Federal budget proposal includes funds for land buys in Santa Monica Mountains

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The Obama administration has earmarked $2.4 million in its 2013 budget for acquiring and protecting up to 238 acres of undeveloped land in Zuma and Trancas Canyons in the Santa Monica Mountains, U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) said in a statement.

Source of this article: The Thousand Oaks Acorn, March 8, 2012

The area is one of only six in the nation that received funding for land acquisition in the president’s budget.

A congressman since 1997, Sherman, who represents California’s 27th Congressional District, has worked to secure nearly $20 million in federal funding to acquire and preserve open space in the Santa Monica Mountains, including King Gillette Ranch in Calabasas, Zuma and Trancas Canyons, and properties along the 65- mile Backbone Trail, which stretches from Point Mugu to Pacific Palisades.

Woody Smeck, superintendent for the Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area, said the proposed funding is “great news for the Santa Monica Mountains and validates the high need and high priority that the president places on the preservation of landscapes that we have here.”

But with ongoing budget woes in Washington, D.C., the $2.4-million allocation is far from a sure thing, Smeck said.

“There is a long process between here and when we actually have an enacted budget,” he said, indicating that Sherman, along with U.S. Reps. Henry Waxman, Elton Gallegly and Howard Berman, have been longtime supporters of local park lands.

“I hope they can advocate for those funds,” Smeck aid.

The land slated for acquisition in Malibu consists of a number of private parcels belonging to willing sellers.

The purchases would complete a land acquisition program for Zuma and Trancas Canyons in an area that features ocean views and diversity of habitat, abundant wildlife and hiking trails, some of which still pass over private land.

“If we’re able to do these acquisitions we can complete these loop and trail systems. It will be wonderful,” Smeck said.