Obama Bypasses Congress Again, This Time to Preserve Federal Land in California
KEY LARGO, Fla. (AP) — President Barack Obama will expand the California Coastal National Monument to include the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands, a White House official said Saturday.
Expected Tuesday, the action will permanently protect some 1,665 acres of federal lands on the Mendocino County coast in Northern California, just north of Point Arena.
It will expand a national monument created in 2000 by President Bill Clinton to include coastal bluffs and shelves, tide pools, onshore sand dunes, coastal prairies, riverbanks and the mouth and estuary of the Garcia River.
Obama's designation would follow recent action by the Environmental Protection Agency to block development of Pebble Mine, a massive copper and gold deposit in Alaska's treasured Bristol Bay region.
Obama pledged in this year's State of the Union address to use his presidential authority to preserve more federal lands for future generations. The action he is taking next week will bypass Congress, which has been slow to act on proposed legislation to preserve public lands. Congress earlier this week passed its first wilderness bill in five years, to designate a 32,000-acre area in Michigan, but other public lands bills remain stalled.
The White House official was not authorized to discuss the matter by name before the formal announcement.
The area to be preserved is a significant economic engine for the local community, driving tourism and outdoor recreation. A report by the federal Bureau of Land Management estimated that outdoor recreation on public lands in California contributed nearly $900 million to the economy in 2012.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is scheduled to visit the area on Wednesday. She held a public listening session in Point Arena last November to hear from the community about conserving the lands.
Obama has created nine national monuments using the authority Congress granted presidents under the Antiquities Act of 1906.
The Washington Post first reported on Obama's plans.
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who is chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, tweeted Saturday that she was pleased by Obama's decision to protect "this majestic piece of CA's coast for future generations to enjoy."
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