LOS ANGELES — On Tuesday, July 11th the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in support of federal action to add 109,000 acres of public lands to the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument.
The motion, introduced by Fifth District Supervisor Kathryn Barger, highlights the opportunity for President Biden to use the Antiquities Act to expand the monument. The Antiquities Act is a 1906 law that grants U.S. Presidents the ability to designate federal public lands, waters, and cultural and historical sites as national monuments with a Presidential Proclamation. The motion from the Supervisors also expresses support for federal legislation introduced in May by Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA) and Representative Judy Chu (CA-28) to expand the monument.
“Every Los Angeles County resident in every neighborhood deserves safe and accessible nature, parks, and open space,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger. “Connecting with nature benefits our mental health and overall well-being. As local leaders, we must do everything possible to ensure our communities and visitors alike have equitable access to explore nature. It’s a stabilizing space that makes a big difference in many people’s lives.”
The motion follows a June event with Senator Padilla, Representative Chu, Tribal leaders, other local elected officials, and more than 150 community members at the Eaton Canyon Natural Area in Pasadena. At the event Senator Padilla and Representative Chu called on President Biden to expand the monument using the Antiquities Act. Vice President Kamala Harris previously championed the effort to protect this area when she served as California’s Senator.
“I want us to collectively urge President Joe Biden to expand that national monument using the Antiquities Act of 1906 to protect nearly 110,000 acres of the San Gabriel Mountains,” said First District Supervisor Hilda Solis, who has long been a champion for the protection of the San Gabriel Mountains. “These lands are a gateway to our forest and should be included in our national monument legislation. They are part of the backyard to open space for L.A. County.”
Expanding the monument is the next step in a 20-year, locally-driven effort to protect the San Gabriel Mountains. Over 18 million people live within a 90-mile radius of these public lands and the expansion will help increase equitable access to nature and improve public health. It will also conserve a critical drinking water source for Los Angeles County, address the climate and biodiversity crises, and honor the cultural and historical significance of the landscape.
In 2014, President Obama designated approximately 346,177 acres of the San Gabriel Mountains as a national monument. Since then, community support has continued to grow for safeguarding important public lands that were not included in the original monument designation. The proposed expansion area is considered the “gateway” to the Angeles National Forest and as a result is one of the most visited parts of the forest. Moreover, according to the U.S. Forest Service, the national forest received 4.6 million visitors in 2021—more than the Grand Canyon or Yosemite National Park received in the same year.
In addition to the proposed monument expansion, the legislation from Representative Chu, the San Gabriel Mountains Protection Act designates over 31,000 acres as protected Wilderness and over 45 miles of Wild and Scenic rivers throughout the San Gabriel range. Senator Padilla’s bill, the PUBLIC Lands Act, includes the same protections for the San Gabriel Mountains, as well as proposed protections for public lands and rivers in the Central Coast and Northwest California.
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About the Nature for All Coalition and San Gabriel Mountains Forever
The Nature for All coalition, made up of local and national nonprofits, works to protect the public lands and green, open spaces around Los Angeles, and create opportunities for Angelenos to connect and care for nature.
Beginning in 2000, Nature for All – alongside many national and state environmental groups – began working to build an extraordinary collaboration between social justice, immigrant, religious, veteran, business, recreationist, environmental, and civic organizations, as well as water entities and elected officials. Together, these organizations are helping to secure the protections and recreational access improvements necessary to meet the needs of over 18 million people in the Los Angeles region.
San Gabriel Mountains Forever is an initiative of Nature for All, formed in 2008. The effort focuses on protecting the public lands and rivers of the San Gabriel Mountains forever to ensure equitable access to the outdoors for the region’s residents. Today, we want to ensure that the additional 109,000 acres are included in the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument in order to permanently protect these sacred spaces in nature for the local community, visitors, and for generations to come.