Here’s a sentence you should definitely not expect to read often in the next few years: last week the President added 6,000 acres of pristine coastline to the California Coastal National Monument (CCNM), using the power of federal protection to prevent development and environmental degradation. The CCNM, which primarily protects inlets, and rocky coves and points, stretches the length of the Calif. coast and as many as 12 miles out to sea. The expansion adds six sites to the CCNM: Piedras Blancas (San Luis Obispo Co.), Trinidad Head (Humboldt Co.), Waluplh-Lighthouse Ranch (Humboldt Co.), Lost Coast Headlands (Humboldt Co.), Cotoni-Coast Dairies (Santa Cruz Co.), and Orange County Rocks (Orange Co.).
Calif. lawmakers, including Sens. Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer (now retired), had pressed Obama to add the sites to the CCNM for years. Bill Clinton originally designated parts of the Calif. coast as part of a National Monument back in 2000. Obama added a little chunk back in 2014—Point Arena, in Mendocino County. The CCNM is built on the bones of the 1906 Antiquities Act, which provides for the setting aside of federal lands for scientific, cultural, or scenic use.
Many of the sites added to the CCNM are crucial habitats for birds, seals, and other marine mammals. Some of them, though I shall not say which, also boast some seriously high-quality surf.
The coming years will see a raging battle in Congress as the GOP moves to strip federal lands from national protection, instead handing the lands to the states, a move that’s been heavily criticized by environmental groups as a push to allow for exploitation of natural resources. Obama’s designation is subject to repeal by the incoming administration, though moves like that are highly unusual. In the meantime, the Calif. coast is well-positioned to fend off overzealous development.
Thanks, Obama. No—seriously.