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Corps, Navy: Pendleton surf spot not historic

Feb. 9, 2013 - 12:55PM   |   Last Updated: Feb. 9, 2013 - 12:55PM  |  
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OCEANSIDE, Calif. - The Marine Corps opposed a bid Friday to designate the popular surf spot Trestles as a national historic place, arguing it would create "unacceptable risks to essential military training."

The Marine Corps and the Department of the Navy opposed the designation for the surf spot south of the beach city of San Clemente that surfing and environmental groups sought. Supporters said Trestles' pop culture roots go deeper than its mention in the popular 1963 Beach Boys song, "Surfin' USA." But other opponents said it would prevent the construction of the controversial state Route 241 toll road.

At a public hearing Friday in Sacramento, the State Historic Preservation Commission voted to nominate Trestles for listing in the National Registry of Historic Places. The designation would include several surf spots — Uppers, Lowers, Middles, Church, The Point, Old Man's and Dog Patch — that stretch more than two miles along the coast, the Orange County Register reported.

Camp Pendleton officials, in a press release issued Friday, said one of the base's primary missions "is to provide operating forces with the training opportunities necessary to ensure combat readiness. The requested designation as a National Historic District poses unacceptable risks to this essential military training." Earlier reviews the military conducted found that Trestles "likely" doesn't meet registry criteria, they told the commission.

In a letter to state officials, a Navy official sought for the state to draw the line at what's really considered "historic" in the nation's surfing culture, contending Trestles lacks any national significance. "There are many sources that report top surfing beaches in the United States, each one with its legion of supporters for the status of most significant," Donald R. Schregardus, deputy assistant secretary for the environment, wrote in a July 11, 2012, letter explaining the service's opposition. But while popular, Trestles "appears to be just one of hundreds of such relative nondescript good surfing beaches around the U.S."

Trestles sits in the northwest corner of Camp Pendleton near the military's San Onofre recreation beach and San Onofre State Park, on land the Navy leases to the state, and includes beaches where Marines conduct amphibious assault and vehicle training. Just west of Interstate 5, it is framed by bluffs, the outlet for San Mateo creek and railroad tracks that give the break its nickname.

But that area has been targeted for a highway interchange for the proposed toll road, which would slice through part of Camp Pendleton near Camp Talega. The Surfrider Foundation and other environmental groups say the road would damage coastal lands and wildlife and the area around Trestles should be preserved.

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