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Conservation group presses Congress for Gaviota protection

Park possibility

July 6, 2000

NEWS-PRESS STAFF REPORT

The National Parks Conservation Association, a nonprofit group based in Washington, D.C., is calling on Congress to designate the Gaviota Coast and 14 other scenic and historic spots around the country as new national parks.

"There is an increased urgency to the task of preservation," said Ron Tipton, an association vice president, noting that some of the nation's natural and cultural heritage is in imminent danger of being developed.

The list of proposed new parks focuses on those areas most likely to be considered by Congress within the next two years. The Gaviota Coast, for example, is under study by the National Park Service for possible inclusion in the park system. The 76-mile coast from Coal Oil Point to Point Sal rounds Point Conception, the biological meeting place of southern and northern California.

The coast is rich in biological diversity and cultural past: At one time, more American Indians lived there than on any other part of the California coast.

The association is urging congressional designation of 200,000 acres along the Gaviota Coast as a national seashore, from the mountain ridges to the beach. Operations at Vandenberg Air Force Base would continue; but the Park Service and the Air Force would jointly manage the 90 percent of the base that is undeveloped.

Elsewhere in the country, the association is proposing National Park additions to the Petrified Forest in northeastern Arizona; Canyonlands in Utah; Great Sand Dunes National Monument in Colorado; Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho; and Kalaupapa National Historic Park in Hawaii.

New parks are recommended for the Sonoran Desert; Bioluminescent Bay off the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico; and Loess Hills prairie in Iowa.

Historical sites proposed as parks are the Sand Creek Massacre site in southeastern Colorado; Erie Canalway in New York; the islands off South Carolina and Georgia where the Gullah/Geechee people were brought as slaves from Africa; the Massachusetts homesite of W.E.B. DuBois, a leader of the movement of equal rights for African Americans; Civil War battlefields of the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia; and a former World War II airfield in the Northern Marianas Islands, for the construction of a war memorial.