This post is part two of a series about mining in the Angeles National Forest. To learn about the history of the Angeles National Forest, start with Part 1.
The Forest Today
The shape of the Angeles National Forest is currently in flux. With President Obama’s creation of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument back in October of 2014, the Angeles Forest is effectively being split in two. This is rough news for claim holders in the new national monument. As noted in the Presidential Proclamation establishing the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument:
All Federal lands and interests in lands within the boundaries of the monument are hereby appropriated and withdrawn from all forms of entry, location, selection, sale, leasing, or other disposition under the public land or other Federal laws, including location, entry, and patent under the mining laws, and from disposition under all laws relating to mineral and geothermal leasing, other than by exchange that furthers the protective purposes of the monument, or disposition of materials under the Materials Act of 1947 in a manner that is consistent with the proper care and management of the objects protected by this proclamation.
To those claim holders within the San Gabriel National Monument, this means the loss of rights to land they have worked hard to establish and develop. While the wandering border of the new National Monument makes it difficult to pinpoint what claims are and are not effected, we estimate the effected number to be close to 100 mining claims. (Effected townships: Township 40N 140W, Township 40N 130W, Township 40N 120W, Township 30N 120W, Township 30N 110W, Township 20N 110W, and Township 20N 80W)
Outdoor recreation and wildlife advocates celebrate this is an opportunity to breath new life into a neglected recreation destination through an injection of federal funds. Yet, pragmatic observers are quick to manage expectations.
“A signature by the President, dedicating or declaring a national monument is just a declaration,” explains Bill Possiel, president of the National Forest Foundation “A new national monument doesn’t come with additional resources unless Congress decides through the appropriations process they want to dedicate new resources to the national monument.”
While National Monument status does not inherently change the forest’s funding, advocates continue to press for expanding the new National Monument. Private charities and organizations have already been attracted by the new designation, and money is being committed from private sources for improvement projects in the park. Advocates see expanding the borders to be a way to expand the areas that could benefit from funding.
Such a border expansion could return even more claims to federal ownership. Still, there is no evidence that the President has any intent to expand the national monument, having only recently drawn the border. Claim owners outside of the San Gabriel National Park border are likely safe in their holdings and stand to see an increase in the value of their claims as the total number of claims in the area decreases.