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God Didn't Plant Trees on the Reseda Ridge

November 20, 1994

The Reseda Ridge Park controversy demonstrates the problems created when the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy strays from its mandate ("Ecologist Criticizes Park Tree Planting," Oct. 22).

The conservancy wants the public to forget that it was created as a broker to buy lands for both the National Park Service and state parks in order to fill gaps within the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area-- not to function as a third park agency.

The conservancy plans to plant 300 trees on Reseda Ridge while it owns it, at least temporarily. As much as God loves trees, she didn't plant many in the Santa Monica Mountains and none on Reseda Ridge. The National Park Service organic act of 1916, the guideline for the National Recreation Area, states it is "to conserve the scenery and the natural . . . objects and wildlife therein and to provide for the enjoyment of same in such manner as will leave them unimpaired." Trees introduced where they are not natural impair the natural landscape.

Any development upon these lands the conservancy holds temporarily must be consistent with policies of the agency designated to receive the land.

Joe Edmiston of the conservancy says it would rather keep the parkland than force it onto the state, to plant these trees in violation of the guideline so the land cannot be turned over to the very agency designated to receive it. Thus the conservancy would become a third park agency and no longer face termination when its job is done. The conservancy has proudly stated for years now that it is the "largest landowner along Mulholland Drive."

The conservancy also owns much land outside the Santa Monicas. With no conservation guidelines, its expansion often sacrifices natural resources, within and outside the Santa Monica Mountains.

What inducement exists for the conservancy to follow its original mandate--to turn over lands to state and national parks? None. The conservancy will hold those lands for itself. But at what cost to natural resources and wildlife? The Reseda Ridge Park controversy reveals that the conservancy is not a conservation agency. What irony!

SUSAN GENELIN

Studio City

* My letter is prompted by the story "Ecologist Criticizes Park Tree Planting."

Three years ago, members of our community agreed to plan for an entrance to the Santa Monicas from the south end of Reseda Boulevard. The plan called for a parking lot, a ranger station and an entrance into the park. Everyone agreed that the natural feel of the Santa Monicas should not be compromised.

The new plan includes planting 300 trees, none of which is native to the area, where there were none before and keeping them alive by an irrigation system which will cost substantial sums to operate. Native plants survive on water they get naturally .

We have been told further that there will be no ranger station and no ranger due to lack of funds. This location is far more critical than the existing station at Glen Eagles and Corbin. If the conservancy cuts back on this artificial planting plan, it will have the money for the ranger and the station and then some. The conservancy intends to spend more than $1 million for the current plan, which has moved forward without public hearings in the three ensuing years.

We are interested in keeping the entrance to Topanga State Park from Reseda Boulevard as natural and unspoiled as it always has been. Its beauty has drawn hundreds of people each week to view the natural habitat as it originally existed. If Joe Edmiston, the conservancy executive director, would get out of his helicopter and walk into the mountains, he would know that and stop trying to fool Mother Nature.

BOBBIE FIRESTONE

Tarzana

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