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USDA Celebrates President Biden’s 105,919-acre Expansion of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument

Biden-Harris Administration acts to conserve cultural, biodiversity, and geological resources, and protect drinking water

WASHINGTON, May 2, 2024 — Today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will join President Biden as he signs a proclamation expanding the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. The designation further conserves and protects an area that provides drinking water to millions of people, and encompasses a rich cultural history, striking geological features that provide views into the ancient earth and ecological diversity with hundreds of species of native, rare and sensitive plants and animals. The San Gabriel proclamation that the President is signing today will permanently protect the lands covered by the bill that Vice President Harris led during her time in Congress.

“As a U.S. Senator from California, I fought to defend and grow our public lands protections, including by introducing legislation to expand the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument,” said Vice President Kamala Harris. “Thanks to President Biden’s leadership and the dedicated organizing of advocates throughout my home state, we are making that a reality by protecting an additional 120,000 acres of lands that are culturally, ecologically, and historically important to California and our nation. These expansions will increase access to nature, boost our outdoor economy, and honor areas of significance to Tribal Nations and Indigenous peoples as we continue to safeguard our public lands for all Americans and for generations to come.”

“The San Gabriel Mountains National Monument is a crown jewel for Los Angeles. It is a backyard to millions of people, and is also home to cultural resources, rare animals and plants, unique geology, and dynamic forests, rivers and high peaks,” said Secretary Vilsack. “President Biden’s actions today ensure this remarkable place is protected for current and future generations.”

The expanded national monument includes sites and resources that tell of the rich history of peoples and lands including a unique scenic railway, grand recreation resorts, and Cold War Nike missile facilities. The exceptional geology also provides opportunities for exploration and the diverse ecosystems provide important connectivity to enable species to move from foothills in the south to the soaring mountains to the north. The expansion area will provide unparalleled value to an already beloved national monument for nearby underserved and disadvantaged communities.

Today’s designation builds on decades of efforts from Tribal Nations, state and local officials, conservation and outdoor recreation advocates, local business owners, and members of Congress to recognize and conserve these landscapes in perpetuity. In 2018, then-Senator Harris introduced the “San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act,” the first Senate proposal to expand the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument.

The expansion advances the President’s historic climate, conservation and environmental justice goals as part of his America the Beautiful Initiative. The Biden-Harris Administration has already conserved more than 41 million acres of lands and waters, putting President Biden on track to conserve more lands and waters than any President in history.

The original 346,177-acre San Gabriel Mountains National Monument was designated by President Obama on October 10, 2014, preserving culturally significant sites to the Tribal communities in the area, an observatory that brought the world closer to the cosmos, and streams, hiking trails, and other outdoor recreation opportunities that connect Los Angeleños to our natural and cultural history.

Along with this designation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and its partners are investing more resources and staffing for the National Monument. This includes additional field rangers, interpretation and visitor engagement positions, support from the Tiuvac’a’ai’ Tribal Conservation Corps, and $2.3 million in Great American Outdoors Act funding to rehabilitate barracks and provide housing for recreation and other vital Angeles National Forest staff.

Additionally, a $1 million investment from private philanthropy and complementary funding from the State of California Water Resources Control Board, U.S. EPA, and the State of California Rivers and Mountains Conservancy, will be targeted to the area to improve the health of the lands and waters, manage sensitive resources amid increased interest in the area’s recreational opportunities, and improve the overall visitor experience.

Also today, President Biden enlarged California’s Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument by adding the 13,696-acre Molok Luyuk – which means "Condor Ridge" in the language of the Patwin people. President Biden’s action expands on the 330,780 acres designated by President Obama in 2015, which includes portions of the Mendocino National Forest.

The expansion of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument is subject to valid existing rights. It does not preclude the maintenance of utility, pipeline and telecommunications facilities, roads or highway corridors, or water infrastructure, which will be carried out in a manner that is consistent with proper care and management of monument objects.

President Biden designated the expansion of this national monument using his authority under the Antiquities Act. President Theodore Roosevelt first used the Antiquities Act in 1906 to designate Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming. Since then, 18 presidents of both parties have used this authority to protect unique natural and historic features in America, including the Statue of Liberty, Colorado’s Canyon of the Ancients, and New Mexico’s Gila Cliff Dwellings.

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