Democrats Urge Obama to Bypass Congress to Set Aside 6,261 Acres on California Coast

By Penny Starr | September 26, 2016 | 3:15pm EDT
Flowers frame one of the steep, rugged access trails to Dan Blocker Beach in the Corral Beach area of Malibu, Jan. 12, 2012. (AP Photo)

( – California Democrats introduced legislation earlier this year that would have expanded the California Coastal National Monument some 6,261 acres covering five coastal sites. The bill did not advance, and in February those lawmakers urged President Barack Obama to use his authority under the Antiquities Act to make the land off limits for everything except tourism.

Last week, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), and Reps. Lois Capps (D-Calif.), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) courted the director of the Bureau of Land Management, hoping to gain momentum on their protected land expansion.

“The iconic scenery of the California coast is beloved by millions of Americans," Bureau of Land Management Director Neil Kornze said in a press release issued after he visited California for a guided tour by the lawmakers.

"For decades, local communities have worked to protect the most special places on the coast, and Senator Boxer’s and Representatives Capps, Eshoo, and Huffman’s outstanding efforts to listen to those communities and work with them to bring about this proposal were evident,” Kornze said. “Opportunities like this to hear directly from the local and tribal communities about their vision for conservation and land management are essential to our work as land managers.”

The expansion would include: 440 acres at Lost Coast Headlands, 13 acres at Trinidad Head, 8 acres at Lighthouse Ranch in Humboldt County, 5,780 acres from the Cotoni-Coast Dairies in Santa Cruz County and 20 acres from Piedras Blancas in San Luis Obispo County. It also would include some small rocks and islands off the coast of Orange County, according to the L.A. Times.

The monument runs the length of the state, protecting a zone that extends 12 miles out to sea and wildlife such as seals, sea lions and seabirds, the Times reported.

But not everyone is excited about more land being put off limits for uses such as agriculture.

“Yvette Green of Ferndale owns five acres in the Lost Coast headlands while the BLM leases 200 acres, the Eureka Times Standardreported earlier this month. “Green, whose family has been there for more than a century, opposed the inclusion of the land in the monument because she said honoring the land goes way beyond protecting it when it comes to laws and regulations.”

“This isn’t Yellowstone,” Green said. “This is a very high agricultural use area with people trying to maintain their way of life.”

“[Green] said even if the BLM improves the road, the amount of heavy traffic from tourists would disrupt the harmony of the land and said the other BLM sites don’t have this problem because they are off U.S. Highway 101 or main roads,” the Times Standard reported.

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