California senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla recently joined forces to introduce a sweeping public lands package. The ‘Protecting Unique and Beautiful Landscapes by Investing in California’ (PUBLIC) Lands Act would increase protections for public lands throughout northwest California, the Central Coast, and Los Angeles. It would designate nearly 600,000 acres of new wilderness, more than 583 miles of new wild and scenic rivers and expand an existing national monument by more than 100,000 acres.
“From lush forests to majestic deserts to scenic coasts, California’s iconic landscapes have few rivals,” said Senator Feinstein. “In light of climate change, our growing population and challenges to the flora and fauna, protecting these special places is even more important. I’m pleased to partner with Senator Padilla on this effort and look forward to working with our colleagues to pass this bill.”
“Our public lands are one of our state’s greatest gifts – from the San Gabriel Mountains, to the Central Coast, and through Northwestern California’s forests and rivers. It is incumbent upon us to be thoughtful stewards of these special places so that our communities can enjoy them and benefit from America’s natural resources for generations to come,” said Senator Padilla. “And we must do so in a way that reverses racial and economic disparities in access to nature and parks. Some of the protected land in this bill serves densely populated areas of the state that don’t have equal access to nature, which will help rebalance this historic disparity in access to untouched wilderness.”
The legislative package consists of three bills that were originally introduced in the House of Representatives: The Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act, which is led in the House by Rep. Jared Huffman (CA-02); The Central Coast Heritage Protection Act, which is led in the House by Rep. Salud Carbajal (CA-24); and The San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act, which is led in the House by Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27).
“The Central Coast is home to some of the most beautiful public lands in America. It’s up to us to be good stewards of the environment and the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act will conserve over 250,000 acres of public land for future generations to inherit and enjoy,” said Representative Carbajal. “It’s crucial that we act now to permanently protect the great outdoors, which provide invaluable local watersheds and opportunities for outdoor recreation that support our health and our economy. I thank Senator Padilla and Senator Feinstein for their leadership in this important fight to preserve our public lands.”
The PUBLIC Lands Act would protect California’s iconic landscapes, provide critical access to open space for communities, support California’s outdoor recreation economy and fight the climate crisis. Guided by science and input from local communities, the bill also advances the nation’s and California’s goals of conserving 30 percent of the state’s lands and waters by 2030.