President Obama Establishes Point Arena-Stornetta Unit of California Coastal National Monument

President Obama signed a proclamation establishing the Point Arena-Stornetta Unit of California Coastal National Monument (photo from the Bureau of Land Management)

by Karen Rubin

President Obama today signed a proclamation establishing the first shoreline addition to the California Coastal National Monument. Using his authorities under the Antiquities Act, President Obama designated the Point Arena-Stornetta Unit, protecting approximately 1,665 acres of a significant and spectacular stretch of public lands along the Mendocino coastline in Northern California.

“In my State of the Union address, I said that I would use my authority to protect more of our pristine federal lands for future generations.” said President Obama, who vowed to make 2014 a year of action using his pen and phone. “Our country is blessed with some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. It’s up to us to protect them, so our children’s children can experience them, too,” Obama added. “That’s what today is about. By designating Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands a national monument, we’ll also support the local economy.”

In 2000, President Clinton established the California Coastal National Monument, comprising more than 20,000 rocks, islands, exposed reefs, and pinnacles along the 1,100 miles of California’s coast. Today’s action builds upon that vision, protecting the area’s scientifically valuable coastal resources, including coastal bluffs and shelves, tide pools, onshore dunes, coastal prairies, riverbanks, and the mouth and estuary of the Garcia River that provide unique habitat for breeding seabirds, marine mammals, and other native species.

The Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands are a destination for thousands of visitors every year, offering opportunities for wildlife viewing and other outdoor recreation activities, like hiking and fishing.  In California, outdoor recreation on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management contributed nearly $900 million to the economy in 2012.

“The rugged coastline of Point Arena-Stornetta is simply breathtaking and a deserving addition to the California Coastal National Monument,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, who hosted a public meeting in Point Arena in November. “President Obama is supporting the community’s vision to conserve this landscape and, in doing so, strengthening the local economy through increased tourism and outdoor recreation.”

“We are talking about over 1,600 acres of incredible coastline in California that reflects the incredible diversity of flora and fauna,” President Obama said at the signing ceremony. ”It is a place where scientists do research; where people who just want to experience the great outdoors can take advantage of it.  It is a huge economic boost for the region.  California tourism obviously is important, and the California coastline I think is as big of an attraction as there is.

“And so for us to make sure that this is going to be properly preserved, that it is going to be cherished, that the federal protections will be available I think is going to make all the difference. ”

The President’s proclamation is a tribute to years of work by the local community and businesses seeking increased protection and recognition for the area. Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein and Representatives Jared Huffman and Mike Thompson have championed legislation to include the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands in the California Coastal National Monument.  The monument will continue to be managed by the Bureau of Land Management as part of the system of National Conservation Lands.

The Bureau of Land Management acquired the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands following years of work with private land owners and partners.  The Land and Water Conservation Fund provided funding to support the local effort to make these lands publicly accessible.  In his budget released last week, the President requested that the Congress fully funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund at $900 million in fiscal year 2015 in order to support additional local conservation priorities across the country.

Today’s action builds on steps the Administration has taken over the past five years as part of the America’s Great Outdoors initiative, which fosters a 21st century approach to conservation that responds to the priorities of the American people. When he signed the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, President Obama marked the most extensive expansion of land and water conservation in more than a generation, designating more than 2 million acres of federal wilderness, thousands of miles of trails, and protecting more than 1,000 miles of rivers.  The President has also established nine other National Monuments across the country, permanently protecting sites that are significant to our Nation’s rich history and natural heritage.

First exercised by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 to designate Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming, the authority of the Antiquities Act has been used by 16 presidents since 1906 to protect unique natural and historic features in America, such as the Grand Canyon, the Statue of Liberty, and Colorado’s Canyons of the Ancients.

Visiting Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands

According to the Bureau of Land Management, the the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands are situated along the rugged Mendocino County coastline just north of the town of Point Arena, and are a unique and spectacular area that includes access to 12 coastal miles of undeveloped federal and state-managed public lands, coastal bluffs, the estuary of the Garcia River, sandy beaches and dunes, and adjacent small islands accessible during low tide.

The diverse habitats found on this coastline provide a critical refuge for a number of threatened and endangered species including the Point Arena mountain beaver, the western snowy plover, Behren’s silverspot butterfly and California red-legged frog.

There are many ways to experience the spectacular landscape of the Point Arena-Stornetta Unit of the California Coastal National Monument. The area offers outstanding wildlife viewing, hiking, bird watching, fishing, and public access to the Mendocino Coast.

For information about Point Arena-Stornetta Unit of the California Coastal National Monument, contact Bureau of Land Management, Ukiah Field Office, 2550 North State Street, Ukiah, CA 95482, 707-468-4000, www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/ukiah/stornetta.html.

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