President Obama will designate roughly half of the San Gabriel Mountains as a national monument later this week, effectively safeguarding nearly 350,000 acres of forest land northeast of Los Angeles.
Per The Washington Post, the move will encompass sections of both the Angeles and San Bernadino National Forests and is designed to shield the acreage from future development, pollution, and overpopulation. The San Gabriel River alone provides over one-third of the drinking water for Los Angeles County's 10 million residents and draws around 1.5 million visitors per year. The area is also considered to be crucial wildlife habitat for numerous threatened species, including the California condor.
Wilderness advocates, including the environmental coalition group San Gabriel Mountains Forever, hailed the president's decision Wednesday afternoon. U.S. Representative Judy Chu, who introduced legislation seeking more funds for the San Gabriels earlier this year, told the Los Angeles Times that the Obama administration “assured me that the mountains will get the additional resources they desperately need.”
Not everyone is thrilled about the designation, however, as some mountain residents cited concerns about fire safety and infringements on private property rights. “We don’t want any part of this thing,” a local ski lodge owner told the Times. “Some people are concerned [the government] is going to put up a gate at the bottom of the road and start charging people to come up here.”
The designation ceremony will take place Friday in Los Angeles.