Nature for All celebrates the reintroduction of historic federal legislation which would further protect and create access to the San Gabriel Mountains

We are extremely pleased to announce that Senator Kamala Harris and Representative Judy Chu have reintroduced the San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act which will protect wild lands, open space and rivers and improve recreation opportunities in Los Angeles County. Stretching from Santa Clarita to San Bernardino, these open space resources, particularly the San Gabriel Mountains, are the recreational “backyard” for more than 17 million Southern Californians.

“The Los Angeles area is one of the most park poor areas of the country, despite the presence of the gorgeous rivers, forests, and mountains of the San Gabriels just to the north,” said Congresswoman Chu. “President Obama’s National Monument designation increased access to and opportunities for learning and exploring in the mountains, but so much land remains to be preserved so that more people can experience our area’s unique gifts of nature. That is why I am proud to advance the San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act. This legislation represents the next step in protecting and connecting the San Gabriel Mountains, and will preserve thousands of acres of land and water for future generations.”

“Under this administration, California’s beautiful public lands and its outdoor economy are under direct threat, and we must stand up against this active effort to chip away at vital environmental protections,” said Senator Harris. “Restoring and expanding protections for our public lands means protecting Americans’ right to clean air and clean water and providing everybody the opportunity to explore and enjoy the outdoors.”

This is a historic milestone in the effort to protect and restore the best remaining parts of our public lands in the Los Angeles region. The legislation will:

  • Expands the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument by adding approximately 109,143 acres in the upper Los Angeles River watershed;
  • Establishes the San Gabriel Mountains National Recreation Area for the San Gabriel and San Jose Foothills and the Rio Hondo and San Gabriel Rivers comprised of over 51,000 acres;
  • Expands Wilderness area designations within the San Gabriel Mountains by 31,069 acres; and
  • Designates 25.3 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers (WSR) in the San Gabriel Mountains

By introducing this legislation, Senator Harris and Rep. Chu have put us one step closer to implementing our vision, which is that everyone in the Los Angeles area – no matter where they live – has equitable access to the wide range of benefits that nature can provide.

News: St. Francis Senate Bill Introduced

st francis dam dianne photo 1California Senators Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein introduced the “St. Francis Dam Disaster National Memorial Act” in the Senate to establish a national memorial in San Francisquito Canyon to honor the hundreds of those who lost their lives following the dam collapse and flood of 1928.

Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel of Nature for All member organization Community Hiking Club has championed this legislation to establish the national monument, which would be managed by the U.S. Forest Service. “I am thrilled that both Senators Feinstein and Harris have gotten behind this bipartisan legislation and have co-introduced it. Now we can look forward to it passing in the Senate, and President Trump signing it into law. This will be a dream come true, not only for us, but for all the families of those who lost loved ones in the resulting flood.”

When the companion Congressional bill was introduced and passed earlier this year, Erskine-Hellrigel applauded the move to honor the victims and also protect the area, which is home to Unarmored Three Spine Stickleback (UTS) and the red-legged frog, our new state amphibian.

Volunteer Report: Liliana Griego on Our June 2017 Trip to DC

liliana dc 1Liliana Griego is a graduate of the San Gabriel Mountain Forever Leadership Academy and a volunteer for SGMF who joined a group of coalition members on a trip to Washington, D.C. to advocate for protection of our national monuments. Below, she reflects on the experience.

What Surprised Me

I was shocked to learn about the network of tunnels and the subway system found under the Capitol that connects the Capitol to the House and Senate office buildings. Unfortunately, only representatives are allowed to take the subway, but we did utilize the tunnels every time we traveled from one representative’s office to another. After visiting a few offices and speaking to different staff members, I also learned that they actually like when local representatives visit them and they strongly encourage their constituents to call if they have opinions on certain matters. A staff member shared a story with me about their office receiving so many calls on one particular issue that they couldn’t get any work done because the phones wouldn’t stop ringing. It was a fast way to bring attention to the issue and they felt pressure to resolve it as quickly of possible. This story showed me that our voices can be heard if we just make them loud enough.

What We Talked About

When I arrived in D.C., a weeklong event was being held by the Monuments for All campaign. The week was designated for two things — to draw attention to the national monuments that are currently being reviewed and to find ways to bring diversity and inclusion to those monuments. Local representative from different monuments were brought together to share their connection with their particular monument. Other Californians accompanied me, and we shared our stories with different congressional offices. We requested they make their voice heard on the floor, submit letters of opposition to any changes on the national monuments, and support any legislation that would benefit Californian monuments.

I was also given the opportunity to speak on a panel that brought different perspectives on how national monuments benefit different communities. Speakers addressed how beneficial monuments can be in terms of archeological preservation, growth of the local economy, and providing opportunities for urban youth to experience nature for the first time.

