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October 08, 2013

Grassroots Effort Seeks Permanent Protections for San Gabriel Mountains

If we want future generations to experience all that the San Gabriel Mountains have to offer, we're going to need to make protections permanent. That was the message sent at a packed town hall meeting hosted by Congresswoman Judy Chu that focused on future of the San Gabriel Mountains and its waterways, including parts of the San Gabriel River. Many in the full room of more than 300 came out to voice their support for creating a new San Gabriel National Recreation Area, something Chu is pushing for in Washington, D.C.

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The huge turnout was the result of the great work of the San Gabriel Mountains Forever campaign, said Sierra Club organizer Fabiola Lao. 

"We had strong and diverse support for permanent protection of the San Gabriel Mountains and its rivers," she said. "Thanks to the coalition we've brought together in the San Gabriel Mountains Forever campaign, we were able to recruit local elected officials, fire officials, water officials, homeowner association representatives, local business owners, and groups that serve Latino and Asian Pacific Islander communities."

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The momentum behind creating a national recreation area is the culmination of years of grassroots work. The San Gabriel Mountains Forever campaign is a partnership between the Sierra Club, The City Project, which focuses on environmental justice, Amigos de los Rios, Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, and the Council of Mexican Federations, in addition to other environmental groups.

"Over 70 percent of Los Angeles County's open space is in the San Gabriels, 33 percent of its water comes from them, and 3.5 million of us visit the area each year," wrote Claremont resident Lissa Peterson in a San Gabriel Valley Tribune letter to the editor. "This issue is too important to be stuffed in a government official's drawer."

The campaign is hopeful Chu will draft legislation by the end of the month to set the wheels in motion at the federal level. Congratulations to all those who worked so hard to protect this precious natural area!


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