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The historic Rim of the Valley Corridor may be soon be added to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area if a U.S. Senate Energy Committee subcommittee moves to approve legislation authored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California).

In a legislative hearing set for Aug. 15, the Energy Committee’s Subcommittee on National Parks will consider S.1993, the Rim of the Valley Corridor Preservation Act, which would adjust the National Recreation Area’s boundaries to include the “Rim of the Valley Unit” and remove the area from future development.

Introduced Oct. 19, 2017, the legislation would also add any lands or interests acquired by the Department of Interior and located within its boundaries to the recreation area.

The Unit would then be under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Interior, which “may acquire only through exchange, donation or purchase from a willing seller any nonfederal land within the boundaries of the Rim of the Valley Unit.”

Current property owners, rights-of-way owned by non-Federal entities and the operation of water resource facilities within the Unit boundaries would not be affected, according to the legislation.

The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area was authorized as a unit of the National Park System on Nov. 10, 1978.

The Santa Monica Mountains and the Rim of the Valley Corridor include nationally significant resources and outstanding examples of geologic history such as the evolution of the Transverse Ranges Province, the bill’s text reads.

Photo: Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel

The Rim of the Valley Corridor has a diversity of well-preserved marine and terrestrial paleontological resources, and high biodiversity, including outstanding examples of native grasslands, coastal sage scrub, chaparral, dry coniferous forests and alluvial fan sage scrub.

The area also includes nationally significant cultural resources that represent a wide range of themes related to human use and settlement in the region, including high concentrations of archeological resources that provide insight into more than 10,000 years of Native American history, and landmarks that represent topics such as architecture, recreation and space exploration.

Expanding the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area would provide new opportunities for the National Park Service to serve a broad range of urban communities, including many that are underrepresented in national parks and underserved by state and local parks, according to the legislation.

If the Energy Committee’s Subcommittee on National Parks approves the bill, and the full Senate eventually passes it, the Interior Department would have three years to update the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and Santa Monica Mountains Zone boundary map (numbered 80,047–C and dated August 2001) and general management plan by renaming it the “Rim of the Valley Unit—Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.”

Subject to valid existing rights, the Secretary of the Interior shall administer the Rim of the Valley Unit and any land or interest in land acquired by the United States and located within its boundaries as part of the recreation area in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.

This is the latest attempt by lawmakers to preserve the Rim of the Valley Corridor. U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California) co-authored the “Rim of the Valley Preservation Act” in June 2016, but it failed.

Schiff and U.S. Rep. Steve Knight (R-Antelope Valley) also attempted to jump-start the Corridor’s protection with H.R. 4086, introduced in October 2017, but as of May, the bill was stalled in committee.

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