Published Healdsburg Tribune 11/21/2013
On a day dialed up by the Point Arena Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, came, saw and listened. I attended Friday’s environmental love fest on behalf of Sonoma County Supervisor Mike McGuire who is running for the 2nd District Senate seat in which the beautiful 1,664 acre Stornetta Public Lands is being considered for a land inclusion into the California Coastal National Monument. McGuire’s time is now limited as he is speaking to the Kiwanis, Rotarians and special interest groups times the seven counties in the district.
But this day belonged to Point Arena, Mendocino County and the California’s north coast. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, who accompanied Jewel, was complimented several times for getting the U.S. House of Representatives to pass a resolution to add the land to the Monument. A bill sponsored by Sens. Barbara Boxer and Diana Feinstein is currently stalled. “There’s a lot of uncertainty in the legislative process,” Huffman said. Having Secretary Jewell visit the area “is basically sending a message that we’re going to make it happen one way or another.”
Secretary Jewell told the crowd of over 200 people that by her presence she was confirming President Obama’s commitment to land preservation for future generations. “I wouldn’t be out here if it wasn’t a high priority,” she said. The twelve mile stretch of land is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and is open to the public.
The get-together was as folksy as you’d expect in a small town. A group of about 50 elementary students sang “This Land is Your Land,” read environmental poems to the Secretary and gave her framed copies. Dressed in native costume a few of the Manchester Band of Pomo Indians children gave a brief ceremonial dance.
After the representatives of Boxer and Feinstein said that both senators supported the effort, a representative of the Manchester Pomo’s gave an impassioned request to have the BLM do more to preserve some of their historic tribal areas. Jim Keena, California’s BLM director who said the BLM has an archeologist who specializes in these issues and he promised to put the two together.
Next came a steady stream of environmentalist like the Sierra Club, Audubon Society and the Mendocino Land Trust to name a few. District Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro, talked about the California Coastal Trail which he help champion. Many local civic leaders, civic organizations and county supervisors all spoke of their support for the Monument addition. Both the Mendocino County Tourism Bureau and the local Chamber of Commerce said that the addition would help promote job growth in Mendocino County’s largest business, tourism.
Everyone got a chuckle when a local activist presented Secretary Jewell with a petition supporting the effort with over 800 signatures from Point Arena residents, noting how exceptional that was considering a population of 450. When Mendocino Supervisor Dan Hamburg expressed concern for the oil “fracking” off the California coast, Secretary Jewell said that being a petroleum engineer she knows a lot about oil “fracking” and that there is a lot of dis-information out there. She flatly denied it was happening and said that we need a balanced approach to oil extraction and protecting the environment.
In her summation the secretary got a laugh by referring to the local petition as being “Democracy in action.” She then asked for a show of hands for how many would prefer the Monument designation by a Presidential Proclamation or an Act of Congress. Overwhelmingly, people wanted a Presidential Proclamation but then several shouted, “Anyway we can!”