Congress Passes Central Coast Land and River Protections •

Wet op het natuurbehoud komt ten goede aan plaatselijke recreatie, economie, fauna en gemeenschappen

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Het Huis van Afgevaardigden van de Verenigde Staten heeft vorige week de Central Coast Heritage Protection Act goedgekeurd. Een wetsvoorstel dat de openbare gronden en wilde rivieren van Los Padres National Forest en Carrizo Plain National Monument in Santa Barbara, Ventura, SAN LUIS OBISPO en West Kern counties beschermt en een 400 mijl lange National Scenic Trail van Los Angeles naar Big Sur ontwerpt.

The bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Salud Carbajal (D-CA) and approved as part of a larger package of public lands bills that together will protect more than 1.5 million acres in California, Washington, Colorado, Oregon, Arizona, Maine, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The legislative package also formalizes the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership program, which provides grants for outdoor recreation opportunities in cities and low-income towns across the state.

The Central Coast bill is supported by various groups and leaders, including more than 500 citizens, landowners, business owners, elected officials, schools, farmers and ranchers, and recreationists. This effort is the result of more than a decade of discussions and negotiations with a coalition of local stakeholders interested in the sustainable use and protection of some of California’s most ecologically diverse lands, in their own backyard. Many state lands protected by law provide access to green space near built-up communities that are more accessible than the region’s national parks.

The bill adds enhanced protection for 290,000 acres of rare and sensitive areas in the Los Padres National Forest and Carrizo Plain National Monument that are currently threatened by oil development, mining, and commercial logging, including portions of the proposed Pine Mountain project. Two 34,500-acre nature preserves will also be created and 159 miles of wild and scenic rivers will be preserved.

Los Padres, California’s second largest national forest, rising from the Pacific Ocean to more than 8,800 feet above sea level, is home to at least 468 species of wildlife, including the endangered California condor and southern steelhead, and nearly 2,000 species and subspecies of native plants. The Carrizo Plain is home to an incredible diversity of plants and animals, including one of the largest concentrations of endangered species in the United States as well as large populations of tule elk and pronghorn antelope.

Los Padres National Forest and Carrizo Plains National Monument both contain Native American cultural remains.

The areas that would be protected under this bill are home to some of California’s most unique plants, animals and entire ecosystems, said Bryant Baker, director of Los Padres ForestWatch Conservation. They deserve the strongest protection.

Los Padres and Carrizo Plains National Monument offers great recreational opportunities such as hiking, camping, bird watching, horseback riding, kayaking, hunting, fishing, ATVs and nature tours. The legislation seeks to designate the Condor National Recreation Trail, a 400-mile trail that would traverse the entire length of the Los Padres National Forest from Big Sur to the LOS ANGELES County border, a designation shared by the Pacific Recreation Trail (PCT) and the Appalachian Trail.

Before the pandemic, iconic landscapes and restaurants, world-class wineries and breweries made the Central Coast one of the most popular destinations. The expansion of tourism and outdoor recreation opportunities through the protection of public lands will provide an additional economic boost to local communities, particularly in the Los Padres National Forest area, as communities work to recover from the pandemic.

Areas and streams proposed for protection include:

  • San Luis OBISPO COUNTY Areas will be added to the Santa Lucia, Garcia and Machsna areas. The Caliente, Temblor and Soda Lake reservations in Carrizo Plain National Monument are being redesignated, as is the Black Mountain area in the La Panza Range east of Santa Margarita.
  • Santa Barbara County: Several areas will be added to the Dick Smith and San Rafael wilderness areas. The Diablo Caliente Wilderness area in the upper Santa Ynez Mountains, the Sierra Madre Mountains Potential Wilderness area above the Cuyama Valley, and the Condor Point Potential Wilderness area in the Santa Ynez Mountains between the Gaviota Coast and Lake Cachuma would be redesignated. Portions of Mono Creek, Indian Creek, South Fork Siskok River, Manzana Creek, Fish Creek, Manch Creek, and Davey Brown Creek are listed as wild and scenic rivers.
  • Ventura County: Several districts will be added to the existing districts of Matilija, Sespe and Chumash. Portions of Sespe Creek, Piru Creek and Matilija Creek are listed as wild and scenic rivers.

The bill goes to the Senate. Earlier this week the Biden administration issued a statement of support for the legislation as part of its goal to protect 30 percent of our nation’s land and waterways by 2030.

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