The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed legislation that would expand a portion of the Rim of the Valley Corridor by more than 191,000 acres.
With a bipartisan vote of 231 “yeas” and 183 “nays,” the Rim of the Valley Protection Act, introduced in March 2019 by Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, and Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris (both D-California), was one of six land protection bills the House passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee to set about 1.4 million acres in California, Colorado and the state of Washington as federally protected wilderness.
“The bill will enable the National Parks Service and local community to better protect natural resources and habitats and provide members of the community with improved access to nature for recreational and educational purposes,” according to a news release from Schiff’s office.
The Rim of the Valley includes the mountains hugging the Santa Clarita, San Fernando, Simi, La Crescenta and Conejo valleys.
“It is critical legislation for all Santa Clarita and L.A. County residents for the health and well-being of all future generations,” Laurene Weste, Santa Clarita city councilwoman, said in a prepared statement. “This piece of legislation interconnects our wildlife throughout our mountain corridors and helps to preserve our clean air and clean water resources.”
The bill specifically expands the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area to include several lands included in a six-year National Park Service study, which “sought to determine the suitability and feasibility of designating all or a portion of the Rim of the Valley Corridor as a unit of the existing Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, and how these areas could be protected and utilized by the local communities,” according to the news release.
Known as the Rim of the Valley Unit, the lands added in the expansion stretch from the Simi Hills and Santa Susanas to the Verdugos and on to the San Gabriel Mountains along the Santa Clarita Valley, according to the study.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Weste, who has been on the Santa Monica Mountains Conservation Advisory Board and has helped lead the city’s efforts in acquiring thousands of acres in open space. The Santa Clarita Valley now has more than 11,000 acres of protected open space for recreational use.
The bill now heads to the Senate, where it has already passed out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.