The Meaning of Hahamongna

The original settlers of the region were sometimes called the Hahamongna Indians. The word means "Flowing Waters, Fruitful Valley" in the native Tongva language.

Hahamongna News

Title:

Seeing green in the Valley

Subtitle:

Date:

2008-05-11

Author:

Editorial

Publication:

Pasadena Star-News

Content:

STAMPING land as "open space" doesn't mean it will stay untouched. In fact, even labeling land as a preserve, a park or as part of the federal national forest won't prevent strip mining, oil drilling, timber harvesting, the erecting of electrical towers or high-rise condos.

That's because development pressures have spilled over from private to public lands, leaving public lands more vulnerable to environmental degradation than ever before.

A few months ago, a toll highway was proposed for near San Onofre State Beach and was supported by some in state government and by Gov. Schwarzenegger. Fortunately, it was rejected by the Coastal Commission. Today, a road is proposed through Chino Hills State Park. Oil drilling is being considered on preserved land within the Whittier/Puente Hills. Massive housing tracts are proposed for a Significant Ecological Area in Rowland Heights.

That's why it makes sense to take some of our most precious park and open space - the Arroyo Seco, Eaton Canyon, the Bailey Canyon Wilderness Park above Sierra Madre, Deukmejian Wilderness Park near La Crescenta and Hahamongna Park near JPL - and give them National Park status.

Rep. Adam Schiff's bill which is part of the Consolidated Natural Resources Act, won't make that a certainty. Even though it was signed by President Bush last week. However, it begins the process for these West San Gabriel Valley parks and preserves, along with 492,000 acres of foothills and other parklands rimming the Santa Susanna, Verdugo and San Gabriel Mountains and San Rafael Hills, to become part of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. The latter was designated as a federal park by Congress 30 years ago and has acted as a bulwark against hillside development, while allowing for flatland development and commercial growth elsewhere in the region. It has also provided San Fernando Valley and Westside residents with a plethora of stunning views and glorious hillside hiking trails.

Here in the San Gabriel Valley, our precious open space is scattered. Some is overused. Others have been neglected, tossed aside like discarded trash.

Some open-space preserves are disconnected from the populace by poor roads, poor signage, multi-jurisdictional confusion or just poor resource planning.

While some 655,387 acres have been set aside as our most notable land preservation - the Angeles National Forest - that's still not a park. It is managed by the U.S. Forest Service, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The same U.S. Forest Service that was sued because it had approved a logging operation after a fire in the Sierra Nevada's Eldorado National Forest. In a court proceeding in 2007 that stopped the taking, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found the Forest Service had violated federal environmental laws. It said part of the problem was the Forest Service's "substantial financial interest in the harvesting of timber ..."

In the same way, the San Gabriel River, which runs from San Gabriel Canyon in the mountains above Azusa to Seal Beach, is also being studied for inclusion in the National Park system. A bill by Rep. Hilda Solis, D-El Monte, which we also supported, known as the San Gabriel River Watershed Study Act, was signed into law by President Bush in July 2003. Results from the National Park Service study are expected later this year, according to a Solis aide.

The San Gabriel River, along with the West Valley lands included in Schiff's bill, would benefit from the imprimatur of the National Parks Service. These areas would be less threatened by development. Visitors would be directed by one set of signs, one dedicated set of guides, one set of recreational use rules. A National Park designation would increase tourism and add prestige to the San Gabriel Valley.

We salute the work of Schiff, Solis and President Bush for signing the bills, for helping perpetuate our local parks and preserves. This type of forward thinking may signal a greener future for our region.