[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Cloudy
Cloudy
70°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
July 21
2009 - Castaic resident Gidget, the Taco Bell commercial Chihuahua, dies at 15 after major stroke [story]


U.S. Rep. Steve Knight introduced legislation Wednesday that would place nearly 70,000 acres above Castaic Lake into “wilderness” and declare the St. Francis Dam site in San Francisquito Canyon a national monument.

Knight’s HR 3153, the “Saint Francis Dam Disaster National Memorial and Castaic Wildness Act,” would place 69,812 acres currently under U.S. Forest Service management into the National Wilderness Preservation System.

Under federal law, “wilderness” is defined as “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man” and where nobody lives. It generally “provides outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation;” and it “may also contain ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, scenic, or historical value.”

Hiking, horseback riding, climbing, hunting, fishing, bird watching and several other activities are allowed, but homes, commercial enterprises, roads, motorized vehicles, and “mechanized” vehicles such as bicycles are not.

Nonetheless, the borders of the proposed wilderness area have been drawn in such a way that several trails currently used by mountain bikers are left just outside of the perimeter, and the bill specifies that uses not allowed in a wilderness area are allowed to abut it.

al3030_largeBordering the eastern edge of the proposed wilderness, which stretches from Castaic on the west to San Francisquito Canyon, is the site of the former St. Francis Dam. Part of the city of L.A.’s water system, the dam impounded 12.5 billion gallons of the L.A.’s drinking water until it broke just before midnight on March 12, 1928. The subsequent flood killed an estimated 431 people from Saugus to the Pacific Ocean, where the floodwaters emptied 5.5 hours later.

The dam site is a California historic landmark but has not been federally recognized even though the dam disaster affected communities and changed the way dams were built across the country.

Knight’s bill would designate 440 acres in the canyon as the St. Francis Dam National Monument to be administered by the National Park Service, and create a commission to figure out “how best to commemorate” the disaster.

“It is important to educate the public and honor the individuals who perished in the St. Francis Dam Disaster,” Knight, R-Palmdale, said in a statement. “This memorial site is a high priority for the Santa Clarita Valley, and I am proud to be part of the effort to make it happen.”

HR 3153 is cosponsored by Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Westlake Village, who represents the Ventura County portions of the St. Francis Dam floodpath.

Knight’s predecessor, Rep. Buck McKeon, introduced a bill (also cosponsored by Brownley) that would have memorialized the dam victims, but it came late in McKeon’s final term in Congress and stopped short of designating a national monument.

The idea to pursue federal recognition for the dam disaster came about four years ago when Dr. Alan Pollack, president of the SCV Historical Society, visited the Johnstown Flood National Memorial in Pennsylvania where more than 2,000 people were killed in an 1889 dam break.

gr0841“Then I started reading about Johnstown and I came to realize there were so many similarities between that disaster and this one,” Pollack said. “You had a dam that was poorly constructed, you have this big tragedy happen, hundreds of people dying, whole families … and that’s what we had here.

“There was one glaring difference between the two disasters,” Pollack said. “In Johnstown, they had a national memorial, visitor center, documentary film – and the St. Francis Dam has nothing. So I figured, why not try to do this with the St. Francis Dam?”

Pollack recruited Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel, president of the Santa Clara River Watershed Conservancy and executive director of the Community Hiking Club, to rally support in Washington.

“I am delighted that Congressman Knight has introduced this wonderful bill,” Erskine-Hellrigel said. “It has been 87 years since the Saint Francis Disaster. Families have waited long enough for their loved ones to be memorialized, and Congressman Knight has accepted this challenge. Not only has he worked hard to give these families closure, but he is protecting the last available pristine wilderness in the district for generations to come.”

Added Assemblyman Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita: “Many thanks to Congressman Steve Knight for his foresight in protecting 69,000 acres of pristine wilderness for generations to come, and for having the federal government acknowledge the greatest civil engineering tragedy in the United States, the Saint Francis Dam failure. This memorial will honor those that had fallen and will help bring closure to friends and families.”

