Native American tribe wants to reclaim 9,000 acres of Diablo Canyon land: ‘We’ve been waiting’

Shortly, the nuclear power plant in Diablo Canyon will be shut down—and there will be NO replacement of power for the loss.  Now we find that the State is looking to give the land away.  Please note that in the 12,000 acres they want to give away. not a foot toward housing for the homeless or building of affordable housing.  Maybe that should be a priority—what do you think?

Native American tribe wants to reclaim 9,000 acres of Diablo Canyon land: ‘We’ve been waiting’

Humpback Whate breaching near PG & E’s Diablo Canyon nuclear facility. Photo credit to mikebaird, Flickr

BY MACKENZIE SHUMAN, SLO Tribune,  2/28/23 

What will happen to nearly 11,000 acres of land encompassing California’s last nuclear power plant when it closes? According to one proposal, about 9,000 acres of prime San Luis Obispo County real estate could return to the Native Americans who first occupied it. The future of the massive property on which Diablo Canyon Power Plant sits was the subject of a public meeting held by the California Natural Resources Agency in the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors chambers on Feb. 10.

The agency must submit its land conservation and economic development plan for the Diablo Lands to the California State Legislature by March 23, according to State Senate Bill 846. That bill, which passed in September, allowed the state to loan up to $1.4 billion to PG&E to extend the life of Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant until 2030, about five years past its originally scheduled closure date.

Additionally, the bill set aside $160 million for the land conservation and economic development plan. The plan must support “environmental enhancements and access of Diablo Canyon power plant lands and local economic development in a manner that is consistent with existing decommissioning efforts,” according to the bill. Beyond that, however, there aren’t too many details of what the plan should include, or how the $160 million should be spent.

In general, the land, which is currently owned by PG&E and its subsidy Eureka Energy Company, is expected to be conserved forever to prevent it from being developed, according to proposals by community groups. The 600-acre parcel where the Diablo Canyon plant resides, known as Parcel P, could be turned into a large campus for research and education on sustainable ocean practices and energy innovation. But there’s one area where San Luis Obispo County community groups can’t quite agree: Who gets to own the remaining 10,800 acres of land that surround Parcel P?

While some community groups suggest a public entity such as California State Parks should own the land, one proposal — by REACH Central Coast, an economic development think tank; the yak titʸu titʸu yak tiłhini (ytt) Northern Chumash tribe, Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo and The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County — requests the state allow most of the land to be owned by the tribe. The groups want 4,500 acres to the north of the plant and another 4,500 to the south to be transferred to the ytt tribe, with The Land Conservancy holding conservation easements on the land.

The remaining 2,400 acres, known as the Wild Cherry Canyon lands, is under litigation in San Luis Obispo Superior Court. The groups propose that Wild Cherry Canyon be transferred to a public entity such as State Parks for ownership and management, while the ytt tribe could hold an access easement. “When we were removed from this land, we were removed violently and never given the opportunity to return,” said ytt chairwoman Mona Tucker. “We’ve been waiting for the opportunity to become the rightful owners and also appropriate stewards so that this land will look the way it looks 500 years from now, the way it looks today.”

If completed, the land transfer to the Native American tribe, which is not federally recognized, would be one of the largest in recent California history, according to Albert Lundeen, director of media relations for the state Natural Resources Agency. The Land Conservancy has protected more than 35,000 acres in San Luis Obispo County, with another 50,000 acres coming down the pike, its executive director, Kaila Dettman, said. “There’s a state, national, global movement to reconnect indigenous peoples to their lands,” Dettman said. “We have an opportunity here to really do something special and big. There’s people beyond even our county and our state watching what’s happening with this and we really can be leaders in the movement.”

The groups expect acquiring the 11,400 acres of Diablo Canyon lands — North Ranch, South Ranch and Wild Cherry Canyon — to cost upwards of $105 million. Another $53 million is estimated to be needed to draw up a conservation plan and fund property maintenance, managed public access, education and research, according to The Land Conservancy. That funding could come from the $160 million allocated by the legislature through Senate Bill 846. The coastline just north of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, as seen from a PG&E helicopter performing an aerial survey of fire risks to power lines on Oct. 25, 2022.

Friends of the Diablo Canyon Lands, a group formed to figure out how to conserve the natural beauty and scenic access to the 12,000 acres at and around the power plant, has had a framework for the lands’ future since May 2021. The framework recommends the land be transferred “to an entity or entities (including possibly federal, state, tribal, local or nonprofit organization) in a manner that is consistent with the DREAM Initiative, the strategic vision of the Diablo Canyon lands Decommissioning Engagement Panel and the (California Public Utilities Commission’s) Tribal Land Transfer Policy.” It also requests the land be given to an entity that can successfully raise sufficient funds to initially purchase the land interests, manage the land, create conservation easements and manage public use of the land. The Diablo Resources Advisory Measure (DREAM) Initiative was passed by nearly 75% of San Luis Obispo County voters in 2000.

The advisory ballot measure called on county leaders and PG&E to ensure the land was set aside for habitat preservation, agriculture and public use. Those who signed onto the Friends of Diablo Canyon Lands framework includes members from the local Sierra Club chapter, California State Parks, Port San Luis Harbor District, the Center for Biological Diversity and Morro Coast Audubon Society. REACH, Cal Poly and the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County also signed onto that framework, but the ytt tribe did not. Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant Joe Johnston Tribune file ‘STRONG DESIRE FOR TRIBAL OWNERSHIP’ OF DIABLO CANYON LANDS California State Sen. John Laird, D-Santa Cruz, noted in a Feb. 15 letter to the state Natural Resources Agency that there is general consensus for tribal ownership of the lands. “Tribal ownership has many advantages,” Laird wrote in his letter, “including a just and inspiring outcome for the community and for the descendants of people who lived on the Central Coast and the Diablo Canyon Lands in particular for some 10,000 years, who were forcibly removed from that land without consideration or compensation.”

He also noted that, in order for the tribal ownership to be successful, the plan should ensure that a public entity or local or national conservation organization partner with the tribe to manage the land. In the Natural Resources Agency’s Feb. 10 meeting in San Luis Obispo, Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot said he “heard strong desire for tribal ownership with the recognition that we have an opportunity to right historical wrongs.” After the state agency submits its land conservation and economic development plan to the legislature, it will be up to the legislature to implement it, Crowfoot added. Poppies are seen along the Point Buchon Trail on the Diablo Canyon Lands near Montaña de Oro State Park.

About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.


  1. Bogiewheel says

    Yes, the land will look the same. The Casino will be surrounded by the “same”

  2. Paint brush says

    If the govt is so quick to give the land away, wonder what’s wrong with it…contaminated or?
    Let the Chumash tribe have the land. A casino is better than CCP style stack and packs littering the place.

  3. Mary Cunningham says

    Should the property be sold and share holders receive the money since the value of PG and E is reduced?

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