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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release January 11, 2000
                  California Coastal National Monument
                            January 11, 2000

President Clinton will sign a proclamation today creating the California Coastal National Monument. The President will also sign proclamations creating the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument and the Agua Fria National Monument in Arizona and expanding Pinnacles National Monument in California.

Preserving Coastal Riches. The new California Coastal National Monument is a biological treasure. Beginning just off shore and ending at the boundary between the continental shelf and the continental slope, it is a crucial part of the fragile coastal ecosystem. The monument will encompass all of the islands, rocks, exposed reefs, and pinnacles off the California coast above the high water mark that are owned by the U.S. Government, running along the entire 840 mile California coast and extending out for 12 miles. (Because of the scattered small bits of land involved, acreage cannot be readily calculated.) Islands, rocks, exposed reefs, and pinnacles already appropriated or reserved for other purposes will not be affected.

The monument contains many geologic formations that provide unique habitat for biota, such as sensitive feeding and nesting habitat for an estimated 200,000 breeding seabirds, including gulls, the endangered California least tern, and the brown pelican. Development of the mainland has forced seabirds that once fed and nested in the shoreline ecosystem to retreat to the monument. There is also forage and breeding habitat for several mammal species such as the threatened southern sea otter. Future economic or commercial development as well as some recreational use threaten the objects of the monument.

Managing the New Monument. The federal lands in the area are under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the Department of the Interior. With the new monument designation, management will continue under the BLM's existing authorities for the predominant purpose of protecting the objects for which the monument has been created. Currently, California State Department of Fish and Game manages the area under a Memorandum of Understanding with the BLM. This arrangement with the State of California will continue (with any necessary revisions to the MOU). The monument does not enlarge or diminish state or federal regulatory authority over fishing, oil and gas development, or other uses of adjacent waters. Valid existing rights including any oil and gas leases are unaffected.

Public Process. There is a history of actions to protect this type of coastal area. In Oregon, for example, the entire coast is similarly protected through management by the Fish and Wildife Service. Several other islands off the California Coast, including Cat Rock, already enjoy this type of protection. June 1999, Congressman Sam Farr of Monterey, California, introduced, for the second time, a bill (H.R. 2277) to designate these islands, rocks, exposed reefs, and pinnacles off the coast of California as wilderness. No hearings were held on this bill. In September 1999, Secretary Babbitt, accompanied by Congressman Farr as well as state and community leaders, visited the coastline to discuss protection for the rocks and islands including possible designation as a national monument.

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