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Diary cows grazing on lush green landscape on the Cotoni Coast
Credit: Courtesy of Sempervirens Fund

Santa Cruz, California is getting a new national monument, and it's all thanks to former President Obama's love for an old dairy farm, and the hard work and dedication of thousands of volunteers.

Cotoni-Coast Dairies, a federally owned property named after the Indigenous Cotoni nation, located eight miles north of Santa Cruz, will soon be open to visitors as part of an expansion of the existing California Coastal National Monument, which Obama helped preserve just eight days before he left office.

San Vicente Redwoods on the coast
Credit: Courtesy of Sempervirens Fund

As Sempervirens Fund, a land trust and organization dedicated to preserving the redwood forests of the Santa Cruz Mountains, explains, Obama added the Cotoni-Coast Dairies property to the California Coastal National Monument proclamation in 2017. "In signing the monument proclamation, Obama endowed the landscape with special conservation status and brought presidential recognition to its incredible ecological, cultural, and historic values," the organization notes on its website. "Without this monument designation, the landscape might never be available for the public to enjoy or restored to its full ecological richness."

According to the Santa Cruz Mountains Trail Stewardship, which is assisting in planning and building trails throughout the preserved land, the aim is to have the first trails available to hikers by the end of 2022. However, the organization noted in a statement provided to Travel + Leisure, "a lot of our development relies on us fundraising for the project. We're about halfway to our goal of $2.7 million for all Cotoni-Coast Dairies trails." The end goal, the group says, is to build 19 miles of hiking, biking, horseback riding, and ADA-accessible trails.

The ranch stretches across 5,785 acres of coastal land between Santa Cruz and Davenport, hugging California's iconic Highway 1. The land is made up of gorgeous vistas including rolling hills, ocean views, and of course, plenty of redwoods.

But the ranch isn't the only part of the expansion. Five other areas are also now officially in the protected space thanks to Obama's decree, including Trinidad Head, the Lost Coast Headlands and Waluplh-Lighthouse Ranch (near Eureka), Piedras Blancas (near San Simeon), and the Orange County Rocks and Islands.

"The long and winding path to this destination has been arduous, and it has been worth the journey," Sempervirens Fund said on its website. "Thousands of community members, business leaders, and local government representatives made this possible. We thank each and every one of you who wrote a letter, made a call, sent an email, made a donation, attended a meeting, or supported this campaign in other ways. Cotoni-Coast Dairies will forever protect spectacular and essential natural and cultural resources in Santa Cruz County."

Want to help get the project finished even faster? Check for updates and donate to the trail construction efforts here.