DC Trip: An SGMF Volunteer’s Report

I’m a rising fourth year Ph.D. student at Alliant International University: California School of Professional Psychology (Los Angeles), as well as the Summer Nature Advocacy Intern at The Wilderness Society (TWS). As a psychology student and environmentalist, my mission is to bridge the gap between mental health and the environmental movement by spotlighting the benefits of nature on mental health. I was excited to receive an invitation to join San Gabriel Mountains Forever (SGMF) on a trip to Washington, D.C., to talk about the coalition’s work and legislative goals. These are my observations.

What Surprised Me:
Before going to Washington, D.C., I wondered if Congress members would listen to me and care about the importance of my work as an intern. However, I was repeatedly encouraged to speak by the leadership at both SGMF and TWS about my work to staffers and Congress members during our meetings. I was pleasantly surprised by the energy with which the staffers, as well as Congresswoman Judy Chu, responded when the other volunteers and I spoke about our projects.

What We Talked About:
Collectively, our work focuses on the importance of planting native plants, the versatility of Yucca leaves, and the integration of nature-based therapy into psychology.

What I’m Still Thinking About:
“Your voice matters” is a sentiment that can feel cliche and disingenuous. But I know my voice made an impact this time, especially when speaking to Joseph Ciccone, the Congressional staffer for Grace Napolitano, and Congresswoman Judy Chu. Because of this trip, I am grateful, empowered, restored, recharged, and inspired.

— Evelyn Shieh

Bill for More Protection: Monument Expansion and NRA

chu bill map

Great news: Congresswoman Judy Chu introduced the San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act today in Washington, D.C. This bill, supported by Rep. Grace F. Napolitano, Congressman Adam Schiff, Rep. Linda Sánchez, and U.S. Rep. Tony Cárdenas, will expand the existing National Monument and create a new National Recreation Area to enhance conservation, increase access for all communities by connecting park poor areas to open space, and improve the management of the area through improved resources, education, and public engagement. It’s good for Angelenos and also and visitors to the region, and it helps protect for our water supply and wildlife habitat.

Our press release

Map showing the proposed region

Sign your name to our letter thanking Congresswoman Judy Chu for introducing this legislation

Wilderness Bill Introduced

Exciting news in our efforts to seek further protection for the San Gabriel Mountains: U.S. Rep. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) introduced HR 3153 – The Saint Francis Dam Disaster National Memorial and Castaic Wilderness Act.

The bill proposes establishing a national monument honoring the victims of the 1928 Saint Francis Dam disaster and designating 69,812 acres in the Angeles National Forest as the Castaic Wilderness.

Our Chair Belinda Faustino offered these comments in support of the bill: “These rugged lands include diverse scenery and plant life, from the dramatic brick-red outcrop of Redrock Mountain, to perennially flowing creeks, from towering Big Cone Douglas Fir, to chaparral-draped hills. These natural features, along with the rich cultural history of Saint Francis Dam, have catalyzed the support of local community members, organizations and businesses for these designations.”

More info: Our press release.