On October 27th, 44 members and numerous alternates involved in the San Gabriel Mountains Community Collaborative reached the home stretch of a two-year journey to build a ground-breaking agreement. After hours – and months – of meetings devoted to understanding a new Monument Management Plan for the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument and finding the powerful “zone of agreement” among interests such as water utilities, mountain bikers, wilderness, flood control, special permit holders, local government, archaeologists, and others, the Collaborative was ready for a vote.
The Collaborative recommends the development of a “unified” plan so that the public can easily understand how the Monument will be managed.
National Forest Foundation facilitator Karen DiBari asked for everyone to show their thumbs. Leading up to this moment, the Collaborative voted on several drafts. Each time someone would show a sideways or downward thumb. Or, members would suggest detailed changes. In those cases, the members would begin the sometimes-laborious process of understanding and solving the conflict. But this day was different: all thumbs unanimously went up in agreement, and the comment letter and specific plan markups were finalized.
So what do the comments include? The Collaborative recommends the development of a “unified” plan so that the public can easily understand how the Monument, which is within the Angeles National Forest, will be managed, instead of having to cross-check the 2005 Angeles National Forest Plan and new Monument Management Plan (which was written as a stand-alone amendment to the 2005 plan).
The Collaborative also recommends:
- balance among resource protection, utilities, and flood control;
- time-specific objectives;
- greater protections for the objects of concern named in the National Monument Proclamation; and
- plans for improved visitor services, recreation management, transportation, and other uses.
For two years, a team of staff from the National Forest Foundation has facilitated this effort, with strong leadership from Collaborative members. We’re proud of the progress made, relationships developed, and expertise gained by the group through this process. We’re particularly impressed by the substantive, technical recommendations the Collaborative will hand over to the Forest Service in response to the draft Monument Management Plan.
We believe these comments set a high bar for collaborative participation in forest plan revision under the 2012 planning rule, and see these comments as a national model. Kudos to the San Gabriel Mountains Community Collaborative!