San Gabriel Mountains National Monument now a reality!
President Obama today declared a large portion of the San Gabriel Mountains a National Monument. The new San Gabriel Mountains National Monument includes approximately 350,000 acres, or 540 square miles, of territory. The move places the land under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service and is designed to provide more resources for improving trails and other access as well as protecting the region’s resources. This will provide much-needed federal protection and resource availability for this wonderful yet often neglected mountain range. The Forest Service of late has had a difficult time protecting and maintaining the range with its limited budget, much of which has had to go towards fire suppression, leaving little for maintenance of trails and visitor areas.
Below is a map showing the boundaries of the new monument. Note that much of the front range area from Monrovia and west was excluded, and also much of the far eastern portion of the range, which includes some of the most beautiful and wild terrain in the mountains. Apparently this is because of opposition from community and business interests in the ski and resort towns of Mt Baldy and Wrightwood, and also some of the foothill communities. These groups seem to believe that further protections will harm their business interests. Thankfully, some of the most pristine areas on the eastern end are included in the existing Cucamonga Wilderness, so there is some additional existing strong protection for these areas at least.
The San Gabriel Mountains National Monument will be managed by the U.S. Forest Service and will be the eighth national monument under Forest Service management. There are more than 100 national monuments across the country managed by the Forest Service, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This link to the official White House page provides more information about the monument. Let’s applaud this environmental victory as it provides greater status and protection for this remarkably diverse range, which The Hiker’s Way has explored and covered in a variety of San Gabriel Mountains Hikes. More information will be provided about the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument as it becomes available.