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09/17/2013

What’s So Special About the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands?

Scott Chieffo Sea Stacks-Lighthouse
The story?  Of the land, on the edge of the continent, where the ocean rushes—pounding, splashing—carving out sea caves.   While above, where wild strawberry garlands grace the trail, small blowholes exhale moist air pushed up by the surging sea and out—with a force to make your hair shoot skyward!

The story?  Ask the California red-legged frog, Behren’s silver-spot butterfly and Point Arena mountain beaver.  Ask black bear, mountain lion and bobcat.  Ask black-tailed deer and red-tailed hawk.  They will tell you the story of the land where sweet water falls to meet the salty sea; where that fresh water pools, offering a special place for gulls to dip and flap with glee.

The story?  Ask Coho and Chinook where they go when they leave the river, returning to lay eggs to begin the cycle again, watched over by seabirds weaving through the sky to find tasty little rockfish to feed their wobbly babies whose nurseries dot the rocks, pinnacles and islands just off-shore where harbor seals and sea lions feed, rest and raise their families.

Ho!  This is the story of the land where Pomo families shared tales of hunting and weaving while great boats rocked by carrying curious folks who wanted to know the story, “What’s going on up there on those sheer cliffs?”   “What’s so special about this place on the edge of the continent where the ocean rushes—pounding, splashing—carving out the sea caves?”

SPL- Blowhole

Lindsay Kravitz, Merita Whatley and Leslie Dahlhoff standing over a blowhole on the Point Arena Stornetta Public Lands

Now ask the hikers, bird watchers, bird counters, photographers, our children—the students, conservationists of wild and scenic places, fishermen, ranchers, and the Pomo people why they care so deeply about this land that was once prospected for oil, used for decades as a launching point for garbage into the ocean and not so long ago slated for a nuclear power plant. 

There is broad agreement that we must make every effort to ensure the preservation and protection of these lands where life, for many, is dependent on a thin line on which we have chosen to add our names as caretakers of this spectacular part of our California heritage.

This is why a team of very dedicated people have spent many hours, here and across the continent in Washington D. C., advocating for Congressman Jared Huffman's legislation and executive action to permanently protect the nearly 1,700 acres in these lands by including them into the California Coastal National Monument. 

This is your story also.  Come see, enjoy and help protect our public lands---our common ground. 

-- by Merita S. Whatley, a Point Arena Light Station manager, author of Point Arena Lighthouse

Photos courtesy Scott Cheiffo

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