On this beautiful, sunny, monumental October day, President Obama used his authority under the Antiquities Act to establish nearly 350,000 acres of national forest land in the San Gabriel Mountains in southern California as a national monument.
“I can think of no better way to honor our past and protect our future than by preserving the San Gabriel Mountains,” Obama said.
The move comes after more than a decade of public support from the local community, including environmental justice advocates for open space and public lands protection, conservationists, academic and cultural preservation communities, and local businesses. CLCV applauds the leadership of Congresswoman Judy Chu, who represents the area and had introduced legislation to protect it. President Obama stepped in where Congress had failed to act by permanently protecting the mountains for future generations. (Click here for statements from CLCV and LCV).
The San Gabriel Mountains provide one-third of Los Angeles County’s clean drinking water, as well as habitat for countless plants and wildlife and recreational opportunities for underserved communities. For many residents of Los Angeles County--one of the most disadvantaged counties in the country when it comes to access to parks and open space for ethnic and racial minorities (particularly children)--the mountains provide the only available large-scale open space.
According to the White House: "In addition to permanently protecting this land, the monument designation will create new opportunities for the Forest Service and local communities to work together to increase access and enhance outdoor opportunities."
Below are some of the comments from the more than 3,000 CLCV supporters' thank-you letters to President Obama about the historic designation:
Terri in Monrovia:
"I signed the petition to designate my home area as a national monument and I am so pleased and thankful that this came to pass. I know first-hand how well used and well loved this area is, and how important it is to the local ecosystem, including local wildlife."
Ursula in Truckee:
"I grew up in San Bernardino, CA with little exposure to the ideas of conservation and protection of our beautiful spaces. Having spent the past 20 years in Northern California and now currently working for an environmental non-profit, I understand the importance and preserving our open spaces. I'm so happy knowing that relatives who stayed in that region now have a protected space for the future of their generations... most importantly, my daughter, now living in LA."
Lee in Los Angeles:
"I am so grateful for your action. We need more conservation not less and I am totally thrilled about this designation. As we say in So Cal, muchas gracias!"
Gwynn in Richmond:
"I grew up with the San Gabriel mountains at my back. They are the heart and soul of LA., its wild heart. They are unique. And they may be the most tectonically active area in the state, given the faults running through and across them. You don't mess with Mother Nature."
Gloriana in Altadena:
"Thank you, thank you, thank you. I live 6 blocks from there. OBAMA went to the mountain, and mammals everywhere celebrate that really and truly THIS LAND is OUR land, This Land is YOUR land!"
Leila in San Diego:
"Designating the San Gabriel mountain range a national monument is an act that will benefit all Americans, and any foreign visitors to this beautiful, irreplaceable geological region. Thank you."
Wendy in Los Angeles:
"The city where I grew up, San Bernardino, is located in a wide valley surrounded by mountains, including the rugged, magnificent San Gabriel range. I have many fond memories of watching the sunset along the towering silhouette of Mount Baldy from my house. It was a sight I'll never forget, and I am immensely grateful that you have offered special protection to this beautiful area."
Inguna in Los Angeles:
"When I went to demonstrate my support for the idea of San Gabriel mountains becoming the National Monument, I heard those speeches from officials that it is very complicated and will take forever, and I was sad... So, I am very thankful that with your help San Gabriel mountains and its wildlife will be protected as our natural heritage."
Katherine in San Diego:
"I grew up hiking and climbing in the San Gabriels above the city of Monrovia. I don't know the boundaries of this new national monument, but preserving some of these precious mountains is very exciting! Those were special memories for me, now in my 75th year. I appreciate your action to preserve them!"
Randy in Cathedral City:
"Thank you for protecting more and more acres in our great country. The animals, plants and people all thank you!!"
Genette in Pasadena:
"I hike frequently in the San Gabriel Mountains and am grateful that in a time with pressing problems in many different regions of the world, designation of this national monument was a priority for the administration."
Gerhard in Santa Rosa:
"As a teacher of geology from 1956 to 2005, first at Pomona College then at the University of California, Los Angeles, I have led many classes of students into these Mountains. Together we enjoyed, time and again, splendid outcrops of ancient rocks, wonderful forests, and breathtaking views south into the San Gabriel Valley and north deep into the Mojave Desert."
Joseph in Lewiston:
"At a time when too much of the world has been fracked and frazzled, burned and cleared for the small gains of a few individuals, this is an important step in the right direction. Much more needs to be done, but every little bit counts."
Seema in Pacific Palisades:
"I, personally am grateful that my little grandchildren and their children are insured the privilege and possibility of living close enough to experience the magnificence of nature untouched by civilization's encroachment."
Nancy in Pasadena:
"Today the San Gabriels are so beautiful--the winter sun marks them orange then red then purple. We live in the foothills and treasure our mountains everyday, but some days they appear so majestic it still takes my breath away. Thank you for this designation--it will help protect this beautiful part of earth forevermore."
Pam in Mission Viejo:
"I live in Orange County CA and occasionally visit the San Gabriel mountains and they are a wonder. What can seem like an arid desolate area is teeming with bird life, snakes, mammals small and large and people hiking, camping and just enjoying being away from the crowd of the city. Your designation will ensure that the creatures there still have homes... Thank you from the bottom of my heart."
Maria in La Habra Heights:
"I have spent many a time camping in the San Gabriel Mountains and I can tell you Mr. President it's a truly wonderful experience."
Alicia in Covina:
"Thank you, President Obama. I am fortunate to look out at the beautiful San Gabriels every day from my upstairs bedroom window. Thank you for helping to preserve them for all of us."
Rafael in Berkeley:
"Few things are of more importance that preserving open spaces, our wilderness; thank you."
Richard in San Carlos:
"I lived in Southern California for 28 years and resided within a few miles of the San Gabriel mountains during my grade-school and high-school years. Thus, they were very important resources for me. A recent trip to the mountains reaffirmed my appreciation for the rich heritage they hold and the value they provide to residents in Southern California."
Annette in Healdsburg:
"My husband was a National Park Ranger at King's Canyon National Park. He thrilled at the joy visitors expressed as they experienced this magnificent National Park, once a National Monument. Thank you for opening this new, beautiful monument for others to experience."
Helen in San Mateo:
"I spent most of my youth in La Canada, in the foothills of the Angeles National Forest. I loved hiking and horseback riding in the foothills, and driving up to see snow in winter. The San Gabriels are very special to me; thank you for protecting them."
Barbara in Granite Bay:
"My husband and I led Boy and Girl Scouts into the San Gabriels many times -- hiking, cooking, overnight camping -- and all of those children now treasure the experience of camping out in a wild place that was not a neighborhood park, but an exciting, strange and beautiful experience."
Cynthia in Brooklyn:
"Although I am not a Californian, I believe this designation will benefit all our citizens, as many from other states will visit and many others will feel pleased that the San Gabriel Mountains have been protected. Thank you!"