California Coastal National Monument
Coastal Monument Kayaker enjoying the California Coastal National Monument Coastal Monument Sunset over one of the Islands in the California Coastal National Monument Coastal Monument
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California Coastal National Monument

California Coastal National Monument

For further information:
Mailing Address: 
California Coastal National Monument
400 Natural Bridges Drive
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(831) 421-9546

Your Coastal Heritage Reaches Beyond The Horizon.

Waves explode onto offshore rocks, spraying whitewater into the air.
Sea lions bark as they haul out of the surf onto the rocks, and a whirlwind of birds fly above.

Even though the California coastline is one of the most popular scenic routes in the world, the offshore features will remain pristine and wild for future generations because of its special protection as a national monument. These rugged outposts provide a haven for animals and plants that are sensitive to human disturbance.

Located along the state's 1,100 miles of shoreline, the California Coastal National Monument comprises more than 20,000 small islands, rocks, exposed reefs, and pinnacles. The monument includes about 1,000 acres of public land exposed above mean high tide from Mexico to Oregon and within a corridor extending 12 nautical miles (13.8 land miles) from the mainland.

This public resource is a part of the National Landscape Conservation System (National Conservation Lands), administered by the Bureau Of Land Management (BLM). The BLM protects this unique fragile ecosystem through coordinated partnerships coastwide. Conservation occurs through scientifically-defined management practices, fostering public ownership, and education for tomorrow's leaders.

Why Do We Protect The Rocks?

The rocky features that make up the monument were federal lands previous to the monument designation in the year 2000, but by overlaying the extensive fragile ecosystems with monument-status protection, seabirds, marine mammals, and intertidal rock dwellers will continue to thrive.

The stakeholders for coastal California number in the hundreds. Individuals, communities, organizations, and governments are all invested in the health of our shoreline. The monument management's vision is to foster cooperative stewardship of the monument's resources and California's coastal ecosystem.

You Can Participate In Coastal Conservation!

As California's population grows and more people live and recreate along the coast, the potential to impact these fragile wild areas is greater than ever. The BLM teams up with coastal communities, the California Department of Fish and Game, California State Parks, and many others to protect and study the rock and island ecosystems, furthering our understanding of how we can be responsible neighbors in this dynamic relationship with nature.

Some Simple But Meaningful Ways You Can Help.
  • As cute as they appear, wild animals are just that – wild and potentially dangerous. In addition, approaching a baby animal might make it susceptible to predators or cause its parent to abandon it.
  • The rocks provide a refuge for wildlife sensitive to human presence. Keep binoculars close by to capture great views with minimal disturbance to the animals and their habitat.
  • When tidepooling, watch where you step. Don't crush or remove sea stars, crabs, or other creatures - each a resident in a small balanced ecosystem. Life in the intertidal zone is challenging enough!
  • Help marine wildlife keep a clean house and stay safe by packing out what you bring to the beach. Plastic debris in water looks a lot like the animals' food and can seriously harm them if ingested.
  • Work as a volunteer for the BLM or one of the many organizations and agencies partnering with the BLM to learn more and help protect unique California coastal resources.
Be a Monument Gateway Community!

California coastal national monument gateways are sections of the California coast that serve as focal points and visitor contact locations for the national monument. Gateways reflect a local sense of place for this unique and extensive monument.

We are developing gateway partnerships with towns, cities, and communities to support tourism that sustains the geographical character of the region, including the environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and well-being of residents.

What Are The Benefits To Becoming A Monument Gateway Partner?
  • A forum is created for local communities and organizations to be directly involved in managing their portion of the national monument.
  • Communities gain visibility through representation in the monument outreach efforts. 
  • The partner's relationship with the monument signifies the long-term commitment to the stewardship of the gateway's natural and cultural resources.
  • Partners share resources and expertise and reduce duplicating efforts for shared goals.
  • Relationships often develop into educational opportunities and grant and funding partnerships.
  • There is no cost to participate.

Your community may already have a plan for managing beaches, coastal pullouts, recreation areas, and adjacent natural areas. By linking to this coordinated effort, resources can be shared, supported, and tied to a bigger picture. Visit our website to learn more about the monument gateways.

Do you have an idea for a gateway visitor contact station?  Let us know!

California Coastal National Monument

Serving as Haven and Habitat for a Cast of Thousands

New animal families set up house, babies are born, and youngsters play and learn to swim. The nutrient-rich waters surrounding the monument support a diverse array of habitats, sea birds, sea mammals, and other terrestrial and marine plant and animal life. Wave action and ocean currents have a strong influence on the distribution of these habitats and on biological diversity. Meanwhile, the monument’s rocks serve as a rest stop and dining attraction for migrating animals.

The monument includes a significant amount of the rocky, coastal ecosystem and portions of the intertidal zone—the “border between the land and sea.” It is one of the harshest natural environments on Earth. It is here that the pounding of the surf and the changing of the tides create tide pools, which support creatures uniquely adapted for survival under such extreme conditions.

Marine Mammal Retreat

Several fin-footed marine mammal species, called pinnipeds, depend on the monument’s islands, rocks, reefs, and pinnacles for warming and resting, as well as the ocean around them for feeding.

Harbor seals and California sea lions are both prevalent along the coast. Visitors can easily differentiate between seals and sea lions by looking for two outward characteristics. Harbor seals do not have any external ears, while California sea lions do have ear flaps. Also, harbor seals wiggle and bounce along the land on their bellies, whereas the bone structure of the sea lion allows it to use its tail end like a foot to travel on the beach.

A few small colonies of Steller sea lions, a threatened species, and the northern fur seal, a member of the sea lion family, are sometimes found on the outermost rocks of the monument.