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Dedication Planned for New Canyon

March 15, 1994|CARLOS V. LOZANO | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The formal dedication of Palo Comado Canyon as part of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area has been scheduled for April 2, six months after it was postponed because of wildfires sweeping across Ventura and Los Angeles counties.

But it may be several more months before the public will be provided picnic tables, restrooms and other amenities on the 2,308-acre property, known as Jordan Ranch when it was owned by entertainer Bob Hope, said Jean Bray, a spokeswoman for the National Park Service.

She said park service officials plan to hold public meetings in late spring or early summer on proposed accommodations for the park.

She noted, however, that picnic tables and restrooms are available in neighboring Cheeseboro Canyon, part of the National Recreation Area.

Also, the agency is hoping to develop hiking trails as well as bike and equestrian paths using other access points, Bray said. But so far, only one entrance is open--at the park service's Cheeseboro Canyon public parking area, she said. From there, it's more than a mile hike into Palo Comado Canyon.

Despite the lack of amenities and easy access, 3,028 people hiked through Palo Comado Canyon during February, Bray said. The canyon has been open to the public since October.

For next month's dedication ceremony, visitors will be able to enter the canyon by way of Chesebro Road, Bray said. Visitors are advised to take Palo Comado Canyon Road north off the Ventura Freeway, turn right onto Chesebro Road and follow the signs to the parking area.

"We've gotten permission from homeowners to use the road for the dedication," she said.

Among the featured guests at the ceremony will be Rep. Anthony C. Beilenson (D-Woodland Hills) and Ventura County Supervisor Maria VanderKolk.

Richard Sybert, Gov. Pete Wilson's former planning director and now a Republican candidate who wants to replace Beilenson in Congress, will also attend as Wilson's official representative.

Aside from its significance as a recreation park, Palo Comado Canyon is considered crucial as a wildlife habitat and corridor. Bobcats, deer, mountain lions and dozens of other animals live among the rolling hills and rock outcroppings of the former cattle ranch.

"We feel very thrilled that it was saved," said Mary Weisbrock, president of the environmental group Save Open Space, which fought to block development in the canyon. She said several members of her group also plan to attend the dedication ceremonies.

The park service purchased Palo Comado Canyon from Hope for $16.7 million in June. The purchase represents the single largest acquisition within the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

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