By Representative Mike Thompson and Assembly Member Jared Huffman
California's North Coast is a national treasure and we have a responsibility to protect it for future generations. That is why, as representatives with districts stretching from the Golden Gate to the Oregon border we are supporting the designation of the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands as part of the California Coastal National Monument.
This designation can be accomplished in one of two ways. One way is for Congress to pass legislation. H.R. 4969, the California Coastal National Monument Expansion, has been introduced and would incorporate 2200 acres of land including the Stornetta Public Lands and other public lands in the Point Arena area into the existing California Coastal National Monument.
The second way is for President Obama to use his authority under the 1912 Antiquities Act and add these 2200 acres to the Coastal National Monument. The Administration has already shown support for the protection of these lands by prioritizing their purchase by the Bureau of Land Management Land and Water Conservation Fund. The next logical step would be to designate the newly purchased land as a part of the National Monument.
The California Coastal National Monument was created by President Clinton in 2000 to protect the offshore rocks and islands that characterize the California coastline, and there is no better place on our coast to establish the first land-based connection to the California Coastal National Monument than the Point Arena-Stornetta lands.
The land is economically and ecologically important. It includes more than ten miles of coastline with natural bridges, tide pools, waterfalls, sinkholes and blowholes. The region is home to endangered species, as well as abundant bird and wildlife. The proposed designation would improve the health of salmon and steelhead by protecting critical habitat at the mouth of the Garcia River. And, the designation would expand the amount of land open to the public for daytime activities such as hiking, fishing, bird watching, nature photography and whale watching.
This is good for business. National monuments create new jobs and increase incomes. Tourism is the biggest source of employment in Mendocino County with close to 5,000 jobs earning $114 million annually. Visitor spending brings in $19 million in state and local taxes.
Just as we had the foresight to protect our seaside rocks and islands, we must do our part to preserve the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands. Whether it is though Congressional or Presidential action, the lands should be protected. These coastal lands are a part of California's natural legacy. Let's make sure they are a permanent part of our future by supporting national monument designation for the Point Arena-Stornetta public lands.
U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson represents Mendocino County in Congress. Assemblyman Huffman is the Democratic nomineee to Congress from Mendocino County.