend to agree with Glenroy, just more restrictions of OUR National Forest lands! It's been a battle here in Shasta Co. with the Fed's already over that! And it's our land to use, or so we all thought?!


I don't get it. All that land is already federal land. It's already protected. The public already has access where a legal access exists. Nothing on or about these lands are going to be changed. So why do we need a new 'designation' and additional tax dollars spent just to give it a colorful new name?

Just one more reminder to oppose any form of new taxes. They quite obviously already have too much to pay with as it is.


This proposed wilders has thousands of users who will be turned away if this passes….if you fish, ride, camp, hunt you’re the ones they want to restrict.


I don't know the complete details, but this appears to be at least one idea/project I will join dems with. Thompson is an avid outdoorsman/conservationist. I'd rather spend money on projects that enhance wildlife than blow it on welfare.


Absolutely NOT!

Keep this land in the BLM just the way it is now! If this land becomes "wilderness", all access will be DENIED and REGULATED; no more motorcycles, shooting, four wheeling, or all the other activites we enjoy.

There is NO advantage to receiving this designation. Stop this process NOW; let them know your oppositon to this BAD IDEA...

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