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Point Arena celebrates national monument status

  • U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell dedicates the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands as an official part of the 1,100-mile California Coastal National Monument in Point Arena, Wednesday March 12, 2014 in Mendocino County. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2014

A coming-out party of sorts is planned Saturday for the southern Mendocino Coast community of Point Arena and a breathtaking section of coastal land that was recently added to the California Coastal National Monument.

A day-long schedule of events on the monument’s newest addition includes a series of guided walks designed to introduce visitors to the area’s history, birds and other wildlife, vistas and geology.

The celebration comes in response to rising visitorship and interest in the remote community from around the country in the wake of President Barack Obama’s declaration in March adding the bluff-top property to the 1,100-mile national marine monument, said Jonna Hildenbrand, planning coordinator for the Ukiah field office of the Bureau of Land Management, which oversees the land.

The monument was created in 2000 to preserve more than 20,000 small islands, seastacks, rocks and reefs off the California coast. The Stornetta Land has been in federal ownership since 2004, expanded over the years by a series of transactions converting private ranch properties to public lands.

Located adjacent to the picturesque Point Arena Lighthouse, it fills out a 12-mile stretch of publicly accessible coastline that includes Manchester State Park and beach.

“These lands along the coast are the only access points, the only way that you can see and appreciate the California Coastal National Monument unless you go by boat,” said Merita Whatley, manager of the lighthouse gift shop and an active member of the community group that promoted national recognition for the lands.

And yet, they’re directly accessible to the public off Highway 1, with entries behind City Hall and across from the lighthouse, she noted.

“Even if you only have 15 minutes, you’re going to see this amazing scenery,” Whatley said.

Saturday’s events start at 8 a.m. and run into the evening, closing out with an 8:15 p.m. sunset walk. They include guided birding, native plant, geology and cultural walks beginning at Point Arena City Hall, 240000 S. Highway 1, at the edge of the monument. Additional walks leaving from the lighthouse will explore the area’s native cultural history, local marine mammal populations and wildflowers. Also planned are musical performances, readings, crafting and a host of activities throughout the community.

More information is available at www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/info/ DiscovertheCoast/communities/pointarena.html.

You can reach Staff Writer Mary Callahan at 521-5249 or mary. callahan@pressdemocrat.com.


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