California Congressman Ted Lieu has proposed adding a large section of the Los Angeles County coastline to the currently existing Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
Currently, the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, which is located primarily in the Santa Monica Mountains, spans from Point Mugu to Runyon Canyon. The open space preserve consists of many individual parks, with two thirds of the parkland being situated in northwest Los Angeles County. The remaining third of the rec area is in southeastern Ventura County.
Preserving one of the best examples of a Mediterranean climate ecosystem in the world, the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area offers opportunity for a wide variety of recreational opportunities. Among these are birding, land-based whale watching, biking, camping, horseback riding and hiking. Among the hiking trails located in the rec area is Backbone Trail, which spans 67.79 miles across the Santa Monica Mountains. Mountain bicyclists, horseback riders and dogs are permitted on certain sections of the trail.
Under Lieu’s proposed bill, HR 4871, the entire Santa Monica Bay coastline spanning from Rat Beach in Torrance to Venice Beach in Los Angeles would be included in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Ballona Creek, the Ballona Wetlands, San Pedro and Baldwin Hills would also be included in the rec area, with the Port of Los Angeles remaining independent.
The bill also calls for initiating a three-year study to look at the effects of adding the new land to the rec area. Once the study is complete and the results are released, a public hearing would be held to see if the public supports, including the additional 35+ miles of coastline in the national rec area.
Lieu also anticipates a need to educate the public about what a rec area is. Since a national rec area is not the same as a national park or national monument, there are no fees for accessing them. There are also no mandates and they do not affect private property. Nonetheless, several regulatory agencies are waiting to endorse the bill until they get more details. A second piece of legislation incorporating the study’s findings would then be drafted.
Exploring the Benefits of Expanding the National Rec Area
Congressman Lieu is confident that expanding the national rec area will make more funds available to the additional areas for scientific and infrastructure purposes. He also believes it will help to pick up where the community is lacking in the resources necessary to preserve open space for recreational and conservation purposes.
Currently, resources for the beaches of Los Angeles County are stretched thin, despite an increase in attendance. In fact, Los Angeles County beaches saw a 43.6 percent increase in attendance from 2007 through 2015. Not surprisingly, lifeguard rescue numbers also increased by about 30 percent during this same time period.
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