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Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary Designation to Advance

November 9, 2021

Santa Barbara, Calif.—Today, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced it is seeking public comment on designation of the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary. Nominated by the Northern Chumash Tribal Council in 2015, the proposed sanctuary would stretch from Cambria to Gaviota Creek and offshore to include Rodriguez Seamount, Arguello Canyon, and Santa Lucia Bank. This area includes sacred submerged sites of the Chumash Peoples, important oceanographic features, and prime habitat for marine life.

“The Environmental Defense Center has long advocated for expanded protections of the Santa Barbara Channel and Central Coast, and we are delighted to see the advancement of the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary bring us one step closer to this goal,” said Kristen Hislop, Senior Director of the Marine Program at the Environmental Defense Center. “We are grateful for the leadership and guidance of the Northern Chumash Tribal Council in this nomination process. The Council’s tireless efforts to establish this sanctuary would protect sacred submerged Chumash sites and the incredible marine resources between the Channel Islands and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuaries. Climate change and other human uses have already dramatically altered our oceans and coast, and we believe the resources that come with an established national marine sanctuary will protect this place for generations to come.”

The Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary would provide enhanced environmental protections and research, education, and recreational opportunities for Central Coast communities and visitors. Importantly, this designation would also uphold the Biden Administration’s commitment to support and advance the priorities of Indigenous leaders.

“Successfully designating the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary will protect ocean life, sacred Chumash sites, strengthen Indigenous communities and serve as a model of environmental justice,” stated Violet Sage Walker, Chairwoman of the Northern Chumash Tribal Council. “Today’s announcement marks a major milestone after more than 40 years of tireless advocacy for ocean protection, and also represents the first tribally nominated sanctuary in the nation. Today my father would be proud. This is one of the things he wanted to see the most.”

NOAA will also host virtual public meetings on December 8, December 13, and January 6, during which members of the public can offer oral comments. Information about the meetings, public comment, and more are available here.

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The Environmental Defense Center, a non-profit law firm, protects and enhances the local environment through education, advocacy, and legal action and works primarily within Santa Barbara, Ventura, and San Luis Obispo counties. Since 1977, EDC has empowered community-based organizations to advance environmental protection. Program areas include climate and energy, and protecting clean water, the Santa Barbara Channel, and open space and wildlife. Learn more about EDC at www.EnvironmentalDefenseCenter.org

 

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