Carbajal, Feinstein, Padilla, California Democrats Urge Commerce Department to Prioritize Designation of Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary
Proposed 7,600 square mile California marine sanctuary, which would span area between existing Monterey and Channel Islands marine sanctuaries, was formally nominated in 2021
Santa Barbara, May 9, 2023
Tags: Environment and Energy
Congressman Salud Carbajal (CA-24), U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla, and a group of 12 other Members of Congress from California urged the U.S. Department of Commerce to prioritize completing the designation process for the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary off the central coast of California.
In a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, the California lawmakers emphasized the potential benefits of the approximately 7,670 square-mile sanctuary, including ecological and biological protections for California marine life, the values of recognizing the Native American stewardship of the coastal waters, and the $1.7 trillion coastal economy that supports a wide range of industries in California.
“It is crucial that this momentum toward designation continue without delay,” the lawmakers wrote. “You have an opportunity to address multiple administration priorities at once. The Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary will establish protections for a biologically diverse and ecologically productive region…Designating this area as a marine sanctuary would ensure we continue to be good stewards of these natural resources, while maintaining sustainable access for commercial and recreational fishing.”
The Department of Commerce formally moved the proposed sanctuary into the designation phase in November 2021. The public scoping process was completed more than a year ago.
Rep. Carbajal has consistently advocated for the advancement of the new sanctuary throughout his time in Congress. In 2020, Carbajal, Feinstein, and then-Senator Kamala Harris successfully secured an extension of the proposed sanctuary from the Trump Administration, keeping the process alive for enough time for the Biden-Harris Administration to move forward with the designation process in 2021 without needing to review a new proposal.
The letter was signed by Carbajal, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla, and Representatives Julia Brownley (CA-26), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), John Garamendi (CA-8), Jared Huffman (CA-2), Sara Jacobs (CA-51), Barbara Lee (CA-12), Zoe Lofgren (CA-18), Grace Napolitano (CA-31), Jimmy Panetta (CA-19), Katie Porter (CA-47), Adam Schiff (CA-30), and Mark Takano (CA-39).
The full text of the lawmakers’ letter can be found here and below:
Dear Secretary Raimondo:
We write to convey our continued strong support for the proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary, and to ask that you prioritize the completion of the sanctuary designation process this year as previously scheduled. As you know, the people of the Central Coast of California have pursued this sanctuary designation for decades, and celebrated the decision to move the nomination forward in 2021. It has now been more than a year since the public scoping process concluded, and it is crucial that this momentum toward designation continue without delay, with the publication of the draft designation documents this spring and a final designation this year.
We are mindful of the many competing needs and decisions pending before your Department. In the case of the proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary, you have an opportunity to address multiple administration priorities at once. The Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary will establish protections for a biologically diverse and ecologically productive region, including feeding grounds for numerous species of whales and dolphins, sea otter populations, kelp forests, and other endangered marine life, including abalone. Located between the Monterey Bay and Channel Islands marine sanctuaries, the proposed sanctuary is home to vital commercial and recreational fisheries. Designating this area as a marine sanctuary would ensure we continue to be good stewards of these natural resources, while maintaining sustainable access for commercial and recreational fishing.
These abundant waters are essential to the heritage of ocean-going First People of the Pacific Coast. As we wrote in 2021 and 2022, creating a unique, co-management relationship between the management of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians and with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, while bringing in the historical and cultural knowledge and practices of the broader indigenous community will strengthen the conservation of this one-of-a-kind place on the California coastline. Through the application of traditional ecological knowledge, we can better understand climate change and build resilience to protect the biodiversity, cultural values, and economy of the Central Coast of California.
Finally, the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary’s designation will play an important role in the protection of marine resources off the Central Coast that contribute to California’s $1.7 trillion coastal economy. The long-standing relationship of coastal communities with these waters extends to the present with a sustainable commercial and recreational fishery and a vibrant tourism industry recognized nationally as a destination vacation – and where the ecological and economic devastation from oil spills is all too familiar.
Thank you for your consideration of our request. We look forward to celebrating the designation with you of a unique sanctuary to protect the past, present and future of California’s waters off the Central Coast. Please do not hesitate to contact our offices should you have any questions.
Washington, DC Office
2331 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-3601
Santa Barbara Office
125 E. De La Guerra Suite 203B
Santa Barbara, 93101
Phone: (805) 730-1710
San Luis Obispo Office
1411 Marsh St., Suite 205
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
Phone: (805) 546-8348
Fax: (805) 439-3574