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PUBLIC Lands Act Would Protect Over 1,000,000 Acres In California

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U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) testified before the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining in support of his bill, the PUBLIC Lands Act (S.1459).

Padilla was Thursday’s KVML “Newsmaker of the Day”.

The legislation would protect more than one million acres of public lands and well over five hundred miles of rivers in California’s Northwest, Central Coast, and Los Angeles regions. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is an original cosponsor of the legislation in the Senate.

According to Padilla, the PUBLIC Lands Act is a key to ensuring equitable access to public lands for local communities and supporting public health and economic recovery. The legislation is also critical to the state’s work to address the climate crisis, build resilience, and protect 30% of lands and waters by 2030. Senator Padilla’s PUBLIC Lands Act was also included as an amendment to the House passed National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022.

“I am proud to see the PUBLIC Lands Act gain momentum in the Senate, and I’m going to keep pushing to advance this legislation until it reaches the President’s desk for signature,” said Senator Padilla. “Enacting this legislation this year is necessary because our public lands are our best natural weapon to fight the climate crisis, protect clean air, and reduce emissions. The bill is also an essential equity bill because it protects public lands and rivers near communities that have limited access to the outdoors. Now is the time to pass these vital protections into law and finally protect these public lands for generations to come.”

The legislation has passed the House already this year.

The PUBLIC Lands Act includes protections for the following places:

Protection of public lands and rivers in Northwest California, including in Del Norte, Humboldt, Mendocino, and Trinity counties. This includes protecting about 317,000 acres of public lands as wilderness, designating 379 miles of new wild and scenic rivers, requiring management plans for an additional 101 miles of existing wild and scenic rivers.

Protection of special places in the Los Padres National Forest and the Carrizo Plain National Monument, located in the Central Coast region. This includes approximately 288,000 acres of wilderness, two scenic areas encompassing 34,882 acres, and 159 miles of wild and scenic rivers. This would be the first wilderness protection on the Central Coast in twenty years, and is particularly important as many of these areas are currently under threat from extractive industries. It also includes the designation of a 400 mile-long trail, the Condor National Scenic Trail, which would connect the northern and southern portion of the Los Padres National Forest by a single hiking route.

In the Los Angeles area, the bill would expand the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument by over 109,000 acres to include the western Angeles National Forest. The bill would also designate over 30,000 acres as protected Wilderness and over 45 miles of Wild and Scenic rivers throughout the San Gabriel range. Finally, the bill would also establish a National Recreation Area in the San Gabriel Valley.

The “Newsmaker of the Day” is heard every weekday morning at 6:45, 7:45 and 8:45 on AM 1450 and FM 102.7 KVML.

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