SAN DIEGO – Local residents cheered the introduction of U.S. Representative Darrell Issa’s (R-Vista) legislation to protect as wilderness more than 21,000 acres of Beauty Mountain and Agua Tibia in north San Diego County.
The Beauty Mountain and Agua Tibia Act of 2009 will add over 7,000 acres of public land to the existing Agua Tibia Wilderness and will expand the Beauty Mountain Wilderness by an additional 13,635 acres. Last March, portions of Beauty Mountain and Agua Tibia in Riverside County were protected as wilderness by legislation sponsored by Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Palm Springs) and signed into law by President Barack Obama.
"This legislation will protect and preserve lands for use by current and future generations," said Rep. Issa. “Many of my constituents and their families who live near these lands will be able to enjoy and use them.”
Characterized by deep canyons and coastal sage scrub, Agua Tibia is annually enjoyed by thousands of hikers and equestrians who travel through the region via the rugged Cutca Trail. As its name implies, Beauty Mountain is a scenic jewel draped in chaparral, fascinating rock formations and oak woodlands. Both areas provide endless recreational opportunities as well as pristine wildlife habitat.
Rep. Issa’s legislation, HR 4304, has been praised by area business leaders, government officials and conservationists who agree that protecting these public lands boosts local tourism and the recreation-based economy, and ensures that their magnificent scenery, outstanding outdoor recreational opportunities, and rich wildlife habitat are conserved for future generations to visit and enjoy.
Steve Barker, president and founder of Vista-based travel gear company Eagle Creek, said, “Because of the shrinking economy, now is an even more important time to set aside these lands for future generations. Wilderness contributes greatly to the economies of local communities. As a business owner that depends on recreation and travel by the American people, I know this first hand. According to a study by the Outdoor Recreation Association, the California outdoor recreation economy contributes $46 billion annually to California’s economy.”
Vicki Long, President, Elsinore Murrieta Anza Resource Conservation District, said, “Native habitat in Southwest Riverside and North San Diego is shrinking. This legislation provides an opportunity to protect what’s left of our unique wild places, places that define the very character of our region.”
“Beauty Mountain is a popular destination for equestrians,” added Erin Ochoa of Fallbrook. “It offers a place where we can easily access nature while on horseback; we spend hours meandering amongst the oaks and chaparral. I am so pleased that these places will be protected for us to use and share.”
“I applaud Rep. Issa's efforts to protect San Diego's wild places and encourage him to consider additional areas in our region that would benefit from the same protections proposed for Beauty Mountain and Agua Tibia,” said Rob Hutsel, Executive Director of The San Diego River Park Foundation. “Expanded legislation could protect places such as the San Diego River Gorge, Barker Valley, and the Santa Margarita River. These are irreplaceable natural treasures valued by our community and worthy of preservation for generations to enjoy."
The North San Diego County Wild Heritage Campaign is a coalition of businesses and organizations working to protect wilderness and wild rivers on public lands in northern San Diego County. Coalition members include: California Wilderness Coalition, Campaign for America’s Wilderness, Friends of the River, Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society, and many others.