Nature for All Coalition members and volunteers celebrating the San Gabriel Mountains Foothill and Rivers Protection Act bill introduction in April 2019
To advocate for and organize on behalf of federal legislation and policies that protect the San Gabriel Mountains, foothills, and rivers.
Our federal legislative efforts in the San Gabriel Mountains involve:
- Wild & Scenic Rivers
- Expansion of the National Monument
- National Recreation Areas
The 2018/19 Nature for All campaign plan specifically focused on supporting the following designations through Congressional actions: 1) Expansion of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument for areas within the Forest; 2) Urban National Recreation Area designation for areas outside the Forest; and 3) Wilderness and Wild and Scenic River designations for areas in the Angeles National Forest. Obtaining these designations will result in strategic and thoughtful stewardship of these natural areas in the San Gabriel Mountains, which will ultimately improve forest, foothills, and river habitats.
The work of the coalition since 2008 has been strategic and consistent in developing and sustaining a strong support base for our policy and legislative goals. That base of support starts with our engagement with community members across the region which is critical to the continued endorsement of our policy objectives by local electeds and civic leaders.
Photographed Left to Right : Roberto Morales (Sierra Club, Coalition Chair), Kimberly Orbe (N4A Coalition Coordinator), Araceli Hernandez (N4A Organizer), Jenny Binstock (Sierra Club), Graciela Cabello (Los Padres Forest Watch), and Daniel Rossman (The Wilderness Society)
Our focus in the May, 2018 -Sept. 2019 period was the introduction of the San Gabriel bill by Senator Kamala Harris. Nature for All met with Harris’ staff at the local district office in May 2018 and has continued building a positive relationship with her office since. Her staff then prompted Nature for All to send an extensive background document detailing the importance of increased San Gabriel Mountains protections and providing language from Chu’s bills. The coalition also worked to collect 500 petitions and met with local Congressional representatives to build support for Harris’ introduction of a Senate companion bill. This year coalition members, Nature For All Staff and volunteer leaders have met with dozens of elected officials at all levels of Government including Congressmembers, State Assembly and State Senators, LA County Board Supervisors, LA County Conucilmembers and Mayor’s office, City Councils and LAUSD Board Members. Nature For All lead Volunteers have secured and led more than 20 meetings with elected officials, for 2020 the goals is to have Nature For All Lead Volunteers secure 50 meetings with elected officials in LA County.
With the assistance of The Wilderness Society, the Conservation Lands Foundation and others by the spring of 2019 we were reasonably sure that a bill would be introduced by Senator Harris. During this same time frame, there was a concerted effort to meet with district congressional staff to work up co-sponsor support for reintroduction of the Chu bills. Several of our coalition’s partners attended these meetings. A DC trip to solidify support for the bills and particularly co-sponsors on the House side took place the week of April 1. This visit resulted in securing at least 3 new co-sponsors for the bill (Cisneros, Roybal-Allard & Hill). As a result of that work, when both the Chu and Harris bills were introduced on April 10 a major milestone was achieved. Visits to congressional committee staff also paved the way for the bill hearing in July. Staff worked to secure David Diaz, Executive Director of Active SGV to testify on the bill. He was a very credible local community member representative.
After introduction of the bills there was extensive work with the water agencies/associations to secure their support. Amended bill language was agreed to and is now awaiting mark up in the October/November time frame. A major disappointment in the last month was that SGVCOG support was not possible due to concerns from several foothill cities, particularly Monrovia and Glendora. After several meetings with the COC staff and our chief supporter, Denis Bertone and the concurence of Congresswoman Chu’s staff it was decided to defer on seeking a vote by the COG. However, the calculus is that as long as we can demonstrate strong support among local electeds with Committee staff this should not be a deterrent.
Priorities for 2019-2020
Upcoming actions include committee markup and a full House floor vote and likely in 2020 and upcoming work on the Senate. Coalition team members are hard at work trying to get additional members signed on as co-sponsors and individual member sign ups to shore up support from local and state electeds, civic leaders and businesses. Keeping up the engagement with community members will be critically important to that success. The efforts of coalition team members to secure support through their tabling events and community meetings will be required in order to be ready for the next phase of our target which is a hearing on the Senate side of the House. Much of our work on the San Gabriels bill will require that we stay in touch with our champions in the district offices to keep them informed about the status of the bill to maintain a strong tide of support. Another potential target fo ther upcoming year will be to shore up support from state electeds, paticularly the new San Gabriel Valley representatives, Susan (Senate) and Blanca Rubio (Assembly).
Photographed is President Obama declaring the San Gabriel Mountain National Monument in October 2014, as a direct result of our efforts over the years to secure additional protections for this region
- The monument was designated by President Obama in October 2014, as a direct result of our efforts over the years to secure additional protections for this region.
- The U.S. Forest Service relied on our input to develop the San Gabriel Mountains Monument Plan and to make sure it is a monument for all Angelenos. Work in this area continues with our role in the San Gabriel Mountains Community Collaborative.
- Advocated for further legislation to expand the new monument, establish a National Recreation Area outside of the Forest and wilderness, and Wild and Scenic River designations for areas of particular conservation concern.
- Supported and organized efforts to make improvements to the region, including the East Fork River Project.