More than a decade ago, former Representative Hilda Solis and I introduced parallel pieces of legislation to preserve open space, manage unique ecosystems, and provide recreational opportunities in Southern California. My bill, the Rim of the Valley Corridor Study Act, authorized the National Park Service (NPS) to study the possibility of providing federal protection to the Rim of the Valley, an area stretching from the existing Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) through the Simi Hills and Santa Susannas, the Verdugos, and on to the San Gabriel Mountains. The other would do the same for the San Gabriel River Watershed and Mountains.
Both bills were signed into law by President George W. Bush and share the goal of ensuring that future generations of Southern Californians are able to make recreational use of our region’s beautiful rivers and Mediterranean landscape, obtaining an understanding of the rich tableau of animals and plants that populate the area, and preserving rare ecosystems and wildlife corridors.
We’re now entering a critical period. Thousands of residents have weighed in with almost unanimous support for park protection for the Rim of the Valley. Similarly, in the San Gabriel Valley, support for a new park was overwhelming.
The NPS recently completed their report on the San Gabriel study. Disappointingly, it recommended only a very small sliver of the study area for park protection. Within a few months, NPS will issue its draft report on the Rim of the Valley study area. When it does, it will be essential for the public to weigh in and avoid a similarly narrow vision and recommendation in its final analysis.
Earlier this year, I hosted a forum to hear from members of the community about what type of national park they would like to see and also to share with them my thoughts on where we are in the process. Almost two hundred residents attended to voice their opinions on the need to preserve open space and how this can best be accomplished.
This input must continue. I would particularly encourage residents to share their views on where the boundaries of the Rim of the Valley Park should be and what form it should take. Should there be a new sub-unit of the Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area, a brand new and separate park, or should some areas of the Rim of the Valley be included in a San Gabriel Park? You can reach my office anytime at (818) 450-2900,or (323) 315-5555, or write to me at http://schiff.house.gov.
It will ultimately be up to Congress to enact legislation to protect open space in the region on the basis of both reports, and to achieve the shared vision that was the inspiration for our legislation more than a decade ago. I hope you will help me and my colleague, Representative Judy Chu, in crafting that legislation.