WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) testified today in the House Appropriations Committee in support of his request for additional land acquisition funding to expand the Santa Monica Mountain National Recreation Area.
Sherman appeared before the House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee to request funds to protect core habitat in Zuma and Trancas Canyons in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, calling it his top priority for the Fiscal Year 2011 Interior and Environment Appropriations Act. The Department of the Interior Fiscal Year 2011 Budget provides $3.75 million to acquire 16 tracts of land, but Sherman is urging the Committee to increase the amount to $6 million so that an additional 12 tracts may be purchased.
“Hiking trails within the canyons provide scenic views of the Pacific Ocean, numerous waterfalls, and natural solitude, and additional land acquisition funds would help secure critical recreational trail connections for the public to enjoy,” said Sherman. “However, high-end real estate development on private in-holdings threatens to displace critical habitat and degrade park scenery and coastal water quality.”
Subcommittee Chairman Jim Moran (D-VA) echoed Sherman’s argument, concurring that, due to the struggling economy, now is the time to acquire available lands. If land is not acquired now, mansions will be built on the property and we will not be able to buy the land, he said.
Each year over 33 million visitors enjoy the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area’s renowned beaches and explore the park’s mountains, including its 60-mile Backbone Trail, which stretches across the Santa Monica Mountains and traverses through Zuma and Trancas Canyons. To date, the National Park Service has acquired 22,000 acres of parkland using Land and Water Conservation Funds totaling $163 million.
The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area has one of the largest backlogs of acquisition needs in the national park system. Approximately 20,595 acres remains to be acquired to complete the Land Protection Plan recommendations. The value of these lands is estimated to be over $57 million.