House Passes NDAA With Padilla Bill to Protect Public Lands

U.S. Senator Padilla introduces the PUBLIC Lands Act, May 3, 2021

 — U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) applauded the inclusion of his bill, the Protecting Unique and Beautiful Landscapes by Investing in California (PUBLIC) Lands Act, as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 that passed the House this evening.

The PUBLIC Lands Act, which Padilla introduced in the U.S. Senate earlier this year,would increase protections for public lands throughout Northwest California, the Central Coast, and Los Angeles. It would designate nearly 600,000 acres of new wilderness, more than 583 miles of new wild and scenic rivers, and expand an existing national monument by over 100,000 acres.

“I am glad to see the PUBLIC Lands Act continue to gain momentum with today’s House passage. This bill will increase access to California’s world-class nature for communities of color and all Californians,” said Senator Padilla. “Our public lands are some of our state’s greatest gifts – from the San Gabriel Mountains to the Central Coast and through Northwestern California’s forests and rivers. We must be thoughtful stewards of these special places so that communities can continue to enjoy them and benefit from our rich natural heritage for generations to come. And we must do so in a way that reverses racial and economic disparities in access to nature and our public lands. Now, I will be pushing my colleagues in the Senate to follow suit and pass these critical protections.”

“Nature is priceless, but it is too often taken for granted,” said Representative Salud Carbajal (CA-24).“Pragmatic policies that defend our public lands from development make a real difference in the fight against climate change, give residents and visitors the opportunity to appreciate the great outdoors, and boost our local economy, all while preserving the plant and animal life that call these public lands home. I am proud to see the Protecting America’s Wilderness Act, which includes my Central Coast Heritage Protection Act, pass the House as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. I will continue fighting to protect the public lands that make the Central Coast uniquely beautiful, so our children and grandchildren can enjoy them for generations to come.”

“The San Gabriel Mountains, with their beautiful rivers, forests, and mountain trails so close to the density of Los Angeles, are a true gift for the millions who have little to no access to parks or green space,” said Representative Judy Chu (CA-27). “That’s why I want to make sure as many people as possible have the chance to visit, both today and for years in the future. Today’s vote takes us one step closer to making this vision a reality. As our city grows and our climate changes, these untouched wild lands and habitats could disappear. This amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) will not only preserve this land for future generations, it will also create a National Recreation Area that will let even more Angelenos enjoy our mountains.”

“Because of the filibuster, the NDAA is one of the few tools Congress has left to pass urgent and necessary reforms,” said Representative Huffman (CA-02). “In this year’s bill, progressives were able to secure some important provisions, including my Northwest California public lands bill. This bill is critical for building a future for the North Coast where public lands are resilient and our outdoor recreation economy grows while we preserve environmental values for future generations. I’m glad to see this make it through, but I’m going to keep working with my colleagues to decrease the bloated defense budget.”

“We applaud the House for passing legislation to preserve the pristine lands and waters in the state of California, and across the nation, while also ensuring all communities, regardless of race, zip code or income, have access to the outdoors,” said Daniel Rossman California Deputy Director of The Wilderness Society. “These bills have been crafted with years of community engagement, in some cases more than two decades. Now is the time to act; we echo the call of Senators Padilla and Feinstein to get this legislation passed into law.”

The PUBLIC Lands Act is a legislative package which consists of three bills that were originally introduced in the House of Representatives including:

  • The Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act, which is led in the House by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.-02),
  • The Central Coast Heritage Protection Act, which is led in the House by Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Calif.-24), and
  • The San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act, which is led in the House by Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.-27).

A copy of the bill is available HERE and a one-pager on the PUBLIC Lands Act can be found HERE.


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