Monument Status Eyed for Former California Dairy

December 16, 2013 05:30 AM

Source: Associated Press

California land preservationists are hoping to have a former dairy farm north of Santa Cruz crowned as a national monument, a move that backers say would bring greater protections and more federal dollars to the property.

The San Francisco-based Trust for Public Land and Palo Alto-based Sempervirens Fund are among the conversation groups exploring the possibility of seeking the designation for Coast Dairies, a 7,000-acre tract of sloping hills dotted with redwood trees and isolated beaches, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reports.

The land has remained closed to the public in the 15 years since the Trust for Public Lands acquired it to prevent development, but parts are expected to be opened for recreation after the Bureau of Land Management takes control of it.

While BLM aims to develop a plan for protecting the property's wildlife, plants and waterways, a national monument designation would offer additional protections and possibly money for restoration and supervision, supporters told The Sentinel.

"We take this area for granted, but it's one of the unique and important places on the planet where the sea and the land meet," Sempervirens Fund Executive Director Reed Holderman said. "To get the president to plant his flag here and say, 'We understand that, too,' it just raises the bar for all of us."

The Conservation Lands Foundation, based in Colorado, has initiated discussions with local people and business owners in hopes of building support for the idea. Neighbors worried about what federal management of Coast Dairies would mean sued to stop the land's transfer to BLM. The case was dismissed in October.

The foundation also is pursuing monument status for another slice of the California coast that once housed a dairy, the 1,100 Stornetta Public Lands in Mendocino County. If its proposal is successful, the Stornetta property would become part of the California Coastal National Monument, which now consists only of rocks and islands that extend into the Pacific from the coast.

President Barack Obama last year named 15,000 acres of the former Fort Ord Army base in Monterey County as a national monument. 

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