Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-Pasadena) has introduced a bill to create a vast San Gabriel National Recreation Area, taking in some 600,000 acres of mountains and river corridors stretching from San Bernardino County to Santa Clarita.
The bill is the product of several years of research and community outreach, but even its proponents say it will be a difficult bill to pass any time soon.
"I don't believe anybody is holding their breath and believes it's going to happen right away. It's going to be a process of educating a lot of legislators," said Dennis Arguelles, Los Angeles program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association, one of a coalition of groups that wants Congress to create the recreation area.
"We're hoping to see better trails, better signage, less trash, more rangers on patrol, more interpretive centers and visitor centers, these are the things that the legislation will allow in the future," he said.
Private and nonprofit groups can use the land's status within a recreation area to propose projects and seek grant and government funding for them. That's what's occurred in the neighboring Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
Rep. Chu's proposed recreation area would take in the vast watershed of the San Gabriel Mountains. It would include mountains and foothills from from Interstate 15 in San Bernardino County west to about Santa Clarita. It would also include the San Gabriel and Rio Hondo river corridors and the Puente Hills.
Obstacles? The U.S. Parks Service has said it prefers a smaller recreation area. It would share management of the area with the U.S. Forest Service.
The mountains already draw some three million annual visitors. She says creating a recreation area could require mountain-adjacent cities like hers to spend more fixing and upgrading roads.