By Staff Reports
(Victor Valley)– Congressman Paul Cook and San Bernardino County 1st District Supervisor Robert Lovingood are asking local residents to participate in an informational meeting to discuss a proposal to designate 900 square miles of federal land in the San Gabriel Mountains as a National Monument. Affected San Bernardino County communities include Wrightwood, Mt. Baldy, and Lytle Creek. There is no written plan yet outlining how the National Monument status would impact recreation in the lands currently managed by the U.S. Forest Service.
Cook said, “It’s very simple to me. Public lands should be available for public use, and local residents should have the strongest voice in determining how this land is used. To date, nothing has been released on the National Monument proposal, and that’s a cause for concern. I want to make sure mountain residents have their concerns heard and addressed before we move forward.”
Lovingood said he was concerned that the National Monument designation could interfere with property rights, recreational activities as well as economic development, especially around Wrightwood, which would be encircled by the national monument designation.
“This proposal seems to be moving very fast and without adequate public input from residents of San Bernardino County,” Lovingood said. “It is important that we have a balance between conservation, recreation and economic development. I’m not sure creating a National Monument achieves those goals.”
In a briefing to local officials on Monday, Forest Service officials indicated concerns over trash and graffiti spurred the move by Congresswoman Judy Chu, D-Pasadena, to ask President Barack Obama to bypass Congress and use the Antiquities Act to make the designation. Forest Service officials have said national monument status would not guarantee additional funding or resources if the President designates the lands as a National Monument.
While the Forest Service will hold a meeting on the plan Tuesday in Baldwin Park, Lovingood urged federal officials to hold meetings in Wrightwood and elsewhere in San Bernardino County.
The U.S. Forest Service will hold an informational meeting 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday (Aug. 26) at the Baldwin Park Performing Arts Center, 4640 N. Maine Ave. in Baldwin Park. Comments may be sent to Forest Supervisor Jody Noiron, U.S. Forest Service, 602 S. Tippecanoe Ave., San Bernardino, CA 92408. Or via email to Jnoiron@fs.fed.us.