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VENTANA WILD RIVERS PROPOSAL San Antonio River and tributaries

The San Antonio River flows east from the Santa Lucia Range crest into Fort Hunter Liggett. The upper portion of the river, its North Fork, and several small tributaries flow through an area on the Los Padres National Forest unusually rich in Native American heritage.

The Forest Service identified 8.6 miles of the main stem of the San Antonio River from its source to the National Forest boundary to be eligible for federal protection, but the agency did not recommend its designation. Instead, the Los Padres Forest Plan established the 9,933 acre Milpitas Special Interest Area encompassing both the main stem and North Fork and several tributaries. SIA designation provides inferior protection of the river’s cultural values in comparison to Wild & Scenic status. Conservationists believe that the main stem, its North Fork, Carrizo Creek, Santa Lucia Creek, lower Rattlesnake Creek, and several other unnamed tributaries all collectively contribute to this area’s outstanding cultural values and are therefore eligible for protection.

Outstanding Values:

Cultural – The river flows through an area with unusually dense and varied concentration of historic and pre-historic cultural values, probably spanning thousands of years, and offering a unique interpretive potential. The river and tributaries record the ancient uses of the native Salinan people as well as the earliest contact between the Salinan and the Mission- era explorers. It also offers insights into the post- secular history of the Indians who withdrew to the upper river and its tributaries to live after the closure of the Mission San Antonio de Padua downstream. Low rock walls along Santa Lucia Creek outline the Salinan’s “milpitas” or small gardens. First established by the Salinans, the Carrizo Trail along Carrizo Creek was used by early homesteaders to transport supplies to and from the coast. The entire watershed is dominated by the peak sacred to the Salinans that is known today as Junipero Serra. Later expanded into a hunting resort, the historic Indians adobe, vineyard, and family cemetery provide a glimpse of rustic life in the backcountry.

Ventana Wild Rivers Campaign Hannah Schoenthal-Muse, Organizer Friends of the River 99 Pacific St., Suite 555A, Monterey, CA 93940 831/535-8304 • hannah@friendsoftheriver.org

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