A U.S. Senate hearing will consider on Thursday the preservation of 245,000 acres of land along the Central Coast.
An effort to expand both the Los Padres National Forest and the Carrizo Plain National Monument is moving through Congress on two different fronts.
The Central Coast Heritage Protection Act was introduced two years ago in the House by Rep. Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara) and also last year by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) in the Senate. The two bills are identical.
Congresswoman Capps told KCBX that she is currently requesting a hearing for her bill before the House’s Natural Resources Committee.
“We have such a huge responsibility to protect our incredible resources, the landscapes, the local water supply, unique habitats and the Central Coast really has all of that,” said Capps.
This week is a key step for Sen. Boxer’s bill because if it’s able to get past this committee, then it can be taken up by the full Senate.
Capps said the act is now supported by more than 500 businesses, many trail user groups, individuals and conservationists.
“It’s a diverse group of people who recognize both the economic value of doing this and its intrinsic worth to our area as a way of life,” said Capps.
Initially, a Central Coast mountain biking group had expressed some opposition, but is now neutral on the legislation.
The California Off Road Vehicle Association is also taking a neutral stance.
Congresswoman Capps is retiring at the end of this term. The nine candidates running to fill her seat have mixed views on the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act.
- Katcho Achadjian, Republican: no position
- Salud Carbajal, Democrat: in favor
- Justin Fareed, Republican: yet to respond
- Steve Isakson, Independent: in favor
- Matt Kokkonen, Republican: yet to respond
- Benjamin Lucas, Democrat: in favor
- William Ostrander, Democrat: in favor
- Helene Schneider, Democrat: in favor
- John Uebersax, Independent: in favor