San Gabriel Mountains National Monument Update
Now that the election is over, it seems a good time to offer an update on an issue that I have been following for several years, The San Gabriel Mountains National Monument.
- In Oct. of 2014, President Obama issued a proclamation declaring over 346,000 acres in the Angeles National Forest a National Monument. That 2 page proclamation is the guiding document for care of the Monument. It discusses the special features of the Monument that must be preserved and protected, and the millions of people in the region who will visit it.
- It directed the Forest Service to create a management and transportation plan for the Monument within 3 years, to be completed by Oct. 2017.
- Additionally, because the Monument is within such close proximity to the 10 million residents of LA County, the proclamation directed the FS to engage maximum public involvement in the development of that plan.
What has been done so far?
- The Forest Service has received one-time funds totaling $3 million in donations and $3 million in Federal funds which were diverted from other parks and monuments.
- The internal personnel structure of the Forest Service has undergone significant changes with jobs descriptions being reworked and many position changes. We have welcomed a new Forest Supervisor, Jeffrey Vail, and a new Deputy Forest Supervisor, Rachel Smith, both of whom work out of the newly constructed Arcadia Ranger Station along with 2 new district managers, Adrienne Dunfee and Matthew Bokach, who are based at the Glendora Ranger station.
- In order to engage public input, the Forest Service contracted with its non-profit arm, the National Forest Foundation, to create a “Community Collaborative”—a group comprised of community members representing the diverse makeup of the LA region. The Collaborative was initially formed with a dozen members and over time grew to the current 45 members who have varied interests in the environment, recreation, civil rights, social and economic justice, business, safety, water, local government etc. Four of the forty-five members are Glendora residents—Dr. Cliff Hamlow, chair of the San Gabriel Valley Legislative Coalition of Chambers represents the business community, Dr. Ann Croissant, chair of the SG Mountains Regional Conservancy volunteer-run conservancies, Kelly Gardner, assistant executive officer of the San Gabriel Basin Watermaster, represents the SGV water agencies and I, as a Glendora Councilwoman, represent the City of Glendora.
(members of the Community Collaborative)
- For the last two years the Collaborative has been meeting for 4-6 hours each month for the purpose of providing comment to the FS as they develop their new Monument management plan.
- The FS recently completed a draft management plan which they made public in August, asking for public review and comment. The deadline for submitting comments was Nov. 1st
- In reviewing the draft plan, the Collaborative was dismayed to find that it was very general, lacking a vision, objectives, goals and a timeline. Without those details, there was concern that necessary work regarding improvements, protections, new features, etc. would not be undertaken.
- We gave feedback to the Forest Service that, while money clearly limits what they can do, we believed it was important that the plan outline a detailed vision of what is needed and should be done.
- The Collaborative then undertook the intensive, time-consuming task of working page by page through the draft plan and filling in all of the detail we thought was missing.
- Input from the Collaborative is advisory only
- At our Oct. 25th Council meeting, the Glendora City Council unanimously approved sending a letter to the Forest Service with our unique comments regarding their National Monument draft management plan. That letter is here: Glendora Letter
- It makes the following points:
- Council endorses the National Forest Foundation’s Community Collaborative group’s revisions to the draft management plan and the accompanying cover letter to the Forest Service (FS). To read the Collaborative’s revisions and cover letter click this link and scroll down to “recent news.” http://www.nationalforests.org/sangabrielmountains
- Council requests that, after the management plan has been adopted, the Collaborative continue to function as an advisory group to the FS.
- Council requests that the management plan include the language submitted by LA Co. Flood Control and the SGV Water Association intended to protect the drinking water that comes from the San Gabriel River within the National Monument.
- Council requests that the Forest Service consider and mitigate the impact of increased traffic on the gateway cities and that representatives of those cities be actively involved in development of the transportation plan.
- Next steps: The Forest Service will review and tabulate all of the comments they have received and will make them public. They will then determine the actual language to be included in the final 2017 management and transportation plans. While they hope to have the plan ready for publication by summer, the deadline they must meet is October, 2017.