Congresswoman Judy Chu, who represents Alhambra and a large portion of the San Gabriel Valley in the U.S. House of Representatives, introduced June 12 a bill that would create a National Recreation Area in the San Gabriel Mountains.
If approved, the San Gabriel National Recreation Area Act would include parts of the Angeles National Forest, foothills, the San Gabriel and Rio Hondo rivers, and the Puente-Chino Hills in a National Recreation Area, protecting wildlife while increasing park services for the estimated 3 million people who visit the area annually, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports.
"It would allow the National Park Service to work with the Forest Service and local partners on community-based, community-driven protection and restoration projects," Chu said on June 12. "It could mean more small parks in underserved communities, better access and connectivity to trails and bike paths from within our urban cities, new signs in the mountains, more bathrooms, more picnic areas, educational programs for a sustainable future, and more visitor services."
National Recreational Areas are established to meet the outdoor recreational needs of citizens while providing government stimulus, leadership, and protection for those designated areas, according to the National Park Service.
The efforts to create a National Recreation Area in the San Gabriel Mountains began in 2003 when former Rep. Hilda Solis, who was elected June 4 to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, introduced the San Gabriel River Watershed Act. Solis's bill resulted in a 10-year environmental survey of the land to determine its eligibility for government protection. The study concluded in April 2013 that the mountains and watershed had enough ecological diversity to warrant protection as a National Recreation Area.
“After a decade of consideration and collaboration, I am proud to introduce legislation protecting these mountains that’s consistent with our community needs and priorities,” Chu said in a June 12 press release.
The bill will likely be reviewed by either the House Agriculture Committee or the Natural Resources Committee before a hearing in Congress, according to the Tribune.