Located 2,600 miles southwest of Hawaii, the National Park of American Samoa is the most remote unit of the National Park System and the U.S. National Park south of the Equator. The Park spreads across three islands, 9,500 acres of tropical rainforest, and 4,000 acres of ocean, including coral reefs. While remote, the islands of American Samoa, true to the meaning of the word Samoa (Islands of Sacred Earth), are welcoming and offer beautiful landscapes and centuries of culture and history.
Seasoned backpacker and adventurer Yang Lu earned the grand prize in the 2015 Share the Experience photo contest with this image of a sunburst captured at sunrise in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah. Yang has made the outdoors part of his daily life and finds deep connection to the land through his lens.
“My photography is not just for recreation, it is to inspire people to explore these areas." -- Yang Lu
Photo by Yang Lu (www.sharetheexperience.org).
The plantings of cherry trees originated in 1912 as a gift of friendship to the People of the United States from the People of Japan. In Japan, the flowering cherry tree, or "Sakura," is an exalted flowering plant. The beauty of the cherry blossom is a potent symbol equated with the evanescence of human life and epitomizes the transformation of Japanese culture throughout the ages.
AMERICA'S GREAT OUTDOORS: Interior Releases Draft Study of California's San Gabriel Watershed and Mountains
Office of the Secretary
Upcoming public comment period will help National Park Service recommend best path forward to protect significant resources, improve recreational opportunities for communities in the Los Angeles metropolitan region
WASHINGTON – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that the National Park Service (NPS) today has released for public review the Draft San Gabriel Watershed and Mountains Special Resource Study and Environmental Assessment. The Congressionally-authorized study is to determine whether all or part of the study area in California is significant, suitable, and feasible for designation as a unit of the national park system.
The study area covers approximately 700,000 acres of land in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan region, including urban communities, local and regional parks and open space, and 415,000 acres of the Angeles National Forest.
“Located next to our nation's second largest urban population, the beauty and open spaces of the San Gabriel Mountains and their surrounding area have much to offer to the residents of Los Angeles,” said Secretary Salazar. “Through this draft resource study, we are exploring ways we can conserve this important landscape and improve recreational opportunities for the community, in partnership with the people who live, work and play in this great area.”
“As someone who grew up in an industrial community in the shadows of the San Gabriel Mountains, I know how the beauty of this range, the watershed and the river that run through it helped connect Californians to their natural environment,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis of La Puente, Calif. “These Mountains heave meant so much to me and my Dad, and to the 1.5 million residents of the San Gabriel Valley. For so many years, families across the region have enjoyed hiking, rock climbing, bicycling, camping or just gazing out across the vast expanse. As a member of Congress, I wrote and passed legislation authorizing this study to preserve the cultural resources of the San Gabriel Watershed and Mountains. I encourage my friends and neighbors back home to attend public meetings this month and next—and share their feelings—so we can ensure that future generations can enjoy this national treasure for years to come.”
Through the special resource study process, the NPS made the following determinations about the study area:
The San Gabriel Mountains and Puente Hills are nationally significant, meeting all four of the NPS criteria for national significance.
The San Gabriel Mountains and Puente Hills are suitable for inclusion in the national park system, as the areas represent natural and cultural resource types that are not already adequately represented in the system or protected by another land managing entity.
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 NPS, would be infeasible.
Four alternatives, two with a role for the National Park Service, are evaluated in the draft study and environmental assessment. Each of the alternatives seeks to protect significant resources, enhance habitat connectivity, and improve recreational opportunities for communities in the Los Angeles metropolitan region. In each of the alternatives, the U.S. Forest Service would continue to own and manage the Angeles National Forest.
No Action Alternative: Continuation of Current Programs and Policies. This is the “no action” alternative for this study, and assumes that current programs, policies, conditions and trends would continue.
Alternative A: San Gabriel Mountains National Recreation Area: A U.S. Forest Service Designation. Congress would designate the San Gabriel Mountains unit of the Angeles National Forest as a National Recreation Area (NRA) that would continue to be managed solely by the U.S. Forest Service.
Alternative B: San Gabriel Parks and Open Space Network. This alternative was dismissed from further consideration after public review of the preliminary alternatives in 2009. Some components of alternative B were incorporated into alternative D.
Alternative C: San Gabriel Watershed National Recreation Area. Congress would designate a river-based NRA that would raise the visibility of the San Gabriel River watershed, offer new educational and interpretive opportunities along the river and throughout the watershed, and improve river-based recreation. This would be a new model for a national park unit. Partnership arrangements among federal and state agencies, local governments, non-profit organizations, and area landowners would achieve the conservation, recreational, and educational goals of the NRA.
Alternative D: San Gabriel Region National Recreation Area: A Partnership Linking Significant Resources and Recreation. Congress would designate a larger scale NRA that would recognize and protect the significant resources associated with the San Gabriel Mountains and Puente 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 the same as alternative C, a new model of national park management whereby the NPS, U.S. Forest Service, and numerous other agencies and organizations with land and interests in the area would work collaboratively.
The NPS initiated this special resource study in 2005 and published preliminary management alternatives for public review in August 2009. The approaches to management and underlying values all reflect input provided by the public and interested organizations and agencies throughout the study process.
Following receipt and review of public comments, a final report, including a recommended course of action from the Secretary of the Interior, will be transmitted to Congress.