The campaign to expand the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument reached an exciting milestone. On Tuesday, November 7th, the public was invited to participate in a listening session that centered this initiative. The listening session was hosted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service and took place at the California Army National Guard Building in Azusa, California. It is estimated that over two hundred and fifty people attended this event, many of which displayed their support for the expansion through matching shirts that included the printed text “San Gabriel Mountains Forever”. Dr. Homer Wilkes, Under Secretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and Environment, was there as a liaison for the Biden Administration, so his primary objective was to listen and gather the public’s input. Senator Anthony J. Portantino, Mayor Robert Gonzalez, and Mayor Victor Gordo were among the more local elected officials who attended the event. Also, the stage was shared by Dr. Ruby Ortega Jr. who serves as Tribal President of the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, which is one of the Tribes who are original stewards of the land the effort is working to protect.
A look into the proposal’s widespread support
The floor was soon opened to the public for verbal comments following opening remarks. This was an opportunity for the community to speak openly about the proposal, whether they supported it or not. An overwhelming amount of people, including two CalWild staff, spoke in favor of expanding the San Gabriel National Monument and urged President Biden to safeguard this widely cherished landscape by using the Antiquities Act. Many people spoke from the heart and shared their personal connection to the land. Also, the public recognized the need for more resources to the area and pressed the Administration for this support. Currently, over 34,000 community members have signed the petition, so the listening session is just a taste of the proposal’s widespread support.
Overall, the listening session is a meaningful step towards protecting the San Gabriel Mountains, so we are grateful to everyone who took part and made their voices heard. Together let’s celebrate this win and keep the momentum going!