President Barack Obama has decided to declare about half of the San Gabriel Mountains east of Santa Clarita as a National Monument.
The president is scheduled to sign the executive order Friday at 1 p.m. at Frank G. Bonelli Park in San Dimas. The park, like much of the affected mountain area, is in the congressional district of Rep. Judy Chu, D-Pasadena, whose legislation to heighten protections for the region stalled out in Congress.
Bypassing Congress, Obama will use the Antiquities Act of 1906 to declare the mountains a national monument. The Antiquities Act was adopted by Congress during the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt to allow the president to protect federally owned lands that have a particular historic or scientific interest. One of the earliest uses of the act was by Roosevelt to preserve a major portion of the Grand Canyon.
It will be the 13th time Obama has used the Antiquities Act, most recently to designate the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.
– About the Antiquities Act
– Cultural History of the San Gabriel Mountains
– Bear on State Flag Was From New Monument Area
The following press release was issued by Rep. Judy Chu:
he White House today announced that President Obama plans to declare 346,000 acres of national forest land in the San Gabriel Mountains the nation’s newest national monument. Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27), whose district includes much of the future monument and who has led the Congressional effort for more protections, released the following statement:
“I am overjoyed and thrilled. This is an historic moment for the Los Angeles area, and it has been a long time coming. The San Gabriel Mountains are a treasure, providing 70 percent of the open space for Angelenos and attracting more than 3 million visitors a year. But without adequate funding, the gorgeous woods and waters are marred by trash and graffiti while many trails have become dangerous and lack appropriate signage. For eleven and a half years, countless stakeholders have worked on getting the resources needed to improve this area. Now, with the President’s announcement, there is finally hope. This marks the biggest change for the mountains since 1908 and is an important and immediate step towards fixing these problems. With this designation, the San Gabriels will become a priority, opening up new streams of funding that can be used to ensure that the mountains achieve their full potential for all the people who have gone there to hike, fish, or just enjoy fresh air,” said Rep. Chu.
The effort to protect the San Gabriel Mountains started eleven and a half years ago with the introduction of a bill by then-Representative Hilda Solis. The result was a 10-year study by the National Park Service, which included 66 stakeholder meetings, and 16,800 public comments, most overwhelmingly in support of more resources for the San Gabriel Mountains and Rivers. After the release of the study, Representative Judy Chu spent one and a half years drafting a bill on the San Gabriel Mountains and Rivers, conducting over 40 stakeholder meetings, earning the support of the San Gabriel Council of Governments and the San Gabriel Valley Water Association.
The following press release was issued by the Sierra Club in San Francisco:
The Sierra Club praised the news today that President Obama will designate the San Gabriel Mountains as our country’s next national monument. Located just outside Los Angeles, the area provides much-needed natural open space for surrounding residents and an abundance of recreation opportunities. The San Gabriels also provide one-third of Los Angeles County’s drinking water.
“For decades our community has been working to see this area protected,” said Susana Reyes, Sierra Club board member and long-time Glendale resident. “It’s a wild oasis right in L.A.’s backyard. It’s just great to see it protected as a national monument. Not only will that improve the visitor experience now and help improve public access for everyone, it will also ensure the things we love about the San Gabriels remain to be enjoyed by others.”
Stretching from Santa Clarita to San Bernardino County, the San Gabriel Mountains provide outdoor recreation opportunities for more than 17 million Southern Californians. They include the Angeles National Forest, one of the busiest forests in the country with more than 3.5 million visitors every year. However, inadequate funding and services, such as the lack of trail signs, restrooms and trash cans, have marred the visitor experience. Permanent protection as a national monument aims to solve many of those problems and bring additional benefits to the community.
“We applaud President Obama for using his authority under the Antiquities Act to protect this beautiful place, and ensure responsible public access to the San Gabriels for all. This designation is more positive progress in the effort to make America’s public lands better serve the diversity and interests of the American people,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune.
The designation follows efforts by community, business and local political leaders, utilities, homeowners, Congresswoman Judy Chu, and countless local residents to see the natural area protected. A public meeting held recently by the Obama Administration on the future of the San Gabriels drew an overflow crowd of hundreds of national monument supporters. Polling of Los Angeles County voters by Public Opinion Strategies found four-in-five voters supported permanently protecting the San Gabriel Mountains and a majority agreed that President Obama should act.