Center for Biological Diversity

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Visionary Conservation Plan Debuts for the Southern California National Forests

Contact: Monica Bond, Center for Biological Diversity (909) 659-6053 x304
Kristeen Penrod, South Coast Wildlands Project (626) 599-9585
Tim Allyn, Sierra Club (323) 463-4477
Peter Galvin, Center for Biological Diversity (510) 841-0812 x2
More Information:
A Conservation Alternative for the Management of the Four Southern California National Forests (pdf)
Southern California National Forest Management Plan Revisions

Idyllwild, California: A group of environmental organizations, scientists and technical experts have teamed up to present a plan for management of southern California's four national forests that "upgrades" Forest Service stewardship to better meet the needs and challenges of the 21st century.

Southern California's national forests (Los Padres, Angeles, San Bernardino and Cleveland) span from Monterey County to the Mexican border, and provide the backbone for the conservation of the natural beauty and diversity of plants and animals in the region, including 3,000 plant and 500 animal species, many of which are endemic to southern California and occur nowhere else on earth.

Yet this region's natural wealth is relatively unsung. While perhaps not as world renowned as some of California's other crown jewels such as Yosemite National Park and Muir Woods National Monument, these forests are also national treasures, boasting the richest diversity of plant and animal life of any region in the continental United States.

"These Forests are a treasure chest of biodiversity," extols Monica Bond, wildlife biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity. "Few people know, including locals, that this region is home to one of the world's most unique and diverse communities of plants and animals. These Forests are a refuge for hundreds of species that have lost most of their habitat and have nowhere else to go," Bond added.

Each national forest has a management plan that provides oversight on a variety of activities occurring on the Forests. Current management of the forests is based on plans adopted in the late 1980s that are set to expire imminently, so the Forest Service is in the process of updating those plans. Rampant development, population growth and growing pressures on southern California's wildlands demonstrate how imperative it is that the Forest Service be as informed and strategic as possible in how they manage these lands. The conservation alternative was presented today to the Forest Service in San Diego on behalf of dozens of groups seeking to ensure that management of the national forests is based on the best scientific data available regarding the protection of natural resources, while continuing to provide world-class recreational opportunities.

The groups emphasize that the health of the Forests is inextricably linked with the health of southern California's residents. "Drinking water spills out of these Forests, and the trees help purify the air - not to mention the critical retreat these Forests provide for tens of millions people crowded into southern California's urban areas," says Tim Allyn of the Sierra Club, which emphasizes the importance of protecting the area's wilderness areas.

The Forests serve the nation's most culturally diverse population, placing them in the unique position to introduce wildland values to the broadest spectrum of different cultures.

"This plan is about making really important connections: connecting people with these Forests and reconnecting and restoring fragmented and damaged lands so that wildlife their habitats can continue to thrive," states Kristeen Penrod, executive director of the South Coast Wildlands Project.

The plan includes over 500 pages of recommendations on managing activities such as recreation as well as timber harvest, oil and gas drilling, mining, and domestic livestock grazing. The plan also addresses management of endangered and threatened species and wildfire. Some of the key tenets of the plan include:

· Improved management for endangered, threatened and sensitive plant and animal species
· Protection of roadless areas
· Increased land acquisition
· Enhanced environmental education for Forest users
· No new leases for oil and gas drilling
· No new freeway through the Cleveland National Forest

Sponsors of the plan include the Center for Biological Diversity, Southcoast Wildlands Project, Southern California Forests Committee of the Sierra Club, California Wilderness Coalition, Californians for Western Wilderness, California Wild Heritage Campaign, California Native Plant Society, San Luis Obispo Coast Alliance, Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo, Friends of the River, Republicans for Environmental Protection, Ventana Wilderness Alliance, Mountain Lion Foundation, Conception Coast Project, and a rapidly growing coalition of environmental organizations and concerned citizens. Dozens of scientists, including fire ecologists, wildlife biologists and botanists, provided input on managing the region's natural resources.

For a copy of the conservation alternative or a specific section, as well as maps, contact Monica Bond at


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