|Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area|
IUCN category V (protected landscape/seascape)
|Location||Santa Monica Mountains; Los Angeles and Ventura Counties, California, U.S.|
|Nearest city|| Malibu, California |
Newbury Park, California
|Area||157,700 acres (638 km2)|
|Established||November 10, 1978|
|Governing body||National Park Service; with State and local agencies.|
|Website||Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area|
The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is a United States national recreation area containing many individual parks and open space preserves, located primarily in the Santa Monica Mountains of Southern California. The SMMNRA is in the greater Los Angeles region, with two thirds of the parklands in northwest Los Angeles County, and the remaining third, including a Simi Hills extension, in southeastern Ventura County.
Overall administration is by the National Park Service, coordinating with state, county, municipal, and university agencies. The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area preserves one of the best examples of a Mediterranean climate ecosystem in the world. It also protects one of the highest densities of archaeological resources in any mountain range in the world.
In size the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is the largest urban national park in the United States and the largest urban national park in the world.
The Woolsey Fire in November 2018 burned 83% of all National Park Service land in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
The Santa Monica Mountains NRA contains 157,700 acres (63,800 ha) in the Santa Monica Mountains of the Transverse Ranges between the Pacific Ocean and inland valleys. Its southeastern slopes are part of the headwaters of the Los Angeles River. The California State Park system and other public agencies own 49,756 acres (20,136 ha), the National Park Service controls 25,117 acres (10,164 ha), and the rest of the SMMNRA lands are in local agencies parks, university study reserves, and private property conservation easements.[ citation needed ]
The movement to preserve the Santa Monica Mountains has a long tradition which is frequently overlooked by historians who often focus exclusively on the environmental movement of the 1960s and 1970s which culminated with the establishment of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area in 1978.
Besides geologic forces, people who inhabited the area in the past have been ones to also affect the land. There were different reasons for people to come into the area. Some came to live and others to work the land. The first groups to live in the mountains were the Native American tribes called the Chumash and the Tongva who lived here for thousands of years. Then came the Spanish Explorers, Rancheros, and Homesteaders (after the Homestead Act of 1862) from other areas of the country, who worked the land. The Homesteaders brought new ideas and cultures that shaped the landscape and mindset of the area, and California overall. Up to this day, people continue to live, work, and recreate in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Places such as Paramount Ranch, Solstice Canyon, and Rancho Sierra Vista/ Satwiwa still have that history that has been left behind by people in the past. The past stories from these people are discovered through photographs, letters, to even things they threw away. Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area strives to make sure the collections, places, and stories of the people who affected the landscape will be preserved for the future.
The first area in the Santa Monica Mountains set aside for public use was Griffith Park which was donated to the city of Los Angeles by Griffith J. Griffith in 1896.
During the first decade of the twentieth century, Frederick H. Rindge made several attempts to create a forest reserve in the Santa Monica Mountains. These reserves were precursors to national forests. In 1902 California's State Mining Bureau examined the area being considered for the establishment of a forest reserve. The resulting report was sent to Washington where the proposal for a reserve was denied.
In 1907 an application was submitted to the Secretary of the Interior requesting that at least 70,000 acres in the mountains be designated a forest reserve.This time state mineralogist Lewis E. Aubury opposed the venture. He wrote the L.A. Time newspaper stating, "I believe that the lands embraced in the Malibu and Santa Monica districts should not be included in a forest reserve…I shall at once take the matter up with Gifford Pinchot, forester, Washington, D.C., and endeavor to ascertain his views on the subject, and further protest against the creation of this proposed reserve". Days later the U. S. Forest Service advised Aubury that it was highly improbable that a forest reserve would be created owing to local opposition and the small amount of public land still remaining in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Limestone deposits were discovered in the mountains behind Pacific Palisades in 1925 which led to a lengthy battle between wealthy home owners of the area and land developers.The quarry site was in Traylor Canyon, three miles inland from the sea, between Santa Ynez and Temescal Canyons. Alphonzo Bell, Sr. was the real estate developer behind the quarry scheme while local opposition was led by Sylvia Morrison, who championed the preservation of the area's natural beauty.
