03.02.16

Reps. Schiff and Brownley to Host Town Halls to Discuss Legislation to Expand and Preserve Rim of the Valley Corridor

Los Angeles, CA – On Tuesday, March 8, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) will host a town hall event in Los Angeles, and another town hall along with Rep. Julia Brownley (D-Westlake Village) in Oak Park on Wednesday, March 9.  The town halls will allow constituents, advocates and homeowners to discuss the 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. The report recommends a significant expansion of the existing recreation area, and has been delivered to Congress and the public.

Rep. Schiff is working on legislation to make this expansion a reality, and is gathering input from community stakeholders. 

EVENT ONE: TOWN HALL IN LOS ANGELES

(HOSTED BY REP. SCHIFF)

WHEN:          Tuesday, March 8th – 7-8:30PM

WHERE:       Los Angeles Zoo, Witherbee Auditorium

5333 Zoo Drive

Los Angeles, CA 90027

EVENT TWO: TOWN HALL IN OAK PARK

(HOSTED BY REP. BROWNLEY, WITH REP. SCHIFF AS GUEST)

WHEN:          Wednesday, March 9th – 7-8:30PM

WHERE:       Oak Park High School Room G-9

899 N. Kanan Rd

Oak Park, CA 91377

Schiff encourages the public to share their thoughts with him regarding the final report via email at SchiffROTV@mail.house.gov.

Background:

Last month, 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. 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 Recreation Area by encompassing part or all of this corridor and preserve it within our National Park system was signed into law, this 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 size of 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.

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:

ROTV Final