In the News: Monuments Under Attack

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“National monument designation has meant more community input in the future of the San Gabriel Mountains than ever before. If Trump wants to remove these protections and hand public land over to corporations, he will have to go through Congress where I will fight to protect our environment. I’m going even further and soon reintroducing my legislation to establish the San Gabriel Mountains as a National Recreation Area and expand the existing monument boundaries, increasing the amount of land protected.” – Congresswoman Judy Chu

“An attack on any national monument is an attack on all of them.” –
SGMF member Daniel Rossman in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune

“President Obama recognized there are not enough parks and monuments for all people, be they young, old, rich, poor, black, white, Latino, Asian-American and Native American. It is those values this administration is attacking.” – SGMF member Robert Garcia in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune

The executive order is an attack on America’s parks, public lands, and natural spaces. Public lands protect our health, support our economy and serve our communities.

Our coalition has worked for more than 10 years, collaborating with a diverse network of organizations, agencies, businesses, elected officials, and residents, to secure protections and improvements to the region — for the benefit of all Angelenos. Our work will continue.

Inside SGMF: Volunteer’s Report on Our March 2017 Trip to DC

What Surprised Me:
I never imagined my first visit to D.C. would be to lobby our members of Congress! It was powerful being in DC in this Trump era… to stand in the Lincoln Memorial and read the conviction of his words was inspiring — leadership in the face of injustice. Government no longer feels mysterious or distant now that I’ve seen how it works in person; it’s just talking person to person and making a case. It shows me that we the people do have immense power, but only if we flex it en masse.

What We Talked About:
I was there to help tell our reps why we urgently need more Federal resources to connect our park-starved communities to healthy, nature-rich living.

I shared that I grew up in Temple City in view of the San Gabriel Mountains, but no one took me there — like many people today. Growing up in the San Gabriel Valley was an anonymous suburban experience. It was pleasant, but everywhere else felt more special. It wasn’t ’til friends took me hiking years later, to Sturtevant Falls, that I discovered… there’s magic back there! Discovering the mountains changed my life. We have such special places: beautiful waterfalls, crystal blue rivers and shady canyons so close to home, and they provide peace and relief from the urban pressures of LA. In this political climate, they are more vital than ever for us to recharge in nature, and break the cycle of Nature-deficit disorder.

As a park designer, I shared how I’ve worked on the Puente Hills Landfill Park Master Plan, and numerous parks in our park-poor County, and how a proposed National Recreation Area designation would multiply and maximize the County’s investments to bring park space to our residents.

What I’m Still Thinking About:
Connecting people to nature has become my purpose because someone introduced me – and paying it forward is the only way to grow future environmental stewards. “You can’t protect what you don’t love, and you can’t love what you don’t know.”

It’s really motivating working with SGMF because we’re getting real results! Our San Gabriel Mountains have been neglected and underfunded for many years. I had never seen a single ranger out there and now, thanks to the National Monument, we have young, diverse field rangers educating families by the San Gabriel River. We have new, attractive multilingual signs. When people see that we care, they care. We’re pushing and partnering with the Forest Service and our public agencies, to improve public access and outreach, and to innovate. We’re advocating for Transit to Trail shuttles to connect the gaps between our communities and the outdoors. Our Leadership Academy graduates are now rising environmental leaders in our region. It’s an exciting time.

— Bryan Matsumoto

On the Ground Work Update: Guiding The Eagles to Their Nest Project

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Leadership Academy graduate Liliana Camacho Guzman led a workshop at Drew Magnet High School, followed by an Eaton Canyon visit and hike with the students. As part of her project, Guiding The Eagles to Their Nest, she discussed environmental justice, access to green and open spaces, and our work in the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument and region, with the students.

“It was so rewarding seeing all these students enjoying themselves in their backyard,” said Liliana. “It was their first time wetting their feet (literally) in the San Gabriel Mountains. They can’t wait to go back with their friends and families!”

SGMF on the Road: March 2017 DC Trip

SGMF members Duyen Tran (Wilderness Society), Roberto Morales (Sierra Club), Steve Evans (Friends of the River), Daniel Rossman (Wilderness Society), Dan Smuts (Wilderness Society) traveled to Washington, D.C. with volunteers Bryan Matsumoto, Michelle Okawa, Sandra Catell, and Jeremy Rogers to meet with the offices of our local legislators. Thanks to Congresswoman Judy Chu, Congressman Adam Schiff, and Congresswoman Grace Napolitano, as well as staff members of Congressman Tony Cardenas, Congressman Steve Knight, Congressman Paul Cook, Congressman Ed Royce, and Senators Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein for taking the time to meet with us! (Photos by Bryan Matsumoto.)

Big Step for SGMF

We have exciting news for San Gabriel Mountains Forever!

It’s been almost 10 years since we officially launched the San Gabriel Mountains Forever campaign as a coalition made up of local and national organizations working on environmental protection and social justice.

Last week, we began transitioning to become a 501c3 nonprofit organization, by signing an agreement for Community Partners to be our fiscal sponsor. Developing from a campaign to an organization — it’s a big step!

By institutionalizing as a fiscally sponsored entity, we become stronger and more prepared to expand our work on policies, projects, and programs to protect our open, green spaces while also benefiting our communities.

“We are thrilled to have San Gabriel Mountains Forever join our competitive fiscal sponsorship program, and look forward to supporting the development of this critically important network,” said Judy Harper, Sr. Program Director at Community Partners. “We are confident that the coalition will intensify and accelerate its impact — building leadership, strong advocacy and increased access to the San Gabriel Mountains and beyond.”

