The San Gabriels’ 346,000 acres of national forest land northeast of Los Angeles represents more than 70 percent of the county’s open space and is the source of 30 percent of its drinking water.
In 2014, President Barack Obama visited the area and announced his decision to designate the federal land a national monument, assuring added protections. It was among some two dozen national monuments that came under scrutiny in April under an executive order signed by President Donald Trump, calling for a review of all monuments over 100,000 acres.
U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s final report recommends that the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument remain under federal protection and not lose any acreage, but Trump has the final say.
Trump’s executive order triggered the review of monuments designated since 1996 under the Antiquities Act of 1906, which grants the president authority to declare federal lands of historic or scientific value as national monuments.
Trump said his order would “end another egregious abuse of federal power” and “give that power back to the states and to the people, where it belongs.” He also said the Antiquities Act “unilaterally put millions of acres of land and water under strict federal control … eliminating the ability of the people who actually live in those states to decide how best to use that land.”
Zinke’s final report recommends boundary revisions to the Cascade- Siskiyou National Monument — which stretches across southern Oregon and northern California — and the Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada.
The report was issued one day after Zinke and Trump announced modifications to two monuments in southern Utah: Bears Ears and Grand Staircase- Escalante, reducing them by about 50 percent and 84 percent, respectively. Environmentalists and American Indian tribes quickly filed suit, arguing the Antiquities Act does not give the president power to reduce previously declared monuments.
According to Zinke’s report, the Antiquities Act has been used by presidents 26 times since 1996 to create monuments more than 100,000 acres in size.
–City News Service
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