When we were kids, our families took us on trips around California. Many Californians will recognize and relate to our experiences, from swimming in the Pacific Ocean for the first time, to watching August meteor showers overhead, to roasting marshmallows over a campfire.
These travels shaped who we are as adults -- from a lifelong love of the outdoors to a deep sense of gratitude for what it means to travel to and discover California.
We are surrounded by a multitude of scenic parks and public lands to explore in our state. These public lands are part of California's shared experience and closely tied to our economic future in the Bay Area and throughout our state.
That's why we are grateful that President Barack Obama -- along with the leadership of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell -- used his authority to protect the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands part of the California Coastal National Monument.
This scenic section of the California coastline in Mendocino County is spectacular -- and open to the public to explore. A trail winds through the lands along high cliffs overlooking the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean below.
The wildlife habitat of the Garcia River reaches the ocean, and the Point Arena lighthouse continues its 100-year watch.
The protection of the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands is good news for California's economy. Just one year since Pinnacles was named a national park, park rangers say they've seen the number of visitors increase by 30 percent. Those visitors are eating in local restaurants, buying from local shops, and helping drive California's tourism economy.
In addition to the support of the congressional delegation, the protection of the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands has had overwhelming support in Northern California. More than 50 small-business owners wrote to Obama and hundreds of people attended a public meeting with Jewell.
Why? Because even before the national monument designation for the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands, travel and tourism in Mendocino County supported 5,000 jobs and brought in more than $20 million in state and local taxes each year. This year, the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands were named No. 3 on The New York Times' 50 places to visit in 2014.
The economic benefits of protecting the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands extend beyond Mendocino County. Visitors may fly into Oakland or San Francisco and see the sites before embarking on one of the great California experiences -- exploring our state via Highway 1. The Bay Area is Northern California's gateway to the great outdoors -- and that means this latest monument designation is good for our broader state economy.
In 2012, travel spending in California supported 917,000 jobs and generated $2.5 billion in local taxes and $4.1 billion in state taxes. Total direct travel spending in California was $106.4 billion in 2012, a 4.5 percent increase from the previous year.
These public lands are key to our travel and tourism industry and our way of life as Californians.
In the most recent State of the Union, the president made a significant commitment to using his authority to protect public lands. The protection of the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands is making good on that promise.
We encourage Obama and Jewell to continue listening to Californians because the next generation may find their own lifelong love of the outdoors sparked when visiting our state's newest national monument -- the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands -- or another place, yet to be protected.
Caroline Beteta is president and CEO of Visit California; Joe D'Alessandro is president and CEO of the San Francisco Travel Association; and Scott Schneider is president and CEO of Visit Mendocino.