WASHINGTON - Congressman David G. Valadao (R-Hanford) and Sam Farr (D-Carmel) today introduced H.R. 1776, the Clear Creek National Recreation Area and Conservation Act, to direct the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to reopen the 75,000 acre Clear Creek Management Area (CCMA) in San Benito and Fresno counties for recreational use, including access for off-road vehicles. Additionally, the legislation would designate approximately 21,000 acres of BLM land adjacent to Clear Creek as the Joaquin Rocks Wilderness.
Congressman Valadao stated, "Californians have been enjoying the natural beauty of Clear Creek for decades. This legislation is a common-sense solution which not only reopens the land for off highway vehicle use but also directs additional land to be preserved for future generations. I am excited to introduce this bipartisan legislation with my colleague and look forward to reopening the Clear Creek Management Area for our constituents and the entire state to enjoy once again."
"This bill brings environmentalist and off-road vehicle enthusiasts together in the common goals of reopening Clear Creek for the public to enjoy and creating new wilderness land for future generations to enjoy," said Congressman Farr. "This partnership between the two groups will allow us to achieve two victories to benefit to the local communities."
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 the risk created by naturally occurring asbestos.
"Thousands of visitors would come from all over the state, traveling through San Benito County on their way to Clear Creek," said San Benito County Supervisor Jerry Muenzer. "Our county has lost thousands of dollars since Clear Creek closed. This bill would bring much needed tourism dollars back to our small businesses, providing an immediate boost the local economy."
The bill instructs the BLM to develop a rigorous plan to minimize the risk from asbestos exposure and to educate visitors to the recreation area about the natural asbestos. The BLM would also be required to reduce the impact of off-road vehicles to protect the area's habitat.
"The roads and trails have been used for generations by varying types of recreationists and others, many since the late 1800's," said Steve Koretoff, member of Friends of the CCMA and the American Motorcyclist Association. "Allowing access ensures that all Californians have the opportunity to experience the rugged beauty of this historical area."
The bill also designates five creek and river segments located within Monterey County and the Clear Creek National Recreational Area as Wild and Scenic Rivers. None of the rivers are within the designated zone for off-road vehicle use.
Congressman David G. Valadao represents the 21st Congressional District, which includes Kings County and portions of Fresno, Tulare, and Kern counties.