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NPS Study Looks to Expand Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area

The Rim of the Valley Corridor Study is focusing on furthering the reach of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area to protect wildlife and other natural resources as well as provide more recreational activities to Angelenos.

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 pwr_rimofthevalley@nps.gov 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.

Paul Grisanti December 24, 2012 at 06:28 PM
I am not in favor of any further expansion of their responsibility area until they have enough rangers to respond to resident complaints and physically close those areas that are supposed to be closed at night every day. Lets try not to have another Corral Fire scenario.
Hans Laetz December 25, 2012 at 05:58 AM
Paul raises an important point. It is tragic that offers from local residents to help lock gates at night and unlock them in the morning have gone untaken from the feds. The NPS rangers show up behind Malibu West maybe once every two months, there is no gate on the fire road, and I call the sheriff's once every two weeks or so when motorized shenanigans are under way. I think the bigger problem with abdication of duty that Paul refers to falls at the feet of State Parks and the MRCA, as they own the majority of problem access points, I think. Of course, the NPS, State Parks and the MRCA all have separate police departments, who themselves are separate from the CHP, Ventura sheriff's office and LACSO who patrol roads in the county and city in the area. Add in three different fire departments and we have six different police agencies, plus the Coast Guard and Homeland Security and lifeguards on the coast. What a jurisdictional mismosh. The feds and state have given us an unworkable jurisdictional nightmare in the Santa Monica Mountains. Now they want to expand that to LAPD and parks police, plus the fire agencies. Not good.
Terry December 25, 2012 at 04:36 PM
it is just such an unbelievable expierience to be able to take some of these trails especially at this time of the year with the grey skys and the bright green new growth grass and the oak trees. its such a wonderful expierience. there are so many different malibu's. take the time to cherish them
lifeisgood December 26, 2012 at 06:41 AM
While we need more law enforcement rangers if they want to extend their park acreage beyond the current Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, did you know there's a way you can help while enjoying the parks? Volunteer for one of the NPS backcountry service groups, like the Mounted Volunteer Patrol (equestrians) or the Mountain Bike Unit. They serve not only as trained and certified first aid responders in the backcountry, but lend aid to lost or injured park visitors, It's a great way to give back to the community while enjoying the outdoors.

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