Park Service Proposes L.A. Expansion

Plan angers original supporters

Joe Spring

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A new proposal to increase National Park Service land around Los Angeles has many original supporters upset. In July, 2003, the San Gabriel River Watershed Study Act authorized the National Park Service to study and propose a plan for protecting and managing land within a 1,000-mile area covering parts of the San Gabriel River and San Gabriel Mountains.

Politicians and supporters of the original plan have expressed dismay that a larger, simpler conservation plan was not adopted. They had hoped more resources and protections would have been provided for the popular Angeles National Forest. According to the Los Angeles Times:

The National Park Service spent nearly a decade researching alternatives, conducting public hearings, developing a 316-page report and evaluating 12,000 public comments that led to Wednesday’s announcement. More than 95% of public comments supported an alternative that recommended creating a National Recreation Area spanning the entire area, including the national forest land.

Doing so would have emphasized recreational use and brought new environmental protections to a region now designated as a national forest charged with managing multiple uses including mining, hunting, logging and other activities. The 655,000-acre portion of the Angeles National Forest suffers from illegal campfires, crime and pollution.

Others worry that existing National Park Service resources in Los Angeles will be stretched thin. “I am concerned that creating a separate and noncontiguous unit of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area for this region will create logistical and administrative challenges,” Burbank Rep. Adam Schiff wrote.

Congress would need to approve the plan to make National Park Services proposal official. Representative Chu said she will hold meetings to see where the public stands on the decision.

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