President Obama Designates San Gabriel National Monument

Today, President Obama checked off another box on the environmental community’s priority list. He declared 346,177 acres in the San Gabriel Mountains (northeast of Los Angeles) as a national monument.

Unlike the other three national monuments he recently announced, San Gabriel National Monument serves a major population center, ensuring better stewardship for one of the most heavily visited forests in the US. Over 15 million people live within 90 miles in an area that surprisingly has few opportunities for access to significant open space – so important for people’s health and feeling of attachment to nature. 

San Gabriel National Monument

The National Forest Foundation announced it will spend $3 million to support restoration and stewardship of the Monument, and a handful of foundations are working to establish a $500,000 fund for ongoing habitat restoration. 

The Monument takes up about half of the Angeles National Forest, which hosts over 4 million visits each year, contributing $39 million to the local economy, according to the US Forest Service.

In case you hear from Republicans that this is another example of "over-reach," every President since Teddy Roosevelt – who  designated the first national monument in 1906 – has used the Antiquities Act to protect unique natural and historic features in America: Grand Canyon and Statue of Liberty, among them.  

Representative Judy Chu (D-CA) introduced legislation in the House to protect the San Gabriel Mountains, but it never got out of committee. These days, Republicans want to open every square inch of public land to drilling, not conservation.

If they get elected in November, 13 new representatives will join seven in Congress who want federal lands turned over to the states or sold to corporate interests for drilling, mining, and logging. Of course, it’s high on ALEC’s agenda.

Other recent national monuments, President Obama protected are the 408,000 square mile Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument and the 500,000-acre Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in New Mexico and another 270,000 acres in monuments across the country.

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