Provide Input on Legislation to Preserve and Protect the Rim of the Valley (Crescenta Valley Weekly)

People who live in and around Los Angeles have access to the best of both worlds – urban city centers and activities, as well as vast wilderness areas where we can hike, play and learn. In fact, we are unique in the U.S. – millions live just minutes away from nature, and many of us have the mountains at our doorstep.

Because of this unique mix of urban areas and wilderness, we have wildlife roaming the hillsides – like P-22 who visits Griffith Park, or Meatball the Bear who wandered into our backyards. The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) and the Rim of the Valley Corridor are part of the very fabric of Los Angeles and deeply contribute to this unique link between the urban and natural world. As it sounds, the Rim of the Valley very literally “rims” around the Los Angeles County basin, and would connect much of our parks and open spaces.

That’s why for years, I have been working to find a way to protect and preserve this amazing open space for generations to come. And today, we are one large step closer.

In 2008, Congress passed legislation I authored to task the Interior Department with examining the feasibility of increasing the size of the Recreation Area by encompassing part or all of the Rim of the Valley Corridor. And after years of study and public input, this past month the National Park Service (NPS) released its final report and recommended a major expansion of the size of the existing Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) to include much of the study area. Specifically, the Park Service recommended adding 170,000 acres to the SMMNRA to bring the total to 323,000 – more than double what it is today. The Park Service reached this conclusion to further the public policy objective of protecting natural resources and habitats, and providing people with better access to nature for recreational and educational purposes.

The proposal by the Park Service would include portions of the Los Angeles River and Arroyo Seco corridors, the Verdugo Mountains, the San Rafael Hills, the San Gabriel Mountains foothills, the Simi Hills, the Santa Susana Mountains, and the Conejo Mountains. It would include wildlife corridors, historical and archeological sites, thousands of acres of open space and recreation areas, and miles of trails.

But it is important to understand that the Park Service recommendations are just that – recommendations. They are not the final version of this map, or in any way self-effectuating. The Park Service has provided its analysis to Congress, but it is up to Congress to act on those recommendations and public feedback in determining the final boundaries. So now begins the hard part –gathering input from local stakeholders, experts, homeowners, environmentalists and recreational users – and passing the legislation necessary to make this shared vision a reality.

The final map and report can be found on the Park Service’s website (http://www.nps.gov/pwro/rimofthevalley/). If you have thoughts, please share them with me through email (SchiffROTV@mail.house.gov).  Your feedback is vital to the process and I look forward to hearing from you.

Source: Crescenta Valley Weekly