Just 48 hours before Earth Day, President Obama designated Fort Ord, California, a national monument. This did not come as a surprise to the citizens of California's central coast, and those who supported preserving the former military base's rich history and lush nature. For months, local and national war veterans, local business owners, hikers, mountain bikers and elected officials were calling for the Fort Ord's protection.
Why do people love this former Army base?
Fort Ord is actually much more than a military base. The former Army base near Monterey, California, served as a training facility for roughly 1.5 million service men and women between World War I and its closure in 1996. But the area also boasts nearly 15,000 acres of coastal oak woodlands, marine chaparral, scenic grasslands and ephemeral pools. The lush and diverse scenery of Fort Ord's land provides a home for 35 rare animal and plant species. Recreationists who visit this new national monument will find 86 miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails. This thriving crossroads between history, heritage and nature is what made Fort Ord a popular candidate for national monument status.
Using the Antiquities Act to protect Fort Ord
With the stroke of a pen on April 20, President Obama protected Fort Ord by using the Antiquities Act for the second time since taking office. The Antiquities Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. Since then, it has been used by nearly every president (16 to be exact -- both Republican and Democratic) to protect places of cultural, historical or natural value. Every president that has used the Antiquities Act has had future generations in mind, and the importance of passing down America's rich legacy. Now thanks to this law, Fort Ord joins the likes of the Statue of Liberty as well as Joshua Tree and the Grand Canyon, both of which were first designated as a national monuments.
Moving forward to save more of America's heritage
The designation of Fort Ord is an example of President Obama's willingness to respond to citizens working together to protect America's heritage. Similar grassroots efforts are underway elsewhere, where communities have grown frustrated with Congress' inability to pass even non-controversial legislation.
Thankfully, the president has the authority, and now a track record of protecting the very places that define us as a nation. We appreciate President Obama's leadership at Fort Ord, and look forward to his continued commitment to work with communities to protect America's great outdoors.