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Mrs. BOXER. Mr. President, I am pleased to introduce the California Coastal National Monument Expansion Act. Congressman MIKE THOMPSON recently introduced companion legislation to this bill in the House of Representatives, and I thank him for all of the work he has done on advancing this initiative. I would also like to thank Senator DIANNE FEINSTEIN for joining me as an original co-sponsor of this legislation.
The California Coastal National Monument, created by President Clinton in 2000, stretches over 1,100 miles off California's coast and protects more than 20,000 small islands, rocks, exposed reefs, and islands between Mexico and Oregon. My bill would incorporate 1,225 acres of the Stornetta Public Lands and other public lands near the city of Point Arena in Mendocino County into the existing National Monument, creating the Monument's first onshore additions. By expanding the National Monument to include the ``Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands,'' my bill not only preserves the area for future generations, but also helps create a more cohesive bridge between the offshore resources and onshore public lands. Visitors will have contiguous public access to the current National Monument, the proposed expansion area, the adjacent Manchester Beach State Park, and the historic Point Arena Lighthouse.
It is crucial that steps be taken to ensure the permanent preservation of this naturally diverse segment of the California Coast, which encompasses over two miles of coastline with natural bridges, tide pools, waterfalls, sinkholes and blowholes, and portions of the Garcia River and surrounding estuary. The area is not only recognized for its breathtaking coastal formations, but also for outstanding natural resources that include extensive wetlands, rumpled sand dunes, and rolling meadows. Adding these lands to the National Monument will provide additional resources for more effective management and conservation program opportunities.
The ``Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands'' is also home to a diverse ecosystem. The Garcia River is crucial habitat for Coho and Chinook salmon habitat, as well as a prime birding location for multiple bird species including the Laysan Albatross, Peregrine Falcon, Great Blue Heron, and many others. These lands are also the targets of restoration efforts that would help protect local endangered wildlife such as the Point Arena Mountain Beaver, Behren's Silverspot Butterfly, and other species of concern, like the Black Oyster Catcher.
In Mendocino County, tourism is responsible for supporting almost 5,000 jobs, with visitors bringing in $19 million annually in state and local taxes. Visitors come from all over the world to experience the beauty and natural wonders of California's northern coast, and local businesses and nearby towns will benefit from the increased profile of a National Monument designation. A National Monument designation will bring increased awareness to the recreational opportunities available in the area, including hiking, fishing, bird watching, nature photography and wildlife watching. This designation could also attract increased resources to support the needs of the area.
It is no wonder that the ``Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands'' are often referred to as the most significant parts of the Mendocino coastline. These magnificent lands have tremendous natural and recreational value, and it is imperative for them to be included as part of the California Coastal National Monument. I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this important legislation. The ``Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands'' deserves National Monument recognition, and I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this effort.
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