PUBLIC Lands Act Promoted for National Rivers Month
Wednesday, June 1, 2022
June is National Rivers Month, and conservation groups are pressing the U.S. Senate to vote on the
PUBLIC Lands Act, a bill that would add protections to 500 miles of rivers and more than a million acres in California.
The bill already has passed the U.S. House as part of the Protecting America's Wilderness Act.
Graciela Cabello, director of youth and community engagement for Los Padres ForestWatch, said it would greatly benefit public lands in Northwest California, the Los Angeles area and the Central Coast.
"In the Los Padres, it's going to protect over 288,000 acres of wilderness, and it's going to create two scenic areas, safeguard over 159 miles of Wild and Scenic rivers," she said, "and then, it also adds protection to the Carrizo Plain National Monument."
Advocates also are hoping the California Legislature will use part of the state's budget surplus to fund climate-resiliency projects across the state. In addition, passage of the PUBLIC Lands Act would bring California much closer to its goal of conserving 30% of public lands and waterways by 2030.
Shanna Edberg, conservation program director for the Hispanic Access Foundation, said low-income communities also deserve better access to nature.
"Having protected nature nearby you can help you be more resilient," she said, "and can even prevent some of those impacts."
She noted, for example, that shade trees in neighborhoods bring down air-conditioning costs, and healthy soil absorbs more water and reduces flooding.
The Hispanic Access Foundation will hold a stargazing event to draw attention to the PUBLIC Lands Act on June 24 in Frazier Park, which is part of the area that would receive more protection.
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