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Mendocino's Stornetta lands to be national monument

  • U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Northern California Director of The Trust for Public Land Dave Sutton look over a map of the newly opened Stornetta Public Lands along the Point Arena coastline on Friday, November 8, 2013. (Conner Jay/The Press Democrat)

The Stornetta Public Lands, a breathtaking stretch of Mendocino County coast near Point Arena, will be declared part of a national monument Tuesday by President Barack Obama, White House officials said Saturday.

Obama will issue an executive order to expand the 1,100-mile California Coastal National Monument and take in the rugged, biologically rich expanse of 1,665 acres in an Oval Office ceremony with a local presence.

"It's finally happening," said former Point Arena Mayor Leslie Dahlhoff, who was part of a 2-1/2-year grassroots campaign to protect the lands. She will be among three local residents to attend the signing Tuesday.

Interior Secretary Visits Mendocino Coast

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Boosters believe the monument designation, in addition to offering additional federal protection for the land, will raise the profile of the south Mendocino Coast and provide a much-needed economic infusion.

News of the president's decision broke in Washington on Saturday afternoon and quickly spread west, setting phones buzzing and prompting a flurry of celebratory emails and text messages around the region.

Ann Cole, executive director of the Mendocino Land Trust, said the texts she received were filled with exclamation points and hoorays.

"People are just ecstatic," Cole said. "They've been working so hard on this."

"This is all so very exciting," said Scott Schneider, president and chief executive of Visit Mendocino County, who also will be at the White House on Tuesday.

Larry Stornetta, a partner in the historic dairy ranch that provided the initial acreage for the area, also plans to attend the Oval Office signing, Dahlhoff said. He could not be reached for comment.

Already afforded some measure of protection thanks to a series of public acquisitions begun in 2004, the Stornetta Public Lands are managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management, which will continue to oversee and administer the monument addition.


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