Tribal leaders, activists advocate for expansion of San Gabriel Mountains monument

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News release 

Tribal leaders and representatives of the Nature for All Coalition traveled to Washington, D.C., last week to meet with staff in the Biden-Harris administration and California’s senators and representatives.  

The group advocated for the expansion of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument and additional federal resources for the monument and national forest to complement state and local investments and workforce development partnerships. 

“We urged the Biden Administration to expand the national monument and called for additional resources for the monument and the National Forest,” Miguel Angel Luna, director of the Tribal Historic and Cultural Preservation Department of the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, said in a news release. “Expanding the monument will protect lands of great cultural significance for the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians. We also want to see that much-needed resources are allocated to these lands and that they are well-cared for.” 

Over 18 million people live within a 90-mile radius of these public lands and expanding the monument will help increase equitable access to nature and improve public health, the release said. “It will also conserve a critical drinking water source for Los Angeles County, address the climate and biodiversity crises, and honor the cultural and historical significance of the landscape.” 

“This was a tremendous opportunity to share our vision to expand the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument,” Belén Bernal, executive director of Nature for All, said in the release. “We also called attention to the need for adequate federal funding, paired with state funding and service partnerships, to manage sustainable visitation. The Angeles National Forest welcomed 4.6 million visitors in 2021 — more than the Grand Canyon or Yosemite National Park. Agencies deserve the resources to care for and manage these beloved lands. Our goal is to continue to work with the Forest Service, coalition partners, active volunteer groups, and our champions in Congress to advocate for these resources.” 

In 2014 President Barack Obama designated approximately 346,177 acres of the San Gabriel Mountains as a national monument. Since the monument designation, over a dozen local partner organizations, in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, have worked collaboratively on upgrades to trails, campsites, and picnic areas, installation of new visitor information, and habitat restoration projects. Local advocates have also continued to highlight the need for increased resources to address recreational needs and sustainable visitation in the national monument and the national forest. The San Gabriels make up 70% of Los Angeles County’s open space.  

This effort is championed by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-California, and Rep. Judy Chu, D-Pasadena, who last year called on President Joe Biden to expand the monument using the Antiquities Act. The Antiquities Act is a 1906 law that grants U.S. presidents the ability to designate federal public lands, waters, and cultural and historical sites as national monuments with a presidential proclamation.   

The effort is supported by the city of Santa Clarita, L.A. County and other cities in the region including Alhambra, Baldwin Park, Duarte, El Monte, Glendale, Huntington Park, Long Beach, Montebello, Monterey Park, Pomona, Pasadena, San Fernando, and South Pasadena. Over 62,000 community members have signed a petition urging Biden to use the Antiquities Act to expand the monument.   

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