J. Nichols: National Monument a ‘No-Brainer’

North Coast scientist, author and ocean advocate calls for designation of Coast Dairies as a national monument.

by Eric Johnson

Dec. 16, 2016—Dr. Wallace J. Nichols, research associate at the California Academy of Sciences, author of the New York Times best-seller Blue Mind, and resident of Santa Cruz County’s North Coast, says now is the time for expansion of the California Coastal National Monument, including the Coast Dairies property.

Nichols, universally known as “J,” says such designation is more urgent now than ever.

“In 2003 my family and I walked from Oregon to Mexico down the California coast,” he says, “and I have a particularly profound appreciation for all these special places. At this point in our political trajectory, I think everything we can possibly do in the next few moments to add layers of protection to those special places, we should do.”

As a resident of Davenport, Nichols says he shares some of his neighbors’ concerns about what have come to be called “the three T's”—trauma, traffic and trash. However, he points out that “those are concerns right now without monument status.”

“They need to be addressed no matter what. I think monument status will give us the biggest lever, maybe several big levers, to address those things.”

Nichols spoke in Cambria after a September public hearing on the California Coastal National Monument expansion, which was hosted by US Rep. Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara). The meeting was attended by scores of members of the Amah Mutsun Tribal band, many of whom spoke in favor of the creation of the Cotoni-Coast Dairies National Monument as one of several land-based gateways to the CCNM. Many conservation leaders from throughout the state also spoke in favor, while a dozen or more of Nichols’ neighbors spoke in opposition.

The North Coast residents shared concerns that National Monument designation would bring throngs of visitors to the area, clogging Highway 1 and doing damage to the landscape. Nichols disagreed.

“From a biological perspective, from an aesthetic perspective, from a public access perspective and, underlined today, from the indigenous perspective, it's a no-brainer to [support] national monument status,” he said, “with all the caveats that have been well explained by the biologists and the residents today.”

Nichols, who is also a member of Sempervirens Fund’s science advisory panel, says the organization, which has spearheaded the local national monument campaign (and is a Hilltromper sponsor) can be trusted to help alleviate any pressures that come with designation.

Sempervirens, he said, has “well over a hundred years of doing that, and so national monument or not, that won't change. And I can say I think a lot of people feel that way.”

Nichols also has faith in the kind of visitors a national monument would attract.

“The kinds of people who look up national monuments and then go there are those who respect the spirit and philosophy of a national monument, ” he said, “who are there for the plants, the wildlife, the birds, the coast, the beauty, and the hiking trails. They will help clean up trash, I believe.”

“And maybe some of them are also EMTs and paramedics and doctors, and they can alleviate [the trauma]. And they are carpoolers. I think it's a good demographic to bring to your community. The national monument crowd is nature-loving people.

“I speak for myself and my family: We're in support of whatever comes down, and working as we all do to take good care of the place, however the decision comes down. I didn't really hear that said, that we're all in no matter what. This is an effort to take care of a place we love."

Sign a petition to support the creation of the Cotoni-Coast Dairies National Monument here.

Follow this link to learn more about J. Nichols' groundbreaking work, and to help fund his new book, Go Deeper: The Seven Ages of Water..

Here you will get a taste of what awaits us if the Coast Dairies property becomes a National Monument and becomes accessible to the public.