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March 23
1886 - Film director Robert N. Bradbury born in Washington state; launched John Wayne's career in Placerita Canyon [watch]

Take a Hike | Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel
| Sunday, Jun 15, 2014

DianneErskineHellrigelU.S. Rep. Judy Chu has just introduced a bill that will permanently protect the San Gabriel Mountains and rivers.

The Angeles National Forest comprises 70 percent of Los Angeles County’s open space and one-third of our county’s drinking water. Chu’s bill will protect this valuable water supply, provide more recreational opportunities for hikers, equestrians and mountain bikers, and protect endangered species and Native American historical sites.

The Angeles National Forest hosts more than 3 million people per year. The underfunded National Forest cannot handle this huge number of visitors. This is why the San Gabriel Mountains are in such desperate need of trash clean up, signage, guardrails, park benches, picnic areas, camping areas, trash bins, restrooms, trail heads, parking and much more. This bill will solve all of these issues. If it passes, visitors to the forest will enjoy better services, more picnic areas, more access, more rangers, better law enforcement, and better signage including multilingual signage. There will also be educational programs available to people, and we will see less trash and less graffiti.

Many neighborhoods surrounding the Angeles National Forest are park poor, so this legislation will address that issue and bring nature to communities suffering from a nature deficit.

IMG_7694Santa Clarita has no trails in the forest. We are the second largest city to abut the forest, yet we have no trails. The Community Hiking Club is addressing this by putting the first trail on our side of the forest on forest land. It will be completed and open for hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians in September. The trail is called Dagger Flat and is located four miles east of Sand Canyon. Twenty-five additional potential trails have been mapped and could eventually connect Santa Clarita via trails all the way to Cucamonga.

Permanent protection of the Angeles will also bring increased tourism, job creation, opportunities for youth, increased tax revenue to surrounding cities, and other economic benefits.

Additional access to the forest will mean opportunities for kids and adults to get outside to play. This opportunity to recreate with family is a huge health and quality-of-life benefit. Obesity and diabetes are rampant in our society. Recreating in a safe and beautiful environment can help solve these problems.

I applaud Rep. Chu for her commitment to preserving the San Gabriel Mountains. Her efforts mark more than 10 years of studies by the National Park Service and have been met with broad local support from all of the communities surrounding the Angeles National Forest.

When you visit the forest in the future and see all of the wonderful changes, like roving rangers, please think of her, and thank her for her wisdom and foresight.


Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel is executive director of the Community Hiking Club and president of the Santa Clara River Watershed Conservancy. If you’d like to be part of the solution, join the Community Hiking Club’s Stewardship Committee. Contact Dianne through communityhikingclub.org or at zuliebear@aol.com.




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  1. Well goodie, I’m proud. We have just such a shortage of Representatives looking out after emotional bills, rather than practical.

  2. Needs to be done. Lets all support this effort!

  3. Tessa Lucero says:

    @Mr. Fields: this is indeed practical. Nothing emotional or softheaded about encouraging tourism, protecting watershed, and trying to make sure people use the national forest as a place to exercise and to promote wholesome family activities such as hiking and fishing rather than as a place to dump old mattresses and grow illegal pot.

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