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San Gabriel Watershed and Mountains
Special Resource Study

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Final San Gabriel Watershed and Mountains Special Resource Study Transmitted to Congress

The National Park Service is pleased to announce the completion of the San Gabriel Watershed and Mountains Special Resource Study. The Secretary of the Interior transmitted the final study to Congress on April 10, 2013. Please click here to see the press release. Final study documents are provided below.

The NPS held a series of webinars to announce the final study recommendations and to provide an opportunity for the public to ask questions. A recording of the webinar presentation is available on the “Get Involved” page of the study website. A summary of “frequently asked questions” about the final study recommendations is also available.

Download Final Study Documents

Overview of Final Study Recommendations

The final study includes the following determinations about the eligibility of study area as a unit of the national park system, based on the four criteria below, and it includes the “selected alternative” recommended to Congress by the Secretary of the Interior.

The San Gabriel watershed and mountains are eligible as a unit of the national park system based on the following four criteria:

  1. Significance: The San Gabriel Mountains and the Puente/Chino Hills contain nationally significant resources, with some of the fastest growing mountains in the world, high levels of biodiversity, rare native plant communities, and a long history of scientific research and discovery
  2. Suitability: The area includes a mix of resources that are not found in other national parks
  3. Feasibility: Feasible roles for the NPS include collaborative management and conservation planning assistance. A ‘traditional’ national park with extensive NPS land ownership is not feasible.
  4. Need for NPS Management: Collaborative management, with the NPS coordinating partnership efforts, is the best management option.

Selected Alternative

The alternative recommended to Congress is the National Park Service Director’s most effective and efficient alternative for the long-term protection and public enjoyment of nationally significant resources in the San Gabriel watershed and mountains (selected alternative). This selected alternative is primarily a combination of management concepts from alternative A (San Gabriel Mountains National Recreation Area) and alternative D (San Gabriel Region National Recreation Area), as presented in the draft special resource study in 2011.

The selected alternative takes advantage of the existing NPS and U.S. Forest Service presence in the Los Angeles area, while directing the two organizations to expand their scope to the San Gabriel Valley, the foothills, and the Puente Hills. It encourages collaborative programs and shared staffing while reducing overlap and redundancy. It also takes advantage of the newly established Service First authority, which allows the NPS and U.S. Forest Service to work together in new ways.

The selected alternative includes four interrelated components which work together to accomplish the objectives of alternatives A and D:

  1. Designation of a San Gabriel unit of Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. The new unit would include areas of the San Gabriel Mountain foothills, portions of the San Gabriel and Rio Hondo river corridors, and the western Puente Hills. Click below for maps:

    Selected Alternative Map (Overview).

    Selected Alternative Map – Detailed 11x17.

  2. Additional federal recognition, tools, and support to the Angeles National Forest to steward watershed resources and ecosystems and improve recreational opportunities, including mechanisms to:
    • Reaffirm the primary importance of the Angeles NF in preserving watershed and natural resources, while continuing to provide for multiple use management.
    • Prioritize funding for resource protection, recreation and education.
    • Increase public and private funding for facilities, maintenance, resource stewardship, visitor management and education, for example through fee retention, partnerships and donations.


  3. Direction for the U.S. Forest Service and NPS to collaborate through the Service First authority and other mechanisms to protect the significant resources of the San Gabriel watershed and mountains, and provide high quality recreation and educational opportunities.

  4. NPS technical assistance to interested communities, agencies, and organizations to protect the region’s wildlife corridors; provide close-to-home recreation, conservation and education opportunities; and to provide an array of seamless outdoor experiences in the San Gabriel watershed and mountains.

This “selected alternative” combines elements of the alternatives previously presented in the draft San Gabriel Watershed and Mountains Special Resource Study in 2011 to offer what the NPS believes is the most effective and efficient means to provide the resource protection and public enjoyment opportunities that have been central to this study.

Implementation of the selected alternative would require Congressional legislation. If Congress does not pass legislation to implement the study’s recommendations, then the study would simply remain as a recommendation.

Thank you for your interest in the National Park Service’s San Gabriel Watershed and Mountains Special Resource Study.

As directed by Congress in July 2003 (P.L. 108-042) , the National Park Service (NPS) completed a “special resource study” of portions of the San Gabriel River and its tributaries from the city of Santa Fe Springs to the north, and the San Gabriel Mountains within the territory of the San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy. The area includes portions of the Angeles National Forest, as well as many communities along the San Gabriel River. Many people, organizations, and agencies are working to conserve resources in this area to provide recreational opportunities, habitat restoration, watershed improvement, and flood protection. This study builds upon and complements the efforts that are underway.

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updated 5/7/13