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Another exciting step for us is the completion of our first annual impact report (above is a photo with coalition members holding a printed version).

2016 was a stellar year for us. On the legislative front, we were instrumental in helping the transportation and parks measures pass in Los Angeles County. We celebrated five years of our Leadership Academy with the graduation of our 10th cohort, and and we grew our program to engage and empower local leaders. In the field, we supported transit-to-trails efforts, provided the U.S. Forest Service with valuable guidance on shaping a plan for managing the national monument, and led or supported projects to improve the region for our communities.

Our focus remains on protecting our mountains and parks, providing access and environmental justice, and developing the next generation of environmental stewards. Since the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument was designated in 2014, we have developed a new course to help shape our vision for the region. We’ll continue to keep you updated on our progress!

Event: Convert-a-Can on March 11

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Roll up your sleeves! There’s another Convert-a-Can beautification event planned for Saturday, March 11 at the West Fork picnic area in the San Gabriel Mountains (close to Azusa).

Volunteers and artists will join event coordinator and San Gabriel Mountains Forever Leadership Academy graduate Meg Devine to transform waste receptacles into works of art.

Painting begins at 8 am and will continue until the sun goes down. Supplies are provided. (Donations of paint will also be accepted!)

More:
Free food & drinks
Live Music
Raffle prizes

SGMF Leadership Academy Spotlight: Megan Devine

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Megan Devine is a graduate of the San Gabriel Mountains Leadership Academy who continues to lead the Convert-a-Can program.

How did you hear about the Leadership Academy and what inspired you to apply for the program?

I learned about the Leadership Academy through a friend, Kevin Lynch, who was in the cohort before mine, and he said it was a great opportunity. I also connected with my degree I was studying at the time, environmental science and policy. I am a huge advocate for protecting our public lands and conservation so it only made sense to get involved in the Leadership Academy.

What was your project?

“Convert-a-Can – Using Art and Creativity as a Tool for Advocacy.” Project Convert-A-Can turns unattractive trash bins into interactive art installations to create awareness and advocacy toward the prevention of littering and graffiti. The projects focus is to improve the infrastructure, deter litter and graffiti vandalism, and enhance the outdoor experience by beautifying the specific areas of the San Gabriel Mountains.

What’s the best thing you learned?

I learned vital leadership skills that allowed me to coordinate a successful project and do public outreach. I learned so much history about the San Gabriels and the organizations that work together to protect it.

What surprised you about the program or your work on the project?

I was surprised at the level of achievement I felt after completing my project and the Leadership Academy program. It felt so good to successfully complete both. And the impact it has made on my life was a surprise — it keeps on giving.

Describe being in the great outdoors.

Being in the great outdoors gives me peace. It allows me to let go of reality and be in the present. My senses heighten and I’m able to take it all in for all its worth. It allows me to have a greater sense of being and know that this is what I’m fighting for. The feeling of being outdoors makes me feel free and alive.

What’s your favorite way to spend your day in the San Gabriel Mountains?

I love the drive up Highway 39, visiting the West Fork trail with my sister and mom. Taking a hike down the trail along the river. Sitting down along the river by a waterfall to enjoy a great sack lunch with my family. Telling stories or just being in silence. That crisp air, and the sound of the trees in the wind makes my day.

Golden Streets Success!

Fire postponed the original date and rain came for the rescheduled date — but it didn’t stop the crowds from filling the streets for the 626 Golden Streets event, hosted by member organization BikeSGV. SGMF was proud to be a partner and to engage with community members at three hubs along the route.

More: Video from LA County (below); short video on our Facebook; more photos on BikeSGV’s Facebook page.

From Sasquatch to Star Wars: check out the human-powered, car-free fun at 626 Golden Streets from Los Angeles County Newsroom on Vimeo.

Call for Public Comments: Protect Water from Suction Dredge Mining

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Photo by Steve Evans

The State Water Resources Control Board is collecting public comments concerning the development of suction dredge mining regulations for rivers and streams throughout California. Of interest to us: those waterways that begin in and flow from the San Gabriel Mountains. Comments are due by noon on Tuesday, February 28.

SGMF has sent a letter to the Water Board, urging them to develop and adopt comprehensive and stringent regulations to protect the East Fork and other San Gabriel Mountain waterways from suction dredge mining.

Suction dredge gold mining of our rivers and streams degrades water quality and puts public health at risk by mobilizing toxic mercury left in the river beds from historic mining. It also chronically disturbs fish and wildlife habitat and sensitive cultural and historical sites along rivers. We believe the regulations must ensure the protection of water quality in and all the beneficial uses of the East Fork and other streams in the San Gabriel Mountains. The public lands and rivers in these mountains and foothills produce 30% of the region’s drinking water supply and represent 70% of Los Angeles County’s open space, providing recreation opportunities for more than five million visitors annually.

You can join us in urging the Water Board to protect water quality and other beneficial uses of the state’s water from suction dredge mining. Ask them to prohibit dredging in rivers and streams that:

  • provide habitat for at-risk, threatened, or endangered fish and wildlife species;
  • are already impaired or could be impaired by mercury or sediment;
  • are designated as Wild and Scenic and Wild Trout Streams;
  • possess sensitive Native American and historical resources;
  • or provide critical sources of drinking water for downstream communities.

Comments are being accepted via email-  suctiondredgecommentletters@waterboards.ca.gov