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California/Nevada Desert Committee Wins National Sierra Club Award

SAN FRANCISCO - Sept. 15, 2001 - The California/Nevada Desert Committee was among those receiving awards from the national Sierra Club this year.

The committee received the One Club Award, which was created by the Sierra Club in 1999 to recognize people who use outings as a way of protecting public lands and instilling an interest in conservation.

The committee, which is part of the California/Nevada Regional Conservation Committee chaired by Elden Hughes, has run conservation-oriented trips, now known as One-Club outings, for more than 30 years to those parts of the deserts impacted by mining, grazing, utility corridors, military training, water developments and off-road vehicles. The committee also has been involved with the planning and management of public lands, including lands owned by the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, and the California Department of Parks and Recreation.

Other committee accomplishments include:

  • Monitoring the Barstow to Las Vegas off-road motorcycle race, billed as the world's largest with 3000 riders. With continual pressure on BLM, the Committee was instrumental in ending the race in 1989.

  • Assisting with a large legislative fight that resulted in the 1976 Mining in the Parks Act. National Park units nationwide benefited and a principal obstacle to Death Valley becoming a national park was removed.

  • Helping with the formation and passage in 1976 of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (Bureau of Land Management's "organic" act), particularly the sections establishing BLM's California Desert Conservation Area. From 1976 to 1980 the committee worked with BLM's California Desert planning staff on the content of the initial California Desert Conservation Area Plan which contained many conservation features new to BLM.

  • In 1981 and 1982 the Committee watched with dismay as BLM managers did their best to amend the 1980 Desert Plan to respond favorably to livestock and mining interests. The idea of drafting massive legislation to counter BLM moves arose.

  • Drafting the California Desert Protection Act that was introduced by Senator Alan Cranston in 1986. In 1994 the committee celebrated passage of the desert act which created 7,000,000 acres of wilderness and created or expanded three National Park units. From 1994 to 2000, the committee monitored land managers implementing the desert act which caused noticeable improvements in agency planning and plan execution.

  • In 2000, the committee was active in the passage of the Nevada Black Rock/High Rock National Conservation Area legislation under BLM which doubled the amount of wilderness in the state. It also entered into a lawsuit against California BLM for failure to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in their desert planning. Settlement agreements are leading to major new protections for ESA-listed species.

Committee meetings are held, literally, in the desert, from the Red Rock Wilderness of Nevada to the Pipe Springs Wildlands Conservancy near Palm Springs. Meetings bring together members who are also representatives of other groups - Mineral Policy Center, Great Basin Mines Watch, Audubon, Wilderness Watch, Friends of Nevada Wilderness - as well as members of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, representatives from the Bureau of Land Management, National Parks, Border Patrol, Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Student Conservation Corp.

"This committee truly represents the One Club ideal of bringing people together in the out of doors to learn about our desert environment," said committee member George Barnes.

The Sierra Club, which was founded in 1892 by John Muir, is the country's oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization. It currently has more than 700,000 members. For more information on the California/Nevada Desert Committee, write them at 3435 Wilshire Blvd. #320, Los Angeles CA 90010-1904.

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