GLENDALE — National Park Service officials will host a series of community meetings in the coming weeks to gather input for a long-awaited study of the region's hillsides that could lead to expanded federal protection of the area.
The meetings will kick off an exhaustive public outreach and exploration process for the "Rim of the Valley" special resource study, which Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) announced in June after years of development.
The study's final recommendations could help preserve the more than 500,000 acres above the San Fernando, La Crescenta, Santa Clarita, Simi and Conejo valleys that are known collectively as the Rim of the Valley.
None of the scheduled eight meetings will take place in Glendale, Burbank or La Crescenta, but Schiff and parks service officials are urging residents from the area to attend.
"I know how deeply constituents in Burbank and Glendale and La Crescenta and all of the foothills care about preserving the natural beauty in the region," Schiff said. "And it's vital that they make their voices heard."
The closest meetings will take place on Oct. 5 and 6 in Tujunga and Altadena, respectively.
The study will create a "conservation strategy" and examine the feasibility of including some or all of the land into the federally protected Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
During the first phase, officials will analyze the wildlife and natural resources found in the mountains and how the federal government may get involved in protecting them.
At the community meetings, federal officials will give an explanation of the process while also gathering input on what residents feel are the most important resources in the region, said Project Manager Anne Dove.
"Primarily, we are interested in hearing from folks what their vision is for the area long term," she said.
Rich Toyon, president of the Glendale-Crescenta Volunteers Organized In Conserving the Environment, or V.O.I.C.E., a nonprofit dedicated to open-space conservation, said he and other members would be attending one of the meetings and urging others to attend as well.
"It's too important of a study and too important as far as the future makeup of our communities not to be there," he said.
Community members will be involved throughout the four-year study process, officials said, which will ultimately result in a series of recommendations to Congress in 2014.
"The study will make recommendations to Congress about how to best manage and preserve these resources, whether the National Park Service should be expanded to include some of these areas," Schiff said. "This is the most important time for the public to weigh in and let their views be heard."
Sept. 14, 7 to 9 p.m., Mason Recreation Center, 10500 Mason Ave. Chatsworth
Sept. 15, 2 to 4 p.m., Los Angeles River Center and Gardens, 570 W. Avenue 26, Los Angeles
Sept. 15, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Los Angeles River Center and Gardens, 570 W. Avenue 26, Los Angeles
Sept. 21, 7 to 9 p.m., George A. Caravalho Sports Complex Activities Center, 20880 Centre Point Parkway, Santa Clarita
Sept. 22, 7 to 9 p.m., Conejo Recreation and Parks District Community Room, 403 Hillcrest Drive, Thousand Oaks
Oct. 4, 7 to 9 p.m., King Gillete Ranch Dormitory Building, 26800 Mulholland Hwy, Calabasas
Oct. 5, 7 to 9 p.m., Northeast Valley City Hall, 7747 Foothill Blvd., Tujunga
Oct. 6, 7 to 9 p.m., Charles S. Farnworth Park Davies building, 568 East Mount Curve Ave., Altadena