Preserving California’s Public Lands To Buffer Global Warming’s Effects

Jun 17, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO – The White House release Tuesday of “Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States” forecasts a dim future for California if action is not taken immediately.

The report predicts extended droughts that threaten water supplies, higher temperatures that will exacerbate life-threatening air pollution and loss of unique plant and animal species in California’s “biodiversity hotspot” – one of just 34 such regions in the world.

Impacts to the state include:

  • Sierra snowpack could decline 40 to 90 percent, with cascading effects on winter recreation, water supply, and natural ecosystems.
  • Two-thirds of California’s native plant species could lose up to 80% of their habitat.

In California, The Wilderness Society (TWS) is preserving the vital public lands that clean our air and water, are home to native animal and plant species and that help reduce carbon emissions in the atmosphere.

“We have worked for years to permanently protect the state’s most precious public wild lands with federal wilderness designations — the highest form of protection. These life-sustaining landscapes are a defense against global warming because they store carbon emissions and help ecosystems maintain their resiliency,” said Stan Van Velsor, a TWS campaign coordinator — (415) 398-1111, x. 106.

The Wilderness Society is working on several proposed wilderness areas including:

  • About 30,000 acres of the San Gabriel mountain range and more than 60 miles of rivers in the Angeles National Forest. This forest, bordering metro Los Angeles, provides more than one-third of the region’s water.
  • About 22,000 acres of rugged canyons and mountains in northern San Diego County. Home to more than a dozen endangered and rare species, it is close to the city of San Diego

“On another front, we are preserving the jewels in the Bureau of Land Management system, advocating for policies that restore overgrazed areas, remove invasive species and rejuvenate damaged watersheds,” Van Velsor said.

The Wilderness Society is also focused on a third effort to keep California’s forests healthy by limiting the onslaught of roads that bring new industrial development, logging and mining to some of the state’s most pristine regions. Sustainable forests provide clean air and water, serve as habitat for plant and animal species and store carbon emissions.