Advocates Push to Expand San Gabriel Mountains National Monument
Tuesday, June 27, 2023
Lawmakers and conservation groups are asking President Joe Biden to use his powers under the Antiquities Act to expand the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument near Los Angeles.
Advocates want to expand the western side of the monument, adding 109,000 acres currently part of the Angeles National Forest and range from the area above Altadena north to Pacoima, Sylmar and Santa Clarita.
Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., said the expansion would have multiple benefits.
"Yes, it's a matter of conservation. Yes, it's a matter of environmental stewardship. Yes, it's a matter of protecting the unique biodiversity that exists here," Padilla outlined. "But it is also a matter of environmental justice."
Some 18 million people, including many from low-income communities of color, live within 90 miles of the national monument. The area is sacred to several local tribes.
Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., has been working for decades to protect the San Gabriel Mountains, recently securing funding for buses to start bringing people from urban areas up to the mountains.
"From increased access to nature for underserved communities to protecting the source of one-third of this county's drinking water, to improving our region's economy, health and environment," Chu emphasized. "This will all receive a boost."
Belén Bernal, executive director of Nature for All, a nonprofit based in Los Angeles, said the move would also protect wildlife corridors and aid in the fight against climate change.
"Permanent protection is also aligned with all the various efforts happening at the federal and state level around '30 by 30,'" Bernal explained. "Protecting 30% of our open spaces and biodiversity by 2030."
The proposed expansion is included in the Public Lands Act and the San Gabriel Mountains Protection Act currently before Congress, but the bills have stalled in the face of Republican opposition.
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