A study of the wilderness around the Santa Clarita Valley is underway, with federal Interior officials wondering if our exterior should be part of a national park.
The Rim of the Valley Corridor study, authorized by President Bush in 2008, allows for a special resource study of the mountains encircling the San Fernando, La Crescenta, Santa Clarita, Simi and Conejo Valleys to determine if any part of the area is eligible for inclusion as a unit of the national park system or to be added to an existing national park unit (most likely the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area).
This study dovetails with Santa Clarita’s Open Space plans, which describe the natural buffer area surrounding the entire Santa Clarita Valley as including the Angeles National Forest, Santa Susanna, San Gabriel, Sierra Pelona and Del Sur mountains. The city has dedicated to preserving these areas as a regional recreational, ecological and aesthetic resource. The plan also outlines the city’s desire to preserve ridgelines and protect oak, sycamore and other significant indigenous woodlands.
“This is an important ecological area,” said Wendy Langhans, a member of the city’s Open Space Preservation District Financial Accountability and Audit Panel and an interpretive naturalist. “A greenbelt around the valley is something like a wildlife roundabout, and the southern part of our corridor connecting mountain ranges dovetails with the Rim Of The Valley.
“We buy chunks of land to complete the greenbelt, which is like assembling a series of mosaic tiles,” she continued. “By themselves, they’re bright and colorful, but it really has meaning when they are put into the mural that is the greenbelt.”
The study will also facilitate cooperation between different agencies who deal with the land, including the City, the County of Los Angeles, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Agency and other interested parties.
“From a business perspective, this will give us leverage,” Langhans said. “The idea of leverage here is that we (the city) may be able to buy a certain piece, but with other groups we could put those pieces together and get bigger or better pieces.”
The study will also explore the preservation of recreational opportunities and access to recreation by a variety of users; protecting rare, threatened or endangered species and rate or unusual plant communities and habitats while considering the needs of the surrounding developed communities.
The National Park Service said that over the last 20 years, less than one-third of the special resource studies authorized by Congress have been found eligible for inclusion in the national park system. Many studies determine that existing management, technical or financial assistance or local, state or private initiatives are preferable to the establishment of a new national park unit.
The study will culminate in a report to Congress that will include a recommended course of action to protect resources and provide opportunities for public use and enjoyment of the area.
As the study has just been launched, the public’s involvement is critical. If you’re a property owner, a lover of nature, concerned environmentalist or just a citizen who wants to be a part of the process, your input is what the Park Service is looking for.
There are several ways of learning more about the study and adding your input; interested parties can visit the study website here. On the website, they can sign up for the study mailing or e-mail list; comments can be submitted via the website and they can attend public meetings to share information, discuss issues, concerns and potential outcomes.
Bottom line, in this case of dealing with the land surrounding our valley, they want the public involved. The comment period for this study is now open and will extend through October 29. Public meetings throughout the region will be scheduled in September and October. Watch hometownstation.com for meeting times, dates and locations as they are announced.