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A National Monument on Our North Coast?
by Land Trust of Santa Cruz County
Monday Apr 21st, 2014 6:13 PM
At its first meeting of the New Year, the Land Trust Board endorsed the idea of designating more than 10,000 acres on the North Coast as a national monument – and of finding out if there is community support for the idea.
2014-winter-web.jpg
2014-winter-web.jpg

A National Monument on Our North Coast?

This article originally appeared in our newsletter, Landmarks, Winter 2014

At its first meeting of the New Year, the Land Trust Board endorsed the idea of designating more than 10,000 acres on the North Coast as a national monument – and of finding out if there is community support for the idea.

National monuments are a category of federal conservation lands, sort of minimalist national parks, without all the bells and whistles, wild and beautiful places people can enjoy while leaving a light footprint. Fort Ord is a national monument. The Pinnacles was a national monument for more than a hundred years before it became a national park.

At the core of the proposed national monument on the North Coast is 5,500 acres of Coast Dairies, a property protected in 1998 and still not open to the public. The federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is to take ownership of Coast Dairies any day now (yes, we’ve been hearing that for a while) and would administer the national monument. BLM already administers 31 national monuments under policies that focus on protecting the natural resources that are very different from BLM’s multi-use policies for non-national monument lands.

The Land Trust Board also supported adding up to 4,700 acres of the former CEMEX Redwoods Forest to the national monument – excluding the 3,800 acres to be set aside as a working forest by the CEMEX Partners. National monument regulations do not allow sustainable timber harvesting – or a wide variety of other activities allowed on other BLM lands. The emphasis in national monuments is on protecting natural resources, not using them for economic purposes. And on letting visitors enjoy them in ways that have minimal impact on the land.

Our Board’s decision is just that – what one organization thinks is a good idea. The property certainly has the outstanding conservation values national monument designation is meant to protect: fabulous views, creeks that provide habitat for endangered fish, and an abundance of biodiversity across a varied landscape. National monument status provides an additional layer of protection for these resources and will bring more financial resources to support access and stewardship.

Providing this level of protection makes sense to us – and we hope to the community. Our Board is committed to a robust community input process to see if there is support for the designation – just as we sought community input on our Conservation Blueprint and seek it now on access plans for the CEMEX Redwoods. The ultimate decision belongs to either the Congress or (more likely in this case) the President. President Clinton created 23 monuments, President Bush, six, and President Obama has created nine, including Fort Ord. You’ll be hearing more about this in the months ahead and we hope everyone involved will be hearing more from you.

http://www.landtrustsantacruz.org/newsletters/14_winter/national-monument.htm


Land Trust of Santa Cruz County
http://www.landtrustsantacruz.org/