03.10.15

Rep. Adam Schiff demands Park Service publish Rim of the Valley study

Calling it a case of “bureaucratic neglect,” Rep. Adam Schiff is demanding the U.S. National Park Service release a report, already delayed three times, on his proposal to create a Rim of the Valley National Recreation Area on wildlands stretching from the Santa Monica Mountains to the Angeles National Forest above Pasadena.

Commissioned by Congress in October 2008, the Park Service missed three deadlines to publish the Rim of the Valley Corridor Special Resource Study draft — twice in 2014 and a third time in January — Schiff wrote in a letter to NPS Director Jonathan Jarvis, dated Feb.  26.

“This is all the more troubling since it is our understanding that the draft report was finished months ago and simply awaits bureaucratic approval,” he wrote. Schiff gave Jarvis until Friday to release the report, along with dates for public hearings and the expected completion of the report.

 

Schiff, D-Burbank, said on Tuesday that he has not received any response from Jarvis or anyone at the NPS, and he seemed baffled by the delays.

 

“I don’t know if this is a bureaucratic delay or no one is paying attention to it, or if they are taking some issue with what the study has recommended,” he said. “But we have been paying attention to this a long time, and we think they should get moving.”

 

Schiff has received support from the following members of Congress who also signed the letter: Judy Chu, D-Pasadena; Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles; Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Commerce; Tony Cardenas, D-Panorama City and Ted Lieu, D-Manhattan Beach.

 

A 2012 release of preliminary findings drew opposition from private-property groups, anti-government activists and the NPS itself. The Park Service said it flat-out didn’t have the money to take such a wide swath of wildlands and create a new unit of the department. Usually, new National Recreation Areas require new resources from park rangers for patrols, new or improved trails and interpretive exhibits.

 

The NPS study offers four alternatives: (A) no action, (B) the forming of partnerships and (C,  D) two alternatives that would create different boundaries for a new or expanded unit to add on to the existing Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

 

Schiff, who favors making Rim of the Valley a part of the SMMNRA, wanted to find the smoothest way through Congress for protecting forest and mountain areas and historical places that line the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys. The study area included 400,000 acres from the coastal edge of the Santa Monica Mountains through Simi Hills, Santa Susana Mountains, San Gabriel Mountains, Verdugo Mountains and San Rafael Hills.

 

Environmental groups, Schiff and 5,000 people who submitted comments last year initially favored blending alternatives C  and  D as an expanded proposal that would join existing urban parks with wildlands to form a new National Recreation Area. Such a broad boundary would pair cultural resources such as Hansen Dam, Sepulveda Basin, Debs Park, El Pueblo de Los Angeles, Griffith Park, the Rose Bowl and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge, plus existing wilderness areas such as the Arroyo Seco, the western portion of the Angeles National Forest and the Simi Hills. The C  and  D option excludes the San Fernando Valley, the Simi Valley, the Conejo Valley and the Santa Clarita Valley.

 

Tim Brick, managing director of the Arroyo Seco Foundation, sent letters to the NPS when the front range of the Angeles above Arcadia and Pasadena were left out of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, designated by President Barack Obama during a speech at Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park in San Dimas on Oct.  10, 2014.

 

Brick, who said he received a letter of support for the Rim of the Valley National Recreation Area from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, wants to see the Arroyo Seco canyons and trails included in Schiff’s proposal. “We’re hoping the (Rim of the Valley) study will include the parts neglected by the monument,” Brick said.

 

After a draft is released and a final study completed, Schiff can take or add to recommendations from the NPS and craft legislation creating a Rim of the Valley National Recreation Area, Brick said, adding that could take a year or two.

 

“The longer they sit on it, the more drawn-out the process becomes, the longer we are from taking action to protect those valuable natural resources,” Schiff said. “These unnecessary delays are hindering progress.”


Source: Pasadena Star-News