Rep. Schiff Applauds Park Service Releasing Final Rim of the Valley Report – Recommends Adding 170,000 Acres to Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
Schiff Will Work on Legislation with Community in Coming Months
Washington, DC – Today, the National Park Service (NPS) released its final report on the Rim of the Valley Corridor Special Resources Study, which examined the possibility of expanding the boundary of Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) to include the Rim of the Valley Corridor. The report recommends a significant expansion of the existing recreation area, and has been delivered to Congress and the public.
After legislation sponsored by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) passed in 2008 authorizing the Interior Department to examine the feasibility of increasing the size of the Santa Monica Mountains National 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 Corridor for future generations. In their report, the Park Service recommended expanding the existing SMMNRA boundary to include significant portions of the study area, more than doubling the SMMNRA. Its objectives are to protect natural resources and habitats and provide people with better access to nature for recreational and educational purposes. It also authorizes the Park Service to provide technical assistance to the community.
The Park Service recommended adding 170,000 acres to the SMMNRA to bring the total to 323,000 acres. Now that the Park Service has delivered its final report, Congressman Schiff will work with the community and stakeholders to determine what should be included in the final legislation to make the expansion a reality.
Schiff commented: “In 2008, Congress passed legislation I authored to study expanding the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area to include the land known as the Rim of the Valley Corridor. After the study was funded, the National Park Service (NPS) began the long process of assessing its suitability for inclusion. The NPS today released its report – the Rim of the Valley Corridor Special Resource Study and Environmental Assessment – and recommended to Congress that the unit be substantially expanded. This is a significant milestone in the very long journey to protect and preserve this vast and amazing open space.
“The broad recommendation from the Park Service would more than double the size of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and include much of the study area originally laid out by Congress. Such an expansion will enable the National Park Service, local governments, and private citizens to better preserve green space and increase access to recreational opportunities for our urban and suburban communities. I applaud the Park Service for embracing a vision of an expanded recreation area to preserve this wonderful natural landscape. I wish, however, that the Park Service went even further in some of the areas as was clearly the hope of the many thousands of constituents who submitted public comment and advocated for an even bigger park, as provided for in Alternative D of the Park Service’s draft report.
“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. I look forward to continuing to consult with the community and stakeholders as we pursue our shared goal of preserving the natural resources in our area for generations to come.”
In 2008, Congress passed Rep. Schiff's bill directing the National Park Service to conduct a special resource study to determine the feasibility of providing federal protection to the Rim of the Valley Corridor – an area which stretches from the existing Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, through the Simi Hills and Santa Susanas, 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 spring of 2015, the National Park Service released its draft report, and offered four alternatives – Alternatives A through D – and opened up the conversation for public comment. In their draft report, the Park Service designated Alternative C the preferred alternative. 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 Rim of the Valley 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 boundaries set forth in Alternative C to include more resource and wildlife protections.
In response to the draft report, approximately 1800 members of the public, government agencies, organizations and other institutions submitted their comments to both the NPS and Congressman Schiff’s office. The comments were overwhelmingly in favor of Alternative D – the most expansive of the alternatives. Last year, Schiff and other Members of Congress urged the Park Service to adopt alternative D in their final report. In their letter to the NPS, the Members wrote: “[The] Los Angeles congressional delegation colleagues have joined together to support Alternative D — a more expansive option that will provide for more connections between urban populations and nature and better wildlife habitat protection. If we don't act now to preserve these wildlife corridors, they will be gone for good and, along with them, a lot of what we love about Los Angeles."
The final report recommended another alternative, which combined parts of previous alternatives C and D. A map of the recommendation can be found below, and can be examined online here along with the final report:
Representative Schiff encourages the public to share their thoughts with him regarding the final report via email at SchiffROTV@mail.house.gov.