Read the bill text [here].

Find more about the St. Francis Dam Disaster at [SFDMonument.com].

 

Jessica Boyer of Hometownstation.com contributed to this story.

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

14 Comments

  1. Great story. Thank you. If this area becomes wilderness, nothing mechanized will be permitted within the boundaries of the wilderness. That being said, we are not closing any roads. Cienega canyon will remain open to bicycles, all fire road s will remain open, and there are new multi-use trails that will soon be available for multi-use in the area by the county. In addition, our boundary lines have been adjusted for additional OHV recreation that will go from Bear Canyon, above the potential wilderness, all the way to Riverside. This is also a county project.

  2. One of the great things about this bill is that it will protect Native American habitation sites, cupules, petroglyphs, and burial grounds. The area is filled with wonderful pieces of history left behind by the Native American inhabitants. The area was inhabited by numerous bands of Tataviam.

  3. Tony Arnold says:

    The proposed St. Francis Dam Monument will be a nice addition to our community and it’s great to see this proposed as a Monument.

    The Wilderness proposal is very disappointing. Having been on some of the land proposed for Wilderness on hikes, bicycle adventures and motorcycles, it’s evident that at least a substantial portion doesn’t qualify as Wilderness under the federal Wilderness Act. In addition, as the article mentions, designating this land as Wilderness forever shuts out bicycles and all other mechanized activity. It forever drastically impacts how we manage this land and eliminates many recreational uses for land that’s so close to Santa Clarita and Los Angeles.

    As an avid off-road bicycle rider, I am deeply disappointed in Representative Knight for introducing such sweeping, limiting and draconian legislation with little or no input from current and potential users of the land. This bill will likely pass through Congress un-noticed and it will impact few today. Unfortunately in the coming years it will impact the region in ways not yet imagined.

    For those that love strict federal government control of public lands and restricting access from so many users and user groups, this Bill is a win. This application is an abuse of the Wilderness Act and a disappointing early sign of Representative Knight’s concern for all of his constituents and his willingness to place so much control of local land in DC.

  4. Tessa Lucero says:

    So the PCT is basically the north boundary of the proposed national monument?

  5. Ken Raleigh says:

    The St. Francis Dam Monument is a good idea. But designating 70,000 acres of land so near to our community as Wilderness deserves more public input. Congressman McKeon held a town hall meeting on this very issue that was well attended and at which there was SIGNIFICANT opposition. Why no public input something as significant as this?

  6. Ken Raleigh says:

    I think a monument area for the St. Francis Dam disaster is a good idea. However, setting aside 70,000 acres of federal land as a Wilderness is not necessary to honor the St. Francis Dam tragedy. Establishing a Wilderness area of such magnitude in an urban area is deserving of public input and discussion. Congressman McKeon held a Town Hall Meeting on this very issue only a year ago and found that there was SIGNIFICANT opposition to this Wilderness proposal. Why no input from the public on this?

  7. Susan Hall says:

    A memorial would be fine but taking 70k of public land away from the public multiuser is ridiculous! Then only people healthy or rich enough to hike or ride horses can use the land.The disabled are completely left out. Please reconsider.

  8. Roland Wyler says:

    A memorial great very appropriate. A wilderness area no.

  9. Chris w. says:

    This proposal is a disaster in the making it’s self. Putting the lands into wilderness status and under national monument/parks control severely restricts healthy forests management. This area specifically is an annual nightmare of forest fires hence why the majority of it looks like a barren desert. If the historicle society wants a memorial they already have one in Santa Paula fix that one up and buy a building with the capacity to hold museum artifacts. If there truly is enough interest to keep it open then let god provide.
    As for the wilderness again the issues are access for fire management, access for OHV routes, Acesss for Mt.Bikers, hunters and fisherman. We are the people LIVING today that do not need another restriction to our favorite activities because of some past generations bad choices. Don’t make another bad choice here say no to the monument

  10. John Horning says:

    This proposed legislation is more bad legislation. A “Wilderness” designation of any PUBLIC national forest land is simply a tool to curtail use and access.
    There were a number of “Town Hall” type meetings that I attended. From what I saw at these meetings was opposition to a Wilderness designation. I think most of the people attending were all for equal access. These lands don’t just belong to hikers, or horseback riders, or mountain bikers – they belong to everyone.
    Since the National Forrest areas belong to the public and are supported by taxpayer dollars, then I feel this issue should be voted upon by the very people that support these areas – the PUBLIC!
    We’ve had enough of bad legislation from Washington that restricts more and more of our freedoms. Please don’t compound that with even more bad legislation. Don’t be that guy!

