As he wraps up his last term, President Obama on Thursday expanded the California Coastal National Monument at six new sites, including a group of small islands off the coast of Orange County.
Obama expanding the coastal monument by 6,230 acres, providing national park-like protections to the sites that prevents development activities such as oil drilling. The Orange County portion, known rather uncreatively as the Orange County Rocks, is an important ecosystem for seabirds, seals and other species.
“By being part of the California Coastal National Monument, our rocks and our community become part of an extended network of scientists and conservation practitioners that includes not only the (Bureau of Land Management) but many other agencies and (non-governmental organizations),” said Ed Almanza, director of the Laguna Oceans Foundation, in a statement released by the Campaign for the California Coast.
The new sites are:
- Piedras Blancas Outstanding Natural Area in San Luis Obispo County
- Cotoni-Coast Dairies in Santa Cruz County
- Lost Coast Headlands, Lighthouse Ranch and Trinidad Head in Humboldt County
- Orange County Rocks in SoCal
California Coastal National Monument was originally designated by President Bill Clinton and has been expanded by Obama twice. The monument designation protects the sensitive ecosystems from development and extraction of fossil fuels.
In addition to wilderness areas, one of the new sites, the Contoni-Coast Dairies portion in Santa Cruz, is also of historic importance as it includes coastal lands that are home to Native American archaeological sites.
On it’s Facebook page, the California Bureau of Land Management, which oversees the coastal monument, said: “Today’s expansion will protect incredible coastal natural resources, scenic views, and areas of cultural and historical significance, including sites that provide insight into the Native peoples who first lived along California’s coast and places still important to local tribes today.”
Originally designated by President Clinton in 2000, the site has already been expanded by Obama once, when he added Point Arena-Stornetta in Mendocino County in 2014.
This video by Campaign for the California Coast, a group that advocated for the expansion, makes the case for protecting the areas (along with some nice footage of them):