Crescenta-Cañada Y hosts Congressman Schiff and panel discussion.
By Jason KUROSU
In 2008, Congress passed a bill approving a study to determine the feasibility of designating the Rim of the Valley Corridor as part of the National Park System.
The desire to include the area covering parts of the San Gabriel Mountains, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreational Area, Simi Hills and Santa Susana Mountains under federal protection has persisted.
Congressman Adam Schiff, who sponsored the Corridor Study Act, headed a panel at the Crescenta-Cañada YMCA on Jan. 22 to discuss the future of the area. The panel also included project manager Anne Dove from the National Park Service, Joe Edmiston, president of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and Daniel Rossman from the Wilderness Society and chair of San Gabriel Mountains Forever.
About 5,000 comments were submitted in response to the study, which produced four alternate approaches to addressing the area concerned and possible conservation. The alternatives include a “No Action” alternative (A) in which the National Park Service would have no role in the study area; a Cooperative Conservation alternative (B) which would not give the Park Service any land or land management capabilities while still allowing it to participate in the process; and the final two (C and D) which focus on boundary adjustments. Options C and D differ in the areas included within the boundaries of the study area. In all alternatives, the Rim of the Valley trail would be completed, though by differing means depending on the chosen alternative.
According to Schiff, 4,750 of the comments were in support of a combination of alternatives C and D.
“What I hope we accomplish is getting the community integrated into this review process,” said Schiff, referring to the upcoming draft study report.
“As you can see, this is a complex process, involving many moving pieces,” said Schiff, “but by combining the best of all of the efforts within the Rim of the Valley, we will end up with open space that will be preserved for many, many generations to come. That should be the end all of any discussion on the process, in my view.”
Dove explained the process of the study and said that the comments reflected that the public wanted wildlife within the study area to be protected, the Rim of the Valley trail to be completed and an expanded role of the Park Service within the study area. Dove said the study revealed a large number of both significant natural and cultural resources present within the study area.
Edmiston stressed public participation and input as the various individuals and entities work together to formulate a plan for the Rim of the Valley.
“Every one of you here should commit. Whatever the alternative you want, you should make it a priority for the future of your community,” Edmiston said.
Rossman recommended a combination of alternatives C and D, an idea that appears to be well-supported by a large majority of the public.
“Looking at combinations of C and D is the right approach,” said Rossman.
He was optimistic about the project as “a broad system of conservation” and “an effort which can be the vehicle that drives the connections between people and communities.”
A draft study report is the next step, which will “include revised, updated and enhanced analyses and updated regional alternatives,” according to Dove. The report will be published this summer.
The National Park Service is expected to make its official recommendation to Congress later this year.