Broad Support for National Recreation Area in San Gabriels
Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, courtesy of the San Gabriel Valley Tribune
The last Saturday in October, more than 150 people packed a meeting in the Southern California city of El Monte to show their support for a proposal by the National Park Service to create a new National Recreation Area in the San Gabriel Mountains.
The Sierra Club is a founding member of San Gabriel Mountains Forever, a coalition of community, faith, social justice, and environmental groups working to protect the San Gabriels, one of Southern California's most scenic and valuable natural resources.
"Our vision to create a National Recreation Area for the San Gabriel Mountains and River is a step closer to becoming a reality," Sierra Club organizer Juana Torres said during a rally before the meeting at the Jack Crippen Senior Citizens Center in El Monte, which sits just south of the San Gabriels. That's Torres, at right below, after the rally.
This was the first of five public meetings the National Park Service is holding in Southern California to present the alternatives studied in its draft San Gabriel Watershed and Mountains Special Resource Study and solicit public feedback.
The San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported that a majority of those in attendance at the El Monte meeting supported Alternative D, which would protect nearly 600,000 acres in the San Gabriel Mountains and its foothills and establish wild and scenic river designations for the San Gabriel and Rio Hondo Rivers and portions of the Puente Hills.
"Comments provided by the community at this meeting where overwhelmingly supportive of Alternative D, which proposes the largest area for an National Recreation Area, more opportunities for resource protection, and under-served areas," said Enrique Siliezar, Cerritos College Wilderness Club President. "I am so excited to see such a diverse group of people supporting this plan."
U.S. Representative Judy Chu, below at left, who represents El Monte, said she would introduce the legislation in Congress. "I am so anxious to be the one to introduce legislation to fulfill your vision," she told the crowd.
The San Gabriels, which comprise 70 percent of the open space in Los Angeles County and supply one-third of the county's water, receive some 3.5 million visitors a year, many of them from L.A.'s Latino community.