Rep. Paul Cook Bill to Create Alabama Hills National Scenic Area Passes House
WASHINGTON –Rep. Paul Cook (R – Apple Valley) announced that his bill, H.R. 496, the Alabama Hills National Scenic Area Establishment Act, passed unanimously in the House of Representatives today. This legislation establishes the Alabama Hills National Scenic Area, encompassing 18,610 acres of the scenic Alabama Hills. This designation would preserve this land for recreational use by the public and future generations. A Bureau of Land Management (BLM) map of the proposed Alabama Hills National Scenic Area can be found here.
This bill guarantees that all recreational activities currently taking place in the Alabama Hills will continue. This includes not only hiking, mountain biking, and rock climbing, but hunting, fishing, and authorized motorized vehicle use as well. Additionally, recreational prospecting (rock-hounding) will continue to be allowed in historic mining areas under this legislation.
This bill is the culmination of months of work by Rep. Paul Cook and the Alabama Hills Stewardship Group to draft legislative language acceptable to all key local stakeholders. The stewardship group is dedicated to promoting the long term vision, conservation, use, enhancement, and enjoyment of the Alabama Hills. Many groups and organizations have worked with the stewardship group, including Inyo County, the Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce, the Lone-Pine Paiute-Shoshone Tribe, local business owners, and other key stakeholders.
Cook said, “The Alabama Hills are a natural treasure and I’m thrilled that the legislation to protect it passed the House today. This bill is a balanced approach, meets the desires of all stakeholders, and preserves the Alabama Hills for future generations to enjoy. The level of local input and support has been tremendous and is example for how land use decisions are best made.”
The Alabama Hills Stewardship Group (AHSG) released a statement saying, “We are delighted by the passage of our proposed Alabama Hills National Scenic Area legislation. And we are extremely appreciative to Congressman Cook, for his passionate support and leadership in getting this bill passed in the House of Representatives. This is the culmination of years of collaboration and steadfast support from a broad range of stakeholders. We are proud of our partnership with the Bureau of Land Management in helping manage and protect this semi-primitive area and look forward to both preserving this jaw-dropping landscape and providing access to it, for future generations.”
AHSG board member and chair of the Designation Study Committee Kevin Mazzu said, “These years of significant and diverse input, have helped improve and strengthen both the legislative language as well as our coalition of support. The heavy lifting has been done; and some final enhancements – driven by stakeholder feedback – have helped the legislation reach the perfect balance between conservation and access.”
The Inyo County Board of Supervisors has also been enthusiastic in its support of the bill, voting unanimously to endorse the legislation and traveling repeatedly to Washington DC to push for its passage.
Inyo County Supervisor Matt Kingsley, 5th District said, “Congressman Cook and his staff’s hard work in passing the Alabama Hills NSA bill thru the House is a huge step forward in the legislative process. Although progress has been slow; this type of organic, grassroots legislation requires closely orchestrated cooperation and collaboration between all parties to be successful. My hope is that the Senate approval process will now be accelerated.”
A member of the House Natural Resources, Armed Services, and Foreign Affairs Committees, Cook served as an infantry officer and retired after 26 years as a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps. During his time in combat, he was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.