Biden to expand California monuments at White House event

By Jennifer Yachnin | 05/02/2024 05:01 AM EDT

The president will add a combined 120,000 acres to a national monument near Los Angeles and another in Northern California.

Mt. Baldy in the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument near Los Angeles, California.

Mount Baldy is seen in the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument near Los Angeles. Forest Service/Flickr

President Joe Biden will add a combined 120,000 acres Thursday to a pair of national monuments in California at a White House ceremony, the administration announced.

The president will issue proclamations to expand both the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument near Los Angeles and the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument north of Sacramento.

The event will include Vice President Kamala Harris, who supported the San Gabriel expansion during her tenure in the Senate, along with senior administration officials; congressional lawmakers; and state, tribal and local leaders.


“Thanks to President [Joe] 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 in a statement. “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 action marks Biden administration's 10th use of the Antiquities Act of 1906, a law that allows presidents to protect existing federal lands to conserve areas of scientific, historic or cultural importance.

The move is part of Biden's pledge to aggressively increase conservation by 2030. Before Thursday’s expansions, the president also has created five national monuments, expanded two and reinstated commercial fishing restrictions in a marine monument.

Both California monuments were established during the Obama administration.

The San Gabriel Mountains site will add nearly 106,000 acres to its existing 346,000-acre footprint across both the Angeles National Forest and the San Bernardino National Forest.

The Berryessa Snow Mountain monument will gain nearly 14,000 acres to add the area known as "Molok Luyuk" in the Patwin language, which translates to "Condor Ridge." The site is currently 330,780 acres.

The addition is more than three times larger than what California lawmakers had sought in recent legislation, in response to Native American, state and local leaders who urged the Biden administration to add more land.

"Molok Luyuk is sacred to the Tribes who have long advocated for its protection and maintain a deep connection with this land and thanks to President Biden’s leadership, it will now be protected for future generations,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement. “Today I am honored to stand with the Tribal leaders, local communities, and coalitions that made the expansion of this monument possible.”