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Comment Archives: stories: Columns & Blogs: Letters to the Editor: Last 7 Days

Re: “Letters to the Editor: July 2, 2014

Lake Berryessa is not a National Monument!

Proponents of the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Conservation Area, knowing that Congressman Thompson’s highly unpopular bill will never pass Congress, have begun an anti-democratic strategy to bypass Congress and have the President declare Lake Berryessa a National Monument under the Antiquities Act - simply by a stroke of his pen!

Lake Berryessa does not meet the basic standards of an NCA. And it especially doesn’t meet any criteria to become a National Monument.

The main problem affecting Lake Berryessa in all this chaos is that it was included in the original silly Berryessa Snow Mountain NCA in the first place. Lake Berryessa is like the tail of a dog that can't seem to wag the rest of the dog's body. The lake is not even connected on the map to the rest of the proposed NCA/National Monument which stretches far into Northern California. Just look at the map yourself!

http://www.lakeberryessanews.com/2014/NCA%20Minus%20lake.jpg

At a minimum, Lake Berryessa should be removed from the boundaries of any proposed National Monument or NCA and the NCA should be renamed the Mendocino Snow Mountain NCA.

The Antiquities Act states that National Monuments should contain “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest” and be “the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.” Lake Berryessa meets neither criteria and clearly falls into the “Rural Developed Setting” under the government’s own Water and Land Recreation Opportunity Spectrum Users' Handbook (WALROS) quoted below. This designation should immediately exclude it from National Monument or NCA consideration. And Lake Berryessa and the surrounding areas are already highly protected.

"A rural developed area is beyond a metropolitan area and the suburban ring of development. Rural developed areas may serve as "bedroom" communities for urban areas and may contain working farms, ranches, and towns. In this setting, primary road networks are common. Although development will be prevalent and common, the setting has a pastoral sense because of an interspersing of forests, water resources, hills, valleys, canyons, wetlands, open spaces, and agricultural lands. Naturally appearing shoreline edges are common, although various water controls or other structures are also common. Recreation management is prevalent and common but not as extensive as in an urban setting.”

Lake Berryessa is a man-made lake with no special historical or environmental significance, created by a minor dam and surrounded by bedroom communities and private land. It has historically been a major public recreation destination. Although I have been a long-standing critic of the Bureau of Reclamation in the past, its recent actions show that Reclamation is doing an excellent job in managing the future development process for the revitalization of the lake. Reclamation’s last Public Forum presentation in Winters of the status and results of the ongoing planning process for the lake’s redevelopment were extremely thorough and professional. It included drafts of detailed Market Assessment and Financial Analysis, Conceptual Site Plans, and Infrastructure Design Report. These are all available for review at their web site: http://www.usbr.gov/mp/ccao/berryessa/updates/index.html

How would a National Monument designation affect residents, property owners, and ranchers in the boundaries? How would the designation affect the NBRID, the Berryessa Highlands, and the potential Community Services District being planned for that region?

A National Monument is traditionally managed by the National Park Service, but the Bureau of Land Management has often been designated as the manager in the legislation. A National Monument designation would force out the Bureau of Reclamation - as would Thompson’s other bill in Congress. His management transfer bill, HR4166, does not enjoy popular support among the people affected and has never had any significant public input. What would be the cost of the transition and who would pay for it? How long would it delay the present process? What specifically can the BLM do better an faster than the BOR?

What happens to current Reclamation employees, some long-term, who care as much about the lake as do local residents? Their lives would be seriously affected, their jobs could be eliminated, their families could be uprooted for no good reason.

A National Monument designation could severely restrict public access to and future development at the lake - as could an NCA designation. The usual radical exclusionist suspects have already been floating the idea that some of the resorts should not be reopened at all, reopened with limited amenities, or reopened for day use only.

Posted by Pkilkus on 07/05/2014 at 1:09 PM

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