On Friday, Rep. Adam Schiff along with six members of the Los Angeles Congressional Delegation, sent a letter to the National Park Service (NPS) regarding its recently released draft report on the Rim of the Valley Special Resources Study. The study examined the possibility of expanding the boundary of Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) to include the Rim of the Valley Corridor.
The letter commends NPS’s proposed enlargement of the existing SMMNRA to include areas in Alternative C of the draft report, which mainly focused on the connection between urban communities and open space. However, the letter urges NPS to expand the boundary even further, by adopting Alternative D which would include additional land and wildlife corridors in the expansion. The letter was sent by Reps. Schiff, Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park), Tony Cardenas (D-San Fernando), Ted Lieu (D-Los Angeles), Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks), Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles), and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Los Angeles)
“Since the public comment period has been open, the vast majority of my constituents have come out in support of the broadest possible preservation of these natural resources,” said Schiff. “That’s why we feel that Alternative C does not go far enough. My Los Angeles congressional delegation colleagues and I have joined together to support Alternative D — a more expansive option that will provide for more connections between urban populations and nature and better wildlife habitat protection. If we don’t act now to preserve these wildlife corridors, they will be gone for good and, along with them, a lot of what we love about Los Angeles.”
The full letter can be read below:
Ms. Anne Dove
National Park Service
Rim of the Valley Corridor Study
570 W. Avenue 26, #175
Los Angeles, CA 90065
Dear Ms. Dove:
We write to provide our view of the National Park Service’s draft report of the Rim of the Valley Corridor Special Resources Study. We are pleased that the Study’s draft report supports such a significant expansion of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA), but we believe that the Park Service should take on a more expansive vision for the Rim of the Valley area, and feel that a larger addition would be more beneficial for the community and region as a whole.
As the draft report has conveyed so effectively, the Rim of the Valley Corridor contains nationally significant resources which should be added to the SMMNRA. The area has a rich geologic history and high levels of biodiversity, and is an important resource for hiking, education, and recreation for an urban population that is surrounded by the concrete jungle of freeways and parking lots.
In 2013, after the National Park Service (NPS) released its preliminary findings and alternatives, many members of the Los Angeles delegation joined in urging NPS to creative a hybrid alternative, which would focus on both connecting urban communities to open space (Alternative C) and connecting natural habitats (Alternative D). This hybrid alternative would provide comprehensive preservation of the region’s mountain ranges and trail systems and maintain habitat connectivity, thereby ensuring that the objectives of the two alternatives are realized.
In the Study’s draft report, released in April 2015, an updated and slightly modified Alternative C was designated NPS’s preferred alternative. If implemented, this boundary expansion would be a significant improvement over the status quo. However, we remain steadfast in our belief that a boundary expansion of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area should also include areas which have significant implications for wildlife and habitats. Therefore, we strongly support the draft report’s revised Alternative D—a more expansion option, which includes all of the land within Alternative C, as well as additional land in the western portion of the study area, land north of the Angeles National Forest, and two wildlife corridors which would connect the study area to the Los Padres National Forest and the northern portion of the Angeles National Forest. These wildlife corridors are of particular importance to the constituents who have contacted us, as they are crucial for linking habitats. Alternative D is the alternative in the draft report that best reflects our support for a hybrid alternative that would improve both urban and habitat connectivity.
The population in Los Angeles will continue to grow, and our nation’s precious natural resources and open space are increasingly threatened by human activities and expansion. We must act now to create a framework to preserve as much of the Rim of the Valley Corridor as possible, so Angelenos will reap the benefits of nature for generations to come.
Once again, we are very pleased that NPS is supportive of expanding federal protection to the Rim of the Valley Study Area and are encouraged that NPS is so receptive to incorporating the wishes of the community.