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CA Students in D.C. for Great Outdoors Week

June 25, 2012

WASHINGTON - Some California students are helping to connect Americans with the great outdoors. The group from the San Gabriel Mountains Forever Leadership Academy is in Washington, D.C., to take part in Great Outdoors America Week. They join people from all over the country who are advocating for local and national lands.

Cal State Northridge student Natalie Garnica says she's always loved nature, and she joined the Academy to learn more about community organizing.

"It's not only our campaign, but it's also getting the community involved. The Leadership Academy is that experience of how to approach the community and also elected officials."

Garnica is excited to be in D.C., and hopes the experience will empower her so she can do her part to protect California's wilderness.

George Sanchez-Tello, an associate specialist with The Wilderness Society, is the coordinator of the Leadership Academy. He says the San Gabriel Mountains make up nearly 70 percent of the Los Angeles region's open spaces and account for one-third of the area's water.

"Literally, we need the mountains to survive. At the same time, for many in the Los Angeles region and the San Gabriel Valley, they just haven't had a chance to experience the wonder of our nature."

San Gabriel Mountains Forever is a coalition of individuals and groups who are seeking wilderness and wild scenic river designations for the San Gabriel Mountains and River, as well as a National Recreation Area from the mountains to the San Gabriel Valley.

President Obama launched the America's Great Outdoors (AGO) Initiative, with the premise that lasting conservation solutions should come from the American people themselves.

Lori Abbott, Public News Service - CA