What I’m Still Thinking About

After returning from D.C., I felt energized, optimistic, and determined to keep the momentum going. After speaking to many representatives of the LA region, it was reassuring to hear that most of the offices are in support of our national monuments and they are fighting the good fight alongside us. I believe now the greater push is to continue engaging our communities and educating them on the importance of our national monuments. I now feel inspired to spread the word to my community and let them know that our representatives want and need to hear from us. Politicians and the people who work for them are in fact just people, and sharing your story with them can be impactful. Filling out those postcards actually does matter, making those phone calls can make a difference, and uniting together can bring change.

News: San Gabriel Mountains Forever Act Introduced

Great news: Congresswoman Judy Chu has introduced the San Gabriel Mountains Forever Act today. The legislation, cosponsored by Congressman Adam Schiff, will protect 31,069 acres of wilderness — including two new areas, the Yerba Buena and Condor Peak Wilderness — and will also designate 45.3 miles of wild rivers.

Here’s a breakdown of what is being proposed.

Condor Peak PWACondor Peak Wilderness

Protection: 8,417 acres of public lands in the Lower and Upper Big Tujunga Watersheds. The unit rises abruptly from 1,800 feet on its southern flanks to more than 6,000 feet at its northern boundary near Mt. Gleason.

Benefits: It is hoped that the California Condor will return to this area — part of its historic habitat.

Yerba Buena Wilderness

Protection: 6,774 acres

Benefits: It’s one of the most spectacular undeveloped landscapes in the San Gabriel MountainsThis area offers opportunities for solitude in a natural setting and a variety of recreational experiences.

San Gabriel Wilderness Additions

Protection: 2,027 acres to be added to the existing San Gabriel Wilderness Areas

Benefits: Area has dramatically rising slopes and a variety of flora and fauna. The San Gabriel Wilderness Additions encompasses a portion of the San Gabriel River watershed, which is an important source of clean drinking water.

Sheep Mountain Wilderness Additions

Protection: 13,851 acres to the established Sheep Mountain Wilderness. The Sheep Mountain Wilderness Additions are contiguous with the existing wilderness and add important landscapes to the wilderness area’s northwest and southwest/southern flanks. These additions include several tributary canyons of the San Gabriel River, a portion of the San Gabriel Mountains crest between Mt. Baden Powell and Mt. Hawkins.

Benefits: The area is home to wildlife including its namesake Nelson Bighorn Sheep.

East, West and North Forks of the San Gabriel River

Protection:  25.3 miles in the forest’s largest watershed

Benefits: It’s the source of clean drinking water for Los Angeles County. All three forks support rare native fish populations. Easily accessible segments of the East Fork and North Fork provide outstanding family recreation opportunities, including picnicking, wading, and camping. The upper West Fork is the route of the Gabrieleno National Recreation Trail and the upper East Fork offers unique backcountry hiking, backpacking, and wild trout fishing.

Little Rock Creek

Protection: 20.2 miles

Location: Secluded and crystal-clear northern creek, which flows from the San Gabriel Mountains high country to the Mojave Desert.

On the Road: March 2017 DC Trip

Coalition members Duyen Tran (Wilderness Society), Roberto Morales (Sierra Club), Steve Evans (Friends of the River), Daniel Rossman (Wilderness Society), Dan Smuts (Wilderness Society) traveled to Washington, D.C. with volunteers Bryan Matsumoto, Michelle Okawa, Sandra Catell, and Jeremy Rogers to meet with the offices of our local legislators. Thanks to Congresswoman Judy Chu, Congressman Adam Schiff, and Congresswoman Grace Napolitano, as well as staff members of Congressman Tony Cardenas, Congressman Steve Knight, Congressman Paul Cook, Congressman Ed Royce, and Senators Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein for taking the time to meet with us! (Photos by Bryan Matsumoto.)

Victory for Los Angeles: Measures A and M Passed

There is good election news to report: Measures A and M passed!

Measure A will provide much-needed funding for park-poor communities and Measure M will provide more public transit and active transportation options to help provide access to parks and open, green spaces. It’s a huge win for our communities. We can’t wait to see the progress.

Monument Plan Update: Community Collaborative Comments

20161027_120217-01Members of SGMF are on the San Gabriel Mountains Community Collaborative, which submitted comments to the Forest Service on the National Monument Plan. Statement included by our coalition chair, Omar Gomez: “We are proud to be working with the Collaborative to achieve mutual objectives by requesting that the Management Plan include specific objectives with a timeline and a monitoring plan in order to meet the intent of President Obama’s proclamation for the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, particularly as it relates to access for all and visitor services.”