Senator Barbara Boxer and Representative Lois Capps introduced the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act in May 2015, in the Senate and House of Representatives respectively, to protect 245,500 acres of wilderness, create two scenic areas encompassing 34,500 acres, and safeguard 159 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers in the Los Padres National Forest and Carrizo Plain National Monument. Once they become law, these protections will help sustain the area’s quality of life by ensuring clean water for communities, protecting valuable wildlife habitat, and stimulating a vibrant local economy.
The Central Coast Heritage Act is the product of years of discussion and negotiation, led by Representative Capps, involving business leaders, conservationists, elected officials, ranchers, mountain bikers, and other stakeholders interested in the use and well-being of these iconic lands. Representatives Julia Brownley and Sam Farr, whose districts include part of the proposal, have co-sponsored the legislation. CalWild has worked closely with all of these offices as well as a diverse group of local businesses, conservationists, and civic leaders.
We are very excited about this opportunity and couldn’t summarize it better than West Paso Robles rancher and business owner Greg McMillan said, “My family has lived in this area for six generations and it is my heart. I own and operate a small scale grass fed beef operation on family land and have planted an olive orchard. We are blessed to live in an area that contains some of the most rural and wild lands in the west, but the pressures on this land are great. The Central Coast Heritage Protection Act will ensure that our wildest lands and rivers remain intact.”
Why We Need Wild Places and Rivers Along the Central Coast
California’s Central Coast is known for its iconic oak woodlands, chaparral-draped coastal mountains, and the awe-inspiring Channel Islands. The region includes the Los Padres National Forest, California’s second largest national forest. The forest extends nearly 220 miles across the scenic Coast and Transverse Mountain Ranges, rising from the Pacific Ocean to over 8,800 feet in elevation.
The forest provides habitat for 468 species of wildlife including the California condor and the southern steelhead. At least two endemic plant species grow within the forest – and nowhere else on Earth. The region also includes the Carrizo Plain National Monument, the last intact native grassland where pronghorn antelope and tule elk wander free. These wild lands are rich in Native American history, and are popular places for recreation. They are also vital sources of drinking water for local communities and for the agricultural and wine industries.
While there are designated wilderness areas along the Central Coast, many unique wild lands are unprotected and at risk of unauthorized off-road vehicle use and oil and gas drilling. The Act also protects beautiful, free flowing rivers and streams that would be protected as Wild & Scenic, and keeps the water clean for generations.
The Central Coast Heritage Protection Act will forever protect:
- Black Mountain Proposed Scenic Area
- Carrizo Plain Proposed Wilderness Area
- Chumash Proposed Wilderness Additions
- Condor Ridge Proposed Scenic Area
- Dick Smith Proposed Wilderness Additions
- Garcia Proposed Wilderness Additions
- Machesna Mountain Proposed Wilderness Additions
- Matilija Creek Proposed Wild & Scenic River
- Matilija Proposed Wilderness Additions
- Mono & Indian Proposed Wild & Scenic Rivers
- Piru Creek Proposed Wild & Scenic River
- San Rafael Proposed Wilderness Additions
- Santa Lucia Proposed Wilderness Additions
- Sespe Creek Proposed Wild & Scenic River
- Sespe Proposed Wilderness Additions
- Sisquoc Wild River Tributaries Proposed Wild & Scenic Rivers