Amateur photographer's images helped preserve national treasure

MENDOCINO COUNTY, Calif. -- President Barack Obama added more of northern California's beautiful coastline this week to a national monument, ensuring it will be preserved and protected. Much of the credit goes to a photographer.

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Bob Wick
CBS News
Bob Wick's photos do more than describe the new addition to the California Coastal National Monument -- they take you there.

"It's just the most spectacular piece of coastline you can imagine," Wick says. "Rocky headlands about 75 or 100 feet high, just incredibly pristine tide pools down below."

A wilderness specialist with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Wick moonlights as an amateur photographer. His powerful images propelled a two-and-a-half year grassroots campaign to protect the rugged stretch of Mendocino County coastline, a three hour drive north of San Francisco.

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Wick's photos do more than describe the new addition to the California Coastal National Monument -- they take you there.
Bob Wick/Bureau of Land Management
"My photos did play a role in that people who weren't visually aware of how spectacular this coastline could get a feel for it," Wick says. "These big 20-foot swells coming off the Pacific, and they just explode on the rocks. Where the wave wash is going back into the ocean and it is cascading off the rocks, so it looks like waterfalls."

When not at his desk in Sacramento, Wick loves showing off the public's crown jewels, like the rugged rocks off Los Angeles. But what he loves best is to trek deep into our public lands to capture the wild, remote beauty few of us are fortunate to see.

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Wick has taken tens of thousands of pictures of federal lands over the last 26 years.
Bob Wick/Bureau of Land Management
He's taken tens of thousands of pictures over the last 26 years.

"I love the scenic beauty of our American landscapes, especially the West," Wick says. "It's some of the most sublime terrain in North America. You feel just this big in the world, because nature is so huge," Wick says, holding his fingers close together.

These 1,665 newly added acres in Mendocino are the first piece of the national monument actually to be onshore. The rest is comprised of the rocks and small islands dotting the coast from Mexico to Oregon.

"The fact that it sits just offshore of the most populated state in the union, yet it has such pristine habitat on it," Wick says.

And if you can't make it to California to see the monument, Wick's pictures will make you feel like you're there.

  • Bill Whitaker

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