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Public Papers - 1991 - July

Message to the Congress Transmitting the California Public Lands Wilderness Act


To the Congress of the United States:

I am pleased to submit for your consideration and passage the ``California Public Lands Wilderness Act.''

The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 directs the Secretary of the Interior to review the wilderness potential of the public lands. Based on the Bureau of Land Management's review of 7.1 million acres of public lands in California and 600 acres in Nevada, the Secretary has recommended that 62 areas encompassing 2.3 million acres be designated wilderness and 147 areas encompassing 4.8 million acres not be designated wilderness.

I concur with the Secretary of the Interior's recommendations, and I recommend designation of the 62 areas identified in the enclosed proposed legislation for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System.

The proposed additions to the National Wilderness Preservation System represent the diversity of wilderness values in the State of California. These range from the forested areas in the King Range Conservation Area, along the northwest California coast, to the Algodones Sand Dunes near the Mexican border, comprising classic sand dunes in low desert. The recommendations span a wide variety of California landforms, ecosystems, and other natural systems and features. Their inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System will increase the geographic distribution of wilderness areas in California and complement existing areas of Federal and State designated wilderness. They will provide new outstanding opportunities for solitude as well as primitive and unconfined recreation.

The proposal provides that designation as wilderness shall not constitute a reservation of water or water rights for wilderness purposes. The proposal also provides for areas designated as wilderness that may contain valid existing mineral rights. Generally, these mineral rights will not be acquired. However, when necessary to prevent incompatible development, these rights could be acquired through exchange.

In addition, the Secretary recommends transferring to the National Park System over 108,000 acres of public lands, including about 82,000 acres suitable for wilderness designation. The Secretary also recommends that 147 wilderness study areas, encompassing 4.8 million acres, not be designated as wilderness. I concur with both of these recommendations.

Enclosed are the letter and wilderness study reports from the Secretary of the Interior concerning the 62 wilderness area proposals and the transfer of lands from the Bureau of Land Management to the National Park Service.

I urge the Congress to act expeditiously and favorably on the proposed legislation, so that the natural resources of these areas may be protected and preserved.

George Bush

The White House,

July 26, 1991.

George Bush Presidential Library and Museum
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