I have consistently advocated and supported the protection of our hillsides and have diligently sought new funds and grants for the Wilderness Preserve while still protecting our property rights. Litigation and legal issues surrounding easements have slowed the provision of access points … because of property rights questions … but the entire City Council and staff are working diligently to resolve the issues, seeking a win-win solution. Politically-motivated charges that I have somehow “given away” the preserve to the federal government are without foundation. Monrovia’s Wilderness Preserve remains protected, and I have voted consistently with the rest of the City Council to keep it that way.
I support the Monrovia Wilderness Hillside Resource Management Plan along with the protective provisions for access to those who live near and within the Wilderness Preserve. The delays in opening the Wilderness Preserve are legal in nature having to do with property easement issues at our access points. Our legal staff is working diligently to resolve these issues without having to go to full legal action. I support this approach to a win-win resolution on the access points. On the continuing and unnecessary charges over a National Recreation Area designation in our region – I, along with mayors from other cities, water agencies, business agencies and recreation advocates, worked through the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments to suggest key points for the proposed legislation. Those points included governance of the area with a local government majority, assurance that all property rights would be protected, that water rights would be protected, that access to recreation would be protected and enhanced and that fire and public safety would not be eroded, but enhanced.
A National Recreation Area brings new funds and new grant opportunities to the lands within their boundaries. I support actions which will enhance our hillsides and offer funding opportunities while still protecting our property rights. Our current funding for our Wilderness Preserve is not enough to accomplish all our goals within the Wilderness Hillside Resource Management Plan and this was an opportunity to apply for grants and funding only available for Recreation Areas. However, many Monrovia citizens and my colleagues believed that we should keep our Wilderness Preserve and Canyon Park out of the legislation. I agreed, and voted to write a letter to Congresswoman Judy Chu asking for the Monrovia property to be removed from the map boundaries.
Since that time, the President has designated large portions of the Angeles Forest as a National Monument. The area so designated is wholly with the National Forest and does not include our Wilderness Preserve, Canyon Park nor any publicly nor privately owned land in Monrovia. I support protections and support for our forest areas. The protections afforded by the National Monument designation for Angeles National Forest will include clean water and recreation rights staying intact while additional funding – $4 million in 2014 alone – will enhance efforts to make the area cleaner and more accessible. The development of a management plan for the National Monument, similar to the one we did for our Wilderness Preserve, is currently underway to set its goals and priorities. It will not impact Monrovia nor its foothill resources.