Obama Protects 6,000+ Acres of Coastal California Before Exiting Office

Part of the newly protected coastal lands in Santa Cruz County. Photo: San Jose Mercury News


The Inertia

In his final days in office, Bodysurfer in Chief, aka President Barack Obama, extended greater protections to more than 6,000 acres of coastal lands in California last Thursday, upgrading them to national monuments.

The newly protected lands include a number of small rocky islets in Orange County and other coastal parcels in San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz, and Humboldt counties. With their new designation, the lands will be protected from any development such as oil and gas drilling.

In OC, Obama tapped six sites, mostly small offshore rock outcrops between Laguna Beach and Corona Del Mar which serve as important seabird habitat. Long ago, those islets were earmarked for lighthouses. Strangely, they remained such until last Thursday’s action.

In SLO, the Piedras Blancas lighthouse, five miles up the coast from San Simeon, was granted protection as were three stretches of rugged coastal bluffs in Humboldt County: Trinidad Head, Waluplh-Lighthouse Ranch, and Lost Coast Headlands. But the majority of the newly protected lands belong to a 5,785-acre parcel in Santa Cruz County known as Cotoni-Coast Dairies. The former dairy lands extend from the Santa Cruz Mountains to hillsides overlooking the ocean, encompassing “Native American archaeological sites, wetlands, coastal prairie grasslands and stands of coast redwoods,” according to the L.A. Times.

Most of the California coast has been a national monument since Bill Clinton’s tenure in the White House.