Diablo Canyon Credit: File photo

The yak tityu tityu yak tiłhini Northern Chumash tribe, in collaboration with The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County, Cal Poly and the Regional Economic Action Coalition (REACH), launched a proposal in early February to try to get a portion of their ancestral homelands back.

The 12,000 acres surrounding the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, known as the tsɨtyɨwɨ Coast, is the unceded homeland of the Northern Chumash tribe, according to the proposal.

“This region features untouched tide pools, grazed coastal bluffs, centuries-old oak woodlands, and invaluable known and unknown cultural resources,” the proposal said. 

With the passing of Senate Bill 846 in Sept. 2022 pushing the decommission of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant back five years, the Northern Chumash tribe finally has the opportunity to regain this land. 

This coastal landscape, stretching from Avila Beach to Montaña de Oro, is divided into four areas: Parcel P., which is where the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant sits, North Ranch, which is owned by PG&E and South Ranch and Wild Cherry Canyon, which are both owned by PG&E subsidiary Eureka Energy Company.

The Northern Chumash tribe hopes to purchase the North and South Ranches, a total of about 9,000 acres of land, with funds from Senate Bill 846 and once-through cooling mitigation funds which support projects that preserve marine habitats.  According to the proposal, Wild Cherry Canyon would be purchased by “an appropriate public entity” that allows the Northern Chumash tribe to still access the land and preserve it with The Land Conservancy. 

The goal is to create “a tsɨtyɨwɨ Coastal Preserve united around land stewardship, protection of cultural and ecological resources and the understanding that the territory, identity, economy, and quality of life of [the Northern Chumash tribe] are inseparable from this remarkable landscape,” the proposal writes.

This conservation project will span over several years and will be carried out in phases taking place from July 2023-2026.

The first phase is the initial purchase and preservation of the land. The second phase would be in partnership with Cal Poly to develop a Clean Tech Innovation ecosystem which would transform energy production in California.

“The Central Coast has the opportunity to re-invent our role as an energy leader for California in the burgeoning green and blue economy — where energy, food, water and other essential services are provided from the land and ocean in a sustainable manner to meet the demands brought about by climate change,” the proposal said.

According to the proposal, this initiative would create new educational and research opportunities for Cal Poly students, as well as increasing employment in the San Luis Obispo community. 

The Northern Chumash tribe is asking the SLO community to support them in this conservation initiative by writing emails of public support to California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot by 5 p.m. Friday. The tribe also created an email template which can be found here.

The California state legislature will vote on the California Natural Resources Agency’s Land Conservation and Development Plan on March 23.