After much criticism of his original plan, Bell offered a new proposal. Using a new process, he would have the rock pulverized, mixed with water, and pumped via a buried pipeline to the mouth of Santa Ynez Canyon. The pipeline would continue from there along the ocean floor to an offshore buoy where it would be load on board a waiting ship.Criticism of the plan grew and eventually garnered the ire of local resident Will Rogers who parodied the plan on the front page of the L.A. Times. The debate raged citywide with such notable public figures as William Mulholland coming to Bell's defense.
In an attempt to sway public opinion, Bell urged local residents to take company-sponsored fieldtrips, on foot and on horseback, to the quarry to see the site for themselves. Among the people who took these trips was Sylvia Morrison, who had been an early leader of environmental concerns. She was among the visitors who scrambled up the limestone cliffs on ladders and hiked and rode on horseback through the chaparral and came away thrilled with the natural beauty of the canyons. "Taking a cue from Yellowstone National Park, Morrison urged the establishment of Whitestone National Park in the Santa Monica Mountains, named after the by-now infamous cliffs."
In 1930 Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., a lifelong advocate of national parks and considered by many as the designer of the California State Parks system, proposed a network of parks, beaches, playgrounds, and forests to promote the social, economic, and environmental vitality of Los Angeles.Olmsted also advocated for public ownership of at least 10,000 acres of the most scenic beach and mountain landscapes between Topanga and Point Dume. However, the Olmsted report was essentially killed – only 200 copies were printed – due mainly to civic leaders who put politics ahead of public space.
After lengthy court battles to preserve her estate, May Rindge (widow of Frederick H. Rindge) lost control of her lands and was forced into bankruptcy in 1938. A proposal to establish a large park was considered in exchange for the cancellation of $1.1 million in unpaid taxes.However, Los Angeles County refused the offer, thus missing the opportunity to acquire 17,000 acres of park lands.
Will Rogers State Historic Park was created in 1944 marking the establishment of the first state park in the Santa Monica Mountains and the first public land created in the mountains since Griffith Park in 1896. It now adjoins Topanga State Park on its northeast side.
In the 1960s and 70s, and possible as early of the 1950s, another campaign was undertaken to preserve the Santa Monica Mountains. Several proposals went before the U.S. Congress which called for the creation of Toyon National Park, referring to a dominant chaparral plant found in the area.
The legislative history of Toyon National Park dates back to 1971 when Representative Alphonzo Bell, Jr. first introduced a bill in the Congress.
Point Mugu State Park was the first of three large, rural state parks in the Santa Monica Mountains was established in 1967, when the State Division of Beaches and Parks, the forerunner of California State Parks, acquired title to 6,700 acres (2,700 ha) acres of the old Broome Ranch for $15.1 million. This property was the first acquisition for Point Mugu State Park, and was part of the 19th century Mexican Rancho Guadalasca. 5,800 acres was purchased from Richard E. Danielson in 1972 for $2.1 million, nearly doubling the park's acreage. This property is situated northeast of the park's original 6,700 acres and consisted of mostly backcountry. A remaining 850-acre parcel which adjoined this property was purchased by the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area from Danielson in 1980, becoming Rancho Sierra Vista open space park.
Topanga State Park was opened to the public in 1974. 11,525 acres (4,664 ha) park encompass large areas outside Topanga Canyon, from the Pacific Coast Highway to Mulholland Drive. The park can be accessed by car and trails from Topanga, and by trailheads in Pacific Palisades and the San Fernando Valley.The park's original name was Topanga Canyon State Park, but the name was shortened because the
In the heart of the Santa Monica Mountains, the 20th Century Fox Movie Ranch, commonly called Century Ranch, was a 2,700-acre land acquisition of what would become Malibu Creek State Park. It was purchased by the State of California in 1974 for $4.8 million. Reagan Ranch, a 120-acre property on the west and formerly owned by Ronald Reagan, was included in the original Century Ranch purchase.The Hope Ranch, owned by entertainer Bob Hope and which abutted Century Ranch, was purchased in 1975 for $4.1 million. In 1976 the State Parks and Recreation Commission adopted a compromise on the classification of the Century Ranch property, and officially named it Malibu Creek State Park.
