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Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and Mountains Recreation Authority Acquire Public Land Over 30 Years to Protect the Liberty Canyon Wildlife Corridor

April 21, 2022

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AGOURA, CA (April 21, 2022) — Tomorrow the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing will break ground at a celebration at the MRCA’s Las Virgenes Open Space Trailhead. The MRCA originally purchased the public parkland in 1999 as part of a long-term acquisition strategy by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and the MRCA to protect the critical habitat of the Santa Susana Mountains, the Simi Hills, and the Santa Monica Mountains.

In 1990, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy commissioned the study “Critical Wildlife Corridor Habitat Linkage Areas between the Santa Susana Mountains, the Simi Hills and the Santa Monica Mountains.” Furthering Dr. Michael Soule’s earlier work for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area on habitat linkages, the study identified the site of the Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing as the choke point necessary to connect the Santa Monica Mountains across the 101 Freeway to the Simi Hills in order to prevent the local mountain lion population from extinction.

At that time, most of the property in this landscape choke point was privately owned, and the future of preserving this critical inter-mountain range habitat linkage was anything but certain. Over the next thirty years, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, and its joint powers partner, the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority as well as the National Park Service, systematically acquired much of the private land identified in the 1990 study using voter-approved funds, and permanently protected a critical mass of habitat that will now make it possible to link the mountains with the Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing.

THE SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS CONSERVANCY is a State Agency that was established by the California Legislature in 1980. Its mission is to strategically buy back, preserve, protect, restore, and enhance treasured pieces of Southern California to form an interlinking system of urban, rural, and river parks, open space, trails and wildlife habitat that is easily accessible to the public.

THE MOUNTAINS RECREATION AND CONSERVATION AUTHORITY (MRCA) is a local public parks agency exercising joint powers of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, the Conejo Recreation and Park District, and the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District. The MRCA operates and manages all parkland that it owns and that is owned by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.

Together, the MRCA and Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy have helped to preserve over 80,000 acres of urban and wilderness parkland.