From Walker Ridge to Molok Luyuk
Momentum builds for historic legislation
By Nick Jensen, PhD
Support is growing quickly for Congressman John Garamendi’s House Resolution 6366, the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument Expansion Act—and for good reason. Not only does the bill expand the Northern California monument to include the biodiverse Lake County portion of Molok Luyuk (Patwin for “Condor Ridge”), it will be the first legislation to call for cooperative management of a national monument with Native American Tribes. CNPS is proud to be working with a broad NGO coalition and our partners from the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation on this exciting effort. Now, on to the good news!
In February, we learned that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) denied the long-fought proposal to develop wind energy on Condor Ridge. Noting resource conflicts and the inadequacy of information provided by the developer (Colusa Wind, LLC), the BLM stated that they, “will not be preparing an environmental impact statement or potential land use amendment for this project.” The current proposal now joins a long list of ill-advised wind projects that have failed to materialize on Molok Luyuk. But, it’s important to note that wind energy itself isn’t the problem; the issue is the location. Condor Ridge is of great cultural significance to Native American Tribes and is home to spectacular biodiversity, including 30 rare plants. In contrast, the California Energy Commission found the area to have low to moderate wind energy generation potential when compared to other areas.
Next, less than two months following its introduction, H.R. 6366 received a positive hearing at the House Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Forests, Parks and Public Lands. During the committee hearing, Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation Tribal Chairman Anthony Roberts voiced strong support for the bill. According to Chairman Roberts, Molok Luyuk is “steeped in thousands of years of rich history and is profoundly meaningful to the Patwin people. Elements of the natural landscape on the ridge have traditional cultural significance to us and include areas where religious ceremonies are practiced and sites that are central to our people’s origin stories.” In addition—and remarkably—the BLM also testified in support of H.R. 6366. In his testimony Mark Lambrecht, assistant director of National Conservation Lands and Community Partnerships for the BLM, stated that “the Biden Administration’s America the Beautiful initiative calls for collaborative, locally led conservation efforts of diverse landscapes that provide habitat for fish and wildlife, and supports Tribally led conservation and restoration priorities. H.R. 6366 aligns with the Administration’s conservation goals and the Department of the Interior supports the bill.”
With the introduction of Rep. Garamendi’s H.R. 6366 and the BLM’s denial of Colusa Wind’s development proposal, the path is clear for the permanent conservation and appropriate management of Molok Luyuk. This month’s Natural Resources Committee hearing on the bill is evidence that H.R. 6366 is poised to make great progress in the coming months, but it needs your support. If you haven’t done so already, please take two minutes to ask your congressional representative to support H.R. 6366.