WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Jimmy Panetta (CA-20) introduced 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 the area the Joaquin Rocks Wilderness. It would also reopen the 63,000-acre Clear Creek National Recreation Area in San Benito and Fresno counties 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," said Congressman Panetta. "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 considered a premier off-road vehicle recreation site, Clear Creek was temporarily closed in 2008 to the public after an Environmental Protection Agency analysis about potential risk created by naturally occurring asbestos. Congressman Panetta’s bill instructs the BLM to develop a rigorous 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.