  11. Leon Worden says:

    Why is it that nobody ever seems to want to address one of the most fundamental facts – namely that the proposed wilderness area is riddled with sacred Native American cultural/archaeological/burial sites, a number of which have been desecrated in recent years by motorized and non-motorized vehicles? I truly believe that if we were on the East Coast rather than La-La Land, the federal government would protect them with armed park rangers. Out here, the Forest Service — well, I should probably keep my thoughts about the Forest Service to myself.

  12. John Horning says:

    Saving native american sites and broken dam debris is all well and good within reason. But 70,000 acres? If that’s the case then why not set aside that much area around University High School in Santa Monica? There is a wonderful natural springs there that was used by the Tongva people since the 5th Century BC. It’s called Serra Springs and has been fenced off for protection. Setting aside a memorial area for St. Francis Dam is fine – just make it around the original site. There are memorials already set up at Powerhouse 2, Santa Paula and Ventura. How many more are necessary?

    • SCVNews.com says:

      (1) Under the bill, the Dam Monument and the 70,000-acre Castaic wilderness are two separate things; (2) there is not yet a federal (national park-type) visitors center relating to the dam disaster, which this bill might lead to.

  13. Chris Johnson says:

    The St. Francis Dam disaster monument area is a good idea. The designation of 70,000 acres of federal land as a Wilderness is not. Wilderness areas are severely restrictive to citizens, and the rules for permitted users are based on emotion, not empirical evidence. The constituents of U.S. Rep. Steve Knight, Assemblyman Scott Wilk and Rep. Julia Brownley should take political action if this bill is implemented.
    Pass the monument, veto the wilderness.

    Lastly, Scott Wilk is incorrect. The tragedy was not due to civil engineering failure. The dam had been partially built on an ancient landslide site, which shifted under the massive weight of the dam. “Considering the technology available at the time, there was no way…any of the people working on the dam would have known about this gigantic landslide.”

Leave a Comment


SCV NewsBreak
LOCAL NEWS HEADLINES
Friday, Jul 20, 2018
Court: Chiquita Landfill Must Comply with CUP, Pay County $12 Mil.
The L.A. County Superior Court on July 17 sided with Los Angeles County and dismissed a portion of Chiquita Canyon LLC's complaint, which challenged 13 conditions of the county's conditional use permit governing how the landfill operates, Supervisor Kathryn Barger announced Friday.
Friday, Jul 20, 2018
Suspected Van Thieves Crash, Rupture Gas, Water Lines in Valencia
Four men allegedly stole a van and crashed it at Cinema Drive and Valencia Boulevard late Friday afternoon, breaking gas and water lines and snarling rush-hour traffic in the center of the city.
Friday, Jul 20, 2018
SCV Water Board Trims Own Meeting Attendance Pay
The Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency's board of directors voted in its Tuesday meeting to revise its per-diem payment policy for board members attending industry-related meetings and conferences.
Keep Up With Our Facebook

