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Fort Ord National Monument
On April 20, 2012, President Obama signed a Proclamation to designate the Fort Ord National Monument. 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."
About 1.7 million soldiers trained at the former U.S. Army post from the beginning of World War I through Operation Desert Storm. Now, the scenic area is a popular spot for hikers and mountain bikers and home to protected wildlife and plants.
"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," President Obama said in a statement.
The area coming under federal protection will preserve a major swath of the rare Central Coast Maritime chaparral ecosystem, a habitat unique to California. Mountain lions, deer, eagles and the protected California black legless lizard all make their homes at Fort Ord.
"The protection of our natural and cultural heritage is essential to providing people with an opportunity to experience the outdoors. It is great to see the administration take this action," said Brian O'Donnell, executive director of the Conservation Lands Foundation, which helped organize support for the monument designation.
Fort Ord Land
At its peak, Fort Ord spanned a total of 28,000 acres and was declared a Superfund site four years before its official closure in 1994. In 2008, the Army transferred to local authorities some 3,300 acres of the one-time infantry training center, still believed to be littered with unexploded ordnance.
Local officials at the time said they wanted to use the land for housing and expected cleanup of the area under their control to take five to seven years with the help of $100 million from the Army. A California State University campus, many homes and several big box retailers already occupy other sections of the former base.
Initially, a little more than 7,000 acres of the monument already cleaned up will be open to the public, said Bob Abbey, director of the Bureau of Land Management, which will oversee the monument.
Another 7,400 acres remain under Department of Defense control as cleanup continues through 2019, he said.
Abbey said the cleaned-up areas pose no environmental hazard to the public. About 100,000 visitors already come to Fort Ord annually, and that number is expected to increase with the monument designation, he said.
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.
Reuse Plan Goal
The BLM is working with several Community Partners to help this former military base become available for public use. The goal of the community-based Fort Ord Reuse Plan (1997) is to:
"Promote the best use of land through well planned and balanced development which ensures educational and economic opportunities as well as environmental protection."
For Public Use
In order to help Fort Ord change from military to public use, the BLM will manage its portion of the base to protect rare habitat in such a way that compensates for the loss of habitat on portions of Fort Ord that will be (or have been) developed. BLM will work with surrounding communities to manage these public lands to also provide high quality, environmentally-sensitive recreational opportunities.