Thanks, Obama: Among the final acts of a presidency in which conservation was a "cornerstone," the commander-in-chief has designated more than 6,000 acres of coastal areas to join the California Coastal National Monument, the White House announced. The monument, runs along the coast of the Golden State and extends 12 miles out to sea, the LA Times explains
As that newspaper wrote previously, Obama's move on the matter was requested by California politicians like Senator Barbara Boxer, and it wasn't clear how he'd act. But now, as the Chronicle and others observe, Obama has done right by them, and likely by history, having opted in the aggregate to protect more than 550 million acres of public land, twice the acreage protected by Teddy Roosevelt.
The California Coastal National Monument was originally designated by Bill Clinton and first expanded by Obama in 2014, when he added Point-Arena-Stornetta in Mendocino County to the monument. As the Bureau of Land management writes, the new sites include Trinidad Head off the coast of Humboldt County with its historic lighthouse, Waluplh-Lighthouse Ranch, just south of Trinidad Head, the Lost Coast Headlands, Cotoni-Coast Dairies in Santa Cruz County, the largest area designated among the bunch and which includes ancient archaeological sites, meadows, and coast redwoods, and Piedras Blancas in San Luis Obispo County, which has its own historic lighthouse and views of elephant seals among white coastal rocks.
Speaking of those, per the Bureau of Land Management, "While millions of people view the Monument from beaches, bluffs, and watercraft, a closer look reveals activity as it provides untrammeled nesting habitat for an estimated 200,000 breeding seabirds and thousands of loafing and breeding marine mammals, including harbor seals, and California and Steller’s sea lions."
As with much of Obama's legacy on conservation, the president's move relies on the 1906 Antiquities Act, which allows presidents to protect lands for scientific, cultural, or scenic reasons. Republicans such as Utah Representative Rob Bishop have been angered by the president's prolific monument designations, and Bishop has threatened to reverse Obama's decisions. The Antiquities Act doesn't have a provision for reversal and no president has revoked previous monument designations, but Congress does have the power to do so.
Alongside the California Coastal Monument additions, President Obama designated a much larger 42,000 acres —to the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in Oregon and partially California, a monument also first designated by Bill Clinton. Meanwhile, he named several historical sites to be national monuments: BuzzFeed reports that those include the former headquarters for Martin Luther King Jr.'s civil rights campaign, the AG Gaston Motel in Birmingham, Alabama which becomes The Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument.