California Coastal National Monument
     Coastal Monument logo


December 10, 2003


Final MSA for RMP. The Management Situation Analysis (MSA) stage of the Resource Management Plan (RMP) for the California Coastal National Monument (CCNM) has been completed. The MSA is the data collection step of the RMP process and includes an overview of the current condition of each resource, existing management policies pertinent to the resource, anticipated future conditions, and future management options. The MSA also references some information not directly related to the resources or the management issues, including planning documents from local communities. The resource assessment and the evaluation of management policies and options compiled in this step of the RMP process provide the baseline information for developing the RMP and its environmental impact statement (EIS). If additional information becomes available, it can be added to the MSA throughout the RMP process. Attention is now being paid to the development of the draft RMP and draft EIS, including developing alternative descriptions and structuring the RMP to serve as the framework for the implementation of the management and partnership approach for the CCNM. The Draft RMP/Draft EIS is scheduled to be issued for public review in early July 2004 and the Proposed RMP/Final EIS will be issued in the Spring of 2005. The Final Plan and Record of Decision is scheduled for completion no later than the end of the Summer of 2005.

Vandenberg Air Force Base MOU Being Finalized. The memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the BLM and the United States Air Force’s (USAF’s) Space Command and Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) is ready for final review and submittal for signature. This MOU will do two things. It formally sets up the USAF as a “cooperating agency” related to the development of the CCNM RMP/EIS and it establishes VAFB as the CCNM’s first “steward.” Under this MOU, VAFB will serve as the steward for the 35 mile portion of the CCNM off of VAFB. In developing this MOU, the framework for developing future stewardship agreements has been established and will serve as the template for working with future CCNM stewards.

BLM Details Two Positions to MontereyBayNational Marine Sanctuary.  Under an Interagency Agreement between BLM and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) National Marine Sanctuary Program, two BLM positions, a community liaison specialist and an environmental policy specialist, were recruited, filled, and detailed to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS). To put it simply, the CCNM had positions and no funding, while MBNMS had funding and no positions. Therefore, as part of the collaborative partnership between CCNM and MBNMS, BLM used two vacant positions to recruit for two positions that MBNMS needed and placed those positions on the staff of the MBNMS. As part of this agreement, CCNM will receive 15% of each employee’s time. Rachel Saunders was selected as the community liaison specialist and Brad Damitz was selected for the environmental policy specialist position. Rachel has extensive experience with marine protection and educational initiatives, including working on the initial establishment of the MBNMS, the Ocean Conservancy, and the Camp Sea Lab education program. Brad brings experience working with the Monterey Bay Aquarium and serving as the assistant planner for the MBNMS’s extensive planning update project.

CCNM Strategy Workshop Held at Asilomar. On October 30, 2003, CCNM Manager Rick Hanks assembled a representative group of managers, planners, resource specialists, and partners to participate in a ‘brainstorming” session regarding the long-term possibilities for the CCNM and to provide some innovative focus for the RMP being developed for the CCNM. Held at the Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove, California, participating in the meeting were Bill Douros, MBNMS Superintendent; Rich Burns, BLM Ukiah Field Office Manager; Ron Fellows and John Bogacki from BLM’s Piedras Blancas Light Station Project; Paul Brink, BLM California’s National Landscape Conservation System Coordinator; Mark Carr, co-director of the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans (PISCO) program at the University of California, Santa Cruz; Paul Reilly, senior fisheries biologist for the California Department of Fish and Game’s Marine Region office at Monterey; Rachel Saunders and Brad Damitz, BLM employees detailed to the MBNMS; Bob Burco, CCNM advisor; and Mike Rushton, Michael Stevenson, and Maryann Hulsman of Jones & Stokes Associates. The “top five themes” gleaned from the brainstorming session are (1) developing partnerships; (2) continuing the inventory and compilation of needed data; (3) establishing a system of categorizing and characterizing rocks (e.g., a site characterization); (4) defining the audience and addressing public/users needs, and (5) developing a CCNM mission statement and/or consolidated vision.

CCNM Presentation at COGNA Annual Meeting.  Rick Hanks, CCNM Manager, attended the Council of Geographic Names Authorities (COGNA) in the United States 2003 annual meeting held from September 29 to October 3, 2003, at the Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove, California. Following the plenary presentation, Hanks presented a paper and PowerPoint presentation entitled “Naming 11,000 Rocks? Challenges and Opportunities for Naming Rocks and Islands Along California’s Coast.” The paper discussed the BLM mapping inventory, the mapped names of California’s coastal rocks and islands, the semi-serious options of establishing a “rocks registry,” and concluded with identifying the need to clear up name duplications, put names on key rocks and clusters of rocks, and to involve the public and various stakeholders in this process. Hanks had the opportunity to discuss naming protocol and procedures with various members of the U.S. Board of Geographic Names and various state naming authorities. Roger Paynes, Executive Secretary of the US Board of Geographic Names, expressed interest in working with BLM in the CCNM naming effort and stated that federal agencies can now submit names on-line and officially name features and sites within 45 days.

