By Wendy Langhans
This report is a “Best of SCV Outdoor Report” and has been previously published.
Would it surprise you to learn that the mountains circling our valley function like a roundabout – a circular intersection for wildlife?
Our Santa Clarita valley is the center hub of this roundabout.
The surrounding mountains are the traffic lanes leading to four different networks of wildlife linkages. To the northeast is the network leading to the Sierra Nevada mountains. To the northwest is the network leading to the Sierra Madre and other coast ranges. To the southwest is the network to the Santa Monica Mountains. And to the southeast is the linkage through the San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountains all the way south to Baja California.
The Wildlife Roundabout.
Suppose we focused on just one portion of the roundabout – the space between the San Gabriel and the Santa Susana mountains. There are only four wildlife crossing that connect these mountain ranges. Two crossings are under the 14: Railroad Avenue near the entrance to Whitney/Elsmere Canyon and the Los Pinetos under-crossing. Two crossings are on the 5: Gavin Canyon overpass and Gavin/Old Road underpass. To understand why these are important, check out Last week’s story, where we used the metaphor of a shopping mall to describe the “what, why and how” of wildlife corridors.
A view of the land between the 14 and Sierra Highway.
A view of the Los Pinetos wildlife crossing.
Between these four wildlife crossing lies the area known as the “Newhall Wedge”, the area between the I-5 and SR-14. In order for the wildlife corridor to remain viable, we need to maintain a suitably wide and contiguous portion of the Newhall Wedge as open space, a habitat for mule deer, bobcat, grey fox, American badger, and long-tailed weasel. This means we need to be careful what development we allow in the Gates-King Industrial area (north of Sierra Highway) and the Hondo Oil land (between the 14 and Sierra Highway).
Which brings us back to the metaphor of a roundabout. Who has the right of way? In a roundabout, the incoming traffic yields to the traffic already in the roundabout. In this case, humans are the incoming traffic. We need to find a way to yield the right of way to the animals already there.
Upcoming Outdoor Events:
Wednesday mornings, February 22 & 29.
Saturday, February 25, 10 AM – 12 PM. The Earliest Wildflowers. Wildflowers already? Let’s look at some early season wildflowers. For a map and directions, click here.
You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on “The Hike Report”, brought to you by your hometown radio station KHTS (AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.