The House passed a bill from Congressman Jimmy Panetta to reopen the Clear Creek Management Area in southern San Benito County that has been closed for nearly a decade due to asbestos concerns.
According to a statement from Panetta’s office:
The Clear Creek National Recreation Area and Conservation Act, a bill introduced by Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.), unanimously passed the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
This bill directs the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to reopen the 63,000-acre Clear Creek Management Area in San Benito and Fresno counties for use by off-road vehicles. The legislation would also protect 21,000 acres of BLM land adjacent to Clear Creek by designating the area the Joaquin Rocks Wilderness. California Reps. David G. Valadao (R-CA-21), Jeff Denham (R-CA-10), and Paul Cook (R-CA-08) joined Congressman Panetta as cosponsors to introduce this bill, H.R. 1913.
“Our nation’s public lands are postcards we send future generations, so we must do all we can to protect and preserve them. This bipartisan bill will not only bolster our conservation efforts, it will promote recreation and tourism in our district,” said Congressman Panetta, a member of the House Natural Resources Committee. “I will be working with my colleagues in the Senate to pass this bill so that locals and visitors can soon enjoy Clear Creek Management Area.”
Once considered a premier off-road vehicle recreation site, Clear Creek was temporarily closed in 2008 to the public after an Environmental Protection Agency analysis about the risk created by naturally occurring asbestos. First proposed by former Congressman Sam Farr, the bill instructs the BLM to develop a rigorous plan to minimize the risk from asbestos exposure and educate visitors about the naturally occurring asbestos. The BLM would also be required to find ways to reduce the impact of off-road vehicles to protect the area’s habitat.