State Secretary of Natural Resources Mike Chrisman announced Friday that the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative will extend the deadline to submit proposals for North Coast marine protected areas.
After hearing concerns about the tight timeline from local officials and state legislators, Chrisman said the earlier deadline of Dec. 15 is being pushed forward to Feb. 1.
Chrisman said that MLPA Initiative Executive Director Ken Wiseman worked with Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro, D-Arcata, and Sen. Patricia Wiggins, D-Santa Rosa, to determine the length of the extension.
”While MLPA is a state law and the Schwarzenegger administration is committed to its implementation, it is also critically important that we have broad local participation,” Chrisman said in a statement. “Granting an extension will afford local folks more time to prepare their proposals.”
The Marine Life Protection Act calls for the designation of areas off limits to fishing and other extractive activities. The North Coast is the last region being addressed by the initiative, which has proved particularly controversial.
Chesbro said he appreciated the extension Chrisman announced, though he'd have preferred a longer period. Chesbro said he remains concerned about the North Coast being able to have a major role in the process.
”We should have a bottom-up approach that includes complete local knowledge and input. It's important that all aspects of the process be driven by local participation,” Chesbro said. “The best way to encourage stewardship is to ensure that we have a plan that is developed and supported by those most affected by it.”