The Other Parkland Plan: Rim Of The Valley Corridor
The Jan.-Feb. 2012 issue of the Southern Sierran profiled a study of the San Gabriel Mountains as the centerpiece of a new national parkland. Here’s another area under consideration that puts valley areas on a similar track.
There’s another national parkland plan for a mountain corridor surrounding the San Fernando, La Crescenta, Santa Clarita, Simi, and Conejo valleys. The study of the Rim of the Valley Corridor, as its known, started in 2010 and will have the final report to Congress in 2014.
How does this new study relate to the San Gabriel National Recreation Area study? Each was authorized through separate legislation at different times and for different geographic areas. But the basic purpose of each study is the same: to determine whether any study areas are eligible to be designated as a unit of the national park system.
The Rim of the Valley Corridor study would include the Verdugo Mountains, the Santa Susana Mountains, the Simi Hills and the La Crescenta valley area. Many scoping comments underscored the need for conservation of wildlife corridors. The study is seen as a significant opportunity to enhance ecological connectivity to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. The connections would link the Santa Monica Mountains, the Simi Hills, the Santa Susana Mountains and the Los Padres National Forest across the Santa Clara River. Corridor connections could improve the survival rates of mountain lions and other species throughout the region.
Least Bell’s vireo, California coastal gnatcatcher, California condors, and southern steelhead trout are species present in the corridor. Burrowing owls, ring-tailed cats and jackrabbits have also been seen in the area.
Natural resources such as foothill canyons, which provide a buffer between the Angeles National Forest and the urban areas from La Crescenta to Altadena, are important for access, drainage and wildlife.
In the San Fernando Valley area, the Chatsworth Reservoir, O’Melveny Park (second largest city park in L.A. after Griffith Park) and Sepulveda Basin (wetland area, migratory stop for birds) act as a buffer too. The Santa Susana Mountains cover the Santa Clarita Woodlands, including East and Bee canyons. They contain a unique mix of conifer, oaks, ash, and walnuts. Vasquez Rocks/ Agua Dulce (Pacific Crest Trail route is a wildlife crossing) is within the Santa Clarita Valley area.
There also are many cultural resources within this area: Griffith Park, Santa Clarita Woodlands, Beale’s Cut, Butterfield Stage route, Jet Propulsion Lab, Mt. Wilson Trail, Chantry Flats, Tujunga Canyon, Placerita Canyon, and Mt. Lowe and its Echo Mountain Railway.
Aside from the wildlife and ecosystem benefits, the area provides good recreational use too. Many supporters of the Rim of the Valley Corridor plan favor a multi-use (hiking, biking and equestrian) continuous trail system throughout the study area. Others want trails split between those users to avoid conflict, and still others seek an overall increase in the number of trails, including neighborhood trailheads. Of special concern is the need to provide access to parks and
open space for all people to improve quality of life and have healthy connections between people and nature.
Mary Patterson is an Angeles Chapter outings leader who lives in Granada Hills.