Fishing in the West Fork of the San Gabriel River.
Credit: Annette Kondo.
About 80 percent of Los Angeles County voters expressed support for protecting the San Gabriel Mountains and rivers, including preserving wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation opportunities and clean air and water.
The poll, conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, was released just days before officials from the Obama administration came to Southern California to hear from local residents about the creation of a national monument for the San Gabriel Mountains.
Key stats from the poll results:
- 80% of LA County voters support protecting the San Gabriel Mountains and rivers
- 88% of Latino voters supported protecting the San Gabriels (Nearly half of Los Angeles County residents identify as Hispanic or Latino)
- A strong majority of self-described liberal (87%), moderate (81%) and conservative (74%) voters supported protection
- 73% of those who hunt or fish supported protection
- 55% of LA County voters said they would tell President Obama to take action and designate the San Gabriels as a national monument
Los Angeles County, whose seat is the city of Los Angeles, is one of the most populous in the entire country, making up more than a quarter of the population of the state of California.
The county surveyed contains many of the millions who live within an hour’s drive of the San Gabriel Mountains--a “backyard” for Southern California featuring miles of majestic mountain peaks, clear rivers and countless recreation opportunities for urban communities that might otherwise not have access to nature.
The San Gabriels’ proximity to all those people brings its value into especially stark contrast. But since Californians rely on it so heavily as a natural refuge, source of clean drinking water and site for fishing, hiking and camping, it is highly vulnerable to wear and tear. A bill introduced in June by Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) included plans to safeguard this area, but has gained little traction. In situations like this, it often falls to the president to protect natural places that have broad local support, under the authority of the Antiquities Act of 1906.
Recently, some prominent voices have joined the chorus of ordinary citizens rallying behind protection for the San Gabriels, and specifically indicating that the White House should take action if Congress will not. Op-eds from Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America, and Michael L. Whitehead, CEO of a water utility serving the San Gabriel Valley, each expressed strong support. In the former, Huerta wrote that “[t]hese communities and more around the country want the rich diversity of our country’s heritage honored. They want places for their kids to play in the great outdoors, breathing in fresh air.”
Lately, Congress has been lax in its responsibility to America’s wildlands. It may now fall to the president to protect this natural treasure of California.