The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) is often described as a patchwork of federal, state, and local public lands. Two small but important pieces of that patchwork in the Topanga area are in the process of being added to by Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA): A 30.77-acre addition that is now complete, and 42 acres in the process of being acquired. Both acquisitions are in the upper Old Topanga Watershed.
The MRCA has completed the purchase of four lots totaling 30.77 acres along Calabasas Peak Motorway. The Los Angeles County Regional Park and Open Space District awarded a $600,000 grant of Measure A funds to the MRCA in October to facilitate the purchase of three of the lots. The fourth required some additional funding. Escrow has closed, and all four parcels are now officially open space.
The new parkland is described as core habitat, but it also includes an important recreational resource: access to Calabasas Peak Motorway from Old Topanga Canyon Road. Calabasas Peak Motorway, a right of way owned by the County of Los Angeles that was once slated to become an actual highway, extends from Old Topanga Canyon Road through
Calabasas Peak to Stunt Road. This multi-use trail connects to a network of other major trails at either end. It’s a popular route for hikers, bikers, and equestrians, as well as a wildlife corridor that is used by a wide range of animals, including deer and coyotes.
Acquisition of the new 30.77 acres of parkland will guarantee continued public access on the motorway, an announcement from the MRCA states. It also protects a prominent view
corridor and the ridge line that separates the Los Angeles River and Topanga Canyon watersheds, and an area with rich geological resources that include fossils and fault lines.
The second Topanga-area acquisition is moving forward. At its June 4 meeting, the MRCA board voted to authorize a deposit payment for three parcels in the Topanga Skyline area. The staff report for the meeting reveals that the owner of the three contiguous parcels has offered to sell the parcels at a steep discount if they can be acquired by June 27 this year.
Located between Skyline and Henry Ridge Motorway, the three parcels contain a trail that leads to the Summit to Summit Motorway trail on MRCA land. The land is also adjacent to open space owned by the Mountains Restoration Trust (MRT). The land in adjacent to existing MRCA open space, and shares a boundary with property owned by the MRT. Purchasing the Skyline properties for open space would ensure that core wildlife habitat remains intact and preserve the existing trail linkage.
“With the right combination of available private donations and use of a small pot of eligible mitigation funding, the unique opportunity to acquire these properties should not be lost,” the MRCA report states.
For more information about MRCA: mrca.ca.gov; 323-221-9944.