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
2009 - Castaic resident Gidget, the Taco Bell commercial Chihuahua, dies at 15 after major stroke [story]
The L.A. County Superior Court on July 17 sided with Los Angeles County and dismissed a portion of Chiquita Canyon LLC's complaint, which challenged 13 conditions of the county's conditional use permit governing how the landfill operates, Supervisor Kathryn Barger announced Friday.
Court: Chiquita Landfill Must Comply with CUP, Pay County $12 Mil.
Four men allegedly stole a van and crashed it at Cinema Drive and Valencia Boulevard late Friday afternoon, breaking gas and water lines and snarling rush-hour traffic in the center of the city.
Suspected Van Thieves Crash, Rupture Gas, Water Lines in Valencia
The Los Angeles County Arts Commission has announced $4,518,000 in two-year grants to 216 nonprofit arts organizations through its Organizational Grant Program, and the Santa Clarita Philharmonic Orchestra and the Santa Clarita Shakespeare Festival are among the grantees.
Santa Clarita Philharmonic, Shakespeare Festival Win County Arts Grants
The Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency's board of directors voted in its Tuesday meeting to revise its per-diem payment policy for board members attending industry-related meetings and conferences.
SCV Water Board Trims Own Meeting Attendance Pay
College of the Canyons men's basketball player Robert Moss will continue his playing career at University of Saint Katherine after committing to join the Firebirds program.
COC Hoopster Robert Moss Commits to University of Saint Katherine
When wives earn more than their husbands, a puzzling thing can happen: Husbands say they earn more than they are and wives underreport their income, according to new Census Bureau research.
Census Research: Spouses Report Earnings Differently When Wives Earn More
Responding to a booming economy and a generous state budget, administrators on Thursday approved the first tuition decrease for the University of California system in nearly 20 years.
University of California Cuts Tuition for First Time in 20 Years
The William S. Hart Union High School District and Spirit Holding, developers of Castaic High School, will host a community kick-off event on Friday, Aug. 3, from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. celebrating the one-year countdown to the grand opening of the new school, currently under construction.
Aug. 3: ‘Countdown to Castaic High’ Public Celebration
The next meeting of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is set for Tuesday, July 24, starting at 9:30 a.m.
July 24: LA County Board of Supervisors Meeting
The Los Angeles County Health Officer has issued a Heat Alert for Monday, July 23 and Tuesday, July 24, as high temperatures have been forecast for the Santa Clarita Valley.
SCV Heat Alert Called for Monday, Tuesday
The Lancaster JetHawks jumped out to a 4-0 lead, but two late home runs from Stockton's Sandber Pimentel led the Ports to victory in a 5-4 final on Thursday night at Banner Island Ballpark.
Lancaster Can’t Stop Pimentel, Ports
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and Department of Justice have made public the government's plan for the court-ordered reunification of children ages 5 years and older who were separated from their parents by immigration authorities.
Feds Detail Plan to Reunite Immigrant Children with Parents
2001 - Then-Assemblyman George Runner introduces legislation to memorialize the historic Ridge Route. Enacted Oct. 4. [story]
During a press conference on Thursday at the Gerdau steel mill in Rancho Cucamonga, Chief Eric Parra announced the destruction of 3,566 weapons confiscated within in Los Angeles County. This event comes typically in July, in compliance with California Penal Code 18005(c), which calls for weapons unable to be sold to the public or returned to their owners, to be destroyed.
More than 3,500 Weapons Destroyed at Annual Destruction Event
The Summer Art Festival, at the Oaks Club of Valencia, invites you to a fun, free artists’ reception on Saturday, Aug. 11, 5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Aug. 11: Summer Art Festival at Oaks Club
When you think "Advanced Manufacturing," Santa Clarita Valley probably isn't the first thing that comes to mind.
SCV Paves the Way for Advanced Manufacturing
(CN) – Delivering a blow to a Silicon Valley billionaire, the California Supreme Court on Wednesday erased a November ballot measure proposing to divide the Golden State in three.
State Supreme Court Tosses Ballot Measure to Split California in Three
Internationally famous Doña Oxford aka “The Goddess of Soul,” is fronting one of the hottest Blues bands of the 21st century. She has toured all over the world, bringing her amazing keyboard playing and vocals to devoted fans in Europe, Japan, Canada and the United States.
