Environment

Carrizo Plain and 26 other monuments spared from elimination

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke made decision

Central Coast awaits fate of Carrizo...

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - UPDATE

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said he's recommending that none of the 27 national monuments, which includes the Carrizo Plain in San Luis Obispo County, be eliminated.

The Associated Press quoted Zinke as saying that unspecified boundary adjustments for some monuments designated over the past four decades will be included in the recommendations he handed over to Donald Trump on Thursday.

None of the sites would see new ownership while public access for uses like hunting, fishing or grazing would most likely be expanded, according to the Associated Press.

Zinke spoke about protecting tribal interests and historical land grants 

However, he declined to say whether portions of the monuments would be opened up to oil and gas drilling, mining, logging and other industries which Trump has advocated, according to the AP.

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ORIGINAL STORY

The Central Coast is awaiting a decision by the Trump Administration on the future status and protection of national monuments including the Carrizo Plain in San Luis Obispo County.

A bi-partisan coalition of mayors in San Luis Obispo County has joined dozens of businesses across the Central Coast urging the federal Interior Department to maintain the current size and protections for the Carrizo.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is expected to make a decision Thursday following President Trump's executive order earlier this year to review national monuments in the western United States for their potential for private industry uses including energy development, mining and forestry.

The Carrizo Plain is considered the largest native grassland remaining in California with unique wildlife and archaeological sites.

The monument's nearly 250,000 acres stretch for about 50 miles long and 15 miles wide along southeastern San Luis Obispo County.

The Carrizo Plain was declared a National Monument in 2001 by former President Bill Clinton and then declared a National Historic Landmark in 2012.

"How important the Carrizo is to bringing tourism to this area", said Grant Helete with local community non-profit group ForestWatch which sent a letter to Interior Secretary Zinke urging him to maintain the current federal protections and size of the Carrizo Plain.

The letter was signed by dozens of local business owners from a diverse array of industries on the Central Coast and stresses the economic importance of the Carrizo Plain National Monument to the region from tourism.

"Protected open spaces like the Carrizo Plain National Monument provide a boon to our local economies. Throughout the year, and especially during the springtime wildflower “superblooms” that define the Carrizo Plain, hundreds of thousands of people visit this treasured landscape", the ForestWatch letter states, "when they do, they also purchase gas at our local service stations, food at our local restaurants and grocery stores, lodging at our local hotels, and supplies and necessities at our local shops."

"The tourism benefits of the Carrizo to the communities of San Luis Obispo, Atascadero, Paso Robles, Santa Margarita, Taft, those are huge", Helete said, "those are massive benefits that simply would, for the most part , disappear if the Carrizo loses its monument status."

If the Carrizo Plain loses its monument status Helete believes it will trigger legal action to try and get the decision reversed in court.


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