May 30, 2011

Veterans Call For Preservation of Public Lands They Served to Protect

As the nation celebrates Memorial Day, California veterans are calling on Congress to approve greater protections for the public lands they served to protect while fighting for their country overseas. U.S. Marine Corps vet Rick Reyes served in Iraq and Afghanistan, but he's back home now, fighting for the protection of public lands that are essentially in his own backyard. 

Reyes says the San Gabriel Mountains provide a sense of tranquility, which is much needed after the physical and mental stresses of war.

"We've all made sacrifices - whether it be our time away from our families or away from our lives. When we think of the lands that we served to protect, it's the wilderness and the open space that Southern California has to offer."

Reyes says he and other vets support the Angeles and San Bernardino National Forests Protection Act proposed by Rep. David Dreier. The bill would protect an additional 18,000 acres of public land in the San Gabriel Mountains as wilderness. Supporters say the bill will help ensure the area remains an important source for drinking water, clean air and recreation.

The San Gabriel Mountains offer families an affordable destination for playing in the snow in the winter and picnics and hiking in the summer, Reyes says. The area also offers special access for disabled vets who want to fish, he adds.

"A little-known fact about the San Gabriel Mountains is that there are spaces available for disabled vets to come and fish for trout - they have wheelchair-accessible platforms."

More information about the Angeles and San Bernardino National Forests Protection Act (H.R. 113), is available at http://dreier.house.gov/forestsummary.pdf.

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