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Enthusiasts revel in canyon victory

Elsmere annexed after 20-year fight

Posted: July 15, 2012 1:30 a.m.
Updated: July 15, 2012 1:00 a.m.

Charlie Cooke of the Tataviam Indians, left, performs a purification ceremony using white sage on Laura Skorich, right, and other hikers at Elsmere Canyon on Saturday. Click here for more photos.

Max Morgan stood at the Elsmere Canyon trailhead ready for a Saturday morning hike that was 20 years in the making.

“It’s a dream fulfilled,” said Morgan, a 63-year-old Valencia resident, referring to the dedication ceremony celebrating Elsmere Canyon’s annexation into the city of Santa Clarita.

More than 20 years ago, the canyon near the Highway 14 entrance to the Santa Clarita Valley was earmarked to become the world’s largest dump. It took two decades of dedicated fighting to thwart the plan that officials at the time considered a done deal.

“It’s important to preserve pristine areas like this for future generations,” Morgan said, adding that he’s followed the Elsmere Canyon issue for more than 20 years.

Santa Clarita City Council members Laurene Weste, Marsha McLean and Bob Kellar attended the ceremony celebrating the canyon’s annexation into the city. The 842 acres purchased and annexed by the city have been dedicated as open space to be enjoyed by hikers, bikers, horseback riders and wildlife.

The U.S. Forest Service owns another 1,200 acres in the canyon and the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority owns another 400 acres.

Collectively, the land had eyed as perfect for a giant dump that would be visible throughout the Santa Clarita Valley.

“If the landfill had been built here, it would have been a very different Santa Clarita,” McLean said to a group of about 100 people. “There wouldn’t be a canyon here.”

She seized the moment to call on Santa Clarita Valley residents to rally against the proposed Cemex mine in Canyon Country, which she said would be just as or more destructive than the Elsmere Canyon dump.

Jenny Sweer, a 47-year-old Saugus resident, said she recently found out about Elsmere Canyon and the successful efforts to keep it from becoming a dump when she joined a local hiking club.

“I’m glad that it’s saved so we can hike here,” Sweer said. “I don’t believe creating more dumps is the solution.”


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