Bipartisan coalition sends letter to Zinke urging him to keep protections for the Carrizo
The day before a decision is expected on the future of Carrizo Plain National Monument, a bipartisan coalition of San Luis Obispo County mayors sent a letter urging Secretary of the InteriorRyan Zinke to keep protections in place for the Carrizo Plain National Monument.
The Carrizo Plain – located in the southeastern corner of San Luis Obispo County – 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.
In San Luis Obispo County, local support for the monument has been massive and 2.8 million comments – the largest public comment period in the history of the Department of the Interior – were received during the public comment period, of which 97.7% were supportive of the Carrizo Plain, according to Los Padres Forestwatch.
In addition, a letter signed by 136 businesses from San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Kern counties in support of the Carrizo Plain was sent to Secretary Zinke earlier this month. That letter followed on the heels of letters from both the San Luis Obispo and Atascadero Chambers of Commerce. Each of these letters articulated how 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, and Santa Margarita – both of which are considered “Gateway Communities” to the monument. In addition, many of those who visited the Carrizo Plain also took time out to travel throughout San Luis Obispo County, buoying the region’s tourism.
The mayors signing the letter included Heidi Harmon of San Luis Obispo, Tom O'Malley of Atascadero, Steve Martin of Paso Robles, John Shoals of Grover Beach, and Jamie Irons of Morro Bay
The mayors’ letter also discusses the importance of the Carrizo Plain as a natural sanctuary to escape modern life and participate in outdoor recreation activities. The Carrizo Plain is somewhere local residents can go at any time to take time out of their busy schedules to rest and recover while marveling at its natural beauty and wonder.
“As Mayor of San Luis Obispo, I have seen the immensely positive impact of the Carrizo Plain National Monument within our community,” said San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon. “Contributing significantly to our local economy through tourism from around the globe, the Carrizo Plain also provides an opportunity for all to explore the history and natural beauty of San Luis Obispo County. I stand with my fellow Mayors of San Luis Obispo County in my support for one of the true jewels of the Central Coast.”
“As Mayor and as a member of Atascadero’s Tourism Business Improvement District, A-TBID, I agree with our Chamber of Commerce,” said Atascadero Mayor Tom O’Malley, whose city is an official gateway community of the Carrizo Plain. “Protection of the Carrizo Plain intersects with our Chamber’s economic vision to protect and support our beautiful and diverse cultural opportunities. The City, A-TBID and the Chamber frequently feature photos of this spectacular natural landscape in our promotional materials with ecotourism being a top economic driver in our region.”
The mayors who have signed on to today’s letter represent a diverse set of communities from across San Luis Obispo County. Each of these cities has its own unique and complex economy, but all have found common ground on the benefit of the tourism that the Carrizo Plain brings to San Luis Obispo County. “The Carrizo Plain National Monument is woven into the historical, cultural, and economic fabric of San Luis Obispo County, and it is imperative that it remains so,” reads the letter sent to Interior Secretary Zinke, who is scheduled to issue a recommendation to possibly reduce or rescind the Carrizo Plain National Monument this week.
Mayors Jim Hill of Arroyo Grande and Ed Waage of Pismo Beach did not respond before press time.