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Fort Ord National Monument!

5/19/12:  Today is a very happy day in Monterey County:  Dedication of Fort Ord National Monument!

Photo courtesy of Monterey Off Road Cycling Association –

4/18/12 update:  Democracy in action! President Barack Obama will declare Fort Ord a National Monument on 4/19/12, as reported by the San Jose Mercury News this evening.  Congressman Sam Farr has shared with the President that the majority of Farr’s constituency favor this action.

3/17/12 update:  As reported by, you may read a guest post by Gary Courtright of the Monterey Off Road Cycling Association on the IMBA website:

3/7/12 update:  See the Monterey County Herald”s story,

1/26/12 update: Henrietta Stern, and Gordon Smith of Keep Fort Ord Wild, are off to Washington to represent the solidarity here in Monterey County for securing National Monument status for Fort Ord Public Lands.  Read more in Kera Abraham’s 1/26 Monterey County Weekly story, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”

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Henrietta Stern, President of  Fort Ord Recreation Trails (FORT) Friends, was among those addressing U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today in an America’s Great Outdoors listening session at Fort Ord. Read a summary of her comments below.

The session specifically addressed the preservation of Bureau of Land Management property (federally owned public land), not adjacent lands.  

Photo of three-lane bike/pedestrian path in the vicinity, courtesy of Leo Kodl.

How best to permanently protect this public land

Recognizing that nearly everyone in the packed room wanted to permanently protect this wild, open public land of Fort Ord, Secretary Salazar–donning a Fort Ord BETA cap–suggested that there are three options, with the third option clearly most viable for protecting the land in perpetuity.

One option is to leave Fort Ord Public Lands as is under Bureau of Land Management care, where it could be subject to mineral rights exploitation and other uses.  Another is to ask Congress to declare it a National Monument; but with Congress having trouble reaching agreements, this doesn’t offer a lot of hope for action anytime soon, if at all. 

The third, and clearly the best, option is to ask that President Obama declare Fort Ord a National Monument, due to historical, scientific, and other value.  Fort Ord has a distinctive military history that is nationally significant.  The land is also home to several rare and endangered species.

What you can do

Contact U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein and U. S. Senator Barbara Boxer to ask that they urge the President to declare Fort Ord a National Monument.  (Senator Boxer is also on Twitter @SenatorBoxer.)

Contact Henrietta Stern or others from Fort Ord Recreation Trails (FORT) Friends to keep up to date on this issue and to learn how you can help.

A diverse coalition of local groups agree on the importance of securing National Monument status for Fort Ord Public Lands.  Many of these, including Kay Cline of Sustainable Seaside and Citizens for a Sustainable Monterey County, also spoke up at the meeting.  Check in with these groups (several are linked below) for additional perspectives.

Media coverage of  Salazar’s 1/13/12 visit to Fort Ord

Interior chief Ken Salazar to make push for former military base” by Julia Reynolds for the Santa Cruz Sentinel, 1/13/12 (“Ken Salazar calls for Fort Ord national monument” in the Monterey County Herald, 1/14/12)

Will Fort Ord become a National Monument?” by Felix Cortez for KSBW, 1/13/12.

Fight for Former Fort Ord,” by Brooke Holmquist for KION, 1/13/12.

Ord lands meeting like campaign stop,” by Andy Stiny for the Salinas Californian, 1/14/12.

Summary of Stern’s 1/13/12 comments to Secretary Salazar

Fort Friends President Henrietta Stern’s input for Secretary Salazar included the following points:  
==Thousands of local people regularly use Fort Ord lands, as do visitors from the San Francisco Bay region and beyond.
==We ask for permanent preservation of Fort Ord for habitat value, recreational value, and to honor military history.  We don’t want to see it sold off in the future or opened to mining claims and other extractive uses.
==National Monument status can help enhance eco-recreation/eco-tourism, one of the key economic goals for Monterey County as recommended by the Stanford Research Institute.  Studies have shown economic benefit to communities adjacent to National Monuments, as well as benefits of trail systems.
==We ask for continuation of current multi-use trails (bike/hike/horse, etc.) for non-motorized recreation, as well as special events important to the economy, such as the Sea Otter Classic (some of the SOC road and mountain bike race events take place [see General Info FAQs] on BLM land).
==We ask for a continuation of Fort Ord as a venue for environmental education and appreciation by future generations, from elementary school children to college researchers.
==Local recreation groups already are working together cooperatively regarding multi-use trails, working to resolve conflicts and foster mutual respect and consideration for each other and the environment.  For example, Fort Friends members are friends of the trails, and also friends with each other, as well as the plants and animals for whom Fort Ord is home.
==Local recreation groups are already working closely with the Bureau of Land Management via regular volunteer trail work (MORCA) as well as first responder/assistance (BETA).
==There is broad, unified support for a National Monument.  It is good for the environment, good for recreation users/healthy communities, a good way to honor military legacy, and good for business.  This is a no brainer!

Some added clarification

What is National Monument status all about?  Aren’t National Monuments run by the National Park System? What’s this about Bureau of Land Management-run National Monuments?  Are you confused? Read this page about National Monuments, National Memorials, National Parks to learn more, and see this page about National Monuments, such as Monterey County’s Pinnacles, established by U.S. presidents under the authority of the Antiquities Act of 1906.

 Some National Monuments are under the National Park System, others are under the Bureau of Land Management’s National Landscape Conservation System.  The proposed National Monument at Fort Ord would be part of the Bureau of Land Management’s National Landscape Conservation System, a system created in 2000 that is similar to–but not part of–the National Park Service system.  Mountain biking and other recreational use is allowed in these BLM National Monuments.  Examples are California Coastal National Monument and Colorado’s Canyons of the Ancients.

As mentioned above, contact Henrietta Stern or others from Fort Ord Recreation Trails (FORT) Friends to learn more.

Just about everyone supports National Monument status for Fort Ord Public Lands.  This is separate from the use of other non-BLM lands that were part of Fort Ord; development issues regarding those involve some controversy.

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The information below “Ft Ord: Proposed Trail Master Plan” was previously published 7/11/11.

July 13, 2011 – 6:30 p.m.

Fort Ord Recreational Habitat Area (FORHA)

Trail Master Plan Community Meeting

Marina Library, 190 Seaside Circle, Marina, CA

Sponsored by Redevelopment Agency of the County of Monterey

Responsible mountain biking is one of many appropriate uses for some public lands.

Credit for photo above:  Bureau of Land Management – Hollister Field Office

Many different organizations  continue to work hard for the best possible uses of the former Fort Ord.   Check in with the organizations below to learn more about their ideas:

Download PDF of July 13 mtg flier

Pasted in below is the agenda for this meeting.  Thank you to Kaki Cheung of TAMC for providing this information.

  • Recreation Master Plan Goals and Process


  • Map Information – Recreation and Resource Sensitivity


  • Existing Recreation and Trail Information


  • Trail Preferences – Group Mapping Exercise


  • Trail Preferences – Review Group Maps


  • Next Steps and Future Meetings



Nick Nichols – Monterey County (755-5386)

Joy Long/Mike Bellinger  – Bellinger Foster Steinmetz (646-1383)

This post was published on 13 January 2012. One or more changes last made to this post on 9 May 2018.

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