Laurene Weste | Keep an Open Mind, Enjoy Our Open Space

Santa Clarita Councilwoman Laurene Weste
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Aristotle stated, “In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.” Just take a stroll through one of Santa Clarita’s open spaces, and I think you will find this statement to be true. From the sound of rustling leaves as a warm summer breeze pushes through them to glimpses of wildlife in their natural habitat, scenic views along winding trails and more, the appeal of our city’s trails is multifaceted.  

Regardless of your experience level, I encourage you to get outside this summer to take advantage of walking, hiking, cycling and horseback riding opportunities in our open space. You must take water and let someone know where you are going. 

Santa Clarita is fortunate to now have nearly 12,000 acres of preserved open space in our community. This is a result of the Open Space Preservation District that was formed by the City Council in 2007. The purpose of the district is to acquire, preserve and protect open space. Our ongoing efforts have expanded the city’s greenbelt buffer and have assisted us in retaining crucial wildlife corridors. Protecting these places of natural beauty creates new recreational opportunities that add to Santa Clarita’s quality of life and provides habitat for threatened species. 

Our community is home to numerous open spaces, including Haskell Canyon, Newhall Pass, Wildwood Canyon, San Francisquito and many others. Each open space has unique features and exciting trails to explore. For example, the Haskell Canyon Open Space offers spacious grassland meadows and the Santa Clarita Archery Range. If you visit the Wildwood Canyon Open Space, you are sure to discover a breathtaking view of the Santa Clarita Valley. Additionally, visitors of the Golden Valley Ranch Open Space can trek to one of the highest points in Santa Clarita, Horse Peak, which is 2,391 feet above sea level. 

The most recent addition to Santa Clarita is the approximately 350-acre Gates Family Wildlife Preserve in the Newhall Pass Open Space, near the Needham Ranch commercial development. This particular open space has a rich history inclusive of oil drilling, farming and more dating back to the early 1800s. The area was previously owned by Henry Clay Needham and later purchased by the Gates family, who graciously donated the designated open space land to the city.  

Last month, we celebrated the newly acquired space in a picturesque ribbon-cutting event with residents, volunteers and many riders on horseback. The land offers four new trails to explore in Santa Clarita, including the Gates Trail, Pine Street Trail, Needham Trail and Romo Trail. Volunteers from the Elder Trail Crew, SCV Trail Users Crew and William S. Hart Union High School District Summer Student Trail Crew all contributed to the designing and building of these new trails. I am thankful for their work and that of our city in making open space preservation and expansion a priority for Santa Clarita. 

The natural beauty of Santa Clarita’s open spaces draws in residents and visitors alike. We are lucky to have a growing list of trails and recreational opportunities in each of our open spaces, encouraging individuals of all ages to explore the great outdoors. In addition to adding to our community’s great quality of life, open spaces also offer an improved quality of life to the native animals and plants that thrive in our community.  

No matter how large our community grows, it remains a necessity to ensure that wildlife continues to have a place in Santa Clarita. You can learn more about our city’s open spaces by visiting HikeSantaClarita.com. The website is also an excellent resource for understanding the importance of trail etiquette, and being respectful and careful of wildlife during your next open space adventure. 

Take a friend and share the experience — after all, it’s yours forever. 

Laurene Weste is a member of Santa Clarita’s City Council and can be reached at [email protected].  

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