Saying a study of the Rim of the Valley Corridor's future is months overdue and stuck in "bureaucratic limbo," three local members of
The letter, addressed to National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis, was sent late last month.
The study of the corridor — which includes the mountains encircling the San Fernando, La Crescenta, Santa Clarita, Simi and Conejo valleys of Los Angeles and Ventura counties — was mandated by Congress in 2008. According to the National Park Service website, the study is intended to determine whether any portion of the area is eligible to be designated as a national park or added to an existing national park.
The study, which was due for release in 2014, is also supposed to look into ways that private or government groups can protect resources and provide more outdoor recreational opportunities.
"We've gotten continually moving timetables from the parks service: First it was December, then January, then February — it just keeps slipping," Schiff said in a telephone interview last week. "It sounds like it's just sitting there gathering dust."
April Slayton, spokesperson for the National Park Service, said the agency is conducting 31 special resource studies across the U.S.
"Each of these studies requires multiple levels of careful review to ensure that it reflects a complete picture about the site's history, significance and suitability for inclusion in the National Park Service," she said in an email. The Rim of the Valley study "is moving through this standard process. The National Park Service appreciates the community and congressional interest.... Once the report is finalized, it will be released for public review."
A preliminary report, issued in 2012, said the area has nationally significant features, "including outstanding examples of geologic resources, paleontological resources, biodiversity, as well as a culturally rich, long history of human use as evidenced by nationally significant cultural resources."
But the trio of lawmakers contend in their letter that since those preliminary findings, "the park service has repeatedly missed its own deadlines for the next stage of this process."
"This is a generational opportunity to preserve some of the magnificent hills around us and the wildlife that go with it," Schiff said. "Because once that's gone, it's gone for good."
In addition to releasing the draft report immediately, the representatives also requested a release date for the final report, stating it should be no later than March 13.
"The preservation of the lands included in the resource study is of great importance to the people" of Southern California, the letter says. "We are committed to ensuring that these lands are protected for generations to come, and the National Park Service plays a vital role in achieving this in a timely manner."