“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” – John Muir Hiking in our Santa Clarita open spaces is an activity I treasure, not just for its health benefits but also for the peace of mind and tranquility it brings – for I truly believe our health is balanced in nature in both our bodies and our minds. As a member of the Santa Clarita City Council and prior Commissioner for the City Parks and Recreation Commission, I feel fortunate that our residents voted to establish the Open Space Preservation District in July of 2007. The District was designed to expand the City’s existing Open Space, Park and Parkland Programs in order to preserve natural land from development, create more parks for community usage, and protect rare biological and geological regions. Nine years later, the Open Space Preservation District has acquired nearly 9,000 acres of open space for residents to enjoy. Preserving these natural lands not only benefits our residents, it also retains wildlife corridors, allowing wildlife to safely migrate between areas, which in turn helps increase biodiversity for the future. I’ve been living in the City for quite some time, yet I still have days where I am driving around town and find myself taken aback by the natural beauty of our community. The extensive greenbelt that surrounds our community must not be taken for granted. The District and its staff work hard to purchase land to preserve the beauty of our region and prevent development in unwanted areas so that our residents can enjoy them now and into the future. This year, our Open Space Preservation District has been very busy acquiring more land to be preserved forever. The City marked its first acquisition in the northwest of our surrounding greenbelt with the purchase of more than 70 acres in Tapia Canyon. We also purchased more than thirteen acres in the Soledad Canyon area adjacent to the City-owned Cemex property. By purchasing this land, we have prevented future mining in this pristine area, and protected wildlife living in the region. You can find information on new acquisitions on HikeSantaClarita.com. As you enter the Santa Clarita Valley through the Newhall pass, you will enjoy an additional nine acres of beautiful, rolling hills, preserved forever as open space. This acquisition created an important connection between Wildwood Canyon Open Space and Gateway Ranch’s 302 acres of Open Space in the Newhall pass. Towsley Canyon gained some valuable additions this year. With an additional 100 spaces in the parking area, hikers can now conveniently find parking to access our open space. From the new parking lot at Towsley Canyon, the City opened the Elder Loop and Taylor Trail. In July, we experienced the Sage Fire that burned in parts of these trails as well as the Sand Fire in East Walker Ranch and Golden Valley Ranch Open Space. The fire damage to this beautiful habitat is unfortunate – but the landscape is healing and vegetation is slowly but surely returning. Please do not hesitate to visit our open spaces, just remember to respect nature and stay on designated trails for the safety and preservation of the natural habitat. Whether you’re an equestrian, bicyclist or hiker, you can find out more about the City’s open spaces on the HikeSantaClarita.com website. The comprehensive website is a one-stop shop for most things open space and features an interactive trail map, downloadable trail maps, information on trail etiquette, group activities, volunteer opportunities and other frequently asked questions. As autumn brings cool temperatures and a change of color in the leaves, I hope it inspires you to explore the many open spaces our City has to offer. Get out there! Take a moment to stop and smell the roses (or in this case the buckwheat or the lemonade berry plant) and appreciate the peace that comes with being close to nature. I know you will enjoy what you have helped to preserve. Laurene Weste is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.