For Immediate Release
Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Contact: Patrick Boland, Tess Whittlesey
Rep. Schiff and Senator Boxer Introduce Rim of the Valley Corridor Preservation Act in Congress. Would Add 193,000 Acres to Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) and Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) announced they will be introducing the Rim of the Valley Corridor Preservation Act. This landmark legislation would add more than 193,000 acres of the Rim of the Valley Corridor to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA). The Rim of the Valley stretches from the Simi Hills and Santa Susannas, the Verdugos and on to the San Gabriel Mountains.
In 2008, Congressman Schiff passed the Rim of the Valley Corridor Study Act. This bill directed the National Park Service (NPS) to conduct a special resource study of the Rim of the Valley Corridor. The study sought to determine the suitability and feasibility of designating all or a portion of the Rim of the Valley Corridor as a unit of the existing Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA), and how these areas could be better managed and preserved.
The National Park Service began the study in 2010 and transmitted its final report to Congress and the public in February 2016. Throughout the process, both NPS and Congressman Schiff solicited and considered thousands of comments from the public.
“The Rim of the Valley is the critical bridge between the urban city centers and suburbs in the Los Angeles basin and the spectacular wilderness beyond, and our bill would help protect these lands for generations to come,” said Rep. Schiff. “As more of this area is developed and open space diminishes, the wildlife it support is increasingly at risk. Congress has the power to preserve the Rim of the Valley for generations to come, but we must act quickly, or the opportunity will be gone.”
“The Santa Monica Mountains are one of California’s greatest treasures,” Senator Boxer said. “I am proud to join Congressman Schiff in introducing this bill, which will protect an additional 193,000 acres of wild and beautiful lands in the Rim of the Valley Corridor for current and future generations to enjoy.”
The Rim of the Valley Corridor Preservation Act would expand the SMMNRA to include many, but not all, of the land included in the study. The lands included within the expansion will be known as the Rim of the Valley Unit. The bill will enable NPS and the local community to better protect natural resources and habitats, and provide members of the community with improved access to nature for recreational and educational purposes.
It will provide NPS with the authority to:
· Implement capital improvements (i.e. trails, roads, facilities for public enjoyment)
· Monitor and study wildlife and ecosystems
· Participate in cooperative conservation and recreation planning
· Provide technical assistance for resource protection and recreation planning
· Contribute financially to projects that protect important natural resources
· Acquire land through donation, exchange, or purchase from will sellers; directly manage NPS lands
The expansion of the SMMNRA boundaries respects private property rights and existing local land use authorities. It will not require a land owner to participate in any conservation or recreation activities, and it will not put any additional restrictions on property owners. The bill does not allow for land acquisition through eminent domain.
To view a map of the proposed expansion under the Rim of the Valley Corridor Preservation Act, click here. To view the fact sheet about the legislation, click here.
National Park Service Letter of Transmittal to Congress – Final Rim of the Valley Corridor Special Resource Study and Environmental Assessment
Rep. Schiff Applauds Park Service Releasing Final Rim of the Valley Report – Recommends Adding 170,000 Acres to Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area – Schiff Will Work on Legislation with Community in Coming Months
Washington, DC – Today, [Feb. 16, 2016], the National Park Service (NPS) released its final report on the Rim of the Valley Corridor Special Resources Study, which examined the possibility of expanding the boundary of Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) to include the Rim of the Valley Corridor. The report recommends a significant expansion of the existing recreation area, and has been delivered to Congress and the public.
After legislation sponsored by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) passed in 2008 authorizing the Interior Department to examine the feasibility of increasing the size of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area by encompassing part or all of this corridor and preserve it within our National Park system was signed into law, today’s report is the next step towards the process of preserving the Rim of the Valley Corridor for future generations. In their report, the Park Service recommended expanding the existing SMMNRA boundary to include significant portions of the study area, more than doubling the SMMNRA. Its objectives are to protect natural resources and habitats and provide people with better access to nature for recreational and educational purposes. It also authorizes the Park Service to provide technical assistance to the community.
The Park Service recommended adding 170,000 acres to the SMMNRA to bring the total to 323,000 acres. Now that the Park Service has delivered its final report, Congressman Schiff will work with the community and stakeholders to determine what should be included in the final legislation to make the expansion a reality.
Schiff commented: “In 2008, Congress passed legislation I authored to study expanding the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area to include the land known as the Rim of the Valley Corridor. After the study was funded, the National Park Service (NPS) began the long process of assessing its suitability for inclusion. The NPS today released its report – the Rim of the Valley Corridor Special Resource Study and Environmental Assessment – and recommended to Congress that the unit be substantially expanded. This is a significant milestone in the very long journey to protect and preserve this vast and amazing open space.
“The broad recommendation from the Park Service would more than double the size of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and include much of the study area originally laid out by Congress. Such an expansion will enable the National Park Service, local governments, and private citizens to better preserve green space and increase access to recreational opportunities for our urban and suburban communities. I applaud the Park Service for embracing a vision of an expanded recreation area to preserve this wonderful natural landscape. I wish, however, that the Park Service went even further in some of the areas as was clearly the hope of the many thousands of constituents who submitted public comment and advocated for an even bigger park, as provided for in Alternative D of the Park Service’s draft report.
“Now that we have the completed study in hand, we will move forward with the work of crafting legislation to make the park expansion a reality. I look forward to continuing to consult with the community and stakeholders as we pursue our shared goal of preserving the natural resources in our area for generations to come.”
In 2008, Congress passed Rep. Schiff’s bill directing the National Park Service to conduct a special resource study to determine the feasibility of providing federal protection to the Rim of the Valley Corridor – an area which stretches from the existing Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, through the Simi Hills and Santa Susanas, Verdugos, and on to the San Gabriel Mountains. The study explored whether any portion of the Rim of the Valley study area was eligible to become a unit of a national park system or added to an existing one, and how the resources could be protected and best utilized by the public.
