Public Lands Remain in Play

The introduction of the San Gabriel National Recreation Area Act in early June kicked off a busy month of federal activity centered around public lands. The bill, sponsored by Representative Judy Chu (CA-27) and co-sponsored by Adam Schiff (CA-28) and Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), would designate portions of the Angeles National Forest north of Los Angeles as a national recreation area, further shielding this exceptional natural landscape as wilderness. 

The measure was drawn up with the support of anglers, recreation users, business groups, water and sanitation officials, conservation advocates, and San Gabriel Valley elected officials. The San Gabriel Mountains were the focus of an episode of the television series “This American Land,” which is shown on Public Broadcasting Service stations nationwide. 

On June 17, President Barack Obama announced his intention to exercise the authority granted him by the Antiquities Act to protect a vast area of the Pacific Ocean. This action has the potential to expand the protection of biologically important ocean waters surrounding the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument from almost 87,000 square miles to more than 780,000. The White House plans to solicit input from fishermen, scientists, politicians, experts in conservation, and others before making a final decision on the level of protection. 

The Pew Charitable Trusts applauded this declaration; Executive Vice President Joshua Reichert noted that the amount of life surrounding these atolls ”is absolutely remarkable. It’s a staggering assemblage of fish, sea birds, marine mammals, and critical habitat that’s needed by a wide variety of species that occupy these areas.” 

The end of June saw the return of Great Outdoors (GO) America Week, an annual event that brings together federal decision-makers with local conservation groups and outdoor enthusiasts. This year, activists from California to West Virginia came to Washington to meet with administration officials, pitch ideas in Hill briefings, and conduct presentations about how advocates are overcoming the challenges they face in protecting the nation’s public lands. 

GO Week culminated in a congressional reception honoring long-time conservation champions, such as Representatives Rush Holt (NJ), George Miller (CA), and Jim Moran (VA).