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SGV Residents Examine National Park Service Study

Residents gathered in El Monte to check out the findings of a draft study that looks at the potential for the San Gabriel watershed and mountains to become a National Recreational Area.

Could the San Gabriel River Watershed and Mountains, along with the surrounding area, become part of the national park system? A recently released draft study from the National Park Service says the potential is there, and dozens of San Gabriel Valley residents digested the findings of that study Saturday in El Monte.

The study has been about six years in the making, according to Rep. Judy Chu, who attended the meeting, which is the first in a series. The purpose of the meetings is to gain public feedback to eventually implement into the final report, which would be presented to Congress in 2012.

"Every day, I look up at the mountains, and I see that these mountains are for many," said Chu, a Monterey Park Democrat. "They are the only place people can go to enjoy the outdoors."

Chu also mentioned that the area fields about 3 million visitors per year, but is in "critical need" of support and assistance when it comes to those visitors fully enjoying themselves.

"I saw people hiking, but they were puzzled, so they asked us where the pathways were," she said, adding that she was "happy to see people there, but was also disturbed" by the lack of items such as picnic tables and other park amenities.

The study area encompasses about 700,000 acres of land, and roughly 415,000 of the Angeles National Forest. While the communities of La Cañada Flintridge, La Crescenta-Montrose and Altadena are outside of the study area, Sierra Madre and Arcadia are right at its borders.

Monrovia, however, is well within study range, along with many communities to the east, with the lines stopping at the Claremont/Upland area, and south, with the lines stopping at La Mirada and Fullerton. You can see the maps outlining the study zone to the right of this article.

A quartet of alphabetized alternatives were explored in the study, all emphasizing aspects such as the preservation of resources while strengthening the recreational elements of the lands both in the Angeles National Forest and the urban communities within the study area.

But the most environment-friendly, and popular, among the crowd was alternative "D", which is defined as a "collaborative partnership-based park unit which respects the complex mix of land use, ownership, and regulatory authority in the study area," while also stating that a "large traditional national park unit, owned and operated solely by the NPS, would be infeasible."

Barbara Butler, the project manager and Saturday's presenter from the National Park Service, said alternative D was borne of a combination of other plans and input from the public after the  some preliminary alternatives were presented in 2009. She also stressed that even with alternative D's strengths and popularity, it doesn't necessarily mean that it's officially the park service's plan of action.

"We haven't identified the NPS' preferred alternative, because we want to hear from you," she said.

Support for D came from all sides,  but La Crescenta resident Paul Buehler shared come concern about the collaboration of multiple agencies possibly creating a logistical mess.

"Are we going to have 30 different sets of rules?," he said. "How are trails going to be managed? I just feel there's a very bad sense of management when 10 to 20 agencies are involved."

Butler answered that the goal of the plan is not really to "control, but to better coordinate" communication among local agencies, all of which would maintain the same control over decisionmaking they have now -- for instance, the U.S. Forest Service would still oversee Angeles National Forest.

Michael Cacciotti, mayor pro tem of South Pasadena but also a member of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, was also in attendance and used the conservancy's work as an example of interagency harmony.

"It's a great model, just all these cities and agencies working together," he said, calling the process "seamless." Butler also noted that NPS looked at the conservancy as a precedent for the agency work mix within the study.

Mary Barrie, a resident of La Canada Flintridge, brought up some confusion regarding the overlap with this particular study, officially dubbed the San Gabriel Watershed and Mountains Special Resource Study, and the separate Rim of the Valley Corridor study. That study also includes a large chunk of the Angeles National Forest and areas around the Crescenta Valley, but also sprawls west to the San Fernando Valley and beyond.

Butler answered that the San Gabriel Valley study is further along in its process, and that findings from the work done with that study could also be implemented into the Rim of the Valley work.

Many others in the audience shared support for alternative D, also praising Butler (in Spanish as well) and the National Park Service for moving the study forward.

"This is going to be a place where I can bring my children for years," said one woman, whose public comment was in Spanish and translated for the crowd.

The next public meetings on the San Gabriel study are for Palmdale, Pomona, Santa Clarita and Tujunga from Nov. 14-17.

