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California Coastal National Monument

California Coastal National Monument. James Pickering, Bureau of Land Management.
California Coastal National Monument. James Pickering, Bureau of Land Management.
Established: 2000
Location: Entire length of the California coast from Oregon to Mexico
Size: approx 1,000 acres, 840 miles of coastline

Special Features and Perspectives

This unusual National Monument includes all the islands, rocks, exposed reefs and pinnacles off the 840 mile California coast above mean high tide. Part of a narrow and important flight lane in the Pacific flyway, this breathtaking intersection of broken land and sea provides essential feeding and nesting habitat for some 200,000 bird species, including the Bald Eagle.


As part of California's near-shore ocean zone, the Monument is rich in biodiversity and holds many species of scientific interest that can be particularly sensitive to disturbance. Such disturbances--of which there are many--include shoreline pollution, oil spills, excess foot traffic, jet skis, low elevation aircraft and other noise disturbance at critical times in birds' nesting cycles.

A Photographer's and Birdwatcher's Heaven

This may be the most photographed of the BLM's Monuments, and rightly so: the California Coastal National Monument overwhelms. White-capped waves crash into the vertical cliffs and deeply crevassed surge channels, while frothy water empties back into the ocean. At land's end, the islands, rocks, exposed reefs, and pinnacles off the coast above mean high tide provide havens for sea mammals and birds, attracting the interest of zoologists, marine biologists and even the U.S. Coast Guard, through its marine protected species program.

Waters of this zone are rich in nutrients from upwelling currents and freshwater inflows, supporting an estimated 200,000 breeding seabirds, including the endangered California least tern, the endangered brown pelican, the snowy plover and others birds which depend on the coastal rookeries for breeding. The rocky shores of these islands and rocks also provide forage, habitat and breeding grounds for a number of threatened sea mammals and pinnipeds ('fin-footed' creatures, including seals, walruses, sea otters, as well as some crustaceans and birds).

"... A life-cycle living laboratory for marine mammals, seabirds and shorebirds, and breeding nesting areas safe from terrestrial predators....the Monument is some of the only relatively undisturbed inter-tidal zone remaining on the California coast...providing an important 'baseline' reference habitat."
-- B.J. Griffin (see note 1)
The area provides a rich classroom for tourists and all students of marine life. An ecosystem like this, which exists between the wet and dry, is "the most fragile ecosystem in the world," according to U.S. Rep. Sam Farr one of the chief promoters of the area's National Monument declaration. (see note 2)

Monument Management

The BLM cooperatively manages the monument through an existing agreement with the California Department of Fish and Game and California Department of Parks and Recreation.

The Management Situation Analysis (MSA) stage of the Resource Management Plan (RMP) for the California Coastal National Monument (CCNM) has been completed. The Draft RMP/Draft EIS is scheduled to be issued for public review in early July 2004 and the Proposed RMP/Final EIS will be issued in the Spring of 2005. The Final Plan and Record of Decision is scheduled for completion no later than the end of the Summer of 2005. For morel information contact Rick Hanks, CCNM Manager at 831-372-6105, or e-mail Rick Hanks at the CA BLM office, or at the Monument office.

B.J. Griffin, Executive Director of Marine Mammal Center, "Scoping Comments on California Coastal National Monument," to U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management California Coastal National Monument,
The Marine Mammal Center, October 25, 2003.
2, January 31, 2003.


BLM California Coastal National Monument
California Coastal Commission
California Coastal Conservancy
California Department of Fish and Game
California Ocean Resources Management Program
The Ocean Conservancy
The Sierra Club

Updated December 2003