Preserving L.A. Open Space for Centuries to Come
Residents along the foothills have a unique opportunity to take part in an effort to preserve open space and unique ecosystems for people to enjoy for generations to come. For more than a decade, I have been working with the National Park Service (NPS) to explore the possibility of providing federal protection to the Rim of the Valley, an area stretching from the existing Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) through the Simi Hills and Santa Susannas, the Verdugos, and on to the San Gabriel Mountains.
Last year, the NPS released its four preliminary “Alternatives,” or suggestions, on how to best utilize the land in the Rim of the Valley study area. I joined several members of the Los Angeles delegation in recommending that when the NPS issues its final report to Congress on the Rim of the Valley, it propose boundaries that would both include critical habitat and biodiversity protection, as well as increase access to the recreation area for urban communities. I believe that it is important to ensure that future generations of Southern Californians are able to make recreational use of our region’s beautiful Mediterranean landscape, obtaining an understanding of the rich tableau of animals and plants that populate the area, and preserving rare ecosystems and wildlife corridors.
We’re now entering a critical period. Thousands of residents have weighed in with almost unanimous support for park protection for the Rim of the Valley. Similarly, the proposal to create a San Gabriel Mountains National Recreation Area has received overwhelming support.
The NPS recently completed its final report to Congress on the San Gabriel study which, unfortunately, recommended only a small sliver of the study area for park protection. Congresswoman Chu has proposed legislation that would create a national recreation area that is larger than what was recommended, and would be a great boon for resource conservation. It is an effort I have cosponsored and wholeheartedly endorse. We anticipate that later this year, NPS will issue its draft report to Congress on the Rim of the Valley study area. I’m encouraging the public to weigh in for two reasons – one, to ensure that we do all we can to avoid a narrow vision and recommendation in its final analysis, and two, to make certain that foothill residents are included in the NRA that they feel is best for them.
Earlier this year, I hosted a forum to hear from members of the community about what type of national park they would like to see and also to share with them my thoughts on where we are in the process. Almost 200 residents attended to voice their opinions on the need to preserve open space and how this can best be accomplished.
This input must continue. I encourage residents to share their views on where the boundaries of the Rim of the Valley Park should be and what form it should take. Should there be a new sub-unit of the Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area, a brand new and separate Rim of the Valley Park, or some other resolution? Let me know. You can reach my office anytime at (818) 450-2900 or (323) 315-5555, or write to me at http://schiff.house.gov.
It will ultimately be up to Congress to enact legislation to protect open space in the region on the basis of both reports, and to achieve the shared vision that was the inspiration for our legislation more than a decade ago. By working together, we can ensure that we will preserve open space across Los Angeles County for decades to come.
I hope you will help in making that vision a reality.
Representative Adam Schiff represents the 28th Congressional district and authored the Rim of the Valley Corridor Study Act.