Imagine a 600,000-acre national recreation area-about three times the size of New York City-that extends from the San Gabriel Mountains to most of the San Gabriel River watershed. Such a national recreation area would bring more parkland into Los Angeles' urban backyard. It also would help revitalize the San Gabriel River and reconnect Southland residents to this significant waterway.
San Gabriel Mountains Forever is working diligently to realize this vision.
Lack of Forest Services, Urban Parks Highlight Need
The Angeles National Forest is one of the busiest in the country, with more than 3 million visitors each year. Yet it is woefully underfunded and underserviced. The forest lacks adequate trail signs, visitor information, staffing, and culturally-appropriate education programs. At popular destinations, there are not enough parking spaces, riverbank trails, trash containers, or restrooms.
Within Los Angeles' urban communities, the shortage of parks and open space is shortchanging our children. Today's young people have fewer opportunities to be physically active and connect with nature. Data shows that San Gabriel Valley communities with little to no parks have child obesity rates upwards of 30 to 40 percent.
A Catalyst for Healthy Recreational Opportunities
The creation of a National Recreation Area would bring much needed attention and resources to improve recreational opportunities for Southland residents. It would help:
- Increase facilities, services, and staffing in the Angeles Forest-including more restrooms, access trails, picnic sites, interpretative signs, and multi-lingual rangers.
- Preserve and enhance the natural, historic and scenic resources of the San Gabriel Mountains and the valley.
- Improve water quality and fishing by reducing the amounts of trash, graffiti and user-created dams in and along the San Gabriel River.
- Create park and open space in San Gabriel Valley that enables residents to connect with nature and eventually lead them to explore the mountains.
- Encourage more kids to get outdoors-and start to address Southern California's growing obesity and diabetes crisis.
- Boost positive economic impacts through increased tourism spending, job creation, and improved property values for adjacent communities.
San Gabriel Mountains Forever has worked for several years to promote a community vision for a national recreation area. In April 2013, after many years of public hearings and a San Gabriel Watershed and Mountains Special Resource Study, the National Park Service released its recommendation. The NPS proposal did not include the national forests in the San Gabriel Mountains - just the urban foothills, urban San Gabriel and Rio Hondo river corridors and the Puente Hills.
San Gabriel Mountains Forever is continuing to push for a broader vision for a San Gabriel National Recreation Area that will include the mountains. More than 95 percent of the 12,000 community comments submitted to the National Park Service also want this vision.
The San Gabriel Mountains Forever partnership is continuing to build grassroots support for the Congressional legislation that is required to realize this dream.
Click here to see the comments SGMF submitted to the National Park Service.