Check out the San Gabriel Watershed and Mountains Special Resources Study for yourself.

lonnie fehr October 30, 2011 at 06:56 PM
hey if this will help preserve area up hwy 39 , hats off here . areas totally destroyed by visitors , spray paint , trash all over , illegal fires , poaching , river flow altered ie dams built by visitors etc , gold mining damage , area is a eye sore ,needs alot law enforcement plus education ,
Steve Lamb October 30, 2011 at 06:59 PM
This proposal could have radical impacts on residents and business. I like the Parks service, but before we grant another Federal agency more control and rights over land locally. lets try them out first- say have them take over and manage the Angeles Forest for say five years and see if theya re any better than the horrible USFS- If they can't do better than the USFS, lets not have them. And as to how they get along w local communities, ask the folks in Buckeye California or west Yellowstone, in both cases the locals are not happy, in no small part due to the heavy handedness of the Parks service exerting its "authority" or influence over the locals. The USFS is bad enough.
lonnie fehr October 30, 2011 at 07:30 PM
http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/2010/01/reducing-federal-deficit-essential-are-national-parks-logical-place-cut-spending5307 wheres the money ? NPS will be [ may ]ie helping , working together with USFS , sounds like will be like a political mess ,. be ran way it is now , ie to many chiefs not enough indians , [ no pun intented ]
Steve Lamb October 30, 2011 at 07:47 PM
Well the USFS needs to go. Those Keystone cop rangers couldn't even stop the slowest moving non wind driven fire in sixty years and let it burn down the whole forest, they keep closing not maintaining trails and campsites. Bringing in more divided authority, we already have BOTH the USFS and LA County to go through on every land use permit, is just a program for disaster and eternal morass. Start by taking the USFS off this forest and transfer their material and budget to people who can do something THEN we can talk about expansion....
James Engle October 30, 2011 at 09:31 PM
What we have now is a National Forest and wilderness, with a wide range of animals, flora and fawna with land evolved over ions of time. If a guarantee of rugged wilderness is proposed and let be, then it might work. If "well marked trails, picnic tables, and "park fun" are proposed then: wild animals defending their habitat will need to be controled and killed, day and week visitors will need policing and arrested because you know how people behave. And if you think the Station Fire was bad just wait until the fireworks and campfires start to proliferate the forest. I would like to hear from the Sierra Club, and professionals like devotes of John Muir who defend what is left of our natural world which is under constant assult. Maybe the "bumbling" Forestry Service is better equiped to keep the place as it is, a natural habitat for animals and a refuge for people willing to hike and understand what a beatiful place is being preserved and protected from man.
Steve Lamb October 30, 2011 at 09:44 PM
protected from man? This was NEVER and never has been the purpose of the Angeles Forest. It was sold to the public as a place for recreation, and a timber reserve (before they cut it all down in 34-38) and fire/flood control. It was never sold to ,or funded by the public as a place they could pay for, but not go to.
lonnie fehr October 30, 2011 at 10:05 PM
http://www.nps.gov/ncrc/programs/flp/publications/athletic_fields.pdf is this part of the 375,000 dollar study , for more recreation ? soccer / baseball fields etc etc etc . yes more involved that just adding a picnic table , need bear proof trash can ,garbage pickup etc . ie more employees , $$$ more
James Engle October 30, 2011 at 10:50 PM
Who did you have in mind as "people can do something" LA County? They planned and destroyed 100 acres of oaks and sycamores below Santa Anita catch basin. Or perhaps the Feds who allowed the Station Fire to spread becaused they were "p----- off" by budget cuts? Maybe the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments? Who did you have in mind to save our wilderness?
Steve Lamb October 30, 2011 at 10:54 PM
James- Well i sure as heck didnt mean the USFS, who again not only can't stop a slow rolling fire, but actually got in the way of the LA County folks who could have and wanted to. And in my book, if LA County can put you to shame, you have no value at all, since I think of them as dreck minus. But LA County would be a HUGE QUantum leap in improvement over the USFS.
Ellen Zunino October 30, 2011 at 11:15 PM
Yes, we need to shift more uncontrolled, screaming kids and their beer-drinking, garbage-strewing parents out of our cities' parks and into the forest.
Ellen Zunino October 30, 2011 at 11:46 PM
The objective of creating the National Forests was the preservation of the watershed and of the timber. Hunting and fishing and traditional usage by native Americans were never prohibited . Recreation per se wasn't added to National Forest management objectives until the 1960's. The Forest Reserve Act of 1891, the Forest Management Act of 1897 and all the Presidential Proclamations creating the individual National Forest Reserves can be found in the US Statutes at Large. These are huge volumes and are not fun to wade through - which I have. http://homepages.uc.edu/~armstrty/statutes.html
