Veterans, Business Leaders and Conservationists Praise Obama’s National Monument Proclamation
Fort Ord National Monument will honor military history, protect open space, and aid local economy
Washington, DC (April 20, 2012) – Business leaders, local elected officials, veterans and conservationists hailed President Obama’s proclamation today of the Fort Ord National Monument. The monument, located in Monterey County, CA, permanently protects approximately 15,000 acres of public land, honoring our country’s rich military legacy while preserving some of the last open space and most important wildlife habitat in the region. The monument will also ensure that the public can continue to use this area for mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding and other activities for generations to come.
“We are grateful for the leadership of President Obama in establishing the Fort Ord National Monument,” said Brian O’Donnell, Executive Director of the Conservation Lands Foundation. “This new national monument will safeguard some of our country’s rarest wildlife and plants and provide world-class opportunities for recreation. Future generations will experience and enjoy this national treasure, and honor the soldiers that served there.”
Fort Ord served as a training and deployment center from the beginning of World War I through Operation Desert Storm. Approximately 1.7 million soldiers trained at Fort Ord.
“Many of the soldiers who went through Basic and Advanced Infantry Training at Fort Ord lost their lives in service to our country. In memory of the soldiers who did not return home to their family and friends, I would like to thank President Obama for honoring them for answering our Nation’s call and for recognizing their contributions and sacrifices in war,” said Gordon Smith, Vietnam Veteran and past commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 5888, Santa Cruz.
The public lands of this former military base support a unique range of plant and animal communities. The rare Central Coast Maritime chaparral ecosystem is home to plants that depend on Fort Ord for their survival. The area also supports a range of wildlife including mountain lions, black-tailed deer, golden eagles and the California black legless lizard.
The open space at Fort Ord provides opportunities for an array of outdoor activities, including mountain biking, hiking and horseback riding. It also attracts nationally recognized outdoor events like the Sea Otter Classic, the largest biking event in the country.
“Establishing the Fort Ord National Monument assures that our members and customers will continue to have access to some beautiful recreational lands, as well as to lands with a unique tie to U.S. and California history,” said Sally Jewell, CEO of Recreational Equipment, Inc. REI has a store adjacent to the new Monument. “Outdoor recreation, of course, is a very important part of California’s and the Monterey region’s economy. This designation further enhances the local quality of life and creates another draw for the region.”
The Fort Ord National Monument becomes the most recent addition to the National Conservation Lands, the 27-million acre collection of the most ecologically, culturally and historically significant public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management. These lands include National Conservation Areas, National Monuments, Wilderness Areas, Wild and Scenic Rivers and National Scenic and Historic Trails.
President Obama proclaimed Fort Ord National Monument using his authority under the Antiquities Act. A wide range of citizens, elected officials, local businesses and recreation and conservation organizations throughout Monterey County enthusiastically supported a conservation designation for the area and petitioned the President to use his authority to protect the area as a national monument.
Sixteen presidents of both parties have used the Antiquities Act to protect some of America’s most important places from the Grand Canyon to the Statue of Liberty. President George W. Bush designated the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument in 2008. In November, President Obama designated the Fort Monroe National Monument at the request of the Hampton, Virginia community.
“The protection of our natural and cultural heritage is essential to providing people with an opportunity to experience the outdoors. It is great to see President Obama take this action in response to the tremendous community support for protecting Fort Ord,” said O’Donnell.
The Conservation Lands Foundation (CLF) is the only organization dedicated solely to conserving the 27 million acres included in the National Conservation Lands. Our mission is to protect, restore and expand the National Conservation Lands through education, advocacy and partnerships. www.conservationlands.org