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California protestin'

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April Reese's analysis of the leasing protest game told a story familiar in California as well as the Intermountain West (HCN, 3/31/08)

Recently, Los Padres ForestWatch, in partnership with rural landowners, protested a lease sale of more than 20,000 acres adjacent to the Los Padres National Forest. Later, all but one of the parcels were re-offered for lease with an inadequate Environmental Assessment. ForestWatch re-protested. After a lawsuit was settled in our favor, the BLM upheld our protest and revoked the controversial leases, about half the original acreage. The BLM stated that it would again attempt to offer up the leases, but for the last two years we've successfully prevented any attempts to open up these ecologically critical lands to runaway oil development. We remain vigilant, keeping an eye as well on a plan that would open up 52,000 acres of the Los Padres National Forest to oil drilling.

The wide-open spaces, rural communities and resource struggles just inland from the southern and central coast of California have more in common with Wyoming and Utah than Malibu. And while the number of acres affected might not rise to the levels of the interior states, the habitats here are extraordinarily diverse and threatened. We deeply appreciate it when HCN includes California when it covers issues that show our common struggles.

Jeff Kuyper, Los Padres ForestWatch Executive Director
Brad Monsma, Los Padres ForestWatch Board President
Santa Barbara, California

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