Yesterday, the National Park Service announced the completion of the San Gabriel Watershed and Mountains Special Resource Study, which included a recommendation for the designation of the San Gabriel Watershed as a unit of the Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area and to ensure greater cooperation between the National Park Service and the Forest Service in the Angeles National Forest. In response to the final recommendations, Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27) released the following statement:
"The final recommendations of this Special Resource Study Area study have been nearly a decade in the making. And while I'm pleased to see that the study recognizes the need for stronger protections for the San Gabriel Mountains and Watershed, the proposal raises many questions.
"The San Gabriel Mountains and Watershed have diverse characteristics and a unique ecosystem that do not exist anywhere else in the United States. They are distinct and far removed from the Santa Monica Mountains. Furthermore, the effectiveness of the Service First Authority to provide the resources and services that our community has long sought is unknown.
"Visitors need -- and deserve -- additional resources in the San Gabriel Mountains and Watershed, and I intend to do my part to ensure that happens.
"Now that the study is complete, our entire community must have an opportunity to share their opinions on its recommendations before Congress takes action. That's why I will be holding numerous community events in the coming weeks and months to hear from the resident of the San Gabriel Valley."
Rep Chu will provide the following opportunities for public comment:
* A large town hall meeting for the public to ask questions and register their comments directly. Representatives from the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service will be invited to attend.
* Roundtables with stakeholder groups, such as the business community, elected officials in the region, local agencies that may be affected and advocacy groups in the forest area.
* Regular conference calls open to the public during which Rep. Chu's staff can respond to questions and comments.
* Telephone town halls during which the public can raise questions and comments.
The purpose of the San Gabriel Watershed and Mountains Special Resource Study, first requested by former Congresswoman Hilda Solis, was to address the need for greater recreational opportunities and increased federal resources and protection for areas of the San Gabriel Valley. The study area covered over 700,000 acres of land in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan region, including some of the most diverse and densely populated areas of the country. The San Gabriel Mountains host over three million visitors a year and are, for many residents of the area, the only place to camp, hike, and enjoy the outdoors.
Since arriving in Congress, Representative Chu has continued the effort that Representative Solis began nine years ago. Having sent letters and spoken directly to the Directors of the National Park Service and National Forest Service, she has been a pivotal voice urging for the completion of this study.