Senate Committee Advances Padilla Bills to Protect California Public Lands
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) advanced U.S. Senator Alex Padilla’s (D-Calif.) sweeping public lands package, which would restore and expand protections for over 1 million acres of federal public lands in California. This is the first time that the bill has been reported out of a Senate committee. The bill now heads to the Senate floor for a final vote.
“From the San Gabriel Mountains, to the scenic waterways around the Central Coast, and through our forests and rivers in the Northwest, California’s public lands and natural spaces are some of our greatest national treasures. I’m proud the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee has prioritized protecting these stunning landscapes, which have provided generations of Californians access to green spaces and play host to an abundance of biodiversity,” said Senator Padilla. “As we protect our environment, we must address disparities in access to the outdoors. This package will help secure lifelong access to nature for thousands of Californians who depend on these areas as their only source of green space.”
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.
The PUBLIC Lands Act 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).
The legislative package 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 percent of our lands and waters by 2030.
The committee also passed Padilla’s legislation to permanently reauthorize the U.S. Forest Service’s ability to collect and retain marina fees at certain lakes located in Shasta-Trinity National Forest. His Ackerson Meadow Land Exchange Act — a bill to authorize a land transfer between the National Park Service/Yosemite National Park and the U.S. Forest Service/Stanislaus National Forest — passed out of committee as well.
Senator Padilla has been a leader in increasing investments in land management, forest health, and better access to outdoor recreation. Earlier this year, Padilla and Representative Chu wrote a letter and hosted an event to call on the Biden Administration to expand the California’s San Gabriel Mountains National Monument boundary by nearly 110,000 acres by issuing a presidential proclamation under the Antiquities Act of 1906. He and Chu welcomed a visit from Biden Administration officials, including U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary Dr. Homer Wilkes, to the San Gabriel Mountains for a public listening session on expanding the Monument last month. Padilla has also been a strong advocate for expanding outdoor recreational opportunities in communities across the nation, including by introducing the bipartisan Outdoors for All Act alongside Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), which advanced out of ENR earlier this year.
For a list of quotes from supporters of the PUBLIC Lands Act, click here.
Full text of the PUBLIC Lands Act is available here.
Full text of the Shasta Trinity Marina Fees Act is available here.
Full text of the Ackerson Meadow Land Exchange Act is available here.