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Laurene Weste: Live from City Hall

Posted: July 20, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: July 20, 2013 2:00 a.m.
 

Santa Clarita’s open space, with its rolling hills and iconic oak trees, are among the many reasons people love coming home to Santa Clarita.

Six years ago this month, local property owners voted to preserve and protect these natural landscapes with the creation of the Open Space Preservation District.

As chairwoman to pass this initiative, I am proud that we have been able to preserve and protect important natural areas, ensuring a greenbelt around the city and spaces for future generations to enjoy California in its wild and natural state.

Today, more than 8,000 acres of land are currently in public ownership and are forever protected as part of the Open Space Preservation District, with lots more to come.

On July 9, we started the process of adding 302 acres in the Newhall Pass to the district, which should be completed later this year. This property, known as Las Lomas, was once planned for a major development consisting of almost 6,000 homes.

Many of the other areas in the Open Space Preservation District have rich and interesting histories, including the Haskell Canyon Open Space, which includes 526 acres that were originally slated for a 500-home development.

The more than 1,200 acres in Elsmere Canyon were once planned to be the site of a huge garbage dump, but today they offer beautiful views of Santa Clarita and several challenging trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding.

East Walker Ranch, which boasts 140 acres adjacent to the Placerita Canyon Nature Center, is historically significant as it was homesteaded by the Walker family in the early 1900s.

This area also interconnects more than 1,000 acres of open space at Golden Valley Ranch. This land has been referred to as the "most beautiful piece of untouched land in Los Angeles County" and was even the location for Western films starring William S. Hart.

In addition to preserving these spaces, the City Council felt it was important to develop a centralized website to access historic information, trail maps, hiking and safety tips, along with details about points of interest.

If you haven’t visited the city’s open space website, HikeSantaClarita.com, I encourage you to take a few moments to review the site.

This year we added two new features to HikeSantaClarita.com, including an interactive question-and-answer forum called "Ask Dr. Norm" and a blog called "Tell Us About Your Hike."

Dr. Norman Herr is a California State University Northridge science and computer education professor with extensive knowledge of the area’s history and geology. He’s already answered nearly 30 questions submitted by trail users and is committed to providing timely information about local flora, fauna and wildlife, the best hikes for those who are new to the area, and even details about trail etiquette.

In addition to the Dr. Norm column, "Tell Us About Your Hike" is a great chance for local recreational enthusiasts to share their favorite trails, tips and experiences with others. If you are a trail user, we encourage you to share thoughts and photos about your hikes, including trail connectivity, points of interest, animals you’ve observed and historic sites you see while exploring.

The maps on HikeSantaClarita.com illustrate the hiking trails available at each site, as well as trail length and difficulty. I hope you have the opportunity to get out and explore these incredible open spaces with your family this season and if you do, be sure to check out HikeSantaClarita.com before you go.

Together we will accomplish the incredible legacy of completing the greenbelt around Santa Clarita. As we move forward with the Open Space Preservation District, our goal is to add more acres that preserve our community’s quality of life now and in the future.

Thank you, Santa Clarita, for voting to protect our unique environment for generations to come!

Laurene Weste is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council and can be reached at lweste@santa-clarita.com. "Live from City Hall" appears Saturdays in The Signal.

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