- The Washington Times - Friday, October 10, 2014

Portraying his action as an effort to open up federal lands for minorities to enjoy, President Obama signed an executive order Friday designating more than 340,000 acres of the San Gabriel Mountains in southern California as a national monument.

“The notion of a national monument is interesting because it reminds us that America belongs to all of us, not just some of us,” Mr. Obama told supporters at a park in San Dimas, California. “For the entire community, this is an issue of social justice.”

Hispanic groups and environmental organizations have been pushing for the designation for about 15 years. Mr. Obama signed the proclamation over the objections of some local residents who say the executive order will affect water supplies, roads and efforts to prevent forest fires.

The president said 15 million people in the Los Angeles region live within 90 minutes of the national monument, and he predicted that his action will open up the wilderness area to more minorities. The land in question was already designated as national forest, but the president said his move will make it more accessible by providing more money to maintain the land.

“For a lot of urban families, this is their only big outdoor space,” Mr. Obama said. “Too many children in L.A. County, especially children of color, don’t have access to parks where they can run free, breathe fresh air and experience nature and learn about their environment.”

He told advocates at the signing ceremony, “We’ll keep working with you to make sure everybody in this diverse community, no matter where they come from or what language they speak, can enjoy all that this monument has to offer.”

It is the 13th national monument created by Mr. Obama, using the 1906 Antiquities Act. The president said he intends to create more monuments in his remaining time in office.

“As president, I’ve now preserved more than 3 million acres of public lands for future generations, and I’m not finished,” he said. “We are looking at additional opportunities to preserve federal lands and waters. I’ll continue to do so, especially where communities are speaking up.”

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