Congressional bills would double size of Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (Los Angeles Times)

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) want to more than double the size of Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area under legislation filed in both the House and Senate today.

The Rim of the Valley Corridor Preservation Act would add 193,000 acres stretching from the Simi Hills and Santa Susannas, the Verdugos and on to the San Gabriel Mountains.

"Back in the 70s, Congress had the foresight to know that L.A. was going to grow and preserved a lot of the open space that drew people to the region," Schiff said. "L.A. grew exponentially, and that park is one of the most heavily utilized in the nation. Now, we're at another crossroads."


For decades, conservationists have hoped to expand the recreation area to create a greenbelt around the San Fernando Valley .


In February, the National Park Service finished a study of the feasibility of setting aside the land as part of the  Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.


"L.A. has continued to grow, but we still have this wonderful wildlife corridor around us that allow mountain lions to come into Griffith Park and bears to come into people's swimming pools. That's going to vanish if we don't act to protect the remaining open space," Schiff said.


In a statement, Boxer called the Santa Monica Mountains one of the state's greatest treasures.


The bills allow the Park Service to buy land or accept it as a donation and specifically prohibit expanding the recreation area through eminent domain.


"We want to avoid any unnecessary opposition to the bill. The  Park Service has no intention of using eminent domain, that's not what they do. And so by making it explicit, we can ally anyone's concern that this is going to be some sort of federal land grab," Schiff said.