On April 20, 2012, President Obama signed a Proclamation to designate the Fort Ord National Monument.
A sweeping former military base north of Monterey, California, Fort Ord is known for its oceanfront landscape and a history that dates back to horse cavalry soldiers in World War I. The area is a world-class destination for hikers, mountain bikers, and outdoor enthusiasts who come to enjoy the area’s history and scenic landscapes.
President Obama signed the proclamation to designate federal lands within the former Fort Ord as a National Monument under the Antiquities Act.
The designation will afford additional protection to the 7,200 acres. The presidential action decreed that no mining or geothermal development can take place in the monument and called for the development of a management plan that preserves it in perpetuity.
The designation bars off-road vehicles, but officials said the 86 miles of hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails along the Central Coast will remain open.
The designation, which does not require congressional approval under the Antiquities Act, Obama’s second since becoming president in 2009. In November 2011, he named Fort Monroe a national monument.
First exercised by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 to designate Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming, the authority of the Antiquities Act has been used by 16 presidents since 1906 to protect unique natural and historic features in America, such as the Grand Canyon, the Statue of Liberty, Colorado’s Canyons of the Ancients, and the Papahānaumokuākea marine protected area of the Northwestern Hawai‘ian Islands.
“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,” said President Obama.
“Already, over 100,000 people come every year to enjoy all that Fort Ord has to offer. President Obama’s action, with the strong support of the people of California, will ensure that this special place continues to thrive for generations to come. At the same time, the creation of this new national monument is good for tourism, recreation, and local businesses that cater to the tens of thousands of people who come to experience this remarkable place,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.
The area is an economic engine for the community and serves as a key venue for the annual Sea Otter Classic, one of the largest bicycling events in the world with approximately 10,000 athletes and 50,000 spectators every year.
Nearly two and a half centuries ago, the area was traversed by a group of settlers led by Spanish Lieutenant-Colonel Juan Bautista de Anza, whose diaries were used to identify the route of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail.
The area’s open, contiguous landscape owes its undeveloped state largely to its role as a U.S. Army facility. From World War I through the early 1990s, the area’s rugged terrain served as a military training ground for as many as a million and a half American soldiers.
The Fort Ord National Monument will be managed by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The BLM currently manages approximately 7,200 acres of the area, and the Army will transfer approximately 7,450 acres after clean-up under an existing base closure agreement between the Army and the BLM.
The BLM will continue to work closely with community, state, and Federal partners to effectively manage the new national monument, which will become part of the Bureau’s 27-million-acre National Landscape Conservation System.
The Department of the Interior lands support $363 billion in economic activity and 2.2 million jobs annually, with BLM public lands in California alone hosting more than 10 million recreation visitors a year. This translates to an estimated contribution of $980 million to local California economies and 7,600 recreation-related jobs.
Fort Ord National Monument
The Fort Ord National Monument holds some of the last undeveloped natural wildlands on the Monterey Peninsula.
Located on the former Fort Ord military base, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) protects and manages 35 species of rare plants and animals along with their native coastal habitats. Habitat preservation and conservation are primary missions for the Fort Ord Public Lands but there are also more than 86 miles of trails for the public to explore on foot, bike or horseback.
I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.