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Help Save the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument (Jun 19, 2017)


In 2014, President Obama increased protection for 346,177 acres of the Angeles National Forest by creating the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. Part of this monument borders our Claremont Hills Wilderness Park along its northern boundary.

In an unprecedented action in April, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke placed it on a list of 27 recently designated national monuments to be "reviewed." The results could lead to Congressional action that would reduce the size of the monument or eliminate it altogether.

We on the board of the Claremont Wildlands Conservancy urge you to call Secretary Zinke or to write an email, postcard, or letter in support of our monument (and the 26 others at risk).

The deadline for pubic comment is July 10.

Here are ways to contact Secretary Zinke:

Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20240

(202) 208-3100

One of the Trump administration's arguments for initiating the review is that community participation in the process of creating these monuments was lacking. We need to demonstrate that this was not the case and that the monument meets vital needs in our region.

Copied below is the text of the letter that the board of Claremont Wildlands Conservancy has sent to Secretary Zinke. We have also sent versions of this letter to: Sen. Kamala Harris; Sen. Diane Feinstein; Rep. Judy Chu and her Claremont aide, Enrique Robles; Claremont City Council members; the City of Claremont's Friends of the CHWP; Paolo Perrone with the Trust for Public Land; and our allies at Sustainable Claremont and the League of Women Voters.

You are welcome to make use of the CWC's text in making your own appeal.

Dear Secretary Zinke:

I am writing on behalf of the Claremont Wildlands Conservancy, a grass-roots organization dedicated to preserving open space in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains near Claremont, California. Our goals are to preserve the flora and fauna of these foothills from residential development and to provide access for passive recreation for the citizens of the San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys. With the help of public and private funding we have helped to create the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park that now comprises over two thousand acres and logs over 400,000 visits each year. We have been working alongside other San Gabriel foothill communities to preserve and protect habitat for native California plants and animals and we have cooperated with the National Forest Service that manages the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument (SGMNM) that is adjacent to our foothills.

In particular, we have been involved in the creation of the Monument's Management Plan to be completed in 2017. Congresswoman Judy Chu was a principal backer of the SGMNM but the work of many individuals and organizations in the foothill communities was the foundation of this initiative. The extraordinary public involvement in the development of the management plan from numerous public meetings, to the work of the San Gabriel Mountains Community Collaborative, to the efforts of Forest Service personnel is testimony to the support for the Monument and for efforts to expand its educational and recreation impacts on the adjacent urban populations.

We like to think of the SGMNM as a wonderful example of an Urban Protected Area (UPA) that carves out wild and protected land adjacent to a large and sprawling metropolitan region. Los Angeles County has a population of almost ten million people and this population has limited access to parklands and open space. The SGMNM offers an extraordinary opportunity to open up recreational opportunities for many underserved communities through educational programs, expanded walking and hiking trails, and improved public transportations systems.

The public demand for such recreational opportunities is extremely high. When surveying usage of our Wilderness Park, we found that 80 percent of the 400,000 annual visits to our park were from visitors who lived some distance from Claremont. Visitors of all ages came regularly as did representatives of a wide number of racial and ethnic groups. Like our coastlines and beaches, wild places in our mountains and foothills should remain open and accessible to all.

You have gone on record stating that the Department of the Interior should be a "good steward" of the public lands under federal jurisdiction. It should also listen to the communities impacted by monument designations. There is no doubt that communities in Los Angeles are desperate for more recreational opportunities in their "back yards" and the designation of the SGMNM in October 2014 was a wonderful and long overdue step toward meeting those needs. More needs to be done to make the Monument open and accessible to all but community groups such as ours are ready and willing to do our part. Children growing up in Pomona, El Monte, or Alhambra should have the opportunity to experience their local mountains just as you had that opportunity in Montana and in Glacier National Park.

We urge you to retain and even to expand the current boundaries of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. Moreover, we urge you to work with Congress to assure funding to realize the potential of this treasured public resource.

Lissa Petersen, President
Claremont Wildlands Conservancy


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