SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS — Claiming the Agoura Hills land is a crucial wildlife corridor, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy for more than a decade has tried to acquire five acres north of the Ventura Freeway's Liberty Canyon Road exit.
On Wednesday morning conservancy officials, a handful of area politicians and park rangers celebrated the acquisition of the commercially zoned property that connects with more than 10,000 acres of protected public land in the Simi Hills.
"Now, from here all the way to the Santa Clarita Woodlands is protected open space," said Joseph T. Edmiston, head of the conservancy. "This is a small, but critical component. If this was commercially developed, the wildlife corridor would stop here."
For more than 25 years, the property owned by the Haserjian family was marked with a 30-foot high billboard advertising the family business, Carpeteria.
Founded in 1979 to preserve land in the environmentally sensitive region, the conservancy purchased the land from the Haserjians for $1.4 million with funds from Proposition A, a 1992 voter-approved bond measure to develop parks and open space.