Steve Gerow October 30, 2011 at 11:47 PM
I would like to know whether the end game - of the process which the report envisions - will be in the interests of the population at large or whether it will just create a giant taxpayer-funded museum which only Sierra Club and other elites can enjoy. Would like to know how it impacts the current use - highways and trails and whether they are expected to be phased out. I'm not hopeful as I believe the government elites cannot be trusted to be upfront with the general population about their true goals. FWIW - I agree with Steve Lamb that the recent Station Fire was a management failure of the first order under the direction of District Ranger Jody Noiron who I believe is now managing the San Bernardino National Forest.
Steve Lamb October 30, 2011 at 11:58 PM
Zuno- you are just so dead wrong about that it isnt even funny.Hunting fishing and camping began to be diminished by the USFS in the 1960s. Before that they and hiking and camping were explicit missions of the Angeles. And of course there is a ton of documentation on that in all the left over paper publications from the great golden age of the Angeles 1900-1940. Lots of copies of that stuff in the libraries, on ebay, in collections around town and published in local histories. And Mr. Gerow- again RIGHT ON!! Its the PEOPLE'S FRIGGIN FOREST!!! And the USFS management totally muffed the station fire. Ms. Noiron deserves to be at least fired,if not prosecuted, not laterally transferred.
James Engle October 31, 2011 at 12:46 AM
Steve, I think you are generous with "management failure" as the cause of the Station Fire. USFS requested in several budget cycles buldozers and equipment to clear fire breaks and carve up the forrest. Denied these "tools...toys" they deliberetly let the fire grow citing "missed communications" between hdq. and copter support. It was not missmanagement but deliberate. Codes of silence protected the perps. 300 million and hundreds of thousand acres, and who knows how many deer, bears, coyetes, foxes, and small animals perished. Yes the behavior was criminal. Today was a historic day. The planets population reached 7 billion, with the projected growth to 20 billion in a couple of decades. Eventually the whole place will go to pieces anyway with humans the way they are!
Revvell October 31, 2011 at 03:59 PM
That would be Ellen Zunino.... not Zuno.
True Freedom October 31, 2011 at 06:32 PM
@Revvell: Pay no attention to this Stove Crumb guy.. whoever he really is. Won't even use his real name. pffft.
Steve Lamb October 31, 2011 at 06:42 PM
No no I AM using my real name you two bozos are anonymous. So does Revvell work for True Freedom? are they sitting in a Republican or Tea Party "think tank" computer boiler room someplace? Real people want to know.
Brian November 01, 2011 at 01:06 AM
A - The USFS in charge of the Angeles National Forest area are a group of bumbling incompetent, inept screwups. The Station fire, which they were in charge of coordinating, is a testament to their limited capabilities, despite having the most modern firefighting aircraft, communication gear, as well as the Internet and satellite weather data. They have since honed their skills however as skilled chainsaw lumberjacks. It will take DECADES for the pines to re-grow in our forest area. Since 1996 approximately, the USFS had been attempting to charge visitors to our national forest areas a $5 fee just for parking and / or hiking meditating, sightseeing for a few hours. During the Clinton years, the federal budget for USDA / Forest services was cut back, resulting in a $5 'Adventure Pass' (double taxation) fee to pay for cutbacks. The Courts didn't bother to enforce it until the newspapers began to cover it. To help shore up the USDA budget deficits, the government began the privatization of our public forest lands by placing private firms in charge of services such as maintenance and fee collection.
Brian November 01, 2011 at 01:07 AM
B - Meanwhile, we see armed USDA goons patroling our Angeles National Forest areas in $39,000 Ford Expeditions, writing parking tickets. This is a misappropriation of funds on top of incompetence. See: http://www.cagreens.org/longbeach/fof.htm. Giving these people any further authority / power to charge and control the use of OUR national forest land is a HUGE MISTAKE. Currently we have seen entire road closures FOR MONTHS (Angeles Crest through Wrightwood route) and forest closures for such asisnine things as the "yellow spotted frog regeneration area". The BLM is also working along the same lines as the USFS and are at war with the off-road crowd, and have closed many thousands of acres of recreation areas for offroad motorcycles, sand rails and the like. This is also a federal land grab at the expense of the ignorant taxpayer. Also see http://articles.glendalenewspress.com/2002-09-20/news/export24594_1_angeles-national-forest-four-forests-fee-demonstration-program Robert Bartsch is our local leader on the 'Free the Forest' effort. His e-mail is: rsbartsch@earthlink.net if you would like more information on all of it.
Brian November 07, 2011 at 09:14 PM
The National Park system should not have any control over our local forests.

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