Say hello to the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, the latest to join the list of 110 national monuments in the United States.
In October, after a decade of public support and encouragement, President Obama declared the San Gabriel Mountains as a national monument. He did so under Antiquities Act, which allowed him to use his executive powers to unilaterally make the declaration (as 15 presidents have done before him for other sites across the U.S.).
This new designation means that California’s San Gabriel Mountains are now officially preserved as a historic landmark and area of scientific interest. It’s a move that impacts the environment, the outdoor recreation industry, and the tourism industry. Here’s what you need to know about the San Gabriel Mountains.
More than 15 million people living in southern California flock to the San Gabriel mountains to get their fix of the outdoors. They don’t have to go too far: the range stretches from northern Los Angeles County to western San Bernardino County. You can see the range in the distance right from L.A.
The San Gabriel Mountains provide 70% of the open space in the park-poor area, representing a rare opportunity for people in this increasingly urban area to leave the city and interact with wilderness.
The new National Monument encompasses 346,177 acres of wilderness. The area is home to a multitude of species, including some sensitive and endangered species like the California condor, mountain lion, mountain yellow-legged frog, and Nelson’s Bighorn sheep. The new designation will help ensure that these species are protected.
The Environmental Impact
Southern Californians rely on the San Gabriel Mountains to help purify the polluted city air, and the mountains provide 35% of the drinking water in the region.
You can imagine that such a large area of land incorporates some historically and culturally significant places. In fact, there are more than 600 significant sites located throughout the new National Monument. For instance, the Mt. Wilson Observatory is where the first modern measurement of the speed of light was taken, and where galaxies beyond the Milky Way were discovered.
There’s a lot to do in the San Gabriel Mountains—hiking, camping, cycling, fishing, and winter sports. Local ski areas include Mount Baldy and Mountain High.
Part of the impact that the new designation will have is improving access to these outdoor activities. There are not a ton of opportunities for the people in Los Angeles County to explore the outdoors, so making it more convenient to play outside is a huge benefit. Interacting with the outdoors means learning to love it, respect it, and protect it. It results in healthier, more environmentally responsible citizens.
Going forward, this designation means that the San Gabriel Mountains will receive better funding and resources to improve the area. Camping facilities—which are often overcrowded—will be improved. Parking areas will be expanded, making it easier to get to the recreation areas. There will also be a push on cleaning up graffiti and trash left behind in the past. More trails will be developed, educational programs will be implemented, and additional park rangers will be hired.
San Gabriel Mountains Forever
Most Southern Californians are excited at the changes to come. Chief among them are the citizens involved with San Gabriel Mountains Forever, a group of residents, local business leaders, city officials, and community leaders who have been pushing to protect the San Gabriel Mountain area for more than a decade. After many years of campaigning, San Gabriel Mountains Forever are finally reaping the rewards for all their hard work.