Feature

Defining Open Space in the San Gabriel Mountains

Andrew Mitchell
U.S. Forest Service, Angeles National Forest
April 30th, 2015 at 7:15PM

A photo of rushing winter waters through the West Fork of the San Gabriel River.

The term “open-space” can mean so many different things to an Angelino. It can mean finding a rare open parking spot downtown, finding an open reservation at the newest, trendy restaurant, or it can mean escaping the overwhelming congestion of Greater Los Angeles into its “backyard”: The Angeles National Forest and the newly designated San Gabriel Mountains National Monument.

When Angelinos and tourists from various parts of the world trade the congestion on the highways for the feel of an open trail, it provides relief from the daily grind that lies only 60 minutes away from the metropolitan area.

When President Obama proclaimed portions of the San Gabriel Mountains as a National Monumenton October 10, 2014, it not only provided additional legal protections for this open space, it was also a statement as to how much Angelinos value their treasured San Gabriel Mountains.  Now the U.S. government formally recognizes the immense historical, cultural and geological importance of this area to the nation.

So how will the Forest Service protect and preserve the great natural features of the San Gabriel Mountains amongst the Nelson’s Bighorn Sheep, sprawling Coulter Pines, and the luminous yucca plants that line canyon walls like scattered candles? How will they manage the slow fading of petroglyphs crafted by peoples long before us? How will they assist in continuing the research of almost infinite open spaces that lies beyond our earthly realm from the Mount Wilson Observatory?

The answers lie with the dedicated Forest Service employees and more than 15 million stakeholders who visit the Forest and Monument each year who are all in the midst of creating a comprehensive and integrated Monument Management Plan. The plan will take a few years to develop, because the Forest Service is working with federal, state and local governments, Tribes, private groups, and other interested parties to ensure the management plan reflects the diverse needs, expertise and desires of all who have a stake in this important area. 

Spring time glistens through the trees at Cogswell Dam.

“This land has been dedicated for the use of the American people and we would like to hear from the people as to what is important to them,” said John Thornton, acting Deputy Forest Supervisor. “We expect to announce completion of the Public Involvement Plan in the coming months. At that point we will actively engage the public to promote collaboration in development of the management plan.”

But don’t let the fact that the Forest Service is still formalizing a way forward for the area stop you from going up and experiencing the wealth of experiences that the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument has to offer.  Take advantage of the beautiful spring weather to enjoy a brief escape from the Los Angeles area – or wherever you live – to experience firsthand the exciting history, cultural treasures and breathtaking beauty the monument has to offer all who come to visit.  After all, there is plenty of open space at the monument for everyone!