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$142,000 OKd for Students' Field Study : Environment: Program will allow students to conduct studies at park sites in Santa Monica Mountains.


The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area has been awarded a three-year environmental education grant of $142,000 to support field study for Los Angeles middle school students at mountain park sites.

Officials said the program will be offered to some 4,500 sixth- and seventh-grade pupils as part of the science curriculum of the Los Angeles Unified School District. Students will visit the national recreation area's Fryman Canyon tract above Studio City and Rocky Oaks preserve in Malibu, and will use sampling kits to test air, water and soil, said Costa Dillon, chief of interpretation for the national recreation area.

The idea is "to demonstrate both how air and water quality are important, and . . . how the national parks play a role in preserving" them, Dillon said.

Altogether, nine units of the national park system won "Parks as Classrooms" grants totaling $1.4 million from the National Park Foundation, a private, nonprofit group that channels private funds to the national park system. Foundation officials said the Pew Charitable Trusts were a major contributor to the grants program.

Other winners included Acadia, Everglades and Rocky Mountain national parks.

Foundation officials said they did not know how many of the national park system's 367 parks, monuments, recreation areas and historic sites competed for the funds. The nine winners were chosen from 17 finalists picked by various regional offices of the National Park Service, said Jane McQueen, spokeswoman for the National Park Foundation.

Dillon said the $142,000 will be used to train teachers, purchase test kits and transport pupils to the park sites.

"We need students . . . to understand the role parks play in their lives so they can help protect and preserve parks in the future," he said.

Hal Robertson, a science teacher and coordinator with the Los Angeles district, said the grant will supplement a state-funded environmental education program aimed at middle schoolers.

"It's going to help to facilitate some of the field trips that teachers may otherwise not be able to get," Robertson said.

Established in 1978, the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is a mosaic of public preserves and private holdings covering 155,000 acres from Griffith Park in Los Angeles to Point Mugu State Park in Ventura County.

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