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SoCal Could Soon Get A Whole Lot More Protected Park Land

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Dirt Mullholland runs along the edge of the San Fernando Valley. Off in the distance is part of the proposed addition to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. (Jacob Margolis/LAist)
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The House of Representatives today is expected to pass the Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act, a collection of measures that could protect 1.5 million additional acres of wilderness across several states, including California. It’s been endorsed by the Biden administration.

Assuming it does make its way through Congress, Southern Californians will see some of their protected outdoor recreation areas expand in both the San Fernando Valley and the San Gabriel mountains.

SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS

The “Rim of the Valley Corridor Preservation Act,” is one of the measures included in the larger bill. Introduced by Rep. Adam Schiff, it would more than double the size of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, adding an additional 191,000 acres.

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The proposed "Rim of the Valley" addition. (National Park Service)

The National Park Service would participate in managing the lands, which would be given the same protections and benefits afforded to the current Recreation Area. That includes limits on development, and the availability to use federal money for the maintenance of trails, roads, wildlife studies, and the construction of new facilities.

Another hope is that connecting the disparate pieces will also make it easier to establish corridors for wildlife to move from one area to another. It's a well-documented issue, particularly for mountain lions.

Ownership of privately-owned land within the proposed addition would not be affected.

SAN GABRIEL MOUNTAINS

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The “San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act” is also included in the omnibus bill.

Introduced by Rep. Judy Chu, it would establish the 49,000-acre San Gabriel National Recreation area, and expand the boundary of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument by more than 100,000 acres.

“Ours is one of the most park-poor areas in the country, which means that for those that want to access outdoor recreation, the San Gabriel Mountains are one of the only and best options,” said Chu during a press conference on Thursday.

“What it’ll mean is getting more resources to help our areas,” she said.

A Q&A about the legislation can be found here.

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