“That’s what makes this particular designation so important. We heard from the community, that for a lot of urban families, this is their only big outdoor space. Too many children in L.A. County, especially children of color, don’t have access to parks where they can run free, breathe fresh air, experience nature, and learn about their environment,” as President Barack Obama recognized in designating the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. “This is an issue of social justice. Because it’s not enough to have this awesome natural wonder within your sight -– you have to be able to access it,” the President said. “Improving public access and recreational opportunities within the monument will help address the region’s public health challenges. Studies have shown that increasing recreational access to public lands translates to higher levels of youth activity and lower youth obesity rates. National monuments also play an important role in supporting local economies,” according to the White House.
The rich cultural history of these mountains echoes their striking geologic features and ecological diversity. Native American history runs deep, at least 8,000 years, including the best preserved example of a Gabrielino pictograph rock painting. The management plan for the monument “shall protect and preserve Indian sacred sites . . . and access by Indian tribal members for traditional cultural, spiritual, and tree and forest product-, food-, and medicine-gathering purposes.” From the Presidential Proclamation, San Gabriel Mountains National Monument.
Under the Proclamation, the Secretary of Agriculture will work with the Secretary of the Interior to prepare a management plan with maximum public involvement, including consultation with tribal, State, and local government, as well as community environmental conservation, health, and justice organizations.
“The President not only displayed compassion and understanding of environmental justice but, was fundamentally motivated by the issues when he declared the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. Robert Garcia and The City Project, thanks for your work to make the case for environmental justice and the San Gabriel National Monument a reality.” Daniel Rossman, chair, San Gabriel Mountains Forever coalition.
“The City Project’s work on park access is one of the two leading areas in environmental justice.” Leslie Fields, Sierra Club, Director, Environmental Justice and Community Partnership Program.
Robert Bracamontes, Acjachemen, Nican Tlaca, writes: “To see those words in writing used by the President in the proclamation, “preserve and protect sacred sites,” brings me a great sense of hope. We are on Gabrielino / Tongva land. For indigenous people the land gives us food, a place to play peon, a place where we are put to rest in peace, a place for ceremony, a place where life and culture are one. We need our land, we need to protect it for future generations.”
The City Project is thrilled to contribute to this historic moment, when the President of the United States recognizes that there are disparities in park access for people of color, this contributes to health disparities, and agencies need to address these social justice issues. We have been dedicated to park access as an environmental justice, civil rights, and health issue in the San Gabriels and beyond since our founding in 2000.
Diverse allies who support working with the United States Forest Service and the National Park Service on the national monument and proposed national recreation area in the San Gabriels include (partial list): Amigos de los Rios; Anahuak Youth Sports Association; Asian and Pacific Islander Obesity Prevention Alliance; Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council (A3PCON); Robert Bracamontes, Acjachemen Nation; Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science; The City Project; Coalition for Responsible Community Development; Concerned Citizens of South Central Los Angeles; Conservation Law Foundation; EndOil/Communities for Clean Ports; Global Community Monitor; State Senator Tom Hayden (ret.); Latino Coalition for a Healthy California (LCHC); Los Angeles Wilderness Training; Los Jardines (The Garden Institute); Multicultural Communities for Mobility; National Parks Conservation Association; New Mexico Environmental Law Center; Natural Resources Defense Council; San Gabriel Mountains Forever coalition; Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC); Social Justice Consultancy.
Anahuak Youth Sports Association and The City Project celebrate the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument
Nelson’s Bighorn Sheep in the San Gabriels
The San Gabriel Mountains National Monument provides a best practice example for environmental conservation, health, and justice.