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A "Monumental" Achievement for Fort Ord

April 23, 2012

FORT ORD, Calif. - The former U.S. Army base Fort Ord, on the California coast north of Monterey, is becoming the country's newest National Monument. President Obama has signed the official proclamation, calling the Monterey County area "one of the crown jewels of California's coast." The designation means federal environmental protection for the more than 14,000 acres of coastal lands, that include more than 80 miles of hiking and biking trails.

Mark Starr with the Vet Voice Foundation says the Fort Ord Soldier's National Monument will also honor the generations of military personnel who trained on the base.

"A National Monument designation will serve as a reminder of the triumphs and sacrifices that have shaped the United States, and honor the legacy of the soldiers who trained and served on the lands of Fort Ord."

From an economic standpoint, president Mary Ann Leffel of the Monterey County Business Council says, the designation will put the region on the map with both national and international tourists.

"The National Monument is a treasure of a nation and it draws people from all over the world. But more importantly it allows people to see that we have a lot more outdoor activities. So many people just think of us as an area off a coastline and golfing, and there's so much more to Monterey County than just that."

Leffel says Monterey County also has a thriving agricultural industry that more tourism will help highlight.

"We like to say Monterey County is not just a another pretty face. We grow 82 percent of the nation's vegetables between April and October. Most people don't realize that we have that big of an agriculture area. This will allow us to showcase our food and our wines to people from all over the world."

Environmental groups are applauding the President's decision, saying the administration listened to local groups and veterans who wanted to see the land protected.

Lori Abbott, Public News Service - CA