Rep. Paul Cook Works to Save Public Access to the San Gabriel Mountains
WASHINGTON – Last month, Rep. Paul Cook (R–Apple Valley) wrote a letter to Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack opposing any effort to designate a national monument in the San Gabriel Mountains without local consent. This letter noted the need for more public meetings in San Bernardino County to discuss the proposal and highlighted the major economic, recreational, and safety challenges that such a designation would impose on local communities. Cook was joined on this letter by fellow San Bernardino County Representatives Gary Miller (R-Rancho Cucamonga) and Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-Montclair). The letter can be seen here.
This national monument proposal stemmed from Los Angeles County Representative Judy Chu’s (D-Pasadena) legislation, H.R. 4858, which was introduced only four months ago and has not had a single hearing in a committee. Rumors persist that the President will take unilateral action to create this monument. Doing so would completely bypass Congress’ legislative role in land use decisions and would prevent local residents from having a voice in this important decision.
Additionally, Cook has joined with the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors in demanding that San Bernardino County lands be excluded from any monument designation. They are united in demanding that public lands in San Bernardino County remain accessible to the public and that local businesses such as Mt. Baldy Lodge and Ski Lifts not be threatened by an executive order from the President.
Cook said, “I’m extremely concerned that the President may be prepared to impose another Washington solution on our local communities. I implore San Bernardino County residents to speak up and make their voices heard. Too often, I’ve seen outside interest groups dictate to us and ignore our wishes. These are our mountains. Let’s speak with strength and conviction when deciding our future.”
San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Janice Rutherford stated, “San Bernardino County residents, property owners and recreation enthusiasts have not been given the opportunity to give their input about a National Monument designation. There is a high level of skepticism about the purported benefits of such a designation and a great deal of concern about the potential negative consequences. Unless and until there is an honest public discussion of these, I oppose the President’s unilateral action affecting our community.”
A member of the House Veterans’ Affairs, Armed Services, and Foreign Affairs Committees, Cook served as an infantry officer and retired after 26 years as a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps. During his time in combat, he was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.