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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

Conservancy OKs Buying of Mountain Acreage

October 25, 2000

WOODLAND HILLS — The governing board of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy has approved the acquisition of 326 acres in the hills above Woodland Hills, south of Ventura Boulevard.

The money to buy the property from Avatar, a Florida-based development company, will come from Proposition 12 funds. The statewide measure, approved by voters in March, is the largest parks bond in U.S. history, providing $2.1 billion to repair and expand local and state parks and to preserve open space and wildlife habitat.

The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy will receive $35 million from the bond, $17.5 million of it this fiscal year, officials said.

"We're very excited, because this will be one of the first acquisitions with Prop. 12 funds," said Mary D. Nichols, the California secretary of resources who oversees the conservancy. "This is exactly the kind of parcel we want to see the money from the bond used for."

The parcel is considered a valuable part of 20,000 acres of open space, known as "Big Wild," which runs from the San Diego Freeway to Will Rogers State Park and the San Fernando Valley floor.

"It's the last piece of rural Los Angeles," said Joseph T. Edmiston, head of the conservancy.

Because the price is still being negotiated, Edmiston said he could not reveal how much the conservancy will pay for the parcel.

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