CaliforniaSeabird Coordination Meeting at Point Reyes. On November 5, 2003, CCNM Manager Rick Hanks attended the annual California Seabird Coordination Meeting held this year at the Point Reyes National Seashore Headquarters near Point Reyes Station, California. Attended by about 40 seabird researchers, managers, and organization representatives, the one-day meeting covered the current status of seabird research, monitoring, and planning along the California coast.  About a dozen agencies and organizations were represented, including PRBO Conservation Science, Fish and Wildlife Service (Portland, Sacramento, and Carlsbad), California Department of Fish and Game, NOAA Fisheries, NOAA’s Gulf of the Farallon and Cordell Banks National Marine Sanctuaries, Point Reyes National Seashore, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the Wildlife Trust, and the Island Conservation and Ecology Group from the University of California, Santa Cruz. This year’s meeting focused on both a “Bottom Up” and “Top “Down” ecological approach to looking at seabirds. This included the need to better identify the link between specific seabird species and fish populations. Additional discussion included the loss of seabird nesting and roosting habitat, continuing problems with helicopter overflights (e.g., Big Sur Marathon), potential threat from offshore wind farms, reduced annual seabird monitoring capabilities, and the suggestion that seabird stranding centers, similar to the existing sea mammal centers, need to be established.

California CurrentMarine Bird Conservation Plan Meeting.  The California Seabird Coordination Meeting was followed the next day, November 6, 2003, by a meeting put on by a CCNM collaborative partner, PRBO Conservation Science. The meeting provided an update on the status of the California Current Marine Bird Conservation Plan being completed by PRBO under a grant from the Packard Foundation. The conservation plan is scheduled to be out for review by early 2004. This plan is nested in the Pacific Seabird Conservation Plan that is being prepared by the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). The FWS plan, however, is for breeders only. The FWS plan will be issued about the same time as the PRBO plan. PRBO is now pursuing opportunities to expand on the success of the seabird plan by initiating a California Current Joint Venture that would be a landscape scale, ecosystem plan. The joint venture would involve a wide variety of resources and resource interests. Since the California Current runs from Alaska to Baja California, the CCNM is right in the center of it, putting the CCNM in a key position related to the development of this interesting challenge.

CCNM Poster at “Partners in Stewardship” Conference. Following up on a last minute invitation to participate in the poster gallery at the National “Joint Ventures: Partners in Stewardship” conference from November 17-20, 2003, in Los Angeles, California, CCNM Manager Rick Hanks developed a CCNM and National Landscape Conservation System display for the three-day conference. With over 1,500 attendees, this provided visibility for “the Nation’s most unique national monument” and the partnership approach we are implementing. It also enabled Hanks to make contact with a number of individuals, specialists, and partners involved in a wide variety of organizations and partnerships endeavors. This included contact with the Coastal America initiative that has some possible future connections with the CCNM.

CCNM Paper Presented at CaliforniaIslandsSymposium. CCNM Manager Rick Hanks attended the Sixth California Islands Symposium (CIS) held from December 1-3, 2003, in Ventura, California.  CIS is a multidisciplinary conference focusing on recent research and resource management efforts on the California Islands and their surrounding marine environment.  The objective of this conference was to facilitate communication and collaboration by bringing together scientists, agency personnel, managers, nonprofit organizations, students, and publics interested in the resources and protection of the California Islands. The symposium included three concurrent tracks: (1) marine and nearshore resources, (2) terrestrial resources, and (3) archaeology, paleontology, education, and management. Although the majority of the conference focus was on the Channel Islands, the majority of the over 400 attendees are interested in what is happening with other California rocks and islands, as well as Baja California’s numerous islands. Hanks prepared a paper for publication in the CIS proceedings and gave a PowerPoint presentation, entitled “Rocks, Buttons, Ecosystems, and Partnerships: Developing a Management Approach for the California Coastal National Monument,” to kickoff the CIS’s Management and Education Session. Hanks also took advantage of having the poster display from the Los Angeles partnership conference and set it up in a central location at the CIS, thus adding to the awareness of the CCNM among California’s island researchers and interest groups.

How Many Rocks Are Within the CCNM? Since BLM’s initial inventory of rocks and islands off of the shoreline of California, the statement that the “CCNM contains over 11,000 rocks and islands” has been commonly used. This number was based on the count of 11,507 federally owned unappropriated and unreserved rocks and islands four square meters (over 12 square feet) or larger and within the boundaries of the CCNM. The count was made using mapping data sets from both the US Minerals Management Service (MMS) and California State Lands Commission, and it was compiled in a Geographic Information System (GIS) format. The smallest mappable unit in these data sets was four square meters. This, however, does not mean that any rocks smaller than four square meters are not part of the CCNM, but that they were not included in the initial inventory as recorded in BLM’s current GIs database for the CCNM.  It can be conservatively estimated that there are at least another 11,000 rocks less than four square meters in size (that is the portion of the rock above mean high tide) that are also part of the CCNM and needs to be included in the total number. Therefore, it is accurate to state that the CCNM consists of more than 20,000 rocks!

Contact Information. For any questions, concerns, or requests for additional information  contact Rick Hanks, CCNM Manager, 299 Foam Street, Monterey, CA 93940, telephone 831-372-6105, or e-mail at or

Return to archive index

California Coastal  National  Monument: 

A partnership in protecting unique California coastal resources