After more than a decade of planning, public comments, legislation, meetings, and studies, the LA Times reports President Obama is set to declare the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument this Friday, October 10th.

The Times says the announced Monument will be about half the size of the Angeles National Forest’s 655,000 acres – and will exclude portions of western San Bernardino County like Wrightwood and Mount Baldy. Some voices in those areas were opposed to the Monument for various reasons, although most of the fears expressed were not founded in fact. Robby Ellingson, General Manager of the Mount Baldy Ski Lodge sent out an email blast last week denouncing the Monument and suggesting it would reduce access, increase fees, and threaten the existence of recreation areas – none of which happen with a National Monument designation. The email also called a declaration by President Obama “undemocratic,” even though a declaration from the Executive is a power granted by the Antiquities Act of 1906, a law passed by Congress. Since the Act’s passage, all but 3 Presidents have used it during their terms to establish new National Monuments.

In Pasadena, Ellingson attended an anti-Monument rally along with the California Off Road Vehicle Association, which was concerned about losing OHV access where they already have it (they won’t), Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, who was protesting the “Federal land grab” of the Monument (the land is already Federally owned), and an unidentified woman who said she “feared the UN would seize control of the San Gabriel Mountains if Obama were to declare them a national monument (no comment).

Regular readers know Modern Hiker has been covering this issue almost since the site began – and although we were frustrated with the speed, quality, and clarity of the pro-Monument messaging in addressing some of the confusion that helped inspire those protests we are very, very happy to hear that a Monument is happening for our San Gabriels. We hope this leads to new resources for the Forest Service, who for too long have been underfunded and overworked in one of the country’s most heavily used National Forests. Most of the Angeles’ budget is tied up in firefighting, leaving recreation improvements primarily in the hands of hardworking and dedicated volunteers – many of whom are former Forest Service employees who were previously laid off due to budget cuts. The Monument’s increased focus on recreation and access to different sources of funding should alleviate those problems.

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volunteer crew on Josephine Saddle

We also hope that this Monument is just a step toward full protection as a National Recreation Area, which was outlined in Representative Chu’s legislation. Such an NRA, like the one in the Santa Monica Mountains, would provide a sweeping overlay of public and private land partnerships as well as National Park Service funding and staffing and a greater focus on recreation for open-space-starved Southern Californians.

But most importantly, we are thrilled this designation will bring increased awareness and attention to the wonderful outdoor opportunities we have in Southern California. When I first moved to Southern California 11 years ago, I was definitely not what you would call an “L.A. fan.” I was miserable here for years until I “discovered” the San Gabriels and hiking – and was shocked that no one was letting people know about the incredible hiking and wilderness within a short drive of the city. It’s the reason I started Modern Hiker and – without any hyperbole – it’s also the reason I stayed in (and now love) Los Angeles. Discovering and enjoying the outdoors here has changed my life in countless positive ways, and I sincerely hope that all Southern Californians – both new transplants and those who have been here for generations – can look upon our backyard mountains with a new appreciation and sense of wonder.

Congratulations and thank you to everyone who has worked so hard to make this happen. I can’t wait to add something like this to my National Park / Monument brochure collection:

San Gabriel Mountains Forever is holding a celebration on Friday from 3-5PM in El Monte if you are interested in attending. Sadly, I’ll be on the east coast for a wedding, but will be there in spirit!

 

UPDATE: The Forest Service has unveiled their introductory San Gabriel Mountains National Monument web site, and KPCC has a map of the new Monument’s boundaries on their site – it seems to include most of the southern half of the Angeles National Forest except for the foothills in the southwest and a few small exclusions near Mount Baldy Village and Wrightwood.

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Modern Hiker, Author of "Day Hiking Los Angeles," Walking Meditator, Native Plant Enthusiast.





13 Comments

hikesocal

hikesocal Nov 4, 2014 21:11

Excellent article and I appreciated the updates.

Most of what I've been able to gather in the legislation is what won't happen.There just isn't much about will take place.

There's now a three year period for the plan to take shape via a commission made up of reps from a variety of interests. I'm sure each will be fighting for their share of the pie.

And because this was initially pushed through by people who, it appears, see the S.G's through different colored lenses than the audience of this site, I have a fear of the outcome. We could be seeing more pavement, more bathrooms and more visitor centers. It seems the goal is about making it accessible to the masses.

Even if their intentions are good, and that's still an "if" in my mind, they must have thought about the unintended consequences. More people means more trash, more fire risk and more rescue/recovery.

