The House of Representatives Wednesday passed a package of environmental protection bills that would add more than 191,000 acres of the Rim of the Valley Corridor to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and expand the borders of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument to include the western Angeles National Forest.
HR 2546, the Protecting America’s Wilderness Act, passed the House on a bipartisan 231-to-183 vote, according to Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank.
The six-bill package contains the Rim of the Valley Corridor Preservation Act, which Schiff first introduced in 2017, with Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, D-Calif., bringing companion legislation in the Senate.
“I am thrilled that the House of Representatives has passed the Rim of the Valley Corridor Preservation Act, legislation I have championed for nearly 20 years,” Schiff said. “Preservation of the open space in our communities is not only good for our environment, wildlife, and ecosystems, but it is beneficial for the health and wellbeing of residents of all ages. The Rim of the Valley corridor is an area of striking and breathtaking natural beauty, and we must do whatever we can to preserve that beauty for the benefit of LA residents, the millions each year who visit, and for generations to come.”
The expansion is based on a six-year study of the region completed by the National Park Service in 2015. The legislation would expand the SMMNRA to include many, but not all, of the land included in the study. The acreage included within the expansion, to be known as the Rim of the Valley Unit, stretches from the Simi Hills and Santa Susanas to the Verdugos and on to the San Gabriel Mountains.
The vote “is a win for the Rim of the Valley Corridor and the millions of Los Angeles County residents living in the surrounding communities,” Feinstein said. “Preserving this unspoiled terrain will protect sensitive habitat for California wildlife and open space to benefit local economies. I am glad that Congressman Schiff was able to pass it in the House and look forward to doing the same here in the Senate, where it has already advanced out of committee.”
Harris said the Rim of the Valley corridor “is home to some of Southern California’s most beautiful wildlife and landscapes.”
“That is why we must take immediate steps to protect this area’s habitats and natural resources,” she said. “I am grateful to Congressman Schiff for his leadership on this issue and I applaud the House of Representatives for prioritizing the preservation of this area so it can be enjoyed by future generations. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to get this bill across the finish line.”
Rep. Judy Chu, D-Pasadena, introduced the San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act, which would expand the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument to include the western end of the Angeles National Forest, which contains the Upper Los Angeles River watershed.
The bill would also establish a National Recreation Area along the San Gabriel River corridor to enhance conservation, increase access by connecting park-poor areas to open space, and improving the management of the area through improved resources, education and public engagement, according to Chu.
“The San Gabriel Mountains, with their beautiful rivers, forests and mountain trails so close to the density of Los Angeles, are a true gift for the millions who have little to no access to parks or green space,” she said. “That’s why I want to make sure as many people as possible have the chance to visit, both today and for years in the future. That is what today’s vote will help accomplish.
“As our city grows and our climate changes, these untouched wild lands and habitats could disappear. The Protecting America’s Wilderness Act will not only preserve this land for future generations, it will also create a National Recreation Area that will let even more Angelenos enjoy our mountains.”
The San Gabriels landscape provides 70% of Los Angeles County’s local open space, and the Angeles Forest provides one-third of Los Angeles County’s drinking water.