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Leaked Report Indicates National Monument On Central Coast May Keep Protections From Development

There may be new hope that a Central Coast national monument may be keeping its protected status.

President Trump ordered Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review that status of more than two dozen national monuments, with an eye towards relaxing some of their protections so they could be open to oil, or other natural resource development.

The review included the more than 240,000 acre Carrizo Plain National Monument, northeast of Santa Maria in San Luis Obispo, and Kern Counties. The reviews created massive opposition.

Zinke completed the report last month, but in a move that’s left many angry, sent it to the White House without making it public.  The Department of the Interior failed to respond to multiple requests by KCLU News for information on the recommendations.

Part of now has apparently been leaked to the Washington Post, and the documents indicate there may not be plans to open the Carrizo Plain to development. Democratic Congressman Salud Carbajal of Santa Barbara is involved in efforts to keep the Carrizo Monument intact. He says while the leaked report brings hope, it’s been frustrating that details of the report haven’t been released by the government.

White House officials aren’t responding to the Washington Post story, other than issuing a statement saying they don’t comment on leaked documents. While the monument is not as well known as some other preserved lands in our region, like Channel Islands National Park, it is home to some unique, and endangered species.

Bryant Baker, the Conservation Director for Los Padres Forestwatch, says there’s a big irony in claims by the Trump Administration that the monuments in question didn’t get open public reviews when they were created. He says the lack of transparency now is wrong. The conservation group spokesman admits the battle to protect Carrizo, and other national monuments is a fight they would have never imagined even a year ago.

Even if the Carrizo Plain Monument comes through this intact, the leaked documents indicate 10 other monuments could face what are called “modifications”, and four could have their boundaries reduced.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral. 
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