Analysis

Diverse Communities Support Bill to Protect San Gabriel Mountains Wild Lands

Permanent protection of the San Gabriel Mountains north of Los Angeles is within reach, thanks to new legislation that would designate most of the surrounding Angeles National Forest as a national recreation area. Representative Judy Chu, the bill’s sponsor, consulted with a diverse coalition of business people, conservationists, elected officials, anglers, and recreational users of the mountains to craft her plan.

Creation of a national recreation area would facilitate use of the forest and establish a precedent for further protection of outstanding natural areas as wilderness.

© Michael E. Gordon

Mt. San Antonio, also known as Mt. Baldy, Pine Mountain, and the Sheep Mountain Wilderness in the Angeles National Forest, California.

In a recent column published online by KCET television, Ann Olander, co-author of a book about Southern California mountains, wrote: “A national recreation area with more visitor services, rangers, and trail maintenance would be a gift to our region, especially if the mountains are included in that plan.”

For nearly 10 years, the organization San Gabriel Mountains Forever has built support for protection of the range, which stretches across the Angeles and San Bernardino national forests. A diverse partnership of residents, cities, local business owners, faith and community leaders, and health and environmental justice organizations are supporting the campaign.

Jim Mathews, an officer with the U.S. public lands program at The Pew Charitable Trusts said: “Many outstanding wild areas within the national forest are not yet protected as wilderness, so we are encouraged by Representative Chu’s interest in the San Gabriels, and her commitment to making sure the forest will be available for future generations to use and appreciate.”

The proposal also enjoys the support of local elected leaders.

Writing in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, El Monte Mayor Andre Quintero, Claremont Mayor Joe Lyons, and San Dimas City Council member Denis Bertone, who chairs the Environmental Committee for the San Gabriel Council of Governments, stated: “This special place, whether viewed from the Valley or along one of its many trails, improves our quality of life, contributes to our local economy, and provides clean water to our region.”

The San Gabriel Mountains were the focus of a recent episode of “This American Land,” which airs on PBS.

Pew & This American Land: Backyard Wilderness in L.A.

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