A standing room only crowd filled the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors chambers Tuesday afternoon to listen and make comments on U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer´s new California Wild Heritage wilderness legislation.
That bill calls for adding nearly 60-thousand additional acres east and northeast of Sonora to designated protected wilderness areas, including 25,280 acres to the Emigrant Wilderness Area in the Stanislaus National Forest and more than 35,000 acres to the Carson Iceburg Wilderness Area in the Stanislaus and Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forests. It adds a total 2.5 million federal acres to California´s wilderness.
Environmentalists are praising the plan, but the bill isn´t setting too well with groups in favor of multiple use of public lands.
Lois Silvernail, with the California Off Road Vehicle Association, says the main gripe is nobody seems to know who the senator talked with to put the bill together.
“Boxer has contended that this has been a collaborative effort, but people, obviously, who are showing up at this meeting have not been talked to,” she said.
“The horsemen, the cattle people, the Native American Indian people have not been talked to. The motorised community has not been talked to. We want to know who the collaborative people are who have been working on this project,” Silvernail asked.
Tom Bohigian, deputy state director of Senator Boxer´s Fresno office, addressed the supervisors, then listened to public comment from dozens of concerned citizens, organizations and businesses, who spoke on both sides of the issue.
He said the senator´s staff has talked to numerous groups about the bill.
“Of course we´ve talked to the Forest Service, met with some of the county supervisors,and we´ve had an enormous amount of input from groups and representatives of people like this,” he said Tuesday.
Bohigian said they might not have been talked to individually, “but from a standpoint of legislation like this, the outreach is unprecedented.”
Boxer´s new legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate Tuesday.