Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, alongside Reps. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala D. Harris on Thursday called on the Commerce Department to grant a five-year extension of the proposal to create the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary.
The senators also hope to move forward with the designation process for the Chumash sanctuary.
“Designating the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary remains relevant and responsive to the national significance criteria and management considerations,” the elected officials wrote in a letter to Wilbur Ross, secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce. “The case is further strengthened by new data and discoveries since its successful nomination five years ago.”
If designated, the marine sanctuary would conserve a diverse marine habitat, help restore California’s kelp forest and protect ancient indigenous settlements in the area.
The letter states multiple reasons to grant the five-year extension.
One of the key reasons is to help environmental issues, as the letter states that a 2019 study shows that California’s coastal waters are acidifying at twice the rate of the global average.
“These high acidity levels are exacerbated by the alarming loss of more than 90% of coastal marine kelp forests, which can absorb carbon dioxide at twice the rate of land-based forests. Additionally, kelp forests provide critical habitat and food sources for a range of species,” the letter states.
The marine sanctuary also helps to protect important historical significance. Artifacts dating back as far as 9,000 years ago have been identified in the coastal region surrounding the proposal, as well as U.S. history.
“In 2016, NOAA and the Coast Guard confirmed the archaeological remains off of Point Conception in this proposed area were that of the USS McCulloch, which saw action in both the Spanish American War and World War I,” the letter states.