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San Bernardino National Forest

San Bernardino National Forest is located in the mountains of Southern California at elevations ranging from 2,000 to 11,502 feet. San Bernardino, Hemet, and Palm Springs are three cities near the area. The national forest is a rich and diverse resource of trees, rivers and streams, birds and animals, as well as myriad other wildlife and natural resources. The forest provided the hunting and gathering places of Native Americans for thousands of years before the first Europeans arrived. The Cahuilla kept camps in the desert areas in and around the San Jacintos, and the Serrano lived in the wooded San Bernardino Mountains. Mexicans and Europeans reached the region in the first half of the 19th century. The San Bernardino Forest Reserve was born of an important piece of legislation, the Forest Reserve Act, which Congress passed in 1891. The act gives the president authority to "set apart and reserve, in any state or territory having public land bearing forests . . . as public reservations." The chain of events that led to the creation of the national forest began after California became a state in 1848. The San Bernardino Reserve became the San Bernardino National Forest in 1907. The forest covers more than 800,000 acres, consisting of two major divisions: the San Bernardino Mountains on the easternmost side of the Transverse Range, and the San Jacinto and Santa Rosa Mountains on the northernmost side of the Peninsular Range. Five designated wilderness areas provide backcountry experiences. They include San Gorgonio, Cucamonga, San Jacinto, Santa Rose and Bighorn Mountain. The reserve is managed by the San Bernardino National Forest Association (SNFA), a non-profit organization committed to the forest's success. Big Bear Lake, Lake Arrowhead, and Idyllwild are a popular resort areas. The San Bernardino National Forest also is an ideal destination to enjoy hiking, horseback riding, fishing and hunting. There also are campgrounds, picnic areas and six winter sports areas.