Statement: President Biden expands two national monuments in California

May 2, 2024

Expansions will bring equitable outdoor access and honor Tribal sovereignty

DENVER—Today President Joe Biden is expected to use his authority under the Antiquities Act to expand two California national monuments: San Gabriel Mountains National Monument and Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument. With these expansions, President Biden will be less than 100,000 acres away from protecting more public land with the Antiquities Act than any first-term president in recent history, and the country will be one step closer to reaching the national goal of protecting and conserving 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030.

The San Gabriel Mountains National Monument expansion will add 106,000 acres to the existing monument. The expansion will protect some of the most accessible public lands for over 18 million people in Greater Los Angeles. Known as the gateway to the Angeles National Forest, the area received more visitors than either Grand Canyon or Yosemite national parks in 2021. President Biden’s expansion of the monument will also honor his administration’s commitment to promoting equitable outdoor access—this expansion will increase the total number of people within 5 miles of the monument by 757,000, more than 60 percent of whom are non-white.

The Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument expansion will add 13,696 acres of land sacred to the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation to the monument and change the area’s official name to Molok Luyuk, which means Condor Ridge in the Patwin language. Molok Luyuk serves as a vital wildlife corridor and contains some of California’s most fascinating geologic formations and plant species. The expansion will also demonstrate the Biden administration’s commitment to honoring Tribal sovereignty and supporting the priorities of Tribal Nations, as outlined in the administration’s America the Beautiful report.

The Center for Western Priorities released the following statement from Executive Director Jennifer Rokala:

“Today’s announcement not only adds to President Biden’s conservation legacy, but also amplifies his commitment to environmental justice and Tribal sovereignty. Ensuring communities of color have equitable access to nearby public lands and honoring Tribally-led land protection efforts are both vital components of public land conservation.

“By expanding these monuments, President Biden is now within arm’s reach of becoming the most consequential first-term conservation president in recent history. We’re happy to see his administration continuing to make progress toward the goal of conserving 30 percent of lands and waters by 2030, and we’re hopeful to see him designate more monuments so that he can solidify his place in conservation history.”

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Featured image: A sunset illuminates the serpentinite of Molok Luyuk. Photo by Bob Wick.