The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area was established November 10, 1978, after a long campaign for preservation of the Santa Monica Mountains by local and regional conservationists. Susan B. Nelson helped organize "Friends of the Santa Monica Mountains, Parks and Seashore" in 1964 and was known as the mother of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.In 1988 though, she was concerned about the political push to end federal land purchases encouraged by Los Angeles County developers that preferred the land stay available for home building. She was encouraged though that neighboring cities in Ventura County were supportive of park expansion.
The strategy has been to grow SMMNRA by 'mosaic pieces' linking critical habitats, saving unique areas, and expanding existing parks. The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, a California state agency, was created in 1980 for the acquisition of land for preservation as open space, for wildlife and California native plants habitat preserves, and for public recreation activities.
One of the first land acquisitions was Rancho Sierra Vista in 1980 which is reputed to be one of the last intact ranches from the first half of the twentieth century in the Santa Monica Mountains.
In 1980 the Paramount Movie Ranch was acquired in Agoura Hills, and is the present day Paramount Ranch Park. The National Park Service revitalized the old movie ranch, and it is again used for movie and television productions, and is open for public recreation and events.
Entertainer and land speculator Bob Hope created controversy in the early 1990s when he proposed to sell 5,900 acres (2,400 ha) of land in the Corral Canyon area in the Santa Monicas to the federal government in exchange for 59 acres (24 ha) of federal parkland in the nearby Cheeseboro Canyon section of Santa Monica Mountains NRA in the Simi Hills, in order to build an access road to a new 'Jordan Ranch' golf course and housing development. The land swap was never completed, the Jordan Ranch became the Palo Commado section of the Cheeseboro Canyon / Palo Comado Canyon Open Space parks. Most of the land for the 1,000 acres (400 ha) Corral Canyon Park was finally donated by Bob Hope.
The former Ahmanson Ranch was acquired by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy from Washington Mutual in 2003, to create the 2,983 acres (1,207 ha) Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve in the southeastern Simi Hills. It is adjacent to and has trailheads in Calabasas (Las Virgenes Trailhead), Woodland Hills (Victory Trailhead), and West Hills via Moore's Canyon in El Escorpión Park.
The highly visible hills with undeveloped ranch land adjacent to the junction of U.S. Route 101 and Las Virgenes Road in western Calabasas have several viewsheds now protected from development. They also serve as an unofficial gateway to the central Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and its visitor center on Las Virgenes Road at King Gillette Ranch. 200 acres (81 ha) Zev Yaroslavsky Las Virgenes Highlands Park. Both preserve open space along the Ventura Freeway (101) between the San Fernando and the Conejo Valleys. The proposed Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing is a vegetated overpass spanning the Ventura Freeway and Agoura Road at Liberty Canyon in Agoura Hills.On the southeastern side the land was formerly owned by Bob Hope, acquired by the SMM Conservancy in 2010, and added to the Las Virgenes View Park in the Santa Monica Mountains NRA. The viewshed on the northwestern side of the junction, formerly owned by Fred Sands, was acquired in 2010 and protected in the
The Rim of the Valley Corridor Special Resource Study is being conducted by the National Park Service, and generally includes the mountains encircling the San Fernando, La Crescenta, Santa Clarita, Simi, and Conejo Valleys in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties.The SMMNRA is part of the Rim of the Valley Trail Corridor planning process, and several alternatives include a Rim of the Valley a SMMNRA boundary adjustment (of an approximately 173,000-acre or 313,000 acre addition). The Rim of the Valley Trail is a plan in progress for connecting the four valleys with the parklands surrounding them.
In 2018, the Woolsey Fire burned through 88% of the federal parkland resulting in trails being closed for months.The fire, which was three times larger than the biggest fire ever before in the mountains, burned over 40% of the natural area in the Santa Monicas. The fire created a challenge to native plants as black mustard with bright yellow flowers quickly established itself as a wet winter followed the fire. The mustard plants will also provide fuel for the next fires.
In terms of cultural heritage, the Santa Monica Mountains boast a rich history of continuous human occupation dating back more than 10,000 yearsand contain many nationally significant prehistoric and historic sites. In fact, more than 1,000 archaeological sites are in the boundary of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area making it one of the highest densities of archaeological resources found in any mountain range in the world. There are twenty-six known Chumash pictograph sites with the national recreation area, all sacred to traditional Native American Indians, and include some that are among the most spectacular found anywhere. These pictographs – along with other sites – have been described by the National Park Service as "unique and a significant world heritage".
