Support Central Coast Heritage Protection Act
Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, together with Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Kamala Harris, have introduced an important bill to protect lands and waters in the Los Padres National Forest: the “Central Coast Heritage Protection Act.” The bill, H.R. 4072 is officially co-sponsored by Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Thousand Oaks.
The Central Coast Heritage Protection Act will create new Wilderness Areas and Wild and Scenic Rivers in the Los Padres National Forest. The selected Wilderness Areas have been carefully planned in coordination with neighboring landowners, businesses, trail users and conservation organizations to preserve key wild lands while keeping existing roads and trails open. This important land and water protection legislation will preserve our watersheds, scenic vistas, recreation areas, wildlife habitat and creeks for the benefit of current residents, visitors and future generations.
This water and wilderness bill will also be a benefit to our economy through enhancing tourism, with visitors to the Los Padres forest already spending over $24 million per year at local businesses. Preserving additional key areas of wilderness and wild rivers will assure future generations of access to camping, hiking, trail riding, kayaking, fishing and wildlife, and meet increasing demand for outdoor recreation.
Perhaps more importantly, preserving the national forest lands makes Ventura County a great place to live and work, preserves the character of our county, and protects our critical watersheds from threats from mining, drilling or road building. All the proposed wilderness additions add on to existing wilderness areas, thereby amplifying their ecological and recreation value while leaving existing multi-use trails open.
It has been 25 years since the last wilderness addition in the Los Padres National Forest. The Central Coast Heritage Protection Act has more than 500 supporters, among them elected officials including the Ventura County Board of Supervisors, business owners, mountain bikers, veterans, faith leaders, anglers, conservation organizations and others who support permanent protection of these special places and waters.
The Ventura County lands proposed for Wilderness designation are some of the most scenic and resource-rich lands in our National Forest. The 159 miles of creek and river that would be designated as Wild and Scenic Rivers include upper Piru Creek, upper Sespe Creek and Upper Matilija Creek, all important local water sources and essential fish habitat.
Passage of the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act will assure protection of these vital lands and waters for future generations of Ventura County residents and visitors, and will preserve the Ventura County that we know and love. County citizens are encouraged to express their support for this important bill to members of Congress.
County Supervisor Steve Bennett