Padilla Introduces Bill to Protect 1 Million Acres of California Public Lands

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif) announced the reintroduction of his sweeping public lands package. The bill is cosponsored by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif) and would restore and expand protections for over 1 million acres of California’s public lands.

The Protecting Unique and Beautiful Landscapes by Investing in California (PUBLIC) Lands Act 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 over 100,000 acres of an expanded national monument.

“Our public lands and natural spaces are some of our state’s greatest gifts—from the San Gabriel Mountains, to the Carrizo Plain, to the Northern California Redwoods. 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,” said Senator Padilla. “As we protect the environment, we must do so in a way that reverses racial and economic disparities in access to the outdoors, because our public lands belong to all Americans. Some of the protected land in this bill serves densely populated areas of the state that don’t have access to nature, which will help rebalance this historic disparity.”

“California’s landscapes – from our iconic desert to our snow-capped mountains to our majestic coast – face numerous threats including climate change and urban sprawl. Safeguarding these places is so important, which is why I’m proud to join with Senator Padilla to protect more than 1 million acres of public land in California,” said Senator Feinstein.

The legislative package consists of three bills that have also been re-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.-28).

“California’s North Coast is home to some of the world’s most iconic public lands and spectacular wild spaces. That’s why I’m proud to partner with Senator Padilla on this impressive and expansive legislative package to restore our forests, protect our watersheds, increase fire resilience, and expand recreation opportunities across the state. With this bill, we can support healthy and resilient ecosystems, as well as ensure future generations can experience the beauty and wonder of California’s incredible public lands,” said Representative Huffman. 

“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,” said Representative Carbajal. “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.”

“The Los Angeles area is among the most park-poor regions of the country despite being blessed by 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. This legislation would further protect the San Gabriel Mountains by preserving thousands of acres of land and water so more people now and in future generations can experience our area’s unique gifts of nature,” said Representative Chu.

“The PUBLIC Lands Act safeguards unique places that have cultural and ecological significance, expands recreational opportunities, and advances California’s commitment to conserve 30 percent of its lands by 2030. We’re deeply appreciative of Senator Padilla’s leadership and of federal partnership to protecting California’s natural places, his commitment to expand equitable access for all Californians to experience nature and his leadership to ensure meaningful consultation and collaboration with California Native American tribes,” said Secretary Crowfoot, California Natural Resources Secretary.

The PUBLIC Lands Act would protect California’s iconic landscapes, provide critical access to open space for communities, support California’s outdoor recreation economy, and fight the climate crisis. Guided by science and input from local communities, the bill also advances the nation’s and California’s goals of conserving 30% of our lands and waters by 2030.

For a list of quotes from supporters, click here.

Full text of the PUBLIC Lands Act can be found here.


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