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Commentary by John Monsen
| Wednesday, Aug 22, 2018
Map by John Monsen

 

We are proud that the City of Santa Clarita has worked hard over the years to protect its open space and develop trails within its boundaries. Now, if we can secure U.S. Rep. Steve Knight’s leadership, we have the chance to improve recreational opportunities and protect open space in the mountains that flank and define the Santa Clarita Valley.

Many of the trails above Santa Clarita are only faded lines on old maps, much to the frustration of mountain bikers, hikers, equestrians and family picnickers alike. Improving outdoor recreational opportunities is all the more important in an era where more and more kids (and adults, too) are glued to digital screens and out of touch with the natural world. Enhanced recreational opportunities can lead to higher property values, healthier lifestyles and improved sales for local outdoor businesses.

What is happening in the mountains above the San Gabriel Valley is an example of what could happen adjacent to the Santa Clarita Valley. The San Gabriel Mountains – which run right up to Santa Clarita’s eastern city limits – have undergone positive changes in recent years after the establishment of the 365,000-acre San Gabriel Mountains National Monument in 2014. The Forest Service, the agency that manages the monument, has recently issued bold new plans to improve trails and visitor educational services and to build new support facilities in heavily visited areas. Nature trails for kids and families are beginning planned. In a challenging time for park resources, the monument designation has moved the national monument to the head of the line.

View from the Condor Peak Trail in the San Gabriel Mountains. Trails in this area east of Santa Clarita are in disrepair as are many other mountain trails near Santa Clarita. Photo: Carole Scurlock

The San Gabriel Mountains National Monument covers most but not all of the San Gabriel Mountains. Our challenge is that the monument does not extend all the way to Santa Clarita, so we are missing out on its benefits. The good news is that legislation had been introduced in Congress to expand the national monument all the way to Santa Clarita (see map).

Many people and organizations support expanding the monument. Now we need Congressman Knight’s leadership. Please join me in urging him to support legislation to expand the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument (the “San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act,” H.R. 2323). Urge him to oppose what we have dubbed “The National Monument Elimination Act” by a Utah member of Congress (it has the bill number of H.R. 3990) which would eliminate our ability ever to expand the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. It even could even could threaten the existing national monument.

Knight currently has no position on either bill, even though they impact the health of our youth, the availability of quality outdoor recreation for all, and even our property values. Rep. Knight, we ask you to lead the way.

 

John Monsen works with the nonprofit organization Nature for All, which connects youth with the outdoors. Monsen was the 2017 recipient of the Sierra Club-Los Angeles Chapter’s Extraordinary Achievement Award for his involvement in the establishment of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. He can be reached at wildernessjfm@aol.com.

 

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9 Comments

  1. Ebikes are going to love this. Thank you everyone.

  2. I highly support the expansion of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, and I oppose HR 3990, which would eliminate any possibility of ever expanding the monument into Santa Clarita. Not only this the monument expansion a great idea for all of us in the SCV, but it would compliment the Rim of the Valley Legislation. Please ask your congress person and senators to endorse the expansion of the San Gabriel National Monument.

  3. Raelene polcyn says:

    The federal government does not need to own more property in our state. It will be needed for future building, (there is a “no building” clause in the bill.)

    • SCVNews.com says:

      The federal government already owns the property. Nobody is talking about the federal government “owning more property.” They’re talking about changing the federal designation of what type of open space it is so that it goes on a different priority list. Doing that literally requires an act of Congress.

      • Denny NNWofLA says:

        “…requires an act of congress.” Right…
        Good luck getting congress to act on anything other than enriching themselves and their owners.

  4. Sandra Cattell says:

    Outstanding article that really explains the situation. Expanding the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument is a great idea. Conversely, HR 3990 not only takes away this option to expand but might hurt the already existing monument.

  5. Helen Sweany says:

    Santa Clarita has an amazing number of beautiful trails. Google Hike Santa Clarita and Santa Clarita Hiking and this can easily lead you their location. On weekends you might want to arrive earlier as some trails are extremely popular. Enjoy!

  6. John Monsen says:

    Absolutely true, Helen. We want to see a trail system in the mountains above Santa Clarita. Expanding the San Gabriel Mountain National Monument will help do that.

  7. John T says:

    Thanks John. Good write up. Let’s hope the midterms bring some god news.

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