New Federal Protections Proposed Near Lake Berryessa

Craig Miller/KQED

A big swath of Northern California may be getting some special protection from Congress. A bill introduced Thursday would designate nearly 350,000 acres as the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Conservation Area. It's a vast area that includes parts of four counties north of the Bay Area.

The Sierra Club's national head, Michael Brune, said it's a special place, stretching a hundred miles north from Lake Berryessa.

"You've got beautiful wintering habitat for bald eagles. Tule elk are here," he said. "And it's a place that is very close to Sacramento, close to the Bay Area, but very wild."

Some landowners have expressed concern about how the designation might affect their access to the land, which is already federally owned. But Democrat Mike Thompson, who co-sponsored the bill, said it will save money for the government.

"By placing this designation on the area, that will allow all of the federal agencies to better work together: better coordination, a more efficient use of scarce public resources." he said. "So this is hugely important."

Snow Mountain-Berryessa would be among the nation's largest conservation areas, and only the second one in California.

The bill is co-sponsored by Senator Barbara Boxer and several House Democrats.

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