Special Resource Study on San Gabriel Watershed and Mountains Released By National Park Service

A draft study that examines whether the San Gabriel Watershed and Mountains should be added to the National Park System has been released with four alternatives, two of which would advance a new model for a unit of the park system.

No preferred alternative has been identified in the plan, which looked at an area of roughly 700,000 acres across the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area. Within that area are urban areas, local and regional parks and open space, and 415,000 acres of the Angeles National Forest.

Unique under the current approach to adding units to the National Park System is the possibility of adding a unit that spans several managerial agencies, from the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service to local governments, non-governmental entities, and even private landowners.

To help settle on a preferred alternative, a series of meetings has been scheduled for the coming month.

“Located next to our nation’s second largest urban population, the beauty and open spaces of the San Gabriel Mountains and their surrounding area have much to offer to the residents of Los Angeles,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Monday in announcing the release of the draft study. “Through this draft resource study, we are exploring ways we can conserve this important landscape and improve recreational opportunities for the community, in partnership with the people who live, work and play in this great area.”

Through the special resource study process, the Park Service made the following determinations about the study area:

* The San Gabriel Mountains and Puente Hills are nationally significant, meeting all four of the NPS criteria for national significance.

* The San Gabriel Mountains and Puente Hills are suitable for inclusion in the national park system, as the areas represent natural and cultural resource types that are not already adequately represented in the system or protected by another land managing entity.

* A collaborative partnership-based park unit that respects the complex mix of land use, ownership, and regulatory authority in the study area would be a feasible addition to the National Park System. A large traditional national park unit, owned and operated solely by the NPS, would be infeasible.

Four alternatives, two with a role for the Park Service, are evaluated in the draft study and environmental assessment. Each of the alternatives seeks to protect significant resources, enhance habitat connectivity, and improve recreational opportunities for communities in the Los Angeles metropolitan region. In each of the alternatives, the U.S. Forest Service would continue to own and manage the Angeles National Forest.

* No Action Alternative: Continuation of Current Programs and Policies. This is the “no action” alternative for this study, and assumes that current programs, policies, conditions and trends would continue.

* Alternative A: San Gabriel Mountains National Recreation Area: A U.S. Forest Service Designation. Congress would designate the San Gabriel Mountains unit of the Angeles National Forest as a National Recreation Area that would continue to be managed solely by the U.S. Forest Service.

* Alternative B: San Gabriel Parks and Open Space Network. This alternative was dismissed from further consideration after public review of the preliminary alternatives in 2009. Some components of alternative B were incorporated into alternative D.

* Alternative C: San Gabriel Watershed National Recreation Area. Congress would designate a river-based NRA that would raise the visibility of the San Gabriel River watershed, offer new educational and interpretive opportunities along the river and throughout the watershed, and improve river-based recreation. This would be a new model for a national park unit. Partnership arrangements among federal and state agencies, local governments, non-profit organizations, and area landowners would achieve the conservation, recreational, and educational goals of the NRA.

* Alternative D: San Gabriel Region National Recreation Area: A Partnership Linking Significant Resources and Recreation. Congress would designate a larger scale NRA that would recognize and protect the significant resources associated with the San Gabriel Mountains and Puente Hills, explore opportunities to protect and enhance interconnected ecosystems, provide important open space connections for recreation and offer new educational and interpretive opportunities. The management approach of alternative D would be the same as alternative C, a new model of national park management whereby the NPS, U.S. Forest Service, and numerous other agencies and organizations with land and interests in the area would work collaboratively.

The NPS initiated this special resource study in 2005 and published preliminary management alternatives for public review in August 2009. The approaches to management and underlying values all reflect input provided by the public and interested organizations and agencies throughout the study process.

Following receipt and review of public comments, a final report, including a recommended course of action from the Interior secretary, will be transmitted to Congress.

The executive summary, full report, and the NPS public comment system are available at the study web site: http://www.nps.gov/pwro/sangabriel

In addition, the NPS will host a series of public meetings throughout the study area in October and November, 2011 in order to present the draft study report, answer questions, and accept comments.

Public Meeting Schedule:

El Monte (Kick-Off Meeting)
Saturday, October 29
1 p.m. – 3 p.m.
City of El Monte Senior Center
3120 N. Tyler Avenue
El Monte, CA 91731

Palmdale
Monday, November 14
7 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Larry Chimbole Cultural Center,
Joshua Room
38350 Sierra Highway
Palmdale, CA 93550

Pomona
Tuesday, November 15th
7 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Agriscapes Center, California Polytechnic Institute Campus
4102 S. University Drive
(South of Temple Avenue/ From Highway 57, exit Temple Avenue and go west towards Cal Poly Pomona. Turn left on South Campus Drive, Agriscapes is the building adjacent to the Farm Store).
Pomona, CA 91768

Santa Clarita
Wednesday, November 16th
7 p.m. - 9 p.m.
George A. Caravalho Activities Center
Santa Clarita Room A
20880 Centre Point Parkway
Santa Clarita, CA 91351

Tujunga
Thursday, November 17th
7 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Northeast Valley City Hall Auditorium
7747 Foothill Blvd
Tujunga, CA 91042