Speak out to protect California's high desert wildlands

The Alturas region in northeastern California covers about 786 square miles of high desert landscape in Siskiyou, Shasta and Modoc counties. This remote area includes grasslands, sagebrush flats, deep canyons, steep mountains, countless caves, spires of volcanic rock and rolling juniper woodlands. Herds of Rocky Mountain elk, pronghorn antelope, and mule deer graze these rugged wildlands, while golden eagles soar above and sage grouse flit quietly among the shrubs.

Over the years, however, the region's half-million acres have been slowly filled with mining roads, livestock grazing and utility development. Still, tens of thousands of wilderness-quality acres remain, from the 700-foot cliffs of the Pit River Canyon to the cave-pocked Timbered Crater.

The Bureau of Land Management recently released a draft plan for the area that, when finalized, will serve as the agency's blueprint for managing the region over the next decade or more. It is essential that the BLM begin managing California's high desert as one of our nation's most unique natural treasures and not as a region fit only for mines, livestock, power lines and roads.

The BLM is accepting public comments on its draft plan until July 28th.

== What to do == Send a message, before the July 28th comment deadline, urging the BLM to strengthen its draft plan to protect California's desert wildlands.

== Contact information == You can send an official comment directly from NRDC's Earth Action Center at http://www.nrdc.org/action/. Or use the contact information and sample letter below to send your own message.

Alturas RMP Comments Attention: Planning Coordinator Bureau of Land Management Alturas Field Office, 2950 Riverside Drive Susanville, California 96130, Fax: 530-257-4831, Email: necarmp@ca.blm.gov

== Sample letter ==

Subject: Protect California's high desert wildlands

Dear Alturas Field Office staff,

The draft resource management plan for the Alturas region includes many promising provisions. I wholeheartedly agree, for example, with the BLM's proposals to confine motor vehicles to designated routes, designate six areas of critical environmental concern, exclude livestock from aspen groves and protect old-growth juniper forests from logging and mining.

I urge you to further strengthen the draft plan, however, in order to protect this remote area's remaining wilderness-quality lands and the wildlife that depend on them. Specifically, I urge the BLM to:

* manage all wilderness study areas as primitive zones;

* close all primitive and non-motorized management areas to mineral leasing;

* prohibit utility construction in all primitive and non-motorized management areas;

* expand the amount of land where wildland fire use is allowed, including all wilderness study areas and primitive areas;

* eliminate the proposed construction of 60 miles of new roads to facilitate logging (the BLM lands overseen by the Alturas Field Office are already laced with too many roads and motorized trails); and

* add Pit River Canyon, Lava, Beaver Creek and Juniper Creek to the six areas already recommended as areas of critical environmental concern.

California's high desert is one of our nation's most unique natural treasures, and we should do everything possible to keep the most sensitive parts of this area free of mines, livestock, power lines and other development.


[Your name and address]

Natural Resources Defense Council's


NRDC's California Activist Network was formed to mobilize and provide action tools to Californians and others concerned with protecting the state's extraordinary wealth of natural treasures and the health of its citizens.


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