Huffman touts protecting public wilderness
Congressman Jared Huffman joined three of his colleagues during a press conference Thursday to push for passage of several bills that would protect more than 1 million acres of wilderness and public lands in California.
Huffman, who represents Del Norte County, was joined by Representatives Adam Schiff, Judy Chu and Salud Carbajal in pushing for the bill that was to be voted on Friday in the U.S. House. The bill has not been considered by the Senate yet.
Huffman was pushing for a bill he authored, the Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act. According the Huffman, the act would take land in Northern California that is already under federal control and protect it for generations to come.
“I’m very excited about this day and the chance to vote on the package of bills,” Huffman said. “In my district, outdoors is not something we appreciate, it a way of life. My bill includes an ambitious plan to restore forest health.”
Huffman said the bill would also make changes for wildfire protection and would play big benefits for spawning salmon.
“It takes conservation seriously because it’s needed for the future of our country and the future of our planet,” he said.
Huffman said he has been working on the legislation since he joined Congress in 2013. He said in his district, public lands are more than just being outdoors.
“Public lands are such an important part of our economy,” Huffman said. “Now it’s time to finish the job and I’m excited about the opportunity.”
The package of bills was approved by the House last year but stalled in the Senate. With Democrats now in charge of the Senate, Huffman said he hopes the bill, which has bipartisan support in the House, will get an up and down vote.
“It’s not unusual at all that bills that have a common subject matter get bundled together,” Huffman said. “We did get bipartisan support in the House and if we can get past the 60-vote threshold in the Senate, we will get bipartisan support there.”
All four members of Congress said they are willing to tack the legislation onto other packages to get a better shot at an up or down vote.
“I will attach it to a ham sandwich if it gets it a vote in the U.S. Senate,” Huffman said. “If the bill comes to a vote, it will pass in the Senate.”
While much of the legislation prevents most commercial activity, such as mining and logging in the public lands, Huffman’s bill does allow some logging in a smaller area. Huffman said that area, a couple hundred thousand acres, has replanted and is now overgrown and a serious fire danger.
“These are not healthy forests, they are vulnerable to catastrophic fire,” he said. “We need to go in and do some management.”
The Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act includes the Redwood National Forest and state forest and calls for some items specific to Del Norte County. One would allow the federal government to build and run a Del Norte County Visitor Center. Details on the bill can be seen at https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/2250/text.
By: The Triplicate
Source: Del Norte Triplicate
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