Santa Ynez Chumash Named Collaborative Manager of Proposed National Marine Sanctuary

Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary

SANTA YNEZ, CA – The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians was named collaborative manager of the proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary (CHNMS) in a newly released draft management plan published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Under the plan, NOAA proposes the tribe work on a government-to-government basis with the U.S. and the State of California, in the first national marine sanctuary that was developed with meaningful tribal engagement from its inception.

“We appreciate the honoring of our Chumash maritime traditions and the ability of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians to participate in collaborative management of this proposed national marine sanctuary,” said Kenneth Kahn, Tribal Chairman for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. “We are proud to contribute our cultural and management practices towards protecting this shared resource. Designating this sanctuary, with our government as a strong collaborative partner, is the right thing to do and demonstrates a strong respect for the indigenous people of our country.”

Under the proposed designation and draft management plan, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians and the State of California will work with NOAA to collaboratively manage the sanctuary through their roles on the Intergovernmental Policy Council (IPC). The IPC will help set broad objectives, provide timely advice and input on important research, resource protection and educational programs, coordinate the work of staff, and oversee the work of other volunteer boards. The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians also intends to participate as an active member of both the Sanctuary Advisory Council, and the Indigenous Cultures Advisory Panel (ICAP), which advises the Sanctuary Advisory Council on cultural resource issues.

While the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians is currently the only federally recognized tribal government with a tie to the region, the tribe looks forward to engaging with other non-federally recognized Chumash groups to ensure that visitors to the sanctuary understand the full Indigenous history of the region.

“I want to offer my special thanks to our members of Congress who supported tribal co-management from day one, and the leadership at NOAA, which really took the time to engage in consultation,” said Chairman Kahn. “I think we both learned something from each other. That’s how true government-to-government dialogue is supposed to work.”

The proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary is a 7,000 sq. mi. area off the central California coast that would protect the region’s important marine ecosystem, maritime heritage resources and cultural values of Indigenous communities, while allowing NOAA to manage compatible uses within its boundaries. CHNMS has been on NOAA’s inventory of nominations since October 2015, which is the first step to become eligible for a national marine sanctuary designation. In order for the area to obtain the sanctuary designation, the site must go through the complete designation process, which includes drafting of a management plan and several opportunities for public comment and review. The draft plan is subject to public comment until October 25, and finalization is subject to designation of the proposed CHNMS as a national marine sanctuary by NOAA and the U.S. Department of Commerce.