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Groups Press Congress to Protect Calif. Central Coast

Davy Brown Creek on California's Central Coast is just one waterway that would be protected under the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act. (Cheryl Frei)
Davy Brown Creek on California's Central Coast is just one waterway that would be protected under the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act. (Cheryl Frei)
September 21, 2016

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Members of Congress and their staffs are getting an earful today from California supporters of the Central Coast Wild Heritage Act.

The act would protect about a quarter-million acres of wilderness from development, create two scenic areas and designate almost 160 miles of wild and scenic rivers in the Los Padres National Forest and the Carrizo Plain National Monument.

Garret Kababic, founder and chief executive of Channel Islands Outfitters, said he hopes the bill will protect endangered species while drawing more tourists to the Central Coast.

"Some of these protections for habitat for steelhead trout are really important to not only business, but also for recreation," he said. "Also, I'm really excited about the proposed Condor Trail, which spans all of the Los Padres National Forest from the Fillmore area all the way up to Monterey Bay, to the Big Sur coast."

The bill's two main sponsors, Sen. Barbara Boxer and Rep. Lois Capps, both D-Calif., are retiring at the end of this year, so advocates for the bill are hoping public pressure will convince congressional leaders to put it up for a vote in the next few months.

Saba Ashgary, a student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo who serves as a student ambassador and board member for the nonprofit Central Coast advocacy group Ecologistics, said many Californians don't realize what a gem they have in the Central Coast.

"I think a lot of people hear about Big Sur, but there's also that Santa Lucia land, which this act is protecting - completely untouched, absolutely beautiful," she said. "It's really nice for people from places that are very urban-dense to get out and enjoy the wilderness that we have there."

The text of the bill, HR 4685, is online at capps.house.gov.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - CA