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Santa Monica Mountains Brings $17 Million in Tourism, Says Report

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Now here's a reason for L.A. politicians to finally pay attention to the unfinished Core Trail plan, which would giver hikers and equestrians the right-of-way along Mulholland Drive through the city (are you listening Sierra Club member Paul Koretz?). A report released today by the National Parks Conservation Association says visitors drawn to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area--it spans 153,000 acres from Runyon Canyon to the Santa Monica Pier and Point Mugu--spent more than $17 million in 2008.

In all, national parks in California supported 27,971 jobs and saw more than 34 million visits. Non-local visitor spending topped $1 billion. Locally, student programs yielded 14,500 volunteer hours from 2,200 Los Angeles and Ventura County high school students who worked to restore native plants threatened by invasive species. That saved $260,000.

The report focuses on the economic benefits of restoring natural lands, via job creation which in turn results in increased tourism as more spaces open to the public. The report cites a $200,000 contract to a local company that is restoring a 40-acre plot and the creation of six jobs plus a crew of California Conservation Corps workers dedicated to rehabilitating 550 acres that burned in 2007.

Southern California is said to be one of climate change's first stops and with that comes an unnatural amount of wildfires, costing hundreds of millions.