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SCV Green takes root in open spaces

Posted: July 17, 2009 10:29 p.m.
Updated: July 18, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Westchester resident Krista Sloniowski, 34, is the executive director of SCV Green, a nonprofit group formed to focus on open-space acquisition and management in the Santa Clarita Valley. The group is a partnership with the Nature Conservancy and SC Wildlands and is funded by a two-year grant.

 
For Krista Sloniowski, space is the new frontier — open space.

The Westchester resident is the executive director of SCV Green, a nonprofit group formed to focus on open space acquisition and management in Santa Clarita Valley.

“There’s still something to preserve here,” she said Friday, standing in the shade of oak trees in Placerita Canyon. “The opportunities are still here.”

Sloniowski, 34, was hired at the beginning of the year to head up an organization that was almost two years in the making, SCV Green board member Maria Gutzeit said.

With a background in both watershed and urban planning, Sloniowski — an Atlanta native — has worked throughout the Southern California region since the late ’90s.

SCV Green is a partnership with the Nature Conservancy and SC Wildlands and is being funded by a two-year grant for $135,000 provided to SC Wildlands through the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation.

Sloniowski said the grant is being stretched to last for three years and is covering basic start-up expenses.

“We want to be known as the good place to give land to,” Gutzeit said. She added that she views SCV Green as a complement, not a competitor, to Santa Clarita’s open space acquisition district that was set up in 2007.

“This is just another way to preserve the valley,” she said.

In addition to Gutzeit, the board also includes Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel, leader of the Santa Clarita Valley Community Hiking Club.

Gutzeit said the goal is to develop a five- to seven-seat board with members representing an array of backgrounds.

The organization is still very much in the formative stages, Sloniowski said. She said the first two years will be focused on building a reputation and identifying funding sources.

“We want to become known in the city as an organization that represents land conservation,” she said.

The goal is also to keep things local. Sloniowski said her hope is to step down in about two years so SCV Green can hire a local executive director.

“We want to be viewed in a positive light,” she said. “It’s not going to be anti-anything.”

Sloniowski said the group does not have its eyes on any specific properties yet.

The goals for the first year include developing and tightening the strategies for land preservation, outreach, advocacy and organizational development.

On tap for the coming months is local outreach to start building a name for SCV Green.

On Aug. 29, the organization is partnering with the Community Hiking Club for an interactive storytelling hike at Whitney Canyon.

Also, Gutzeit said SCV Green will be represented at the city’s 15th annual River Rally in September.

For more information about SCV Green, e-mail Krista Sloniowski at sloniowski@hotmail.com

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