The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved a resolution on April 12 by Councilmen Mitch O’Farrell, 13th District, and Paul Koretz, 5th District, affirming the city’s support of the Chumash tribe’s proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary designation from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The Chumash tribe is one of three tribes indigenous to the Los Angeles area.
“Los Angeles is leading the way on advancing environmental protections, and it is very important to me to elevate the voices of Indigenous communities,” said O’Farrell, chair of the Energy, Climate Change, Environmental Justice and River Committee and the first Native American elected to the Los Angeles City Council. “Our waters, beaches and biodiversity are what make Los Angeles and all of Southern California unique and beautiful. We must do all we can to protect these local ecosystems, and we urge the federal government to approve this groundbreaking proposal from the Chumash.”
“It makes good fiscal and environmental sense to protect California’s coastal waters which attract millions of tourists annually,” Koretz added. “Marine-protected areas have time-and-again shown that giving nature a breather can have a tremendously beneficial healing effect on underwater biodiversity. We must prioritize protection of native flora, fauna and Native cultures, because they are each vital to the future of California.”
In 2015, the Northern Chumash Tribal Council submitted a nomination for the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary to the NOAA. In November 2021, the Biden administration and NOAA formally advanced the proposal to the designation process, a significant step in a decades-long effort to preserve sacred Chumash cultural sites, unique coastal waters and biodiversity hotspots along the Central Coast of California, O’Farrell said.
Even with the steps taken by the Biden administration, the proposal is still pending with NOAA. If successful, it will be the first Indigenous-led National Marine Sanctuary designation in the history of the United States.
O’Farrell, a citizen of the Wyandotte Nation, has led the City Council in adopting initiatives important to Native American communities, including the replacement of Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day, adoption of the Indigenous LAnd Initiative, and the issuance of a formal apology from the city of Los Angeles to Native Americans.
For information, visit cd13.lacity.org.
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