Letters to the Editor: Let Indigenous people speak for ourselves on climate change
To the editor: The Times failed to adequately portray the Northern Chumash Tribal Council’s view on offshore wind energy. On matters concerning management of land and waters, Indigenous people must speak for themselves. (“A Chumash tribe and conservationists are fighting a controversial offshore wind power plan,” March 21)
The council supports wind energy projects that are sited with careful environmental consideration in consultation with local tribes, communities and scientific experts. We support the designation of the Morro Bay Wind Energy Area, a zone 20 miles offshore defined to balance extensive tribal and public input with industry interest and minimize conflicts with environmental and cultural values. Just recently, this area was included in the U.S. Interior Department’s announcement last week of the first proposed offshore wind lease sales in the Pacific Ocean.
We strongly oppose the Vandenberg offshore wind energy projects, proposed for an area less than three miles from the shore in direct conflict with sacred sites and the habitats of endangered marine wildlife.
For decades, my family, in partnership with other tribal and environmental leaders, have advocated for the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary, which would protect a 156-mile stretch of ocean along the Central Coast, including the waters off Vandenberg. The council opposes the Vandenberg projects because they could jeopardize the proposed sanctuary.
In contrast, the Morro Bay Wind Energy Area was located to avert such conflicts. As climate change intensifies, we must protect California’s invaluable landscapes, wildlife and ecosystems. This must start with respecting the original caretakers of these places and letting us speak for ourselves.
Violet Sage Walker, Guadalupe Bay, Calif.
The writer chairs the Northern Chumash Tribal Council.