The Greenbelt faces possible development
Part II: by Wendy Langhans
The Greenbelt is the area that separates the Santa Clarita Valley from the San Fernando Valley. Last week, I wrote about the reasons it is considered an open space of state-wide significance and how, because of pressure from developers, the Greenbelt is “in play”. As a reminder of the role played by the Greenbelt:
- It contains the wildlife corridor between the San Gabriel and the Santa Susana Mountains.
- It is part of the upper watershed for both the Los Angeles River and the Santa Clara River.
- It is part of California history; for example, Beale’s Cut has been designated a California Point of Historic Interest.
- It provides an important natural buffer between the Los Angles megalopolis and the growing Santa Clarita Valley.
Newhall Refining/Hondo Oil
This area consists of the open space between the SR 14 and the Sierra Highway. It contains the Los Pinetos undercrossing, the ONLY passage between the San Gabriel mountains and the Newhall wedge. If this section is developed, it will sever the wildlife corridor.
Elsmere Canyon is located south of SR 14 and west of Whitney Canyon. In March, the MRCA accepted a donation of 400 acres of land in Elsmere Canyon from Allied Waste, parent company of Browning-Ferris Industries. But that’s only about 1/3 of the 1,125 acres in Elsmere Canyon that are privately held. Currently, there are plans to build “luxury estates” throughout the remaining open space. Elsmere canyon contains riparian habitat, which is defined as the area adjacent to streams or riverbanks. It is some of our most productive habitat; 25% of California’s land mammals depend upon riparian habitat. Unfortunately, only 3-5% of the original riparian habitat remains undeveloped in Southern California.
What you can do.
Vote. There is currently a ballot measure before the voters in the City of Santa Clarita to create an Open Space Preservation District, which would provide funding to purchase additional open space in the Greenbelt and increase the likelihood of receiving matching fund from other government agencies. In the Engineer’s report, the City has identified 5 key areas for potential acquisition that support the Greenbelt’s key ecological functions. That is one of many reasons why the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy supports the measure.
As citizens, you can also attend county and city planning meetings, to encourage ecologically sound and enlightened decision making. Pat Modugno, for example, is both a Santa Clarita Valley resident and a commissioner with the county Regional Planning Commission. As Thomas Jefferson once wrote, "Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government;... whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights."
Our next Full Moon Hike is at Towsley Canyon on Friday, June 29, from 7:30-9:30 PM. Towsley Canyon is located on The Old Road, 1/4 mile south of the Calgrove exit off the I-5.
You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on "The Hike Report", brought to you by your hometown radio station KHTS (AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.
For our complete hike and activity schedule and for trail maps, go to www.LAMountains.com.