Information provided by the Office of Congressman Jimmy Panetta.
Congressman Jimmy Panetta (CA-20) introduced Jan. 10 the Clear Creek National Recreation Area and Conservation Act, H.R. 403. The legislation directs the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to protect 21,000 acres of BLM land adjacent to Clear Creek by designating a new area to be the Joaquin Rocks Wilderness. A recent press release notes it would also reopen after more than ten years, the 63,000-acre Clear Creek National Recreation Area in San Benito County and Fresno County for public outdoor recreation, including off-road vehicles and hiking.
"By introducing this bill, I am proud to continue the legacy of our local leaders, including former Congressman Sam Farr, to protect and preserve California’s public lands for future generations," Panetta said. "Preserving the Joaquin Rocks Wilderness will bolster our conservation efforts and reaffirm our commitment to protecting our pristine environment on the Central Coast. At the same time, reopening the Clear Creek National Recreation Area will promote recreation and tourism in our district."
Once a local off-road vehicle recreation site, Clear Creek was closed in 2008 to the public due to what the BLM viewed as a potential risk created by naturally occurring asbestos. Former Congressman Farr introduced three bills while in Congress to get the site reopened to no avail. Panetta also submitted legislation in the past.
Congressman Panetta’s new bill instructs the Bureau of Land Management to develop a plan to minimize the risk from asbestos exposure and educate visitors about the naturally occurring asbestos. The BLM would also be required to find ways to reduce the impact of off-road vehicles to protect the area’s habitat.
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