Assemblymembers Aguiar-Curry & Wood, Senators Dodd & McGuire To Washington, DC: “Hands Off California’s National Monuments”

Friday, June 9, 2017

SACRAMENTO, CA – Today, Assembly Joint Resolution 15 cleared the last hurdle in the legislative process, passing the State Senate by a margin of 27-8.  Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D – Winters), joined by coauthors Assemblymember Jim Wood (D – Santa Rosa), and Senators Bill Dodd (D – Napa) and Mike McGuire (D – Healdsburg), introduced the measure after President Trump ordered a review of national monuments designated by 16 Presidents (8 Democrats, 8 Republicans) over the past 111 years.  The resolution, passed on the 111th Anniversary of the Federal Antiquities Act, memorializes a call by the California State Legislature for the Federal Government to continue protecting California’s national monuments. 

California has twenty-two national monuments. Under the President’s executive order, seven of these federally-protected lands 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. The Legislature sees no reason to review the status these public lands.

Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry, joined by some of the bill’s coauthors, spoke to a crowd of National Monuments and Parks supporters at a rally this morning. “Instead of wasting federal resources on an unwanted ‘review’ of protections for California’s public lands,” she said, “the President should use the money to protect our environment, provide health care to America’s working families, restore meals on wheels to the elderly, or grant college tuitions and job training to our country’s young people.”

“National Monuments protect our environment and support our local economy,” said Senator Dodd. “I was honored to play a part in the successful effort to create the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument, which will enhance recreational opportunities and visitation to the region. Preserving our region’s natural splendor for future generations is absolutely essential, and we can’t afford to move backward.”

“Millions travel from across the planet to enjoy the beauty of our state’s national monuments, which generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for our communities. I’m grateful to Assemblywoman Aguiar-Curry and Senator Dodd for advancing this important resolution which draws a line in the sand and will help California protect these natural wonders,” Senator Mike McGuire said.

The national monuments in California provide open spaces to the public for recreational and educational activities, as well as job opportunities. Outdoor recreation in California generates $85 billion annually in consumer spending, and has added over 730,000 jobs to the state’s economy.

“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.”

AJR 15 is supported by over 70 environmental, land protection, conservation, and recreational advocates and organizations who argue that national monuments are integral to preserving California’s historical, cultural, and ecological values.

“It took us years to designate Berryessa Snow Mountain as a national monument,” Assemblymember-Aguiar-Curry said. “We worked with hundreds of people throughout Northern California to show the federal government that we were truly invested in protecting our natural and cultural resources. This resolution shows Washington that we want to continue protecting our precious lands.”

“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 Bob Schneider of the conservation group, Tuleyome.  “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 was presented on the Assembly Floor last week where forty-five Assemblymembers asked to be listed as coauthors of the resolution.

"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.

AJR 15 will now be transmitted to Washington D.C., where it will be submitted to the federal government for comment under the ongoing federal review of the nation’s public lands.