POINT ARENA (CBS SF) – More than 1,600 acres of beach, river and forest lands along the Mendocino County coast was declared a protected national monument by President Obama at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., Tuesday.

The new Point Arena-Stornetta Unit will be part of the California Coastal National Monument established by President Bill Clinton in 2000.

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The area includes the estuary of the Garcia River as well as coastal bluffs, and is home to species including coho and Chinook salmon and migratory and shore birds.

“We are talking about over 1,600 acres of incredible coastline in California that reflects the incredible diversity of flora and fauna,” Obama told a group of lawmakers and North Coast civic leaders.

Obama designated the area as a national monument by using his executive authority under the federal Antiquities Act of 1906, which has been used to declare monument status for sites ranging from the Grand Canyon to the Statute of Liberty.

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Congressman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, who attended the session in Washington, D.C., said the designation maintains the current recreational, ranching and research uses of the land.

The antiquities law provides that sites can be designated as national monuments through either Congressional action or presidential executive order.

Bills to add the Point Arena area to the California coastal monument had been introduced by Huffman, Congressman Mike Thompson, D-Napa, and U.S. Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, D-California, but all four legislators urged Obama to go ahead with the executive action.

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