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Introducing Palo Comado Canyon : Jordan Ranch purchase puts the Park Service well on the way to its long-held goal

June 13, 1993

There were no hard choices and no losers in the recent Jordan Ranch deal, an agreement that added 2,308 acres to the Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area. Only a lot of big winners.

Winners like the bobcats, deer, mountain lions and other wild animals that can now roam undisturbed across 6,000 contiguous acres of parkland connecting the Simi Hills in eastern Ventura County with Cheeseboro and Oak canyons.

And winners like 2,000 rare valley oak trees, many of which were once threatened with destruction or relocation but which will now be preserved in their natural state.

But without question, the biggest winner in this deal is the public. Acquisition of Jordan Ranch by the National Park Service from entertainer Bob Hope for $16.7 million pushes federal holdings within the Santa Monica Mountains to 20,400 acres.

The property--where green poles mark the boundaries of a once-envisioned golf course, reminders of Hope's plans to transform the land into an enclave for the rich--will soon be open to anyone who wants to hike, picnic or just drink in images of pristine mountains and meadows.

The Park Service expects to officially open the property, to be known by its original name of Palo Comado Canyon, once it addresses such necessary issues as the location of parking lots, restrooms and picnic tables. Even the question of access is unresolved; no road goes directly into Jordan Ranch.

The Jordan Ranch purchase puts the Park Service well on the way to its eventual goal of acquiring 35,000 acres of recreational property in the area. But several key parcels remain outside the public's grasp.

Hope backed away from his earlier offer to sell Runkle Ranch, consisting of 4,369 acres in the Santa Susana Mountains, and Corral Canyon, 339 acres overlooking the ocean in Malibu. His sale of those properties is tied to proposed development of the Ahmanson Ranch property, at the eastern boundary of Ventura County, into a mini-city. That project has stalled, derailing sale of Runkle Ranch and Corral Canyon to the public.

And despite repeated bids, most recently for $19 million, Soka University still holds tightly to 248 acres in the Santa Monica Mountains that park officials have long wanted for a visitors center.

We hope that the good news about Palo Comado will soon be followed with more good news--namely, public acquisition of these invaluable properties.

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