Cotoni–Coast Dairies National Monument: A Good Thing

Hilltromper is celebrating the creation of the new Cotoni–Coast Dairies National Monument. Here's why.

by Eric Johnson and Traci Hukill

Jan. 16, 2017—The campaign to create the Cotoni Coast Dairies National Monument came to a storybook ending on Thursday, Jan. 12, when Pres. Barack Obama issued the proclamation three days before Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday.

The expansion of the California Coastal National Monument, which now includes Cotoni–Coast Dairies, coincided with the creation of three new national monuments honoring the nation’s civil rights history. The White House announcement spoke of a “commitment to protecting places that are culturally and historically significant and that reflect the story of all Americans.” How appropriate that our new monument honors the legacy of the people who lived here for millennia.

We have been deeply involved in this campaign since its inception. At the outset, we supported it for two reasons: national monument designation is the only bulletproof way to preserve BLM land, and such designation always brings with it the resources—primarily from private organizations—to provide access and maintenance.

Several months later, when the word “Cotoni” (pronounced "Cha-toni") was added to the proposed monument, our motivation shifted significantly. Before we met Amah Mutsun Tribal Chair Valentin Lopez, we, like almost everyone in Santa Cruz, did not know that word. Like the people who lived and cared for this magnificent property on our north coast for generations, the Cotoni language has been virtually erased. From now on, it will be used to represent one of the most beautiful and biologically significant pieces of land on the West Coast. That's now the number one reason we believe the CCDNM is a BFD.

We are proud that generations to come will visit this place, and with the help of Val Lopez and his tribe, learn a little about an almost vanished way of life.

And, happy to admit it, we look forward to the hiking, mountain biking, bird-watching and nature-worshipping we’ll get to do there.

This has been a long road. When Sempervirens Fund became Hillromper’s first partner/sponsor four years ago, we discussed the national monument idea with then-Executive Director Reed Holderman and then-Board President Fred Keeley. We signed up as official media sponsors of the campaign 18 months later. We’ve worked closely with campaign chairman Steve Reed and, for the past six months, with the Sempervirens Fund’s new executive director, Sara Barth, a former senior aide to Sen. Barbara Boxer, who helped author the language that later became the president’s proclamation.

We are grateful to Tribal Chairman Lopez, to our friends and colleagues on the campaign, to the local elected leaders who unanimously supported the campaign, to our president—and to the Hilltromper community and other locals who helped make this happen.

While the campaign is now over, this is more of a beginning than an end. We look forward to working with the Bureau of Land Management, Sempervirens Fund and other local environmental groups, and the local community, including the residents of Davenport and Bonny Doon, on the planning process that will help turn this monument into something we can all be proud of.