Nearly every major prehistoric and historic theme associated with human interaction and development of the western United States is represented within the park from the early hunters and gathers, to Native American Indian cultures, the Spanish mission and rancho periods, and the American homestead era. Park activist Susan Nelson was instrumental in pushing for an inventory of the flora and fauna of the park and the Native American archeological resources.
At least 73 archeological sites, historic structures, cultural landscapes, and traditional cultural properties in the Santa Monica Mountains are potentially eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.The Santa Monica Looff Hippodrome on the famous Santa Monica Pier, which is within the national recreation area, is a National Historic Landmark, as is Will Rogers' house at Will Rogers State Historic Park (also within the national recreation area). The horsemen portrayed in the Saddle Rock Ranch Pictographs in the heart of the Santa Monica Mountains are considered to be a representation of the Portola Expedition of 1769–1770, and have been determined to be eligible as a National Historic Landmark.
A number of California Historical Landmarks also lie within the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. These include the Site of the Port of Los Angeles Long Wharf (no. 881), Point Dume (no. 965), and the Adamson House of Malibu Lagoon State Beach (no. 966). Just outside the national recreation area is the Stagecoach Inn (no. 659) in Newbury Park, Los Encinos State Historic Park (no. 689), and the Old Santa Monica Forestry Station (no. 840).
The Anthony C. Beilenson Interagency Visitor Center at King Gillette Ranch was opened in June 2012, and is operated by four partner agencies: National Park Service, California State Parks, Santa Monica Conservancy, Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority. It is located at 26876 Mulholland Highway, Calabasas, CA, 91302.
The Satwiwa Native American Indian Culture Center is the only site in the National Park Service dedicated to the past, present, and future of all Indian cultures. A Native American guest-host or a park ranger is on hand to answer questions from 9am to 5pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Native American workshops, programs, and art shows occur throughout the year. Satwiwa means "bluff" in the Chumash language and refers to the cliffs of Boney Mountain which can be seen from Satwiwa. The center is located at Rancho Sierra Vista in Newbury Park. Main Entrance cross street is Via Goleta and Potrero Road.
The main headquarters for the park is located at 401 West Hillcrest Drive, Thousand Oaks 91360.
Recreational opportunities abound, including biking, birding, land-based whale watching, camping, hiking, and horseback riding and rock climbing The Backbone Trail runs for nearly 70 miles (110 km) across the Santa Monica Mountains between Will Rogers State Park and Point Mugu State Park and is nearly complete from end to end. Channel Islands National Park lies in the Pacific Ocean directly to the west.
The following list of park partners and public parklands represents a collaboration of city, county, and state agencies as well as other organizations who work together to support the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
Main entrances to the SMMNRA include Malibu, Newbury Park, Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Woodland Hills, and Topanga, California.
The following parks and areas are managed by the National Park Service in the Santa Monica Mountains NRA:
The following California State Parks are in Santa Monica Mountains NRA:
State Beaches in or adjacent to Santa Monica Mountains NRA:
Malibu is a beach city in the Santa Monica Mountains region of Los Angeles County, California, situated about 30 miles (48 km) west of Downtown Los Angeles. It is known for its Mediterranean climate and its 21-mile (34 km) strip of the Malibu coast, incorporated in 1991 into the City of Malibu. The exclusive Malibu Colony has been historically home to Hollywood celebrities. People in the entertainment industry and other affluent residents live throughout the city, yet many residents are middle class. Most Malibu residents live from a half mile to within a few hundred yards of Pacific Coast Highway, which traverses the city, with some residents living up to a mile away from the beach up narrow canyons. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 12,645.
Chatsworth is a suburban neighborhood in the City of Los Angeles, California, in the San Fernando Valley.
The Santa Monica Mountains is a coastal mountain range in Southern California, next to the Pacific Ocean. It is part of the Transverse Ranges. Because of its proximity to densely populated regions, it is one of the most visited natural areas in California. Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is located in this mountain range.
The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy is an agency of the state of California in the United States founded in 1980 and dedicated to the acquisition of land for preservation as open space, for wildlife and California native plants habitat Nature Preserves, and for public recreation activities.
