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PD Editorial: A hidden treasure on Mendocino Coast

This spectacular waterfall on the southern Mendocino Coast is just one highlight of a little-known national treasure — the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands.

Spread over two miles of rugged coastline adjacent to the Point Arena Lighthouse, you can see cypress groves, sand dunes, natural bridges, tide pools, sink holes and blow holes. A small island is accessible at low tide.

The island, known as Sea Lion Rocks, is part of the California Coast National Monument.

It's easy to understand why so many Mendocino Coast residents and business owners want President Barack Obama to expand the monument's boundaries to include all 1,132acres of the Stornetta Public Lands.

As the name affirms, this already is public property, acquired in 2004 by a coalition of private environmental organizations and public agencies. It's managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management and readily accessible to beachcombers who find their way to southwestern Mendocino County.

The primary benefit of adding a national monument designation is bringing attention to this remote spot. A higher profile would likely mean more visitors, in turn providing a boost to the area's economy.

Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein have introduced legislation adding the Stornetta Public Lands to the coastal monument. Rep. Jared Huffman is planning a companion measure in the House.

President Barack Obama could make the designation with the stroke of a pen under the Antiquities Act. Presented with a similar request to expand the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank marine sanctuaries, the Obama administration opted for a process that includes public hearings.

To advance their cause, Stornetta Public Lands supporters invited outgoing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to visit. He never made it. We urge his designated successor, Sally Jewell, to make the trip to Point Arena, to visit the bluff, admire the waterfalls or put a kayak in the water so she can give the president a firsthand appraisal of their potential as a national monument.

We're confident that she will be impressed.


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