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City celebrates more space

Posted: July 12, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Updated: July 12, 2011 1:30 a.m.

Jim Anderson, of Saugus, holds up Autumn Anderson, 8, as she visits with Mac, ridden by Teresa Spencer of Equestrian Trails, Inc., at the dedication of the Haskell Canyon Open Space in Saugus on Monday.

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Flanked by horseback riders poised on the edge of Haskell Canyon, Santa Clarita city officials unveiled more than 500 acres of open space at the eastern edge of Santa Clarita Valley’s northern perimeter Monday.

At the end of a cul de sac overlooking Haskell Canyon — north of Copper Hill Drive and east of Haskell Canyon Road, under a canopy decorated with red, white and blue balloons — Mayor Marsha McLean proudly announced the city’s successful June purchase of 526 rolling acres of Los Angeles County land.

The acreage is the latest parcel of land designated by the city as open space, McLean told about 20 city and local officials Monday.

“This is a fantastic day,” she announced before she was interrupted by the loud whinny of a horse named Toby behind her.

Everyone laughed and the mayor continued.

“That’s exactly what I would say if I were a horse,” she said.

“This property was previously slated for development by a San Diego developer who planned a county project of more than 500 homes,” she said. “Now it will forever be preserved by the city’s Open Space Preservation District.”

Each time she mentioned “open space” the small gathering cheered.

The open space extends north of Copper Hill Drive to the southern shadow of the Angeles National Forest.

In late June, the city paid $3.1 million for it, with the city’s Open Space Preservation District kicking in $2.9 million and the land bank fund contributing $235,000.

The land contains “an abundance of coastal sage scrub,” McLean said, as well as other threatened or endangered habitats.

Horseback riders, bicyclists and hikers are expected to share the trails inside the area.

“It means more trails for us to ride and enjoy our valley,” said rider Wendie Hazlett, atop her horse, Toby. “This valley is slowly being taken away. It’s just nice to be able to share these trails now.”

City Councilwoman Laurene Weste, who said she’s been riding horses all her life, wore a leather vest and pewter broach depicting wild horses to Monday’s ceremony.

“This is an excellent opportunity for those who live here,” she said. “It’s a place to take their dog and burn calories.”

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