Members of the Northeast Los Angles community came out to the Audubon Center at Debs Park Saturday to learn about efforts to protect the San Gabriel Mountains and other national monuments that are currently under review by the Trump administration.
In April, President Trump issued an executive order to have the US Department of the Interior review all presidential designations or expansions of National Monuments since 1996. Historically, national monuments have never been challenged and reviewing of them could lead to changes in how we protect national monuments under the Antiquities Act. As David Lanfrom from the National Parks Conservation Association explained, “This is unprecedented. It changes the definition of what conservation is and would take us twenty-five steps back.”
In 2014, the San Gabriel Mountains Forever Coalition won a major victory when President Barack Obama designated the San Gabriel Mountains and watershed a national monument. Belinda Faustinos explained that the coalition has worked for close to ten years to approve protections of this area. The San Gabriel Mountains contains 70% of Los Angeles County’s open space. It is noteworthy because of its access to urban Americans -- its nearly 350,000 acres are within 90 minutes of 15 million people in the Los Angeles basin.
Among the speakers at the event were Belinda Faustinos from San Gabriel Mountains Forever, David Lanfrom from National Parks Conservation Association, and Frank Ruiz from Audubon California. A representative from the office of Assembly Member Jimmy Gomez presented a certificate of recognition to the speakers for their many contributions to conservation in Southern California.
About 40 community members in all attended the event to learn more about the issue and how action can be taken. The U.S. Department of the Interior is accepting public comments until July 10. Members of the community are encouraged to submit personal letters, post cards and comments opposing any changes to the national monuments. Comments can be sent through Audubon via its action alert.
Comments can also be mailed to:
US Department of the Interior
1849 C St. NW
Washington, DC 20240