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Meetings to focus on 'Rim of the Valley'

Park service hopes study will lead to more federal protection for 500,000 acres.

August 31, 2010|By Melanie Hicken, melanie.hicken@latimes.com

GLENDALE — National Park Service officials will host a series of community meetings in the coming weeks to gather input for a long-awaited study of the region's hillsides that could lead to expanded federal protection of the area.

The meetings will kick off an exhaustive public outreach and exploration process for the "Rim of the Valley" special resource study, which Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) announced in June after years of development.

The study's final recommendations could help preserve the more than 500,000 acres above the San Fernando, La Crescenta, Santa Clarita, Simi and Conejo valleys that are known collectively as the Rim of the Valley.

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None of the scheduled eight meetings will take place in Glendale, Burbank or La Crescenta, but Schiff and parks service officials are urging residents from the area to attend.

"I know how deeply constituents in Burbank and Glendale and La Crescenta and all of the foothills care about preserving the natural beauty in the region," Schiff said. "And it's vital that they make their voices heard."

The closest meetings will take place on Oct. 5 and 6 in Tujunga and Altadena, respectively.

The study will create a "conservation strategy" and examine the feasibility of including some or all of the land into the federally protected Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

During the first phase, officials will analyze the wildlife and natural resources found in the mountains and how the federal government may get involved in protecting them.

At the community meetings, federal officials will give an explanation of the process while also gathering input on what residents feel are the most important resources in the region, said Project Manager Anne Dove.

"Primarily, we are interested in hearing from folks what their vision is for the area long term," she said.

Rich Toyon, president of the Glendale-Crescenta Volunteers Organized In Conserving the Environment, or V.O.I.C.E., a nonprofit dedicated to open-space conservation, said he and other members would be attending one of the meetings and urging others to attend as well.

"It's too important of a study and too important as far as the future makeup of our communities not to be there," he said.

Community members will be involved throughout the four-year study process, officials said, which will ultimately result in a series of recommendations to Congress in 2014.

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