Suzanne Potter / California News Service
VENTURA, Calif. — California conservation advocates this week are traveling to Washington, D.C., to join a national push for passage of several wilderness protection bills.
They are praising President Obama for declaring three new national monuments in the Southern California desert in February: Sand to Snow, Mojave Trails and Castle Mountains. Now they’d like to see Congress establish wilderness protections in the central coast area and along more of the Golden State’s shores.
Jack Dyer, who co-founded Topa Topa Brewing Co. in Ventura, said local consumers and business owners value the open space because it preserves their lifestyle, which includes biking, hiking and kayaking.
“We’ve built our brand around those activities and we draw people in every day to come and enjoy a pint after they’ve done those,” he said. “People are very much outdoor enthusiasts in this region, and our business fuels off that.”
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., introduced the California Coastal National Monument Expansion Act last summer to protect more than 1,100 miles of islands, rocks and geological formations along and off the California coast, but it has not come up for a vote.
Dyer said he wants members of Congress to act before they adjourn in July to stop development from encroaching on these pristine areas.
“There’s been numerous threats over the years that have come and tried to disturb the wilderness as it exists, and some of those have been successful,” he said. “We’d like to make it harder for them to be successful.”
Another priority for conservationists is the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act, which would safeguard 245,000 acres in the Los Padres National Forest and the Carrizo Plain National Monument, protect wild and scenic rivers and designate a national recreational trail.
The text of of Boxer’s bill, Senate Bill 1971, are online at congress.gov. The text of the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act, House Resolution 4685, are at capps.house.gov.
Support for this reporting was provided by the Pew Charitable Trusts.