On Thursday, Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, will hold a press conference to announce the introduction of the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act, which would designate nearly 250,000 acres in the Los Padres National Forest and Carrizo Plain National Monument as wilderness, as well as establish new scenic areas, wild and scenic rivers, and a national recreational trail.
The wilderness designation is the highest form of protection the government can give to a public land. It prohibits roads, vehicles or permanent structures, as well as logging and mining.
The bill would designate three new wilderness areas in the Carrizo Plain National Monument and expands seven existing wilderness areas in Los Padres National Forest. It also would establish new wild and scenic rivers and adds to several existing ones. It would protect Condor Ridge and Black Mountain as new scenic areas, and would designate the Condor Trail as a National Recreation Trail within the Los Padres National Forest.
“We are fortunate to have some of the most diverse habitats and ecosystems in North America right here in our backyard,” Capps said. “They contribute so much to our community — incredible natural beauty and biodiversity, educational and economic opportunities, and accessible and affordable recreation. We have a responsibility to protect these special places for future generations.
"That is why I am pleased to introduce the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act, which will promote both responsible use and long-term protection for these treasured public lands.”
Capps and her office have worked for more than a year with local and regional stakeholders to develop this bill and gain broad community support from businesses, trail user groups, conservation groups and local officials.
— Chris Meagher is the press secretary for Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.