Today, Pres. Obama took the significant step of designating the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands as part of the California Coastal National Monument.
On the south coast of Mendocino County, these lands include 1,665 acres of majestic views, tidepools, and coastal wetlands that are home to an abundance of sea mammals, seabirds, and abalone. This announcement marks the first designation of a national monument under secretary of the interior Sally Jewell.
This is all happening thanks to the tireless work of volunteers and staff in the Sierra Club Redwood, Mother Lode, and San Francisco Bay Chapters, Sierra Club California, and across the nation. On a personal level, my wife and I visited Stornetta just last month and were awed by its rugged beauty and the scores of harbor seals bobbing in the ocean. The experience inspired me to write a blog for the Huffington Post.
Adjacent to Manchester State Beach and the Point Arena Lighthouse, the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands area includes more than two miles of coastline, portions of the Garcia River, the Garcia estuary, and a five-acre island—Sea Island Rocks. Its wildflower meadows and shifting sand dunes provide a home for otters, seals, pelicans, and a host of other wildlife.
There is broad local support from community members, conservationists, and business leaders for including Point Arena-Stornetta public lands in the national monument–a move also championed by Reps. Thompson and Huffman and California Sens. Boxer and Feinstein, who have helped lead efforts to protect the area.
“Local citizens have been working with the Bureau of Land Management to support appropriate use of the area, but the scarce resources available have been overburdened by the demands placed on this fragile, special place,” said Sierra Club Redwood Chapter chair Victoria Brandon. “Today’s designation will encourage effective management to ensure the permanent protection of the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands for the enjoyment of our children and grandchildren.”
The California Coastal National Monument is comprised of more than 20,000 small islands, rocks, exposed reefs, and pinnacles along 1,100 miles of coast between Mexico and Oregon. Permanently protecting the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands as part of the national monument provides significant conservation and recreation benefits, including the potential for more than 10 miles of California Coastal Trail extending from the City of Point Arena to Manchester State Park.
The designation today is small but builds momentum that encourages the administration to establish a conservation legacy of national monuments. In his January State of the Union address, Pres. Obama pledged that he would use his “authority to protect more of our pristine federal lands for future generations.” Today’s announcement demonstrates that the president is beginning to deliver on that promise and it is our job to support his ambition so that he will designate more wild landscapes, including some on the top of our list:
- Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks in New Mexico;
- Boulder White Clouds in Idaho;
- Greater Canyonlands in Utah;
- Birthplace of Rivers in West Virginia;
- Grand Canyon Watershed in Arizona;
- Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
before his term ends in 2017.
This designation marks the first expansion onto the mainland for the national monument, and it will protect important habitat for migratory birds, salmon, and several endangered species including the Point Arena mountain beaver and the Behren’s silverspot butterfly.
“Once again we see Pres. Obama listening to the widespread desire among Americans for permanently protecting our outdoor heritage for future generations. We hope he will continue to heed the call to protect other special places as national monuments,” said Brune.
Please join me in thanking Secretary Jewell and Pres. Obama at http://sc.org/Stornetta.
Dan Chu, senior director for the Sierra Club’s Our Wild America Campaign