In the backyard of the sprawling Los Angeles metropolis lies the beautiful San Gabriel Mountains. This wild area is comprised of 700,000 acres of forests and mountains with several peaks that rise over 9,000 feet. The dramatic mountains, majestic forests and clear rivers provide one-third of Los Angeles County's drinking water and recreation opportunities for over 17 million people.
Local leaders like Congressional champion Judy Chu have valiantly fought to protect this special place through legislation. These efforts have been tremendous but gridlock in Congress prevents the region from receiving the timely protections it deserves.
Growing population, increased recreational use and insufficient resources to manage this vulnerable wilderness jeopardize the future of the San Gabriel Mountains.
Tell President Obama, Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to designate the San Gabriel Mountains as a national monument and protect it for future generations.
Southern California, is fortunate to be home to the spectacular San Gabriel Mountains and the iconic landmark of the Angeles National Forest. This region gives Los Angeles County 70 percent of its open space, supplies one-third of its drinking water, and helps clean the air. The forest also provides essential habitat for Nelson's bighorn sheep, California spotted owls, native frogs and fish, and other endangered or rare species.
Keeping the mountains and rivers unspoiled helps the local economy by boosting tourism, increasing property values, providing clean drinking water and air, and attracting businesses.
But the growing population, increased use of the wilderness by recreationists and the lack of funds to adequately manage this wild place put the future of the San Gabriels in jeopardy.
Securing permanent protections that only come from a national monument designation for the area will provide much needed opportunities for youth to get outdoors in park poor Southern California. It will increase services and staffing -- opening the way for multi-lingual rangers, access trails, and interpretive signs, while also preserving current uses and the natural, historic and scenic resources of the area. It will ensure the fragile ecosystem of the region is protected safeguarding precious water resources. It will also bring increased tourism spending, job creation, and make the region safer for everyone.
[Your comments here]
As the nation's most urban accessible wilderness area -- visited by as many people as Yosemite -- it is time the San Gabriels receives the protections that only come from a monument designation. I applaud the administration's recent efforts to protect our nation's special places and urge the president to continue the work of protecting our wilderness heritage by designating the San Gabriel Mountains as a national monument.
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