Padilla, Garamendi Lead Letter Urging President Biden to Expand the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) joined Representative John Garamendi (D-Calif.-03) in leading a letter to President Biden urging the use of his authority under the Antiquities Act of 1906 to expand the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument to include adjacent federally owned land known as the “Walker Ridge” tract. Padilla and Garamendi’s letter also requested that Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland order the U.S. Board on Geographic Names to rename “Walker Ridge” to “Condor Ridge” and “Molok Luyuk” in the Patwin language of the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation and other local Indigenous tribes.
In addition to Senator Padilla and Congressman Garamendi, the letter was cosigned by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Representatives Mike Thompson (D-Calif.-05), Jared Huffman (D-Calif.-02), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.-13), Katie Porter (D-Calif.-45), Doris O. Matsui (D-Calif.-06), and Mike Levin (D-Calif.-49).
“The sacred lands within and around the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument are central to thousands of years of indigenous origin stories,” said Senator Padilla. “That’s why I’m leading calls with Representative Garamendi urging President Biden to use his existing authority to expand the Monument and permanently protect Molok Luyuk. It is our duty to protect the abundant natural resources and the rich history of Molok Luyuk for today’s children and for future generations.”
“Conserving California’s special places has been a lifelong passion throughout my tenure in the state legislature, as Deputy Secretary of the Interior to President Clinton, and now as a member of Congress representing Lake County. Walker Ridge is one of those special places. I am proud to work with Senator Alex Padilla to lead a group of our Congressional colleagues in calling for President Biden and Secretary Haaland to use the powers bestowed upon them to protect and expand for Berryessa Snow Mountain for future generations to enjoy,” Representative Garamendi said.
“Molok Luyuk is home to both profound natural beauty and deep cultural significance. It is a special place, so it’s fitting that California’s tribes and the U.S. government create a special relationship to protect it,” said Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation Chairman Anthony Roberts. “We commend Representative Garamendi and Senator Padilla for their work to protect our homelands.”
Senator Padilla is a strong advocate for the preservation of California’s natural lands. Earlier this year, Padilla introduced S.4080, the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument Expansion Act, with Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). The legislation would expand the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument to include approximately 3,925 acres of adjacent Bureau of Land Management-administered public lands in Lake County, California. It would also require the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service to improve tribal engagement and co-management of the National Monument, including for historic preservation, archaeological sites, and forest health. S.4080 was passed by the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources with strong bipartisan support and is endorsed by over 50 local and national organizations.
Presidential proclamations under the Antiquities Act of 1906 only apply to federally owned land and do not affect privately owned or other non-federal land in any way.
Over 50 local and national organizations have endorsed the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument Expansion Act, including: Lake County Board of Supervisors; Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation; Conservation Lands Foundation; Sierra Club; California Wilderness Coalition; The Wilderness Society; Lake County Land Trust; Backcountry Anglers & Hunters; California Native Plant Society; Hispanic Access Foundation; The Pew Charitable Trusts; Tuleyome (Woodland, CA-based nonprofit); Audubon California; Vet Voice Foundation; Native American Land Conservancy.
View the map for the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument Expansion Act here.
Full text of the letter to President Biden can be found here and below:
Dear President Biden and Secretary Haaland:
We write to request that you expand the boundary of California’s Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument by issuing a presidential proclamation under the Antiquities Act of 1906. We have introduced the “Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument Expansion Act” (H.R.6366/S.4080) to include adjacent federally owned land within the boundary.
Our legislation enjoys broad-based support from federal, tribal, and local officials representing this region of northern California as well as nongovernmental organizations, including environmental conservation, public access, outdoor recreation, and off-highway vehicle groups. Our legislation is the product of a 6-month public comment period and rigorous vetting process with local and tribal officials. This past spring, the House and Senate Subcommittees of jurisdiction held hearings on this bicameral legislation to expand the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument. Representatives from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service, which co-manages the National Monument, testified in support of our legislation. The House of Representatives passed the bill as part of the “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023” (H.R.7900). Further, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee unanimously voted to report the bill out of committee. To date, we are not aware of any organized opposition to our proposed national monument expansion. We would expect any Antiquities Act designation to enjoy equally broad support.
In July 2015, President Obama issued Presidential Proclamation 9298 designating federal land surrounding the Lake Berryessa reservoir as a new national monument, at the request of members of California’s Congressional delegation. However, this 2015 national monument designation omitted the adjacent federally owned “Walker Ridge” parcel administered by the BLM, which remain administered as part of the Indian Valley Management Area. While the U.S. Department of the Interior never publicly stated a reason for omitting this BLM parcel from the national monument designation, there was at that time a proposed wind development project for this ridgeline. However, that proposed wind development has remained in abeyance for years. In February 2022, the BLM denied the wind developer’s federal permit application following a public comment period and meeting in Lake County in July 2019.
Expanding the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument would contribute to the Administration’s goal under Executive Order 14008 of permanently conserving 30 percent of the United States by 2030. Our legislation also requires the federal land management agencies to engage in meaningful consultationand voluntary co-management of the expanded National Monument with federally recognized tribes. We hope that any presidential proclamation under the Antiquities Act would provide similar direction for the BLM and Forest Service to provide ample opportunity for federally recognized tribes to co-manage the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument, including for forestry and hazardous fuels reduction. In our view, this would meet the Administration’s stated goals in the Presidential Memorandum dated January 26, 2021; joint Secretarial Order 3403; and the interagency memorandum of understanding finalized on November 16, 2021.
Lastly, we request that any provision from our “Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument Expansion Act” that cannot be accomplished by a presidential proclamation under the Antiquities Act be otherwise addressed administratively in tandem. Specifically, our legislation would rename the BLM’s “Walker Ridge” parcel to “Condor Ridge” or “Molok Luyuk” in the Patwin language. While to the best of our knowledge “Walker Ridge” is not a pejorative placename, it simply does not reflect the area’s cultural significance to Native Americans like the federally recognized Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation. As such, we recommend that any Antiquities Act designation to expand the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument be accompanied by a Secretarial order directing the Board on Geographic Names to formally rename the BLM parcel commonly referred to as “Walker Ridge” as “Condor Ridge (Molok Luyuk),” as required under our legislation.
Thank you for your leadership and consideration of our request. We look forward to working with you to permanently conserve this unique landscape in California for future generations to enjoy.