"Our country is blessed with some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world," Obama said in a statement
Tuesday. "It's up to us to protect them, so our children's children can experience them, too."
The move is also part of a more assertive conservation policy by the Obama administration, from last year's creation of five new national monuments
to others it's mulling, like the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks
in New Mexico or Boulder-White Cloud
in Idaho. U.S. presidents have this authority under the Antiquities Act of 1906 — which was signed and first used by Theodore Roosevelt — and Obama vowed in his State of the Union address to use it if Congress remains deadlocked on preservation.
Congress did recently end an unusual five-year break from wilderness protection by preserving 32,000 acres in northwestern Michigan
. But while the House approved a bill to protect Point Arena-Stornetta last summer, a companion bill has remained stuck in the Senate for months. The Democratic sponsors of both measures, Rep. Jared Huffman and Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, sent a letter
to Obama in late February requesting the national monument designation.
Supporters of protecting Point Arena-Stornetta cite economics as much as ecology, arguing that tourists drawn to the area support nearly 5,000 jobs and generate more than $110 million in economic activity per year. On top of preserving the area for future generations, they hope its role as the only shoreline connection to such a vast offshore landmark will raise its profile even more.
"This is now going to be part of the national monument — the only land-based gateway to the coastal monument," Huffman recently told
the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. "I think that's a big deal."
If you can't make it to Point Arena-Stornetta this week to properly celebrate its promotion, here are some photos of the area's scenery to help you imagine it:
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