Location: Santa Cruz, CA
Notable Features: Incredibly diverse and irreplacable ecosystems, significant cultural and historical value
Overview: The proposed Cotoni-Coast Dairies spans across 5,800 acres of Santa Cruz. Within the area, six creeks, riparian canyons, coastal terraces, and mountain ridgelines contribute to the area's vast beauty. The area also has redwood forests, and offers scenic trails that stretch for six miles along the coast of Santa Cruz. The land is also home to many endangered species.
The area has significant cultural history to many native groups today. The lands were once the home to the "Cotoni" tribe, prior to any contact from European settlers. The tribe, descendants Ohlone People, were known to hold several areas in the Santa Cruz Mountains in high regards. These places of significant cultural value, which include coastal terraces, streams, ridges and uplands, are all within the the boundaries of the Coast Dairies. So far four ancestral Native American Archaeological sites have been found on the property, and more are likely to be found with a formal survey. These lands still play a significant role in the Cotoni peoples' descendants today, including the Amah-Mutsun Tribe, who recently regained access to the Dairies for traditional ceremonies and stewardship practices.
The area was also used for many decades by the Coast Dairies & Land Company for Swiss dairy operations until the 1960's, when pressure to develop the land grew strong. Many plans were made for the land, including the creation of a nuclear power plant or a luxury home development. These plans were not seen through, and in 1998 the Trust for Public Land purchased the 7,000 acres from the Coast Dairies & Land company, with the help of benevolent donors. Today, 407 acres of this land are managed by California State Parks, 5,800 acres are managed by the Bureau of Land Management, and the remainder of the land is held by the Trust for Public Land for protection via conservation easement for continued agricultural production.
While the proposed land is currently managed by the BLM, it currently does not have the permanent protection it deserves. Monument designation would not only bring this protection, but increase access to federal funding and other resources. These incredibly diverse lands have high historical, cultural, scenic, recreational and ecological value, and National Monument status would provide necessary protections.
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