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Rim of the Valley gets wide support to become part of the national park system

Study examines putting the mountains encircling the San Fernando, La Crescenta, Santa Clarita, Simi and Conejo valleys under federal protection.

January 09, 2013|By Daniel Siegal, daniel.siegal@latimes.com
  • A fish-eye lens view of Glendale, La Crescenta and the San Gabriel Mountains from the Verdugo Mountains in Glendale.
A fish-eye lens view of Glendale, La Crescenta and the… ( Raul Roa/Staff…)

Nearly all of the more than 5,000 respondents to a proposed plan to add a huge swath of wilderness to the national parks system are in favor the idea, federal officials said.

About 100 of the responses were against putting the so-called Rim of the Valley under federal parks protection, many of them representing groups who fear an extensive trails system could interfere with established activities, such as gun ranges, according to Anne Dove, the study’s project manager.

The proposal could end up putting more than 490,000 acres under federal protection from development and keep the areas open for recreational use.

The so-called Rim of the Valley study contains two preliminary options for adding all or some of the mountains encircling the San Fernando, La Crescenta, Santa Clarita, Simi and Conejo valleys to the national parks system.

One would focus on connecting communities, adding Griffith Park, the Verdugo Mountains and portions of the Los Angeles River. The other would link natural habitats, adding the Simi Hills and Santa Susana Mountains.

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The public comment period on the two options closed this week.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), who sponsored the legislation that created the study, said he was happy the Rim of the Valley area had been recommended for the national parks system, and hoped both options for integration would be tapped.

“The combination of the two of them would be best — maintaining the natural resources of the ecosystems and the wildlife corridors — and at the same time preserving great recreational opportunities for people,” he said.

The study found that the areas under consideration wouldn’t warrant being made their own national park, but contain diverse enough biology and geology to be a valuable addition to the Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area.

The study cites volcanic formations in the Simi Hills Mountains, the rapid growth of the San Gabriel Mountains — as much as 2 inches in height a year — and the role the Verdugo Mountains play as a link for plants and wildlife to surrounding ranges.

In addition to the natural resources, the study also found that the cultural resources in the area — such as the Mount Wilson Observatory, Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Rose Bowl — would add value to the Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area.

If the Rim of the Valley does become part of the national parks system, it would benefit the public, Dove said.

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