Editorial: We support HR 5545 for Berryessa region

2012-08-09T00:00:00Z Editorial: We support HR 5545 for Berryessa region Napa Valley Register
August 09, 2012 12:00 am

We support U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson’s bill to create the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Conservation Area (NCA). Thompson introduced the bill, HR 5545, to the House of Representatives in May. Sen. Barbara Boxer introduced a companion bill, with essentially the same language, in the U.S. Senate last month.

The NCA status, if instituted properly, could have many benefits for residents and the land.

If the bill passes, it will mandate the creation of a site-specific management plan for the area, which encompasses some 319,300 acres from Lake Berryessa in the south to Snow Mountain in the north. Creating that management plan will be the three federal agencies that now manage the land — the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation and the Forest Service — and a public advisory committee (PAC). The 11-person PAC would include representatives from the four counties in the NCA, Lake, Napa, Mendocino and Yolo, plus tribal representatives and other stakeholders.

The proposed legislation will improve recreation opportunities within the area, may help to increase the economies within the NCA, will improve enforcement against illegal marijuana gardens, and will help control noxious weeds and restore habitat. It will allow a wide range of recreational activities within the area, including hiking, mountain biking, hunting and fishing, camping and backpacking, grazing, and boating and rafting on Lake Berryessa.

According to its opponents, including Calistoga’s Lucy White, the bill is a disaster for California. They say it will restrict the use of the land, eliminate boating on Lake Berryessa and promote the purchase of private property within the area by the federal agencies. White said it also will take the “human element” out of the area.

Respectfully, White is wrong. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The problem White has is that she doesn’t trust the federal government. She and her husband own one of the resorts on Lake Berryessa that is now shut down. White says she believes in the free enterprise system and believes it would create more jobs, bring in more tourists and create a healthier economy than would an area managed by the federal government.

With White’s experience at Lake Berryessa, who can blame her for not trusting the government?

But the passage of Thompson’s bill and the creation of an NCA has nothing to do with the concessionaire problems at Lake Berryessa. They are separate issues, despite what White said when she spoke to our editorial board last Friday.

Joining White were Sara Husby, executive director and campaign director of Tuleyome, a Woodland group that is working to pass HR 5545, and Carol Kunze, the Napa director of Tuleyome.

Husby said the creation of the NCA will enhance year-round recreation in the area, which will lead to increased economic benefits, especially for the “gateway” areas of Clearlake and Winters. A Ph.D. candidate at UC Berkeley, Sara Vatland, looked at the potential economic benefits for those two areas and found increased economic diversification, increased eco-tourism and increased property values.

Those who seek to discredit Thompson and his bill should tone down their rhetoric, read the bill, learn the facts, and quit spreading misinformation about HR 5545. The purpose of the NCA is “to conserve, protect and enhance for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations the ecological, scenic, wildlife, recreational, cultural, historical, natural, educational and scientific resources of the lands included in the conservation area.”

We trust Mike Thompson. He has a solid track record of protecting and enhancing public lands and using government to create structures that provide positive, public benefits. He’s an outdoorsman, is a boater and hiker, and has lived here all of his life. He has represented this district since 1998 in Congress and before that in the California State Senate. He knows well the concerns of the people in District 1.

The bill is supported by some 148 businesses, 52 elected officials and many local governments, including the Napa County Board of Supervisors, both the Calistoga and St. Helena city councils, and the Napa County Regional Park and Open Space District. It is also supported by numerous landowners and farmers throughout the four counties and 30 recreation and conservation groups, including the American Motorcyclist Association, Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association, the California Wilderness Coalition, the Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, Friends of the Napa River and others.

It is up to us as residents to keep our eyes on the process — making sure that it is properly instituted — and to serve on the advisory committee, to make sure the federal agencies are doing everything they can to fulfill the purpose of the bill: to protect and enhance the land for this and future generations.

Copyright 2015 Napa Valley Register. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(8) Comments

  1. PKilkus
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    PKilkus - August 09, 2012 7:08 am
    Read an analysis with policy documents and maps at www.LakeBerryessaNews.com.

    How can anyone honestly believe that an NCA designation will cause even a minor blip in visitation to Napa County or Lake Berryessa? The majority of property owners and residents at the lake oppose the NCA.

    National Conservation Areas were established in order to “conserve, protect, and restore nationally significant landscapes that have outstanding cultural, ecological, and scientific values...”

    The proposed Berryessa Snow Mountain NCA does not meet the basic standard of “nationally significant”. It is geographically and ecologically incoherent. Lake Berryessa is neither a “nationally significant” nor is it ecologically significant. It is a man-made lake serving as an agricultural resource, drinking water resource, and recreational resource.

    Only part of the Mendocino National Forest is included because of Glenn and Colusa Counties’ and Cong. Wally Herger’s strong opposition.

