• Adults and kids hiking

      Nature for All coalition members hike in the proposed expansion area of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument (Photo – Bryan Matsumoto)

      On Monday, June 26, elected officials, community leaders, and local residents in the Los Angeles region joined Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA) and Representative Judy Chu (CA-28) in calling on President Biden to add 109,000 acres of public lands to the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument.

      By News Desk

      Sen. Padilla and Rep. Chu are calling on President Biden to use the Antiquities Act to expand the San Gabriel Mountains National  Monument. The Antiquities Act is a 1906 law that grants U.S. Presidents the ability to designate federal public lands, waters, and cultural and historical sites as national monuments with a Presidential Proclamation.

      Expanding the monument is the next step in a 20-year, locally-driven effort to protect the San Gabriel Mountains. Over 18 million people live within a 90-mile radius of these public lands and the expansion will help increase equitable access to nature and improve public health. It will also conserve a critical drinking water  source for Los Angeles County, address the climate and biodiversity crises, and honor the cultural and historical significance of the landscape.

      In 2014, President Obama designated approximately 346,177 acres of the San Gabriel Mountains as a national monument. Since then, community support has continued to grow for safeguarding important public lands that were not included in the original monument designation. The proposed expansion area  is considered the “gateway” to the Angeles National Forest and as a result is one of the most visited parts of the forest. Moreover, according to the U.S. Forest Service, the national forest received 4.6  million  visitors  in 2021—more than the Grand Canyon or Yosemite National  Park received in the same year.

      Expanding  the national monument will also conserve a critical source of drinking water  for Los Angeles County. The Angeles National  Forest provides one-third of the county’s drinking water. Permanently protecting more of this life-giving resource will benefit residents throughout the region.

      Comments

      Sen. Padilla and Rep. Chu both sent a letter urging the President to use the Antiquities Act to achieve this goal and in May introduced legislation in support of this effort.

      “For many low-income families in the Los Angeles area, this is the only access they have to green  space and the educational and health  benefits that come with it. And it is critical that we protect these public lands to promote environmental justice in our communities,” said Senator Padilla

      “The San Gabriel Mountains are among the most pristine and beautiful public lands in the country, and they are right here next to one of the nation’s densest and most park-deprived population centers,” said Rep. Judy Chu in uring President Biden to  recognize the importance of these lands by designating the western Angeles National Forest as part of the National Monument.

      “The San Gabriel Mountains are a critical open  space for many communities in Los Angeles County that lack green  space and suffer from health  issues,” said Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, Los Angeles County, District 1.

      “Los Angeles County is one of the most densely populated areas in the nation  and millions of our region’s residents have limited access to the outdoors,” said Belén Bernal, Executive Director, Nature for All. “This is one of the few places Angelenos can go to enjoy the outdoors close to home.”

      In addition to the proposed monument expansion, the legislation from Rep. Chu, the San Gabriel Mountains  Protection  Act designates over 31,000 acres as protected Wilderness and over 45 miles of Wild and Scenic rivers throughout the San Gabriel range. Sen. Padilla’s bill, the PUBLIC Lands  Act , includes the same protections for the San Gabriel Mountains, as well as proposed protections for public lands and rivers in the Central Coast and Northwest California. Vice President Kamala Harris previously championed legislation to protect these special areas when she served as California’s Senator.


      We hope you appreciated this article. Before you move on, please consider supporting the Colorado Boulevard’s journalism.

      Some wealthy, hedge fund owners, and local journalistic charlatans, have a powerful hold on the information that reaches the public. Colorado Boulevard stands to serve the public interest – not profit motives.

      While fairness guides everything we do, we know there is a right and a wrong position in the fight against racism and climate crisis while supporting reproductive rights and social justice. We provide a fresh perspective on local politics – one so often missing from so-called ‘local’ journalism.

      You can access Colorado Boulevard’s paywall-free journalism because of our unique reader-supported model. People like you, informed readers, keep us independent, beholden to no outside influence, and accessible to everyone.

      Please consider supporting Colorado Boulevard today. Thank you. (Click to Support)

      Contributor

      Leave a Reply

      Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *