Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel | It’s Crunch Time for the HIKE Act

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor

Rep. Mike Garcia’s legislation, the “Helping Invest in Key Environments (HIKE) Act, or H.R. 2887, will help protect and restore some of our most treasured natural resources and historic sites in the Santa Clarita Valley by expanding the boundaries of Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area, where the National Park Service has a 45-year track record of successful stewardship.

But the window of opportunity to pass his bill in the House is quickly closing, with this session of Congress ending in December. Rep. Garcia’s party holds a slim majority in that chamber at a time of hyper-partisanship in Washington, D.C. Nonetheless, legislation is getting passed. Now is the time for him to assert his leadership and to get his bill over the finish line so he can leave an enduring legacy for his constituents in the 27th Congressional District.

The SCV is blessed with tremendous natural beauty. The foothills of the rugged San Gabriel Mountains, the serene trails of our many open spaces and historic sites are enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. Visitors and locals love to walk among mighty oak groves, hiking to scenic views of the neighboring San Fernando and Antelope valleys, observing deer, coyote and the occasional mountain lion, and visiting historic ghost towns and movie ranches. The outdoor recreational and educational opportunities are endless in our corner of Los Angeles County.

The HIKE Act will expand the Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area by 118,000 acres, incorporating the Rim of the Valley, a corridor that includes landscapes in and around Santa Clarita, the Santa Susana and Verdugo mountains. It creates opportunities for the National Park Service to partner with local communities to restore native habitat, expand hiking trails and other recreational opportunities. It will provide outreach and educational programs to local schools, conduct critical wildlife research and reintroduce endangered species such as the red-legged frog, all while having no impact on private ownership or existing land use. It will also ensure additional expertise and resources in the aftermath of natural disasters, such as the 2018 Woolsey Fire that burned nearly 97,000 acres.

In 2023, a similar bill passed the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee, with bipartisan support. That bill is now poised to be paired with legislation in the House, but only if the congressman secures a hearing for his bill in the House Natural Resources Committee and sees it passed by the full House before the end of this congressional term. I urge you to reach out to Congressman Garcia to amplify the need for his leadership and the urgency of passing the HIKE Act before the end of the year. You contact his office by going to mikegarcia.house.gov.

Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel 

Executive Director/President, 

Community Hiking Club


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