Connecting Angelenos to the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument

One of the greatest perks of living in Alhambra is our view of the San Gabriel Mountains. Here’s how Alhambra residents can get involved in recreation in this spectacular mountain range, and give input into a management plan for the San Gabriel Mountains.

Because of these mountains, we have the most extraordinary backdrop for our city. I am reminded of this blessing every morning when I walk my dog along Main Street and see the mountaintops rising from behind tall commercial buildings. On crisp clear days, the mountains feel as though they are only a stone’s throw away.

They are actually closer than they appear. The San Gabriel Mountains make up Southern California’s “big back yard.” About 15 million people in the Los Angeles area are within 90 minutes of these mountains. Along with its popular scenic views, there are outstanding places to hike, swim, camp and picnic.

Many Angelenos engage in recreation in the San Gabriels. Each year, the area attracts about four million visitors. Many cities in Los Angeles County, including some in the San Gabriel Valley, lack parks and open spaces, putting residents at risk for high rates of obesity and related health concerns. The San Gabriels provide 70 per cent of Los Angeles County’s open space and offer refuge for residents from park-poor communities.

My very first hike was in the Big Santa Anita Canyon in Sierra Madre. I remember my first time reaching the Sturtevant Falls and feeling complete awe that such beautiful, lush scenery could be within 30 minutes from the country’s second largest urban center. Let’s help ensure they are protected and continue to be a refuge for our urban communities. 

As a history lover, I take great pride that renowned scientists including physicist Albert Einstein, astronomer Edwin Hubble, and Albert Michelson, the first American to win the Nobel Prize in science, have conducted experiments at Mount Wilson Observatory. Michelson used the observatory in calculating the speed of light that paved the way for Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.

The San Gabriels also provide a critical habitat for native plant species and endangered animals, including the Nelson bighorn sheep, Santa Ana sucker and California condor. This is why President Barack Obama recognized the important geological, ecological, historic, scientific and recreational resources of the San Gabriels and designated 346,177 acres as a National Monument on Oct. 10, 2014.

The U.S. Forest Service has been developing a management plan for the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument over the past two years. A draft of the management plan was released in August with an open public comment period through November 1. Angelenos’ input is critical. We need to use our voices to direct the Forest Service to protect our waters and habitats and improve community access and recreational amenities in this, our big backyard.

As a result of the management plan, the Forest Service has launched a pilot transit-to-trails program and will offer a free roundtrip shuttle from the Arcadia Gold Line Station to Chantry Flat on select days this month – October 8 and 9. The shuttles, which began September 24, run every 30 minutes, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the last shuttle leaving Chantry Flat at 4.

This is an example of a project that can be made possible by the management plan that has clear objectives in connecting Angelenos to their beloved mountains. We can urge the Forest Service to finalize a plan that clearly outlines objectives to protect the San Gabriel Mountains’ plants, animals, and historical areas; improve visitor education, engagement and outreach; and increase public/active transportation access to the national monument for underserved communities. This will benefit all Angelenos, including Alhambra residents, for generations to come.

For more information about the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument Management Plan and a link to submit your comments, visit https://sangabrielmountains.org.

Duyen Tran is a resident of Alhambra, who is an outdoor enthusiast and enjoys exploring San Gabriel Valley during her free time. 

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