FAQ: National Recreation Area

What is a National Recreation Area?
A National Recreation Area is a federally designated area that highlights, protects, and promotes nationally significant land and water recreation areas; it may also include historic structures,  rails, and other sites. National Recreation Areas safeguard recreational opportunities and help ensure sustainable management. Each National Recreation Area designation is unique, reflecting the needs of the community and area.

What are the benefits of a National Recreation Area?
For the Los Angeles region, a National Recreation Area would provide protected public lands in the park-poor Los Angeles region, increasing opportunities for walking, jogging, biking, picnicking and more. Such outdoor recreation opportunities are vital for public health and well-being.Designation as a National Recreation Area would allow the National Park Service to contribute to community-based, community-driven projects, which could include:

    • Creating new access points to existing trails and bike paths
    •  Increasing and improving signage
    •  Expanding education, including multi-lingual education, about safety, the environment, and the region’s special history
    •  Reducing trash and graffiti
    •  Building additional bathroom facilities, picnic areas and parking lots

Recognition as a National Recreation Area could also provide an economic boost to the region. Studies have shown that protected recreational spaces increase property values and revenues for local businesses.

What activities are allowed in a National Recreation Area?
Since each National Recreation Area is unique, the allowed activities can be crafted to meet the
needs and uses of the area. Recreational activities, such as hiking, camping, cycling, boating, fishing, and hunting are typically allowed in National Recreation Areas.

What happens to private or state lands in a National Recreation Area?
Nothing. The lands to be designated are all federal lands already, and the legislation in the San Gabriel Mountains would not create a single new acre of federal lands. Local governments, businesses, and private citizens will retain existing ownership over their property and authority over land use, whether they are in or near the National Recreation Area boundaries.

Will a National Recreation Area designation affect water rights?
No. A National Recreation Area designation will not affect any existing use or allocation of water or water rights. A National Recreation Area will not change current flood control and protection, water storage or transportation, water treatment, or utilities.

Can the government take land in the National Recreation Area through eminent domain?
No. There is no authority to acquire land through eminent domain within the National Recreation Area designation. As with all other federal lands, the federal government may acquire lands only through exchange or purchase from willing sellers.

Can you fight fires in a National Recreation Area?
Yes. As on all other federal lands, public safety is the top priority of land managers, who may take whatever actions necessary to fight fire in a National Recreation Area.

Thanks to Representative Chu for helping provide this information. You can learn more about her specific National Recreation Area proposal on her website.