The term “open-space” can mean so many different things to an Angelino. It can mean finding a rare open parking spot downtown, finding an open reservation at the newest, trendy restaurant, or it can mean escaping the overwhelming congestion of Greater Los Angeles into its “backyard”: The Angeles National Forest and the newly designated San Gabriel Mountains National Monument.
When Angelinos and tourists from various parts of the world trade the congestion on the highways for the feel of an open trail, it provides relief from the daily grind that lies only 60 minutes away from the metropolitan area.
When President Obama proclaimed portions of the San Gabriel Mountains as a National Monument on October 10, 2014, it not only provided additional legal protections for this open space, it was also a statement as to how much Angelinos value their treasured San Gabriel Mountains. Now the U.S. government formally recognizes the immense historical, cultural and geological importance of this area to the nation.
So how will the Forest Service protect and preserve the great natural features of the San Gabriel Mountains amongst the Nelson’s Bighorn Sheep, sprawling Coulter Pines, and the luminous yucca plants that line canyon walls like scattered candles? How will they manage the slow fading of petroglyphs crafted by peoples long before us? How will they assist in continuing the research of almost infinite open spaces that lies beyond our earthly realm from the Mount Wilson Observatory?
The answers lie with the dedicated Forest Service employees and more than 15 million stakeholders who visit the Forest and Monument each year who are all in the midst of creating a comprehensive and integrated Monument Management Plan. The plan will take a few years to develop, because the Forest Service is working with federal, state and local governments, Tribes, private groups, and other interested parties to ensure the management plan reflects the diverse needs, expertise and desires of all who have a stake in this important area.
“This land has been dedicated for the use of the American people and we would like to hear from the people as to what is important to them,” said John Thornton, acting Deputy Forest Supervisor. “We expect to announce completion of the Public Involvement Plan in the coming months. At that point we will actively engage the public to promote collaboration in development of the management plan.”
But don’t let the fact that the Forest Service is still formalizing a way forward for the area stop you from going up and experiencing the wealth of experiences that the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument has to offer. Take advantage of the beautiful spring weather to enjoy a brief escape from the Los Angeles area – or wherever you live – to experience firsthand the exciting history, cultural treasures and breathtaking beauty the monument has to offer all who come to visit. After all, there is plenty of open space at the monument for everyone!
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Proximity to such a large and diverse community means a unique challenge for the forest, balancing many pressures and needs. However, the community is also represents the greatest resource for this beautiful landscape. A community that is interested in supporting the planning process and the implementation of the next chapter of the San Gabriel Mountains.
Pictured above on this page is one of the crown jewels of the National Monument, the West Fork of the San Gabriel River. Unfortunately, seven months after Mr. Rossman's hopeful comment here, the Forest Service's Scoping Outcome Summary makes only a mere mention of the Monument's streams, fish, and riparian habitat, ignoring copious technical comments suggesting how to provide better protections for these wild trout streams and endangered aquatic species. We are losing an opportunity, and will lose these precious, rare, year-round coldwater streams.
So how will the Forest Service protect and preserve the San Gabriel Mountains against the California High Speed Rail who plans to construct massive train tunnels that will destroy and dewater these beautiful mountains?