In view of the San Gabriel Mountains, Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27) was praised by President Barack Obama as he declared more than 346,000 acres of national forest land there the nationâ€™s newest national monument this morning. Rep. Chu, whose district includes much of the new monument and who has led the Congressional effort for more protections, attended the announcement and released the following statement:
â€œThis is a truly great day. Every day, I and millions of others in the Los Angeles area look to these mountains. They are a majestic backdrop and comprise 70 percent of the open space for the area. Naturally, their beauty and proximity attract families and individuals in search of fresh air or recreation on our vast trails alongside flowing rivers. But how to do so sustainably has been an active challenge for years. Now, after more than a decade of work, national monument designation will finally provide more means to protect our beautiful but under-resourced San Gabriel Mountains. Standing next to President Obama as this historic declaration was signed, I felt the culmination of all these efforts and the realization of new opportunities for the San Gabriels.
â€œFollowing the proud example of 16 presidents before him â€“ dating back to Teddy Roosevelt â€“ President Obama has used the Antiquities Act to guarantee continued access to our nationâ€™s rich natural areas while upholding existing water rights, fire prevention, and land usage for generations. Soon, the break from the bustle and crowding of city life afforded by the San Gabriels will be available to our underserved populations, connecting new visitors to this treasure. And when they arrive, they will no longer be greeted by graffiti or garbage. Already, there has been an incredible response from the community to join in the effort and we are seeing public-private partnerships springing up to contribute to the conservation and upkeep.â€
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 Antiquities Act of 1906 gives the President the authority to declare a national monument on federal lands, if they are historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest. A fact sheet from the White House, including the borders of the monument, can be found here.