    This is not an honest NCA.
  2. Lakeismyhome
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    Lakeismyhome - August 09, 2012 9:29 am
    It is clear that we are getting closer to the actual "Agenda" of the death and destruction at Lake Berryessa. There is no truth to any of the dribble coming out of the mouths of the BOR. We have been writing, calling, begging for oversite from Thompson, Dillon, Feinstein, Boxer the folks at BOR like Glasser, Lucero the list is endless. What we got in response: formatted letters without information at all. We are homeowners, & business owners at Lake Berryessa. We sadly watched while resorts were destroyed, businesses closed, home values evaporated. At the end of the day, millions of dollars were lost, hundreds lost their jobs here, then lost their homes. The devastation appears to coincide with the announcement of an NCA! Bogus at best, this threatens public access on a huge scale while at the same time has the potential to ban recreational use on enormous tracts of land & Lake. Enough already! Kill the Bill, it has no benefit to anyone -except salaries ofmore Bureaucrats. Disgusting!
  3. Landshark
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    Landshark - August 09, 2012 9:56 pm
    This matter is not about any one party; clearly it is posturing by Mr. Thompson, Ms. Boxer to create more layers of government rhetoric with other people’s money and land. I concur with Mr. Kilkus’s and Ms. White’s comments. They're comments are from real experience, not some vision by a minority of people wanting more kayaking and birding exclusions. Ms. White did in fact invest millions to create a recreational opportunity for hundreds of thousands of people with large amount of tax revenue. The BOR was the governing agency that failed to enforce their guidelines/rules (LND-04-01) and contract requirements. Any negative comments regarding noncompliance of permitee’s are the full responsibility of the BOR for negligence to enforce.
    Additionally Mr. Wally Herger's history regarding recreation is superior to that of Mr. Thompson’s handling Lake Berryessa collateral damage with the VSP & ROD, in my opinion The parties that lose are or moreover were, the raving fans of Lake Berryessa.
  4. arttow
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    arttow - August 10, 2012 10:39 pm
    Yes, along with Lucy White I proudly say: I don't trust the government. Sadly this editorial board thinks the government can do no wrong. Government control of everything has to be rolled back. The BLM and Forest Service are lethargic organizations that can’t get out of their own way. Citizen’s boards also are a waste. They attempt to add legitimacy to proposed legislation because the politicians realize the public no longer trusts the bureaucracy. But the legislation gives no power to the citizen's advisory committee.

    Our government does not live with in its means so stop them from doing ANYTHING new.
  5. FWA
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    FWA - August 13, 2012 12:42 pm
    The only rhetoric is the stated purpose of HR 5545. It’s purely an emotional argument. The lands within the NCA are not at risk they are already protected for future generations by the agencies that manage them. This NCA is just a political kickback to appease a very small group of people who will most likely financially benefit from the NCA.
    Ms. Whites comments were correct and we should all learn from her experience with the federal government not dismiss her valid concerns as just “anti-government”. I think the opponents of HR 5545 have all read the bill and understand the true impacts such a designation would have on this region.
  6. becire
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    becire - August 14, 2012 8:56 pm
    I think it's great thing to put these lands in an NCA. I actually have been at 3 different open meetings concerning the Berryessa Snow Mountain NCA. One in St. Helena where there was some cons that were put out there from property owners, and many arguments in favour. I also was at a Napa supervisors open meeting where it was discussed and was at this meeting in St. Helena where it was voted unanimously in favour.
    At the moment, the areas are manged by the BLM, Lake Berryessa Bureau of Reclamation,DFG and a few other agencies who are involved. The idea that I like is that it will consolidate agencies that do not or cannot communicate with each other very efficiently. In my thinkings it creates and easier environment for land magement.
    I have spent two years building the Berryessa peak trail in the proposed areas with the idea that anyone who wishes to and can hike it is free to enjoy an extraordinary view of the lake. Not to take anyones freedom's away in any way shape or form.
  7. OutdoorPatriot
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    OutdoorPatriot - August 18, 2012 3:13 pm
    Thank you , Editors, for pointing out that Lucy White owned a concession at the Lake. She profited for years from the public estate, but now that there is an effort to preserve the lands from exploitation, suddenly she's against land conservation. Former San Anselmo Mayor Kilkus moved up here and starts spouting all kinds of conspiracy theories about issues on the Lake that are unrelated to the NCA. The Editors hit the topic right on the nose. Ignore the Black Helicopter theorists and let's get this done!
  8. burridgeja
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    burridgeja - December 11, 2012 7:13 am
    HR 5545 is a land grab by environmentalist with the help of complicit politicians. I saw comments about preserving the land and eco-tourism. Can we for one minute focus on PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS. Yes, that quickly diminishing concept that was a foundational pillar at the founding of this country.
    Section 5 of the bill clearly states that a panel of 11 people appointed by the government will determine things like motorized vehicle use, hunting, etc. I have no plans to consult some panel if I decide I want to ride my dirt bike or go hunting on MY LAND!
    Co-sponsor to this bill, Congressman Garamendi is ranch owner. What's his land look like? I bet it would make a nice conservaton area. Take it and leave mine alone.
    I just can't believe some eco-nut can pull out a map, draw some boundaries at random, present it to a congressman and have it presented to congress to become law with no regard for the land owners. This country is clearly in decline!
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