The National Natural Landmarks Program, managed by the National Park Service, recognizes sites that have “outstanding biological and geological resources” while encouraging their conservation.“It’s a way of recognizing truly special places that are of national significance,” said Mike Cipra, executive director of the nonprofit Friends of the Dunes.
The undulating sand mounds, woody swales and verdant wetlands of Lanphere and Ma-le’l Dunes, located on the Samoa Peninsula west of Arcata, are home to a remarkably diverse array of native flora. Coniferous and riparian forests rise above patches of pale green reindeer lichen, blooming sand verbena and Menzies wallflower, to name just a few species.
The Lanphere Dunes and Ma-le’l Dunes are part of the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, though the southern section of the Ma-le’l Dunes are on land owned by the federal Bureau of Land Management and managed cooperatively.
Jennifer Kalt, executive director of the nonprofit Humboldt Baykeeper, was excited by the designation news.
“We are really so lucky to have these places so close by and in such intact condition,” she said. “They’re really unique and amazing places and unlike anything else really I’ve ever seen anywhere.”