What did jump out at me was the consistent talk about increasing revenue. There was no automatic funding with this declaration and it's clear that the current Congress has no desire to get involved. So that means the increased revenue falls to individual entities, which is already happening, and/or visitors.

Oh...I did read a bit about nearby homeowners seeing their property values increase.

I'd typically be stoked about any effort to protect our natural environments. But things aren't quite adding up to me on this one. Hopefully it will.

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Why the Creepytings National Parks Vandalism is a Big Deal | Modern Hiker Oct 29, 2014 12:10

[…] of the more popular trails, graffiti and pollution are rampant (although we’re hoping its new designation as a National Monument will help with that). Yes, Ms. Nocket is one person – but what happens when dozens more like […]

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beki Oct 12, 2014 16:10

Can I still bring my dog? I find national parks and monuments are NOT friendly for recreation and I avoid them. CA state parks as well. So what's left? National forests, and I would like those to remain accessible for my family and our pet. I am a knee-jerk liberal in almost every case, but the crappy parks bureaucracy has me thinking twice.

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Kristin Sabo Oct 10, 2014 13:10

Big and Little Tujunga were removed from the monument at the last minute. I am heartbroken for these areas I hike most. No new funding. No new resources. Politics wins again.

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Jacob Oct 10, 2014 10:10

Way over due!!! And as someone who frequently visits National Park, Monuments, etc. Those complaining don't have a flipping clue. Oh the Sierra Club could...blah blah blah. They don't need a National Park or Monument designation to do anything. In the Little Rock Recreation area, camping is no longer allowed (to protect the arroyo toad) and they stopped stocking the lake for another environmental reason.

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Jarrett Morgan Oct 10, 2014 10:10

That is great news about the San Gabriel Mountains. I hope they are managed correctly and protected. Also, I wish Texas would add protected lands and increase its trail system.

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Casey Schreiner Oct 9, 2014 20:10In reply to: Stop the San Gabriel Monument

Well, I'm pretty sure I'll still hike there. Just like I currently do in the Sheep Mountain and Cucamonga Wilderness Areas that are currently in the San Gabriels.

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Stop the San Gabriel Monument Oct 9, 2014 20:10

Of course you're all so excited, but what will you do when Wild and Scenic River or Wilderness designation is impletmented? Cause thats what the Sierra Club and Wilderness Society are pushing for. OOPs no more hiking>

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Casey Schreiner Oct 9, 2014 10:10In reply to: Lendall

Lendall,

Yeah, I'm not 100% sure but I would assume that the land that's not included in the Monument will remain a National Forest as-is. The Adventure Pass system is tied up in courts and is a total mess right now. Last year they said you only needed it at certain developed sites but this year some court cases in Arizona may throw the whole thing out the door.

Again, I don't know for certain about the new Monument but everything I've seen, heard, and read has led me to believe there will be no new pass and fee system for the San Gabriel National Monument. Everyone seems very gung-ho on increasing both the amount and quality of access as well as preserving existing forms of recreation, and I think any enacting of new fees runs counter to that mission.

Also - what Jonjon said - they sell Adventure Passes all over the place! The Forest Service even has a web site where you can see what's closest to your neck of the woods - I think I even snagged on at a 7-11 once :)

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Jonjon Oct 9, 2014 08:10In reply to: Lendall

Why would you drive to REI in Arcadia? They sell the passes in Sport Chalet in LA Canada

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Lendall Oct 8, 2014 19:10

Fantastic news! I believe I know the answer to this, but: What will happen to the land not included in the Monument area? Presumably it will remain a National Forest under the Dept. of Agriculture. A question I do not know the answer to regards fees for access and use. Any speculation? Will the (bleep bleep) "Forest Adventure Pass" system still be in effect for some areas of the (now diminished) Angeles National Forest? Will there be a new pass and fee system for the Monument area (as there was in Joshua Tree when it was a National Monument and still is now that it is a National Park)? Perhaps this would be a good time for hikers and other users to make their views known as to what we think would be fair, and also how passes should be issued and where. (One should not have to drive to REI near Santa Anita to buy a pass to hike up Mt. Lukens in La Cañada, as some people I know have done.)

(P.S. I feel about Los Angeles the same way you do. It used to be that living here was one of the major downsides of working in the entertainment industry. Then I discovered that the L.A. area is one of the great hiking regions anywhere in the world.)

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Diego Oct 8, 2014 15:10

Better late than never...hopefully this will bring much needed funds to this area.

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100peaks Oct 8, 2014 14:10

Yay!

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