Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) announced on Wednesday they have introduced legislation that would protect more than 191,000 acres of open space in their districts.
Schiff met with about 40 of his constituents at Brand Park in Glendale on Wednesday to talk about the second iteration of the Rim of the Valley Corridor Preservation Act, which, if approved, would allow local agencies to use federal resources to maintain, improve and preserve many parks, hiking trails and mountain ranges used by the public.
The Rim of the Valley Corridor includes the mountains surrounding several valleys in Southern California, such as the San Fernando, Simi, Santa Clarita, La Crescenta and Conejo valleys, as well as some parts of the San Gabriel Valley foothills. The legislation would add these lands to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
"The goal with the legislation is to enable local landowners, local governments and interested stakeholders to better utilize federal resources to preserve this beautiful ecosystem for generations to come, as well as improving access to recreational and educational opportunities," Schiff said. "This is a truly once-in-a-lifetime chance to protect this beautiful open space. By expanding the national recreation area, the National Park Service will have the authority to implement capital improvements."
Schiff has been working to protect this open space since the early 2000s. In 2008, Congress passed the Rim of the Valley Corridor Study Act, in which the National Park Service conducted a survey in 2010 to determine if it was suitable to include all or parts of the Rim of the Valley Corridor to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, which is currently about 154,000 acres.
The National Park Service completed and submitted its report to Congress in February 2016. The following June, Schiff and then Sen. Barbara Boxer introduced the first Rim of the Valley Corridor Preservation Act in Congress, but the legislation ultimately failed.
During a brief hike up the hills at Brand Park with his constituents on Wednesday, Schiff said the new bill would benefit Burbank and Glendale by providing the resources that local agencies need to maintain the trails and open space used, or not used, by those living in or visiting his district.
"It'll mean that those wildlife corridors are better positioned to be preserved, any recreational opportunities can be enhanced with better maintenance of the trails and better facilities," Schiff said. "It will just further their enjoyment of the natural beauty around them. Even if they don't patronize the parks, they still enjoy having them there."
Schiff added that, although there are other pressing issues that he is dealing with in Washington, D.C., this is the right time to bring the Rim of the Valley legislation forward.
"We worked on some issues to make sure that we were aligned in the House and Senate, and we are, so I think we've removed some of the final impediments to moving forward," Schiff said. "We're optimistic."