Local communities spread knowledge, appreciation for land, biodiversity
On March 19, a Spring Festival was held at Cowboy Camp near Williams, Calif. to celebrate the new Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument (BSMNM), a region that stretches from northeast Napa County into the Mendocino National Forest. The event was held by the United States Bureau of Land Management, which controls the land, and the Mendocino National Forest, as well as Tuleyome, the organization that spearheaded the designation of the national monument.
The monument was created on July 10, 2015, when President Obama signed a proclamation protecting the land. BSMNM consists of over 330,000 acres and is home to a variety of plants and animals. The new national monument will preserve the natural environment, providing people with access to the land for years to come.
According to Bob Schneider, the senior policy director for Tuleyome, the value of the land lies in its biodiversity, rich history and convenient location. It is one of the only national monuments so easily accessible to residents of the Bay Area, Davis and Sacramento.
“The national monument was based on the geology, which is probably the best example, and most accessible area to learn about plate tectonics and see it. And partly as a result of that, it has incredible biological diversity, many types of plants and animals. It has a very rich cultural history with original Native Americans in the region dating back to 12,000 years ago,” Schneider said.
The land is one of the greatest concentrations of biodiversity in California, and is home to threatened and endangered plant and wildlife species including northern spotted owls and chinook salmon.
According to David Christy, a spokesman for the Bureau of Land Management, the Spring Festival was a definite success, with a much bigger turnout than expected. The event included different activities and many groups participated, including conservationists, the equestrian community and hiking groups.
“It was excellent. We had about 1,000 people, which was a big turnout, more than what we expected, but we were very happy to have that many people showing up to enjoy the place and help celebrate it,” Christy said. “We had nature hikes for the public who attended. We had booths from groups like the mountain hikers, off highway vehicle groups, native plant society, all the way from environmental to recreation. We had a fire booth there, we had horseback camping demonstrations, nature photography and painting, just to name a few.”
Schneider explains that he was pleased with the diversity of people who attended and participated in the Spring Festival. He believes that the diversity demonstrates people’s growing appreciation for the outdoors and for the preservation of the land.
“Lots of people helped make this happen. It was a very large, diverse partnership. I mean, how many times do you see such different groups working together in a partnership to understand this is an incredibly important place?” Schneider said. “We all care about the land here and together we are going to make this happen and together we are going to secure these lands for the future.”
Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, the mayor of Winters, said that young people were overwhelmingly present at the event and showed enthusiasm for the new national monument.
“It was very touching, and it was so great seeing young people come out. I remember one young person coming up to me and saying, ‘it was so beautiful, it looked like wallpaper,’” Aguiar-Curry said.
Overall, many thought the event was a success and that the influx of youth present emphasized the festival’s ability to capture a wide range of interests.
“I think what’s important is that people in our region are really beginning to appreciate what’s in our backyard and what that represents,” Schneider said. “People come now throughout the U.S. and the world to see this place.”
Written By: HADYA AMIN- firstname.lastname@example.org