Today, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell joined with hundreds of community members to celebrate President Obama's designation of the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands as part of the California Coastal National Monument. The President's action establishes the first shoreline addition to monument, protecting approximately 1,665 acres of public lands.
The celebration took place near the historic lighthouse at Point Arena, a destination for an estimated 40,000 people every year who come to enjoy the spectacular views along the Mendocino coastline in Northern California. Secretary Jewell was joined by Bureau of Land Management Principal Deputy Director Neil Kornze, White House Council on Environmental Quality Acting Chair Mike Boots, and local community and business leaders.
"The President's action is a testament to this community and the vision you championed to preserve and protect this awe-inspiring landscape," said Jewell. "These lands hold so much meaning -- for the Central Pomo Indians whose ancestors walked this shoreline thousands of years ago, for the wildlife that rely on this unique habitat, for the businesses who benefit from the tourism and recreation, and for today's children, who are learning how to be stewards of the great outdoors. This is a special day to celebrate this nation's cultural heritage and natural beauty."
Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands will continue to be managed by the Bureau of Land Management as part of their system of National Conservation Lands.
"The BLM manages some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the West, and we are honored and proud to count Point Arena-Stornetta as one of the crown jewels," said Kornze. "Outdoor recreation on BLM lands in California generated nearly $900 million in economic activity in 2012 alone, so we know that this designation can help bring jobs and revenue to this community."
For the past decade, the Bureau of Land Management has been working with partners, including the Trust for Public Land, the Conservation Lands Foundation, California Natural Resources Agency, California Coastal Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy, and many other partners and private land owners to preserve the coastal bluffs and meadows of the Stornetta and Point Arena areas.
With completion of several land acquisitions, the public now has unfettered access to 12 miles of federal and state-managed public lands, from the community of Point Arena north to Manchester State Beach.
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 fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund at $900 million in fiscal year 2015 in order to support additional local conservation priorities across the country.
The lands provide unmatched vantage points of the California Coastal National Monument, comprising more than 20,000 rocks, islands, exposed reefs, and pinnacles located offshore California's 1,100 mile coast. The expansion builds upon President Clinton's vision when he first established the monument in 2000 to protect the area's scientifically valuable coastal resources.
Point Arena-Stornetta public lands include 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 lands lie within the ancestral home of the Central Pomo Indians. The area contains numerous archaeological and cultural sites, with some of the oldest artifacts dating back 4,000 years.
The area is important habitat for migratory waterfowl, shore birds and raptors, as well as several endangered or threatened species, such as the Point Arena mountain beaver, Behren's silverspot butterfly, western snowy plover, California red-legged frog, and salmon and steelhead that live in the Garcia River. The Garcia River is prime Coho salmon and steelhead habitat.
The Bureau of Land Management's National Conservation Lands include more than 880 federally recognized areas comprising approximately 27 million acres of National Monuments, National Conservation Areas, Wilderness Areas, Wilderness Study Areas, Wild and Scenic Rivers, National Scenic and Historic Trails, and Conservation Lands of the California Desert.