Sen. Alex Padilla proposes bill to protect 1 million acres of California public land

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The San Gabriel Mountains make up 70% of Los Angeles County's open space. But, like all wilderness areas, the threat of climate change and activities harmful to the environment threaten our public lands, including the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area in Irwindale.

"I hate to tell you, but my colleagues in Washington want to use lands for drilling, cutting forests, decimating the beauty this land offers. We need it for our future generations to enjoy," said Congresswoman Grace Napolitano, who represents California's 32nd District, which includes Irwindale.

That's why California Sen. Alex Padilla has introduced a bill to protect over 1 million acres of California's public lands, including the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains.

One of the reasons why local lawmakers want to federally protect these areas is to make them more accessible for communities of color who live in nature-deprived areas.

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"One of the most densely populated regions of the country has one of the lowest rates of park access. It's 3.3 acres of park space per 1,000 people is half the open space that many other cities enjoy," said Padilla.

"A staggering 82% of communities of color in the county, as you know, lack green space and many suffer from air pollution, asthma, childhood obesity and other ailments," said L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis.

Padilla says the bill fights the underlying causes of climate change by preserving our nation's greatest treasure. California's junior senator is hopeful the bill will receive bipartisan support.

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