Ft. Ord designated a national monument by Obama
The fort, with its oceanfront landscape and a history that dates back to World War I, will become only the the second national monument -- after Ft. Monroe National Monument in Virginia -- that Obama has created since becoming president in 2009.
"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.
"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."
Ft. Ord gets more than 100,000 visitors annually, offering 86 miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails.
The San Jose Mercury News reported that that about 14,650 acres will be included in the monument and that Rep. Sam Farr (D-Salinas) had personally lobbied Obama within the last week to create the new national monument.
The paper said the base was put on a closure list in 1991, ending a storied history that began in 1917. When Ft. Ord officially closed in 1994, many of its 15,000 soldiers and civilians, as well as 22,000 family members, were moved to Washington state, the paper said.
In the White House statement, Interior Secretary 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."
-- Matt Stevens
Photo: An entrance to Ft. Ord, a decommissioned military base due to become a national monument. Credit: Vern Fisher / Monterey County Herald / Associated Press