President Obama enshrined 1,665 acres of pristine California coastline on Tuesday, expanding the California Coastal National Monument to include a swath of rocky shores, river corridors, meadows and wetlands known as Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands. It's the first land-based addition to the offshore national monument, which includes 20,000 small islands and spans 1,100 miles of coast.

"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:

Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands

Photo: Jeff Fontana/BLM

Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands

Photo: Jeff Fontana/BLM

Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands

Photo: Jim Pickering/BLM

Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands

Photo: Malcolm Manners/Flickr

Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands

Photo: Malcolm Manners/Flickr

Russell McLendon is science editor at MNN. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

Related conservation stories from MNN:

The opinions expressed by MNN Bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of MNN.com. While we have reviewed their content to make sure it complies with our Terms and Conditions, MNN is not responsible for the accuracy of any of their information.