WASHINGTON (Army News Service, April 24, 2012) -- President
Barack Obama signed a proclamation April 20 designating Fort Ord,
Calif., as a national monument under the Department of the Interior.
Nearly 100,000 tourists already visit the sweeping landscape and
Monterey Bay sand dunes located on the former Army installation.
Fort Ord closed Sept. 30, 1994, under the Defense Base Closure and
Realignment Act, or BRAC, of 1990.
Aerial view of Fort Ord looking toward Salinas, Calif., shot in 1941. Photo
courtesy of U.S. Army
An estimated 1.5 million troops had trained there since 1917 when it
was a field artillery site for World War I Soldiers stationed at the
nearby Presidio of Monterey. Horse cavalry trained on the site
during the interwar period and in 1933 it was named Camp Ord in
honor of Maj. Gen. Edward Ord, a leader in the Union Army during the
Civil War and the Indian Wars.
In 1941, Fort Ord became an
Army basic training installation where many World War II Soldiers
received their first taste of Army life. During the Korean War and
Vietnam Conflict, it served as a leading training center and staging
area for troops about to deploy across the Pacific for combat.
In 1973, Fort Ord became the home of the 7th Infantry Division
return from South Korea after 25 years of service on the
demilitarized zone, known as the DMZ.
Fort Ord was the largest U.S. military installation to
close under BRAC legislation in the mid 1990s.
"Thousands of veterans carry the memory of its dramatic
landscape 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 stated in the proclamation
designating Fort Ord as a national monument.
national monuments include the Statue of Liberty, Mount
Rushmore, Fort Sumter and dozens of other historic
Fort Ord was designated a national
monument not only for its historic value, but because it is
a rare natural area in the increasingly urban environment of
Monterey Bay, officials said.
"By bicycle, horse, and
foot visitors can explore the Fort Ord area's scenic and
natural resources along trails that wind over lush
grasslands, between gnarled oaks, and through scrub-lined
canyons," the presidential proclamation states. "Within the
boundaries of the Fort Ord area, visitors admire the
landscape and scenery and are exposed to wildlife and a
diverse group of rare and endemic plants and animals."
"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," said Obama.
The area is also notable for
its role in the Spanish settlement of California. Six miles
of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail pass
through the Fort Ord National Monument. This trail was
forged in 1775 as a migration route from Mexico.
Scientists are also drawn to the Fort Ord area, seeking
opportunities to better understand once-widespread species
and plant communities, and their ongoing restoration,
according to the presidential proclamation. It states that
the Fort Ord area is rich in biodiversity and has important
central coast habitats, "supporting a diverse group of rare
and endemic species of plants and animals. It is one of the
few remaining places in the world where large expanses of
coastal scrub and live oak woodland and savanna habitat,
mixed with rare vernal pools, exist in a contiguous,
proclamation protects 14,651 acres of the Fort Ord area for
recreation, research and tourism.
Also in the area is
Fort Ord Dunes State Park, California State University
Monterey Bay, a Veterans Transition Center, a strip mall, a
subdivision, some reserve-component training facilities and
a nature preserve.
Of the 14,651 acres of federal
lands, about half will be managed by the Bureau of Land
Management, part of the Department of the Interior. The
other 7,446 acres will continue to be managed by the
Department of the Army until the cleanup of any ordnance and
other items is complete.
Obama designated Fort Ord
as a national monument under authority of the Antiquities
Act of 1906. It was first used that year by President
Theodore Roosevelt to designate Devil's Tower in Wyoming as
the first national monument. Since then, the act has been
used by 14 presidents to protect natural and historic lands
such as the Grand Canyon and Ellis Island.
the second time Obama has used his authority under the
Antiquities Act. He designated Fort Monroe, Va., as a
national monument in November.
By Gary Sheftick
Army News Service
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