SunSpecial: Coasting Along   Leave a comment

There are over one hundred National Monuments in the United States. These Monuments are much like National Parks; only usually much less known, and don’t receive the thousands of visitors or extra funding for operations and improvements (like restrooms and snack bars) that you find in many National Parks. Perhaps most important (other than the bathrooms, of course), is a National Monument can be created with the stroke of a pen – just by the authority of office the President can create a National Monument if there is reason to believe the area holds significant interest and importance to protect it as public lands, forever.

In 1906, irritated by the inability of Congress to reach an agreement on protecting western landmarks that were being destroyed in the name of progress, President Theodore Roosevelt passed the Antiquities Act which allows the US President to take actions that will preserve and protect unique environments for future generations. While being a National Park might be more prestigious (and a lot more crowded in Summer), Park creation requires approval by the entire US Congress, along with the President. And we know how hard it is for all of them to agree on almost anything.

Just last week, President Obama signed into law a new National Monument, the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands. Actually, the proclamation added the 1,665 acres of these lands to the already-existing California Coastal National Monument, which itself was created through the signature of then-President Clinton in 2000. One thing that makes this action unique, and necessary, is the existing Coastal Monument consists entirely of 20,000 small islands and rocks located over 1,100 miles of the California coastline. All in the Pacific Ocean. With no land connection. So anyone who wanted to visit this Monument had to either go by boat (and most of the rocky islands have no beach or place to anchor a boat); or be a SCUBA diver; or a very strong swimmer. Or a sea lion, and they don’t care if their rock is a Monument or not because they’ve been sleeping on it for years. And they don’t need any fancy restrooms, either.Point Arena Ca Coastal NM  BLM

Also, the ‘newly-monumented’ (trademark!) Arena-Stornetta Lands hold many streams and tributaries of the Garcia River, home to chinook and coho salmon, along with steelhead trout and the complex environments that support these keystone species. Along the coast are located dunes, tidepools, and the Garcia River estuary; inland can be found the endangered Behren’s silverspot butterfly (Speyeria zerene behrensii), and equally endangered, but also surprising and unusual Point Arena Mountain Beaver (Aplodontia rufa nigra), which really isn’t a beaver although at first look could be confused for an actual beaver. But more on that in another story.

In the 1970’s a section of the now-protected land had been proposed for construction of a Nuclear power plant – which at the time seemed like a good idea – until it was pointed out that nearby is the earthquake-prone San Andreas Fault, which could lead to catastrophic results; plus building a massive cement and steel power plant would destroy much of what was left of the rapidly disappearing California native environment.

Since Teddy Roosevelt created the first National Monument in 1906 (Bully!), every President but three have similarly identified and protected historic sites, natural lands and native environments. Thanks to public input, community involvement and making smart, responsible decisions that benefit us all not just today, but into the future, when it comes to National Monuments nearly every President has shown he’s capable of doing more than just coasting along.


Michonne Says: At first I thought this story was all about national marmots. Not ‘mon-you-mints’. National marmots would be more interesting. But mint tastes good so if a ‘mon-you-mint’ is a new kind of mint that’s fine.



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