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Review Of Protections For National Marine Sanctuaries Creates Concerns About South Coast Preserve

(NOAA Photo)
A diver in the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctusary

The Santa Barbara and Ventura County coastlines are home to a one of a kind National Park.

Channel Islands National Park includes unique islands, some rare animal and plant life, as well as the special marine habitat. But, also off the coastline is a lesser known preserve. The Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary is a 1400 square mile protected marine environment off the coast. It’s one of 14 federally designated marine protected areas.

But, it’s also on President Trump’s list of protected national monuments and sanctuaries he wants reviewed for their status, with an eye towards opening some for development of their natural resources.

While some Marine sanctuaries could be impacted in a major way, the area in question for the Channel Islands is only two percent of the total size. They include a sliver of ocean north of San Miguel Island, and two areas south of Santa Cruz Island. The areas were added a few years ago to help make the protected areas manageable.

The Environmental Defense Center’s Linda Krop says any move towards lessening protections is troublesome.

The congressman who represents much of the Central and South Coasts is trying to build opposition to opening the protected monuments and sanctuaries. Democratic Congressman Salud Carbajal of Santa Barbara is involved in the campaign to let the Secretary of the Interior, who’s doing the reviews, know people want the public lands protected.

Carbajal says with a July 26th comment deadline approaching, he is seeking an expansion of the comment deadline, to give more people a chance to weigh in on the proposal. He says he’s hoping to see community groups, and members of the public chime in on protection of the marine sanctuaries, and they already have more than 20 members of Congress signed onto the effort.

Krop admits the inclusion of the Channel Islands Sanctuary is puzzling, because as far as she knows there are no oil or gas reserves in the little slices of ocean off our coast in the areas in question.

Still, Krop says they are doing their due diligence to show the opposition to any reduction in the sanctuary’s protected status.