Sacramento, CA – The California State Senate gave final approval today to legislation, Senate Bill 50, that will be the first law in the country that could effectively block the sale or lease of federal public lands in the state. Authored by Senator Ben Allen (D – Santa Monica), the Public Lands Protection Act passed on a vote of 28 - 12.
SB 50 grants a first right of refusal to the State Lands Commission prior to the sale or lease of federal public land located in California. It prohibits a county recorder from transferring the title of the property to a new owner or leasee if this first right of refusal is not offered.
“Imagine a world in which parts of Yosemite National Park would be sold off and developed, the giant redwoods in Redwood National Park could be logged, or parts of Lassen, Kings Canyon, Death Valley, or Joshua Tree could simply be put on the auction block. This idea was unthinkable until recently when it became an all too real possibility,” Senator Allen said.
“This legislation gives the state a viable method to help prevent the unthinkable sell-off of these national treasures,” Allen added.
California is home to 45 million acres of federal lands, such as national parks and national monuments, managed by a variety of agencies including the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, the US Forest Service and the Department of Agriculture.
“With unprecedented attacks coming from the Trump Administration there has never been a more important time to defend our open spaces,” said Sarah Rose, CEO of the California League of Conservation Voters. “The passage of SB 50 sends a clear message: public lands belong in public hands.”
SB 50 is part of the Senate’s “Preserve California” series of legislation that includes measures to insulate the state from rollbacks in federal environmental regulations and public health protections. The measures include SB 49, which makes existing federal laws like the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts enforceable under California law, and SB 51, which will protect whistleblowers who stand up for the public’s interest from having their professional credentials stripped away if they are licensed to practice in California.
SB 50 now goes to the governor who has until October 15, 2017 to sign it into law.
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