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President signs local Santa Ana Wash plan into law

President
Donald Trump on Tuesday signed new legislation into law that will promote the
ongoing expansion of sensitive habitat areas and water storage, while establishing
appropriate areas for mining operations that provide $36 million in payroll
annually to the region.



The Santa Ana
River Wash Plan Land Exchange Act clears the way for the Bureau of Land
Management to exchange land with the San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation
District under regulations
in the Federal Land Policy and Management Act.



The
4,500-acre Wash Plan was developed
over many years by a local Wash Plan Task Force made up of the cities of
Highland and Redlands; the SBVWCD, East Valley Water District, and San
Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District; CEMEX, Robertson’s Ready Mix; the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Game, Inland
Valley Development Agency and the Endangered Habitats League.



Several
task force representatives attributed the long-awaited success of the
legislation to the teamwork involved in making it happen.



“This legislation is an important
step in helping local efforts that are good for the environment, good for the
local water supply, and good for business and jobs in our region,” said Daniel
Cozad, general manager of the San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District .



San
Bernardino Valley Water District General Manager Douglas Headrick said the new
law will allow partner agencies to move forward with plans to optimize land use
in the wash for the benefit of all interests.



“Valley
District has worked alongside other task force members for many years to
support the land exchange, which will open the door to a whole host of
opportunities including critical water projects to enhance groundwater storage,
and expanded habitat for native and threatened species,” Headrick said.



The
next step in the process, he added, is for the Bureau of Land Management to
approve the Environmental Impact Study that has been in process for years to
implement this Act of Congress.



Originally introduced as separate legislation by U.S.
Representatives Colonel Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) and Pete Aguilar
(D-Redlands), and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California), the Wash Plan Land
Exchange was consolidated into S. 47, by Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), a broad
Land and Natural Resources bill that included more than 100 other pieces of
legislation.



Cozad called its passage collaboration at its best.



“It shows that it is possible for
both sides of the aisle and both houses to work together to help the
communities they serve,” he said. “We really appreciate the work of everyone
involved in bringing this legislation to life.”



Rep. Cook
called the Wash Plan a win for the economy and a win for the environment. “This
will align local land ownership with appropriate uses, setting aside already disturbed
land for aggregate mining and setting aside important habitat for conservation
purposes,” he said.



Rep. Aguilar agreed.



“The Wash Plan will empower industries to take root and flourish,
continue investments in our transportation and infrastructure, and preserve our
environment and regional wildlife. This is an important step forward for our
communities,” he said.



Cozad said the land exchange will lead to more
protection efforts for habitat, improved connectivity in the wildlife corridor,
expanded water storage capacity, and the future establishment of public access
and trails which, once built, will connect and help complete the Santa Ana
River Trail.



“This project has been 15 years in the making,” Cozad said. “Doing
a Habitat Conservation Plan with this many seemingly conflicting interests is
unusual, particularly when you consider each has a different mission to
implement.”
The post President signs local Santa Ana Wash plan into law appeared first on Inland Empire Community News .

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