Biden to expand two California national monuments Thursday

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President Biden will expand two new national monuments in California Thursday morning, the White House confirmed.

President Obama first designated the two monuments, the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument and the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument. A White House official confirmed that the expansion, reported by The Hill in April, will protect some 120,000 acres between the two monuments. Biden’s proclamation will also rename the Snow Mountain monument’s central ridge from Walker Ridge to Molok Loyuk.

According to a White House fact sheet, the proclamation will protect another 105,919 acres of the San Gabriel Mountains monument on top of its existing 346,177. The monument, which is adjacent to the City of Los Angeles, also includes broad swathes of undeveloped land.

Biden’s expansion will also add 13,696 acres to the existing 330,000 acres covered by the Berryessa Snow Mountain monument.

In a statement, Vice President Harris, who is set to attend the signing ceremony with the president, highlighted her own roots in California and the administration’s broader conservation goals. Harris introduced legislation in the Senate to expand the San Gabriel monument in 2020. Harris’ successor, Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), and Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) have also long pushed for an expansion, with the House passing a companion bill to Harris’ sponsored by Chu at the time.

“Thanks to President Biden’s leadership and the dedicated organizing of advocates throughout my home state, we are making that a reality by protecting an additional 120,000 acres of lands that are culturally, ecologically, and historically important to California and our nation,” Harris said. “These expansions will increase access to nature, boost our outdoor economy, and honor areas of significance to Tribal Nations and Indigenous peoples as we continue to safeguard our public lands for all Americans and for generations to come.”

The administration has set a target of preserving 30 percent of American lands and waters by 2030.

“From increasing access to nature for low-income and underserved communities to protecting the source of one-third of Los Angeles County’s drinking water, today’s proclamation will be so meaningful to our region,” Chu said in a statement. “As we celebrate this proclamation by President Biden, let’s recommit to protecting these pristine public lands for the future and working together to give everyone access to their immense benefits.”

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