Capps Unveils Central Coast Heritage Protection Act to Provide Additional Protection and Preservation of Federal Lands

May 15, 2014 Issues: Energy & Environment

Santa Barbara – Today, Rep. Lois Capps (CA-24) unveiled the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act, legislation that would protect 245,665 acres of new and expanded wilderness in the Los Padres National Forest and the Carrizo Plain National Monument, protecting wild and scenic rivers and designating a new national recreational trail.

The announcement was made at a press conference at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. The bill is expected to be formally introduced next week when the House of Representatives returns from the current district work period.

Among the bill’s highlights are the creation of the Condor National Recreation Trail, a trail that will provide an opportunity to hike approximately 400 miles along the spine of the coastal range from Los Angeles County to the northernmost point of the Los Padres National Forest in Monterey County.

The bill would also create four new wilderness areas and expand nine existing wilderness areas. The wilderness designation is the highest form of protection the government can give to public land. The act also designates two new scenic areas totaling 34,512 acres in the Black Mountain area and Condor Ridge above the Gaviota Coast and Santa Barbara.

We have a responsibility to protect the incredible landscapes, local water supplies, and unique habitats the Central Coast provides, while at the same time preserving the recreation opportunities that contribute so much to the local economy and quality of life,” Capps said. “Crafting this legislation has truly been a community effort, promoting both responsible use and long-term protection for our treasured public lands. I’m pleased to be introducing this important piece of legislation and I am eager to advance it through Congress.”

Rep. Julia Brownley (CA-26) and Rep. Sam Farr (CA-20) have both signed on as original co-sponsors of the bill.

I am proud to support the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act,” said Congresswoman Julia Brownley. “In addition to preserving Ventura County native plants and endangered species like the majestic California Condor, this legislation will boost Ventura County’s economy by promoting tourism and protecting the streams and tributaries that supply the Ventura and Santa Clara River watersheds, which provide water to many of Ventura County’s urban and agricultural communities.” 

The future of our region’s economy is dependent upon how well we manage and use our natural resources,” said Congressman Sam Farr. “Congresswoman Capps did a wonderful job bringing all of the various stakeholders together to craft a bill that provides the right balance between long-term conservation efforts and the current needs of local communities. Thanks to her efforts, we now have a bill that will allow the Central Coast economy to continue to grow while preserving our natural heritage.”

Capps worked for more than a year with local stakeholders to develop a consensus bill with broad support. The bill is widely supported by more than 300 businesses, trail user groups, individuals, conservation groups, and local officials.