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Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary:

The First Tribally Nominated U.S. Sanctuary

The Opportunity

National marine sanctuaries are important tools for protecting places of natural and cultural significance, while promoting use and enjoyment of the ocean. For more than 40 years, Chumash leaders, local community members, and elected leaders along California’s Central Coast have advocated for the establishment of a national marine sanctuary to protect diverse ecosystems, high marine mammal, seabird, and fish biodiversity and abundance as well as extensive cultural Chumash sacred sites.

The Northern Chumash Tribal Council proposed the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary that would protect an offshore area along more than 150 miles of California coastline. Not only would the sanctuary protect biologically productive and diverse ocean and coastal ecosystems, it would also provide an important early contribution to state and national 30x30 goals, mark the first Tribal-led national marine sanctuary designation, and elevate Indigenous participation and cultural significance in federal ocean conservation efforts.

The Threat

The recent oil spill off Huntington Beach made clear that the ecological and cultural resources off the California coast are threatened by oil and gas development. Any significant oil spill in the Chumash region would threaten an area from Santa Monica Bay to Santa Cruz, putting at risk nearly half the state’s coastal waters and beaches. Even without spills, offshore oil and gas development in this region also causes air pollution impacting onshore communities and undermining California’s climate change goals and policies. (Scientific research shows that the area proposed for protection by the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary already is experiencing climate change impacts, such as ocean acidification, at a rate twice that of the world’s oceans.)

Tell NOAA that the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary Matters

On November 9, 2021, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Biden Administration formally proposed designating the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary. Public comment on the proposed sanctuary designation is open until January 31, 2022. NOAA will host virtual public meetings on December 8, December 13, and January 6, during which members of the public can offer oral comments - join one of these meetings and voice your support for the formal Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary.


You can also tell NOAA administrators how you feel by following the instructions below on "how to submit public comments."

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how to submit public comments

Due to Federal regulations, public comments on this issue may only be submitted through a special website of the National Archives. We've made this process simple and easy for you to ensure as many comments as possible reach NOAA administrators on the significance of designating the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary.

STEP 1: We have provided draft comments you can directly copy and paste into your submission. Just highlight the text, right click on your mouse and choose "copy."

STEP 2: Click the button below to open the official submission form in a pop-up window, left click the "Comment" box with your mouse, then right click and choose "paste." Feed free to add additional thoughts. Finish filling out the form.
*Note: you may choose to submit your comments anonymously.

STEP 3: Once the form is submitted, close the popup and return to our page.

draft comments you can send to noaa

Dear NOAA Administrators:

I am writing as a Californian to express my support for formal designation of the new Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary off the California Coast. I urge you to take all necessary actions to help make that designation a reality.

The proposed Sanctuary would cover a 7,000-square-mile area off the coast of San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties which are experiencing climate change impacts, such as ocean acidification, at a rate twice that of the world's oceans, and remain vulnerable to offshore oil and gas drilling.

Designating the sanctuary would connect the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, protecting marine life and sacred Chumash sites while serving as a model for environmental justice. By approving this designation, you also would help California and the nation move closer to the 30x30 goals targeted by our governor and President Biden, as you create the first Tribal-led national marine sanctuary, highlighting the cultural significance in federal ocean conservation efforts.

Your action is urgently needed to protect our history and our coast.

Respectfully,