Monday, April 07, 2008

Congress should pass NLCS bill, include CDCA

Furnace Creek, White Mountains, California Desert Conservation Area. DRP photo

OTHER COVERAGE, 4/9: Concerns of the San Diego-based Desert Protective Council.

UPDATE, 4/9: Bill passes the US House, fate of CDCA now up to the Senate.

TUCSON -- The full US House is set to vote this week on a good bill to make permanent about 20 million acres of the BLM's 27 million acre National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS).

But, Congress still needs to fix a 'technicality' and ensure the 1976 congressionally-designated California Desert Conservation Area (CDCA) stays in the conservation system.

Unless congress moves to protect CDCA, the Bush/Cheney administration will drop from the conservation system 6 million acres of fragile and scenic Sonoran, Mojave and Great Basin desert landscapes from the Mexican border to Mono County.

When NLCS was created by the Clinton/Gore Interior Dept in 2000, the CDCA was one of the model units that inspired the system. As congress wisely moves to make NLCS permanent, they should keep it whole be ensuring CDCA stays in the system.

If the House cannot cover the CDCA now, the Senate should, and Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) has said she will, working with Sen. Bingaman (D-NM). Thank you, Sen. Feinstein!

As an ecologist who formerly worked with BLM, and still works extensively with BLM employees and on BLM issues, this bill has my support. Republican efforts against NLCS are misguided and blatantly anti-conservation.

I respect and appreciate my congressman and bill sponsor US Rep. Grijalva's (D-AZ) important efforts to boost conservation of scenic and fragile BLM lands and national monuments. Thank you, Rep. Grijalva!

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