Another stretch of the 60-mile Backbone Trail linking Pacific Palisades to Point Mugu was dedicated Friday, leaving just five miles awaiting completion.
Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks), who recently secured another $2 million for trail work, and Art Eck, superintendent of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, presided over dedication ceremonies and led visitors along part of the 1.6-mile segment.
They were joined by state park and mountain conservancy officials, along with former Rep. Anthony Beilenson, who is often called "the father of the Santa Monica Mountains" for his legislation that initiated the project.
The money was spent to widen and reconstruct the trail, while additional funds have been set aside to acquire private land along the unfinished segment, and improve roads, parking lots and restrooms. The federal funds were matched by Los Angeles County through Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, in whose 3rd District the southern portion of the trail is situated.
Sherman said Friday he is anxious for the trail's completion.
"It is my hope that within the next several years we will be standing in a similar place with an equally beautiful vista and announce that the Backbone Trail is, and forever will be, complete and fully accessible to visitors to the Santa Monica Mountains," he said.
Eck had praise for the crews whose trail alignment work, while carefully avoiding many Native American archeological sites, will bring hikers alongside "the most beautiful wildflower meadows in the Santa Monica Mountains."
When finished, the Backbone Trail will connect Will Rogers State Historic Park in Pacific Palisades to Point Mugu in Ventura County.
Drawing more than 33 million visitors yearly, the area--along with the Channel Islands--is esteemed by naturalists as the nation's only Mediterranean ecosystem under federal protection.