The Carrizo Plain National Monument would receive extra protections from development under the proposed Public Lands Act in Congress. (Bob Wick/Bureau of Land Management)

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By Suzanne Potter

January 19, 2022

A coalition of more than 50 local elected officials is pleading for action on the Public Lands Act, a bill that would add protections for more than a million acres of land and 500 miles of rivers in California.

The group released a letter today thanking U.S. Sens Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla, both D-Calif., for their support of the legislation.

Ventura County Supervisor Carmen Ramirez said more must be done to safeguard the state’s pristine wilderness areas before it’s too late.

“These are places with abundant diversity,” she said. “That’s where a lot of our clean water comes from. We have tribal cultural sites. And oil drilling and other harmful industries should not be permitted where we have our natural resources.”

The letter emphasized the importance of public lands in the fight against climate change, and
for promoting access to the outdoors for public health and economic recovery.

In 2019, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, California’s outdoor-recreation economy contributed more to the national Gross Domestic Product than any other state. It generates more than $57 billion in economic activity and supports more than 575,000 jobs.

Eureka Mayor Susan Seaman said local economies thrive when the ocean, rivers and old-growth forests are protected.

“I think it’s pro-economic development to create a community that encourages visitors, encourages people to want to come and live here,” she said. “The thing that makes us special is the lands that we have around it. And the more we can protect them, the more we can protect the culture that we love here.”

The Senate bill was introduced in May but hasn’t yet gotten a vote. The House version, which passed last February, is a package of three bills that cover northwest Californiathe Central Coast and the San Gabriel Mountains.

Support for this reporting was provided by Pew Charitable Trusts.


Economic data U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis 11/9/2021
Northern California bill U.S. Congress 2021
Central Coast bill U.S. Congress 2021
San Gabriel Mountains bill U.S. Congress 2021
Letter Protect California Public Lands 1/19/2022