April 10th, 2019

Businesses, community leaders and conservationists from across the region hailed the introduction today of a bill to protect forest, grasslands, and wild rivers in California’s Central Coast.

The Central Coast Heritage Protection Act, introduced by Representative Salud Carbajal (D-CA) and Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA), 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.

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.

“Permanent protection of Carrizo Plain is key to our region’s tourism industry, which attracts visitors from around the globe and reinforces our economic future and quality of life,” said San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon. “Travel and tourism are important to communities in the Carrizo Plain region, representing about 19 percent of total private wage and salary employment. In fact, the recent superbloom, recognized for its splendor in countless magazines, articles, and travel guides, brought thousands of tourists to San Luis Obispo who stayed in our hotels, ate at local restaurants, and shopped in our stores.”

According to the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation generates $92 billion in consumer spending and 691,000 direct jobs in California.

“Protecting public lands is one of the best examples of social justice in action,” said Gordon Seabury, CEO of Toad&Co, a sustainable clothing business based in Santa Barbara. “No matter who you are or where you come from, these spectacular places are yours to enjoy and to connect with the natural world. Our business is rooted in the outdoor recreation economy. In California, this healthy industry gets a boost when these special places are granted higher levels of protection. Our business thrives, businesses in surrounding communities succeed, and as humans, we all benefit from the natural riches of thriving wild landscapes. Many thanks to Sen. Harris and Rep. Carbajal for working to safeguard California’s amazing Central Coast.”

"I would like to thank Rep. Carbajal and Senator Harris for their advocacy on behalf of our natural areas,” said Jack Dyer, co-founder of Topa Topa Brewing Co. in Ventura. “Safeguarding these special places is vital to our region’s economic future and quality of life.  We must protect the areas that draw visitors to the Central Coast and drive the tourism economy."

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 Scenic Trail, connecting the northern and southern portions of the Los Padres National Forest by a single hiking route.

"After each of my deployments, I looked forward to getting outdoors with my son," said Ric Chavez, U.S. Army veteran. "Being able to raise my eight-year-old son on lands where we fish and camp has made my son mature and appreciate our natural surroundings. And that's why I'm grateful for Congressman Carbajal introduction of the The Central Coast Heritage Act. It's vital to protect the lands that so many service members fought for."

The Central Coast Heritage Protection Act would safeguard 244,909 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.

Representative Julia Brownley (D-CA), whose district includes part of the national forest, and Reps. Jimmy Panetta, Judy Chu, Katie Hill, and Jared Huffman, all D-CA, 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.

See The Legislation

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
(805) 330-1070


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