Environmental activist Ed Begley Jr. will join Assemblyman Richard Katz (D-Sylmar) and Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky on Saturday for the grand opening and dedication of the first major state park in the northeast San Fernando Valley.
After eight years of complicated negotiations involving private developers, Katz and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, rugged Wilson Canyon Park in Sylmar will be open to the public, accessible by a new access road.
A new parking lot was built near the trail head, and several picnic tables and portable restrooms were brought in, said Rorie Skei, Rim of the Valley division chief at the conservancy, which paid $3 million for the site last year. The money came from voter-approved Proposition A park funds.
The 246-acre park, situated north of Olive View-UCLA Medical Center in Sylmar, was privately owned for many years, but was heavily used by equestrians and hikers, who roamed the roughly 10 miles of fire trails, haul roads and other pathways in the canyon.
The conservancy sought the land as an important link in the Rim of the Valley trail network, which includes more than 100 miles of trails in the Santa Monica, San Gabriel, Santa Susana, Simi and Verdugo mountain ranges.
The establishment of the new park was a triumph for Katz, local equestrian groups and environmentalists who contested developers’ plans in 1987 to build a 500-house residential community on the land.
Skei said the park was named after Benjamin Davis Wilson, who became mayor of Los Angeles in 1851. The ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. at the trail head. The access road is located off Olive View Drive, 300 yards east of Bledsoe Street.