Environment & Science

Controversial San Gabriel River Discovery Center misses out on grant

The San Gabriel River
The San Gabriel River
Courtesy San Gabriel River Discovery Center

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State parks officials say they won't grant the San Gabriel River Discovery Center over $7 million for a planned upgrade in the Whittier Narrows area.

The new discovery center is supposed to be seven times as large as the old one, with meeting rooms, a museum and a bigger parking lot.

Its backers wanted to break ground next year. Local officials set aside almost $10 million in hand for the center, almost half the $22 million they need to start construction. But local groups requested 10 times the amount of money state parks had to distribute. Losing out on a grant from state parks authorities means the uphill climb just got a little steeper.

Friends of the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area, longtime opponents to the project, are happy with the setback. The group argues that putting a larger visitor center at the site where the San Gabriel and Rio Hondo rivers diverge violates state law and will destroy wildlife habitat.

The group sued to block the project on those grounds. A judge has ruled against project opponents, so far. Now the group says it'll appeal that earlier ruling.