[NPS] – The National Park Service released the final Rim of the Valley Corridor Special Resource Study on Tuesday. The study includes a recommendation to add 170,000 acres to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
The purpose of the congressionally authorized study is to determine: (1) the suitability and feasibility of designating all or a portion of the corridor as a unit of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area; and (2) the methods and means for the protection and interpretation of this corridor by the National Park Service, other federal, state, or local government entities, or private or non-profit organizations.
“We are pleased to release the final recommendations for the Rim of the Valley Corridor Special Resource Study. Expanding Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area would provide one of the most densely populated areas in the United States better access to open space and recreational opportunities, as well as increase protection of ecological connections for wildlife,” said Martha J. Lee, Acting Regional Director of the National Park Service’s Pacific West Region.
The study evaluated approximately 650,000 acres of land, including the mountains encircling the San Fernando, La Crescenta, Santa Clarita, Simi, and Conejo Valleys in southern California. Lands within the study area include the existing 153,000-acre Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and 180,000 acres of land managed by the U.S. Forest Service as part of the Angeles National Forest and San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. Numerous state and local agencies and conservation organizations also manage lands within the study area. Land use is diverse with large natural areas, parks and recreation areas, suburban communities, farms and ranches, highly urbanized areas, freeways, and an array of public infrastructure.
The National Park Service’s final study recommendation, or “selected alternative,” is essentially a combination of possible alternatives proposed in the Rim of the Valley Corridor Draft Special Resource Study and Environmental Assessment released in April 2015. The selected alternative would add portions of the Los Angeles River and Arroyo Seco corridors, the Verdugo Mountains-San Rafael Hills, the San Gabriel Mountains foothills, the Simi Hills, the Santa Susana Mountains, and the Conejo Mountain area to the national recreation area. Existing parks such as Griffith Park, Hansen Dam Recreation Area, Sepulveda Basin (recreation areas and wildlife reserve), Los Encinos State Historic Park, Debs Park, El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, and Los Angeles State Historic Park would serve as major portals into the Rim of the Valley Corridor area. The recommended area does not include any areas of the Angeles National Forest or San Gabriel Mountains National Monument.
The expanded area would further contribute to the high biodiversity of the Santa Monica Mountains with functioning wildlife corridors. Exceptional public enjoyment opportunities in the expanded area include historic and archeological sites, geologic and paleontological resources, highly scenic landscapes, thousands of acres of open space and recreation areas, and miles of trails.
The recommended 170,000-acre addition to Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area would extend the park’s partnership-based management approach, which recognizes the area’s complex mix of land uses, ownership patterns, and regulatory authorities. The National Park Service would also provide technical assistance to surrounding local communities, agencies, and private landowners to maintain habitat connectivity, protect significant resources, and plan for new parks and trails.
Implementation of the selected alternative would require congressional legislation. Final study documents are available at http://www.nps.gov/pwro/rimofthevalley.