U.S. Forest Service officials have a lot of work on their hands. They are studying approximately 700,000 acres of land stretching from Santa Fe Springs north to the San Gabriel Mountains. The purpose of the study is to determine whether – and, if so, which – areas might qualify for national park status. The study of portions of the Angeles National Forest and communities along the San Gabriel River are part of the San Gabriel Watershed and Mountains Special Resource Study. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2“The idea is to determine whether or not it makes any sense to declare some of these areas as part of a national park to assure their long-term preservation,” said Fred Latham, city manager for Santa Fe Springs. “It’s not changing how the land is used, but it would allow for preservation of that land.” Martha Crusius, project manager for the Forest Service, said the agency is working with residents, organizations and agencies in some 50 communities. Officials are gathering information regarding recreational resources, habitat restoration, watershed improvements and flood protection. The objective is not to create a massive, contiguous local national park, she said, but to identify specific areas within the 700,000-acre study area to determine which locations might warrant special attention. “Are \ unique mountain ranges that they would qualify for national recognition? Are there other historical trails that could be considered for national designation?” asked Belinda Faustinos, executive director of the Rivers and Mountains Conservancy. “There’s a lot of great cultural and natural history that’s never been put into an evaluation,” Faustinos added. The comprehensive study is still in its early phases. The process is detailed and involved, Crusius said, and the agency must still assess its findings and submit them to Congress for consideration. In addition, the study’s emphasis is on natural habitats and resources, not on newly developed areas, officials stressed. It will not include developed projects, such as the proposed Santa Fe Springs Park nature sanctuary. “We’re looking largely at partnership opportunities that build on what’s already happening, what’s already there – historic trails, nodes of parkland that are connected with trails, managing historic sites,” Crusius said. Ultimately, any wilderness areas or trail corridors included in the Forest Service’s network of parks could mean more than just national recognition; it could bring federal funding to the areas. “Projects might have a lot better chance of competing for federal dollars,” said Faustinos. “Any way to get additional money for the San Gabriel Valley and the San Gabriel Valley Watershed is great.” [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3024160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!