President Barack Obama will designate nearly 350,000 acres of the San Gabriel Mountains in southern California as a national monument Friday while on a three-day swing to the west coast.
The announcement permanently protecting the popular outdoor recreation destination comes after more than a decade of lobbying for the designation from tourism and environmental groups.
More than 15 million people live within 90 minutes of the San Gabriel Mountains, which provides 70 percent of the open space for Los Angeles residents and 30 percent of their drinking water.
“For many residents of Los Angeles County -- one of the most disadvantaged counties in the country when it comes to access to parks and open space for minorities and children--the San Gabriel Mountains provide the only available large-scale open space,” according to a statement from the White House.
Several groups have announced commitments to help spur restoration in Los Angeles County and the new San Gabriel National Monument.
The National Forest Foundation will spend $3 million. The Hewlett, Wyss, Packard, and California Community foundations, the California Endowment, and the Resources Legacy Fund are working to establish a $500,000 San Gabriel Partnership Fund.
It is the 13th time Obama has named a new monument in his time in office using authority under the Antiquities Act. He has previously used his authority under the Antiquities Act to create or expand 12 other national monuments, including the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument in the south-central Pacific Ocean last month - the largest marine reserve in the world that is completely off limits to commercial resource extraction.
With this designation, Obama has protected more than 260 million acres of land and water, nearly three times more than any other President since the Antiquities Act became law in 1906.
Sixteen presidents have used the act to protect unique natural and historic features in America, including the Grand Canyon, the Statue of Liberty, and Alaska's Admiralty Island National Monument.