President Biden Expands CaliforniaNationalMonuments, Protecting 120,000 Acres

President Joe Biden signed a proclamation expanding two national monuments in California, adding nearly 120,000 acres of protected land. The expansions of San Gabriel Mountains and Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monuments increase access to nature and honor tribal connections to the land.

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Bijay Laxmi
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President Biden Expands CaliforniaNationalMonuments, Protecting 120,000 Acres

President Biden Expands CaliforniaNationalMonuments, Protecting 120,000 Acres

President Joe Biden signed a proclamation on Thursday expanding two national monuments in California, adding nearly 120,000 acres of protected land. The San Gabriel Mountains National Monument will increase by 106,000 acres, while the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument will grow by 13,696 acres.

Why this matters: Thisexpansion of national monuments in California not only protects the state's natural heritage but also addresses issues of environmental justice and access to nature for underserved communities. By conserving millions of acres of land and water, the Biden administration is taking a crucial step towards preserving the nation's public lands for future generations.

Vice President Kamala Harris emphasized the significance of the expansions, stating, "These expansions will increase access to nature, boost our outdoor economy, and honor areas of significance to Tribal Nations and Indigenous peoples as we continue to safeguard our public lands for all Americans and for generations to come." National

The San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, originally established by President Obama in 2014, will now extend to the edge of San Fernando Valley neighborhoods and the city of Santa Clarita. The added protections will ensure equitable access to the monument's cool streams and rugged canyons while preserving clean air and water. The expansion also protects lands of cultural importance to the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians and the San Gabriel Band of Mission Indians Gabrieleno Tongva.

The Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument, established by President Obama in 2015, will see the addition of the 13,696-acre Molok Luyuk (Condor Ridge), the sacred ancestral home of the Patwin people. The expansion provides the Patwin tribes, including the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, the Kletsel Dehe Wintun Nation, and the Cachil Dehe Band of Wintun Indians, with the opportunity to co-steward Molok Luyuk with the Bureau of Land Management. The renaming of Walker Ridge to Molok Luyuk recognizes the Patwin ancestry of the area and highlights the restoration effort to reintroduce the California Condor to the ridge.

Sen. Alex Padilla, who introduced legislation to expand both national monuments, described the move as"a huge deal on so many levels. "Rep. Judy Chu, who worked with Padilla and other officials to highlight the significance of the San Gabriel Mountains, expressed her delight in the expansion.

The expansions also address issues of environmental justice and access to nature for underserved communities. Belén Bernal, executive director of Nature for All, emphasized the importance of nearby nature for people of color, stating, "As a Latina, I believe that we, people of color, given our income status and that a lot of our family members are immigrants to this country, we have been deprived of nearby nature in our neighborhoods."

Rudy Ortega Jr, president of the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, highlighted the cultural significance of the expansion, stating, "Expanding the monument helps protect lands of cultural importance to my people, who are part of this nation's history and who have cared for these lands since time immemorial."

The San Gabriel Mountains watershed provides Los Angeles County with 70% of its open space and roughly 30% of its water. The Angeles National Forest attracts nearly 4.6 million visits a year, more than Grand Canyon or Yosemite National Park. The expansion will protect habitat for a diverse array of wildlife, including black bears, mountain lions, coyotes, mule deer, and rare and endangered species such as Nelson's bighorn sheep, mountain yellow-legged frogs, and Santa Ana suckers.

The monument expansions are part of the Biden administration's effort to conserve millions of acres of land and water, with President Biden having conserved more than 24 million acres of public lands during his first three years in office. The administration has also designated new national monuments in Nevada and Colorado and restored protections for national monuments in Utah that were restricted by former President Donald Trump.

The expansions of the San Gabriel Mountains and Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monuments represent a significant step in protecting California's natural and cultural heritage. By increasing access to nature, honoring tribal connections to the land, and preserving vital ecosystems, these monument expansions will benefit current and future generations of Californians and all Americans who value the nation's public lands.

Key Takeaways

  • President Biden expands 2 CA national monuments, adding 120,000 acres of protected land.
  • San Gabriel Mountains National Monument grows by 106,000 acres, boosting access to nature.
  • Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument expands by 13,696 acres, honoring Patwin tribal lands.
  • Expansions address environmental justice, increasing access to nature for underserved communities.
  • Biden administration has conserved over 24 million acres of public lands in its first 3 years.