Santa Monica - Photo courtesy of T S on Unsplash

The Los Angeles City Council signaled its support Wednesday for two conservation bills pending in Congress that would help preserve areas in the Santa Monica Mountains and San Gabriel National Recreation Area.

The Rim of the Valley Corridor Preservation Act would expand the boundary of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area by about 191,000 acres, increasing public land access for nearly half of residents who live within two hours of the area, according to a motion filed by Council Members Nithya Raman and Paul Koretz.

The bill, authored by Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, passed the House of Representatives and is currently working its way through the Senate.

The second bill, the San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act, would protect over 30,000 acres of wilderness and 45.5 miles of rivers by establishing the San Gabriel National Recreation Area. The bill, introduced by Rep. Judy Chu, D-Pasadena, passed the House last year.

The legislation would help the state meet its 30×30 goals, an effort to protect 30% of natural areas by 2030.

“California has the most imperiled biodiversity of any other state in the country,” Raman said. “If we are serious about preventing a potential mass extinction and drastic loss of natural resources, we must take bold measures to preserve the space and habitats we do have — this legislation will take us in the right direction at the right pace.”

Koretz said Los Angeles is more than just a network of freeways, and that increases in urban density combined with the impacts of climate change are leading to more species in danger of extinction.

“Active conservation can no longer be a philosophical exercise but an emergency triage of policies to protect biodiversity and wildlife habitats as they stand on a precipice of disappearing forever,” Koretz said. “This package of conservation bills is the very least we can do to work at a local, state and federal level to save what is left.”

Roberto Morales, senior organizing representative with the Sierra Club, spoke about the item at Wednesday’s council meeting and said in a later statement that he was pleased with the council’s support.

“We are pleased that the City Council is treating the climate crisis with the urgency it deserves by supporting this legislation, which will help protect our public lands for future generations to enjoy,” Morales said.

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