April 20, 2012
To the delight of Monterey County officials, Fort Ord conservationists and thousands of veterans who trained at the former U.S. Army base—and with a timely personal appeal from Central Coast Congressman Sam Farr—President Barack Obama is poised to declare Fort Ord a national monument today.
A press release from the White House Office of the Press Secretary confirms the pending presidential proclamation.
The San Jose Mercury News broke the story a few hours ago, reporting:
"…A White House official familiar with the plan said that about 14,650 acres will be included in the monument. That land is located on Fort Ord's eastern half. It does not include the campus of Cal State Monterey Bay, the oceanfront lands along Highway 1 that make up Fort Ord Dunes State Park, or hundreds of homes and businesses located on the property in the towns of Seaside and Marina.
"In most national monuments, all oil and gas drilling, along with mining, is banned.
"The new monument, which will be supervised by the federal Bureau of Land Management, will include 7,200 acres now run by the BLM and open for hiking, horse riding and bicycling. It also will include an additional 7,450 acres where decades of unexploded shells and other ordnance once used for artillery practice are being cleaned up. That work is scheduled to be finished in 2019. That land is under the control of the Defense Department.
"Over the past year, environmental leaders, business officials and politicians in the Monterey Bay area have pushed for the former Army base to become a national monument. They wanted the designation to raise the profile of the area to attract tourism and business, and also to permanently lock in open-space protections.
"As recently as a week ago, U.S. Rep. Sam Farr, D-Salinas, personally lobbied Obama on Air Force One while the two rode to Colombia to attend the Summit of the Americas Conference. Farr was a member of the Peace Corps stationed in Colombia in the mid-1960s and has worked closely on issues relating to South America and Central America."
"…In the 1950s and early 1960s, then-unknowns Clint Eastwood, Jerry Garcia and current Defense Secretary Leon Panetta were stationed at Fort Ord."