Third Time’s a Charm

THE RIM OF THE VALLEY CORRIDOR PRESERVATION ACT WILL ADD MORE THAN 191,000 ACRES TO SMMNRA, CREATING A CRITICAL BRIDGE BETWEEN OUR URBAN CITY CENTERS AND THE SPECTACULAR WILDERNESS THAT SURROUNDS US.

The Rim of the Valley Act is back for a third time.

On March 19, Representative Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), together with Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, introduced the third version of the Rim of the Valley Corridor Preservation Act. Schiff, the author of the bill, has expressed optimism that this time, the legislation will be approved.

If it is, the act will add more than 191,000 acres to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA), more than doubling the area of the existing 154,000-acre park and connecting the coastal range with the Simi Hills, Santa Susana Mountains, Verdugo Hills, and San Gabriel Mountains.

“The Rim of the Valley is the critical bridge between our urban city centers, suburbs in the Los Angeles basin, and the spectacular wilderness that surrounds us, our bill would help protect these lands for generations to come,” said Schiff.

“As more of this area is developed and open space diminishes, the wildlife it supports is increasingly at risk. Congress must preserve the Rim of the Valley for the next generations, but we must act quickly on a bipartisan basis or this once-in-a-century opportunity will be gone forever,” he said.

“Protecting natural places like the Rim of the Valley Corridor from urban expansion is essential for improving the quality of life in the Los Angeles basin,” said Senator Feinstein. “Our legislation would connect more Southern California residents to the trails and vast open spaces in the foothills of the surrounding mountains. It would also protect sensitive habitat for California wildlife including mountain lions, bobcats, and golden eagles. The foothills surrounding the Los Angeles basin are a truly special place worthy of stronger protections.”

In 2008, Congressman Schiff passed the Rim of the Valley Corridor Study Act, directing the National Park Service (NPS) to conduct a special resource study of the Rim of the Valley Corridor. The study sought to determine the suitability and feasibility of designating all or a portion of the Rim of the Valley Corridor as a unit of the existing SMMNRA, and how these areas could be better managed and preserved. NPS began the study in 2010 and transmitted its final report to Congress and the public in February 2016.

The Rim of the Valley Corridor Preservation Act would expand the SMMNRA to include much of the land included in the study, but not all of it.

Additions include all of Griffith Park—geologically part of the Santa Monica Mountains, but not currently part of the SMMNRA. A strip of parkland in Pacific Palisades is another addition, one that would place Topanga completely within the SMMNRA.

One major exemption is the old Rocketdyne field laboratory in the Santa Susana Mountains, now owned by Boeing. The  2,668-acre-property was the site of a major nuclear reactor accident in 1959 and it still has high levels of soil and water contamination from decades of rocket testing and other Cold War and Space Race research.

If the legislation is approved, the lands included within the expansion will become a unit of the existing NPS, managed the same way the existing SMMNRA parkland is handled, with cooperation between federal, state, and local park agencies, and private landowners.

“The bill will enable NPS and the local community to better protect natural resources and habitats, and provide members of the community with improved access to nature for recreational and educational purposes, the announcement states.

Schiff stressed that the expansion of SMMNRA boundaries “respects private property rights and existing local land use authorities. It will not require a landowner to participate in any conservation or recreation activities, and it will not put any additional restrictions on property owners. The bill does not allow for land acquisition through eminent domain.”

The Rim study found that 47 percent of Californians—six percent of the total U.S. population— live within two hours of the study area.

 

To view a map of the proposed expansion under the Rim of the Valley Corridor Preservation Act, or learn more about the legislation, visit https://schiff.house.gov

 

Suzanne Guldimann
Suzanne Guldimann

Suzanne Guldimann is an author, artist, and musician who lives in Malibu and loves the Santa Monica Mountains. She has worked as a journalist reporting on local news and issues for more than a decade, and is the author of nine books of music for the harp. Suzanne's newest book, "Life in Malibu", explores local history and nature. She can be reached at suzanne@messengermountainnews.com

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