Rep. Adam Schiff Reacts to Release of National Park Service Rim of the Valley Draft Report

Schiff Will Host Town Hall To Discuss Draft Report on April 27 in La Cañada Flintridge

Washington, DC – Today, the National Park Service (NPS) released its draft report on the Rim of the Valley Study, which examined the possibility of expanding the boundary of Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) to include the Rim of the Valley. The draft report recommends a significant expansion of the existing recreation area and now awaits public comment. 

After legislation sponsored by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) in 2007 authorizing the Interior Department to examine the feasibility of increasing the size of the Recreation Area by encompassing part or all of this corridor and preserve it within our National Park system was signed into law, today's report is the next step towards the process of preserving the Rim of the Valley for future generations. In their report, the Park Service recommended Alternative C, which significantly expands the existing SMMNRA boundary to include portions of the study area that are densely populated. Its objectives are to protect natural resources and habitats and provide people with better access to nature for recreational and educational purposes, and it authorizes the Park Service to provide technical assistance to the community.

“In the 1970's when the Santa Monica Mountains Recreation was created, Congress had the foresight to see that the Los Angeles population would grow and thrive, and it was necessary to act to preserve the open space and natural wonders around us,” said Rep. Schiff.  "Over the past two years, the Park Service has worked to complete their draft report and has now recommended a major expansion of the park, as reflected in Alternative C, to better serve and connect this growing urban population to nature.  While I am grateful that the Park Service has shown the foresight of recommending a substantial enlargement of the existing recreation area by embracing Alternative C, I am disappointed that it did not also adopt Alternative D, which would provide the greatest resource protection possible.

“I look forward to the public comment period, which will allow residents to weigh in on whether they support the Park Service recommendation or wish to go further. It is plain from the public comment period already undertaken, that there is the broadest possible support for preservation of these natural resources. It’s my hope that after the public comment period, the Park Service will expeditiously conclude its study so we may move forward with the final phase of this lengthy process – enacting legislation to expand the park and preserve these beautiful resources for decades to come.”

In 2008, Congress passed Schiff's bill directing the Park Service to conduct a special resource study to determine the possibility of providing federal protection to the Rim of the Valley – an area which stretches from the existing Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, through the Simi Hills and Santa Susannas, Verdugos, and on to the San Gabriel Mountains. The study explored whether any portion of the Rim of the Valley study area was eligible to become a unit of a national park system or added to an existing one, and how the resources could be protected and best utilized by the public. In the fall of 2012, the National Park Service released its preliminary findings, and offered four initial alternatives – Alternatives A through D – and opened up the conversation for public comment. 

Thousands of residents and members of government agencies, organizations and other institutions submitted their comments to both the NPS and Congressman Schiff’s office, and over 4750 individuals wrote in supporting a combination of the boundary adjustment for the initial Alternatives C and D, which would adjust the boundary of the recreation area to connect many people in urban areas to the park, as well as provide key habitat protections. Alternative A would result in a continuation of current management, and thus no action.  Alternative B would authorize the SMMNRA to create partnerships within the study area, but result in no boundary adjustments; NPS involvement would come in the form of technical assistance and cooperative partnerships to establish an interconnected system of parks, habitat and open space.  Alternative C would expand the SMMNRA boundary to include areas within the ROTV study area and focus on areas closest to dense urban populations for the purposes of connecting people to parks; it would include the full range of NPS tools and authorities to protect habitats, provide access to recreation and education, and provide NPS technical assistance and capital improvements.  Finally, Alternative D would expand the SMMNRA boundary to provide more resource and wildlife protections, and the updated version detailed in the draft report would also include the areas included in Alternative C. 

Last year, Schiff and other Members of Congress urged the Park Service to adopt a mix of alternatives C and D when drafting their report. In the letter to the NPS, the Members write: “Alternatives C and D both expand the boundary of SMMNRA and would provide SMMNRA the authority to manage the new area in the same manner as the existing NRA, in partnership with existing land management agencies and organizations. But because the two alternatives have different focuses – C on expanding recreational opportunities for urban audiences and D on promoting the long term resiliency of the natural resources within the area – choosing only one of these alternatives would leave thousands of acres of nationally significant resources without adequate protection. The National Park Service should create a hybrid alternative that would include the boundary extensions of SMMNRA of both alternatives C and D. This hybrid alternative would provide comprehensive preservation of the region’s mountain ranges and trail systems and maintain habitat connectivity, while also ensuring that the objectives of the two alternatives are realized.”

Schiff will host a town hall for interested constituents and community members to discuss the new draft report and offer feedback and concerns to the National Park Service on the evening of Monday, April 27 at 6:30 pm.  The town hall will be held at Descanso Gardens – Van de Kamp Hall (1418 Descanso Drive, La Canada Flintridge, CA 91011) and those interested in attending should RSVP to Schiff’s District Office at (818) 450-2900 or (323) 315-5555.  Attending the forum and presenting will be Anne Dove, Rim of the Valley Project Manager from the National Park Service; Joe Edmiston, Executive Director of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy; and Daniel Rossman, Southern California Regional Associate, The Wilderness Society.

A map of the Rim of the Valley Study Area can be found here, and Alternative C, which was recommended by the Park Service in their draft study, can be found here. The full draft report can be found here. Representative Schiff encourages the public to share their thoughts with him regarding the Draft Report via email at SchiffROTV@mail.house.gov, as well as with the National Park Service via their website at http://www.nps.gov/pwro/rimofthevalley/.