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Secretary Salazar Dedicates Nation's Newest National Monument at Fort Ord
MONTEREY, California – Saying conservation brings tourism, jobs, and economic renewal, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today was joined by federal and local officials, including White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley and Director of the Bureau of Land Management Bob Abbey, to officially dedicate the 14,560-acre Fort Ord National Monument.
The Secretary was also joined by Rep. Sam Farr; Garrison Commander Col. Joel J. Clark; and Deputy Secretary of the Interior David J. Hayes. Nearly 400 community members and military veterans also participated in the ceremony.
“Fort Ord exemplifies the type of bottom-up, locally-driven conservation project that President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative is all about, and which we are seeing flourish across the country,” said Secretary Salazar. “It was the culmination of years of work by you, here, in Monterey to protect one of the last remaining expanses of coastal open space on the Central Coast.”
Noting that the dedication was held on Armed Services Day and that the Monument was designated in part to honor the many generations of American soldiers who trained and served at the former Army base, Salazar reminded the participants that, this week, the Administration launched a program to provide active duty military service members and their families free access to more than 2,000 federal recreational sites across the country, including national parks and other public lands.
“The Fort Ord National Monument will help honor the legacy of Fort Ord, the soldiers who served there and the history that has come to define the Central Coast,” said Congressman Sam Farr. “Fort Ord's National Monument status also gives our local economy a new tourist attraction, with the potential to create jobs in our communities. I want to thank President Obama and Secretary Salazar for recognizing Fort Ord, its proud legacy and strong potential to support our Central Coast economy.”
"At Fort Ord, the BLM will tell the story of the heroes who trained here and the military families who sacrifice so much to serve their country," said BLM Director Bob Abbey. "It will be a place for Americans to explore our past while also taking advantage of the remarkable recreation opportunities this spectacular landscape has to offer."
On April 20, 2012, President Obama signed a Proclamation designating the former Fort Ord a national monument, including 7,200 acres of public lands already managed by the Bureau of Land Management. In his proclamation, the President stated that, "The protection of the Fort Ord area will maintain its historical and cultural significance, attract tourists and recreationalists from near and far, and enhance its unique natural resources, for the enjoyment of all Americans."
The Monument also includes 7,446 acres under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army that will be transferred to the BLM when ongoing cleanup and remediation activities are complete.
The Fort Ord National Monument holds some of the last undeveloped natural areas on the Monterey Peninsula. The 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. The area is also a recreation destination, with more than 86 miles of trails for the public to explore on foot, bike or horseback and one of the key venues for the annual Sea Otter Classic—one of the largest cycling festivals in the world.
"The President's proclamation of Fort Ord as a national monument was about helping fulfill the community's own vision for its future," said Chair Sutley. "It is a future where recreation and tourism are engines for economic prosperity, and where Fort Ord's history and natural beauty are preserved for all Americans to experience and enjoy."
“BLM's national monuments contribute to the creation of local jobs and strengthen local economies,” said Deputy Secretary Hayes. “The Department of the Interior alone supports $363 billion and 2.2 million jobs annually in the U.S and BLM public lands in California – including where we are standing today – host more than 10 million recreation visitors a year, contributing $980 million to local economies and 7,600 recreation-related jobs.”
Local officials and members of the Fort Ord Reuse Authority were also on hand for today's event. Members of several groups who communicated their support for the designation of Fort Ord as a national monument were also present, including representatives from the Conservation Lands Foundation, Fort Friends and Monterey Off-Road Cycles.
In his remarks, Secretary Salazar lauded the breadth of support for establishing the Fort Ord National Monument. In particular, he recognized the work of Director Abbey, who is retiring at the end of the month after 34 years of public service.
"Fort Ord will be always be a proud reminder of what communities can do when they come together to protect the places they love, but it will also be one of the many legacies of Director Abbey, who has left a deep and positive imprint on America's public lands over his three decades of service," said Salazar.