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Creating our legacy 

The time is now to protect our marine ecosystems and designate the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary

The California Central Coast is a vast region made up of rolling hills, lush Pacific terraces, and rugged coastal canyons, which all dramatically meet the majestic Pacific Ocean. It is a place of amazingdiversity and ecosystems, rich in marine and terrestrialwildlife.

The unique geology along the coast creates some of the most beautiful coastal vistas in the world, which inspire locals to revel in its beauty and enjoy its bounty. This visceral and physical relationship to our home makes us want to protect its uniqueness, preserve its abundance, and assure that future generations can appreciate and thrive in this paradise we call home.

That gets accomplished through careful planning, environmentally sustainable development, rigorous use ofscience, strong public participation, education, effective intergovernmental coordination, and the willingness to take a stand for our environment.

We as a community nowhave the opportunity totake a decisive step toward preserving our local marine environment—and the home and sacred place to the Chumash and their ancestors—through the creation and designation of the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary.

This sanctuary would effectively create a level of protection for our nearand offshore marine environmentsthat would close the gap between the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.

For decades, locals have, tovarying degrees of success, fought corporate attempts to implement destructive projects that would negatively affect our marine ecosystems and impact our local economies.

It is time that we take the necessary steps to protect our local oceans, onceand for all, from projects such as seismic testing, oil exploration anddevelopment, ocean mining, and destructive new technologies that could indefinitely impact our native and migratory species by adding to the already powerful impact of anthropogenic noise.

Yes, this designation would be a federal appointment, but that's where day-to-day federal oversight ends. Each of the marine sanctuaries throughout the country is run by a local steeringcommittee made up of local stakeholders, and all decisions are made by this balanced entity. There could not be a more democratic and fair way to protect our oceans!

Our local economies wouldthrive, as our fishermen would be assured of a healthy place to continue to work (and no, sanctuaries donot have the right to regulate fishing—they never have, and never will!). And most of all, our richoffshore ecosystems that are so precious and abundant will be protected.

Now is the time to act for our local legacy. Now, you can make a difference in a world where sometimes we struggle to positively impact our Earth and our collective futures. Be part of the processto designate the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary. You can make a formal statement to NOAA in support of this milestone designation here: sanctuaries.noaa.gov/Chumash-heritage. Δ

Mandy Davis is a longtime local hiking and kayaking guide who writes from Los Osos. Send a response for publication to letters@newtimesslo.com.

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