Santa Barbara, CA – Today, Rep. Salud Carbajal (CA-24) reintroduced the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act, which would designate nearly 250,000 acres of public land in the Los Padres National Forest and Carrizo Plain National Monument as wilderness. The wilderness designation is the highest form of federal protection and prohibits any development on these precious public lands. The bill also establishes a 400-mile long Condor National Recreation trail, stretching from Los Angeles to Monterey County.
The Central Coast Heritage Protection Act designates four new wilderness areas in the Carrizo Plain National Monument and expands nine existing wilderness areas in Los Padres National Forest. This would prevent new roads, vehicles, or permanent structures from being erected and prevents oil and gas drilling from taking place on any of these protected areas. The bill also designates Condor Ridge and Black Mountain as new scenic areas and designates the Condor Trail as a National Recreation Trail within the Los Padres National Forest.
The bill is supported by nearly 500 Central Coast landowners, businesses, elected officials, farmers, ranchers, civic leaders, wineries, recreationalists, and outfitters. The public lands this bill would protect is home to a wide array of plant and animal life and the bill will help to sustain the ecological future of 468 species of wildlife and more than 1,200 plant species.
Fellow Central Coast Representatives Julia Brownley (CA-26) and Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), who also represent portions of the Los Padres National Forest, co-sponsored this legislation in the House in addition to Representatives Jared Huffman (CA-2) and Judy Chu (CA-27).
“Nature is priceless, but it is too often taken for granted. Pragmatic policies like the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act make a real difference in the fight against climate change, give residents and visitors the opportunity to appreciate the great outdoors, and boosts our recreation economy, all while preserving the plant and animal life that call these public lands home,” said Rep. Carbajal. “One of the best things about living on the Central Coast is our access to beautiful public lands, like the Carrizo Plain National Monument and Los Padres National Forest. It is up to us to be good stewards of our natural treasures, which is why I’m proud to introduce this legislation to protect our precious public lands from development. I’ll always fight to protect the public lands that make the Central Coast uniquely beautiful, so our children and grandchildren can enjoy them too.”
“The Central Coast Heritage Protection Act seeks the permanent protection of a number of unique areas in Carrizo Plain National Monument, including the Caliente Range with its 1,000-year-old juniper woodland, the strange clay dunes surrounding Soda Lake, and the unique shrublands in the Temblor Range. Passage of this legislation will provide the highest level of protection that can be given to any public lands in the United States. The Carrizo Plain Conservancy is pleased and honored to be able to express our support for the success of this Act,” said Neil Havlik, President of the Carrizo Plain Conservancy.
“We are thrilled Rep. Carbajal continues championing lands protections with the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act,” said John Dunmore, Federal Policy Associate at the Sierra Club. “Protecting nature in California and beyond will help our country get to the 30% protections for lands and waters we need by 2030 to fight the climate and extinction crises. We look forward to working with Congress to protect more green space, and to create opportunities for communities to thrive.”
“Protecting the last of our wild places as wilderness is more important today than ever to mitigate climate change, safeguard precious water supplies, and preserve biodiversity,” said Rebecca August, Director of Advocacy for Los Padres ForestWatch. “There is no better tool to fend off the immense pressure to irreparably industrialize our nation’s landscapes and ensure that future generations can know nature.”
“The designation of land as wilderness is ultimately a gift to ourselves. Hiking the Condor Trail is the unraveling of the ribbon, allowing us to hold and experience that gift,” said Chris Danch, Director of the Condor Trail Association.
“We’re thrilled that Rep. Carbajal has reintroduced the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act, which would provide permanent protection for many special places in the Los Padres National Forest and Carrizo Plain National Monument,” said Linda Castro, Assistant Policy Director for CalWild. “CalWild has worked with Rep. Carbajal and his predecessors for more than a decade to pass this bill and last year, the bill made it further than it ever has. We’re incredibly optimistic that the bill will finally pass in this Congress.”
The Central Coast Heritage Protection Act previously passed the House in February 2020, as part of the Protecting America’s Wilderness Act.
Full bill text can be found here.
Rep. Salud Carbajal represents California’s 24th congressional district, encompassing Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and part of Ventura County.