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'Easter in the San Gabriels' combines service, conservation message

Posted: March 30, 2010 2:06 p.m.
Updated: March 30, 2010 2:26 p.m.
 
LOS ANGELES -- Members of several churches from the San Gabriel Valley will meet in the San Gabriel Mountains this Saturday - the day before Easter - to express their support for more protection of the mountain range.

The San Gabriel Mountains serve as a spiritual sanctuary for people from many faiths, with baptisms every weekend, pilgrimages up Mount Baldy, meditation retreats at church camps, and prayer services by the river.

On Saturday, April 3, at 9:30 a.m., an early Easter service will be held at the East Fork of the San Gabriel River (Heaton Flat). By breaking bread together, praying in community, worshipping in the midst of creation, and singing for God, participants hope to raise greater awareness about the need for further protection of these mountains and rivers.

The morning will include an Easter worship service, a hike to view proposed wilderness designations, a light lunch, and a letter-writing campaign to Rep. David Dreier, the congressman whose district includes the mountain range.

Easter worshippers are asking for two federal protections to further protect our public lands: Wilderness and Wild and Scenic River designations. They seek to add 30,000 acres to three existing federal Wilderness areas: Sheep Mountain, Cucamonga and San Gabriel.

In addition, they would like to see 46 miles of the San Gabriel River, San Antonio Creek and Middle Fork Lytle Creek preserved with Wild and Scenic River protection. Currently, no rivers in the Angeles forest have this protection.

"The mountains bring incredible peace to people of faith, providing quiet and solitude that allows them to experience the closeness of God, pray, meditate, and find renewal," said Casey Crosbie of Progressive Christians Uniting. "The San Gabriels are a precious spiritual resource that we must protect."

Beyond its rich spiritual value, the Angeles National Forest is an irreplaceable natural resource that gives Los Angeles County 70 percent of its open space and more than one-third of the county's drinking water.

The forest also serves as critical habitat for many endangered and sensitive plant and animal species including the mountain yellow-legged frog, Nelson's Bighorn sheep, California condor, mountain lion and the spotted owl. Without further protection, the mountains and rivers may face future damaging development including roads and power lines.

The Easter in the San Gabriels event is being organized by San Gabriel Mountains Forever, a diverse partnership of local business owners, residents, faith and community leaders, recreation groups, health and social service organizations, and conservation groups who have united to preserve this mountain range in the Angeles and San Bernardino National Forests.

Interested participants can attend the Easter in the San Gabriel service by meeting at the Rivers and Mountains Conservancy at 9 a.m. (100 N. Old San Gabriel Canyon Rd., Azusa, 91702) to carpool.

Visitors can also go directly to the place of worship at Heaton Flat at 9:30 a.m. by driving up San Gabriel Canyon Rd., turning left at East Fork Rd., and continuing on to the Heaton Flat parking area.

National Forest Adventure Passes will be provided for all parking at the East Fork of the San Gabriel River (Heaton Flat).

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