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1970 - Snow day in Santa Clarita [photos]


Now and Then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Sunday, Oct 12, 2014

darrylmanzer_blacktieAfter years with the Navy, I have a lot of friends who are on the Atlantic Coast and have never seen what I like to call a “real” mountain.

I remember my first drive over the Appalachians in 1969. Sure, some of the roads had some steep grades, and the mountains were beautiful to see, but being a Californian and from the far West, it was hard not to think of those eastern mountains as some misplaced foothills. I kept looking for something taller.

A couple of days ago, President Obama issued an executive order creating the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. Los Angeles now has something equal to a national park right in its backyard … and ours, too.

There are so many archeological sites in the new monument, they can scarcely be counted. The first inhabitants of the area may have lived there as early as 8,500 years ago. That is a fair chunk of time, folks.

It is some rugged country. Tall mountains and deep canyons. From some points on those mountains, you can look out and see some of the lowest points in our fair state.

There are critters of all kinds, along with trails that exist and some yet to come. Old towns and mining camps also dot those mountains. A lot of our history is now preserved without threat of anything but the natural effects of weather.

It has taken years of work by some dedicated folks to get the mountains declared a national monument. Critics of the creation of the monument are saying it is just another federal “land grab” by Obama. I might agree with that, but this deal was started under George W. Bush. So if you’re going to blame one, you’ll have to blame at least two presidents.

Photo: Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel

Photo: Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel

Also remember most of the land included in the new national monument is already owned by Uncle Sam and is controlled by the U.S. Forest Service. It’s remaining under the Forest Service.

While our good president is setting up new parks and monuments, I think it would be great if he would make the St. Francis Dam a national monument. He could do that by and executive order, too. Did I mention that a lot of that land is also under federal control?

We will end up with national monuments in our valley at the top and bottom. How cool is that?

When I moved from Pico Canyon, I had hoped it would be turned into some sort of park and be thus preserved. It took a while, but it has been saved from wrecking balls. That was always one of my hopes. It is time we started thinking about getting it into shape.

Slowly and surely, our valley is being surrounded by parks and recreational spots. Sure beats a lot of what happened before.

There are some beautiful places in the new monument with little lakes and streams in the years of normal rainfall. Waterfalls and cliffs are in there, too. It is a great place, and preserving it should be a priority.

There are some other positive aspects of the new monument. It might delay the building of the high-speed rail system. Now, that would be a good thing. How about so much delay that the state can’t build it for a couple of hundred years?

So let’s see what happens next with respect to a visitor center and all of the other things that should happen because of the monument designation. A real happening scene.

I think it might be one of the few ways we can find members of both political parties willing to compromise. Time to gather up our stuff and leave these men and women to a good scheme.

Can’t wait.

 

Darryl Manzer grew up in the Pico Canyon oil town of Mentryville in the 1960s and attended Hart High School. After a career in the U.S. Navy he returned to live in the Santa Clarita Valley. He can be reached at dmanzer@scvhistory.com. His older commentaries are archived at DManzer.com; his newer commentaries can be accessed [here]. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].

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2 Comments

  1. Vito says:

    I would love to see the St. Francis Dam site. Such a historic site of our valley.

  2. Those who are calling it a land grab…how can it be a land grab when ALL the land in it is already Angeles National Forest, and it will remain Angeles National forest? It’s NOT a National Park. It’s Angeles National Forest. The Monument designation will come with a little more funding for the forest so they can do some of the things that need to be done…like signage, more trails, better facilities, and more law enforcement.

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