RCLC Director Bill Clement & ED Linda Bell

Photo Credit: RCLC

Sally Jewell with RCLC Director, Bill Clement and ED, Linda Bell
Photo Credit: RCLC

National Monument status doesn’t happen overnight. Land has to be identified and placed in conservation with the help of willing landowners; then someone has to request review for national monument status; then the Bureau of Land Management has to agree to hold and manage the new federal property; then the BLM has to gather support from Gateway Communities and Gateway Partners that agree to preserve, protect and defend the National Monument; then someone has to keep the pressure on the issue and sustain public support and enthusiasm for a declaration of national monument status competing with many other worthy monument prospects from Coast to Coast. Obviously, this is a gross simplification of the process, the effort and the angst.

Team Stornetta and Point Arena Gateway Partners

Redwood Coast Land Conservancy is a member of two strong working groups, Point Arena Gateway Partners and Team Stornetta, which played key roles in the expansion of the California Coastal National Monument to include the adjoining Stornetta Public Lands.

Team Stornetta is a group of individuals, nonprofits, businesses, land trusts, cultural groups, Native American Tribes, the school districts, representatives from all levels of government and many others, with support of Visit Mendocino County, The Trust for Public Land and Conservation Lands Foundation, who assigned local representation for the team many months ago. Our charge was to coordinate, organize and integrate the tremendous enthusiasm for expansion of the CCNM and inclusion of the Stornetta Public Lands. When notice came that President Obama would use his power under the Antiquities Act to make the proclamation, Team Stornetta had only 72 hours to notify an entire region, send five local citizens to the White House, coordinate local and national press releases, get everybody back here, and throw a terrific celebratory event with Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, to commemorate the historic designation by President Obama!

Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, addressing the crowd
Photo Credit: Blake Androff

It was a tremendous effort and a tremendous success that served to galvanize the region around a common cause and gave us all good reason to celebrate. It also has some lessons for future regional collaborations with projects of a size that no conservation group can do single-handedly. Community-based initiatives and communication for community support are very time intensive but hugely important for these large conservation projects.

Team Stornetta is still an active group formed largely to advocate for national monument status and bring the region together in support and celebration. Team Stornetta may morph now that its initial objectives have been achieved, but its goal of community unification is so sound that both groups will benefit from all the new partners generated by the effort.

Gateway Partners and Gateway Communities have entered a formal memorandum of understanding with the Bureau of Land Management to serve, steward, protect and preserve various areas of the coast within the CCNM. They are now working with BLM to draft the Resource Management Plan that will guide public comment regarding the Stornetta lands on such issues as access, use, grazing, vehicle access, trails/trailheads, and visitor information. RCLC is proud to be a member of Team Stornetta and a Gateway Partner. Both are unique collaborations where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

The Manchester Band of the Pomo Tribe performed ceremonial dances
Photo Credit: Blake Androff

Great Potential for Future Preservation

As of the date of proclamation, March 11, The Point Arena-Stornetta Lands are now the first land-based, mainland inclusion of the California Coastal National Monument, adding 1,665 acres. This is a very important distinction. The BLM’s policy shift to include mainland holdings in the CCNM opens an entire new realm of conservation possibilities with federal protection and the possibility of federal funding. Imagine the possibilities! That’s just what Team Stornetta did – we all imagined.

Another promising expansion is proposed for the National Marine Sanctuaries, the Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones. This expansion will extend permanent protection from off-shore drilling further north from Bodega Bay to more than 60 miles north of Point Arena. We think there is great potential for the boundary expansion to encourage more conservation of coastal lands, more public access and even greater potential for economic improvements through tourism and recreation.

We all need to be in strategic planning mode now, to identify potential conservation opportunities arising with the expansions. This is a great time to renew efforts in support of the California Coastal Trail, the Pacific Coast Bike Trail and other great projects that transcend any one community and capture the regional momentum.

The Celebration
Photo Credit: Blake Androff

The photos from the dedication ceremony tell a great story of the pride and support generated in this area. We hope you had a chance to join in. Contributions from our members helped support RCLC’s participation in this significant effort. If you are interested in the next stages, stay tuned and stay involved with the public comment necessary to move local projects forward. There should be ample opportunity to get involved and support the many groups that need our help.