Big Sur Lands Added to Los Padres National Forest

LOS ANGELES, California, September 25, 2000 (ENS) - Protection of the picturesque Big Sur region along California's central coast has been expanded by the federal government with the purchase of 784 acres of forest, meadow and rugged cliffs. The newly acquired land will become part of the Los Padres National Forest.

President Bill Clinton announced the acquisition Sunday at a campaign event held by the League of Conservation Voters in Bel Air.

The land, known as the San Carpoforo parcel, was purchased from a local ranching family that was committed to seeing it protected for future generations, the White House said in a statement.

Big Sur

A view of the south coast of Big Sur from Coast Gallery (Photo courtesy Tim's World)
The U.S. Forest Service paid $4.55 million for the parcel, or about $5,800 an acre.

At the southern gateway to Big Sur, the land is the southernmost range of the California coastal redwoods.

Clinton recalled, "I'll never forget the first time I saw it 30 years ago. It's a coastline we value not just for its breathtaking views, but as a home for endangered species like the steelhead trout and Smith's blue butterfly."

Bruce Emmens, a staff officer at the Los Padres National Forest, noted that resource preservation and public access to the land will both be ensured by the purchase. "This purchase will provide public enjoyment of the land and protection of incredible scenic and natural resources."

The details of how the public will be able to access the newly acquired lands have not yet been worked out. That will be determined next year during the revision of the resource management plan for the Los Padres National Forest, Emmens said.

Los Padres

Los Padres National Forest (Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service)
Clinton said the purchase was made with funds from the Lands Legacy Initiative, and illustrates the need to establish a permanent endowment to finance land conservation, a key policy objective of the Clinton/Gore administration.

"Permanent funding ... would mean that citizens could enjoy more open spaces - from the Los Padres National Forest to their own neighborhoods - and that future generations of Americans could appreciate the natural resources that are among this nation's greatest riches," the White House said in a statement.

In his budget for the 2001 fiscal year, President Clinton has proposed a permanent land conservation fund budget of at least $1.4 billion per year. Clinton sees this budget provision as insurance that the federal government, states and communities would have a consistent and reliable funding source to protect open spaces, farmland, forests, ocean and coastal resources and urban and suburban parks.

The administration's call for permanent conservation funding has received broad bipartisan support this year. The Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA) passed the House with more than 300 votes, and the Senate Energy Committee reported a bipartisan bill that nearly two-thirds of the Senate has said must be considered this year.

At a White House ceremony last week, a host of mayors, educators, sports figures, conservationists and others joined President Clinton in calling on the Senate to pass CARA before Congress adjourns.

Clinton

President Bill Clinton (Photo courtesy White House)
Clinton has also called upon Congress to send him budget bills free of anti-environmental riders.

Clinton warned League of Conservation Voters members on Sunday that some of the measures inserted into the must pass spending bills would undermine the administration's efforts to improve air and water quality, clean up contaminated Superfund sites, and reform hard rock mining practices on public lands.

"One more time," the President said, "even in the teeth of an election, even in the face of evidence that the overwhelming majority of the American people support a strong environmental policy, Congress is larding up these appropriation bills with anti-environmental riders. The theory is that if you can just put enough amendments on enough bills, that eventually all us Democrats will get veto fatigue and it'll be three hours and 15 minutes before the polls open and everybody will want to go home to vote at least - if not to campaign - and so they'll be able to pass their anti-environmental agenda."

But Clinton joked that because he is not running in any election, he will remain ready to veto any bills with anti-environmental riders that reach his desk.

Turning serious, he asked for support to elect Democratic members of Congress in November. "If we had about 12 more members of Congress who were pro-environment and we could organize the committees, this would not happen," Clinton said.