Fort Ord, California 1917 – 1994
A National Monument
Fort Ord, California (1917-1994) holds a treasured place within my heart. Many moves later, there hasn’t been a single other location I’ve wanted to call home.
I didn’t need President Barack Obama to designate Fort Ord a national monument under the 1906 Antiquities Act, but I’m happy he did. Fort Ord earned monumental status for me that day long ago when I first arrived in Monterey, California.
National Monument status will help protect one of the crown jewels of California’s coast. The approximate 14,650 acreage included in the monument is located on Fort Ord’s eastern half.
The monument does not include the campus of California State University, Monterey Bay, the oceanfront lands along Highway 1 that make up Fort Ord Dunes State Park, or hundreds of homes and businesses located in the towns of Seaside and Marina.
The monument—supervised by the Bureau of Land Management—initially includes 7,200 acres that’s now open for hiking, horseback riding, and bicycling. An additional 7,450 acres are expected to be cleaned and ready for use by 2019. These additional ‘recreational’ acres are the scene of decades of unexploded shells and other ordnances that were once used for artillery practice.
Almost twenty years after the closure of Fort Ord, the surrounding communities still feel the economic hit. The military made up the economic third leg of an area rich in tourism and agriculture. The business leaders of the surrounding cities hope that designating the former Fort Ord a national monument will not only increase tourism but also facilitate deals to build hundreds of new homes and several retail outlets on the property.
Since 1906 when President Teddy Roosevelt established the Antiquities Act, nearly every president has used it to provide special protection to federal lands of national importance. Congress has upgraded some national monuments to national parks. Perhaps some day, Fort Ord, California, will also have this distinction.