San Gabriel Mountains: A Symbol of Environmental Justice

As America’s national monuments come under attack by President Trump, Los Angeleno Robert Garcia shares the story of his personal connection to San Gabriel.

This is a transcript of the video, produced as a partnership between NRDC and Next100.

Robert Garcia, civil rights attorney and founding director of the City Project, Los Angeles: Going up the San Gabriel Mountains is a great thing to do for all the people of L.A. County, especially for underserved people. Once you're up there on that trail going up into the mountains, you totally forget that you're in one of the two largest cities in the nation.

My connection to the San Gabriel Mountains goes back to when I was growing up in L.A. as a child. I am an immigrant. I came to the United States when I was four years old from Guatemala with my family, and I remember going to the San Gabriels with my mother, father, and sister.

What is special about the San Gabriel Mountains is that it's so close to L.A. Within an hour's drive of most of Los Angeles County, you can hike up into wilderness areas along the San Gabriel River and see wild animals.

We went there recently with a group of friends. We saw nobody else. There were bighorn sheep—came right up to the river.

It's not just about conservation, clean air, clean water, clean land, habitat protection. It's about the people.

Dozens of cities and diverse groups—from fishermen's groups to hiking groups to civil rights and social justice groups—have all banded together to support the creation of the national monument.

President Obama: Today I'm using my executive authority to designate the San Gabriel Mountains as a national monument. (audience cheering)

Garcia: President Obama specifically said there are not enough parks in L.A. County, especially for children of color and low-income children. The smiles on children's faces who have never seen these places before, that's priceless. I see myself when I was a little boy, and it's such a joy to be able to bring that to more children.

And for this administration to step in, in the last few months and say, We're starting over, we're revisiting this, we're reexamining this, is wrong.

It's wrong on environmental grounds, it's wrong on social justice grounds, it's wrong because it violates the will of the people, for no good reason.

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