More than 1,600 acres of beach, river and forest lands along the Mendocino County coast was declared a protected national monument by President Obama at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., today.
The new Point Arena-Stornetta Unit will be part of the California Coastal National Monument established by President Bill Clinton in 2000.
“The Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands are a national treasure,” said Congressman Mike Thompson, D-Napa.
“I commend President Obama for continuing to make this a year of action by expanding the California Coastal National Monument to include the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands," Thompson said.
"There are no federal lands more pristine than these, and I thank and applaud the President for taking action to preserve and protect these lands forever, and to strengthen our tourism economy and the jobs that come with it.”
The area includes the estuary of the Garcia River as well as coastal bluffs, and is home to species including coho and Chinook salmon and migratory and shore birds.
"We are talking about over 1,600 acres of incredible coastline in California that reflects the incredible diversity of flora and fauna," Obama told a group of lawmakers and North Coast civic leaders.
Obama designated the area as a national monument by using his executive authority under the federal Antiquities Act of 1906, which has been used to declare monument status for sites ranging from the Grand Canyon to the Statute of Liberty.
Congressman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, who attended the session in Washington, D.C., said the designation maintains the current recreational, ranching and research uses of the land.
The antiquities law provides that sites can be designated as national monuments through either Congressional action or presidential executive order.
Bills to add the Point Arena area to the California coastal monument had been introduced by Huffman, Thompson, and U.S. Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, D-California, but all four legislators urged Obama to go ahead with the executive action.
Thompson had twice introduced legislation in the 111th and 112th Congresses to expand the California Coastal National Monument to include the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands. Huffman (CA-2) introduced legislation with Thompson as a co-author in the 113th Congress.
The area is a significant economic engine for the local community, driving tourism and offering opportunities for outdoor recreation. A Bureau of Land Management report estimates that outdoor recreation on the public lands in California contributed nearly $900 million to the economy in 2012, according to Thompson's office.
According to Scott Schneider, president and CEO of Visit Mendocino County, Inc., travel and tourism are responsible for the largest job sector in Mendocino County with close to 5,000 jobs earning over $114 million a year. In addition, visitor spending in Mendocino County brings in $20 million in state and local taxes.
The Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands are contiguous with Manchester Beach State Park, the Point Arena Lighthouse, and the California Coastal National Monument. The California Coastal National Monument is located off the 1,100 miles of California coastline, comprising more than 20,000 small islands, rocks, exposed reefs, and pinnacles between Mexico and Oregon.
Current agricultural activities such as grazing are not affected by the designation.
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