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Senator seeks big expansion of public land, water protection

U.S. Senator Alex Padilla introduces PUBLIC Land Act, May 3, 2021
Posted at 3:28 PM, May 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-03 18:28:44-04

LOS ANGELES (AP) — California U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla is proposing a vast expansion of government protection for public lands and rivers that he says will fight climate change and safeguard natural treasures.

The Democrat appointed to the seat vacated in January by Vice President Kamala Harris says the proposal would shelter open spaces and “keep them as wild and untouched as possible for future generations.”

“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. 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.”
Senator Alex Padilla.

Padilla also says the plan would make the outdoors more accessible to congested urban areas.

“From lush forests to majestic deserts to scenic coasts, California’s iconic landscapes have few rivals. 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.”
Senator Diane Feinstein

His proposal would combine provisions from three bills passed in the House and would expand protections for over 1 million acres of California’s public lands.

Additional Statements:

“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. 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.”
Representative Carbajal
"The Los Angeles area is one of the most park poor areas of the country, despite the presence of the gorgeous rivers, forests, and mountains of the San Gabriels right in our backyard. President Obama’s National Monument designation increased access to and opportunities for learning and exploring in the mountains, but so much land remains to be preserved so that more people can experience our area’s unique gifts of nature. House passage was the first step, and now I am grateful to Senator Padilla for working to advance the San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act through the Senate and to President Biden’s desk. This legislation represents the next step in protecting and connecting the San Gabriel Mountains, and will preserve thousands of acres of land and water for future generations.”
Representative Chu
“S. 1459 takes a major step forward conserving public lands across our state for the benefit of all Californians. It safeguards unique places that have cultural and ecological significance, expands recreational opportunities, and advances Governor Newsom’s commitment to conserve 30 percent of California’s lands by 2030. We’re deeply appreciative of Senator Padilla’s leadership protecting California’s natural places and his commitment to expand equitable access for all Californians to experience nature.”
Secretary Crowfoot, California Natural Resources Secretary
"Our health outcomes should not be determined by what zip code we live in. Everyone in Los Angeles and throughout our state should have equitable access to health and wellness - and this includes access to nature. Thank you, Senator Padilla, for your support and leadership in protecting these beloved places for us all to enjoy long into the future."
Vanessa Aramayo, Executive Director, Alliance for a Better Community, and Board Member, Nature for All Coalition
"The PUBLIC Lands Act will protect more than a million acres of public lands and well over 500 miles of rivers in California, help address climate change, and make the outdoors more accessible to all. That's a win for all of us and an important investment in climate action, especially as we work to meet the goal of protecting 30% of our lands and waters by 2030 - a goal set by both President Biden and Governor Newsom. We are grateful to Senator Padilla for introducing this legislation and we are eager for the Senate to pass these protections.”
Mary Creasman, CEO, California League of Conservation Voters
“Protecting our public lands and waters is a priority for our company – in fact, it’s our reason for being in business. As a global company based in California, we know our state has an incredible natural environment, and our employees and community depend on its healthy lands and waters, clean air and protected wild places. Now more than ever, we also need to recognize that land and water protection is critical to solving the climate crisis, providing carbon storage and resilience for wildlife and humans alike. We urge the Senate to pass the PUBLIC Lands Act for the benefit of all.”
Hans Cole, Vice President of Environmental Activism, Patagoni
“We value and commend Senator Padilla's leadership as he commits to safeguard over 1 million acres of California public lands and over 500 miles of rivers. This action permanently protects critical drinking water sources and access to healthy activities in the San Gabriel Mountains that will benefit all Californians, including those in many of the state's economically disadvantaged areas and communities of color. Thank you for ensuring access to nature for all, Senator Padilla."
Belén Bernal, Executive Director, Nature for All Coalition
“Senator Padilla is taking a critical step in addressing inequitable access to the outdoors in California. Latinos and other communities of color are almost twice as likely to live somewhere that is nature deprived than white communities, meaning there are far fewer parks, streams, beaches, and other natural places nearby. This leaves our communities with a legacy of poorer health and COVID-19 severity, higher stress levels, worse educational outcomes, lack of recreation and business opportunities and greater vulnerability to extreme heat and flooding. This legislation is crucial for bringing nature, and therefore equity and justice, closer to our underserved communities. Thank you, Senator Padilla, and we hope the Senate will pass this important legislation this year.”
Shanna Edberg, Director of Conservation Programs, Hispanic Access Foundation
“Throughout California, veterans share a strong connection to our public lands. Today we celebrate Senator Padilla for introducing legislation to protect treasured landscapes across our state. This legislation affirms the importance of outdoor access for the nearly two million veterans living in California."
Kate Hoit, California State Director and OIF veteran, Vet Voice Foundation