A rugged, whitewater river flowing northward through deep canyons, the New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent. New River Gorge National River in West Virginia encompasses over 70,000 acres of land along the New River, is rich in cultural and natural history, and offers an abundance of scenic and recreational opportunities.
Big Southern Butte is one of two domes rising from a sea of basalt near the center of the eastern Snake River Plain in Idaho. The butte is one of the largest volcanic domes in the world, but at 300,000 years old it is also one of the youngest. Hikers who trek to the 7,550-foot high summit are rewarded with spectacular panoramic views. Photo by Devin Englestead, BLM Upper Snake Wildlife Biologist.
First light at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Established in November 22, 1939, the refuge has provided a critical stopover and wintering spot for thousands of sandhill cranes, geese and other waterfowl for 75 years. Bosque del Apache's sandhill crane population has multiplied from 18 birds in the 1840s to more than 20,000 birds today. Photo by Kim Hang Dessoliers (www.sharetheexperience.org).
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.