SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (October 16th, 2017)–A broad coalition of businesses, community leaders and conservationists hailed the introduction today of a bill to protect forest, grass lands, and wild rivers across California’s Central Coast.
The Central Coast Heritage Protection Act is the first land conservation measure introduced by Representative Salud Carbajal (D-CA) and Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA). It is the product of years of discussion and negotiation involving business leaders, conservationists, elected officials, ranchers, mountain bikers, and other stakeholders interested in the use and well-being of these iconic lands. Former Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA) and former Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) previously sponsored a similar legislation.
"Protecting our public lands is essential, as these natural and cultural landscapes are investments in the well-being of our communities,” said José González, founder and executive director of Latino Outdoors. “They are necessary to reduce inequities in our communities, which are part of an expanding conservation movement. California’s Central Coast is a perfect example. We need to protect this scenic and ecological wonder while ensuring its relevance to all."
Protected public lands enhance the quality of life for residents and attract visitors to the area. The Central Coast is a top tourist destination, home to world class restaurants and wineries, and iconic scenery, all of which yield clear benefits for the region's economy.
“As a small business owner, I feel lucky to have found a career that allows me to share my passion for the outdoors with others on a daily basis,” said Tim Coates, owner of Real Cheap Sports in Ventura. “Outdoor recreation generates $8.5 billion in consumer spending and 732,000 direct jobs in California. Permanent protection of these lands would support our region’s tourism industry that attracts visitors from around the globe, and reinforce our economic future and quality of life.”
The rugged coastal mountains and ecologically rich grasslands of California’s Central Coast make possible a wide range of recreational opportunities. Visitors to the Los Padres National Forest and the adjoining Carrizo Plain National Monument enjoy backpacking, camping, bird watching, horseback riding, kayaking, and mountain biking.
The legislation would designate the approximately 400-mile long Condor Trail as a National Recreation Trail, connecting the northern and southern portions of the Los Padres National Forest by a single hiking route.
“This comprehensive bill ensures more opportunities for veterans and their families to enjoy the scenic beauty of the Los Padres National Forest,” said Vitali Mostovoj with Vet Voice Foundation. “Outdoor activities, like camping, fishing, hunting and hiking, are among the best ways for veterans to unwind from the stresses of everyday life, which for many has been made very hard by the physical and mental scars they suffered from their wartime experiences.”
The Central Coast Heritage Protection Act would safeguard 245,000 acres of wilderness, create two scenic areas encompassing 34,882 acres, and designate 159 miles of wild and scenic rivers in the Los Padres National Forest and the Carrizo Plain National Monument. These protections would help ensure clean water for local communities, stimulate a vibrant local economy, and conserve valuable wildlife habitat.
The unique and diverse ecosystems protected by this measure provide habitat for some 468 species of wildlife and more than 1,200 plant species. Many are threatened, including the San Joaquin kit fox, steelhead trout, California spotted owl, Smith’s blue butterfly, arroyo toad, the California jewel-flower, and the famous California condor.
Representatives Julia Brownley and Jimmy Panetta (both D-CA), whose districts include part of the national forest, are co-sponsoring the bill.
Season Five of the public television series This American Land featured a segment on local efforts to protect California’s Central Coast.
List of Congressional Senate Contacts:
Congressman Salud Carbajal
24th Congressional District
360 S. Hope St., Suite 301
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Phone: (805) 546-8348
Congresswoman Julia Brownley
26th Congressional District
PO Box 2018 Thousand Oaks, CA 91358
Congressman Jimmy Panetta
20th Congressional District
100 W. Alisal Street
Salinas, CA 93901
Phone: (831) 424-2229
Fax: (831) 424-7099
Senator Kamala Harris
312 N. Spring St. Suite 1748
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone: (213) 894-5000
Fax: (202) 224-0357
Senator Diane Feinstein
11111 San Monica Boulevard, Suite 915
Los Angeles, CA 90025-3343
Phone: (310) 914-7300
Fax: (310) 914-7318