Landscape-Level Conservation in Wigi-Humboldt Bay
Humboldt Bay is home to a remarkable variety of biologically rich habitats, from coastal wetland rearing habitat for juvenile coho salmon to the most intact, native coastal dunes on the U.S. west coast. These connected habitats are all ancestral lands of the Wiyot Tribe, who call this special place the Wigi.
For the last 40 years, local community members, nonprofit organizations, state and federal agencies, and the Wiyot Tribe have been steadily working to acquire and restore the lands in and around Humboldt Bay for the purposes of conservation, native habitat diversity, and appropriate public recreation. This multi-organization conservation effort has led to thousands of acres of intact and often contiguous lands with a variety of management frameworks and widely varying resources for managing these remarkably diverse, yet connected ecosystems.
The time has come to bring the protected lands around Humboldt Bay together under one inspiring national designation—this is the vision of the Wigi-Humboldt Bay and Dunes National Monument.
Why a National Monument?
The unique and profoundly beautiful patchwork of protected lands around Humboldt Bay has different conservation landowners, and each of these landowners has different access to the resources needed to manage their lands. And yet, these lands are often contiguous or connected by the waters of the bay, and thus they share the same wildlife, the same rare plants, the same trails, the same shared history of stewardship by the Wiyot Tribe, and the same challenges. Exotic invasive species threaten native plant and animal diversity, while climate change and sea level rise pose multiple risks to our conserved lands and coastal communities. To address these challenges, we will need a coordinated response; the shared expertise of multiple people, agencies, and cultures; and additional financial resources.
A National Monument is both a way to recognize the national significance of the conservation lands that ring Humboldt Bay and a land management roadmap for protecting this truly special place for our children and grandchildren. A new Wigi-Humboldt Bay and Dunes National Monument will provide greater protection for the connected ecosystems of Humboldt Bay. And, if constructed in partnership with the Wiyot Tribe, a National Monument can provide more cooperative management opportunities for the Wiyot People who have stewarded this land for millenia.
U.S. National Monuments have been around since 1906. They take different forms based on the “objects of historic or scientific interest” that they contain, the different land ownerships involved, and more recently, the ancestral Tribal lands within their boundaries. This new National Monument proposes to bring together the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Wiyot Tribe, Friends of the Dunes, the Wildlands Conservancy, the Manila Community Services District, and potentially other conservation partners into a cooperative management framework. No partners would lose any ownership of their land or their management autonomy under this proposal. The National Monument would instead be a unifying land management structure for working cooperatively across boundaries, pooling and attracting new resources to address common challenges, honoring traditional ecological knowledge, and managing for the shared goals of native plant, wildlife, and ecosystem health.
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