The proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary off the Central Coast of California will advance to the designation phase, according to U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal and the U.S. Department of Commerce.
This announcement marks the start of a public process during an effort to protect the marine resources along 140 miles of California’s coastline from oil drilling and to recognize those waters for their cultural, economic and ecological significance.
“I am thrilled the Biden administration has taken this step to protect our coastal areas from further oil and gas drilling and strengthen our state’s $1.9 trillion coastal economy, which is propped up by tourism and commercial fishing,” Mr. Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, said in a news release Tuesday.
“Bringing the proposed sanctuary into the designation phase is the result of years of public engagement, and I am grateful that we are one step closer to permanently protecting our coastline for future generations to inherit and enjoy. I am also thankful for the steadfast leadership of the late Fred Collins, chairman of the Northern Chumash Tribal Council, whose legacy of advocacy was instrumental in moving this project forward.”
“Successfully designating the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary will protect ocean life, sacred Chumash sites, strengthen Indigenous communities and serve as a model of environmental justice,” said Violet Sage Walker, Northern Chumash Tribal Council chairwoman and Mr. Collins’ daughter.
“Today’s announcement marks a major milestone after more than 40 years of tireless advocacy for ocean protection and also represents the first tribally nominated sanctuary in the nation. Today, my father would be proud. This is one of the things he wanted to see the most.”
“It’s wonderful news that the Commerce Department continues to move the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary proposal forward and is now seeking public input,” said U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. “This sanctuary would protect sacred Chumash cultural sites while helping combat climate change by saving one of the largest remaining kelp forests. It’s time to designate this important region off our coast as a permanent marine sanctuary.”
Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland said the proposal demonstrates the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to conservation and the economy. “Local voices, indigenous knowledge and collaborative stewardship will be integral to our efforts to bolster community resilience, protect our natural resources, and build a clean-energy economy.”
In August, Mr. Carbajal wrote a letter along with Ms. Feinstein and U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla, as well as several members of the House’s California delegation, urging the Biden administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to advance the CHNMS nomination into the designation phase. The proposed sanctuary will now enter the scoping phase, which includes input from the public and is the first phase in a four-step process.