The San Gabriel Mountains area northeast of Los Angeles will become the next national monument, based on a designation from President Barack Obama.
"For many residents of Los Angeles County -- one of the most disadvantaged counties in the country when it comes to access to parks and open space for minorities and children -- the San Gabriel Mountains provide the only available large-scale open space," read a White House statement issued today.
In addition, a number of philanthropies will contribute private funds to the new San Gabriel National Monument, funding restoration and stewardship efforts, along with recreation projects, including trails and picnic areas and efforts to improve habitat for animals in the area.
"More than 15 million people live within 90 minutes of the San Gabriel Mountains, which provides 70 percent of the open space for Angeleños and 30 percent of their drinking water," according to the White House statement. "The 346,177 acre site contains high-quality wilderness areas, habitat for rare and endangered animals like the California condor, and a rich array of cultural and historical features."
Protection of the area has been a contentious issue since the 2000s. Critics have called the act a federal land grab that will bring unnecessary regulation.
"This is a bypass of the democratic process. It is being rushed with no public input or study," Glendora City Councilwoman Judy Nelson told The San Gabriel Valley Tribune.
The newly designated monument lies inside the Angeles National Forest. Proponents say the designation will increase funding for the monument area, and provide additional protections against commercial development and drilling.