The Santa Susana Mountains are a transverse range of mountains in Southern California, north of the city of Los Angeles, in the United States. The range runs east-west, separating the San Fernando Valley and Simi Valley on its south from the Santa Clara River Valley to the north and the Santa Clarita Valley to the northeast. The Oxnard Plain is to the west of the Santa Susana Mountains.
The Peter Strauss Ranch is a regional park unit of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area - and operated by the National Park Service as Peter Strauss Ranch Park. It is located in the central Santa Monica Mountains — on Mulholland Highway near Agoura Hills, Southern California, in the Western United States. The ranch is named after the actor Peter Strauss, who was the last private owner-resident of the property. Much of the ranch was destroyed during the Woolsey Fire in November 2018.
Malibu Creek State Park is a state park of California, United States, preserving the Malibu Creek canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains. The 8,215-acre (3,324 ha) park was established in 1974. Opened to the public in 1976, the park is also a component of Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
Topanga is a census-designated place (CDP) in western Los Angeles County, California, United States. Located in the Santa Monica Mountains, the community exists in Topanga Canyon and the surrounding hills. The narrow southern portion of Topanga at the coast is between the city of Malibu and the Los Angeles neighborhood of Pacific Palisades. As of the 2010 census the population of the Topanga CDP was 8,289. The ZIP code is 90290 and the area code is primarily 310, with 818 only at the north end of the canyon. It is in the 3rd County Supervisorial district.
El Escorpión Park is a three-acre park located in the Simi Hills of the western San Fernando Valley, in the West Hills district of Los Angeles, California. The park contains the geographic landmark known as Escorpión Peak or Castle Peak, a 1,475-foot-tall rocky peak seen from most parts of the park and the surrounding community.
The Simi Hills are a low rocky mountain range of the Transverse Ranges in eastern Ventura County and western Los Angeles County, of southern California, United States.
Mulholland Highway is a scenic road in Los Angeles County, California, that runs approximately 50 miles through the western Santa Monica Mountains from near US Route 101 in Calabasas to Highway 1 near Malibu at Leo Carrillo State Park and the Pacific Ocean coast – at the border of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties.
Topanga State Park is a California state park located in the Santa Monica Mountains, within Los Angeles County, California. It is part of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
The Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve is a large open space nature preserve owned and operated by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy spanning nearly 3,000 acres (1,200 ha) in the Simi Hills of western Los Angeles County and eastern Ventura County.
A movie ranch is a ranch that is at least partially dedicated for use as a set in the creation and production of motion pictures and television shows. These were developed in the United States in southern California, because of the climate. The first such facilities were all within the 30-mile (48 km) studio zone, often in the foothills of the San Fernando Valley, Santa Clarita Valley, and Simi Valley in the U.S. state of California.
Malibu Creek is a year-round stream in western Los Angeles County, California. It drains the southern Conejo Valley and Simi Hills, flowing south through the Santa Monica Mountains, and enters Santa Monica Bay in Malibu, California. The Malibu Creek watershed drains 109 square miles (280 km2) and its tributary creeks reach as high as 3,000 feet (910 m) into Ventura County, California. The creek's mainstem begins south of Westlake Village at the confluence of Triunfo Creek and Lobo Canyon Creek, and flows 13.4 miles (21.6 km) to Malibu Lagoon.
Rustic Canyon is a residential neighborhood and canyon in eastern Pacific Palisades, on the west side of Los Angeles, California. It is along Rustic Creek, in the Santa Monica Mountains.
The Backbone Trail is a long distance trail extending 67.79 miles (109.10 km) across the length of the Santa Monica Mountains in the U.S. state of California. Its western terminus is Point Mugu State Park and its eastern terminus is Will Rogers State Historic Park in Pacific Palisades. The trail is open to hikers throughout its length. Dogs, mountain bicyclists and horseback riders are only allowed on portions of the trail as posted.
Victory Boulevard is a major east-west arterial road that runs 25 miles (40 km) traversing the entire length of the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles County, Southern California, United States.
Rancho Sierra Vista is one of the last intact ranches from the first half of the twentieth century in the Santa Monica Mountains. The majority of the landscape is much as it was 100 years ago. The area is now owned by the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, a unit of the National Park System.
Susan B. Nelson was an American environmental activist who is best known as the mother of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
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