East Fork, a Once Beautiful Nature Escape For LA Residents, Has Turned Into Trash-Filled Heap

By: Lauren | Last updated: Nov 08, 2023

LA residents are disturbed by the incredible amount of garbage, including rotting food, toys, and used diapers at East Fork within the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument.

East Fork, the largest headwater of the San Gabriel River, is a complete mess, with trash, human waste, and even graffiti on the rocks surrounding the gorge. And there’s a specific reason why this is occurring in this once-beautiful landscape.

When Did the Trouble at East Fork Start?

Nine years ago, President Obama allotted management status to the region with the hopes of creating a safer and cleaner landscape.


Source: Bob Riha, Jr./Getty Images

However, the plan seriously backfired. Because the monument is within an hour drive of more than 18 million LA residents, the surge in visitation after naming the San Gabriel Mountains a monument has created a giant trash problem.


The Reason East Fork Has Heaps of Garbage

But the problem is not just the influx of visitors, it’s the lack of staff and law enforcement to handle them. Most of California’s natural resources budget is set aside for repairing infrastructure and wildlife protection.


Source: Ignacio Lopez/Facebook

Although the San Gabriel Mountains is about to celebrate its ten-year-anniversary as a national monument, it still doesn’t have a visitor center, sufficient dumpsters, or even enough restrooms to support the millions of visitors.

How the Trash Problem Affects the Environment

The main concern many environmentalists are worried about is the effect the trash will have on the water quality at East Fork. Up until now, the site has consistently earned an A+ water rating.


Source: John Hurd/Facebook

However, those A+ ratings are said to be from samples taken in the morning away from the major swimming holes—most believe that they are not an accurate description of the actual current water quality.

What Can Be Done to Solve the Problem?

First things first, employees and volunteers are asking the 4.5 million annual visitors to help with this issue by not throwing trash on the ground.


Source: Ignacio Lopez/Facebook

In addition, the monument is asking for more funding from the state government to fund the necessary bathrooms, trash pick up, and staff to ensure that the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument remains a safe and beautiful landscape for generations.