Extending the SMMNRA

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The organization is called the Public Land Alliance Network (PLAN) and its dynamic director, Carla Bollinger works to bring people together “to save national monuments and parks, regional parklands, historical parks, wildlife and native habitat, open space, and farmland.

On Saturday, March 17, she brought together an impressive panel of environmental leaders to share their vision of extending the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) through the Simi Hills into and along the “Rim of the Valley” corridor, interconnecting natural land, trails, and wildlife habitat in the region.

Their vision is edging closer to becoming a reality through The Rim of the Valley Corridor Preservation Act, a bi-partisan bill introduced by U.S. Representative Adam Schiff and Senator Dianne Feinstein that is gathering support. 

The day began at 8 a.m. with a hike, led by John Luker, a member of the Santa Susana Mountain Park Association (SSMPA) in the North American Land Trust, the former Santa Susana Field Laboratory’s (SSFL) Southern Buffer Zone (SBZ).

What was once where Rocketdyne (now Boeing) tested rocket engines for the American Space Program, and where nuclear research was conducted by Atomics International in a different area of the SSFL, the SBZ is now the site where mountain lions, a momma and her two teenagers, live, as well as other wildlife.

Luker has been leading conservation efforts to save the SBZ oak trees since February and, today, this group would plant a tiny oak tree and add their names to part of the restored oak woodland that would not be for us to see, but for future generations.

The restoration of the Santa Susana landscape is well underway, with native plants and animals reclaiming much of the 2,850 acres in less than a decade since the Field Laboratory closed.

Boeing Company, NASA and the Department of Energy have been cleaning up the property under the direction of The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), which has “confirmed that the Santa Susana site is safe today.

While it’s one step at a time, PLAN and other conservation organizations and agencies, among them West Hills Neighborhood, the Audubon Society, National Park Conservation Association (NPCA), and the Sierra Club, they have great ambitions in addition to expanding L.A.’s open spaces; they also hope to preserve Chumash cultural sites, as well as the COCA test stand that was used to develop the Space Shuttle Main Engine as a World Heritage site, possibly through UNESCO World Heritage Centre.


For more information: Carla Bollinger can be reached at planopenspace@gmail.com.


Flavia Potenza

Flavia Potenza is executive editor of the Messenger Mountain News. She is also a founding member of the 40-year old Topanga Messenger that closed its doors in 2016. She can be reached at editor@messengermountainnews.com

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