Religious Group Pushes to Protect San Gabriel Mountains

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An activist religious group has joined the effort to designate the San Gabriel Mountains as a national recreational area eligible for additional federal resources including law enforcement personnel, interpretive signs and hiking trails.

The group, Progressive Christians Uniting, is touting the proposal to congregants of dozens of San Gabriel Valley churches near the 650,000-acre range that constitutes about 70% of Los Angeles County's open space.

"We are helping to bring the moral compassion of people of faith to bear on an urgent public issue," said Rev. Peter Laarman, executive director of the Los Angeles-based group. "This is an ambitious effort. It involves public health, an important natural resource and millions of people who live near it. We want to be on board."

…A final recommendation could come in 2011. In the meantime, a coalition led by conservation groups and community organizations plans to present its "San Gabriel Mountains Forever" campaign to as many churches as possible.