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Huffman moves to add more land to California Coastal National Monument

Independent Coast Observer of Gualala, California

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Following the first addition of onshore lands at Point Arena last year, Representative Jared Huffman introduced legislation to expand the California Coastal National Monument to include five more sites along the California coast on Friday, Sept. 18. The California Coastal National Monument Expansion Act of 2015 would protect nearly 6,000 acres of coastline throughout California, enhancing protections and boosting tourism, said Huffman's office.

The sites of Trinidad Head, Lighthouse Ranch, Cotoni-Coast Dairies, Piedras Blancas and Orange County Rocks and Islands were chosen because of significant community support, said Huffman's office.

National Monument Status is one of the highest federal protections for lands. The Point Arena-Stornetta Unit was the first onshore addition to the monument, made in 2014 by presidential proclamation after legislation to create the onshore portion of the monument introduced by Huffman failed to pass the Senate.

"In Mendocino County, 74 percent of tourists visit the region's public lands, bringing an estimated $314 million in annual economic activity to the region. After the expansion of the National Monument in Mendocino County in 2014, visits to the Point Arena Lighthouse rose 40 percent," according to Huffman's office.

The areas covered in the bill are federal lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Under the law, the lands would be managed by BLM and each area would come up with an individual management plan in consultation with the public, federal agencies and any affected state governments.

The act states its purpose is "to protect, conserve, and enhance for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations the nationally significant historical, natural, cultural, scientific, educational, and scenic values of the Federal land along and adjacent to the shoreline of the State of California."

The bill has a long way to go before it could take effect. It would first have to pass out of committee, pass the House and Senate and then be signed by the President.

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Original Publication Date: September 25, 2015

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