President Barack Obama plans to announce on Friday that he will designate roughly half of the San Gabriel Mountains as a national monument, bringing more federal protection to almost 350,000 acres of land in the Angeles National Forest.
The national monument designation will likely bring in more rangers to manage the territory, as well as improvements such as more parking areas, restrooms and signage. The mountains now suffer from crowding, trash, crime and wildfires.
Obama’s move is also expected to permanently protect the forests and rivers within the mountain range, which are home to rare and endangered species such as Nelson’s bighorn sheep, California condors and mountain lions.
The San Gabriel Mountains, which stretch from Santa Clarita to San Bernardino, provide Los Angeles County with one third of its water supply and 70 percent if its open space. More than 17 million people live within an hour of the range, making Angeles National Forest one of the nation’s busiest with more than 3.5 million annual visitors.
The designation will only apply to lands currently managed by the U.S. Forrest Service and will not affect outdoor recreation, private property or water rights.