A new proposal would vastly increase protected Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (Los Angeles Daily News)
The National Park Service on Tuesday recommended adding 170,000 acres of wild lands, parks and historical sites to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area as part of the Rim of the Valley study initiated more than eight years ago.
The addition, which would double the size of the recreation area, includes a narrow stretch along the urban shores of the Los Angeles River and its tributary, the Arroyo Seco; the Verdugo Mountains above Glendale; the San Rafael Hills; foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and the Simi Hills, Santa Susana and Conejo mountain areas in Ventura County.
“Expanding Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area would provide one of the most densely populated areas in the United States better access to open space and recreational opportunities, as well as increase protection of ecological connections for wildlife,” said Martha J. Lee, Acting Regional Director of the National Park Service’s Pacific West Region, in a prepared statement.
Besides adding mountainous regions, the addition’s boundary dips southeast to envelop Griffith Park, Hansen Dam Recreation Area, Sepulveda Basin, Debs Park, El Pueblo De Los Angeles Historical Monument. Los Angeles State Historic Park and Hahamongna Watershed Park in Pasadena.
The Park Service avoided residential areas. No portions of the Angeles National Forest were included.
By tying together urban parks with wild lands, the Rim of the Valley addition gives low-income children an entrance to nature, said Robert Garcia, founding director of The City Project, a nonprofit advocating for environmental justice and healthier land use for urban L.A.
“The NPS recognizes there are not enough parks in the region, especially for children of color and low-income children,” Garcia said. “Related health disparities from inactivity include diabetes and obesity.”
Animals living in the proposed national recreation area addition would receive more federal protection. The area north of the 101 Freeway in the West San Fernando Valley and eastern Ventura County arehome to a dwindling population of mountain lions often killed while crossing the freeway.
To the east, environmental groups praised the addition, saying the Arroyo Seco, what native Americans called “dry river” that stretches from the foothills of Pasadena, including Hahamongna Watershed Park to South Pasadena and Boyle Heights along the Arroyo Seco Parkway (110 Freeway), finally will get the attention it deserves.
“We are pretty excited about it,” said Timothy Brick, managing director of the Arroyo Seco Foundation. “I think it is a real big step forward for the Arroyo Seco.”
The possible addition to the Santa Monica Mountains may provide federal resources to the Foundation’s goal of restoring the Arroyo Seco to its natural state. One other positive, said Brick, was getting the National Park Service on the project.
In October 2014, President Barack Obama visited the region and designated 346,177 acres — about half the Angeles National Forest — as the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. Left out of the monument was the Arroyo Seco and most of the popular hiking areas above Pasadena, Sierra Madre and Altadena. The monument is managed by the U.S. Forest Service, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“It is better to be associated with the NPS than it is with the USFS,” Brick said. “The NPS clearly is directed toward recreational use and natural resources, while the Forest Service has more of a land management role.”
The effort officially began in 2008 by Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, when his bill authorizing a study of the natural and historical resources around Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley was approved.Schiff wanted Alternative D — favored by a majority of residents who commented on the draft plan — because it would have included more territory. But on Tuesday, he said the NPS decision was acceptable.
“Now that we have the completed study in hand, we will move forward with the work of crafting legislation to make the park expansion a reality,” Schiff said.
Brick said he thinks the bill has a good chance of being adopted since it covers numerous areas and millions of people in Southern California. “It clearly affects a very large area, millions of people will benefit. It is the kind of thing that has bipartisan support.”
Source: Los Angeles Daily News
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