Wilderness status sought for 2.5 million acres in California | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Wilderness status sought for 2.5 million acres in California

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a bill that has the attention of South Shore’s mountain bike and snowmobile enthusiasts, Sen. Barbara Boxer wants to designate 2.5 million acres of public land in California as wilderness, including national forest areas that the Bush administration has proposed for oil drilling and logging.

Boxer intends to introduce legislation next week targeting 77 areas across the state. It would be the first statewide wilderness bill since 1984, she said Friday.

The legislation would halt U.S. Forest Service proposals to drill for oil in portions of the Los Padres National Forest and to do logging in the Duncan Canyon area of the Tahoe National Forest.

The bill also would expand the Ansel Adams Wilderness area east of Yosemite National Park.

Locally 16,800 acres of Meiss Meadows and 17,000 acres of the Caples Creek area would be declared wilderness land.

Boxer expects logging and mining interests as well as off-road recreation enthusiasts to oppose the wilderness designations.

“Opponents will say this bill will add to public lands. It doesn’t. It just gives them a higher level of protection,” said

Boxer has no support at the moment among California’s 20 Republicans in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives.

But Boxer, who plans to seek re-election in 2004, said the process will take time.

“This bill will be put into law bit by bit, year by year,” she said.

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