By Wendy Langhans
When you pull out a roadmap of Santa Clarita, you eyes are naturally drawn to the grid of streets and street names. Just where is that new restaurant? How do we get from here to there?
But when I looked at the new South Coast Wildlands map of the wildlife corridors running through Southern California, my eyes were drawn to the Santa Clarita Valley. I recognized the donut-shaped greenbelt surrounding our valley. Du-oh! A donut!
When I was growing up, homemade donuts were a rare treat. Whenever my mom set out a plate of donuts, my father would always give us a big smile and recite this ditty:
Keep your eye upon the donut, and not upon the hole.”
As a child, I thought this was corny beyond belief. But now that I’m a bit older (and perhaps a bit wiser), I’m beginning to see the wisdom of it.
This week South Coast Wildlands released their 2008 “South Coast Missing Linkages” Report, part of a “highly collaborative inter-agency effort to identify and conserve the highest-priority linkages in the South Coast Ecoregion.” For more information, click here. 
Their map identifies three important wildlife corridors that run through the greenbelt surrounding our valley. Wildlife corridors are necessary for the survival of wildlife, allowing day-to-day movement, seasonal migration, gene flow, and re-colonization of an area after a fire. For an overview of these corridors, click here. 
• On the western side of our valley, we the Santa Monica-Sierra Madre connection, which runs south from Piru Lake in the Los Padres Mountains across Hwy 126 and the Santa Clara River and up into the Santa Susana Mountains. Click here for map .
• On the southern side of our valley, we have another part of the Santa Monica-Sierra Madre connection (which they identified by the historical name, the San Fernando Pass). Locally, we know this area as the Newhall Pass, which runs across Hwy 14 and the I-5 and connects the Santa Susana and San Gabriel Mountains. (The Las Lomas development, which was voted down by the LA City Council this past week, would have destroyed this wildlife corridor.)
• On the northern side of our valley, we have the Sierra Madre-Castaic connection, which runs east/west across the I-5 between Pyramid Lake and Castaic Lake. Click here for map. 
• On the eastern side of our valley, we have the San Gabriel - Castaic Connection, which runs south from the Sierra Pelona Mountains through Agua Dulce and Vasquez Rocks, across Hwy 14 and Soledad Canyon and up into the San Gabriel Mountains. Click here for map. 
For those of us who live and work in the Santa Clara Valley, much of our lives are spent in the donut hole, the urban area where we live, work and play. But surrounding that donut hole is the donut, the wild lands that we rely upon for the health of our planet (and ultimately ourselves). As the risk of making a terrible pun, in order to be whole, we need to keep our eye upon the donut, and not just upon the hole.
Upcoming Outdoor Events:
The wildflowers are in bloom! If you only go hiking once a year, these next few weekends are the times to visit Towsley, East/Rice, Whitney or Pico Canyons.
For maps and directions, click here  and scroll down to the “Discover your Parks” section. Sponsored by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.
Spring is a good time to visit Vasquez Rocks, which is owned and operated by the County of Los Angeles.
Directions: heading east on Hwy 14, take the exit at Agua Dulce Canyon Road and turn left at the off ramp. The road makes an abrupt right turn and later an abrupt left turn, but the park entrance is straight ahead at 10700 W. Escondido Canyon Road. For more information call (661) 268-0840.
Saturdays, March 8 and 22, and every Wednesday, 8:00 am. Trail Maintenance Volunteers at Towsley Canyon. Come join our trail maintenance volunteers for camaraderie and a heart-thumping workout. For more information call Steve Ioerger at 661-291-1565 or firstname.lastname@example.org . Sponsored by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.
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 the complete MRCA hike and activity schedule and for trail maps, go to www.LAMountains.com .