- The Washington Times - Friday, October 10, 2014

Over the heated objections of some local residents, President Obama will sign an executive order Friday afternoon designating nearly 350,000 acres in the San Gabriel Mountains of southern California as a national monument.

The president’s action will carve out about half of the Angeles National Forest for the special designation, giving the federal Forest Service greater authority to restrict visitors and manage the area. It’s the 13th national monument created by Mr. Obama under a law first used by President Theodore Roosevelt.

“With this designation, President Obama has now 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,” the White House said.

Latino groups and environmental organizations in the Los Angeles region have been pushing for the designation for about 15 years. But many local officials and residents are concerned about its impact.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich said the monument designation bypasses local stakeholders. He said it’s unclear how the president’s “ill advised” executive order will affect water supplies, roads and efforts to prevent forest fires.

The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors has approved a resolution opposing a monument designation, saying there has not been a public meeting to air the proposal.

“As far as I know, there’s no more money that Congress has available to fund this proposal in some of our most fire-prone areas,” Janice Rutherford, a San Bernardino County supervisor, told the Los Angeles Times. “We asked that they leave us the heck out of it.”

Legislation for the monument was introduced by Rep. Judy Chu, California Democrat, but the bill stalled amid concerns of House Republicans that such designations could limit activities on federal lands. About 150 people protested in front of Ms. Chu’s district office Monday.

The advocacy group San Gabriel Mountains Forever hailed the designation.

“Designating the area as a national monument will ensure its resources are managed properly and protected for future generations to enjoy,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement issued by the group.

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