Sen. Barbara Boxer Announces San Diego Wilderness Legislation

Mariposa Lily

Andrea Imler

On the first day of Great Outdoors America Week in Washington, an enthusiastic and diverse delegation of 27 Californians hit the corridors of Congress and federal offices to lobby for wild lands protection.

Business owners, military vets, bilingual community members and conservation advocates - many of them on their first visit to DC - carefully prepped materials and presentations for a week of more than 20 visits.

One lucky group visiting Sen. Barbara Boxer's staff was treated to a rare treat: halfway through the meeting, her legislative aide announced that the Senator's San Diego Wilderness legislation had been introduced in Congress in just the last hour!

Applause broke out among the more than 15 attendees, including The Wilderness Society. It was a gratifying event during September, since President Obama had declared it National Wilderness Month.

And for many,  this was the proud culmination of years of work.

With this bill, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) will protect a vanishing landscape of wildlands in rapidly urbanizing northern San Diego County. Her Beauty Mountain and Agua Tibia Act of 2011 would add 13,635 acres to the Beauty Mountain Wilderness and 7,796 acres to the Agua Tibia Wilderness. Rep. Darrell Issa (R, CA-49) first introduced the House companion of this legislation in December 2009.

Boxer's bill would protect roughly 21,000 acres of distinctive rock formations, steep canyons and chaparral and oak woodlands in San Diego County. This incredible area is enjoyed by thousands of hikers and equestrians who travel the Cutca Trail.  Agua Tibia and Beauty Mountain also protect critical wildlife habitat and provide an important boost to the thriving outdoor recreation and tourism economy that is  vital to San Diego.

The rest of Great Outdoors America week was jam-packed with even more lobbying meetings, award receptions and briefings by the Dept. of Interior, Congressional staff and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

But it was hard to match the excitement of witnessing a bill in action, in the halls of Congress.