July 20: Valencia Jazz & Blues Series to Feature Doña Oxford
No business is immune from the unthinkable. Workplace violence is an increasingly important topic for organizations of all types.
Aug. 21: Active Shooter Awareness Training at VIA Luncheon
St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish Church is holding their 2nd Annual Summer Night Car Show Friday, Aug. 24 from 6:00 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Aug. 24: St. Kateri 2nd Annual Summer Night Car Show
The Los Angeles County Homeless Initiative and Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority on Thursday launched the Los Angeles Homeless Outreach Portal, dubbed LA-HOP, the new Countywide Web-based portal that channels outreach support to people experiencing homelessness.
County Launches Online Portal to Combat Homelessness
LOS ANGELES - Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) announced Tuesday the company is now offering $75 rebates for residential customers who purchase eligible Energy Star certified smart thermostats that help residents manage their heating and cooling costs and conserve energy.
SoCal Gas Offering Rebates for Customers with Smart Thermostats
STOCKTON – Brian Serven put together one of his best offensive performances of the season to lead the JetHakwks to a 7-2 to win over the Stockton Ports on Wednesday night at Banner Island Ballpark.
Serven Leads JetHawks to Victory in Series Opener Against Stockton
The William S. Hart Union High School District’s Governing Board voted unanimously to approve the appointment of Brad Renison to become the new Director of Transportation. Most recently, Mr. Renison has been serving as the Interim Director of Transportation.
Hart District Names Brad Renison New Transportation Director
LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Dodgers today acquired four-time All-Star shortstop Manny Machado from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for Rylan Bannon, Yusniel Díaz, Dean Kremer, Zach Pop and Breyvic Valera.
Dodgers Acquire 4-Time All-Star Manny Machado
The William S. Hart Union High School District’s Governing Board voted unanimously to approve the appointment of Dr. Catherine Nicholas to become the new principal of Sequoia School.
Hart District Appoints Dr. Catherine Nicholas as New Sequoia School Principal
Welcome to paradise at a high-energy, live show coming up in Santa Clarita’s Concerts in the Park series, presented by Logix Federal Credit Union, this Saturday, July 21, at 7:00 p.m., in Central Park (27150 Bouquet Canyon Road).
July 21: Concerts in the Park to Feature Green Day Tribute Band
SCV Sheriff's Crime Prevention Unit deputies and station detectives have noted an increase in the thefts of catalytic converters from cars in Santa Clarita Valley. The favored target of thieves has been the Toyota Prius (2005-2009).
Deputies Warn of Rise in Catalytic Converter Thefts from Prius Cars
LOS ANGELES – According to the South Coast Air Quality Management District, air quality will be unhealthy Thursday for sensitive individuals in San Gabriel Valley, Santa Clarita Valley and Antelope Valley.
Air Quality Advisory Issued for SCV
Would you like to be a volunteer at beautiful Red Rock Canyon State Park? Learn about the volunteer program and the park’s natural and cultural history at our two-day volunteer training, Saturdays, Sept. 1st and 8th from 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. at the Ricardo Visitor Center (new volunteers must attend both days).
Red Rock Canyon State Park to Hold 2-Day Volunteer Training
The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) announces the scheduled closure of the Tejon Safety Roadside Rest Areas on Interstate 5 (Golden State Freeway) to replace a water main line.
Caltrans Announces Temporary Rest Area Closure on I-5 at Tejon
1924 - Sherman Block, L.A. County's 29th Sheriff (1982-1998), born in Chicago [story]
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputies have arrested a Santa Clarita woman who allegedly spray-painted walls on a city park building in Saugus early Tuesday morning, also discovering she was allegedly in possession of forged checks.
Woman Charged with Defacing Park Building, Check Forgery
The Paramount Network has set Aug. 11 as the premiere date of 'I Am Paul Walker,' a new film documentary tracing the life of the late actor, who was killed in a 2013 car crash in Valencia.
Aug. 11: Paul Walker Film Doc to Debut on Paramount Network
Marston's Restaurant in Valencia is helping raise funds for Carousel Ranch, Santa Clarita Valley nonprofit organization that provides equestrian therapy for disabled and special needs children and adults.
July 15-Aug. 15: Marston’s Restaurant Fundraising for Carousel Ranch