In response to calls from a number of California lawmakers, the Obama administration has expanded the California Coastal National Monument to include six new sites. The monument already spanned the 1,110 mile length of the California coast, but now includes new sites. The expansion extends the monument to include Orange County Rocks in southern California, Piedras Blancas Outstanding Natural Area in San Luis Obispo County, Cotoni-Coast Dairies in Santa Cruz County, and Lost Coast Headlands, Lighthouse Ranch and Trinidad Head in Humboldt County.
Legislators have advocated for years for protection for these sites. This has included calls from former Senator Barbara Boxer, Senator Dianne Feinstein, retired Representative Lois Capps, and representatives Anna Eshoo and Jared Huffman, all of whom are Democrats. The monument was originally designated by President Bill Clinton in 2000, and was expanded once by President Obama in 2014 when Point Arena-Stornetta in Mendocino County was added.
The new additions included over 6,000 acres of coastal areas.
The basis for the move is the 1906 Antiquities Act, which grants presidents the power to designate protected public lands in areas of cultural or ecological importance. Thursday also saw the designation of a monument in Oregon and several monuments preserving cultural landmarks relating to the Civil War and the civil rights movement. Along with his earlier dedication of Stonewall National Monument in New York City and the Cesar Chavez National Monument in California, these moves are part of Obama’s effort to bring a more diverse cultural history to public lands designations.
Obama said in a statement:
“These monuments preserve the vibrant history of the Reconstruction Era and its role in redefining freedom. They tell the important stories of the citizens who helped launch the civil rights movement in Birmingham and the Freedom Riders whose bravery raised national awareness of segregation and violence. These stories are part of our shared history.”
The statement continued:
I have sought to build a more inclusive National Park System and ensure that our national parks, monuments and public lands are fully reflective of our nation’s diverse history and culture.”
The California expansion is one of a series of moves by Obama to secure his environmental legacy in the final weeks of his term, ahead of Donald Trump’s inauguration. The administration has protected land in Utah and Nevada, with the new national monuments declared last month. In early 2016, Obama designated 1.8 million acres in three new national monuments in the Mojave desert in southern California. Republicans have adamantly opposed this use of Obama’s executive power.