New Legislation Expands San Gabriel National Monument

This morning, Representative Judy Chu introduced the San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act in the House of Representatives, which would expand the size of the currently existing San Gabriel Mountains National Monument by almost 110,000 acres as well as establish a new, nearly 50,000 acre National Recreation Area overlay south of the mountains.

The full text of the bill has not yet been posted online, but the description seems to be extremely similar to the San Gabriel National Recreation Act (H.R. 4858), which Chu introduced to Congress in the 2013-2014 session.

Based on what we know, the proposed legislation would transfer the Angeles National Forest land in the front range and Big Tujunga Canyons into the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. When that Monument was first established, the exclusion of those areas came as a surprise to many, including those who were actively involved in lobbying for its creation.

Although the land transferred from the Angeles National Forest to the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument would still be administered by the Forest Service, the National Monument is charged with emphasizing recreational uses and access to the land within its boundaries and generally has more resources than the Angeles National Forest. The finalized Land Management Policy for the Monument is still under development (and will still have plenty of opportunities for your input!). Since being named a National Monument, the San Gabriels have received an additional $6 million for improvements and projects.

In addition to transferring Forest Service land into the National Monument, the bill would also transfer BLM land in the far-southern San Gabriel Foothills to the Park Service to establish a new San Gabriel Mountains National Recreation Area, which would run along the San Gabriel River and Rio Hondo southwest from the San Gabriels and include much of the area in the Puente Hills.

This National Recreation Area overlay would likely be similar to the current overlay of the Santa Monica Mountains NRA, which includes both public and private land. That NRA does not allow eminent domain land seizures but does provide a strong framework to allow the multiple outdoor agencies that operate in the region to cooperate and share resources.

No private land would be added to the Monument, and no land from the San Bernardino National Forest would be transferred, including the heavily-used Icehouse Canyon region near Mount Baldy. The Angeles National Forest north of CA-14 and east of I-5 are not affected.

The bill is cosponsored by Reps. Grace Napolitano, Adam Schiff, Linda Sanchez, and Tony Cardenas.

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