San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, restored
|October 29, 2105 - All of the major treasures of the San Gabriel Mountains, including the Arroyo Seco, should to be included in the year-old San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. Here the editorial writers of the San Gabriel Valley newspapers eloquently detail what was left out and why it should be put in, as Congresswoman Judy is attempting to do with new proposed legislation.|
A man walks along the San Gabriel River at the one-year anniversary celebration of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument (Staff photo by Sarah Reingewirtz)
By The Editorial Board, The Pasadena Star-News
Someday, some scholar of presidential papers may discover why the historic front range of the Angeles National Forest was removed at the last minute when the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument was created in 2014.
In the meantime, the reasons for the map redrawing, which cut out from monument status by far the most interesting and history-filled regions of the beautiful mountains that ring Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties from the north, will remain a mystery.
Monument status is supposed to preserve precious “antiquities” in our national natural and human treasures. The areas mysteriously removed from what had been promised by the Forest Service include Big Tujunga Canyon, the entire Upper Arroyo Seco and its Switzer’s Camp, Millard Canyon, Eaton Canyon, the trails above Sierra Madre to Mount Wilson that were so popular during the Great Hiking Era at the beginning of the last century and all the trailheads from city of Los Angeles neighborhoods such as Sunland and on east through La Crescenta, La Cañada Flintridge, Altadena, Pasadena, Arcadia, Sierra Madre and Monrovia. The former site of Thaddeus Lowe’s mountain railway above Echo Mountain was nixed from protections and resources in the process.
When he came here a year ago last month to sign the proclamation creating the monument that so oddly ended up including mostly the least historic, inaccessible land deep in the San Gabriels, did President Obama even know of the last-minute changes? That’s considered doubtful by most observers. Theories for the reasons some unknown bureaucrat — the Forest Service has never responded to questions about who or how or why — redrew the map include possible objections from Los Angeles County public works, which has debris basins and water projects in the front range, or the large Southern California Edison power lines existing and being added to mountain areas.
In the end, the mystery doesn’t matter so much for advocates of additional resources for the popular recreational destination, the largest wilderness area so near a major population center in our nation, as does fixing the mistake.
That’s why it was so heartening to see Rep. Judy Chu, D-Pasadena, last Friday introduce a bill that would add these lost pieces — an additional 109,492 acres of federal land — back into the monument. Chu announced the legislation at a celebration of the first anniversary of the presidential signing. “We wanted to make sure that the western area was included,” Chu simply said at the birthday celebration.
Worries that the proposed expansion will in itself cause some sudden new strain on the already heavily visited mountains are misplaced. The San Gabriels already do a pretty good job of advertising themselves, looming above our megalopolis as they do. And fiscal conservatives in Congress needn’t be concerned about the prudence of voting for the bill — no new federal monies are being allocated. The monument status just allows a new focus on the mountains’ wonders, and helps promote them to private donors, including Coca-Cola, which recently donated $900,000. This simply restores what was always intended.
Arroyo Seco Foundation, 570 W. Avenue 26 #450, Los Angeles, CA 90065-1011
PO Box 91622, Pasadena, CA 91109-1622 (323) 405-7326 firstname.lastname@example.org