This afternoon President Obama signed a proclamation declaring the BLM land at Fort Ord, near Monterey, California, as a national monument. This is Obama’s second national monument proclamation (after Fort Monroe in Virginia) and his first of BLM land. We believe that the BLM lands in the San Juan Islands are, at this point, the logical next choice for a national monument designation. We will keep watching the press, but so far I haven’t seen any negative pushback on today’s proclamation. The local community, with the help of the Conservation Lands Foundation (CLF) and others, did a great job of getting supportive messages out in advance of the proclamation and several supportive press releases have come out from groups in favor of the designation (e.g. CLF, Fort Ord Recreation Trails, the Sierra Club, the Center for American Progress and of course the White House). There has been quite a bit of press already (over 200 articles so far according to Google, though many are reprints of wire service stories). A hearty congratulations to the community that pushed for Fort Ord’s protection. It is now our opportunity to step forward into the spotlight. I had a conversation this afternoon with Michael Degnan of the Conservation Lands Foundation about how we can get from “next in line” to “proclamation.” The key thing we need to do (in addition to our required letters from the Governor and our delegation) is enable ongoing awareness in DC. An example from Fort Ord was a recent package (forwarded around the administration by CLF) of letters from elementary school kids with touching testimonials to the power of the outdoor classroom there. We can provide plenty of materials from the San Juans that CLF can use to similar effect in DC. Capture the stories, hold the events, create the visuals, keep your cameras at the ready and get the eye-catching and memorable stories flowing. I’m happy to be the conduit for getting stuff to DC. Let’s put faces on this effort. There’s no such thing as too much. (Sally and I are trying to come up with creative ways to capture the faces of tomorrow’s hike at Watmough/Iceberg and Sunday’s parade.) Please also read the recent email from Cynthia with notes from yesterday’s meeting – particularly the notes on our conversation with Meghan Kissell of CLF – there is lots to do to get ready. ================================================= President Barack Obama signs a proclamation to designate federal lands within the former Fort Ord as a national monument in the Oval Office of the White House April 20, 2012 in Washington, DC. April 20th, 2012 04:16 PM ET Obama designates Fort Ord as National Monument Posted by: CNN White House Producer Adam Aigner-Treworgy California outdoor enthusiasts take heart. On Friday President Barack Obama signed a proclamation designating Fort Ord on California’s Monterey Peninsula as a National Monument under the Antiquities Act. “Fort Ord’s dramatic landscape lives in the memories of thousands of veterans as their first taste of Army life, as a final stop before deploying to war, or as a home base during their military career. This national monument will not only protect one of the crown jewels of California’s coast, but will also honor the heroism and dedication of men and women who served our nation and fought in the major conflicts of the 20th century,” Obama said in a statement. By 2019, the Bureau of Land Management – a division of the Department of the Interior – will more than double the approximately 7,200 acres of land in the Fort Ord area that is already under its management authority. The transfer of additional land from the Army was scheduled under an existing base closure agreement and will come after the completion of an ongoing clean-up operation. By designating the land as a national monument, it enters the BLM’s National Land Conservation System, which includes 27 million acres of protected federal land. On a conference call with reporters Friday, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and BLM Director Bob Abbey outlined some of the broader benefits of today’s proclamation. Abbey pointed out that the area currently hosts more than 100,000 visitors annually, and is a key part of one of the largest bicycling events in the world – the Sea Otter Classic – which involves more than 10,000 athletes and 50,000 spectators. “The public lands in California host more than ten million recreation visitors a year and this translates to an estimated contribution of around $980 million to local economies and 7,600 or so recreation related jobs,” Abbey said, explaining the economic impact of Friday’s proclamation. “Every year, as I mentioned, over 100,000 people already visit the Fort Ord area. We believe the designation itself will attract additional visitors and each of these visitors will provide a boost to the local economy.” Although it’s unlikely the BLM will add many new jobs to handle management of the additional land, Salazar argued that independent studies show that the department’s ongoing conservation efforts create jobs in the aggregate. “In a broad sense this is very much rooted in the president’s economy and jobs priority for the nation,” Salazar said. The Fort Ord area was originally established in 1917 as Camp Gigling and was used primarily as a military training base. It was renamed Camp Ord in 1939 and then Fort Ord in 1940. For nearly three decades from the late 1940’s to the 1970’s, Fort Ord served as a basic training site, and in 1975 it became home to the 7th Infantry Division (Light). The 1991 independent base closing commission recommended that Fort Ord be closed and the 7th Infantry Division be relocated to Fort Lewis, Washington. For Ord was officially closed in September of 1994.
Here is a link to a good article in our local paperon the support for a National Monument designation for BLM properties in the San Juans.
This is HUGE! Our entire San Juan County Council voted this morning to send a letter to Interior Secretary Salazar with their endorsement of the idea of a National Monument status for our BLM properties in the San Juan Islands…which of course, includes our entire Patos Island and lighthouse! Carla and I have been on a committee, Islanders for a National Conservation Area for 3+ years and that legislation is slooooowly working its way thru congress with little hope of passage in any near future. Salazar proposed this alternate rounte and now it has passed our county council…a very big hurdle as they are 50-50 on everything!
Great thanks go out to Keepers’ Historian Dawn who testified in support at the February public open meeting with Salazar and Cantwell.
Carla and I are so excited and we know you all share the excitement with us!
Carla Chalker and Linda Hudson
Keepers of the Patos Light
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Subject: 4/3/12 NEWS RELEASE: Islanders Thank San Juan County Council For Unanimously Supporting Permanent Protection of Local BLM Lands
ISLANDERS THANK SAN JUAN COUNTY COUNCIL FOR UNANIMOUSLY SUPPORTING PERMANENT PROTECTION OF LOCAL BLM LANDS
San Juan County islanders thanked its county council today for unanimously supporting permanent protection of local Bureau of Land Management federal properties in the islands. The county council voted to send a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and the Washington congressional delegation expressing their support of either congressional action or presidential proclamation to achieve federal protection.
“We thank the council for its leadership and thank the many, many people who have expressed their support,” said Asha Lela, chair of the group Islanders for a San Juan Islands National Conservation Area. “We will continue to make sure that there is permanent protection for the BLM lands and that islanders are involved in the management of these lands.”
Asha Lela and other concerned citizens have been working for several years on federal legislation seeking permanent protection for the BLM lands in the San Juan Islands with a strong community voice in their management.
Congressional legislation to permanently protect the BLM lands as a National Conservation Area was introduced by Rep. Rick Larsen and Sen. Maria Cantwell but has been stalled in Congress.
Most recently, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and BLM officials have discussed permanent protection of the federal lands through presidential proclamation based on the congressional legislation and working with local elected officials and citizens.
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