San Gabriel Watershed and Mountains Special Resource Study – Revised Draft Released

The National Park Service is conducting a “special resource study” of portions of the San Gabriel River watershed and the San Gabriel Mountains. CORBA attended the previous round of public input sessions and reported on the process in 2009.  In the original study proposal there were three alternatives presented, A, B, and C.  We supported and recommended a combination of the areas proposed in Alternative A and the management strategies proposed in Alternative C.

In the recently released executive summary, the NPS reports that it has made the following determinations about the study area:

  • Natural and cultural resources of the San Gabriel Mountains and Puente-Chino Hills are nationally significant, in that they meet all four of the NPS criteria for national significance.
  • The study area is suitable for inclusion in the national park system because it represents natural and cultural resource types that are not already adequately represented in the national park system or protected by another land managing entity.
  • The NPS determined that a collaborative partnership based park unit which respects the complex mix of land use, ownership, and regulatory authority in the study area would be a feasible addition to the national park system. A large traditional national park unit, owned and operated solely by the National Park Service, is not feasible.
  • Need for NPS Management: NPS management in partnership with existing agencies and organizations is the best option for enhancing protection of significant resources, for improving access to recreational opportunities in the region, and for providing coordinated interpretation and education about significant resources.

In the current draft, the NPS has acknowledged that the original Alternative B has been dropped due to a lack of support, and they have further proposed Alternative D, which includes the larger area from Alternative A, and the management strategies of Alternative C.  It appears that the NPS has listened to the comments submitted by CORBA and others:

Alternative D: San Gabriel Region National Recreation Area (A Partnership Linking Significant Resources and Recreation). In this alternative, Congress would designate a larger scale national recreation area that would recognize and protect the significant resources associated with the San Gabriel Mountains and Puente-Chino Hills, explore opportunities to protect and enhance interconnected ecosystems, provide important open space connections for recreation, and offer new educational and interpretive opportunities. The management approach of alternative D would be collaborative, as in alternative C. The NPS would take a lead role in management of the partnership, particularly in the area of interpretation and education.

The current study recommendation is for Alternative D, as it protects resources over the largest area, improves recreational opportunities, has the most positive socio-economic impact, and fosters a more cooperative management between the various land managers in the study area.

CORBA supports the preservation of our limited open spaces, and the linking of existing open spaces as both wildlife conservation and recreational corridors. It is important to note that in Alternative D, the currently recommended proposal, a designated San Gabriel Region NRA would not apply additional regulatory or land use authorities over existing agencies or local governments. Each partner and jurisdiction would retain land ownership, management and decision-making authorities for lands that they own.” Further, “Allowable recreational uses and activities would continue to be determined by the existing land management agency.”

Broadly interpreted, this would leave the National Forest’s existing multi-use trail policies intact. This has been a major concern for mountain bikers going into the process, as our access to trails is constantly being opposed and threatened by other groups. CORBA and the mountain biking community would continue to work with the various land managers with whom we are already working for trail access, trail maintenance and other issues. The difference under this proposal would be that the NRA would provide oversight and facilitate better cooperation and coordination, and a possible sharing of resources between land managers. There may also be additional funding available for trails through this arrangement.

It is important that our voices as mountain bikers be heard. There are a series of public hearings (listed below) about this Special Resource Study and the resulting proposal for a National Recreation Area. We need to be at these meetings to voice our concerns. We want to ensure that:

  • Existing trail-use designations be honored and maintained.
  • Any changes in use should be inclusive rather than exclusive, expanding access to more user groups and increasing recreational opportunities rather than reducing opportunities by excluding an existing user group.
  • Multi-use should be the goal for any newly proposed trails or recreational projects within the study area and/or NRA.
  • Funding for trails and recreation must be increased as trails are known to have the most socio-economic and health benefits.
  • Funding for the portions of the Angeles National Forest which lie outside the study area and proposed NRA must not be reduced as a result of this proposal, but should be increased.
  • Where trails cross jurisdictional lines, use designations should default to the most open and inclusive designation that exists along the trail.
  • Where resource protection issues necessitate a trail change in use, viable alternatives such as trail re-routes, bridges, alternate trail openings and other mitigation measures should be given priority over closure or exclusion.

The executive summary of the draft summary report is available here. The full report is available here.

The draft study report is available for public comment through December 16, 2011. Questions that should be addresssed in your comments are:

  1. Of the alternatives presented in the Draft San Gabriel Watershed and Mountains Special Resource Study, which do you prefer? Please explain why.
  2. Are there specific proposals or aspects of the alternatives that you feel are important to be included in the preferred alternative/recommendation for the San Gabriel Watershed and Mountains Special Resource Study?
  3. Do you have any suggestions for improving the proposed alternatives? If so, what are they?
  4. Do you have any other comments related to the draft study findings or the environmental assessment?
CORBA volunteers are combing through the document and will post our position and final comments in the coming weeks.  The NPS welcome your comments through e-mail, their web site, or at one of the following public meetings:

Public Meeting Schedule:

 
El Monte (Kick-Off Meeting)
Saturday, October 29
1pm – 3 pm
City of El Monte Senior Center
3120 N. Tyler Avenue
El Monte, CA 91731
 
Palmdale
Monday, November 14
7pm – 9pm
Larry Chimbole Cultural Center,
Joshua Room
38350 Sierra Highway
Palmdale, CA 93550
 
Pomona
Tuesday, November 15th
7pm – 9pm
Agriscapes Center, California Polytechnic Institute Campus
4102 S. University Drive
(South of Temple Avenue/ From Highway 57, exit Temple Avenue and go west towards Cal Poly Pomona. Turn left on South Campus Drive, Agriscapes is the building adjacent to the Farm Store).
Pomona, CA 91768
 
 Santa Clarita
Wednesday, November 16th
7pm – 9pm
George A. Caravalho Activities Center
Santa Clarita Room A
20880 Centre Point Parkway
Santa Clarita, CA 91351
 
Tujunga
Thursday, November 17th
7pm – 9pm
Northeast Valley City Hall Auditorium
7747 Foothill Blvd
Tujunga, CA 91042

 

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