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Proposal For New Protections For Hundreds Of Thousands Of Acres On Central Coast Passes Key Hurdle

(BLM Photo)
Parts of the Carrizo Plain National Monument on the Central Coast would receive new protections as part of a land conservation package passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, and now headed to the Senate

A plan to permanently protect thousands of acres of land as wilderness on the Central Coast cleared a significant hurdle.

The Protecting America’s Wilderness Act is a package of legislation which would help preserve more than a million acres of land in the Western United States. 

Although the House passed it in February, it’s now been bundled with defense legislation. That improves the chance that the Senate will also pass it.

The bill would preserve land in the Los Padres National Forest and the Carrizo Plain National Monument.

Democratic Congressman Salud Carbajal of Santa Barbara is behind the Central Coast part of the package.  It includes wilderness protections for nearly 290,000 acres of land, as well as two scenic areas covering nearly 35,000 acres.  And, almost 160 miles of rivers would receive new protections.

Carbajal says this would be the first new wilderness designation for the Central Coast in decades.

The congressman admits the last few years have been frustrating when it comes to trying to protect the environment, a huge issue for Central and South Coast residents.

He’s authored a number of bills to protect land from development, and to restrict oil and gas development.  Some have made it through the Democrat controlled House of Representatives, only to die in the Republican controlled Senate.  But, Carbajal says more frustrating is having to re-fight old battles as President Trump has tried to roll back a number of environmental protections for our region.

The legislative package would also expand the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation area.  It would add 191,000 acres of land, stretching from the Simi Hills and Santa Susanas to the San Gabriel Mountains.

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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