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Blame Congress for the sorry state of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument

To the editor: As your article notes, funding for the newly declared San Gabriel Mountains National Monument is essentially nonexistent. This is hardly a new phenomenon. ("In the San Gabriel Mountains, they're asking: What monument?," Aug. 18)

For several decades, as presidents and Congress have vastly expanded the land holdings designated as national monuments, parks, recreation areas and historic sites, they have utterly failed to provide new monies in the federal budget to pay for running them properly.

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Blame can be laid squarely on politics: Congress (especially Republican members) does not like presidents (especially Democratic ones) using their authority under the Antiquities Act of 1906 to declare public lands national monuments.

Attempts to repeal this enabling legislation have failed. Congress can, however, refrain from funding these newly designated areas.

On balance, it is still better to give precious recreational lands the added legal protection of monument status, even if Congress refuses to pay for their upkeep. The hope is that someday, it will step up and fund the care of these national treasures. For now, the San Gabriel Mountains must continue to suffer from overuse and underfunding, to the detriment of the public's enjoyment.

David Warburton, Newhall

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To the editor: I'm no fan of President Obama, but I hardly think he can be blamed for the blight in the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. Let's put the blame where it belongs: on the people who visit and desecrate not only this venue but any of our national treasures.

Obama doesn't scrawl graffiti on signs, rocks or bathrooms. He doesn't leave trash and broken beer bottles behind. Why can't people clean up their own trash and leave the space in a lovely condition for the next visitor to enjoy?

We shouldn't need a staff of rangers to monitor these places. We should have enough pride in our country and ourselves to take care of them on our own.

Emily Ruffner, Granada Hills

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