In the spring of 2015, the National Park Service released its draft report, and offered four alternatives – Alternatives A through D – and opened up the conversation for public comment. In their draft report, the Park Service designated Alternative C the preferred alternative. Alternative A would result in a continuation of current management, and thus no action. Alternative B would authorize the SMMNRA to create partnerships within the study area, but result in no boundary adjustments; NPS involvement would come in the form of technical assistance and cooperative partnerships to establish an interconnected system of parks, habitat and open space. Alternative C would expand the SMMNRA boundary to include areas within the Rim of the Valley study area and focus on areas closest to dense urban populations for the purposes of connecting people to parks; it would include the full range of NPS tools and authorities to protect habitats, provide access to recreation and education, and provide NPS technical assistance and capital improvements. Finally, Alternative D would expand the boundaries set forth in Alternative C to include more resource and wildlife protections.
In response to the draft report, approximately 1800 members of the public, government agencies, organizations and other institutions submitted their comments to both the NPS and Congressman Schiff’s office. The comments were overwhelmingly in favor of Alternative D – the most expansive of the alternatives. Last year, Schiff and other Members of Congress urged the Park Service to adopt alternative D in their final report. In their letter to the NPS, the Members wrote: “[The] Los Angeles congressional delegation colleagues have joined together to support Alternative D — a more expansive option that will provide for more connections between urban populations and nature and better wildlife habitat protection. If we don’t act now to preserve these wildlife corridors, they will be gone for good and, along with them, a lot of what we love about Los Angeles.”
The final report recommended another alternative, which combined parts of previous alternatives C and D. A map of the recommendation can be found below, and can be examined online here along with the final report:
Representative Schiff encourages the public to share their thoughts with him regarding the final report via email at SchiffROTV@mail.house.gov.
Rep. Schiff and Members of Los Angeles Delegation Urge Park Service to Embrace Broadest Alternative in Final Rim of the Valley Report
Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) along with six members of the Los Angeles Congressional Delegation, sent a letter to the National Park Service (NPS) regarding its recently released draft report on the Rim of the Valley Special Resources Study. The study examined the possibility of expanding the boundary of Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) to include the Rim of the Valley Corridor.
The letter commends NPS’s proposed enlargement of the existing SMMNRA to include areas in Alternative C of the draft report, which mainly focused on the connection between urban communities and open space. However, the letter urges NPS to expand the boundary even further, by adopting Alternative D which would include additional land and wildlife corridors in the expansion. The letter was sent by Reps. Schiff, Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park), Tony Cardenas (D-San Fernando), Ted Lieu (D-Los Angeles), Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks), Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles), and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Los Angeles).
“Since the public comment period has been open, the vast majority of my constituents have come out in support of the broadest possible preservation of these natural resources,” said Schiff. “That’s why we feel that Alternative C does not go far enough. My Los Angeles congressional delegation colleagues and I have joined together to support Alternative D — a more expansive option that will provide for more connections between urban populations and nature and better wildlife habitat protection. If we don’t act now to preserve these wildlife corridors, they will be gone for good and, along with them, a lot of what we love about Los Angeles.”
The full letter can be read below:
We write to provide our view of the National Park Service’s draft report of the Rim of the Valley Corridor Special Resources Study. We are pleased that the Study’s draft report supports such a significant expansion of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA), but we believe that the Park Service should take on a more expansive vision for the Rim of the Valley area, and feel that a larger addition would be more beneficial for the community and region as a whole.
As the draft report has conveyed so effectively, the Rim of the Valley Corridor contains nationally significant resources which should be added to the SMMNRA. The area has a rich geologic history and high levels of biodiversity, and is an important resource for hiking, education, and recreation for an urban population that is surrounded by the concrete jungle of freeways and parking lots.
In 2013, after the National Park Service (NPS) released its preliminary findings and alternatives, many members of the Los Angeles delegation joined in urging NPS to creative a hybrid alternative, which would focus on both connecting urban communities to open space (Alternative C) and connecting natural habitats (Alternative D). This hybrid alternative would provide comprehensive preservation of the region’s mountain ranges and trail systems and maintain habitat connectivity, thereby ensuring that the objectives of the two alternatives are realized.
In the Study’s draft report, released in April 2015, an updated and slightly modified Alternative C was designated NPS’s preferred alternative. If implemented, this boundary expansion would be a significant improvement over the status quo. However, we remain steadfast in our belief that a boundary expansion of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area should also include areas which have significant implications for wildlife and habitats. Therefore, we strongly support the draft report’s revised Alternative D—a more expansion option, which includes all of the land within Alternative C, as well as additional land in the western portion of the study area, land north of the Angeles National Forest, and two wildlife corridors which would connect the study area to the Los Padres National Forest and the northern portion of the Angeles National Forest. These wildlife corridors are of particular importance to the constituents who have contacted us, as they are crucial for linking habitats. Alternative D is the alternative in the draft report that best reflects our support for a hybrid alternative that would improve both urban and habitat connectivity.
The population in Los Angeles will continue to grow, and our nation’s precious natural resources and open space are increasingly threatened by human activities and expansion. We must act now to create a framework to preserve as much of the Rim of the Valley Corridor as possible, so Angelenos will reap the benefits of nature for generations to come.
Once again, we are very pleased that NPS is supportive of expanding federal protection to the Rim of the Valley Study Area and are encouraged that NPS is so receptive to incorporating the wishes of the community.
City of Los Angeles Mayor, Eric Garcetti’s Letter of Support for Alternative D.