Assemblymembers Aguiar-Curry & Wood, Senators Dodd & McGuire Lead Charge to Protect California’s National Monuments

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Sacramento, CA –  Today, Assembly Joint Resolution 15, a bill expressing the support of the California State Legislature to continue protecting national monuments, passed out of the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife with a 9-4 vote. This measure was introduced by Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D – Winters) last week in response to the announcement of a federal review of national monuments, and is coauthored by Assemblymember Jim Wood (D – Santa Rosa), and Senators Bill Dodd (D – Napa) and Mike McGuire (D – Healdsburg).

In late April, President Trump signed an executive order for the review of all national monuments designated by the federal government under the Antiquities Act since 1996. Since the Antiquities Act’s passage in 1906, no President has revoked the national monument designation of another president.

National monuments are lands that are protected by the federal government. Of the twenty-two national monuments in California, seven will be subject to review: Giant Sequoia, Carrizo Plain, Cascade Siskiyou, San Gabriel Mountains, Berryessa Snow Mountain, Mojave Trails, and Sand to Snow National Monuments.

“I had the privilege of working with hundreds of people from communities throughout Northern California to designate Berryessa Snow Mountain as a National Monument. What I saw was a massive outpouring of community support and pride,” Aguiar-Curry said. “People support these designations because they represent a true local effort to protect our valuable lands, cultural resources, sacred tribal sites, and create jobs and tourism for our local economies.”

California’s national monuments provide public access to a number of recreational, educational, and job opportunities. In California alone, outdoor recreation generates $85 billion in annual consumer spending and over 730,000 jobs.

“Designating and protecting public lands has been one of our country’s best tools in our fight to protect our environment,” said Assemblymember Jim Wood who represents California’s North Coast. “One of the newest National Monuments, the Stornetta Point Arena Public Lands on the Mendocino Coast, was designated a national monument in 2014 after years of effort by the community and it would be a tragedy to have all of that hard work undone.”

The joint resolution is supported by a large coalition, including almost 70 environmental, land protection, conservation and recreational advocates and organizations. Supporters argue that national monuments play a vital role in preserving the cultural, historical, and ecological values of California and local economies, many in rural California, where job creation opportunities are limited.

Bob Schneider, Senior Policy Director of the conservation group, Tuleyome, testified with Aguiar-Curry and Wood in support of the resolution.  “There is a passion in America for those special places that tell the stories of who we are and from whence we came.  Our parks, our forests, our deserts, our plants and wildlife, plate tectonics, outdoor recreation, economic opportunities; These are  our national monuments,” said Schneider.  “We value them, we care for them, and we will fight to protect them.  Thank you to Assemblymembers Aguiar-Curry and Wood and Senators Dodd and McGuire for championing this effort.”

"AJR 15 shows that Californians stand strong against any federal efforts to rollback national monuments protections. From the Mojave Desert to the Coastal Range Mountains to the grassy Carrizo Plains, these monuments are loved for many reasons, including the opportunity to view iconic wildlife such as desert tortoise, San Joaquin kit fox and Tule elk," said Kim Delfino, California program director for Defenders of Wildlife. 

“Our coastline, mountains, forests, parks, national monuments - our protected public lands - are California's calling card to the world and part of a deeply rooted legacy of conservation that is essential to our tourism and recreation economy, to our quality of life, and to achieving climate resilience and environmental justice in our state,” said Mariana Maguire with the Conservation Lands Foundation.

In today’s testimony, Aguiar-Curry said: “AJR 15 lets Washington know that we in California think we’re doing just fine. Our communities support protecting these lands, California wants to continue to protect them.  Please use the resources you’ll spend on this review in California on actually protecting our State’s valuable natural resources!”

AJR 15 will next be heard on the Assembly Floor for a vote of the full Assembly. If passed through both legislative houses, the adopted resolution would be sent to the federal government for review.

Aguiar-Curry represents the 4th Assembly District, which includes all of Lake and Napa Counties, parts of Colusa County, all of Yolo County except West Sacramento, Dixon in Solano County and Rohnert Park in Sonoma County.