Defending Public Lands: Utah National Monuments Under Attack

The announcement from President Trump that he signed a proclamation to dramatically reduce the size of two national monuments in Utah is deplorable — and it is not in the best interest of the American people.

We stand in solidarity with those in Utah fighting to protect their national monuments. An attack on one national monument is an attack on all.

Stripping protections of our public lands? Putting the interest of the dirty fuel industries above the interests of the general public? Acting with a blatant disregard for cultural and historic preservation? This is disgraceful.

Given this administration’s disdain for the environment, this is not a surprise. Nor is this the end of our fight.

While California’s public lands were not part of today’s announcement, they remain at risk, including our San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. We will remain committed to our work to protect our beloved national monument.

When the Trump administration announced plans to review the national monuments established by presidents who used powers established by the Antiquities Act, we mobilized to protect the national monument in our backyard. Our voices were loud and clear: we need this land to be protected — and improved — to serve the needs of Angelenos, especially those living in park-poor communities.

So what can YOU do to help? We know this: Our voices matter and we can continue to work on improving our San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. Tuesday, December 5, we will be at a 5:30 pm public meeting for the East Fork River Project, and we’re inviting our supporters to join us. (If you cannot attend, sign our letter to make sure the project serves the needs of all Angelenos.) Before the meeting, at 4:45 pm, there will be a rally to defend our national monuments hosted by Nature For All member organization The Sierra Club.

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.

The Public Speaks: Why We Need the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument

Below, a small sampling of the thousands of comments we have collected in support of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. (Our letter.)

sgmf insta monument comment 1

“The San Gabriel Mountains are a unique place ecologically, historically and culturally. Allowing them to exist unprotected in the current political climate we’re living in would be irresponsible and irreverent to all of us who cherish this land. Thank you for your efforts in protecting what we need and love.” – Christina

“From our home in Wrightwood, CA, we are awed by the beauty of these mountains every day… We need all the resources possible to keep it for future generations and to maintain it for many hikers who traverse our Pacific Coast Trail every year from Mexico to Canada. If you could only see Catalina Island and Azusa Canyon framed be two 10,000 foot mountains, you would understand the imperative of preserving this precious, precious land.” – Kenneth

“I am on the north side of the San Gabriels, and take children up into the Forest to teach them about nature. This is in my back yard. The San Gabriel Mountains National Monument needs to be enlarged, not reduced.” – Sandra

“An attack on one national monument is an attack on all. Please maintain the status of ALL national monuments across the country, including the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. Protected public lands are critical for the health and future of our country.” – Amy

“I live in Alhambra and these mountains are my backyard. Please do not destroy this monument because of partisanship or hate. There is no logical reason to abandon this monument, and doing so would not benefit the American people in any way.” – Christopher

“Every time we look up or drive by on the local freeway we are moved by this natural beauty. We can park below and hike up amongst beautiful trees, gorgeous vistas, and streams with occasional waterfalls. The wildlife up here also thrives in this expansive mountain range. Please protect this incredible area that surrounds so many communities and is available to anyone for access and a healthy climb.” – Gabriela

“It amazes me how nationally obscure the San Gabriel Mountains and the Angeles Crest Highway are nationally. They deserve far more publicity than they get. The first time I drove the length of the Highway I was completely, utterly blown away; it was some of the most visually striking landscape I’ve ever seen. And the road just goes on and on and on. It truly is an otherworldly, sacred tract, and every effort should be made to protect it.” – Jonathan

“This Monument enjoys wide support from people of all walks of life and most diverse ethnic background. They came to all public planning meetings and left many comments of their support. For many who will never get to the High Sierra, the Gabriel Mountains National Monument are the next best thing. The San Gabriel National Monument gets as many visitors as Yosemite and is a jewel to Angelenos. It it a great place to have a wilderness experience only one hour or less from LA. Keep your hands off the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. It took many years and a lot of hard work to make it happen.” – Rick

“I love the San Gabriels, the steepest mountains in southern California. They need all the protection and care that government can provide, as so many other people love them, too.” -Pat

“I hike in these mountains every week. I urge you to preserve these mountains for those of us who cherish this opportunity to enjoy the outdoors in such a developed region.” – Michelle

“The San Gabriel National Monument is a treasure, and treasures are rich, and this wealth of nature is not to be wasted and lost.” – Maria

“Our national monuments and public lands and waters help define who we are as a nation by telling the story of our historical, cultural and natural heritage. I am extremely disappointed that President Trump has signed an executive order that attempts to undermine our national monuments. Attempts to roll back protections for national monuments would be both illegal and terribly misguided. I strongly urge you to oppose any efforts to eliminate or shrink our national monuments. I am firmly opposed to any effort to revoke or diminish protections for National Monuments and I urge you to support our public lands and waters and recommend that our current national monuments remain protected. I urge you to stand up for our nation’s national monuments and to protect, preserve, and keep them as they are, for all Americans to enjoy.” – Chanda

“We need to protect what little natural environmental space we have, for future generations.” – Lisa

“In my 40 years of taking children into the mountains to teach them stewardship and environmental responsibility, it’s been the Mountains that changed their lives, not the books, people or buildings!” – Lark

“I’ve lived in the city all my life, but the San Gabriel Mountains showed me that Los Angeles was part of something much bigger. I know so many people in the Los Angeles area and beyond who love these mountains. We need the national monument designation to pass this national treasure on to the next generation.” – Kelly