Today, 130 businesses throughout San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Kern counties sent a letter to Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke in support of the Carrizo Plain National Monument. The Carrizo Plain – located in San Luis Obispo and Kern counties – is one of 27 national monuments across the country that are under review by the Department of the Interior following an April 2017 Executive Order by President Trump. The review will determine whether to shrink the monuments or rescind their protections entirely.
The Carrizo Plain National Monument provides an important draw for tourism in the region, especially during spring wildflower season. This year’s “California Superbloom” during March and April brought record crowds to the Carrizo Plain who stopped for gas and supplies in towns such as Atascadero, Santa Margarita, and Taft – all of which are considered “Gateway Communities” to the monument.
For many rural towns in the region, businesses are sustained by visitors on their way to and from public lands like the Carrizo Plain National Monument who stop for a meal or book a room. “People are rife for experiencing the outdoors and natural wonders like the Superbloom,” said David Stenstrom, owner of a bed and breakfast in northern Ventura County. “The Carrizo is a tremendous benefit to our community.”
Business support for the monument is about more than just the bottom line, however. For area residents, the monument offers outdoor recreational opportunities for almost everyone with its 4,000-year-old petroglyphs and historic homestead ruins, hiking, horse, mountain bike, and jeep trails, and bird and big-game hunting. The Outdoor Industry Association estimates that outdoor recreation provides $92 billion to California’s economy each year and provides nearly 700,000 jobs.
The Carrizo Plain’s other unique features are also highlighted in the letter. A prominent section of the San Andreas Fault bisects the monument, and the largest alkali wetland in southern California offers world class birdwatching and a silvery reflection of the sky and surrounding Temblor Range. It is the last of the Central Valley’s vast native grasslands, providing habitat for the greatest concentration of threatened and endangered wildlife in the state.
The business owners and CEOs that have signed on to today’s letter represent a diverse group of businesses in the region ranging from farmers to artists and from outdoor recreation stores to local diners. “National monuments help nearby communities diversify economically while increasing quality of life and recreational opportunities that make our cities and towns more attractive for new residents, businesses, and investment,” reads the letter sent to Interior Secretary Zinke, who will be issuing a recommendation to possibly reduce or rescind the Carrizo Plain National Monument by August 24th.
Here is what some of the business owners and local elected officials had to say about the letter:
“The outpouring of support to preserve our Carrizo Plain Monument has been overwhelming and tells this Administration that Central Coast residents overwhelming want these public lands protected for future generations,” said Rep. Carbajal. “This Executive Order is a blatant attempt to undermine the National Antiquities Act, one of the nation’s most important conservation tools, and poses a direct threat to the preservation of this unique habitat and economic engine for tourism on the Central Coast.”
– Congressman Salud Carbajal, California’s 24th Congressional District
“I stand with our local businesses in support of the Carrizo National Monument. Like many of our state parks, this national monument contributes to our local economy while serving as a breathtaking natural space for the public to enjoy.”
– Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham
“The Carrizo Plain National Monument brings huge benefits to our entire community: our employees, customers, and families. This place is part of the unique, wild landscape that draws people to our region to work and play. It offers so much: solitude, beauty, magnificent biodiversity, as well as real and proven drivers of economic stability and growth. We owe it to ourselves and future generations to protect this place.”
– Hans Cole, Director of Environmental Campaigns and Advocacy, Patagonia, Inc.
“Our public lands are our most treasured assets & as a resident, frequent visitor & business owner in the “gateway” community of Santa Margarita I feel it’s important to support saving the Carrizo Plain with its current National Monument status, size & protections. This last vestige of intact California Valley grassland with its vastness, beauty, biodiversity & important geological, cultural & historical sites is like no other on earth. The spectacular Spring wildflower display alone has attracted visitors & interest worldwide & the tourism generated by the Monument has had a positive impact on our local businesses & regional economy.”
– Simone Smith, owner of The Educated Gardener in Santa Margarita, CA
You can learn more and add your voice to the list of Carrizo Plain supporters by visiting savethecarrizo.org.