Conflict & Justice

Fort Ord is America’s newest national monument


US President Barack Obama signs a proclamation designating Fort Ord, a former military base in California, as a national monument on April 20, 2012.


Saul Loeb

Fort Ord, a former military base north of Monterey, Calif., became America’s newest national monument today, the Los Angeles Times reported. It’s only the second site that President Barack Obama has designated as a national monument since taking office.

Fort Ord, originally established in 1917 as Camp Gigling, served as a basic training location from the late 1940s to the 1970s, CNN reported. In 1975, the 7th Infantry Division (Light) took up residence there, and stayed until the base was closed in September 1994.

These days, the oceanfront fort’s 86 miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails draw 100,000 visitors a year, the LA Times reported. One of the world’s largest bicycling events in the world, the Sea Otter Classic, is routed through the area, CNN reported.

National monument status, which will be extended to 14,650 acres of the land, puts the area under the supervision of the federal Bureau of Land Management, according to the San Jose Mercury News. And, at most national monuments, mining and oil and gas drilling are banned.

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“Fort Ord’s dramatic landscape lives in the memories of thousands of veterans as their first taste of Army life, as a final stop before deploying to war, or as a home base during their military career,” Obama said in a statement, according to CNN. “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.”

In a statement, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said the new monument will be "good for tourism, recreation, and local businesses that cater to the tens of thousands of people who come to experience this remarkable place,” the LA Times reported.

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