Expanding the boundaries of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area east toward downtown Los Angeles could help preserve natural resources, according to the preliminary results of a four-year study.
The National Park Service, which started the Rim of the Valley Corridor Study in 2010, is seeking public comment on the preliminary findings.
The area known as the Rim of the Valley includes the mountains surrounding the San Fernando, La Crescenta, Santa Clarita, Simi, and Conejo Valleys (see the maps to the right). That includes that the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA), which consists of a 150,000 acre partnership of private, local, state and federal lands.
Congress passed a law in 2008 requiring the park service to study the environmental and recreational resources in the Rim of the Valley Corridor. The study will determine how to best manage the lands, including the creation of a new National Park Area or expanding the boundaries of the existing SMMNRA.
Preliminary results of the study ruled out creating a new National Park Area as too costly, instead recommending potential plans to increase the reach of the SMMNRA. The expansion could allow for further study of the area, better conservation and more opportunities for recreation, according to the study.
Potential Expansion Plans
The National Parks Service study identified several possible proposals for new expansion.
One of the plans calls for the inclusion of urban parks to the boundaries of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
The boundaries would include some of the most populous areas of the Los Angeles region, including the mountains around the San Fernando and La Crescenta Valleys, and the Los Angeles River and Arroyo Seco corridors. This area includes Hansen Dam, the Sepulveda Basin, Los Encinos State Park in Encino, Debs Park in East L.A. and El Pueblo de Los Angeles City Monument across from Union Station.
The purpose would be to provide "more close-to-home opportunities for recreation and enjoyment of the study area’s resources," the document states.
Another alternative calls for the addition of natural habitat to the SMMNRA, including the Santa Susana Mountains to the southern boundary of the Los Padres National Forest and the connection from the eastern Santa Susana Mountains to the western boundary of the San Gabriel Mountains portion of the Angeles National Forest.
“With ongoing habitat loss and fragmentation in the region, as well as the threats associated with disturbances such as large scale fire, these key linkages are critical for the long term survival of the natural resources within the existing SMMNRA boundary. Without functional landscape connections for migration, dispersal, and other ecological functions, some native species in the Santa Monica Mountains may cease to exist there in the future," according to the preliminary results.
Another plan calls for no expansion of the boundaries of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Instead, this proposal would allow the SMMNRA to lead a cooperation between private and public land owners, organizations, and institutions to protect open spaces and provide recreational activities in the Rim of the Valley corridor area.
All the plans include the completion of the Rim of the Valley Trail, which would extend from Pasadena to the Simi Valley and into the Santa Monica Mountains.
Public comment on the alternatives is due by Jan. 7 by emailing email@example.com or through the study web site www.nps.gov/pwro/rimofthevalley.
Next, the NPS will analyze the potential environmental and socioeconomic impacts of the alternatives before releasing a draft report and submitting the final recommendations to Congress. That process will likely take another two years.