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President Obama designates Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands a national monument (w/video)

  • President Barack Obama signs a document proclaiming the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands as part of the California Coastal National Monument during a signing ceremony in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, March 11, 2014. From left are: Scott Schneider, President and CEO, Visit Mendocino County Inc.; Leslie Dahlhoff, Former Mayor, Point Arena; Michael Boots, Acting Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality; Neil Kornze, Principal Deputy Director, Bureau of Land Management; Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif.; Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif.; Nancy Sutley, Former Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

With a stroke of his pen — six pens, actually — President Barack Obama turned a remote piece of the Mendocino Coast into a national destination Tuesday in an Oval Office ceremony that locals in attendance described as something right out of a dream.

The Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands is now officially part of the 1,100-mile California Coastal National Monument, protected under a presidential proclamation long sought by locals.

A large community celebration was held Wednesday afternoon on the newly announced monument land. It included U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Neil Kornze, principal deputy director of the Bureau of Land Management, the agency that oversees the land.

Stornetta Lands National Monument Designation

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Tuesday's signing made for special moment for five lucky advocates who were invited to join the president as he OK'd the executive order.

“I've been, like, on a cloud for three days,” said Larry Stornetta, whose family owned the 1,665-acre property for three generations before it was sold into public ownership.

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“It's been amazing,” said Eloisa Oropeza, tribal chairwoman of the Manchester-Point Arena Band of Pomo Indians, who got a hug from the president simply by asking. “I keep wanting to pinch myself and ask myself, 'Is this real or am I dreaming this?'”

The president used his executive authority under the 1906 Antiquities Act to include the bluff-top ranchlands in the marine monument that runs along the California coast, from the border of Oregon to Mexico.

Created under executive order by President Bill Clinton in 2000, the monument takes in more than 20,000 exposed rocks, reefs, seastacks and islands at the edge of the Pacific Ocean.

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