Biden expands San Gabriel Mountains National Monument

One of the most spectacular scenic backdrops to any major American city is that of the San Gabriel Mountains, which fringe the Los Angeles metropolitan area. After winter storms clear the air of the LA basin, a fine mantle of white hangs from the ramparts of Mt. Baldy, sitting at 10,000 feet in elevation and as rugged in profile as the Andes. It’s a come-hither look for anyone who’d just as soon hike or fish in rugged country as lounge on a beach.

Angeles national forest

What snow and rain that falls over the San Gabriels mostly ends up in the two forks of the San Gabriel River. That’s good for trout – and for anglers.

There are only a handful of streams in all of southern California where one can fish for trout. The East and West Forks of the San Gabriel River are two of them. And not just any trout – in the upper reaches of this watershed there are native rainbows with remnant genetics of the southern steelhead, now one of California’s rarest native fishes.

Trout from the West Fork San Gabriel River

Thanks President Biden

Thanks to President Biden’s proclamation on May 2nd, all of the upper San Gabriel River watershed, and portions of the upper Los Angeles River watershed, are now permanently protected as part of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument.

The president’s proclamation adds a little more than 109,000 acres of the Angeles National Forest to the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, which was designated in 2014 by President Barack Obama.

TU and other sportsperson’s groups have strongly supported legislation and administrative actions to better protect rare coldwater resources, trout populations and sporting opportunities in the San Gabriels, including designation of the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument in Arizona, which permanently protects important water sources for the lower Colorado River and the unique trout fishery of Lee’s Ferry from proposed uranium mining.

Backcountry Hunters and Anglers joined TU in applauding President Biden’s action for the San Gabriel Mountains, which adds to his strong conservation legacy.

The expansion of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument reflects many years of work from Congressional champions, indigenous peoples and a broad diversity of local and national organizations dedicated to conservation, outdoor recreation and equitable access. The expansion of the monument better protects vital terrestrial and aquatic habitats, water sources and sporting and recreational opportunities. Twenty-two species of rare or endangered plants and animals are found in this area. The Monument is also home to game species such as mule deer and black bear and supports a healthy population of bighorn sheep.

National Monuments FTW

National monuments are a flexible type of designation, with proclamations often written to ensure continued state management of fish and wildlife and to provide for a variety of uses, including habitat improvements. Some of the best fishing and hunting opportunities in America are found in national monuments – in California, these include the San Gabriel Mountains, Berryessa Snow Mountain and Sand to Snow National Monuments.

TU, BHA and other sportsperson’s groups that support national monument designations for deserving public lands have developed recommendations for ensuring that national monuments continue to fulfill the vital role and need of sustaining our sporting heritage. These include building public support through a process that addresses the priorities of sportspeople, is locally driven and transparent and incorporates science-based management. TU and other sporting groups also have called on the Biden administration to work with Congress to provide sufficient funding for proper management of national monuments and other public lands with special designations.

For anglers and hunters, there is no substitute for high-quality habitat. In the Western U.S., most of our best remaining fish and game habitats – and fishing and hunting opportunities – are found on public lands. In the face of climate change and resource development pressures, we must act with foresight and conviction to better conserve, protect and restore the best of those public land habitats we have left.

President Biden’s expansion of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument is a major step forward in this regard and is good for public lands and waters, the fish and wildlife they support and for the people who enjoy these resources, now and in the future.